Issue 39 – Oct 2010

EDITORS COLUMN

 

There are going to be a few changes at the next AGM. The Committee will lose Alan Williams (Treasurer & Membership Sec), Ray Beach (Events Co-ordinator) and possibly Lisa Smitherman (Secretary). There was much talk at the Car Colston Rally about the future of the Club and who should be running it, with the proportion of Benimar owners decreasing as time goes on.
A good proportion of the active members are Associate Members (i.e. not Benimar owners now). Ideally the Committee would comprise all members who are Benimar owners, but sadly this is not the case now and is likely to get even more diluted in the future.
The constitution does not prohibit Associate members from taking Committee posts so we could have a Committee where no member is a Benimar Owner. Not necessarily a problem, but food for thought.
This issue is another large one due to a lot of articles submitted. My thanks to all those who contributed, please keep it up.
Judy & I have just returned from the Lincoln Show Rally – a very windy and cold weekend. There were 20 ‘vans booked in but unfortunately Bruce & Janet Lawson could not attend as Bruce was admitted to hospital – get well soon Bruce.
One of the exhibitors at Lincoln, North Western Caravans, had a Benimar Aero for sale. The 0wner, Alan Sheldon told me that if anyone wants a new Benimar he would import it for them. So if you live Cheshire way and want a new Benimar, tel. 0161 486 6055
I am including the latest Handbook with this issue. The constitution has not changed but there are a few changes to dealers, both in UK and abroad.
The next issue is due out by the End of December Input to me by December 15th at the latest please.
Ron Smith

 

NORTHERN SHOW REPORT

– Roy Gill
First of all it was remiss of me not to thank Ray and Carol Beach for doing once more an excellent job of marshalling for the Benimar Owners Club. Perhaps, Andrew was right with his report on the Peterborough Show.
It was a pleasant change to have to travel only a hundred miles to a Benimar rally.
Making ones way to the showground involved detouring along a rather narrow lane off the M6, but the alternative of turning off the A556 with all the vehicles would have been a nightmare.
The Benimar area was situated not far from the entrance to the showground. The weather in the area had been dry for a few weeks prior to the show, plus the ground was on the sandy side, so there was no trouble of grip. Though one should always be prepared. Water and services were not far from our area, all in all a good set up.
Having arrived Thursday afternoon, one of the new gazebos was erected for the use of the members. It was a little breezy, so to be on the safe side as well as the usual pegs, four awning pegs were used on the corners. The gazebo was erected alongside our motorhome. During the night the wind rose and turned, collapsing a side of Ray’s awning. He enjoyed sorting that out at 02-00 hours. At 06-00 there was what can only be described as a “roaring” sound. As we were under the flight path of Manchester airport, it made one think. I looked out of our side window, our chairs were there but no gazebo. I looked out of the back window and there stood the gazebo, about 20 feet from where it had been erected, still upright, with the pegs dangling from the guy straps. Seeing as everyone else had slept through all this, I pegged the gazebo down in situ. It caused one or two people to rub their eyes next morning, when the gazebo was not where it had been left.
When everyone had surfaced, seeing as it was still a little windy, the gazebo was taken down and stored.
Friday morning we had some rain, but with the ground being sandy, it was okay underfoot, so had a good mooch around the show. I saw one Benimar similar to ours and apparently there was another one somewhere. The prices of some of the motorhomes were to say the least rather high. The other interest is to look at the accessories stalls. One stall was selling aerosols for punctures, to a chap whose motorhome has no spare wheel. Yes it will mend the average puncture, but it will be of no value in the event of a blow out.
Saturday, they had buses going from the showground into the city (so the blurb said) of Knutsford. Pleasant little town, but no M&S etc. On returning from town, the gazebo was erected once again.
The Saturday show was good, so I was informed as were all the rest of the shows. Those who did not attend the show spent an evening putting the world to rights over a beverage.
Sunday Ray and Carol put on the coffee morning, where we were informed of forth coming events. After the official part, a general natter was the order of the day. Seeing as it was the last day of the show, most went to the show to see if any bargains were to be found. Sunday evening was a repeat of Saturday evening in an effort to lighten the motorhomes for the journey home.
Monday, pack up the gazebo, after helping nature to dry the roof, the walls were packed, to be dried, once I had them home. Pack up the vans, then the long sad farewells as our members left for home. Even though there was some rain, with the sandy soil, there were no problems of wheel spin.
All in all Knutsford is a good showground, not far from the M6, with plenty of room for arrivals to queue on a hard surface. The metal roads were not needed in the showground. If one is into aircraft spotting, the flight path went over the ground, but it was not intrusive If you wanted to venture further afield and you had the transport, Chester is not far away, or include Chester in the trip to the show.
Once again, thanks Carol and Ray for an excellent job of marshalling.

