Sunday, 27 February 2011

NEC Boat & Caravan Show 2011

Well! Where do I start! Such a big show, with so much to see, really you should take two days to get a proper look round.

But, in a nutshell there were just four caravans that caught our eye! But Ill come onto those in a moment or two.

Firstly a big thankyou to Lea at who supplied us with our tickets. Im probably right in thinking that Lunar had the biggest stand at the show. It was massive!

We looked at every caravan stand, and the one thing that we found in common was that they were staffed by a mixture of Manufacturer staff, dealer staff and engineers/technicians. Now as I have been in sales for many years and have personally attended and manned stands at NEC Motorshow and Earls Court Motorshow. The one thing customers like to do is talk! But what we found was that very few staff wished to talk! Most notable was the sales staff provided to the manufacturers as support staff on the stand, as soon as you mentioned that you were not looking to change on that particular day and on that particular minute, they were off like a shot! Not good and very off putting and also a poor reflection on the manufacturer or dealership. One salesman in particular who worked for  was so eager to be off he didnt even have the courtesey to let me finish my sentence!

The staff that would talk to you were the technicians, and as usual were more knowledgeable than the majority of the sales staff!

The other thing that we found confusing was the fact that dealerships were intermingled with the manufacturers, you wouldnt have that at a motorshow, so why do it here?

I went to see the manufacturers with all models clearly displayed and layed out, not walk onto a stand and be confronted by a mixed bag of caravans! Just looks shoddy!

The biggest let down Im afraid to say was Stealth Caravans they look very stylish and to be honest probably one of the best layouts around, but, the build quality that we saw on the van we were interested was just not there, trim was falling off, paint rubbing off the wooden surfaces and wrong hinges on a cupboard door which meant the cupboard door did not sit flush!

Now you could say that paint rubbing and trim falling off was the result of the amount of people looking at them, but isnt that the same as us living in a caravan full time. After a couple of years it would be a right state!

So Im afraid that it didnt make our top 4

One of the vans that did was the Lunar Delta Ti twin axle with island bed. However there were still a few niggles that we found which are the same as on our van, and thats 5 years old!

We loved the layout with the large end bathroom and large fridge which is a definate improvement. But once compared with other vans of the same type there was just a touch of class missing and it was starting to look slightly dated.

Our next caravan which we thought had alot of potential was The Edge an american import with a slide out side! It was up to its maximum legal width and would require a hefty 4x4 to tow it but it certainly felt spacious. Shame though that they didnt have the model on display that we were interested in. The one we saw was certainly large enough but the Americans seem to have funny ideas when it comes to style and the kitchen was poor.

It only had two rings and no oven! The shower looked as if it was the bottom end range from B and Q, in fact worse than the bottom end range! However, we have been told that all this can be sorted out for us if we are seriously interested!

The model we are interested in is the M21 I think the price was around the £28,000 alot of money but certainly looks well made with onboard water tanks 36gallons and a grey waste and a black waste of both 36gallons each! These can be found at

Our next one that we liked the look of was the Buccaneer Schooner, it has a side on bed which is going away from our island bed set up, but the bathroom is to die for. It also has rain sensitive Heki rooflights, you can control your hot water and central heating from your mobile phone and has a satellite dish as standard!

It just looks so classy, just look at that shower! To see more go to

Now our last caravan is the best we saw, it beat the lot of them on all levels. Style, equipment, design and at an incredible price!

Its a Hobby 650WFU we found that it had everything that we wanted. Such a classy interior, a massive bathroom and a front end that would sit a rugby team!

It really is a class act, and the price - yep, just under £19,000. It has a bubble effect surface to the outside, which is supposed to be stronger and as the technician said hides all those little dings that you get on your van! Its also ultra strong so you can walk on the roof (if you wished) and you can have a bike rack mounted to the back end or A frame.

This for us won the caravan of the show award. It did everything we wanted it to do, with style and at an extremely attractive price. So what if the door is on the wrong side, Im not camping in lay-bys! Have a look for yourself at Also the technician had time to talk to us, like I have said in previous posts, its all very simple people buy people! The technician we talked to knew his product and did not try and sell to us or ask us about when we were changing. Hobby you now have new fans and a potential new customer! Thankyou!

The show itself was massive, we had a look around 3 of the halls, we didnt see any boats! We had a good look around the trade stands as we have been saving our pennies and decided that if the price was right we would get ouselves a Cadac or possibly a small porch awning.

