Issue 43 – Oct 2011

 

 

EDITORS COLUMN

All this recent fabulous weather has got us in the mood and so Judy & I will soon be off to Spain.

Membership – please remember that membership renewal is now due, and if you wish to renew subs must be paid before the end of the year. If you haven’t already set up a standing order, why not consider doing so, but if not renew now while you remember. There is a renewal form included with this issue.

An incident occurred at Lincoln when a member who had not booked with the Benimar section and was camped in the general area tried to get into the BOC area but was spotted by a Warners official who spoke to the marshal and in the end he was asked to return to the general area.

In the past we have always tried to accommodate members in like situations (space permitting) but I think now that we will have to tighten up. So if you wish to rally with us, do get your application in before the closing date. I am sure that this will be debated at the AGM.

Ray tells me that he is having a little trouble getting members to marshal rallies, we are looking for Newbury and Lincoln. Shows.

On a more worrying note there is a dearth of “non-show” rallies. If you have a suitable venue near home then why not try putting on a short rally. If you can combine it with a special event then so much the better. Remember what is familiar to you will be of interest to those living outside your area. If you need to know what is involved, give Ray Beach, Roy Gill or myself a call.

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

KNUTSFORD RALLY REPORT

– Roy Gill

Thursday 14th July 2011 all the Benimar Group arrived, 7 vans in total, not as many as hoped. The journey down on Thursday, weather great, Friday was not too bad, but Saturday, Sunday and Monday were grim.
Plenty of space on the area allocated by Warners. Ray and Carol Beach (the marshals) were there to greet us. Settled in and had the usual natter.
First mistake was the large gazebo, some “prat” had left the sidewalls at home, the prat happened to be me. I cleared out the van on return from France and somehow or other, I had forgotten to put back what had been taken out. Still it saved the effort of erecting the gazebo. The gazebo was not the only thing to be left at home.
When we had the coffee morning on Sunday, Robin and Jean Asher (guests) kindly let us use their awning. Thank you Robin and Jean.
Perhaps it was fortuitous that the walls of the awning had been forgotten, for with all the rain, I would have been loading a very wet gazebo into the van. Not a very good prospect.
Friday was mooch-day, the first day of the show, sun shining, ground dry and all pretty good. The traders seemed quite happy.
Saturday, Warners were running buses into Northwich, as opposed to Knutsford last year. It was raining first thing on Saturday, so I think most people waited for the better weather to show its face before venturing into Northwich. It did improve, but there were one or two showers to contend with. Not a bad little town to mooch around, ladies will always find a shop to browse in. We found a Weatherspoons for some lunch and liquid refreshment. The evening show, top attraction was Tony Christie.
Sunday the weather was miserable, the saving grace is that the ground at the Cheshire Showground has a lot of sand in it, so it does not become too muddy, which is happen as well, for there were no metal roadways in the show ground, as at the Peterborough Show. Sunday came, raining. One can only sit in a van for so long with rain coming down, so Sylvia and myself donned the waterproofs and had another look around the show. Strangely there were not many people sitting out eating or drinking, but there were a fair number of people out looking around. Flip- flops, shorts and waterproof jackets seemed to be the fashion style. I suppose ones skin is waterproof. Sand or no sand in the soil, there were some muddy patches and puddles.
There was a general lack of the smell of barbecues this weekend, I wonder why? Monday was packing up day and it is no fun when the rain and wind are playing havoc with the gear one is trying to pack. One tends to spend quite a lot of time saying fond farewells, but not when there is rain trickling down ones neck.
When I reached home the North-West weather people reported that Congleton, not far from Knutsford, had 63 mm of rain, Saturday and Sunday, not bad for July!! Saving grace, I think a lot of the UK had similar weather. Watching the golf at Sandwich, on television, it looked similar, but at least they were being paid to perform in the bad weather.
One just has to increase the liquid intake to be able to enjoy whatever comes.

Roll on summer!!

