Our two week adventure in the Elddis Accordo 120 (one week in the Lake District and the other on the Welsh borders) has been our first proper outing in the Accordo 120. We did get a chance to spend the August bank holiday in it however we didn’t go far, and three days really isn’t long enough to test everything out, is it. The August bank holiday trip was a bit of a learning curve, however the two week adventure was a massive learning curve and it has showed me many things.
Being total newbies to the world of motor homing made the trip daunting but great fun. There were loads of highs, plenty of lows, a lot of laughs, many arguments and disagreements, there were tears of joy and tears of anger. It was a roller coaster of emotions, however we got through it and we are more eager now to get out in it again.
I did learn/realize a lot of the two weeks, as below………………..
1. We definitely made the right decision with the Accordo 120
When we were looking around different motor homes we decided we wanted a rear lounge layout and took a punt on ordering the Accordo 120 without even seeing one. Sure, we saw other Elddis Accordo motor homes so we kind of knew what to expect, but we never got to see the Accordo 120 until we went to pick it up. After two weeks away I, make that we, are one hundred percent sure we made the right choice. Making the bed every night and packing it away gets tiresome (I won’t lie about that) the lack of a garage makes storage more awkward, but the rear lounge is worth the compromises. It is simply awesome.
2. Two weeks is easily doable in the Accordo 120
We have never been on a two week holiday on any vacation, let alone a camping one. The longest holiday we have done was a 10 night holiday to Turkey where we stayed in a hotel. Going away for 14 nights in one go was daunting, and we didn’t know if we had bitten off more than we could chew. Now it’s over, I can confirm two weeks at one time is doable and we could easily do many more, which is a god job because my wife’s new job contractually states she has to take two consecutive weeks off per year.
3. To always remove the wheel clamp
I admit I was an idiot, jumped the gun and forgot to remove the Milenco wheel clamp before moving the Accordo 120 forward to load up the bikes. Needless to say I did a fair amount of damage, but got off quite lightly by the looks of it. I have yet to have a quote for the repair but I am guessing it won’t be cheap. That’ll teach me!
4. Brownhills charge £84 to quote for a repair job
You did read this right. Brownhills want £84 just to quote for a repair job. I have never had to pay for any quote before (i.e. building work, plumbing work, electrical work, solicitor’s services or anything else) so I’ll be damned if I am going to pay £84 to Brownhills to quote for some repair work – they can whistle for that, and if they don’t want my business that’s fine with me and I will go elsewhere.
5. Brownhills after sales service is the worst ever
My wife wanted some advice re the damaged wheel arch and wanted to know if the Accordo 120 was safe to drive or whether it needed to be left with them for repair. Basically, she wanted re-assurance. The woman on the service desk at Brownhills was rude, obnoxious and very unhelpful. My wife basically had to beg for someone to come and spend 5 minutes to give her peace of mind, which given we spent several thousand pounds just two months before is absolutely disgusting. We are not impressed or happy with the after sales service at all.
6. I need to make friends with my local Elddis dealer
The way Brownhills have treated us over several issues and problems have shown that I need to take a trip to a local Elddis motor home dealer and see if they are prepared to service, MOT, do the habitation checks and help us keep the Accordo 120 running sweet.
7. I’ll never stay at Brownhills site again
After a night stop off at Brownhills site, on route to the Lake District, I have reached the conclusion I am never going to stay there again. Even though we can stay there for free I prefer to pay for an alternative campsite instead. There are many things I dislike about the Brownhills site, and to go through them all is a post in itself. Take a look at my “campsite reviews” if you want to read my full review of the Brownhills site.
8. Track pants only in the Elddis Accordo 120
As much as I like the furnishings in the Elddis Accordo 120 it does have one massive flaw in that it shows every single mark. If you leave something on the cushions it leaves a mark, the bed slats mark the cushions and just sitting on the seats mark them. Jeans and jeggings (for the wife of course) are a big no no. Combat trousers are a big no no. Any trousers with buttons, zips or poppers are a big no no. If I want to keep the marks down to a minimum I have to wear track pants – which is not great. If we bought a standard Elddis Accordo 120 we wouldn’t have this problem – we bought the Brownhills dealer special Accordo 120 with their own unique fabric.
