Today our guest is Nigel Hicks author of “Some People Prefer Hotels, Motorhome Novices Tour Cornwall”. Here’s a link to the review post. http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-5h1
Let’s find out more about Nigel
1) Where is your home town?
I was brought up in Fleet (Hampshire) and in January 1960 was amongst the first intake into the brand new Court Moor Secondary Modern School. My favourite subject was English and Miss Holt, my first English teacher, always encouraged me to write. Unfortunately, when it was time to leave school, the only careers advice given to us was “Boys get an apprenticeship: Girls become secretaries or nurses, but you don’t really have to bother as you will get married and give up work.” I followed the advice and became an engineering apprentice at the old Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough. Although, given better guidance, I’ve often felt I could have had a career in journalism.
I moved around in my job with the MoD and lived on the South Coast, near Lee-on-the-Solent; Farnham, Surrey; the beautiful village of Chiselborough, near Yeovil in Somerset, and now reside in Highcliffe, Dorset, where we bought a tired bungalow as a retirement project.
2) Is this your first book that you have written?
Yes it is – maybe the first of many?
3) What made you want to write about holidaying in a motorhome?
I’ve always been an avid reader, particularly enjoying memoirs, nostalgia, travel and humour, and for a long time it was an ambition of mine to write something of my own – but what?
Inspiration came whilst driving to Cornwall on our maiden motorhome tour. During torrential rain my windscreen wiper packed up; we endured twenty-four hours of rotten weather cooped up in our confined space with Monty, our faithful Border Terrier, surrounded by dripping wet weather gear and muddy boots; I encountered a wobbly campsite WC pan and temperamental showers, and started to think that buying the motorhome was a terrible mistake. Thankfully the weather improved, but as my wife, Emm, and I got to explore some of Cornwall’s most idyllic and historic places, some for the first time and others we’d been to before, if something could go wrong, it generally did…
I wrote down everything that happened, and when a grumpy old work colleague said he’d only ever stay in hotels, I knew I had a catchy title, Some People Prefer Hotels, and started to write in earnest. The result isn’t simply a travelogue: it’s full of humour, and as well as writing about the places we visited, the farcical situations we found ourselves in and my crotchety observations about our campsite experiences, I also go on a personal inner journey as sentimental old memories – for example of schooldays in Fleet – were triggered off.
4) Can you tell the readers why you and Emm decided to buy a motorhome?
Before we were married we’d go on camping trips in our small tent (it was the only way we could spend the night together!) and, later enjoyed staying in static caravans with our young daughters.
Approaching retirement, Emm had hankered after a holiday home abroad and we’d been tempted with a property in the South of France. Finance didn’t seem a problem as, in the days before the credit crunch, the building society were happy to give us – or rather loan us – enough money to buy it. However, increasing our mortgage by tens of thousands of pounds and extending it for another twenty-five years didn’t seem a good idea. Also, as Emm hates flying, I didn’t think we’d get much use out of it.
But with a motorhome, I reasoned, once we’d both retired, we’d be able to travel to loads of different places in the UK and Europe, as well as revisit many of our favourite haunts.
5) What is the best bit about having a motorhome?
Having the freedom to: –
o Go where we want, stay as long as we want.
o If we particularly like a place, to be able to stay longer.
o If we don’t like a place, to be able to move on to pastures new.
o Being able to make a cup of tea or snack at any time.
o Having our own on-board toilet.
o To be able to take Monty, our beloved Border Terrier, with us.
6) What drawbacks are there to holidaying in a motorhome?
- Getting out and about on holiday, have to carefully plan routes and avoid narrow lanes.
- Parking can sometimes be difficult or downright impossible where height barriers are installed.
- If wet and confined to motorhome for any length of time, can be cramped in such a confined space and difficult to dry wet clothes and muddy boots.
7) Tell us some unusual items you would recommend to take on tour with your motorhome.
- For some unknown reason, some campsites we’ve stayed at have had their washbasin plugs missing. Why people pilfer the plugs is beyond me, and it’s really annoying having to shave in a plug-less basin. So it’s a good idea to spend a couple of pounds in the plumber’s merchant and take some plugs with you. Only problem is that if someone sees you with a plug, they are liable to think you are one of the idiotic plug thieves!
- Good idea to have an old pair of gloves to use when coiling up the electric hook-up cable. When on grass, even if it hasn’t been raining, I’ve found that the cable was usually wet from the morning dew, as well as muddy from worm casts, and it was really annoying to get my hands wet and slimy.
- No matter what, always take your sense of humour!
8) What are your top 3 warning for novice drivers of motorhomes?
- Avoid muddy pitches at all costs. It’s a nightmare if the wheels start spinning, sink deep into the mud and you get stuck!
- However tempting, don’t try to take shortcuts and drive down narrow lanes. I speak from experience and got hopelessly lost driving on an ever narrowing lane near the Helford River in Cornwall. The bushes and overhanging branches seemed to engulf us, and not daring to carry on we struggled to reverse round a bend and up a hill before we could turn back onto a wider lane.
- Don’t trust Sat Navs. There are loads of examples of vans getting wedged between houses in very narrow streets, especially delivery vans in Polperro, and there’s no way you want to find yourself in that situation!
9) How much can you expect to pay for an overnight pitch at a campsite for a motorhome?
It varies enormously depending on the facilities on offer. Some pubs allow motorhomes to overnight on their car parks for free if eating a meal in the pub; otherwise they may charge £5 or so. Certified Locations (CLs), which are usually just a field with a tap and no toilets or showers, typically charge £8-£10 or thereabouts. And at the best camp sites, with superb washroom facilities, swimming pools, bars, etc., it’s possible to pay over £40 per night in the high season, reducing to around £15 – £20 in the low season.
10) In your book, you’ve toured Cornwall, where else have you taken your motorhome since?
We do tend to go to the West Country a lot. But have also been to the Lake District many times where our eldest daughter and granddaughters live. We’ve often been for several weeks, and in the middle of our stay gone off for a few days to do our own thing, chill out and explore on our own. Once we followed Hadrian’s Wall and went to the Beamish Museum which was fantastic.
We’ve also been to France several times and explored Brittany, Normandy (le Mont Saint-Michel was incredible), La Dordogne and Le Val de Loire. Motorhomes are made incredibly welcome in France, parking is easy and there is far less traffic on the roads. We are planning to go again soon and, maybe, I’ll write a book about our French experiences!
Thank you Nigel it’s been great reading about motorhome travels.
Visit Nigel’s website to read the first 3 chapters of his book for free. http://somepeoplepreferhotels.co.uk