Having been continuously caravanning since I was 21 and having bought my first when I was 26 (we borrowed a friends van before we owned our own). Having had several including two new vans I was spurred on in August 2017 to buy a new van when my then current one was stolen.
What was different for me was that for the first time I was going to look for a new van without having built up to the idea over a long period and so I had no idea what I really wanted.
My circumstances had also changed since buying my last van in that now I am a widower and so would have to look at the van from a new angle.
My previous van had a side double bed with a rear bathroom and two things I knew was that the new van would have to have the end bathroom, but definitely not the side double, as It was a major operation to make up!
Whilst the insurance claim was proceeding I began to look at all of the model styles available. I did not want a twin axle, as I like the manoeuvrability you get from a single axle, and was prepared to accept the lower Maximum User Payload I got with a single axle. I still liked the idea of having a fixed bed, but discounted the two singles proposition as they are, for me, too narrow, and so it was the transverse double for me.
Once I had decided on my favoured layout, end bathroom, transverse fixed double bed, I then began to look at manufacturers. This took a little while, reading up on each model and then travelling to a dealer who supported that manufacturer to look at build, colour and overall caravan looks. After this process I had whittled it down to having Elddis as my favoured manufacturer, but they had four ranges. Well instantly Buccaneer was out, as there was no single axle in my layout (I would have bought Buccaneer if there had been one though), so I had the other three to choose from.
During October there is the NEC caravan show and as luck would have it I was also at the NEC working my own industry exhibition, but even better mine finished on the Saturday and by staying over one extra night I was able to attend the caravan show on the Sunday. I had done my research and knew each model within each manufacturers range, which hall and in what order I wanted to view them.
I was there at 09:15 and had to wait until the show opened at 10:00, eagerly sitting outside of the door to the hall my first visit was set for. By noon I had looked at everything I had previously discounted and was happy with each of my decisions and found myself on the Elddis stand. I then carefully looked at the models that I had singled out and spent time in each of them. To be honest they were excellent, each having its own ambience and openness that I wanted, but one stood out above the rest and that was the Crusader Mistral, I just fell in love with it.
I placed my order with my preferred dealer and collected my brand new Mistral on the 29th November 2017. I had been without a caravan for the first time since August 1984 and it had been a traumatic four months of not being able to go away at the drop of a hat, but now I could again!
My Mistral has performed flawlessly for me, it is so spacious, clean and fresh, the bed is so comfortable and the bathroom is a treat, I am extremely happy. I cannot fault the van in any way at all; it is everything I expected of it and more. In the last 11 months the van has travelled behind my car for 6119 miles and I have spent 107 nights in it, visiting Belgium, Germany and France in the process, in fact it feels like I have hardly been at home. I don’t think I’ll be away as much in 2019, as I think this year I was making up for lost time, but nonetheless I will travel to France at least twice and already have a 10 day break in Cologne, Germany booked for early March. I love my Mistral!