 

QUORN RALLY REPORT

– Ron Smith
I haven’t received a report for this rally so I will write down what I remember of it.
Judy and I arrived on the Friday, as we were otherwise engaged on the Thursday, to find 7 ‘vans already there, spread all over the field. We said hello to those there and to those who were setting off to discover the local area.
We were not the last however, as Mary was due to come over in her car, having just sold her Motorhome, and then proceeded to oust Helen & Roger from their ‘van. They were spending the nights at home, only 10 minutes away.
Ray, Mel & Barbara took their dogs for a walk along the canal and ended up in Barrow on Soar where-upon it started to rain heavily so they decided to return by bus. They had just reached the site when Ray realised that he had left his wallet on the bus. He rushed back to the bus-stop and stopped the bus coming back on it’s return journey – and got his wallet back !
That evening we huddled in the cover of a Club Gazebo and R&H’s awning in time for a Jacket Potato and Chilli meal that Helen had prepared at home. This was followed by 2 trifles – all very good.
On the Saturday we all did our own thing for most of the day and then because we had 4 ½ cars (17 seats) we went out for a meal. 5 decided to go Indian, the rest of us went next door for some English Pub Grub.
Sunday was a much better day weather wise and a number of us went in search of bargains at the Quorn Car Boot Sale. Oddly enough we didn’t buy much, although I did notice a water carrier and a steam cleaner being stowed away.
Most of us left some time on the Sunday, although Ray & Carol, Mel & Barbara and Pete & Barbara did stay another night.
It was nice to see some newer members, Malcolm & Wendy and Fred & Sheila to compliment the older faces (Ian & Sylvia amongst them.)
Many thanks to Helen & Roger for putting on another super little get together.

 

MALVERN SHOW RALLY REPORT

– Carol Beach
Ray and I arrived at the show ground Thursday afternoon after driving through a really bad thunder storm. We were greeted by Colin the rally marshal who’d been there since Wednesday morning. Colin explained that he’d faced difficulty in trying to find out where the Benimar site was supposed to be located; we were not in the same position as the previous years basically we ended up a bit further away from the show ground and entertainment buildings. By late afternoon all the vans had arrived accept for one. We were all advised by Colin that there would be a coffee morning on Sunday. Thursday evening line dancing lessons were laid on and were attended by Ann & Margaret. There were two buildings that laid on entertainment with various supporting bands.
Friday saw the arrival of Dave and Joan, the last of the vans in our group. As the show was now open most of us wandered over to see what was on offer. Late afternoon Frances arrived, she had come straight from work in London. The evening there was line dancing lessons again with some of the ladies taking up the offer to learn more steps. Late on in the evening saw the arrival of an ambulance to Yvonne & John’s van, enquiries found that Yvonne had been very poorly and was advised by the doctor to return home.
Saturday most of the group took the bus into Malvern at the cost of £1-50p return. Unfortunately the weather turned for the worst and some of us were caught in a heavy down pour while waiting for the return bus back to the site. On our return to the site Yvonne and John had taken the advice of the doctor and had left to go home. Saturday night’s entertainment was Solid Gold Country Legends supported by C’est La Vie, there was also entertainment in the other hall.
Sunday started with Frances and Colin laying on a coffee morning with cake and biscuits. It was brought to the attention of everyone that Yvonne and John had to return home due to ill health and we all wished them well. Ray announced that he will be stepping down as Events Organiser and Chief Marshal at the AGM next year. He also reminded everyone of the Newark and Lincoln rallies. It was mentioned that the main entertainment at Lincoln was fully booked which was disappointing for some of us. Finally Ray thanked Frances and Colin for marshalling the event. The Evening’s entertainment rounded off with Lemon Grass followed by Brian Hughes and the Lone Sharks.
On Tuesday I telephoned Yvonne to find out how she was, she told me that she had been to see her GP and was feeling much better. I wished her well from all of us and hope to see them soon.

A Big Thank you from Yvonne & John Hawkins
Please can we say a big Thank you to the people who were so concerned at the Malvern Show when I was taken poorly and had to return home.
They were:- Ian & Agnes Johnson, Colin & Frances Varley and Ray & Carol Beech, and especially to Don & Ann Clark who helped John take down our Safari Room.
Thank you so much.

 