9. Getting replacement cushions is going to a nightmare
Since we bought the Brownhills dealer special Accordo 120 with the Brownhills unique colour scheme getting cushions repaired or replaced is going to be impossible without going back to Brownhills. Hmmmm…… the phrase “Stuck between a rock and a hard place” springs to mind. If you are thinking of buying a dealer special motor home this is something you really do need to consider.
10. The A1 is a road that never sleeps
Spending a night at the Brownhills campsite by the side of the A1 was the worst thing we could have done before a long drive up to the Lake District the following day. Traffic noise never usually bothers me, and I can sleep through anything. Not this time though, with traffic thundering up the A1 non-stop a sleepless night was the result.
11. Always carry a sink plug
Although Brownhills has washing up facilities they don’t provide washing up bowls and neither do they leave plugs in the sink. In the toilet block there are basins but no plugs. How ridiculous is that! With no plug I couldn’t shave, so I was not happy. At the first opportunity I bought a selection of sink plugs that now stay in the Elddis Accordo 120.
12. A small tool kit is essential
During the two weeks away I needed to adjust the TV bracket (the TV was on the huh), tighten up the toilet cassette locker door (it was catching) and screw a bit of the pull out bed back on (it fell off) amongst other things. The problem is I couldn’t do any of these things because I didn’t have any tools whatsoever, not even a screw driver. I need to have a real think about the essential things I need to put in a small tool kit to live in the Accordo 120.
13. Plan the route at home and don’t trust the satnav
Up in the Lake District I blindly followed the Tom Tom satnav and ended up doing a 12 mile stretch down a single track road that was up hill, down dale and pretty scary to drive down. The drive down the road was stressful and something I don’t want to go through again. In the future I am going to get the route from the AA Routefinder website where I can use via points and the like to stay on the big roads. I am going to Google Earth the smaller roads and see just what they are like and amend the route as necessary. I will then print off all routes and follow them. I will continue to use the satnav but only for emergency use, i.e. diversions and the like.
14. The Lake District is a nightmare to drive through
The roads in the Lake District are narrow, twisty, undulating and has stone walls either side. There is also a lot of vegetation lining the roads that scratch the hell out of the van if you get too close. Driving in the Lake District is not enjoyable at all, and rather than admiring the views and the scenery I was more concerned keeping away from the sides of the road and also avoiding other drivers.
15. There are loads of idiot drivers in the Lake District
It seems that all oncoming traffic in the Lake District continued down the middle of the road, following the white line and forced me as far over to the verge as possible. I was getting old duffers in tiny cars (think Citroen C1 and Fiesta size) refusing to get over even though I was in a larger and wider vehicle. These idiots clearly didn’t want to get over, but in the end I learned to hold my ground and just keep going. I got a few (no – many) hand gestures and a few people mouthed off, although they stopped as we crept passed each other (funny that – I wish they had grown a pair and continued), but I just did what everyone else tries to do. That is the ONLY way to drive in the Lake District.
16. The Lake District isn’t the fishing Mecca I thought it was
Even though there is the word “Lake” in its name, and there are lakes and rivers all over the place the Lake District isn’t that great for fishing. Many people go to the Lake District to fish for pike, and little else. Given I live in the heart of the Norfolk Broads, where there are miles and miles of rivers and streams holding some huge pike, I don’t need to go to the Lake District to catch pike. In fact, I don’t like catching pike – period. Other than pike there is little else of interest. Whilst out on Gondola I found out that there are arctic char in Lake Coniston, and catching one to ‘tick of the list’ would be good, but then I remember watching Robson Green on an Extreme Fishing program try and catch one, and in the UK it appears I have more chance finding rocking horse poo than catching an arctic char with a rod and line.