 

ALPS REVISITED

– the easy way

As soon as we returned from the Derbyshire well dressing rally, we repacked the ‘van and set off for France on a nostalgia trip to the Alps. For 12 years or so we did a summer mountain hiking tour, mainly in the Alps and we wanted to revisit some of the more accessible places.
For the first time we used the Eurotunnel and found it to be a slick operation. We arrived at a touch screen which displayed “Welcome Mr Smith” (clever these vehicle recognition devices) asked us to confirm 2 people and no animals, then gave us a choice of earlier trains at no extra charge. A quick look round the terminal and it was time to drive onto the platform , through a gap in the carriages and down the train until told to stop by an attendant.
We were quickly through the tunnel (25 mins underground) and before we knew it driving off and straight onto the motorway slip road in Calais. We headed south on the free motorways towards Lille and then on to a France Passion fruit farm where we camped next to a lake next to the house, all very quiet. Madame was very busy with tradesmen in the morning so we left without a purchase.
Next stop was another FP, this time at a Campingcarist (first time for us). We pitched on a piece of grass at the side of his property. The guy spoke no English and with my limited French I don’t know quite what we said to each other. He then showed us his rambling house with large inner courtyard and a large building where he kept his Chausson.
After a walk round the village we dashed back to escape a shower and settled down for another peaceful night. The next morning Monsieur was out taking photos of our van. He had never visited the UK and was surprised that we had crossed via the tunnel – he didn’t think it could carry such large vehicles.
Our third night was to be another FP at Poncin (no sniggering) but we couldn’t find it easily so ended up on the aire that we new from previous visits. This free aire, next to the cemetery and a short walk to the village centre.
We arrived at our first campsite, Camping Giffre at Samoens, a little north of Chamonix. The site was nice and spacious with good facilities and free wifi around the reception area.
On arrival we were presented with a “petit cadeaux” comprising pringles, tea bags, sweets, cereal bars etc. – a nice touch.
We enjoyed a few easy bike rides and short walks. On one ride up a dead end valley we found a super aire by a river and a short walk to a village with shops and restaurants which wasn’t in our guide books. Free overnight parking and €2 for water and electric.
It was then on to St Gervais Les Bains quite close to Mont Blanc. We stayed at Les Domes de Miage campsite, named after a range of snow covered peaks, a lovely family run site with very good facilities. The owner, Big Jack (M Grandjaques) spoke very good English and was most helpful. Again there was free wifi all over the site.
One day we took the Mont Blanc Tramway up to Belleview, a few thousand feet above Chamonix. 17 years ago we started the Tour of Mont Blanc (a 2 week hiking tour using mountain huts). After starting from near Chamonix this was our first col, but we had trouble recognising the area this time round, although the route down round the foot of a glacier and up to the next col was as we remembered.
The tramway was built over 100 years ago and is still very original. The idea was to take it to the top of Mont Blanc but unsurprisingly they gave up when they reached the first glacier.
While here we went up the valley to Les Contamines where we tried to find the Gite where we experienced our first night sleeping on a long platform with many other walkers, on the first night of our walking tour. Much building had taken place and we could not locate it, but we did find the Pizzeria where we had our evening meal.
Our next nostalgia stop was in Pralognan which is a super village 5000ft high up in the Vanoise national park .The large campsite (Park Isertan), next to the large patinoire (skating rink) built for the 1992 winter olympics, was nearly empty and they were busy updating facilities and building lodges and a spa. Again free wifi was available next to the restaurant.