CAR COLSTON RALLY REPORT

– Chris Baines
This years excellent Rally put on by Ann and Andrew Sheldrake at Car Colston behind the Royal Oak Pub had 12 vans booked, 9 ‘old timers’ and 3 new members.
Some vans arrived on Thursday with the rest on Friday. After siting the vans and greeting everyone, it was soon time for the gathering at Ann and Andrews van for drinks and nibbles.
On Saturday morning a few of us went into Newark on the local bus. The ladies fancied a spell of retail therapy which did not go down too well with the men. As some items of hardware seemed essential, a visit to Wilkinsons was a must. Then it was decided that coffee was needed to ‘perk’ the men up, but we did manage to entice them into M&S before catching the bus back. I left my shopping on the bus but was lucky to retrieve it when the bus returned later, then in the evening, tables were booked for us in The Royal Oak restaurant for a get together meal.
Sunday morning Ron took a group walking around the Car Colston area. On the rally site we had a very heavy downpour but the walkers claimed it didn’t rain on them, so why were their jackets wet when they got back!!!
In the afternoon there was a cricket match on the Village Green which was watched by some of the men while the ladies relaxed in the sun. Ann and Andrew organised an Indian Takeaway for the evening, we chose our dishes from the menu and Ann went to collect them. The pub kindly let us use ‘The Garden Room’ for the meal and this was dressed by the ladies with tablecloths and candles on each table. Afterwards there was a bit of a ‘sing song’ and a few Jokes, then on to the Skittle Alley. Ladies v Men and the Ladies won!!
The Monday coffee morning was held in the Garden Room with the marking of the customary quiz and drawing of the raffle. Judy and Ron won 1st prize for the main sections of the quiz while we scraped in with 1 more point than them in the TV section. I think I am correct in saying that everyone won a prize in the Raffle. After lunch Ron organised another country walk to keep the members in trim. Unfortunately some were unable to stay until Tuesday so after many sad farewells those remaining drowned their sorrows in the Pub.
Tuesday morning was warm and sunny and the wind, which had blown all weekend, had dropped as we packed up to leave.
This is the 2nd time we have been to this Rally it is a lovely way to spend the Bank Holiday, away from crowds and traffic, and we hope that it will be on the agenda next year.
Many thanks to Ann and Andrew for the lovely ‘yummy’ cakes, the Quiz and Raffle, Pub Meal, Indian Meal, Nibbles Party and for all the time and organisation it must have taken to make the weekend such a success.

 

SOUTH LAKES ARTICLE

– Roy Gill
Most people turn off the M6 at junction 36 to go to the Lakes, I would like to suggest that you keep to the A590 and head for the South Lakes. There is a Caravan Club site at Low Park Wood, 3 miles from the M6. As a base it is handy for Sizerh Castle and Levens Hall. Both have good gardens, with Levens Hall having interesting topiary.
Further along the A590 is a large roundabout, close by on the A5277, is Meathop Fell Caravan Club site. Along the A5277 one can visit Grange over Sands. For decent parking, turn right at the Toyota garage. One can continue along A5277 to Cartmel and Holker Hall. When going to Cartmel beware of satellite navigation. Cartmel has an interesting Priory, plus it is the home of Sticky Toffee Pudding.
If you decide to keep on the A590, your next port of call is Backbarrow, just after Newby Bridge. Just off the road is the new Lakes Motor Museum. Half a mile further on is the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway. From here one can take a steam train to Lakeside (Windermere), there, ferries go to Bowness on Windermere and Ambleside. If that is not your scene, there is the Aquarium of the Lakes at Lakeside.
The next place of interest is Ulverston. As you approach the town you will see a replica of the Eddystone lighthouse on a hill. This was erected in 1851 in memory of the local Sir John Barrow, secretary to the Admiralty and the person behind the formation of the modern British navy. He also put in place expeditions to find a passage around the north of Canada. Barrow Straits and Barrow Island were named after him. The monument is open to the public having just had a £1,000,000 refurbishment.
Once past the monument follow the signs to Barrow by the Coast Road, A5087. A mile along this road is the Bardsea Leisure Park campsite. There is a bus stop quarter of a mile from the camp. From here a bus can be taken (6 & 6A) to Ulverston town centre. From there you can take a bus to Kendal, Coniston, Broughton in Furness and Windermere. By the bus stop, a swimming pool, a co-op shop and a pub that does meals. Opposite the pub is the sports centre where there are some indoor tennis courts.
Ulverston is the home of the shortest, deepest, straightest canal, built in 1796 to give Ulverston access to the sea. Sea going boats were built on the canal. One can walk along by the canal to the sea, about a mile. The canal is on the left as you pass Booths supermarket on entering the town.
George Fox, who founded the Quakers lived at Swarthmoor Hall, not far from the town centre. The Quaker Meeting House is close to the Hall.
Stan Laurel, of Laurel and Hardy fame was born in Ulverston. Outside the Tourist Information Centre, situated in the Coronation Hall is a statue of them both, plus Laughing Gravy their dog. The beers of the local micro – brewery are named after Laurel and Hardy themes. Behind the Coronation Hall is the Laurel and Hardy Museum, the only one in the world.
Another claim to fame is that the first pole vault competition (height), took place in 1843 at the Ulverston Cricket and Football Club.
Ulverston used to have a café that closed for lunch (not any more).
For eating there are good pub meals plus English, Chinese, Indian, Italian and Thai restaurants.
About a mile from the campsite close to Morecambe Bay is a Buddhist Temple, from where you can buy refreshments.
The 6 & 6A buses go to Barrow in Furness via Dalton in Furness. At Dalton there is the Wild Life Park. In Barrow there is the Boat Museum, telling the history of shipbuilding in Barrow.
Once you have seen the sites of the Furness area, you can go further west to Ravenglass. Do not follow satellite navigation to the Camping and Caravan Club Site, they will take you via fell roads, single track with passing places. Ravenglass is an old Roman port complete with the remains of a bathhouse. Close by is Muncaster Castle, there is an owl sanctuary and good gardens. Muncaster Castle is the home of Tom Fool and each year a new Tom Fool is elected.
La’al Ratty (Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, narrow gauge, steam and diesel) travels between Ravenglass and Dalegarth, about 7 miles up the picturesque Esk Valley. There is a pub for meals at the end of the line at Boot. If you are prepared for a walk about 3 miles, there is Hardknott Fort, a Roman Fort on Hardknott Pass.
If you want a small detour prior to Ravenglass, there is the Air Museum on the old wartime airfield at Haverigg, lots of wartime memorabilia. Camping and Caravan Club have a Certified Site at Port Haverigg.
One can now retrace ones route back to the M6 or travel up the Cumbrian coast road (A595), there is a Caravan Club Site – Dockray Meadow at Ennerdale Bridge ( own sanitation), good walking. Egremont is where one turns for Ennerdale Bridge.
No matter what your satellite navigation system says, do not take a fell road.
If you do want to give that a miss, continue up the A595 to the A66 and thence to the M6 via Cockermouth and Keswick.
Just before you reach the M6, there is Rheged, an interesting place to visit.
Enjoy the tour.

