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    • BenF

      Forum upgrade   12/10/17

      Hi everyone, As you're probably aware, we've been in the process of upgrading the Caravan Talk forum software for a while. I can now confirm that the software has been upgraded and we're fully up to date. Please note that this new software is quite different in appearance and function, so may require a bit of relearning. We are in the process of refining the look, features and experience to make it a bit better and more familiar. If you spot any issues please let us know in the feedback forum. Unfortunately any posts between Monday morning and now have been lost. This is due to when the database snapshot was taken for the upgrade, this may also affect new members since then. We do apologise for this, but we have tried to keep disruption to a minimum. We are already aware and working on the following issues: PayPal payment issues for CT Supporters Forum design, lack of CT branding including colours Temporary loss of reviews databases Navigation bar needs refining We will keep this list up to date, so please check here before posting new updates, or to keep on tabs of our progress. The software was upgraded in order to provide you with a more secure, reliable, faster experience, whilst providing us with more tools to improve the features and options for the forum. Thank you for your continued support. Ben and the CT Team


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  • BenF

    A Guide To Using The Gallery

    By BenF

    The Gallery is a free tool available to all members of Caravan Talk to let you upload and share your photos.   We have recently updated the Gallery tool to remove most upload restrictions and photo limits so we should now be able to add high quality pics of our favourite holidays and towcars without having to resize images etc. ..   To celebrate and help introduce the gallery to those unfamiliar with it, here's a quick guide on how to add your own albums and photos using the Gallery:     Guide to the Gallery pt 1 Start in the Gallery and hit the green upload button to begin the process of adding new photos.   Guide to the Gallery pt 2 If you've already created an album, click "Select Album", if you want to start a new one click "Create New Album". This guide assumes that you've chosen "Create New Album".   Guide to the Gallery pt 3 Now you can set the album information - it should be fairly self-explanatory - you can pick the Name, Description, sorting method and whether people can rate or comment on the photos.   Guide to the Gallery pt 4 Now you can upload images to the album. Select the "Choose File" button and browse to the picture's location and double click on the image. Then you can hit the "Upload" button to add the photo to your album.   Guide to the Gallery pt 5 Once you've uploaded your images they should be displayed like this. Select "Review & Publish" to continue.   Guide to the Gallery pt 6 Here you can name the images, add tags, a description and the copyright holder's name if appropriate. Hit the "Save" button at the bottom of the page to publish your album.   Guide to the Gallery pt 7 You've now published your album, so sit back, relax and let your friends become jealous of your cracking holiday snaps     Want to know more about a particular feature or know a good topic for the next guide? Leave a comment below. ..

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  1. Saturday 11th

    My two nights at Coll Vert had cost me just €28. Now I had 190 miles to do to reach Cartagena so I left the site by 9. 15. Within minutes I was on the local main road heading north towards Valencia. Having reached the ring road my next direction sign was for the V31, the motorway heading south out of the city. After eight miles I reached a point where I had a choice between the toll-free A7 or the peage AP7. I chose the A7. After about 30 miles my Tomtom directed me to leave the A7 and take the A31. After a couple of minutes of indecision I decided to go with Tom’s suggestion. In another 20 miles I was directed on to a road with two way working which was in the process of being converted to motorway. However that didn’t go on for long before I joined the A31 which eventually rejoined the A7. The Spanish highway authority has done a wonderful job with their motorway system except for the fact that they’ve omitted to build any rest areas alongside some of them.     All the more amazing when you see the amount of uncultivated scrub land alongside most routes. All they have are signs directing drivers into a nearby filling station – very often in a nearby village.

    After driving for around two hours I was becoming desperate to find somewhere to stop and have a stretch of the legs. But there was nowhere. Finally after about 120 miles I arrived at a picnic area with a cafeteria. It was time for either a late coffee break or an early lunch. I decided on an early lunch and a beer – followed by 30 minutes doze.

    Back on the road, and before long I was seeing signs telling me that it was 60Kms to Cartagena. But what I’d momentarily forgotten was that my destination was another 16 miles along the coast – and over yet another range of mountains. That last 16 miles was particularly slow because much of it was along quite a narrow, steep mountain road with some nasty bends in it. Finally, down on the coast road I found that Tomtom and Google Earth had taken me to the very entrance to Camping Los Madriles.

    I checked in with my ACSI card and was given a plan of the site with the available pitches marked with green pen. There weren’t too many of them. The central road through the site is on a fairly steep gradient however, the lanes to both sides of the road are in terraces with all the pitches being flat and levelled. I found a suitable one close to one of the toilet blocks. None of the pitches could be described as large. At 6. 4 metres long, my van had just sufficent space both behind and in front, but a longer van would have difficulty. Also width wise – it was a tight fit to comfortably squeeze the car alongside. Each pitch was separated by hedges and on each there was a water tap and a drain outlet. The electric power supply box – which was locked – was on the next higher level so to connect and disconnect was quite a long walk. Toilet blocks had the usual equipment which was modern and clean. However no toilet rolls were supplied.

    At 5. 30, noticing the position of the sea in relation to that of the sun, I decided to drive a couple of miles along the coast road. I was just in time with my camera.


    Sunday 12th

    I drove the fifteen or so miles up over the mountains and into Cartagena. Tomtom took me to the entrance of the underground car park, but then I drove on along the promenade. Eventually I arrived at a piece of waste ground where parking was available. But then having looked at the map, realised how far it was to walk back along the prom and into the town. I decided to return to the underground park and pay the fee. Out on the prom again, I stopped at the enquiries for the Tourist Bus.


    I thought it might be my solution to getting around the sites, but I discovered it didn’t make stops so I rejected the idea. I took a walk and found the Roman Theatre.


    The dedicatory inscriptions to Gaius and Lucius Caesar and Augustus places the date of this theatre to before the birth of Christ. It was built on the same lines as most Roman Theatres with three sections of tiered seats.


    This particular theatre was only in use for 200 years before gradually becoming buried with newer buildings being erected over it. Only in 1988 when a 19th Century building was being demolished was the Roman work discovered.

    My next stop was to see the air raid shelters built during the civil war. Cartagena being a seaport, was one of the main routes for incoming food supplies and also armaments for the fighting taking place in Madrid. For that reason it became a frequent target for Hitler’s and Mussolini’s air forces and navies.


    The museum mentions one particular air raid on the 25th Nov. 1936 which went on for over four hours. The whole civil war period must have been quite bewildering for young children.

    By the time I’d made it back to my car, I’d had enough. It was time to head back to the caravan.

    To be continued.

    To see this blog with more pictures go to https://jondogoescaravanning. com/a-spanish-winter-2017-2018/

  2. Background

    A few weeks before we set off, the car had been giving me error messages that the diesel particulate filter (DPF)was filling up, culminating in putting the engine management light on and refusing to rev more than tickover. Unwilling to chance Darlington afternoon rush-hour traffic and a trip down the A1 back home, I elected to be recovered to a Peugeot specialist in Darlington where the car was given a '2-pack DPF clean and forced re-gen'. After I had fettled the front brakes for the MoT and changed the engine oil (recommended after a forced re-gen), I thought the car was in good shape for a French tour.  


    The holiday, part 1

    We started off by cruising down to Kent to stay at a familiar site at Womenswold before getting the ferry the following day and setting off for Mrs H's family's houses near Chaource, Aube. The outfit felt good and we arrived in the evening, pitched up in what used to be a large farmyard at s-i-l's house. We were able to connect up to mains water and drain grey water under the caravan; very civilised. During these get-togethers, the other s-i-l and b-i-l join up with the group either by them walking down the hill, or us cycling up the hill to where the rest of them are to have a joint meal and catch-up.


    This year, our hosts were due to start a contract in the far east so we feasted, drank their health several times and said goodbye to them as they set off for their home in England and thence to Shanghai for 2 years.


    Soon after it was time for b-i-l, a non-driver, to return from Paris and so we travelled to Troyes to collect him from the train station and return him to his house. Mrs H and I like Troyes; the buildings are of a similar age to York, it's largely flat and water runs through the town. Troyes is a lot more spacious and open than York and there are arty displays of sculpture or pictures arranged above the canal; this year it was photos of historic Tour de France events. We enjoyed a peaceful lunch in one of the many restaurants in the town centre.