17. Fishing Lake Coniston is virtually impossible
Lake Coniston is a large expanse of water that is several meters deep, and when you combine this with the rocky bottom (i.e. snags that would take rigs and gear) it is easy to see it is not a great place for fishing. It’s probably different if you have access to a boat, but we didn’t, and the only option was to fish from the shore.
18. Bungee cords are not a good idea for the bike rack
I am not a fan of bungee cords, however my wife is and thought it was a good idea to add additional bungees around the bike cover to stop it flapping around in the wind during the drive to the Lake District. When removing the additional bungees, which were extremely tight, one slipped out of her hand and struck the back of the van resulting in a nice little dent. Great….. Need to go and buy some small ratchet straps.
19. We need a demonstration re the water filler cap
When we picked up the Accordo 120 the bloke doing the hand over didn’t show us how to get the water filler cap off the van (he ran out of time because Brownhills booked us in too late in the day for a full and complete demonstration). The water cap is a real pain to get off and we can’t work it out as all of a sudden it “pops out”, after a lot of faffing around. I don’t know if it is user error (i.e. I am doing it wrong), it is just tight and will bed in with use and time or it is faulty and needs looking at. Because we weren’t shown/told what to do I am at a total loss!
20. A 5m water hose is not long enough
Despite buying all the different water accessories following our weekend away during the August Bank Holiday it seems we still haven’t got everything we need. Even when we have a fully serviced pitch, like we did in the Lake District, a 5m hosepipe still isn’t long enough – looks like we are going to have to get a longer one!
21. Never fill a bucket too full
I bought a fold up bucket to empty the waste water on sites where there is no designated motor home service point. The bucket is made from tough material that is strong and sturdy, however the handle is a weak point as I found out when I completely filled the bucket with waste water! I managed to fix the handle (although it is only a temporary measure) and will need to buy another collapsible bucket to replace it.
22. Washing up in the Elddis Accordo 120 is a faff
Pier Cottage campsite did not have washing up facilities, therefore we had no option but to wash up in the Elddis Accordo 120. The bottom line is the van is too small to wash up in and doesn’t have the work top space. Clean stuff has to be left with dirty stuff, or put on seats, the floor or wherever else we can find room. It is not possible to put stuff away as we go because getting around the wife is impossible. We would have no cause to complain if we cooked elaborate meals using loads of crockery, pots and pans but we only use two saucepans!
23. We need to find a tiny washing up bowl
We have hunted high and low for a washing up bowl that will fit in the Accordo 120’s sink but there is nothing around. I have tried online stores, camping shops, supermarkets, homeware shops…… you name it, I have tried it. A washing up bowl is essential for those sites where there are no washing up facilities, like Pier Cottage in the Lake District.
24. To plan meals better on future camping trips
The two weeks away in the Accordo 120 have shown there is a seriously lack of space for food. Whilst we do pan our meals we (that should be I) also throw a load of extras in the trolley “because I fancy it on holiday”. Storing the food has been a nightmare and since we bought me than we could possible eat we have had to put tins, cans, packets etc. wherever we could find some room, which turned to be some pretty obscure places. Buying too much has to stop and we have to make sure we buy just what we can eat and no more.
25. Buying loads of vegetables and fruit is pointless
Whenever we go away my wife has this idea that we need to make sure we eat healthy and buys loads of salad, to bulk up meals, and fruit for snacks. This is all well and good but there are certain meals where a side salad doesn’t work, and we tend to eat these when we go on holiday. Spaghetti Bolognese, curry, sweet and sour pork with noodles, chicken in kung po sauce and rice and a “left overs” dinner does not work well with a side salad, does it. As for the fruit, we take biscuits, cakes, sweets and other treats and don’t eat snacks. Most of the fresh stuff ends up in the bin, which is not only money thrown away but also wasteful
26. The slow cooker is no good for motor home use
When we had the folding camper we used the slow cooker every day, and over the years we have developed some delicious one pot dinners. We were hoping to carry this on to the Elddis Accordo 120, but can’t. Using the slow cooker in the Accordo 120 is not an option because it would stink out the entire van (we use the slow cooker for a lot of hot and spicy meals) but I think the steam could have an adverse effect on the wood. If the Kampa awning actually fit the van as it should we could have used the slow cooker in the tunnel, but as it doesn’t we can’t. It’s a shame, but the slow cooker is now redundant.