We had visited Pralognan in 1999 when completing another hiking tour (The Tour of the Vanoise) when we treated ourselves to two nights at the Valley Blanche Hotel, next to the church. This time we had a super meal in the same Hotel to celebrate my birthday, but the church is now not much more than a ruin. The lower walls are still there but with large cracks all over them. The steeple had been removed complete and placed for safekeeping on the roof of the Police Station.
We took the cable car up to Mont Bochor for some spectacular views and a super lunch at the Pachu restaurant. We could see much of the route we had taken 12 years earlier from the Felix Faure Mountain Hut.down to the village, and also the route up the valley on the other side which we took on our last few days walking back to Modane.
The next day we cycled up this route out that we had view from the top of the cable car the previous day and came to a super hamlet of Les Prioux where we enjoyed a well earned lunch. Along here there is a mountain named Petit Mont Blanc (it is not particularly high but it’s shape is very similar). It is an easy climb, so if you want to climb Mont Blanc this is the one to go for.
There was a music festival and photographic exhibition taking place during the weekend we we there which added to the interest, but Pralognan is worth a visit for the view alone It is perhaps my favourite village in the Alps,and it has some stiff competition.
We decided to try one more Alpine site at Peissy Nancroix which is quite close but entailed a many hairpinned descent down to Moutiers, along the valley bottom towards Bourg St Maurice and up loads more hairpins back up into the Vanoise. What a super unspoilt area this is. The village boasts no shops. The campsite was very good family run with a good restaurant and takeaway dishes, and again free wifi across the site.. That was 4 campsites in remote alpine villages all with free wifi and prices ranging from €11 to €15 including electrics. We enjoyed some super bike rides and walks here. The village may not have a shop but it did have a renowned restaurant, tennis courts, equestrian centre, mining museum (was a renowned silver mine) via ferata, roller ski course and a biathlon course.
A nearby hamlet of Les Lanches is supposedly only inhabited during the summer months due to avalanche risk, but a local told us that some families live there all year round. The houses have an earth bank to protect them from the avalanches!
We had not visited this valley before but it is on the GR5, which is a long distance footpath from Holland to Nice which we have done bits of and years ago toyed with the idea of doing the whole thing, but thought better of it.
It was now time to make our way back towards home. We overnighted at a FP deer farm where we saw no one till we were about to leave the following morning.
We stopped at an aire in Autun which was by a lake, but also by a skateboard park which was quite noisy until the little blighters went home to bed. Many years ago we almost bought an old farmhouse near here, we did not pay a visit this time as the track up to it is not for motorhomes.
We spent a few nights at a campsite at Vincelles near to Auxerre. This was by the Nivernais canal with wide tarmac towpath for some cycling on the flat. The canal has about 180km and has 110 locks, all manned, and some very impressive boats using it. This borders on the Chablis wine area and on leaving,we detoured though Chablis and noted that Hotel Du Clos was still there and still run by Michael Vinaud who was a 2 star Michelin chef when we treated ourselves to a short break in the days when we didn’t have a motorhome.
Having stocked up at a Hypermarket we continued north for our last FP stop at Strazeele, a farm auberge convenient for an early start to the tunnel terminal and the smooth trip back to the land of traffic jams and cones.
How about sharing your recent trip with members? I’ll save a space in the next magazine for you, OK?.