    With the gap in my holiday budget caused by the DPF incident still painfully fresh, I was more than irritated to see the car again reminding me that the DPF was filling up. I searched for an phone-based app that would talk to the DPF and came across FAP lite which works for Citroen and Peugeot cars. It talked to the car's on-board diagnostic port via an ELM 327 reader that I had. The app showed the DPF as nearly blocked, or 'overloaded' as the app put it. At 105k miles, it was possible that the DPF was scrap, so what harm, I reasoned, would come from taking the filter off and washing it? Having done it before, it wasn't a difficult job to remove the filter and run some water through it. Pale pink fluid like rose wine trickled out the other end. Surely the water should run more freely than that? While I was pondering the failings of my car and its DPF system in particular, my b-i-l's neighbour came round to say hello. After some small talk I asked to borrow the pressure washer that I had heard being used the day before. There was a choice of 2 so I borrowed a mighty Karcher device. The stuff that came out of the filter this time looked for all the world like tomato soup. A couple of hours squirting first one end of the filter, then the other and I seemed to have much better flow of water. Maybe I'd managed to delay the purchase of a new DPF after all.


    The holiday, part 2

    We had agreed to transport b-i-l to near Cazaubon in the foothills of the Pyrenees in 10 days or so; he was to sing opera in a nearby small town for the owner of one of the Armagnac vineyards. The interval before this trip was ours to do with as we pleased so we set off south with the intention of visiting Dijon and the surrounding area. The car with its cleaned DPF performed well although the app showed the DFP as full and needing attention. There was more performance than I'd had for years. We like to camp near canals or rivers as they usually offer flattish cycling and pleasant scenery, so we chose a campsite 'Les Herlequins' at St-Jean-de-Losne which is at the junction of the River Saone and the Canal de Bourgogne. Les Herlequins was fronted by a busy bar and restaurant that clearly served campers and locals but the site was peaceful enough. Madame paid us the compliment of allowing us to practice our French on her while we registered, although I heard her later chatting to other Brits in English. We rolled out the Fiamma awning,  put sides on it and settled in. We liked the site so much that we decided to stay in the same place rather than move around. Our arrival was hampered slightly by me not bothering to look at the approach on Google maps and trusting the satnav (and not for the last time either). It turned out the road along the riverbank to the campsite was not mapped by my Garmin. Knowing the coordinates of the site, the satnav sent us as close as possible to the campsite coordinates on a road that was mapped, but on the wrong side of the river. We were left looking at the campsite 100 metres away with only a short stretch of river in the way. After some amusement, Mrs H and I started looking for the more trustworthy 'camping' signs in the town. That evening the app showed the DPF as fully serviceable; now it could get some flow through it, I speculated it had performed a re-gen on its own on the Autoroute. I was happy.


    The Canal de Bourgogne runs arrow-straight from Dijon to the River Saone near the camp site and ends in a lock and a sizeable boatyard where there was plenty of boatbuilding and repairing going on. We looked around the boatyard, listened to the crackle of some welding and someone beating something with a large hammer, and saw a plume of smoke from a diesel engine at full throttle.   We cycled up the canal for several kilometres, declined to lunch at an expensive restaurant at Aiserey and we returned to base. During our stay we visited Dijon twice, and Beaune and Dole once each. Parking in Dijon was expensive, so we moved towards the outskirts for the second half of our day in the town. On our way back we tried some restaurants, but we had missed the noon – 2pm lunch window. It was purely by chance we came upon an all-day restaurant in a big square where we had a good value omelette and a beer. We admired the architecture in all 3 towns but Dole seemed to be our favourite. I was amazed by the organ in the church which filled the end wall with its intricate carvings and drapes that hadn't been touched for years. One of our highlights in Beaune was a tour of the Hotel de Dieu which catered charitably for the sick of years ago. Mrs H thought the arrangement of hospital beds in a line was much more sensible than modern, head-to-the-wall layout.  


    Mrs H declared that we could not admit the we had visited Dijon unless we returned bearing gifts of Dijon mustard, so, a bit more canny about parking, we went back. We found some gardens and a bus stop with my name on which honoured the departement's Chief Engineer who had sorted out the town's water supply and developed a law governing water flow in porous media. Laden with mustards, we returned to Les Herlequins and thence to the Chaource area to pick up b-i-l for . ..


    The holiday, part 3

    With no sign of the annoying messages from the car telling me the DPF was full, and the outfit seemingly able to travel for dozens of Autoroute kilometres in 6th gear at 100kph, needing no more than a squeeze on the throttle to get up hills, it was with some enthusiasm that I looked forward to the next 800km leg. Cazaubon is off the D933 halfway between Mont-de-Marsan and Condom. As I am the only driver, we elected to stop at Châtellerault, the half-way point. B-i-l, being a thoroughly decent sort, offered to stand us a meal near his hotel. We checked in at the Camping Municipal, did a quick set-up and found b-i-l his hotel in the centre of town. Our caravan is nominally a 4-berth but 2 of the berths are children's size, and b-i-l likes his comforts, so staying with us in the van wasn't on the agenda.

    We returned to the caravan for a chill and got the bikes out ready to set off for the town centre and some food. Chatellerault had a lovely welcoming feel to it that evening. We had an excellent meal and found our way back to the caravan. The only thing to disturb us was the occasional rattle of a train swishing past at the edge of the campsite.

    The following day we launched ourselves at the A10 again, this time in windy conditions. We were crossing the R. Dordogne on a long, exposed bridge just outside Bordeaux and I was passing an artic trailer with a bulldozer on it. Unusually, the towing mirrors started shaking badly in the slipstream. Then some 'dirty' air swiped the caravan. The driver of the truck I'd just passed got a fright and so did I. I thought we might have had to stop and discuss the loss of one of the truck's mirrors. Lesson learned and I slowed right down.

    Several kilometres down the D932 brought us close to our destination. Rolling along a narrow French road, the satnav (and Mrs H) suggested a right turn. I took the turn onto a single track road and then stopped at the entirely unnecessary cul-de-sac sign where the track disappeared into the undergrowth. Checking the satnav showed two right turns but they were close enough to appear as one unless zoomed in more than normal. That's my excuse anyway. For the record, the map showed one right turn. Flanked by two deep ditches there wasn't space enough to unhitch and turn the caravan round; even if we could spin the van, I couldn't have got the car past to hitch up again. I would just have to reverse out into the 'main' road. My 2 passengers were stationed as lookouts and I backed out.


    We dropped b-i-l off at a huge house that he referred to as 'the château'. It was big and old certainly, but it didn't have the grandeur of the Loire châteaux that we had seen before. There were no carvings, no evidence of white limestone and no steep slate roofs. We headed for a little campsite said to be attached to a farm. When we got there, it was a basically a cart track on a picturesque wooded hillside with a green pond in the middle. The stillness under the trees and the stagnant pond just said “mosquito!” to us, so we left in the direction of Camping Lac de L'Uby. This was a large open site on the shore of a lake catering for watersports. Facilities were excellent and clean, and access to our pitch really easy. The receptionist asked us whether she should do the booking in procedure in French or English; nice touch I thought. I noticed as I unhitched that the blade stabiliser wasn't engaged. Odd; it's part of my checklist before moving off. That might have something to do with the wind incident crossing the Dordogne. Anyway, the man-made lake included a track all around so cycling was simple; Mrs H was happy and therefore so was I. The surroundings were beautiful and exploring was a pleasure.


    The evening of our arrival we were invited to dinner at the château with b-i-l, his pianist and madame, who was the owner of the Armagnac business. It was a simple and delicious meal which ended with a sweet that seemed like 50% cake, 25% cream and 25% liqueur. Mrs H drove back to the lake while the musicians stayed at the château.


    Inevitably, the day of the performance drew near. Music generally and opera in particular do not feature on my list of preferred ways of spending an evening, but I married into a musical family so I had to grin and bear it. There was a 2 hour interval between delivering the performers to the venue and the start of the event which we decided to fill with some cycle exploring. We were a long way from our lakeside in a village called Mauleon d'Armagnac and in the foothills of the Pyrenees, so a hill was to be expected. Half way up I decided to walk it and got off the bike. Mrs H didn't so much get off as fell off her bike, into a ditch. She had also chosen to fall upside down into a patch of the greenest, fiercest-looking nettles for miles. She was upside down, legs in the air, not wanting to move in case she got stung again. If it wasn't for the nettles, it would have been pure slapstick. We had an anti-histamine roll-on so I emptied that onto the hundreds of stings; we cancelled our bike ride and repaired to the ancient cobbled village square for a beer. I was concerned that Mrs H had more than her fair share of nettle venom on board but she shrugged and asked for another glass of rose. B-i-l performed well to a packed venue; we declined the post-performance party at the château.