27. To try all curry sauces before taking them on camping trips
During our two weeks away we had a curry night each week. At home we make curries from scratch but in the motor home it is far easier to use a jar sauce, and the ones we chose were a Balti and a Bhuna. Both sauces were pungent, however the smell of the Bhuna sauce lingered until well in to the following day, even though the extra fan was going at full pelt whilst we were cooking it. Don’t get me wrong, I love the smell of curry but I don’t want the motor home smelling like the inside of a curry house! Before taking any more curry sauces to eat in the motor home we are going to try it at home first to see how strong the smell is and also how long it lingers afterwards.
28. Melted cheese & mixed herbs is an amazing combination
Whilst staying at Church Farm we took a cycle ride over to the Royal Hill pub for a light bite. The light bites were a bit thin on the ground and with a very limited menu we ordered a portion of plain chips for the wife and a portion of cheesy chips for me. When my chips arrived they weren’t only cheesy but also sprinkled with mixed herbs, and the combination was absolutely delicious. I am definitely going to start adding mixed herbs to melted cheese at home, as I can see loads of meal combinations.
29. A 16 inch TV is plenty big enough for the Accordo 120
TV is not that important to us therefore we opted for a small 16 inch Cello TV, which was ultra-light weight. I know the TV bracket can hold more weight but I have my doubts over where the bracket is fixed, and don’t know quite how much it can take. When I bought the Cello TV I was a little worried it would be too small, but it is the ideal size. Once the TV is pushed out forward it is plenty big enough, and any bigger would be an overkill for us.
30. Campers can be disgusting creatures
I can only describe some of the campers staying at Pier Cottage campsite when we were there as dirty, filthy animals. I don’t know who the perpetrators were but the left turds and tissue in the toilet bowl and didn’t flush, shaving gel/foam and stubble in the basin and shower gel/shampoo and other cosmetics in the shower. Why do people do this? Do they do this kind of thing at home? Why do they feel compelled to do it on campsites? It is totally rank. I was brought up to leave things the way I want them to be found, which is what I do. It’s a shame there were dirty scrubbers on the campsite who don’t share my values.
31. It always rains in the Lake District
We arrived in the Lake District in the rain and we left the Lake District in the rain. During our week in the Lake District it rained each and every day. Okay, there were some breaks in the weather but they were short lived and some days it rained all day. Even when there were breaks in the weather I looked to the horizon and there was rain on the hills that was headed our way. I never realized how much the weather affected me, it never did in the past, but then in the past I have never had to deal with 7 days of wet weather together with trudging through a grim campsite dodging the water filled pot holes and puddles. Pier Cottage campsite was a miserable place in the rain and by the end of the week I had a gut full and could wait to leave.
32. To keep an eye on the weather forecast
I have never been one to watch the weather forecast, and in recent times the unnecessary weather warnings the Met Office issues have been ridiculous. If there is the slightest shower there is a weather warning for torrential rain and flooding. If there is the lightest bit of sun there is a weather warning for extreme heat and sunburn. If the temperatures reach zero degrees there is a weather warning for ice, snow and blizzards. Weather warnings are issued willy-nilly and I take no notice. In the Lake District there was a weather warning for gale force winds, which I totally caught by accident on the news, by which time it was too late to sort the stuff in the awning and get it down. For once, the weather warning was accurate, the winds picked up and the night was spent in the awning making sure nothing bad happened.