 

MOTORHOME SECURITY

Few motorhomes are supplied with built in security against theft. But it need not be an expensive addition. Our GPS Tracker is a simple two-wire connection to the vehicle’s electrical system and has an internal battery backup. Moreover there are no annual fees. It communicates with your mobile phone by SMS text messages. These are rarely needed. In everyday use you leave the system “asleep” and if on your return home the vehicle is gone just text it and you will get back a message showing where it is. If you are away without the vehicle, or it is stored away from home just tell the tracker to notify you if it moves and if this happens just ask it where it is.. Because thieves can not easily tell if a tracker is fitted they will move the vehicle as quickly as they can and leave it parked somewhere for a few days. If it disappears then they know it had a tracker and has been recovered.
We also include a range of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) microchips and anti-tamper tags ID so that you can mark your vehicle, and it’s contents including TV, audio, microwave, etc. These ID marks are easily fitted and can be registered free on the national police database (www.thenmpr.com) together with photographs. This helps the police to obtain the evidence for a prosecution if suspected stolen goods are recovered or trading standards are checking out boot fairs, etc.
We are delighted to offer your Club members the following terms for preferential purchases of our gps tracker security kits for DIY fitting.
Stockade Mini – GPS Tracker = 1 RFID microchip + 2 anti-tamper ID tags for £99 (normal price £129)
Stockade – GPS Tracker + 5 RFID Microchips + 8 anti-tamper ID tags for £149 (normal price £199)
The price includes VAT and p&p to any mainland UK address.
Please allow 14 days for fulfillment
These offers are only available to order with cheque through the post to:
RBS Ltd., 15 The Downage,
Gravesend , Kent, DA11 t$B
Tel: 01474 350 883
www.rbs-propertymarking.co.uk
stan@rbslimited.fsnet.co.uk 07956 552 713

 

MEMBERSHIP NEWS

– Alan Williams
New Members
A warm welcome to our new members:-
Steven & Ros Malkin
Membership now stands at 81 units.
59 Benimar Owners
22 Associate Members
Donation
A big thank you to Ann & Andrew Sheldrake for collecting £23.50 at their Rally in way of raffles.
BOC Merchandise
Orders are now being taken for our club merchandise, to order yours simply complete an order form clearly stating which of the two logos you would like embroidered on your garment. For colours, please refer to the club website.
We can now obtain base ball caps with a 3D “benimar” embroidered on them at £9.50
Base ball cap 3D “benimar” **NEW** £9.50 Black or Navy Blue
Sweat Shirt £15.00 **NEW** £15.00 Black, Navy, Royal Red, Bottle Green, Heather Grey & Maroon
Classic Polo £15.00
Sporting Polo strip sleeve £15.00
Knitted Beanie £7.95
Hoodie £17.50
Reversible Fleece £23.00
¼” Zip Fleece £20.00
Full Zip Fleece £20.00
Order forms can be printed directly from the club website or you can request one from me. Please complete the order form and post with your remittance to Alan Williams – Please allow up to 28 days for delivery, due to the nature of ordering.

10th AGM – April 2011
Anyone have any Suggestions for our 10th AGM in April 2011???
No replies so far, it’s your club you decide! – Let’s make it a special one!!
JOB VACANCY
Job Search – making the right career move……
“boc” Membership Secretary & Treasurer
Job position – combined post for a “Membership Secretary & Treasurer” for Benimar Owners Club
Salary £nil (perfect for the tax man, earn nothing pay no tax!!!)
Hours to suit most retired couples with little time on there hands:
Education not required, just common sense although a PC will help!
Job description: –
Membership Secretary: receive membership application forms and renewals and send membership cards.
Treasurers Position: to pay through out the year a dozen invoices, summarize income and expenses for club auditors. Banking of membership funds and rally donations.
To send prepared accounts to the club auditors to be checked and verified.
To attend club AGM (April) to report to members the years expenditure and membership numbers.