    The morning of our departure from the area was the first day of the French national holiday, an event which didn't register 'til later that day. We hitched up, left our lakeside pitch and went to say goodbye to the contingent at the château. Before we set off we were invited to have a guided trip round the vineyard, brewery and still to see how the Armagnac is made. A whole year of tending vines ends in two18-hour days as the vines are gathered, pressed and lobbed into a series of vats each as big as a small house with gas burners beneath. No wine is sold as a result of this process, the liquor goes straight to the stills and thence to oak barrels for ageing. The aroma of the Armagnac in storage was divine. By way of a return match, madame politely asked for a look around the caravan. Once she had satisfied herself that there was somewhere to cook, to wash and to sleep, she seemed satisfied, a process that took less than 3 minutes. No opportunity to discuss the relative merits of 13-pin and 2 x 7-pin electrical systems then.


    The holiday, part 4

    Heading back north, destination La Rochelle, we noticed the A10 was really busy in a totally un-French M25 sort of way. Eventually we were down to stop/start traffic so we elected to take an early lunch at an aire. We changed our plans pretty quickly when we came upon the queue for the aire on the hard shoulder about 2 kilometres before. We went on to the next aire which was virtually solid. Caravan spaces? Not a chance. Cars were everywhere, on the grass, on the footpaths, in the service entrances. The queues to the toilets stretched across the aire. We circulated a couple of times before I spotted a length of grass just big enough to get the outfit off the tarmac without being in the way. It seemed very French to stop in an undesignated area. Lunch and a snooze later and our only choice was to back out into the aire traffic which seemed only slightly lighter than when we arrived. Mrs H did some arm-waving and smiling to stop the cars and we were on our way again.

    Then began a chapter of errors and stress that took some hours to resolve. My first error was to fail to book anywhere to stop on this important and busy French holiday. Using Archies as a guide, we headed for a campsite near La Rochelle harbour. It turned out to be for motorhomes only, and was full. So we chose another campsite across the other side of La Rochelle and I stupidly let the satnav launch us into the middle of some really really tiny streets in the town centre. As we were stopped at a pedestrian crossing one chap mimed “your outfit is way too big for this area” and shook his hand as though his fingers were on fire. I shouted my thanks to him and shrugged; it was too late, I'd committed us. There wasn't enough pavement space for the pedestrians; they were spilling out into the road, tourists' shoulders rubbing the travel grime off the van windows, shopping bags sliding along the car sides, and rucksacks clonking the mirrors. Then I saw a bus up ahead. Things were looking up; if I can't fit my caravan where a bus can go, it's time to sell up and hotel it in future. We followed the bus until it took a right fork and a massive stainless steel bollard rose out of the road in front of me. Oh dear! I didn't actually say 'Oh dear' by the way. There was a road to the left but I'd gone too far into the junction and would have to back up to make the turn. I had a queue of cars behind me so I asked Mrs H to bail out and get the drivers to back up. I was just breathing a little of the stress away through my open window and watching Mrs H in the mirror when I was approached by a gentleman holidaymaker;

    Could I speak French?

    A little.

    What can I do to help?

    Please ask the drivers of the cars behind to back up. I can't move the caravan until they move.


    As I was backing up, guided by Mrs H, the driver of the car immediately behind misunderstood the level of trust between Mrs H and me and leaned on her horn when I was about 2 metres away from her car. Eventually we were away, after thanking our helper profusely, to find campsite number 2. It was full. And so it was for two more campsites near Ayrtre. The last two we were 'accompanied ' by a French caravan being towed by a sweet-sounding American V8-powered van.  


    At 7:30pm we seemed to be running out of options. I had had enough, and so had Mrs H. We decided to turn inland towards Salles-sur-Mer. Mrs H was following progress on a map to try and pre-empt any foolish satnavvery. In Salles-sur-Mer we thought we were on our way to the camp site Le Moulin when we were confronted by a set of brand new 'No Entry' signs. We backed into the car park of some flats to turn round when a lady appeared, and in French that was a model of clarity, and speaking slowly, she explained exactly where the campsite was and where we should look out to avoid missing it. More thanks to this kind lady and we drove down towards the campsite entrance only to see the 'camp site full' sign and to meet Monsieur walking up the hill on his way home. Without hesitation, he invited us to walk round the site with him to see if there might be space for us. Despite the 'complet' sign, there was, and with huge relief, we said goodbye to Monsieur, our 3rd angel of the day, and we pitched up. Registration and payment could wait until the day after. I then distinguished myself by addressing a nearby family in French while I was filling the water containers. They were slightly bemused; they were from Cornwall. We liked Le Moulin so much that we stayed on for a few days.


    Phew! I'll book next time there's a French holiday. Incidentally, our plan B was to fill up the containers with water at the campsite taps and 'wild' camp in the motorhome park at the entrance to the camp site as Mrs H and I were both running on empty by then.


    We explored nearby Chatelaillon-Plage, found a busy food market and walked barefoot on the beach, something we haven't done for years


    A cycle visit to La Rochelle followed. We walked the streets and looked at the bollard that had stopped us in our tracks. We found the harbour and the vieux port where I saw more boats with masts than I had ever seen before in one place. We watched the tourist boats manoeuvring skilfully around one another, we found a market and we watched some street performers dancing energetically in the relentless heat.


    Mrs H said that she wanted to cycle to the end of the Ile de Re so we motored across the peage bridge and parked up at the first town we came to, Rivedoux-Plage. What we should have done is park before the bridge and cycle across. More of that later. We lunched halfway across the island, then fate lobbed us a custard pie. I went too fast onto a change of road surface near Ars-en-Re which sliced open my bicycle rear tyre and inner tube. We stopped at a cycle shop to blow the tyre back up with their air line, but it only lasted a couple of kilometres or so. My bike has hub gears meaning that it takes a while and some tools and expertise to get the back wheel off and on again, so we returned to the bike shop, where they replaced the tube and put it all back together for €20 while we had an ice cream. If that sounds a lot, I've done the job before, and €20 is cheap, so thank you Cycland.


    We cycled back to the car after some discussion as to where exactly we had left it, and then sat in a queue for an hour waiting to get back to La Rochelle. As I said, we did the trip the wrong way round, we should have left the car on the mainland.


    Then it was time to head north up the N10 to Chartres. We checked in to Camping Bords de l'Eure where we were greeted by Monsieur who fancied himself as a bit of a comedian. The site was large with fine facilities except the tap next to our pitch which wasn't working, and we pitched up near the entrance. The first night some teens disturbed me at 2am screeching and running noisily around the site but it was an isolated incident. A short cycle ride took us into the centre of Chartres with its beautiful cathedral which was illuminated by a son-et lumiere event (in English). The following night we took the little train (a disguised tractor and 3 road-going trailers) around the town and listened to the French commentary, some of which we understood. Chartres seemed to have tried really hard for tourists, much of the city was lit for the benefit of pedestrians and riders on the little train. With the experience of La Rochelle fresh in my mind, I was intrigued at the way the train negotiated the right-angle turns in the narrow streets without running over anyone's toes. From Chartres, we headed back to Calais for an evening ferry. The boat was an hour late and then there was a problem letting us off at Dover. We sat for ages on the car deck among everyone else's engine fumes. A distant siren could be heard, and flashing lights. Eventually a chap in hi-viz clutching a toolbox ran past us. No explanation, nothing on Twitter. Any tannoy announcement would have been drowned in engine noise. Black mark P&O. And so, in darkness, back to Womenswold which signalled the end of the holiday. On our way back up to Yorkshire, it was the A14 that stalled us. Time for a stop and fuel at Cambridge services. The caravan parking area was full of non-caravan vehicles so I parked across the back of them, blocking them in, including an AA recovery truck. Sorry, but it had to be done. As it happened, no-one was inconvenienced and I claimed a slot vacated by 2 cars.


    Latterly the stabiliser was unlatching itself every journey so needs some attention. I need to talk to the garage man about his DPF cleaning procedure, its cost and effectiveness, and we need to get back on holiday as soon as possible.

    Sorry, no pictures. I've never really made the transition from film to digital. I reflect that my film picture-taking was much more to do with enjoying working a precision machine than showing any talent in photography. Mrs H takes pictures of the family; not really relevant to this public blog.




