Vans we have loved

During almost 50 years of owning and towing a caravan when our makes have varied from Sprite, through Safari; Welton; and Avondale, we have enjoyed almost all of them as each provided for our needs at that time.

A Sprite Musketeer was our first, bought in December 1967. At that time we had 1 and a ‘bit’ children and were preparing ourselves for holidays to come that would allow us the freedom to go where, and when, we wished.

Some of you will no doubt remember caravans at that time were VERY basic – no heater; no water heater; no oven; no fridge; and NO electrics. The toilet compartment was an empty space with no wash hand basin and a ‘bucket and chuckit’ had to be bought. All washing, be it dishes; nappies (if small children were part of the family); or personal hygiene was done in the one and only sink fitted in the caravan. A water pump (hand or foot) had to be fitted along with a tap to provide ‘running water’.

Lighting was provided by gas lamps. If you forgot to remove the mantles before travelling they would be shattered by the time you reached your destination! Despite the lack of luxuries, we did love our first caravan.

As we all took to caravanning, and decided we enjoyed being members of the Caravan Club and joining in at Centre Rallies, we bought a 17’ Safari. By this time the family were growing and needing a little more space. It seemed a good choice at that time because it had an end kitchen with a sliding door which shut it off from the rest of the van This was ideal when cooking and prevented the children being ‘underfoot’. (It also meant that if unexpected visitors arrived the door could be shut on the dirty dishes!). We all loved this Safari and towed it many miles around Britain and on the Continent.

We progressed eventually to an Avondale Osprey and thereby started several years of owning different Avondales – 2- berths because the family had grown and left home; and then back to 4-berths because grandchildren had put in an appearance and formed a rota as to whose turn it was to come with us!

We have now worked our way back to an Osprey which we find suits our needs (we now have 2 cats who each claim their own berth!). We like the layout and have not seen anything similar which might tempt us to change. We are therefore happy to provide plenty of TLC to keep our beloved Osprey going and giving us the pleasure we enjoy caravanning.

Primrose & Jim

Dethleffs Camper DL470

Dethleffs Camper DL470

We started caravanning in 2009 and bought this caravan almost by accident. Unwisely we did not do our homework and bought this van because it had long beds (my husband is 6’4” tall) and the van felt spacious.

The layout is a typical 2-berth end shower-room with toilet. It is of German manufacture but is correctly “handed” for the UK market. It was specially imported by a UK dealer and I believe ours was one of fifty manufactured in 2004. Its overall length is 5.27 metres, width 2.30 metres, and height 2.60 metres. With an internal height of 1.95 metres my husband can stand up.

At the time we purchased the van we did not realise that it was slightly wider than the typical UK manufactured caravan and visitors to the van have commented that this extra width gives it a spacious feel. We just took it for granted. It also has a one-piece front window with side curtains, which adds to the feeling of space providing wide panoramic views from the lounge.

With a total all-up weight of 1,350 kg, this little van is not light. It runs on

205/70R14 tyres, which appears to surprise tyre fitters when we renew the tyres. We currently tow the caravan with a 2.0 litre Nissan X-trail.

The van is fully equipped with everything that we could possibly need. The van is constructed of 42mm floor insulation and 34mm wall insulation. It is fully winterised. External walls are smooth aluminium. The chassis includes a BPW Vario SWING V-TEC axle, heavy-duty corner steadies, shock absorbers and independent suspension.

The van originally came with a six year manufacturers warranty and although the van is now 13 years old, we have experienced no mechanical or water ingress problems. The only recurring problem we have experienced is with the internal heater cover which detaches itself at will.

Although not the most beautiful caravan, (some people have called it “the cube”), we love it and have travelled throughout the UK and overseas. If you see us at rallies, do come over and say hello.

Helen Bullock