Monday, 10 October 2011

To Sleep - perchance

Arguably sleeping facilities must be one of, if not the most important features of any caravan, after all at its most basic that's why we buy them. Eribas provide a host of options to meet almost anybody’s preferred sleeping regime. 
They offer models with just two berths, through three and four berths and so suit any size family except perhaps those with five or more members, although it’s not unknown for extra berths to be provided in an attached awning.  
There are models with fixed double beds across the van, for those that don’t like daily bed making, and there are doubles made up from lounge benches, which can either be used widthways or sometimes lengthways. However double beds both fixed and movable usually suffer from the problem that calls of nature in the night often require one sleeper to disturb the other in order to get out of bed to use the facilities. Fixed double beds provide loads of storage space underneath, but normally at the rear of the van which may not necessarily be highly useable due to noseweight and other weight and balance and hence safety considerations. 
A recent model Troll 530 with fixed rear double bed with loads of storage underneath.
The relatively rare Pontos model even provides a central double bed option with its head against the vans rear wall and space for accessing the bed on either side. It has a third berth which is made up from the dinette across the front but, rather oddly, doesn’t have space for the third sleeper to sit at a table. I have heard it referred to as the model for those Eribaistes with a butler, although even butlers need somewhere to sit down and eat sometimes, don't they Jeeves?
'Yes Sir' pronounced Jeeves evenly.
Unless you’re relatively short there are only a limited number of layouts that will provide single beds using the lounge benches or the dinette conversion as in the Pontos and there are certain options that allow slightly wider singles as well, plus the bunk beds which I’ve mentioned elsewhere.
Obviously unless you have a fixed bed Eriba, with its dedicated mattress, you’ll have to make up the bed or beds using the seat cushions. Generally this isn’t a big issue although the arrangement of some front dinette cushions can seem confusing at first.
Standard spec. Eribas come with foam filled seat cushions which to my mind seem perfectly comfortable, however most UK supplied vans have interior sprung seats supplied and these are supposed to be superior in quality and comfort. I’ve sat and slept on both and marginally find the foam filled ones better for supporting my lithe 17 stone frame, but maybe it was the nice bottle of red that evening that helped.
A lot of people find that using a mattress topper improves their comfort and sleep, evening out bumps and hollows that can disturb. Some people use their standard home bedding, including duvet and others prefer the camping sleeping bag option.
Our Poppy's long (6ft 5ins) main benches with Duvalays left in place and covered with a beige throw.
As we tend to use single beds in our van, to allow greater floor space for our dogs and easier washroom access, we used to use sleeping bags, but didn’t like their restrictive, follow you around all night nature or the ice cold zip on the back when you least expected it. Then we discovered Raskelf Duvalays, an innovative design with a memory foam topper on the bottom and a quilt attached to one side that flaps over by a wide margin. You just slide into bed as normal and pull the quilt over you and the overlap keeps you snug and warm with no restriction or cold zip. Brilliant and thoroughly recommended. The quilt internals are available in both summer and winter weights and they even make a storage bag if you feel extra tidy. There are two downsides, one is that they aren’t cheap and the other is that when rolled up they might quite a large roll that can be a problem to hide away in a smallish Eriba. We tend to leave ours out during the day as lounging bolsters.
A Raskelf Duvalay with a Cappucino coloured cover and matching pillow case. Just looking at that snuggly quilt makes me feel sleepy.
Whilst discussing sleep in an Eriba you should be aware that if you are on an electric hook-up and running the fridge on the mains then the whole of the caravan will be lit by an eery green glow from the switch on the fridge. This can be handy for night time excursions, although not the most flattering of colours to be seen in and unless you are very sensitive it shouldn't cause sleep problems. However if it does bother you I have heard of a number of people that place a sock over the light at night to allow the interior to return to its natural blackness.
Knee Rolls
I have been reminded (thanks Pete) that I should mention that Eriba seats don't have knee rolls. Knee rolls are the rounded humpy bits on the edge of a seat that fit, as the name says, under your knees. The problem is that when the seat is turned into a bed the knee rolls become lumpy bits in the middle of your bed. I can only think that their continued use in a lot of caravans is a triumph of form over function and that as suspected a lot of caravan designers don't actually sleep in the products of their fertile imaginations. True knee rolls add a dimension to the 'look' of a caravan bench and arguably they may make the seat marginally more comfortable to sit in, although I've never noticed, but they definitely make it more uncomfortable to sleep in. Anyway Eribas don't have them, their seats and benches are flat and provide an excellent sleeping and sitting environment.

The next blog covers the practice of culinary crafts with the limited facilities and the limited space in an Eriba

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