PAINTING HOLIDAY IN FRANCE

– Patricia and Heinz Bradley Locher
From the 5th May to 15th June 2011
This year we decided to travel down the West Coast of France towards Montpellier, then on to Switzerland. We live in Ireland.
We first drove South to Rosslare, where we spent the first night at St Margaret’s Beach camping site. – Just 15 Minutes from Rosslare Harbour. Good camping site.
Next day we sailed to France.
When we arrived in France we drove as far as Bricquebec, where we stayed overnight at a France Passion. Next day we visited the La Maison du Biscuit (a Biscuit Factory) between Barneville Carteret and Bricquebec. It was really worth while.
We then drove on South along the coast to Arradon, near Saint Nazaire, we spent the night at Camping De L’Allee.
Next day we passed La Rochelle, and on, further along the coast where we came to Montagne sur Gironde, which is a really sweet little harbour where you can spend the night, as it is an Aire. (One of the best we saw)
After Bordeaux we travelled on to Beauville, (we found this Camping site in MMM). This camping site is called Camping Les Deux Lacs, there are two lakes, one for swimming and one to fish in. Lovely small camping site!
Our rule when on holiday is to try and not drive longer than 3 -4 hours per day and take lots of coffee and tea stops. This way one never gets over tired and stressed. Sometimes this is only theory!
From there it was on to Revel near Toulouse. Where I had booked a Painting Holiday, in Montey, near Revel, South of France.
I saw an advertisment in my SAA Painting Magazine. This is a magazine for all who love to paint, draw and sketch pictures.
Lesley and Allan offer a week of painting lessons – taking up to eight guests staying either in their rooms or camping in their one-acre grounds. Lesley cooks and bakes really good food with lots of fresh produce from the area, while Allan gives lessons.
If you have a partner who does not paint there are lots and lots of other things to do. Cycling, walking, golfing just to mention a few. Allan and Lesley will give you lots of ideas. (For all information about painting holidays see their website www.tarnincolour.com .
Allan and Leslie live in a very beautiful house overlooking a valley and the Black Mountains. Up behind the house on the hill is the picturesque Mongey Castle. (beautiful subject to sketch and paint)
I felt at ease right away, we even went to the small village of Soreze where we sat and sketched. I was like a small child, so thrilled, I never thought I would ever sit in a village and publicly sketch.
Lesley and Allan took us to visit little towns and villages in the area. We went to a big Market in Revel where we stocked up with fresh produce for the Campervan.
We left Revel on route to Switzerland. We drove on to Anduze, near Ales where we visited a friend.
We never travel on Motorways, so we drove through gorges, and over passes, along the way we regularly stopped to buy fresh fruit, potatoes and salads from stalls dotted along road. (What fun)
When we arrived in Grenoble we got really lost – as we were always trying to avoid the Motorway. The GPS went mad, after getting very frustrated, we actually looked for the motorway, – just to get out of the city. We didn’t find it, but we did find a camping site. We were so tired we did not mind that it was noisy, and guess what? it was right next to the motorway. The scenery here is stunning, as one is now in the mountains.
We then drove on to Chambery, and Geneva into Switzerland.
There we visited family and friends before returning to France on our way home.
Our route home was again via Geneva. Just after Geneva in Neydens, we stayed overnight at (Camping Las Colombiere) this is a super camping site. With pool etc.
We revisited our friends in Anduze, this area of France is also very beautiful, and has many super camping sites.
Heading North West we drove through Clermont Ferrand, where we spend the night in Menat (Camping Municiple Le Tarteouxe, right on the river bank) then on passed Tours and Le Mans and in Manche we stayed our last night in Pirou, Camping Le Clos Marin Municipal. This site is right on the sea, it also has a pool. There are shops nearby, a super last stop in France before the Ferry in Cherbourg.
Next year we plan to go to France and Spain. We want to again drive down the West Coast of France to the Pyrenese Mountains, and then to Spain and Andorra.
Our 11 year old Benimar, Aereo Anthus SL-L was super. No problems at all. Comfortable, functional and easy to drive. We love it.
Some interesting data:-
We drove 3,151 miles (5,041 km)
Spent €737.18 on Diesel
Miles per Gallon 25.95 (11.1ltr)

 

MALVERN RALLY REPORT

– Dave & Evelyn Hill
Malvern Country and Western weekend has grown in the last few years as has the number of BOC ralliers. This August we had 12 vans attending.
The music in three halls is mainly country and rock with line dancing centred in a hall that includes lessons. The whole weekend tries to cater for a variety of tastes in music with more ‘middle of the road’ in the largest hall, contributing to the rise in popularity. The variety means not every entertainer will be a favourite but there is a varied and good choice. Malvern no longer seems to be dominated by hard line country music and line dancers on their circuit. As usual in recent years the bars were suffering from high prices but the ‘tradition’ of half price at the end of the last night became free beer!
The number of traders has grown considerably and reasonable weather brought high attendance. This increased the crowds for Cowboy and Indian re-enactments and for the lunch time live music, which was of a very high standard and backed by the wonderful view to the Malvern Hills.
On Saturday there were buses into Malvern town where a good lunch can be found at a couple of pubs and the Priory Church is worth visiting. There was even piano music and a café in the pews!
Our 12 vans had to park in a line along a fence which was not as sociable as BOC people would like and those efforts to light-up and decorate their pitch could not be fully appreciated.
Thanks to Colin and Francis for again being excellent hosts/marshals and for a very pleasant coffee morning. Also the two club ‘special interest’ groups – namely the Amaretto section and the Line Dance troupe – had a most enjoyable and jolly weekend!