 

BENIMAR NEWS

– Alan Williams
Having spoken to all the UK dealers I have the following announcement to make.
Benimar Dealer Convention
In June 2010, both Andrew Scott from Scott Medical and Paul Santos from Choose Leisure were invited to Spain for the Benimar Convention. Having arrived at the hotel they were greeted by the Benimar team and the following morning taken about 3 miles outside the area to a campsite ground next to a bullring. They had a presentation about Benimar and what they do and were then shown around the new 2010-2011 line up of models on exhibit which I have been informed look both great inside and out. In the afternoon they were treated to bullfighting “Benimar style”, although no animals were harmed one or two of the Benimar management suffered bruises from the concrete barriers as they ran for cover. See Tery Lopez as pictured wearing his pink socks in the Gallery.
Andrew met a charming couple from New Zealand at the convention who buy right hand drive Benimars year after year; indeed Benimar had four finished waiting for them at the factory during the visit. Benimar apparently make the RHD specifically for NZ. He also said that Benimar had some 30 different models available which as you can imagine stretched their resources and so they agreed to reduce this down to 15 models on offer. They used to produce about 50 motorhomes a week in their heydays but due to the recession this had reduced. There were about 80 different dealers present for the convention in all including dealers from Italy, Spain, Germany, Holland, France, Finland, UK and even as far away as New Zealand. Andrew had said that all dealers had the same deal from Benimar; you can have as many motorhomes as you wish for your forecourt as long as you pay up front. As you can imagine, to purchase one motorhome may be viable but to purchase half a dozen or more with a value of some £250,000.00 is a lot of bank charges and interest and this is the main cause of concern that is fronted to the UK dealerships. I am sure you will all appreciate; this is a lot of money to hand out waiting for a return of sale.
The Benimars that were on display were the 2010-2011 models which were all built with a stylish and funky – party theme to help them stand out against other models on offer and to provide Benimar with a unique theme. Indeed they also provide leather as well as fabric covers, the leather as seen in the picture looks particularly nice with the wording Benimar embroidered on the seats. All were built to high standards and the fabrics and leathers displayed were of great quality. Andrew had emailed me some pictures which I will forward to Ian to put on the website – maybe he will put them on the gallery headed under Benimar Convention for you all to see.
UK Importers
Well the long and the short of the ever increasing concern for the import of Benimars in to the UK still remain a little uncertain.
Choice Leisure will only order parts on an order only basis and will repair your motorhome offering the 10% discounts to BOC members.
RDH again, remain to concentrate on selling Burstner, Chausson and Kentucky vehicles but are named as a Benimar Spares agent, also offering the 10% boc discount.
Andrew Scott from Scott Medical has now received his certificate as ‘Benimars official UK dealer’ who came to see us all at the AGM in April 2010. He still wants to import motorhomes from Benimar however with the uncertainty of the global markets and the bank charges for such a large investment, he will not at this stage be able to hold stock.
We have spoken at great length on the phone and I have come up with a plan which Andrew is considering to be a way forward for Benimar imports for the short term. They are going to contact Benimar for electronic information to create a web based UK dealer sales scheme, this way anyone wanting to buy a Benimar without the hassle of importing it themselves and the concerns over warranty can purchase on an order basis via the web site and Scott Medical will become the agent whom will import the vehicle in the same way as you going to their showroom to order the vehicle. They will take out the hassle of importing the vehicle and will become your UK dealer for any warranty work that may be required on your purchase. This way we will still have a UK importer for Benimar Motorhomes but without the initial outlay for showroom stock. Maybe after a couple of years this may change but at least this way we both get what we want. The club continues to see Benimars imported into the UK and Andrew Scott will become the UK importer of Benimars. It can only be a win, win situation in the short term.
Scott Medical will also provide Benimar spares and will provide warranty work for any Benimar under the warranty period. They will also provide services for other repairs and insulations together with any accident repairs and body building still providing the club members with the 10% discount on labour charges.
As and when Andrew has the web site up and running I will let you know!

 

