I’ve done my share of camping over the years- both wild and relatively civilised- but as my bones get older I’m beginning to appreciate home comforts far more than I imagined I ever would.
I also enjoy caravanning and, until this year had an ancient two-berth tourer that was lightweight and easy to pull and manoeuvre. It wasn’t being used enough so I passed it on to a more deserving owner.
Trouble was I’d committed to a long weekend with a group of girlfriends at the annual Tribfest music festival at Sledmere in East Yorkshire and they wouldn’t have thanked me if I’d told them we were camping under canvas once more
And so, we decided a motorhome was the answer - and what a wise choice it was.
We borrowed the largest one available to us from Marquis Motorhomes who have a branch in Dinnington, just minutes from J 31 of the M1
At 7 metres long, 2.31 metres wide and around 3.5 tonne, the six-berth Swift Lifestyle 696 is family-sized but is quite manageable and I was able to drive it on my pre-1997 licence without taking any further test.
Based on the Fiat Ducato with a 2.3-litre turbo diesel it pulls amazingly well and the steering is light and responsive.
The Lifestyle 696 is available with an automatic box - perfect for anyone who only has this kind of licence as well as those who prefer an automatic box.
The cabin is plush and most un-van like. The driver’s seat has plenty of adjustment and there’s a touchscreen DAB radio with satellite navigation and Bluetooth. Storage space is plentiful and we made good use of it.
Large wing mirrors and a clever rearward camera, which can be left on during driving make for easy parking and I had no trouble reversing it onto my drive at home and onto the site once we’d arrived at Sledmere
Made exclusively for Marquis by Swift the Lifestyle 696 is classed an entry-level van with prices from £46,495 on-the-road and has six passenger seats.
Entry-level it may be but we didn’t find it lacking in any way.
It comes with a fully-equipped kitchen with three-burner hob, oven, fridge, microwave and plenty of storage; a roomy bathroom area and six full-size berths.
Interestingly two of these are adult-sized fixed bunk beds at the rear, a real bonus particularly when you have young children as they can be put to bed while the adults socialize in the main body of the van.
If you need more space the base of the bottom bunk flips up to make a large garage, which is also accessible from the exterior of the van.
There’s a double bed over the cab and the dining area converts into a king-sized bed with plenty of room to stretch out.
An extendible table and extra seating means six can sit comfortably to eat meals and chat.
As we were such a relatively large party we decided it would be prudent to attach a pop-up awning for extra storage. And although the one we had was for a small van conversion rather than a coach-built motorhome and was therefore a little tricky to attach, it was a real bonus as we could leave muddy boots and wet coats outside to keep the interior clean.
We’d all agreed to travel light, planned our meals with military precision and settled into a good routine so we never felt crowded or cramped.
And what of the festival? Tribfest is the world’s biggest tribute act festival, held over the weekend before the August bank holiday weekend is family-friendly and a great event whatever your age
Having a motorhome to retreat to at the end of a long day of music and dancing is a real bonus and I can’t see us ever wanting to go back to camping again.