33. The Freeview weather service is absolute crap
Once I realized I needed to keep an eye on the weather the obvious place to look was the BBC red button service, especially since we didn’t have internet access and we couldn’t get a signal on the DAB radio. The bottom line on the red button service is that is crap and totally unreliable. It was inaccurate, it didn’t give the wind speed and it rarely updated. Given the technology of today there are no excuses for this, and the weather is a total waste of a channel
34. Pay as you go electricity is cheap
On the sites that have charged electricity on a “pay as you use” basis it has always cost less than those sites charging £2 - £3 per night but then we are light users and only use power as we need it. In the Lake District the electricity cost £5.20 for a 7 night stay, which I didn’t think was too bad as we were paying the lady for our stay. On the drive to the Melverly I got thinking about it and then realised that given we used electricity to run the water pump (obviously only when the taps were on), to boil the kettle, to watch a bit of TV (no more than an hour a day) and to have lights on it shouldn’t have cost much anyway. We didn’t have the water heater on all week, we didn’t use the oven, we didn’t use the electric hot plate, we didn’t use the microwave……… We barely used anything.
35. Always check your change and ask for a receipt in Coniston
Whilst out and about in Coniston I was overcharged a pound in the Co-op. This may not seem like much but the total bill should have been £2 and not £3 paid. I didn’t realise the error until I walked out of the shop, with no receipt, and then when I went back in to sort the problem out the bloke said (with a smug grin on his face) he needed to see the receipt, i.e. the one he never gave me! It was a lost cause so I walked out feeling totally ripped off. After that experience I asked for a receipt for every purchase and checked my change stood at the counter. Once bitten and all that!
36. The internal blind doesn’t stop condensation
We bought the internal blind for privacy and to keep the sun from shining through the screen and fading everything. We bought the blind at a motor home show where the stall holder was banging on about the fact it also stopped condensation and misting. The bloke mad a huge issue over the no condensation thing so you can imagine my surprise when we used it in the Lake District and there was condensation all over the front screen. I really don’t know why the bloke made this claim because we would have bought it anyway. The condensation thing wasn’t a problem for us and we just wanted the privacy.
37 .We need to hang the cabin curtains
The condensation issues associated with the internal blind has shown we need to get the cabin curtains sorted out. We have the curtains, we have the curtain hooks – it’s just the damn curtain rail that was missing when we collected the Accordo 120. Getting the curtain rail from Brownhills was a real faff (I really don’t know why it was) and it still wasn’t sorted out by the time we left for our adventure (some 9 weeks after collecting the van – hmmmm…. That’s what you call customer service!) It’s a shame because if we had the rail we would have used the curtains not least because it is easier to draw curtains than faffing around with the internal blind every night!
38. Watching the Lake District get smaller and smaller in the rear view mirror is satisfying
I didn’t warm to the Lake District at all, and now it is off the bucket list, I doubt I will ever return. Some people say the changeable weather and the wet weather is part of its charm – well, they may find it charming but I definitely don’t. Some people say the small, tight roads are also part of its charm – and these people are welcome to those too. Driving south down the motorway watching the Lake District get smaller and smaller in the rear view was the best thing that happened during the first week of our adventure.
39. Motor homing is much more fun in the dry
Given the soaking we got at the Lake District by the end of the week I was almost ready to say sod it and return home. Motor homing, just like camping in a tent/caravan/folding camper or anything else, is not fun at all. I am so glad we carried on to Melverly because the dry week we had there turned everything around, and motor homing in the dry is easier, fun and very addictive.
40. The Kampa Travel Pod Air awning does not fit the Elddis Accordo
After three attempts, and using different methods, I can categorically say that the Kampa Travel Pod Air awning does not work with the Elddis Accordo. The awning fits to the rail, the sides peg down nice and tight but the door catches on the fixing kit and will not close, and there is no way around this. If the Elddis Accordo had a sliding door we wouldn’t have any problems, but the Accordo has a standard opening door and it doesn’t work as it should. We have to use our Kampa Travel Pod Air awning as a (damn expensive) standalone storage tent only.