LANDS END TO JOHN O’GROATS

Lands End to John O’Groats
– Helen & Roger Foster
We, Roger & I were so lucky to be able to share the experience with people who put every bit of effort into completing this challenge cycling from Lands End to John O’Groats. We were the “back-up crew” with our Benimar. Monies raised will be sent to charities, Parkinson UK and Menphys.
Our son Andrew and daughter in law Jeanette along with nine of their athletic friends , last year had this crazy idea of cycling from Lands End to John O’Groats . This became reality this month. It took them ten grueling days.
Terry The politest of the group kept the morale going
Glen Sponsor of support van carrying bicycle spares
Kieron Organiser. Gemma made the birthday cakes
Deeks He could eat for England and Scotland.
Simon The baby face of the team
Neil Bone wasting disease, rode one legged, the other so much shorter. He is waiting for a hip replacement operation.
Luke Chocolate face, just could not supply enough for him. Hayley, Luke’s girlfriend made boxes of tasty nutritious flapjacks for them to eat during riding.
Andrew Mostly led the group
Jeanette The only female who really is a tough nut who gave the men a run for their money!!
Day 1 – Monday. Arrival at Lands End for photographs. Our first job was to make sandwiches for this group they seemed to demolish them as quickly as we could make them. Tomorrow we will be more organised and know how many loaves and what fillings to use. Evening meals are more complicated because we have four vegetarians in the group.
The first day’s ride was relatively easy starting with forty miles. Afternoon was warm and sunny.
Day 2 -Tuesday was a different ball game. They battled through rain, wind and heavy mist which persisted all day. We pulled up in a lay-by where Roger spotted a Cafe selling chips only to discover it did not open until 5 pm. As I had spoken to Andrew and said they would be having chip butties, (this gave them the incentive to boost their morale. We had drive into Looe and Roger found a Fish Shop in the Harbour then return to the Lay-by because we had arranged to meet them there. Their riding gear was wet and because of heavy rain throughout the night their tents were soaked through when they dismantled them. Chris, the support van driver for the first few days very kindly put up the tents which was a very welcome site when they returned from riding over Dartmoor.
We arrived at Bovey Tracey Coombe Park, Caravan Park C.L very clean, good views, friendly owners. Unfortunately the riders were still cycling in rain. By the time they arrived at the site the sun was shining so we were able to dry out their tents etc. They showered relaxed with beers, a good meal of soup and spaghetti bolognaise
Day 3 – Wednesday Sunshine makes all the difference. We were all up just after 6am. Cereals, porridge and toast . They met us near Chard for lunch. Mendip Heights camping & caravanning very clean, well run, most obliging. The ravenous cyclists arrived at the site same time as back up crew and had to wait for their meal bangers and mash and vegetables. The reason being the pre-booked site was not good so we quickly telephoned and sorted another .We needed spaces for five tents and a motorhome .
Day 4 – Thursday was a very long hard day for cyclists 116 miles accomplished. Stopped for lunch in the Wye Valley, Tinton side of river, beautiful views. Refreshed, well almost, fed and on their way again. I went into a Food Store, bought loads of bananas and chicken for Friday’s curry. The Manager gave us 10% discount and looked for campsites on the Internet and it was nearly closing time. C & C Touring site for Caravans was excellent, good amenities. Owner most obliging could not do enough for us. Offered to chauffeur everyone to Kangaroo Inn approximately a couple of miles away (my night off from cooking). Wavered fees more money to charity
Day 5 – Friday. They are off on the road again at 8.15. Our campsite C & C Raylands Farm Kenyon Warrington, was good, plenty of space, good amenities, very helpful and said we could put the fees to charity. Chicken curries for evening meal.
Day 6 – Saturday. Whilst we motored up M6 the cyclists had a very gruelling ride, the day got progressively worse for them, punctures, tiredness and low morale. The cyclists have to make the mileage up the next day. Keiron’s partner arrived with a new tent for Andrew and High Five food (full of protein) for everyone. We didn’t reach our booked site. The site we found very late at Shap C & C C.L site was very basic. The only Hotel in Shap served everyone with Fish and Chips at a price.
Thank you to Roy and Sylvia Gill who joined us at Kirby Lonsdale for lunch, left their donation and good wishes to everyone
Day 7 – Sunday. Shap camp side had no electric hook ups, Roger made toast on small two burner gas stove. Because of the warm dry weather this was one of the most enjoyable days for the cyclists, they made good time and cycled 125 miles. We managed to find a campsite before Glasgow where we had hoped to reach, Strathclyde Country Park, very good amenities, very clean plenty of space. Motorhomes £12 including electric. C & C site
Day 8 – Monday. Very misty, beautiful scenery around Lock Lomond where we stopped for lunch. This scenery must be stunning in the sunshine!! Arrived at National Trust C & C site Glenco Balloch. This site one of the best so far. The stewards very helpful, plenty of showers, washing and dish washing areas and even a cosy shelter where we gathered to relax and enjoy the evening meal because it was raining.
Day 9 – Tuesday. It rained throughout the night, tents very wet and ground soggy. After all the rain it brightened up. Our journey from Glencoe to Fort William absolutely beautiful. On to Fort Aguster located at the beginning of Loch Ness where we stopped for lunch. Roger and I just had time for a spot of sight seeing. Today the group had to cope with more punctures and split tyres. We travelled the side of Loch Ness where the scenery is stunning. Our campsite at Dingwall. Was very large spacious. The ladies room amenities large and feminine, pictures and posies of flowers above the wash basins. Everywhere immaculately clean. It was Simon’s birthday today and we celebrated with take away pizzas
Day 10 – Wednesday. Left Dingwall and continued our journey on the B836. The only passing places were bubbles each side of the road. Acres and acres of felled dead trees, heather, trees and hills on the horizon of the most northerly coastline of Scotland. The views change with every mile we travel. We have seen many groups of cyclists and motorcyclists possibly travelling this route for the same reason….CHARITY!! Roger and I arrived at our last camp site Melvich The Hallandale Inn 6.30pm. The lads had to move even faster, erect their tents and shower before going into the restaurant at 7.30. No more orders would be taken after 8pm. Today was Keiron’s birthday. His partner who had joined us for a few hours a few days ago left me with a chocolate cake.
Day 11 – Thursday They all deserved a well earned sleep in today. 7am alarms went off. Most of them celebrated last night so morning breakfast with a good fry up. Smiles from ear to ear just another 37 miles, a break at 20 miles at Thurso for coffee and cakes etc. Achievement written all over their faces with their challenge finished in front of John O’Groats signpost. Well Done Lads!! You are like thousands of other raising money for good causes and are the Pillars of Society. They have had to cope with sore bums, midges by the thousand.
I think they have all had enough bananas, carbohydrates and tuna to last them a lifetime.
Throughout this journey we have all learned many things about ourselves and each other. Above all working as a team.
To all our friends who have already donated to this worthy cause, thank you. Should anyone wish to donate after reading this article please make cheques payable to Helen Foster and post to the address. below.
24 Herrick Close, Sileby, Loughborough, Leicestershire, LE12 7RL.
When we reached John O’Groats , after photographs had been taken, an anti-climax seemed to descend upon everyone
During our long journey home we had time to reflect upon the last ten days. The one thing we were most grateful for was the weather. Although it rained throughout the nights it was dry during the days.
Our daily routine:
Alarm 6am.
Breakfast : Pots of tea, at least two loaves for toast, cereals, porridge, honey, jam, bananas and water for bottles for journey
After breakfast, clear everything away, and tents into support Van (driver helped with this.
Lunch: To be ready at an pre-arranged venue, only ever new approximate time. Sandwiches with various fillings, tuna, ham, cheese, salad, crisps, chocolates and biscuits. More water for bottles.
Dinner: Carbohydrates, pasta, potatoes, rice, vegetables, anything sweet. Clear away dinner tables. Men usually washed dishes etc.
In between getting meals ready we had to shop daily for provisions. We had pre-booked all campsites but upon arrival some were unsuitable so we had to quickly re-arrange Venues.
Our Benimar was well used.

