T'was a cold but sunny start to the day as I unlocked the car park gate to allow Ian to drive the Beast onto the road. Time 9 am and date 14th April. Excitement was building 'cos the day had arrived for us to drive to Poole and do the motorhome swap. 5 hours later, with a short stop for lunch and a 20-minute hold-up saw us finally pull onto the Motorhome dealer groups (Three Counties Motorhomes) yard.
After being met by Rob we were led to where the Starburst was parked and told to take our time having a good look around. Meanwhile, he did the same with the Beast and 60 minutes later and with a virtual handshake, the deal was done.
With all papers signed we headed off in Mini Beast (MB for short) to Minstead Manor Farm camp site near Lyndhurst. What a cracking site nicely nestled in the midst of the New Forest and with abundance of ponies, deer and donkeys, just my cup of tea!
Ian does the driving these days; I'm not a confident driver any more you see, ever since taking the wheel of our car many years ago whilst still in boat mode. (steering on the right side of the canal) It was only the quick thinking of my passenger that saved a head-on collision as he grabbed the steering wheel to get me back to the correct side of the road! Anyway I'm digressing. Ian was very impressed with the way MB handled, finding the steering much lighter than the Beasts "And the brakes are pretty decent too" said he. Hmmm, I was very glad to hear that!
Found the camp site and connected to the electric hook-up and with the temperature dropping we decided to put on the heating. Well....and this is why we decided to stay near Poole on collection day instead of driving straight back home, 'cos as he turned the control dial, nothing happened. No gas heating or electric heating. Tried to phone the dealer only to discover we had no phone signal. With the time too near to 5 pm to even consider driving back to Poole that night (it was a good 40-minute drive from this site) we spent a VERY cold night huddled together for warmth and even our super high tog sleeping bags didn't quite stop the chill from invading our bones! Temperature at dawn was -3 so no wonder we were cold. Knowing there was no one to man the phones until after 9.30 am we set off a tad before 9 and headed to Ringwood where we eventually got a strong enough phone signal to let the dealer know of our plight. With the nod from Rod to return the vehicle, we drove back to Poole for an inspection. With a lot of head scratching from at least three guys, the eventual discovery was made that the EC4000 power control system which deals with all the functions in the motorhome was faulty. Three hours of sitting in their waiting room, and with a new power unit pilfered from another motorhome to replace MB's faulty one, we were eventually free to leave.
Because of the lateness of the hour another night was booked at the campsite. This time we tried the gas heating and yes...lovely hot air came in from the vents. Then Ian tried the electric and.....blast... nothing happened again!! To cut a long story short, back we went the next day, another of the maintenance guys took a look and found that someone had forgotten to reset the electric switch on the new control system and with a quick flick of the switch, hey presto, the electric heater sprang into life.
Back at t'mill and most surprising to the both of us was that most of what we took out of the Beast had managed to somehow fit into Mini Beast. We may well have lost a metre in length, but the storage space had been well-thought-out. So far so good, although I decided that a few extra shelves in the overhead cupboards wouldn't go amiss. Guess what Ian will be doing in the coming days 😉
Oh, and I had a disaster! Dropped my camera and damaged the intelligent eyepiece. It's going to cost in excess of £100 to get it repaired and serviced. Note to oneself. Must try harder not to be so clumsy!