    Hi Guys,

    sorry for the delay, yup got the van on the 8th. basically from then until now I've been pressing power on. . . . . power off. Lights on. . . . . lights off. Wait for it. . . . . . . . . water on check, hot water. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . oh yes check. I am now officially a 2week caravan veteran. Heading off down the country tomorrow night so managed to get booked in at a weigh bridge to doubled check everything (moment of truth for my spreadsheet).


    Just holding off as to which route I going to go. Weather says west side of country gonna get battered so if that the case then I will be driving the extra 60 miles down the A1.


    Who called me a chicken. . . . . . . . . come who said that. .


    Charlie, good point mate, didn't think of that

    Joanie - the missus has bought 4 of everything, saying that she wore the tshirt I bought her to pick the van up

    OCD - Obsessive Caravan Disorder but yeah I'm piling the car high and calculations are putting me at 82% ratio.



    Source: Honestly Feedback For A Newby On Towing

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    Recent Entries

    Latest Entry

    Hi folks

    We have just had our Verona GT65 serviced and damp was found on the offside, near the wardrobe the readings were in the order of 100 percent. I was told on the quiet that damp is proving very common on the Alu Tec build and Bailey are very aware of the problem, we have had to wait six weeks before this could be attended to by our dealer. What chance with the resale value as this build problem becomes known? This is our fourth Bailey and boy are we disappointed! With the technology available tto day this should not happen, shame on Bailey!!!


  4. SimplySimon
    Latest Entry

    Also available on Thomson's Travels



    18th November 2014


    After a few days around Civray, in the garden of Julia's brothers house in the Poitou-Charentes, we found ourselves, in light drizzle, headed south down the N10 towards Bordeaux, arriving at the campsite at about 15:30hrs.


    A nondescript drive only made notable by the cruise control deciding that it wasn't going to be a cruise control, just a switch on the steering wheel pretending to be the cruise control! Cured by a stop in an Aire, turn the engine off, then back on again to teach it who's boss!


    The approach to the campsite at Camping Bordeaux Lac (Now Closed!) is somewhat peculiar: Drive West along the A630, hang a left at junction 5 turn left, turn right under the bridge, head East, back down the A630 to junction 4a drive to a roundabout take the first exit go back under the A630 and the rest is easy. The trouble is that the Mr Tomtom doesn't recognise junction 5 as a way through and wants you to go to junction 7. . . We're getting good at ignoring Sat-Nav's in general!


    The campsite, was beautiful, large pitches, lakes, fountains and fresh bread in the mornings, if you order it and a heated shower block.


    At 17:00hrs, forgetting that people have to go home then, we thought that we'd go and find the supermarket to get food for the next few days. . . What a mistake!


    The Sat-Nav took us to a building site, admittedly one where we could see the shop, but in the end, it took us 45 minutes of hell, driving up and down a clogged motorway until we found ourselves in the carpark. We dumped the car, bikes still on top, in the outside carpark,there were no height signs, so didn't want to risk going under cover. The shop, well if I said a nightmare, some, the shoppers amongst you might complain, but come on! There seemed to be a row for everything! One row for Camembert, one row for Emmental and so on, ad-infinitum! The place was bigger than a big thing on stilts


    It took a age to navigate around the wine aisles, the cheese aisles, the fish aisles, the meat aisles (The new shoe aisles, the spare brain aisles!). Finally we made the tills, the car and we set off home. The only way out was through the covered car park! With heart in mouth, we negotiated the speed humps (that would have made a good climb on the Tour de France), under the concrete beams strewn with hanging signs, worrying that the bikes would take a like to one of them and get attached! We made it out and a mere 25 minutes later we were back at the campsite! It was dark and only just over a mile away from the shop!!


    NEVER AGAIN! Until next time!



    19th November 2014


    A day in the sand is planned, except firstly we'll visit, yes you've guessed it, the shops again. I think I've found a quick way there. . .


    We set off to check out my 'quick way there', and in a matter of 10 minutes we were driving through the Auchan car park, this time without the bikes on top, looking for the Decathlon, to look at cycling attire.



    The trip to the coast of 50 miles was well worth the effort. We parked near the Dune de Pilat, €1 for 4 hours parking, first 30 minutes free (Take note Poole Council!!!), walked the 200 yards to the dune, clambered to the top to be met by a sand-scape to die for. miniature canyons, river valleys and even a crashed (toy) plane which had created its own mini dune.


    On the drive home, we decided to stop off at a camping shop we had noticed on the way out, just off junction 11a.


    If we'd realised how far off, we may not have bothered! we found it in the end after passing through a Romany encampment which had taken over a number of factories. Not just factory units, whole factories! There was room for caravans, cars, motor homes and tents, all under cover! To top it all, the whole area was covered in clothes from cloths banks hanging out to dry, getting ready to be sold in the local market no doubt.


    Once at the camping shop, we bought some toilet chemicals and headed back to our corner of the travellers world.

  5. Hello again.


    No, you can relax this not the start of another epic drivel fest as we’re not away in the ‘van again – although we have been in a ‘van – quite a few as it happens, thanks to a visit to the Caravan & Camping Show at the NEC.


    To me, our weekend start around 7pm Friday night when I’ve finished work. The minibus is parked up and the keys handed back to security. Trev picks me up and we head off for grog and grub. So that’s where I’m going to start this blog – Friday night.


    Predictably the miserable excuse for a road that is the A27 was partially blocked so after I’d dropped the last kid off, I had to return to Brighton along the coast road. Seemingly with half of Sussex. I’d managed to get stuck behind a driver – I use the term loosely – who was having some issues with clutch control. When they did manage to get going their driving was so erratic that, had I been a copper, I would have been reaching for the breathalyser.


    By 7. 15pm however we were on the road, wolfing down sarnies, as we pointed Rosie north – but only as far as Cambridge, the reason for which will become clear. Later.


    The journey was trouble free and Rosie performed well and seemed to relish not having a tonne and a half of caravan on the back. We saw the usual thoughtless, careless, selfish and downright dangerous driving and kept well clear of the tail gaters which it had to be said consisted mostly of powerful German cars and big 4 x 4’s.


    We’d picked a B & B close to the station and after checking in, uncharacteristically stayed put, despite the presence of a pub not 10 minutes walk away. We settled instead for a cuppa and the remnants of dinner – chocolate and crisps. Yes, the diet is going well…


    With our jobs demanding early starts during the week it was no hardship – well not much – to be up and on the platform at Cambridge Railway Station soon after 6am. Nevertheless we were glad of the coffee and bacon baps suspecting – correctly as it turned out – that there wouldn’t be a buffet trolley on the train.


    Unusually for me, I’d not gone for the cheapest option when buying the tickets. We could have saved twenty five quid or so by travelling via and changing in, London although the journey would have been longer. As it happened a large portion of said journey would have been on a bus anyway thanks to weekend engineering work.


    It was a pleasant enough journey, heading north first through Ely, March and on to Peterborough before veering off to the west, through Leicester and finally Birmingham’s shiny New Street station a little over two and a half hours later.


    We needed to get another train to Birmingham International – the station that serves the NEC – and for some reason I hadn’t bought a through ticket. Whether is wasn’t offered on the booking site or not I can’t recall. Anyway, I’d made a list of trains that would call there and one was imminent so we headed straight for the platform where the train was ready and waiting.

    We found the ticket inspector who was about to board and asked if we could buy tickets on board and he could not have been more helpful. Our original tickets were amended – both the out and return journeys – and all for just 50p. Result. It’s all to easy to moan, particularly when ‘Service with a Grimace’ seems so common, but this chap was great.


    So within a few minutes we were at the NEC and although it only a little after opening it was already getting busy.


    We had no intention of trying to cover the whole show so headed straight for the caravans in general and the Coachman area first to see what the latest incarnation of our Patsy looked like. It was good to see the latest models and what the other manufacturers were offering too, but there was nothing that really grabbed us – not that we were in the market for a new ‘van anyway. What our visit did though was change our minds about the sort of layout we’d like in the future. Our original preference had been for a rear island fixed bed with the washroom in the middle – a design we first saw in Coachman’s 545 model. However having had a good look our favourite layout now would be an end washroom followed by two single beds, then the kitchen and lounge. To us it would be a more flexible layout. It was nice too to be recognised as ‘the legs down guys’. Sorry, I should have asked your name, but thanks for saying hi. It means a lot.


    There was a couple of other things we checked out too. A towing cover is something we’re seriously considering so we had a look at the offerings from Specialised Covers and Protec. The other was a WiFi aerial and amplifier arrangement and a couple of examples on show gave us food for thought too.


