Motorhome training with Bailey of Bristol – preparing for our summer road trip adventure #40thingsbefore40

Now it may feel a bit like I have given up on my 40 things before 40 list, but I promise I haven’t, I’ve just been a little distracted of late. It’s still happening though. I have been to the opera and launched a message in a bottle and everything, I just haven’t quite got round to writing about them yet.

One of the things on my list is to visit every county in England and I am intending to get that one ticked off as soon as this summer, thanks to the loan of an amazing motorhome from Bailey of Bristol. During August Belle and I are going to be hitting the road and visiting seven counties in seven days – a grand finale to this item on the list, where we tick off the last seven all in one week. We’ll be staying at a different Caravan Club site every night and will be working our way through Bedfordshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, East Riding, South Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire – I need your help though for suggestions of places to do or thinks to visit along the way!

We’re going to be travelling in a Bailey Approach Compact 540. They are ideal for just me and Belle as they actually aren’t much wider than a regular car yet have everything you need for a self-sufficient holiday. Pretty cool right?

Bailey Approach CompactI was a little concerned however that ‘hitting the road’ could quite literally mean ‘hitting passing cars and trees’ as I am not terribly confident when it comes to driving large vehicles. Our last house move, where I was in charge of van driving, ended at 10.30pm in a dark garage forecourt with me crying, having backed Boyfriend and the van into a parked car, so you can see why I might be a little nervous.

What I hadn’t realised though was that new motorhome drivers can sign up for a day of training where you get behind the wheel and practice reversing nicely into pitches, not hitting other motorhome owners on site and generally driving about without losing a wing mirror. We also got a lesson in the workings of the motorhome, including how to bring down the electric bed. This was definitely Belle’s favourite bit  – at the press of a button the bed lowers itself, space age style, into the seating area. It’s pretty awesome.

Bailey Approach CompactThe training gave my confidence a real boost. I didn’t hit anything – aside from a few brushes with roadside shrubbery – and the Approach Compact was a lot easier to manoeuvre that I was expecting. The steering was much lighter than I was imagining too, and once you got used to your position as a driver, relative to the motorhome, it was fairly straightforward. Reversing is tricky as visibility is far more limited than in a car, but I will have Belle with me so I will just make her stand behind to direct me and I will know to stop if I hear a yelp.

Bailey Approach CompactWe will be setting off on our adventure at the beginning of August and plan to tweet about it along the way, using the hashtag #40thingsbefore40, so make sure you are following me on Twitter for a good laugh as I attempt to get to grips with a chemical toilet. You could also follow Bailey of Bristol and the Caravan Club to keep up to date with all their news and offers.

Bailey Approach CompactDo you have any suggestions for places we should visit on our trip? I’d love to hear about your favourite hidden gems and will do my best to visit and share pictures and updates from as many of your suggestions as possible!

Thank you in advance to Bailey of Bristol for trusting me with one of their motorhomes!



  1. 12 June, 2014 / 8:17 pm

    This sounds like so much fun! Have a great trip

  2. 13 June, 2014 / 6:46 am

    Have a wonderful wonderful time

  3. 13 June, 2014 / 11:04 am

    Jo I am SO SO SO SO JEALOUS!!! It’s my absolute dream to travel the whole of the UK in a campervan (see my About Me page! :)) and to write a book about it! You and Belle are so lucky and will have an absolute blast :) Looking forward to reading all about your adventures – and when you’re in Surrey, be sure to pop in and say hi! X x

  4. Janet
    13 June, 2014 / 7:25 pm

    This sounds brilliant! I live in Bedford, and love it here. There are loads of places you could visit, but my favourite way to spend a few hours would be a picnic in Bedford Park (it has free tennis courts you could use) followed by a short walk out of the park past the concrete 1960s built swimming pool in the direction of Fancy Bakery on Roff Avenue. It sells the best chocolate brownies you’ll ever taste! And if chocolate brownies aren’t your thing then there are loads of other yummy cakes to eat, and all baked on site.
    An alternative plan for your time in the town could be the Embankment. Very lovely, and there’s an amazing new adventure playground at the nearby Russell Park. Plenty of places to go, including the Higgins Museum, which has just been revamped and is free.
    I look forward to reading about your adventures – I hope your both have a lovely time!

  5. 13 June, 2014 / 7:28 pm

    wow! what a fun adventure! enjoy x

  6. Sally
    13 June, 2014 / 11:31 pm

    Hi Jo, what fun! Once you have visited these seven have you visited them all? Have you been to Rutland, our smallest county? I only ask because of it adjacency to Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire. Anyway, things you could do in Leicestershire could be, go Twycross zoo (home of the original chimps tea party and pg tips chimps) go to Bradgate Park, which used to be the estate of the Grey family (of. Lady Jane Grey and Elizabeth Woodvilles fame) it is now a beautiful park with deer and Old John folly to climb up to. Otherwise there is the Battle of Bosworth centre which has re- enactments of the battle, the Jury Wall museum in the city (lots of Roman artefacts) the Guildhall museum or if you fancy some sailing Market Bosworth Water Park! Market Bosworth is also a rather nice market town if you fancy sme interesting shops and a cup of tea!

  7. 14 June, 2014 / 8:31 am

    Oh wow I love the look of this motorhome and by the sounds of it it’s quite easy to drive with it not being that much wider than a normal car. Literally can’t wait to read all about your adventures on the road, have fun :)

    Laura x

  8. 14 June, 2014 / 8:33 am

    Sounds like an amazing trip, would love to have a go at driving one of those! Sounds like you’re visiting some lovely places too!

  9. 14 June, 2014 / 9:03 pm

    This sounds absolutely brilliant! What a fantastic idea. Hope it’s really good for both of you. PS impressed with the colour co-ordination :-) x

  10. 16 June, 2014 / 4:46 pm

    how fun!! I love this idea and it makes me want to learn to drive even more! x

  11. 17 June, 2014 / 5:47 pm

    Wow this looks amazing! Would love to do this, but I honestly don’t think I could drive one, I can barely park my car! x

  12. 18 June, 2014 / 12:42 pm

    good luck with the trip. not familiar so much with that part of the country so look forward to hearing more about it on your return!

  13. 18 June, 2014 / 4:15 pm

    What an amazing idea, I would love to cruise round setting up somewhere different each night! My favourite would be to travel in an Airstream down the cornish coast. x

  14. 18 June, 2014 / 6:53 pm

    I’m very jealous! That looks like a lot of fun – i’d be tempted to head straight to North Devon :)

  15. 6 December, 2017 / 4:39 pm

    Wow! Looks like you’re having fun. You two are really cute to watch. Drive safely!

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