41. The Kampa Travel Pod Air awning is a sturdy bit of kit
During our stay in the Lake District the Kampa Travel Pod Air awning was up in very windy conditions (speeds typically 18mph – 28mph) and was even up in gale force winds of 45mph, and it held firm. In addition to the wind, it rained every day and the awning took a soaking too. The awning didn’t leak and kept our stuff nice and dry. Whilst I am p***d the Kampa won’t fit to the motorhome the way it should, I am more than happy with its build quality and durability.
42. Roll out sunblind awnings are tougher than we were led to believe
During the demonstration when we collected the Elddis Accordo 120 we were told the roll out awning is only suitable for calm and still days where there is no wind. In the Lake District there were caravans and motorhomes using roll out awnings in windy conditions. Likewise, there were caravans using roll out awnings in windy conditions at Church Farm. I think the roll out sun blind awnings are tougher than the bloke at Brownhills told us and that we are being over cautious. This is something I am going to investigate.
43. We need to embrace the roll out sunblind awning
I have notice most coach built motorhomes, and quite a few caravans as well, use the roll out sun blind awning. We have one fitted to the side of the Accordo 120, it was part of Brownhills dealer special vans, however we have yet to use it. This needs to change and we are going to have to embrace the roll out blind – especially if we are going to try and dispense with the awning altogether.
44. Fold up bikes are the way forward
My wife use a folding Brompton bike which fits between the passenger seat and the dash board when the awning is out, and between the driver’s seat and dash board when the awning is in its bag and in the van. When we go touring we are going to try and dispense with the awning, which means we could have two Brompton bikes in the cabin, safe and secure. I currently have a standard bike, which is big, bulky and a pain to store if the awning is not up. A Brompton bike may be the way forward for next year.
45. The heating in the Accordo 120 is damn efficient
The unseasonably high temperatures were kind to us over our adventure (even though the rain was not!) however toward the end of the second week the temperatures dropped over night and it got a little chilly, which meant we had to get the heater going. All I can say is wow – the van heated up super quick, and we weren’t even on the highest setting. With a trip in November booked I was a little concerned we were going to get really cold, but now I have experienced the ferocity of the heater I am not bothered about November at all.
46. The Accordo 120 is a bit rough around the edges
As much as I love the Elddis Accordo 120 it is a little rough around the edges and the build quality is questionable in certain areas. For example, the magnetic catch on the pull out bed section fell off and on inspection it is easy to see why because the screws barely tie the wood together (they are too short!) There are other little quality control issues, none of which are major but they are annoying and create more things for us to sort out.
47. The roads in Shropshire are nicer to cycle around than Norfolk
Many people think that Norfolk is flat, but after cycling around some of the Shropshire countryside I can confirm that Norfolk is positively hilly. It’s strange looking at the Shropshire hills in the distance but cycling on the flat. From my experience cycling around Shropshire I can say it is flat and virtually traffic free. The road surfaces are also nice (i.e. smoother) than those in Norfolk too. Cycling in Shropshire is good fun, and I will definitely be back for me.
48. Fishing a river is more difficult than fishing commercial fisheries
Holiday is the only time I get to go fishing nowadays and up until this two week stint I had only ever fished commercial fisheries, where you are almost guaranteed to catch something. I say almost, because it is never certain in fishing and there will always be a day without a bite, but on the whole you never fail to catch at a commercial fishery. I got the opportunity to fish the River Vyrnwy, and I have to say that it was a challenge. After spending the best part of sixteen hours on the river bank (over a period of three days) I managed to catch a single chub. Hmmmmmmmmmmm………….
49. Drinking straws are essential to hair rig luncheon meat
In the past I have used luncheon meat to try and catch barbel and chub, and that is the bait I used in the River Vyrnwy. In the past I have had trouble keeping the meat on the hair rig however I discovered a trick to deal with this. A tiny piece of drinking straw pushed through the meat stops the hair acting as a cheese wire and slicing through the meat causing it to fall off.
The two week adventure in the Elddis Accordo 120 was a huge learning experience, and I feel the next few trips out in it will be the same. The learning curve is very steep at the moment, however I am sure it will flatten as we do more and more outings in it.