    It was time to head to the pub. Well it wasn’t quite but we went anyway, passing the Caravan Club – sorry, Caravan & Motorhome Club on the way. The name change had certainly stirred some interest as the area was packed, although it could also have be that there were plenty of seats and people were simple taking the weight off!


    Twitter Beer O’clock – our rather loose excuse for a pint or two – was well attended by both new, old and even older friends and the time flew by. Burgers and chips were consumed and instantly forgotten as the conversation flowed. Some drifted off back to the halls, but we had an appointment with the 1622 from New Street, so made our way back to the train. It had been an enjoyable day, and ultimately as it turned out, a potentially very productive afternoon too.

    Regulars will be pleased to know that Saturday did end properly. In a pub.


    Sunday brought with it the reason we stopped in Cambridge. A visit to see Trev’s 91 year old Mum, whose jaw continues to baffle medical scientists, it being the only part of the body not riddled with arthritis. Must be all the exercise it gets….


    With sundry chores completed and lunch cooked it was time for us to head back south, a journey which was unremarkable – at least until we’d descended Handcross Hill on the A23 and the road had levelled out.


    I was in the middle lane, in the midst of overtaking someone, when a large Mercedes 4 x 4 came steaming past on the outside. The noise from the array of drainpipe sized tail pipes suggested he was intent on going even faster too. Up ahead, was a little Kia, busy overtaking someone. The Merc. driver decided to tailgate the Kia in the hope of getting him to move out the way presumably. What exactly happened next was unclear but a short while later, the Kia was a mangled mess, facing the wrong way alongside the crash barriers. The Merc. eventually came to a halt on the nearside, his front off side wing a mess and tyre almost completely detached from the rim.


    We stopped too, called the police, ascertained that no-one was injured and went on our way. It’s a testament to the safety features of modern cars that it’s only egos – and probably wallets – that were bruised but could easily have been so much worse. We spent the rest of the journey home speculating what exactly happened, as, sadly our dash-cam wasn’t running!

    So that was our weekend away. Hope you enjoyed it and apologies for the earlier lie about a load of drivel!


    Until the next time…

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    Most of you will be aware of the damage I caused to my caravan last September. It was

    written off by the Insurers, because the damage was estimated at nearly £14,000! Door

    and frame smashed, three foot crease behind the door,and some internal damage behind

    the table cupboard and wardrobe. Also the nearside wheel.



    Having studied the work involved, I bought it back, because I knew It was repairable for a lot,

    lot less than that. . . . . . and it was a challenge! :)


    Firstly, it was the wrong time of the year to have an accident - caravan in storage, and

    winter approaching, so it has taken until now (March) to start the work.


    My intentions were to work from the inside out. With the drawers removed from the

    wardrobe, I could see the extent of the damage. Luckily nearly all of it was behind, so

    I would not have to be too particular cosmetically, although I would not skimp it.


    First job, vacuum all the polystyrene chips out. I could see a split in the wallboard about

    two feet long and jagged. I pushed the pieces together and used 2" wide Gorilla tape to

    hold it together while I glued a piece of 3mm ply to the back


    I intend to cut out the aluminium outside in a square,about 39" x 9",and the same amount

    of insulation. I have bought a bag of polystyrene beads, which I intend to mix with Polycell

    to pack the space with. I did consider polystyrene sheet but I thought that would leave



    The side of the small cupboard was dismantled for access to the worst of the internal

    damage. Where the wood was badly damaged I scraped it out and use wood filler to build

    it up.


    Where the damage is outside, I am going to butt joint a square of aluminium, by gluing a

    1" strip of aluminium round the edge, 1/2" below,and 1/2" to glue the repair panel to. (I know what I mean! :rolleyes: ) Since thinking of using Gorilla glue, I contacted Henkel, who supply Elddis, and a very helpful Mike North suggested Teroson MS939. I have purchased this, and it is very

    strong stuff!


    As I am working outside, security will be a problem with the door off, so off to my sons' farm

    where I also have use of electricity. The door needs to come off first because the wooden

    frame is damaged, and I cannot proceed until that is sorted.

    Good job I am at my sons. The door frame was an horrendous job to remove! - I would

    never have done it without his help!


    While the door is out, a good opportunity to update the awning light! I poked a metal awning peg up to draw the wire down inside to the new light position.

    blogentry-52060-0-12351700-1490632418_thumb.jpg blogentry-52060-0-53781600-1490631040_thumb.jpg

    The frame was not too badly damaged, so with G clamps, I re-positioned it, and pinned and

    glued it in place. With the piece of ply attached it was now really rigid. I used a (nearly) matching

    piece of fablon to finish it off.



    Laid the door flat and started filling edge with Teroson adhesive. Cartridge ran out with about

    two feet left to do. Opened the second tube. . . . . . . . . . . . . and it's BLACK!!! :angry: Past the point of no return, so I had to use it! Kept it on the inside edge, so that it would not show. Luckily it was

    at the bottom. Very strong email to supplier! :angry:


    On this photo, you can see the strip glued in to hold the new panel.



    Mixed some polystyrene into a thick paste and trowelled it in to replace lost insulation.



    Attached repair panel.



    Back to the storage for the mundane task of filling and sanding, about 3 days work!

    First day.



    Second day.



    And finally! d



    I have ordered new stripes, but I will leave that for a while, so that the paint can harden and

    be flatted down and polished before fitting.


    After a LOT of rubbing with all sorts of grades of wet and dry, and a special cutting compound (which knocks spots off T Cut!), this is the final result.



    The costs (£) :


    New door and frame £323. 25

    Paint and primer £35. 00

    Filler £6. 00

    Terason adhesive £24. 24 (2 free, complimentary)

    Polystyrene beads £3. 10

    Metal cutter £8. 55

    Plywood £1. 50

    Sanding paper (Poundshop!) £2. 00

    Stripes £18. 91

    Cutting compound £7. 95

    Total £430. 50






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    Latest Entry

    For all I love caravanning and camping with my partner I also dread it at the same time. He can be extremely gung ho and if things don't go right instantly he throws a strop and quits. We don't work well together when setting up camp (at all)

    I like to pace myself and set things out in the order they need to be done as to achieve harmony but he likes to just unpack all at once and rush. He also won't accept when I know how to do something that he doesn't. Put it this way we usually need a holiday to get over our holidays. It's a good job to some extent that he works away all week so we get that time apart lol.

    I'm not sure if he is in a league of his own or if this is a trait of other men too as the couple in the caravan next to us this weekend were also at loggerheads trying to put their awning up and like us decided not to bother.

    It usually takes a night at home afterwards when he has finished throwing a tantrum that I take the tent or awning to my mums large back garden and put them up alone to dry that he will finally admit ok you were right I should have listened.

    Maybe if he read the instructions before emptying things into a huge heap we might actually one of these days have a harmonious getaway haha

  6. Throughout my story there has been a variety of nice men, but this time

    I have excelled myself with a total of SIX all at once!


    Those of you who have been interested in my tale will know that I moved here to a bungalow in readiness for old age, and after a light bulb moment in the middle of the night before removal lorries arrived, I envisioned my new home completely gutted, walls down, rooms moved, driveway re-positioned, in fact a total refurb.


    Just as those of you who have the happy luxury of a woman in your life will know, once seen never forgotten, so from that moment


    I knew that a simple redecorate was never going to cut it.


    Walls removed and rebuilt elsewhere, rooms reconfigured all happened fairly rapidly, the driveway followed with me personally lifting and cleaning approx 8000 paviours for re-use, but the builder I expected to return got himself bogged down (for 2 years) and too busy to remove the chimney and breast which took up space in my small bathroom.


    As luck would have it I contacted an old friend of my late husband, a roof monkey, and he and five of his team descended (or should that be) rose onto my roof and beavered away removing repairing and cleaning as they went.


    Unfortunately the chimney, which started as an easy demolish, descended to ground level as a double skin. Not satisfied with that the very diligent 1964 brickie bonded them with concrete! The emotional level in my bathroom rose as the days wore on. New tools were brought into play, ample coffee attempted to help but only dampened the surface of the aggravation experienced by those trusty souls.


    In the end it was left to two, one to chisel the other to fill the skip, and fill it they did!


