Issue 44 – February 2012

 

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EDITORS COLUMN

First of all may I wish you all a belated Happy New Year and apologise for the lateness of this issue. Having over-wintered in Spain longer than usual I have not been able to publish the winter issue until now. This one will be the last before Peterborough and therefore I have included the minutes of the last AGM and the agenda for this years AGM. I hope than most of you will be able to attend the AGM, even if you do not rally with us for the duration of the Show. This year the AGM will be on the Sunday (29th April) at 10:00 am. This is a change from the usual Saturday afternoon because the inevitable “do” afterwards clashed with those wishing to go to the evening entertainment. Don’t forget to bring this mag with you to the AGM as it contains the Agenda and the minutes of last years meeting. If you want to put forward a resolution to be considered at the AGM, please inform the Secretary in writing by April 7th. Now to membership. Richard informs me that we lost 24 members (12 outfits) over the renewal period, which is a bit disappointing . However we do have 4 new members to offset the gloom.

There will be no rally reports in the next issue so, unless you flood me with articles, it will be a very thin magazine. Here’s wishing you all a Merry Christmas.

Ron Smith

The next issue is due out by End of May Input to me by May 10th at the latest pleas

11 WAYS TO THE SUN

– Ron Smith

We have been travelling down to over winter in Spain for the last eleven years now, and each time we’ve taken a different route. This year was no exception.

Sun Oct 16th – up at 6:00am, off at 7:00am. From Derby a decent run down the M1, lots of mist until along the M25, quite a few road works (50mph), but not much traffic and we arrived at Dover 10.55am. Probably our fastest run down. We usually travel in the UK on the Sunday to avoid the lorries and rush hour chaos on the M25. We had booked on the 13;55 ferry, but got on the 12:05. A relaxing read of the paper and cup of coffee , and we were in Calais. A quick fill-up at the BP station near the port (the disadvantage of a Sunday is the lack of filling stations open. After a sunny journey we were soon in Cleres (north of Rouen) and parked up on an aire that we found a couple of years ago while meandering in Normandy. It is a nice hedged aire with water and electric if you need (3€ jeton). After a cuppa and an eccles cake we strolled into the village (10 mins walk). It is a pretty village with a stream running through the centre and an old market hall. A few shops and post office. Sunny all day and 352 miles.

Mon 17th – A good night’s sleep then a quick walk into Cleres for a baguette, breakfast and off at 9:20am. A good journey through Rouen, Pont de l’Arche (fuel), Dreux, Chartres (with it’s impressive cathedral) and on towards Tours. We don’t usually use toll motorways but we did to get across Tours. The peage to get on was under repair, only one booth open and we had to queue – all for 90 cents. On the free bit through the centre there was an accident which held us up a little, then on the peage bit out there were roadworks most of the way till we left it. We were heading to one of our favourite stopover campsites, La Futuriste just north of Poitiers (excellent facilities and take camping cheques). There was a “route barre” and we had a to take a little diversion (thanks Tomtom). Soon settled in, showed and fed . We parked next to a Scottish lady (alone apart from 2 dogs) who enquired about sites and routes into Spain. I wonder where she is now. 249 easy miles today.

Tues 18th – we are heading for our friends who live near St Emillion, east of Bordeaux. Using the N10 we reached Angouleme and did a quick shop at an Auchan hypermarket. Then across country on local roads, arriving just after lunch. After a cuppa and a huge piece of plum tart, we were off on the mandatory walk around the lanes and vines, stopping to chat to any local to get the latest gossip. They have a large spread and plenty of room to park on a specially made area. A pleasant evening catching up then off to bed Another sunny day and only 150 miles.

Wed 19th – After a late leisurely breakfast we finally said “au revoir” to our friends , and armed with jars of homemade jam, made our way across country towards Pau. After passing through Pau the sunny weather finally gave way to dark clouds and then rain making the crossing of the Col de Portalet less pleasant than usual. Having tried most crossings from France to Spain, we like the Portalet best as it is very scenic and traffic free. It does get closed each year after the first heavy snowfall. We crossed back one March and there was 10 ft of snow at the side of the road in places. At Camping Gavin near Biescas, they have facilities, restaurant and shop, if you need them, and they take ACSI card (15€ a night). We filled up with fuel and were surprised that diesel was 129.9€ a litre, the same as we had paid in France (at the hypermarkets) – Spain has always been considerably cheaper than France in the past. Just 190 miles today.

