The Southern Motorhome and Campervan Show was held at the Newbury Showground, Chieveley, Berkshire in early July having previously been postponed from dates in May.
As journalists new to the adventures of camping, we were eager to see a professionally run show in operation and compare it to the many boat shows that over the years we have attended.
And so it was that we set out to visit our first ever local Motorhome and Campervan Show
The first obvious difference we noticed was the attitude shown to members of the press by the organisers. The Warner Group is essentially a media company publishing many of the titles that promote; camping, caravanning and the use of campervans and motorhomes. So, it was interesting to note that there is no pre show press registration available nor is there any professional courtesy when it comes to recognising the Press Card at the entrance gate.
The Motorhome and Campervan Show is aimed at all those who love sixties music. Show visitors are encouraged to visit and stay in their motorhome, campervan, caravan or tent for a fun-filled music weekend in Newbury, with four nights camping with ’60s themed live entertainment, so they you can dance the night away. In other words, the entertainment and camping elements are considered more important than the exhibition. Or maybe it is just that they make more money.
Camping pitches quickly sold out. It cost £55 for the four nights with pitches are available from the Thursday to the following Monday morning. Visitors are charged for the pitch from the day they arrive until noon on the Monday and are not offered on nightly rate. As part of the pitch fee, visitors to the Motorhome and Campervan Show have unlimited access into the exhibition area on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. tickets include access to digital seminars, a free show guide, free goody bag and in the case of day visitors not using the campsite; free parking.
With headline entertainment from The Trems, Dave Berry & The Cruisers and Spence James from the Searchers the fee offers good value for those seeking a campsite with entertainment.
But we did not want the entertainment and are not lovers of the catering supplied from onsite food trucks so we opted to stay at a farm some 10 minutes away.
The reason we went to the show was to see new & used motorhomes and campervans on display from multiple dealers, look at outdoor leisure accessories and find campervan, while stocking up on camping essentials and accessories
Promotional material promised “Along with the music, there will a large exhibition area offering the opportunity to spend the day exploring over 200 exhibitors selling a plethora of outdoor leisure accessories with local and national dealers showcasing over 420 new and used motorhomes for sale, many with exclusive offers only available at the show.”
Sadly, that proved not to be the case. There were very few vehicles available for inspection and many of the vendors stores simply duplicated the offerings made by neighbouring stalls. Most of the equipment on display was of poor quality could have been purchased online at cheaper prices than were available at the show.
Despite trying hard not to be, we were quickly bored and left after a quick tour of the stalls thankful at least all we had shelled out was the £8 each of had to pay to gain entrance.
Fortunately, our campsite for the night a Caravan and Motorhome certified listing at Rhodeside was less than 10 minutes away.
Neatly laid out the site is on a mowed field, with a level open aspect, in an AONB with easy access. Each pitch is serviced with its own water tap, electricity hook up and Free WiFi hub, plus there is enough space for an awning. Locally the Bunk Inn a well used pub is a five minute walk away and the area is excellent for dog walking. There is a local riding stable nearby. Red kites fly above the site, woodpeckers, owls, muntjac deer and a variety of other wildlife visit the site transiently. Someone has clearly gone to a great deal of trouble to lay out the perfect CL that ieven has the most stunning display of wild flowers that were in full bloom during our stay
This site is just off M4 making it a great stop over or weekend away. The Kennet and Avon canal flows through the nearby town of Newbury which, holds a market twice a week and offers a range of shops and restaurants. Local places of interest are the Living Rainforest, Englefield House and Highclere Castle, which was used as a backdrop to the Downton Abbey series. If you are looking for a great canal side walk or run then do as we did and drive into Thatcham and park at the Nature Discovery Centre It offers a great day out for all the family and is packed full of interactive wildlife and natural history displays. There is a network of footpaths ranging from small family-friendly walks to longer paths for the more adventurous. Surrounded by a mosaic of different habitats, there is fantastic wildlife to see all year around.