    Now I have a room with a third more space than it started with. which will allow a walk in shower as well as a bath. All I need now is another nice man with Bathroom Fitting credentials. I should point out that I have fitted and plumbed the kitchen (my 3rd) and done all the decorating and a fair amount of demolition myself, so am not one to sit and watch necessarily and if I bite the bullet and fit the bathroom myself it will be my 4th, but . ...........


    well perhaps one more nice man wouldn't go amiss!



  7. We woke to snow showers in the morning, though none had laid. We drove to Scarborough to shop in Morrisons, we needed a frying pan for my breakfast, as well as other sundry items - we never seem to stop buying things for the 'van!

    When we returned we decided to put up the awning that was lurking under the bed. After mighty struggles (no wonder they call them "divorce in a bag!") we discovered that there were no side panels with the awning. We reported this to the site warden, who assured us that they would be found. (see later entry!!)

    Cat was out all day, roaming the fields and hedgerows we suspect.

    Time for dinner and we could not get the gas oven to work, the site engineer called round and informed us that the taps below the oven need to be switched on - I was sure that they were!

    It was a lovely sunny afternoon and a relaxing evening. We played Trivial Pursuit and ended one game each.





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    And just when you can see the light at the end of that tunnel. ..


    Just showed him to a woman from round the corner, good job I did - wet patch around one corner of the roof light, confirmed by a drip in front of my very eyes!


    Need to act on it asap

  8. jfo's Blog

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    I bought the Coachman Amara (badged Festival) MY 2009 at the end of June.

    Since then I have been away on four relatively local trips with it, and one long one, to north Wales.

    Until last weekend (end of August) I had only stopped at sites with full facilities; being cautious, if not apprehensive, to ensure that I could have more factors working in my favour than those which may choose to work against me.

    Last weekend I went to a Caravan Club Rally. Not only did I duly receive a small penant to register the fact of my first Rally, but I also had a four day stay with only water and Elsan disposal facitlities.

    I was pleasantly surprised to have progressed through the weekend as uneventfully as I did.

    I received help and advice from the seasoned rallyers, for which I was grateful.

    I came home feeling accomplished and quite satisfied that I would be more confident to embrace 'grass roots' caravanning in the future, and not suffer the 'wobblies' if not offered EHU in future.


    Since June I have gradually adopted the caravan and at least cosmetically modified it to suit my own tastes. I have purchased the components and assembled them, so that I now have my own free-standing 100W solar panel set-up. I have received a lot of helpful advice via these forums, including the information to convert my 12V halogen lights to LED's.


    In short, I now feel that the caravan is mine, rather than a commodity I have bought from a dealership. I now feel comfortable talking about my caravan, rather than the caravan.

    My first significant step into this mysterious world of touring. :)

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    midland caravan and leisure
    Latest Entry

    midland caravan and leisure ltd are now members of the mcea

  9. Honk
    Latest Entry

    Well it's been a busy few weeks and not just with the reupholstery. Been doing 60 hour weeks and spending lots of time catching up with my son who came back from Oz.


    The good news is that within a week he applied for lots of jobs and three asked for interviews. He took one of the jobs and the other two also offered him a position :) There is work out there for those willing to find it.


    Back to the revamp. I won't lie when I say that this has been a challenge, from starting the task without a sewing machine, working out how the thing works, teaching myself how to cut & sew material, understanding the folds/creases and getting the foam back into the covers.


    I have had a few traumas along the way, sewing things back to front and even spilling a glass of coke over one cover. One thing has kept me motivated along the journey - to show people that anything is possible with the right attitude. It's OK to mess it up, you learn from making mistakes.


    My wife has been a slave driver, a 'just hold this' apprentice, a tea boy (in drag) and a finisher (I tried to get a huge cushion under the needle but physics beat me). My sister came to visit one night apparently but I was too hard at work to notice . ..



    I can't remeber if I posted this next picture before but all it needs are the buttons to be fitted.



    And the back cushions have been finished on one side too. They needed to be pinned to secure the material when I took this photo so they look a little baggy here.



    I have brought home the last three from the living room so I am hoping to get less hours at work this week as working till 11pm and getting up at 4:30 means my beauty sleep is suffering.


    Will try to get some more updates soon.




    Edit: Pic added of sewing machine.


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    Hymer eriba man
    Latest Entry

    While in southern Italy recently with very high temperatures the dome of our doubled glazed Heiki roof light came apart with the lower section dropping down, we closed it down to get it to go back together.

    has anyone had this problem and how did you fix it?

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    Can anybody tell me if there is a caravan smart repairer in the Hornsea East Riding of Yorkshire area as I have trawled the internet without success. I would appreciate any information (Please see photo's of the type of repair that I require mainly on the ribbed section).





  10. The journey home


    At the end of our time in Samoens it is time to head home. We intend taking it a bit more slowly than the two day dash down here, so our first stop has been planned for Langres. It’s one of these places we have meant to visit before, partly because being close to the autoroute it’s somewhere we have passed close to on many occasions over they years, and partly also because it looks an interesting town worth a visit.


    Thankfully our journey from Samoens is not nearly as windy as when we were travelling down here. The autoroute tag continues to work well, and seeing cars avoid us at the tollbooth and join another queue, only to be left sitting there as someone fumbles with their credit card, while we sail on through without any delay, brings a smile to our faces.


    The road is actually quite busy today however, most of the traffic Belgian for some reason – must be the end of the Belgian holidays and everyone is heading home. There’s an increasing amount of British traffic as well. Still very few caravans around.


    The site we have chosen is Kawan Lac de Liez, a few miles outside Langres. It’s a large site, set on a hillside location overlooking a reservoir. The site is fairly quiet and we didn’t have any trouble arriving without having booked. Most pitches have good views of the lake, but the downside is that many are sloping, some fairly severely, and I could imagine you would find it tricky to pitch a large caravan on some of them. Our pitch however isn’t too bad, and most of the pitches seem to be serviced as well. An added advantage is that at this time of year (April), they take camping cheques.


    The site has good facilities. There are a few well equipped toilet blocks, and there always seem to be staff going about on cleaning duties. There are indoor and outdoor pools, although the outdoor pool isn’t open yet. We thought about trying the indoor pool, but a family on a neighbouring pitch told us it was fairly cold, so we decided to leave it for another time! There is also a restaurant and bar, and a large deck area that will obviously be popular later in the season. Unfortunately the restaurant and bar aren’t due to open until the week after we are staying.


    A short walk down the hill from the site takes you to the lakeside area, where there are a couple of restaurants and bars, and pleasant walks along the lake. Even early in April, it’s a popular area with locals and it’s quite busy when we take a stroll down. The walk back up the hill involves a couple of fairly steep sets of steps and might be a problem for anyone with limited mobility.




    Next morning we took a trip into Langres. It was a Sunday, so when we arrived around 10am the place was quiet, and we got parked easily just outside the town walls.


    We had a walk around the town, looking at the cathedral and some other buildings on the way. On the way we stopped at the tourist information office and a very helpful lady gave us a few idea of what to see. This included a walk around part of the ramparts around the town, giving some excellent views over the surrounding countryside.


    The town filled up a bit with more people as the day went on, but was never busy and we quite often found ourselves alone in some of the atmospheric side streets. You could imagine however that in the height of summer it would be a lot busier with tourists.


    After a couple of nights here we are ready to head further north.




    As we leave Langres we are heading towards our ferry from Ijmuiden near Amsterdam, but intending to stop somewhere on the way. We decide to aim for a site at Seraucourt-le_grand just outside St Quentin, chosen as it is not too far off the autoroute and it’s more or less half way towards our last stop before the ferry.


    The site is easy to find, albeit that the last few miles of road are incredibly bumpy. The “le Grand” bit of the name is a bit optimistic, as it’s a fairly small village by the Somme, but the site is very attractive and the lady on reception very friendly and welcoming. Quite a number of semi-permanent caravans sited here, many of them British. A very nice spot not too far from the Channel ports for those of you lucky enough to live within a short drive of the coast.


    Some ponds off the Somme are literally within inches of some of the pitches, although well fenced off. A field adjoining the site is open for walks and holds a few donkeys and goats that are very friendly until they realise we don’t have any food. Would have been very popular with our two daughters when they were younger!


    We visited a nearby Commonwealth war grave, well tended as always, and had a walk around the village. Not that much to see, but a very peaceful attractive village nonetheless.


    Wifi at the site was 2 Euros extra, and although fairly slow we were able to check emails and download the newspaper. After a night here, off we go again.