Thurs 20th – The day dawned bright and sunny for the long, easy drive via Huescas, Zaragoza, Teruel to the little village of Navajas where Camping AltoMira, another reliable night halt. This is now a super easy route , if a little boring with few places to pull off for a break, unless you leave the autovia. The village of Navajas is interesting to look around but on this occasion we didn’t (getting old!). 252 easy miles.

Fri 21st – Another sunny start but as we approached Valencia the clouds formed and the rain started which accompanied us the rest of the way to our supermarket stop, to stock up with heavy and bulky items, and on to our destination. 114 miles and we’ve arrived.

So this year it was 5 nights en route. We have done it quicker, 3 nights – too hectic, and we have done it slower, much slower. Which way is best? I don’t know. Why not tell members your experiences, there is always plenty of space in the magazine.

THE GOOD SAMARITAN

– A Spanish Benimar Owner.

– Ian Tilley

My wife Sylvia and Scraggy Cat and myself left Denia at 8.30 am on a Sunday in our 11 year old Benimar Camper to return to the UK. All went well until the van shuddered to a stop as the engine suddenly stopped for no apparent reason. For the last 5 years at various odd times this strange fault has happened, but on all previous occasions the van started up again once the ignition switch was switched on again. (usually after 2 or 3 tries). During the 5 years I have tried many things including getting a specialised Fiat mechanic (English) in Denia to resolve the problem. This involved putting a new solenoid shut off valve into the fuel pump. Also the emergency fuel cut off was also replaced on the advice of an English mechanic in the UK. So many times we had thought that the problem was cured over the years as some trips posed no problems but here again it reared its ugly head. The van died just outside Zaragosa on the motorway. It just would not start so Sylvia started to phone the breakdown facility we have. As I was outside with Sylvia switching the ignition on and then off so that I could see what was happening as I had fitted LED lights via the electric cable to the fuel cut off solenoid I saw the lights go on then suddenly off. Finally they stayed off. As I was outside at the front of the van a motor cyclist with a lady on the pillion stopped and came up to me and said in broken English – Wait I will come back in 10 minutes with a van! With all the long delay in getting sense out of the breakdown the man came back down the motorway with a transit type van. He opened the back door of the van and to my delight he had a battery, Jumper leads, (which I had myself) lengths of wire, a large tool box and other bits and pieces. So he stuck his head under the bonnet and we both tried to sort out the problem. It was obvious that no power was getting to the solenoid so he put a piece of wire from the battery directly to the solenoid feed cable and I jumpered the safety cut of unit with a wire device I carried in case the unit again had been faulty. The van then started up to my relief. Due to this modification the only way to stop the engine now was to remove the ground lead from the battery and my special jumper so that the solenoid could stop the engine. (Diesel engines need no power to continue to run). Well Carlos at first would not accept any money for his help but I insisted and gave him 20€ for his petrol and help. You know he kept talking in Spanish – Benimar but I did not understand him properly. He gave me a card with his email address and since arriving home I emailed my thanks to him. Today I received an email from him and guess what he is a BENIMAR owner. I attach a photo of his van to the letter. (see page10) So off we went getting fuel at various garages without stopping the engine all the way back to Eurotunnel. On the way we stopped the van at the aires buy removing the cables from the units. The next challenge was Eurotunnel and I did not stop the engine until we were positioned as usual last on the train. Quickly getting out of the van, opening the bonnet and disconnecting the battery and small cable the van stopped. I then connected it all up ready to start it once we reached the terminal to disembark. All went well and we arrived home safely and stopped the van in our enclosed drive. What a relief!! The next part is that we are returning to Spain at the beginning of January 2012 and I have been urgently trying to find out what has been happening. To cut a long story short after stripping out all the front of the dashboard and looking at relays, cables, junction blocks and various control devices I think I have at last found the culprit. An immobiliser had been fitted not long after I purchased the van and if it is switched on the engine will not start due to the system shutting off the power to the solenoid. (I don’t really use it). I only found this out after looking at the old documentation and circuit diagram, luckily I had kept. Yes there was a possible faulty connection I found which I could easily pull out of its connector! It would have been giving an intermittent connection at random times at any time. So in the end let’s hope this is the solution to the never ending problem. We will see when we return soon to Spain, hopefully not broken down at the side of the road again.

