As we waved goodbye to our series 1 Unicorn Valencia we were sad to be leaving her behind, but we were just a tad more excited to be taking out a shiny new Phoenix 640 for a few days.
We hit the road and headed east, to Stamford Caravan and Motorhome club site. The journey there went very smoothly and the Phoenix towed perfectly. At times I even forgot it was behind us, momentarily being surprised to see this bright white beauty looking back at me in the wing mirrors.
We arrived at the lovely site set behind woodland and as with all of our trips at this time of year, the very first thing we do once we’ve pitched up is fire up the heating. We are used to having Alde central heating in our Unicorn so we weren’t sure what to expect from the Truma blown air system in the Phoenix, but shortly after turning it on the caravan was toasty warm. It made a small fan noise but this soon faded into the background and we quickly stopped noticing it. On the subject of noise, we were surprised at how quiet the water pump was, it made a low vibration sound as opposed to our onboard pump- which sounds more like a small helicopter taking off!
After a long day of travelling we spent the rest of the evening relaxing and getting to grips with the different layout. We noticed that having the washroom in the middle made it feel more like a cosy little house than a caravan- with proper doors dividing up the rooms.
In the morning we woke up feeling well rested and decided to follow Bailey’s motto and have “Our holiday, Our way”. This meant a lazy morning enjoying the views of the red kites swooping through the sky out of the huge vertical window, before heading out for a late lunch in Rutland.
Our first stop was The Lodge Trust Country Park. This is somewhere we’ve visited in the past and absolutely love, so we were happy to be back. It’s a charity run for adults with varying learning disabilities, where they help out with maintaining the grounds and working in the cafe selling delicious homemade treats. It’s always full of smiley people and a great place to stop off.
After filling our tummies we headed to another place we love to visit- Rutland water!
There is so much to see and do here, from watersports, cycling and walking- to enjoying an array of wildlife and finding out about the reservoirs interesting history. But we particularly like it because the 23 mile perimeter track is ideal for wheelchairs and has some stunning scenery to go for a stroll.
It was fantastic to be exploring the great outdoors in one of our favourite places again, but having been an extremely blustery day we were particularly looking forward to cosying up for the evening in the Phoenix.
And what better way to relax than sipping hot chocolate by our makeshift crackling fire under the stars!?
Thankfully by the next day the wind had calmed down a bit so we thought it would be a great opportunity to put up the awning that Prima Leisure kindly let us borrow. Having a poled one ourselves we were really looking forward to trying out the Prima Deluxe Air Awning 260.
All of the sides are removable which makes it light enough for a single person to guide through the rail, and we were pleasantly surprised by just how easy it was to inflate. Each of the three main beams had its own inflation point, but with isolation valves linking them all together you only need to chose one to inflate the whole thing. We were surprised at how strong and robust the structure was, quite impressive for just air! Half an hour from start to finish and it was done- and most of that was just reading the instructions! Quite good considering Stephen had never put up an inflatable awning before, and we are certain that with practice this time will be at least halved.
There was plenty of room for the two of us and it made the perfect den to have a sit down before heading across to Fineshade Wood- just a short walk from the site.
Breathing in the crisp autumn air, leaves crunching underfoot/wheels, we strolled along one of the three walking trails in the woods. Two miles later and we were glad to be back in the warmth and comfort of the Phoenix, ready to settle in for another evening.
As we snuggled up on the sofas we were given the most magnificent show of colours by the ever changing skies- from bright yellows and oranges, to brilliant pinks and purples! It was a true show of the beauty of nature and a prominent reminder of why we love it so much.
Feeling our tummies rumble and wanting to really put the kitchen through it’s paces, on the menu that evening was a roast dinner with all the trimmings!
We thought it might be a bit of a tight squeeze to prepare the whole meal in such a small space but we were pleasantly surprised at just how easy it was. There was ample room for chopping and the kitchen was set out in a very simple and functional way.
Tummies now satisfied, we spent the rest of the evening relaxing and enjoying each other’s company.
I’m not sure if it’s the fresh air or the more active lifestyle, but we always sleep incredibly well in a caravan- and that night was no different. Waking up bright and early we opened the blinds and the Phoenix was flooded with glorious sunlight, we were ready for another adventure!
The weather was even better than the previous days so we decided to grab our last opportunity of the trip to visit the gorgeous Rutland Water.
Hitching up and heading to our next campsite we took a small diversion and ended up with the perfect backdrop to have lunch. Arriving at the easily accessible Sykes Lane car park with the Phoenix in tow, we parked up and found a little cafe selling hot and cold food. Stephen opted for a delicious bacon bap while I soaked up the sun- and despite it being late October, sitting on the edge of the perfectly still water with the sun beaming down on us- it could easily have been the middle of summer!
Although we could have happily stayed there all day it was time to get back on the road and head to Ferry Meadows Caravan and Motorhome club site for our final night in the Phoenix. Upon arrival we pitched up smoothly and headed straight out to the country park next door for a stroll in the last of the Autumn sun.
Being so close to the park was really convenient as we just wandered over and were instantly there, on the smooth tarmac track, strolling around the glistening lake. We made it all the way to the Lakeside Kitchen and Bar before we realised that the cool evening air was quickly setting in, and decided to head back.
Back in the comfort of the caravan we were feeling competitive so we broke out our favourite card game of the moment- Monopoly Deal! Very similar to the board game the aim is to collect properties, only the rounds are a lot quicker and even more brutal.
Since I won the first round and was the reigning champion, the worst loser in history (Stephen) insisted that we keep playing until he steals the title.
With background music on we happily/competitively played the evening away until eventually he was satisfied and we could go to bed.
Having only slept in the fixed bed throughout the duration of our stay, we wanted to take our last opportunity to try out all that the Phoenix had to offer- this meant making up the sofa bed for the night.
After pulling out the slats and turning over the sofa cushions we had ourselves a good sized double bed. It was strangely fun and felt like we were having a sleepover! Although unlike your average sleepover there were no movies or scary stories and we both fell straight to sleep, with the weeks activities finally catching up with us.
Waking up after a very comfortable last night in Phoenix we were sad to be packing up, but as the Autumn leaves continued to fall around us our time was drawing to a close.
Making the journey back to the Bailey HQ and the birthplace of the Phoenix we reflected on the fun filled week we’d had. It was a fantastic opportunity to try something different, we saw some amazing sights and made so many great memories along the way. Just what caravanning should be all about.