    This time we’re heading for Leiden near the Hague to spend a couple of nights at the Konigshof site. It’s a fairly short drive from our ferry, and we have planned to meet friends whose son is studying at university nearby.


    Other than an unplanned drive around an industrial estate just up the road, we find the site fairly easily. Surprisingly however we find ourselves in a queue at reception and it looks touch and go as to whether we will actually get a pitch here. We hadn’t realised that the gardens at Keukenhof were very close by. They are only open from March until May and are extremely popular of course – we’d heard about them and seen pictures but hadn’t realised that they were quite so close to the site.


    The site is packed – mostly British – and a lot of people seem to be on a rally or organised tour. Luckily, we manage to get a pitch, and, even luckier, a serviced one, so no lugging water and waste around! Surprisingly the site takes camping cheques at this time – even better.


    We had a very nice, and very reasonably priced, meal in the site restaurant. The site has a lot of facilities, including indoor and outdoor pools. Pitches seem to vary in size. Some look quite small and are surrounded by other pitches, but our pitch is huge and hedged off from others.


    The Hague


    Next day we head off to the Hague, driving to a park and ride and getting a train in to the centre. We visited the Mauritshuis museum, home of Vermeer’s Girl with the Pearl Earring. Very busy, even at this time of year and reasonably early in the day.


    Later we met up with our friends and their son. They live very close to us and it was purely by chance that we discovered we would all be in the Hague at the same time. After lunch, we visited the Mesdag Panorama – Google it if you want to know more, but well worth seeing if you are ever in the area. We then had a look at the Peace Palace and took a tram to the panoramic tower building giving great views across the city and beyond.




    As we were so close, we could hardly pass up the chance to visit the gardens, all the nicer for being an unexpected bonus at the end of our holiday. The caravan site sells discounted tickets.


    As our ferry doesn’t leave until 5pm, and Ijmuiden is only about an hour away, we decided to go on the way back to the ferry. We spoke to a couple of people on the site who had been already, and they assured us that there wouldn’t be any great problem taking the caravan there. We did get a bit of a funny look when we turned up at the car park, but the staff were very helpful in getting us parked in a spot where we wouldn’t get blocked in and miss the ferry. Lots of camper vans, but only one caravan!


    The gardens are outstanding – stunningly colourful displays of flowers. Very popular and busy, but not to be missed and we were glad of the chance to see them. The day was a bit on the cold side, but the rain stayed off until just as we were leaving.


    The ferry home


    Back to Ijmuiden and the ferry back to Newcastle. Again not too busy, and thankfully a quieter night’s sleep than on the outward journey.


    Next day it’s off up the A1 and we’re home in Fife by mid afternoon.


    P. S.


    Just got the bill for the autoroute tag. 199 Euros, so about £70 each way. Not cheap, but worth it in as much as we wouldn’t have been able to go so far in two weeks by meandering along lesser roads. Strangely, we were charged at Class 1 on one section, but disappointingly it was about the shortest section!


    Had such a good time that we’re already planning something similar at the same time next year. Before that, back on the same ferry in July for three and half weeks away, this time heading for Italy.

  11. I had to have a break from working on the caravan in the cold due to the flu and a chest infection at the start of February but soon got back up!


    When I last left here the wooden panel was on the back and painted. That worked well.


    So on a cold day in FEBRUARY again me, mate Brian, his son Matt and my youngest Owen all went up again as Brian had picked up a bit of rail to tidy up the join at the back so we were away to get that on and paint it which we knew wouldn't take long.


    The kids took over the riveting once the holes were drilled!

    Owen riviting

    Owen And matt painting The back


    Once it was fitted Brian was overly pleased at how good it looked considering it wasn't even a caravan part so I had to let him do the honours of painting it!


    Brian painting His New rail proudly


    Then because we had time we decided to strip the vinyl off the middle sections of the front and back and paint over it the same colour as the back end.

    Front stripped

    Can't find a pic of the back end now! But never though i'd see it that white again!


    Then cleaned and painted although again the kids did most of the painting!


    Front finished

    Matt again

    Back stripped

    Back finished


    Once finished I decided to just strip off the roof and side vinyl to do it the same colour but due to the dark nights still around would have to wait until another day.


    We missed the usual start of the season 1st March due to work, boys having football matches etc so when me and my Husband finally got a quiet overnight stay a couple of weeks later he gave me a hand to strip off the vinyl! Shock horror!! Although I know he'll give me a hand he's not really into DIY things because it's "mine" but likes lounging in the caravan! So here he is at work!


    Peeling Off The vinyl


    Then I got the rest of the painting done and I must say it looks good! Except the door needs going over when close up but for now it will do!


    Front roof painted

    Side Finished

    Back finished

    Caravan finished


    And we had a good Easter weekend away with no DIY!! I dont mind the DIY but was good to get a break. Now it's all painted it could do with a wash as the sides are showing it up!






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    Continuing with this blog, I have just returned home from our last event at RAF Rougham in Bury St. Edmonds, home to many B17 American pilot during the Second World War. The Tower still stands today and is a memorial to the men and women that served their during those dark days, this should differently be on your list of places to visit if you ever find yourself around there.


    As I was working the whole of the weekend with the show I didn't get off site to explore this area so apologies if that, however I did take a few photos to show how the caravans area is set up and how busy it was despite the awful weather forecast. It really is a good job the public don't take any notice of the weather forecasters otherwise event like ours would just disappear.


    The ground was prepared over a period of weeks and walk ways to the caravans was cut to make walking easier for all, the distance between the caravan are wide enough to accommodated the largest of awning and vehicle too. Arrivals to this event was Thursday to Monday. Passes are provided to give you easy access in and out and Security is provided thought the night from when the show finishes to when it starts again the next day, just to keep those opportunists at bay.


    So there you have it one event over. If enough interest is shown here I will continue with the blog after our next event which is in Scotland at a place called Strathavan airfield, if any of you watch grand designs then it is the airfield where they built the all metal house. So until next time happy camping to you all.

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    What better way to get through the first cold, grey weeks of the year than by planning a caravan holiday? Often, organising a holiday can be as enjoyable as going on one – so take your time, make a nice cup of tea and enjoy.


    If you aren’t sure where to start, here are a few tips:

    When: perhaps you are limited by your job or family commitments, or you simply prefer to travel in the warmer weather.

    Location, location, location: from the stunning scenery of the Lake District to the beauty and solitude of northern Scotland. Maybe the beach is more your thing, or even a tour around Europe!

    Choose your site: Once you know when and where you want to go, take some time to look at sites. Here are a few things to consider when selecting a site:

    • What kind of facilities do you require? Do you just need the basics or will you require wi-fi, a swimming pool, etc? Don’t forget laundry facilities and a local shop if you are planning to stay for any length of time.

    • Do you want a calm spot or a busy site with lots going on? If you are after some peace and quiet to sit and contemplate the beauty of your surroundings, a large site with lots of facilities for children and teenagers might not be for you.

    • What about the dog? If you own a dog, does the site have a dog field or run?

    • What is there to do if the weather is bad? Let’s be honest, the British weather is unpredictable at the best of times. If it’s pouring with rain, will you go stir-crazy in your caravan if there is nowhere to go?

    • What are the local places of interest? Castles, museums, beautiful walks, local festivals . . .

    • Once you have decided on a location, it’s time to research suitable sites. The best place to start is probably the internet. There are lots of websites available, so it’s time for another cup of tea and some surfing!

    • Caravan site gradings: sometimes these can be quite confusing – five ticks, four roses, three thistles, two stars, one pennant. The important thing to remember is that these grades relate to facilities rather than quality of service. A small site without a swimming pool will never achieve five stars despite it being a perfect spot with friendly, helpful owners.

    • Recommendation: it’s always worth considering sites recommended by friends or other caravan owners. Look out for site reviews in magazines and online too. There will be plenty coming up on the Coachman Blog!

    Book in plenty of time: especially if you are restricted by school holidays.

    We'd love to hear what you always plan before a caravanning holiday!


    Taken from: http://www. coachman. co. uk/blog/how-to-plan-a-caravan-holiday

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    Our Motorhome was all packed and we were raring to go. The Sun was out as we left home, what a difference it makes.

    We were heading for Whitby and on the way we stopped off at Runswick Bay for a walk and a bite of lunch, we then carried on along the Coast to Sandsend where we stopped again to make the most of the lovely sunny weather.

    We were staying at the North Yorkshire Moors, Caravan Cub Site a nice quiet site situated 6 miles from Whitby. We had a chilled evening and enjoyed a gentle stroll to the nearby Falling Foss Waterfall.