 

2010 AND ALL THAT

You know you are living in 2010 when ….
1.You accidentally enter your password into the microwave
2.You haven’t played solitaire with real cards for years.
3.You have a list of 15 phone numbers to reach your family of 3.
4.You e-mail the person who works at the desk next to you
5.You e-mail your children upstairs to tell them dinner is ready.
6.Your reason for not staying in touch with various friends and family is that they are not on facebook
7.You pull up in your own driveway and use your mobile to see if anyone is home to help you carry in the shopping
8.Every TV advert has a website at the bottom of the screen.
9.Leaving the house without your mobile, which you didn’t have for the first 20 or 30 (or 60) years of your life, is now a cause for panic and you turn round and get it.
10.You get up in the morning and go on-line before getting your coffee.
Thanks to Andrew Sheldrake for the above.

 

MOTORHOME EXCHANGE

– Australia -Peter & Ann Visser
We are Peter and Ann Visser, we live in Lyndoch, a village in the Barossa Valley (where the Orlando Jacobs Creek wines are grown) in the state of South Australia some 60km north-east of Adelaide and we are wondering whether you could help us. The name of your club was recommended to us by the Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia (Australia’s largest RV club), of which we are members.
We are a retired couple in our early 70’s, fit, healthy and on the go. (With four children and 7 grandchildren you get like that). Ann comes from Otley in West Yorkshire and I come from the Netherlands and we have lived in Australia for the last 35 years. We have a four berth motorhome and we are very interested in a motorhome exchange for up to three months with one of your club members.
Our motorhome is a 6 metre (20 ft) dual rear wheels 1999 Ford Transit 4 berth C Class motor home, with a 4 cylinder 2500cc turbocharged diesel motor, in very good mechanical and cabin condition. It has of course has all the usual facilities such as reverse cycle air-conditioner (heater/cooler), toilet/shower, two burner gas stove (but no microwave) etc, as well as extras such as a large solar panel and batteries (haven’t run out of power for small low power usage appliances yet), roll-out awning, annexe and a large back-box for extra storage where we keep our generator set to run the air-conditioner when free-camping, outdoor table and chairs etc. It is fully equipped for long range touring, as we often go away for 3-4 months at the time.
Normally it is set up as having a large double bed in the luton over the cab across the motorhome and a U shaped lounge/dining area at the rear, which can be converted to another double bed across the full width across the back of the motorhome by .dropping the table and rearranging the foam seating cushions. However, for our convenience, we have installed a innerspring mattress across the back of the motorhome, which in the daytime can be tilted up to the rear window to provide comfortable seating and a table for 2. The luton we now use for storage, for when we travel, there are just the two of us.
We are experienced motorhomies both in Australia and in England .On a previous 3 months trip to the UK in 2004 we used a then 4 year old 6 berth Elldis, which did us very well.
We are looking at visiting the UK and Ireland from around mid May to mid August 2011 for about three months. Our idea is that, if we’re going to spend the money on airfares etc, we may as well go for a nice, leisurely trip around the UK. In our experience it is as cheap to live on the road, as at home (well, at least in Australia). So it would be great if we could do an exchange for 3 months.
We would be interested in either a simultaneous exchange, or to have it at separate times. We are quite flexible regarding availability of our motorhome, except for the second half in January 2011, when we take some of our grandchildren to a caravan park for a week. The best months weather-wise to travel in South Eastern Australia are in the autumn (February, March and April) or in the spring (September, October, November and December). We could also consider 2 or 3 shorter exchanges, provided we could make these work adjoining each other. Ideally the exchange would be at different times as this would allow us to get your members used to our motorhome and help with planning an itinerary. There would be no problem with them staying with us for a few days before or after the exchange.
We are looking for a two berth or four berth motorhome similar to ours and comfortable enough to provide us with a home and transport for the three months but are flexible and willing to consider any reasonable proposal. We are keen to make the exchange a great success for us and for your members and are willing to put in the work to make it happen.
Adelaide is a great place from which to commence a round trip to the East Coast. For example you could travel from Adelaide to Sydney or Brisbane following the coast, then return via outback. Broken Hill or via Mildura and the Riverland Direct flights to Adelaide from London with Qantas, British Airways, Malaysian or Thai Airlines make air travel easy. If our times do not coincide, we’d be more than happy to let your member stay with us few days to get acquainted with the motorhome and help them plan their trip, if they have not been to Australia before.
We can be contacted by email address: peterannvisser01@yahoo.com.au or by postal address : Post Office Box 855, Lyndoch, SA 535, Australia or by phone: International Number, then 61 8 8524 4926
Looking forward to hearing from your members.