 

LINCOLN RALLY REPORT

Graham & Chris Baines We arrived a little later than normal due to ‘domestic duties’ i.e. gloss painting the kitchen skirting boards at 08:30 on the day of departure, in order for them to be dry for our return and the kitchen floor fitters! mind you we did make it off by late lunch, not bad for us. The trip down the A1 from North Yorks. was uneventful, in fact quite enjoyable. The weather reports were promising (not that that is anything to rely on) and we arrived by mid afternoon on Thursday to join 12 others.
Colin and Ray were quickly up on their feet to hand out welcomes ‘and abuses’ not necessarily in that order, but accompanied by warm smiles and handshakes. We positioned ourselves between Evelyn and David & Yvonne and John (not that neatly according to the professional, and Rally Steward!). After the inquisition, we attended to levelling up (or making sure the water went down the sink and shower drain) to the satisfaction of my Number 1 (coward), and it was G&T time (Real Ale was off as Roy couldn’t make it to this show)!
It was a beautiful evening or so I remember, or was that the G&T? the sun was setting and some staunch regular music and dance lovers were already poshed up ready for the off, i.e. a half mile long queue. Not to be put off, they were armed with everything they would need in the way of vitals and drink (non alcoholic of course), enough to survive an assault on Everest.
Later that night, reports of the excellence of the evening’s entertainment echoed along the return trail, tailing off at our van’s rear wall and bed head! There were no thoughts of malice as I decided BEAT ‘em and join ‘em for the next nights concert.
Up bright and early, we discovered there were 2 nine thirties in the day, and to the heterodyne of eleven not quite synchronised American motorhome generators we breakfasted and set off on the hunt for ‘goodies’.
I made straight for ‘J&M Goods’ to chat to Paul about LED rope/string of lights, Paul is one of the ‘good guy’s’ in this world and will not knowingly ill advise or rip you off, what a nice change. By the way he does mail order as well,

http://www.jmgoods.co.uk/index.htm

Sales down – who cares
Amazingly this was not for the flag pole or to welcome Santa, they were for pelmet lighting the new kitchen cupboards. The show was bustling and the sunshine welcomed many happy campers until evening show time. As David and Evelyn left, I flippantly mentioned “save us a seat please” but just after that, more friends (that we should be so lucky), arrived and we had to pass on the music night. We were overwhelmed when David came all the way back to say that seats were filling up and we had to give him the bad news. I made it up to him with a very costly (for a Yorkshire man) pint next evening. Mind you I remember Roger Foster once telling me that folk from the midlands somewhere were called ‘CHISSITS’, after a little pondering he enlightened me that you often hear folk from his area in shops saying .. “how mu CHISSIT then”… thanks Rog.
The Motorhome show opened and the crowds poured in, arms quickly filled with purchases of ‘instant happiness’.
The evenings entertainment and the BIG SHOW featured a female singer from Manchester with a very talented voice not dissimilar to that of a gentle Tina Turner, another singer from Leeds did Tina with great gusto and to much appreciation later in the show. To remind us all of our ‘retreating youth’ the band Dozy Beaky Mick and Tich were next, they were superb, the lead guitar work by Tich brought back many happy memories (though for me he’ll never replace Hank Marvin). Dave D the ex leader sadly passed away about 3 years ago after owning a bar in Spain for some time.
Star of the show was Joe Pasqualy, oops I shouldn’t have typed that so fast… “I’VE JUST HAD AN ACCIDENT” …The evening was a great success, including an unexpected but gratefully received contribution by ‘The BOC Amaretto Club’. What’s that? well that’s a secret that only BOC evening show goers get to know about.
Sunday morning is ‘Coffee Morning’, when most of us get together for a good old chinwag, it’s a great time to get to know other members. This Sunday was special, as Robin and Jean Asher were celebrating their Ruby wedding. So in true BOC style, out came the Champers and cake to mark the event. Then it was more shopping, and later a stroll down to the evening show, featuring ‘Songs from the Musicals’. Sadly the tiny loudspeakers near us made the voices rather thin and tuneless and so off to bed. Monday morning, rallyers were up and at it with a good half of the BOC group being away by 10am. The weather had been kind and for us it had been both a fruitful and enjoyable Show and Rally.
Personal follow on.
We had been recommended a CL very close to RAF Coningsby, home to the BBMF Lancaster and Spitfires, and decided on a personal ‘follow on’ to this grade2 listed farmhouse site. We were right under the approach to, and about 500 yds from touchdown, sadly we saw no BBMF planes but heard plenty of Typhoons. Anyhow, enough of that. The ‘follow on’ can have it’s own report! See you all soon.
Graham and Chris.

