South of England Tour – September 2017

We like to take a week’s beach holiday, somewhere warm like the Canary Islands or Cyprus in September but this year we had a plan. Long-term, we had been planning for our retirement travel using the current Burstner motorhome and an A-frame towed car. The idea for the September week was to get the A-frame fitted to our Volkswagen Up! purchased earlier this year, then test driving the outfit touring the South of England taking in some places we wanted to visit and also catch up with some old friends. As we started planning the week in more detail, It made more sense to have the A- frame fitted prior to the holiday just in case anything arose during the installation.  

The tour of the South was to start at the Brighton Caravan and Motorhome Club, then to spend a couple of days in the New Forest, next move on to Clevedon in Somerset and then to Stockbridge near Andover. We thought that this would be a good chance to try out towing the car and visit old friends.

We did consider using a trailer for the car, prices can be cheaper than an A-frame installation. If you change the tow car from time to time the cost of swapping the A-frame kit increases the overall cost, making the trailer a more economic proposition. For us though, we do not have space to store a trailer at home when not in use and on site space is often limited on a pitch and usually an addition to the pitch fees. We also do not intend to change the car for some years. A FrameSo after a little research and talking to a couple of people we met with cars in tow, we purchased the kit from the very helpful TowAFrame Ltd in Sussex and I arranged installation by an equally helpful and efficient approved installer, PR Services of Biggleswade. The purchase and installation went very smoothly and all went well on the short drive home with the car attached. There is very little difference to the performance of the motorhome with the car in tow and no difference to braking with the car’s brakes working in tandem with the motorhome.

To start the week’s tour, the first leg with the car on tow was on a Friday afternoon toBrighton C&M Club Brighton, mostly on the M25 then the M23, so a good test of nerve and performance.  The Caravan & Motorhome Club site set in a sport park was just as expected. Friendly welcome, immaculately kept and we were settled on a pitch and off exploring in the car within an hour of arrival.

The Marina complex was a little disappointing and a quick trip into the town proved that parking would be difficult. By a stroke of coincidence, my daughter who lives in Switzerland was in town for the weekend so at The Round Georges, a few drinks were consumed catching up. We explored the “Lanes” on Saturday, and had lunch, one of the best Italian meals for sometime at the excellent  Al Duomo. The weather changed in the afternoon with hail and torrential rain so early evening a short taxi trip to meet daughter and boyfriend for drinks then a meal at the Sabai Thai Gastrobar. Sunday was back to sunbathing weather so we just chilled out at the motorhome.

Monday we left for the Holmsley Campsite in the New Forest near Christchurch. AnotherHolmesley enthusiastic and informative welcoming by the wardens and a large grass pitch was allocated in the centre of the camp. The shop and reception offers fresh baked croissants and pain au chocolat first thing and a take away food service is available too. Situated on part of a decommissioned WW11 air base, the hard standing pitches are the old concrete taxiways and aprons from the base. The airfield was decommissioned in 1946 and the land handed to the Forestry Commission who operate the campsite. The main runway is now part of the surrounding moorland and only recognisable if you knew it was there. A very peaceful site and a good touring centre for Lymington and Christchurch. LymingtonDay two, we took a short trip to Lymington, checked out the old town and had a good lunch by the quay at the Ship Inn.

Mid week we set off for Somerset with two nights booked at a CL at the Clevedon Golf Centre Clevedon Pierto catch up with friends in the area. The route turned into a bit of a marathon using Google live Maps to navigate around traffic delays, proving that a dedicated sat nav for a motorhome would be a good investment. We both worked in Clevedon many years ago and it was interesting to see how the area had changed so little in comparison to the adjacent Portishead.

To visit our friends near Andover we booked a CL on a farm near Stockbridge. What a delightful location, so good, in some part because of the good weather, we stayed an additional night,Stockbridge

The return journey home along the M4 and round the M25 was uneventful and the whole week a good test of the A-Frame set up which worked perfectly.

Reflecting back on the week, we both agreed that we were beginning to prefer staying at CL’s rather than larger organised sites. Between the Brighton site with constantly barking dogs and the peacefulness of Stockbridge, the CL’s win.