 

 

 

ODDS AND ENDS

We have received a couple of requests from sites – here goes :-

Subject: Camping el Folgoso. Ofertas.

Dear Sirs:

Our company operates two campsites and restaurants in Parque Natural del Lago de Sanabria (Zamora, Spain), and lead us to inform you of the facilities with which we and the offers and to tell you that we are at your for disposal if you ever want to come here. Keep all facilities open all year (365 days). “The Folgoso Camping Restaurant with capacity for 150 people together, can provide lunch or dinner to over 450 in three shifts. Specializing in grilled meats and homemade meals. We also have the possibility of free and ample buffet of set menus. “Italian Restaurant Peña Gullon with a capacity for 60 people, with an outdoor terrace with capacity for more than 80 people. Specializing in Pizzas and Pastas Italian Artisans. Fully acclimated. “The Viquiella beach restaurant, next to the lake, the area most famous for its spectacular views of Lake Sanabria (photos attached to them) and a capacity for 50 people, recently glazed for a better stay inside without losing any of the display of the natural environment .. “Camping “The Folgoso” completely renovated in the year 2011, one of the few free camping in Spain, with more than 230,000 m2 of oak, direct access to Lake Sanabria has capacity for 1800 people, with 3 bathrooms equipment, sinks and sinks. We have 12 bungalows canvas, new this year, totally isolated.

We also have a supermarket staple items, including 750 m, a pub with 80 seats which will remain open in the fall and winter months, and aimed primarily at the celebration of festivals and events, such as be birthdays, bachelor parties and private parties, has a team of professional music, which we make available to the group if anyone has knowledge of DJ. “Camping Gullón Peña, who also have refurbished this year to allow customers to offer a modern and comfortable, with facilities and services to help you enjoy your stay. This is a camping category 2 located in the vicinity of Lake Sanabria, also within the Parque Natural del Lago de Sanabria and system of free camping for 800 people to enjoy their stay, in an ideal setting, surrounded by trees and nature. A haven of rest, where you can breathe fresh air and live in harmony with nature. A short walk from both Camping, start more than 26 hiking trails of varying difficulty and distance.

There are also cultural visits to a few kilometers as is the historical town of Puebla de Sanabria, with all its old town, the castle, the home of the Park in the town of San Martin de Castaneda, the Interpretation Centre in Robledo Iberian Wolf ( opening soon). We special prices for groups. We also offer email attachments for these month

MEMBERSHIP NEWS

– Richard Edwards

New Members A warm welcome to the following 4 new members;-

Derek & Carol Sibley from Colchester

Bill & Barbara Evans from Llandysul

We have lost a few members, (12 units) who chose not to renew their membership. 2 because they have sold their ‘van and 1 because they have had their ‘van written off. – so

Membership now stands at 67 units.

Make sure that you are insured. Assume a couple have accepted a discount on insurance ( say it starts in May) due to being a member of the club. They then decide for some reason to let membership lapse in December of that year. They then have a major accident in April and put in a claim. I am contacted by their insurers and asked if they are club members. I am honest and say “no”, not at this time, but they were when the insurance was taken out! Does their insurance company then start playing silly bu**ers with their claim?

I raise this as I had a call from members whose van was a write off in Spain in December. They were worried and were checking to confirm that they were members.

TREASURESHIP NEWS

The accounts have been passed to the auditors. They show that the Club spent £61.56 more than we received in the year. This was not surprising due to the 10th anniversary freebies.

 

 

DIARY DATES 

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