 

KULULA AIRLINES

Kulula is a low-cost South-African airline that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Check out their new livery!
And do read about their Customer Relations.
On a Kulula flight, (there is no assigned seating, you just sit where you want) passengers were apparently having a hard time choosing, when a flight attendant announced, “People, people we’re not picking out furniture here, find a seat and get in it!”
On another flight with a very “senior” flight attendant crew, the pilot said, “Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve reached cruising altitude and will be turning down the cabin lights. This is for your comfort and to enhance the appearance of your flight attendants.”
As the plane landed and was coming to a stop at Durban Airport , a lone voice came over the loudspeaker: “Whoa, big fella. WHOA!”
“In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, masks will descend from the ceiling. Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your face. If you have a small child travelling with you, secure your mask before assisting with theirs. If you are travelling with more than one small child, pick your favourite.”
“As you exit the plane, make sure to gather all of your belongings. Anything left behind will be distributed evenly among the flight attendants. Please do not leave children or spouses..”
And from the pilot during his welcome message: “Kulula Airlines is pleased to announce that we have some of the best flight attendants in the industry. Unfortunately, none of them are on this flight!”
Overheard on a Kulula flight into Cape Town , on a particularly windy and bumpy day: During the final approach, the Captain really had to fight it. After an extremely hard landing, the Flight Attendant said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to The Mother City. Please remain in your seats with your seat belts fastened while the Captain taxis what’s left of our airplane to the gate!”
Another flight attendant’s comment on a less than perfect landing: “We ask you to please remain seated as Captain Kangaroo bounces us to the terminal.”
An airline pilot wrote that on this particular flight he had hammered his ship into the runway really hard. The airline had a policy which required the first officer to stand at the door while the passengers exited, smile, and give them a “Thanks for flying our airline.
He said that, in light of his bad landing, he had a hard time looking the passengers in the eye, thinking that someone would have a smart comment.
Finally everyone had gotten off except for a little old lady walking with a cane. She said, “Sir, do you mind if I ask you a question?”
“Why, no Ma’am,” said the pilot. “What is it?”
The little old lady said, “Did we land, or were we shot down?”

 

ODDS & ENDS

I have received a letter from a company advertising their services, which may be of interest to some of you. They do not come recommended, I am merely passing on the info.
Scottish Motorhome Workshops
They can undertake repairs to any size of motorhome, and have a 5 ton four poster ramp, tyre changing equipment, air con equipment, diagnostic equipment etc.
You will find them at :-
5d Grange Road
Houston Industrial Estate
Livingston
West Lothian
ED54 5DE
Tel: 07977 226737
email:enquiries@scottishmotorhomeworkshops.co.uk

MEMBERSHIP NEWS

– Richard Edwards
New Members
A warm welcome to the following 8 new members;-
Neville Stokes & Susan Marjoram from Chillwell Nottingham
James & Jean Hewitson from Whitehaven
Robin & Jean Asher from Beeston Nottingham
Steven & Ros Malkin from Mayfield
Membership now stands at 79 units.

 

DIARY DATES

 

See Diary.

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