    Day Two and it was raining! We drove into Whitby, it was very busy as it was the Goth weekend. We enjoyed our day soaking up the atmosphere and admiring all of the different styles and costumes of the Goth's and of course you cannot go to Whitby and not have Fish and Chips.

    Day Three, time to leave and head off to our next destination, Filey. Weather was looking promising and when we arrived at our first stop Robin Hoods Bay it was lovely and sunny. We had a lovely walk along the beach and around the town and as the weather was so nice we had our lunch outside the Motorhome in the bright sunshine.

    I had booked a deal through the Haven Website at the Blue Dolphin, Filey. We were a little worried as we had never stayed on a Haven Site before. I booked in and the touring warden was friendly and helpful. We had been allocated a hard standing pitch with electric, the touring park is large and has a modern toilet block which is kept clean by the lady attendant who was on duty daily. The main entertainment facilities are separate from the touring park and therefore the Site was pretty quiet on an evening.

    A short walk from the Site leads you to the Cleveland Way, we had a lovely walk along the Coast into Filey where we enjoyed our lunch on the promenade in the sunshine watching the world go by, fantastic. We drove into Scarborough and parked along the front, again the weather was good. After a busy day wandering through the town and seafront we enjoyed our lunch in the Motorhome admiring the lovely Scarborough scenery. Another day trip we made was to the RSPB at Bempton Cliffs. Entry was free as we are members of the Caravan Club and we had a lovely day watching the different birds. We spotted Gannets, Guillemots. Razorbills and Puffins and the views from the cliff walks we superb and to top it off the sun was out again.

    Day Six, Thursday alas it was dull and wet! We managed a short walk with the dog and had a lazy day in the Motorhome.

    Day Seven, Friday weather forecast looked dry so we decided not to head home today. We left Filey and headed for Rosedale Abbey. On route we stopped of at Thornton le Dale, a lovely wee village. We had a wander around and found a nice wee shop that sold outdoor clothing and as there was a sale on we treated ourselves to a few bits. We called into the lovely home bakery and enjoyed our lunch again outside in the sun.

    We drove on to Rosedale Abbey and arrived at the Caravan Club Site and was pleasantly surprised by the lovely site and surroundings. I had telephoned ahead to book,which worked out well as it was Bank Holiday weekend and the Site was fully booked when we arrived.

    Again we were very lucky and the weather was gorgeous, we sat out all afternoon and enjoyed the sunshine and lovely Site.

    Day Eight, Saturday. We planned to be up nice and early and get a good walk on Saturday morning, there are many walks to choose from direct from the site we did a circular walk and it was beautiful scenery following the river added to the lovely sunshine it was great.

    There is plenty of choice in Rosedale for eating out, we selected the White Horse Inn as it was dog friendly and we were not disappointed, we had a lovely lunch after our walk in the cosy traditional Inn.

    Saturday afternoon we chilled on Site, sitting out again enjoying the lovely sunny weather.

    Day Nine, Sunday and sadly our last day and as it is miserable weather and raining we head directly home.

    We have had a smashing holiday, it is really good touring from place to place with the Motorhome and we cannot wait until our Summer Tour, hopefully the weather will be kind to us again.




  12. I have seen on this site as well as many other similar sites people have been having problems with Caravan and Motorhome worktop dents caused by items falling out of units above while in transit.


    There is also a few solutions being offered which I myself do Not advise, One is the use of Colourfill filler which is mainly used for small chips and joining sections of Kitchen workops together and is Not really suitable for a Caravan or Motorhome worktop dents as it will shrink through time.

    and it is still very noticable after using.


    Another is to cut a hole underneath and push up the dented section which is not ideal as you have to move part of the supporting cardboard inside the worktop which will weaken around the damaged area and you are still left with the cracks on top to try and fix.


    Some people have suggested cutting a larger hole in the top and glueing in a tile or chopping board. again Not ideal as the formica is thin and its only cardboard underneath which if not sealed properly water/liquid will get in weaken the cardboard inside and you will be left with an even bigger hole.


    We know this because we carry out these types of insitu repairs to Caravan & Motorhome worktop damages as you can see in the before and after pictures on this site and you can see around 138 other before and after pictures on our website in the Picture gallery albums at :- www. aonejoinery. webs. com

    We cover Edinburgh, Fife, Tayside, & Surrounding areas carrying out cosmetic surface repairs to Caravan & Motorhome worktop dents, Alongside our other cosmetic surface repair services.


    I would advise anyone with this problem to contact a COSMETIC SURFACE REPAIR COMPANY to carry out a repair for you without using any of the above mentioned solutions.


    Please feel free to comment on above info or before and after pictures as its good to hear different views on this subject.


    If you do have an annoying dent in your caravan or motorhome worktop and are planning a trip around any of the areas we cover, we will do our best to assist you by coming to a site to carry out a repair if you require. it can be done in a few hours.


    You can also leave any comments you wish to make on this Picture gallery All feedback is helpful to our business.


    Please read our customer reviews on our main website :- www. aonejoinery. webs. com

    where you will find a few reviews from Caravan and Motorhome owners who have had us carry out their repairs to their damaged worktops.

  13. blog-0197802001396447934.jpgWell, it was not to be. Not yet, at least. What had been planned as the start of a whole new way of life, stretching forward through the years and the countries, isn’t going to happen now. Fate laughs in the face of plans. We know that, yet we keep on making them. After a single, wonderful season living on board our Senator Arizona, coming to love both the caravan and the lifestyle, it’s all change again.


    It looks like the next couple of years will be spent in the Middle East in a high rise apartment rather than wandering across Europe. We could have declined the Abu Dhabi opportunity when it was offered, of course, but it is unlikely something similar will come our way again. Whereas, we hope to have the years granted to us to one day restart our journeying along the highways and byways. Monetary logic dictates that it will be in a different caravan, however, which makes it feel like the ending of another era.


    But what an era it was. OK we didn’t get as far as we’d planned – just around parts of England and Wales – but we got to experience the very real pleasures of this wonderful pastime. And we picked what was, for the most part, a glorious summer. Emerging from the depths of a disastrous British winter it may be difficult to remember those heady days of sunshine but the spring and summer of 2013 were the best the UK had had for years. I’m so glad they were ours to spend pitched in club sites, fields, woods and pubs as well as what were, essentially, back gardens.


    We will remember the magical days of rolling up, picking our spot, setting up and . ... relaxing. In years to come the new sights, sounds and, yes, smells will stay in our thoughts. From fishing villages and ruined castles, rolling hills and crashing seas to buzzing cities and the multicultural metropolis. Towing down narrow country lanes and going the wrong way through the streets of London will be particularly vivid memories! Oh yes, there’s nothing like holding up the capital’s traffic. We’ve loved it all, if only in retrospect for some parts. And, make no mistake, if it hadn’t been for changing circumstances we’d still be at it!


    I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has offered advice to a couple of raw beginners, neither of whom had ever owned a caravan or towed before. Thank you for welcoming us into this wonderful community and I can honestly say we’d have struggled without you. You’re all to be applauded and this site is an absolute gem.


    For those of you who have been following the blog a special “thank you” particularly for the words of encouragement. It will continue but it’s more likely to be about a couple of Brits trying to adjust to the lifestyle of the Middle East I should think. I hope you’ll continue to join us. Long life, good health and happy caravanning to you all.


    Fond regards,

    Cathy (aka RagDoll)



    www. lamputtsonland. wordpress. com




  14. Compass Omega


    This is our little caravan, we have had a few nights away in it and it’s a great little van, but I live in Barmouth, out in the sticks and apart form working in the care sector, which I have done, big money taken for clients for little or no care, I am tired, tired, tired of working for OTHER people, and I am looking into changing my caravan into a small catering van.


    The window which seems obvious to use a serving hatch, is actually too low and would make serving uncomfortable, I have read some other advice for people that say if you cut out the window you then have to reinforce it.


    I did think about just using the door as the serving hatch, as it has a stable effect and I could rest a hatch on the top and sides of caravan?


    Does anyone have any advice to help me please, or know of company / costs to take out the window and make slightly taller, even if that can be done?


    Also does anyone have any idea about paint to use on the outside, would like it to be two tones, a neutral colours, creams, lights blues.


    Thanks so very much all - to all caterers to INFINITY, (nephew is into Toy Story at the moment), heaven and beyond………ha ha