TechnomadicsVagabonding Europe

It’s our fourth day in our new motorhome, and we’re loving it. Being able to take our house wherever we go is just brilliant, and living in it is a bit like being a kid again: Everything is fun and exciting — even doing the dishes.

So, here’s the info:

Home It’s a Fiat Hymer B594, ‘A’ Class Fiat Ducato 2.5 Turbo diesel, manual 5 speed, left hand drive. It’s about 3m high, about 6.36m long, about 2.17m wide and weighs 3.5 tons gross (the maximum we can drive on our licences!). It apparently will get us 30 miles per gallon, which Google tells me is 10.62 km per litre. My very rough calculations tell me we should get 100km for about £9.60 currently, with diesel around 102p/litre. Or something.

, MG, 2987 It’s got a seriously spacious interior, which is helped by a swivelling passenger seat which becomes an ‘armchair’ and expands the living space; a central ‘dinette’ which could seat four, and a rear dinette for two. Both turn into beds for guests if we really wanted to — one double, one single. It’s perfect for us, because we want two workspaces — one for my ‘office’, and one for Katherine’s art stuff. Our bed pulls down over the cab easily, pushes up completely out of the way when we’re not using it, and is well sized for both of us. Absolutely brilliant. What’s more, it has a panoramic view out of the top of the windscreen, which we can leave un-curtained if we wish for a nice view in the morning, if there is one, and not too many people outside to introduce to our bedroom. We have a little ladder to get us up there, and the mattress is quite comfortable. The kitchen sits opposite the ‘living room’, with 3 gas burners, a 3 way fridge a sink with hot and cold running water.

, MG, 2991 The bathroom has a cassette toilet, with an access hatch on the outside for emptying (a joyous task yet to be performed, and one that I have no doubts that I will inherit!) and a basin with a tap that can be pulled out of its dock and used as a shower nozzle, either held or inserted into a flexible fitting in the roof. There’s a drain in the floor, and a shower curtain that can wrap all the way around (we leave an opening facing the sink), and showers in it are quite comfortable. Hot water is provided by a gas boiler that also provides central heating — flick a switch on a control panel, and hot water is ready to be used 5-10 minutes later. Very clever. 100 litre fresh water tank (which we’ve just finished cleaning out with Milton tablets, and are one or two rinses away from storing drinking water in), and a 100 litre grey water tank.

Lots of places for storage, heaps of room under the seats for big things like buckets, hoses and foldable chairs. There’s even a box on top of the roof, which we figured out was perfect for storing the extra bit of the double bed in the ‘living room’. A wardrobe with space to hang clothes and have a few things on the bottom. Double-glazed windows can be opened outwards and have blinds which shut out light well, and fly-wire, both of which cleverly slide out of sight when not being used. Very pleasant small lights located around the van, with individual switches give it a really homely feel at night.

We got a 300 watt full sine wave inverter put in, as well as a big leisure battery. With both of us using our laptops for much of the day, we’re yet to see the battery go down very much. A good sign, although we won’t really know how long we can last while ‘wild-camping’ until we try it for a good deal of time. A nice big safe fits both laptops easily (even my 17″ MBP!), with room to spare for things like cameras, etc. Security locks on all doors to make us feel a bit better. Our f$#^@* insurance doesn’t cover contents at all, so we’re reduced to crossing fingers for now, and it’s at least a comfort to have some security. I lock everything in the safe at night, while we’re driving, and of course while we’re out, and put obvious signs that we have laptops in there too, like the chargers.

Anyway, the thing’s quite fun to drive, now we’ve gotten over initial nerves, and I’ve more-or-less figured out how to stay in my lane. The gears are on the right hand side on a stick coming from the steering column, and they’ve very easy to use. The engine is seriously beefy, and while the thing doesn’t handle like a car, it comes close. Katherine navigates, relaying information from my iPhone’s map and occasionally (not as occasionally as I’d like!) resetting the iPhone when it freaks out and forgets how to talk to the mobile network, thus losing map data. Nokia’s crap-tastic software has beaten us for now, preventing us from using Katherine’s talking GPS directions from her mobile phone. A little angst from my end with the odd wrong or missed turn requiring some stomach-twistingly tight manoeuvres, which I promise I will never be gotten-the-better-of again. Just a matter of looking at wrong turns as opportunities, even if for nothing more than manoeuvring practice!

So, we find ourselves at the start of our new lives — properly so now. We never guessed everything would go this smoothly (“everything is conspiring in our favour!” says Katherine), but here we are!

, MG, 3195-3201

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