The Cadac we bought was the Carri Chef, we also bought a lid for it, a cover and spatula with a magnet on the end! Total price £119.00 which also included 4ft of hose and jubilee clips! So I think we did ok.

However, we also ended up with an awning! We saw a Portico Plus Awning for £80.00 so we had that as well. The normal price is £129.99 but have found them at £89.99 so still a bit of a saving!

Another little thing we bought was a microfibre carpet for £20 which the lady demonstrated by walking into a bowl of mud, then wiping her feet on the carpet once, then onto a tile. The tile was spotless, and as its usually me that brings mud in I didnt need alot of convincing.

We went to the Thetford stand where we spoke to Joe Sedgwick, our flush is not working as it should do, so he explained how to take it apart, find the problem, which we think is straight forward and then how to order the part complete with part number! Brilliant so thanks Joe for your help!

Buying all these goodies is all very well, but for anyone who has ever been to the NEC before will realise that you dont park close to the arenas. So by the time we got back to the car I had managed to cut off the circulation to my right arm, and my left arm was that weak I struggled to lift crisps out of its packet!

Mind you we were very happy with our goodies, so cant wait to try them out! The smaller awning will get alot of use whilst we are away at the shows and we have even thought about putting it up on the other side of our van to protect the aqua rolls and put our bikes in!

Im looking forward to a bit of sunshine to try out the cadac! Hope its good next weekend!

Whilst up at the show we met up with our friends Mark and Kate who have just spent the week with us and Marks parents who I met many years ago as a fresh faced 17 year old!

We also met Darren and Tracey who are looking at doing the same as us in the not too distant future. One of the things Darren asked was - Are you saving money? Well, depends how you look at it, yes we are saving money by not having to pay out on rent and all the household bills etc, but physical notes in a pot, the honest answer has to be no. Not any considerable amount anyway. But, we have to be realistic. There have been certain things we wanted to buy which we now have to make our life better. We have also been out for days out and meals, which is something that we havent dont in ages!

As the summer gets closer our expenses wont be as great, so we are planning to save more during the summer and not worry too much during the winter. We will get what we want eventually, but in the mean time we are living life as we want to.

So a very enjoyable and totally knackering day out! My legs ached last night so didnt get a good nights sleep so hopefully will sleep better tonight.

Ive worked today, playing catch up due to having time off, and "M" has gone off to see her daughter who has just had a tatoo on her foot! Ouch!

So till later................


  1. Hi i know what you mean it took us 7 months to find a caravan that ticked all the boxes we looked at buccaneers but these only had a 3 burner stove the hobby is very good however our traveller friends like them A LOT so if you get one make sure its well locked up the lunar east to west bed no good for disabled wife and the list goes on

    While we don,t fulltime like you we do around 120/130 nights a year or all summer and found the bailey we had was ok for a fortnight and the odd weekend but no good for extended stays so we decided on a 2010 conqueror 645 which more or less has everything for long term camping (its the old model but new)
    and a 4 grand saving on new model

    north/south bed large fridge freezer led lighting alde heating
    We have a honda EU10I genertor for cl type sites but also we use haven for a month at a time when the prices drop
    anyway we enjoy your blog and keep up the good work
    Best Regards

  2. Hi Geoff, good to hear from you, it always seems to be a trade off, which ever van you go for. Perhaps more consultation from users instead of manufacturers thinking they know what we want, but actually getting it wrong!

  3. I have really enjoyed reading your blog, please carry on with the same old same old as its truly addictive!
    Your account of the NEC confirmed we were right to save the journey down to Birmingham, like you, I'm impressed by the build quality of the hobbies, unfortunately as Geoff previously stated so do the travelling community. One was taken from our storage facility here in Cheshire only last week, they cut off two wheel locks and a hitch lock. Our van which is a twin axle Sterling Europa 620 is stored away from the main yard otherwise who knows! As for a BBQ I went for a weber blackline 120, its a great BBQ but lacks the versatility of the Cadac (it even has a paella!)Like yourself I will cook alfresco at any opportunity. I know your in the market for a 'genny' I went for a Hyundai its almost a copy of the over priced Honda but for under £250 off eBay. Just ensure that the model you buy is compatible with sensitive electronics, as we dont want to miss any of your adventures should your Laptop blow up!

  4. Hi Andy, I emailed the gene manufacturer in China - 5 days later I received a reply saying that it was ok to use with a laptop! I would still run it through a surge protector just in case. Its a bit lumpy but space and weight isnt so much of an issue for us. Glad your enjoying the blog!!