 

MOTORHOME WEIGHING GADGET

– Graham Baines
Manufactured by REICH gmbh
Sold under the name of CARAVAN WEIGHT CONTROL, the device proposes to measure the weight of your vehicle by taking a reading from all wheels separately.
This is accomplished by placing the unit on a very flat surface, just in front of the wheel; the vehicle is then driven very slowly over it. The manufacturers claim it is so sensitive that each wheel on the same axle should be level, they suggest placing a piece of wood of the same thickness as the unit under the opposite side wheel when driving over.
First thing was to visit our local weighbridge and obtain an accurate weight reading. Although our drive is ageing Tar macadam, it is nevertheless level and I used a large piece of 6mm ply as a base for the unit, taking the readings as directed.
For this first test I checked the same wheel a few times, and was rather dismayed to find each reading was different. Out of four readings on each front wheel I only got the same reading twice, varying from 875 to 910 on the nearside and 855 to 990 on the offside (with driver in seat). Interestingly, if I averaged each side and then added both sides together the total front axle weight was almost identical to the weighbridge.
The rear axle readings were wildly different and I took eight on the nearside before it stabilised to a similar reading. Just to display these extremes, they started with 586, 980 & 596 then stabilised with 1105, 1160, 1095, 1080 & 1115. These variations were obviously due to speed over the unit (it does say VERY slow), so saying it is easy at this speed to not make it over the unit, requiring another pass. I did discover that each pass gave a completely new reading without needing a reset. I think a driver and an operator is therefore advisable though not essential.
After averaging the readings for each wheel and combining for each axle I managed to obtain something near to the weighbridge figures i.e. front same at 1.82, and rear 2.20 (weighbridge) compared with 2.28 on the unit. This gave a TOTAL MASS of 4.05 tonnes compared with the weighbridge 4.02 tonnes. (our van is 4.2 max).
Would I recommend it? Hmmm! There is a lot of messing with speed until the readings become similar and if I had just taken the highest readings they would have been way over, so no on that score. However, it does give you a side-to-side comparison, which a weighbridge doesn’t and with a lot of practice there might be justification for spending £115. You pays your money and …………………pray!

 

GYPSY IN FRANCE

At the end of May we arrived at Camping Al Comu in the French Catalonian region, some 15 miles from Perpignon, and about 900ft above sea level. There was a Mistral type wind blowing across this rustic site of just 35 pitches. I wondered what Mike had brought me to. The site was miles from civilisation, though at night the lights of Perpignan twinkled in the far distance, so I knew we were still on planet earth.
The village of Llauro was a 15 minute walk away and boasted a shop on one side of the road and a post office on the other, both open 9:00 – 12 noon – after that – tough. In the other direction 8 miles along scenic country roads were the towns of Lupia and Thur with our saviours Lidl and Champion supermarkets. But transport was needed. Mike had gone to Al Comu to “help” for the summer. One of his jobs was to go shopping for supplies for the owners – a Dutchman and his French wife, so we were able to get ours at the same time..
The owners had a 20 year old battered Fiat Panda which had a bald front tyre and the interior like a litter bin; still beggars can’t be choosers. We took our lives in our hands and used it. It was offered for days out but the only other use we made of it was to get me to and from Perpignan Airport when flying back to the UK and escape from “Colditz” for a few weeks.
It is not a site I would choose for a holiday – on the plus side it has constant hot water and good electrics, but little else The children’s play area was a joke and I would not recommend it to Motorcaravanners with no other transport unless seeking seclusion.
There were many walkers and cyclists who called for a night halt. A lad in his 20’s had cycled from Chesterfield to Dover, then Calais to Al Comu, he left for Spain hoping to get to the south then across to Morrocco – Brave lad.
A man in his early 70’s stayed on his way travelling along the pyrenees to the Atlantic coast, Calais then back to Swindon. A couple from Kendal had cycled along the Atlantic coast, left Al Comu for the Mediterranean coast for a few days eventually catching the European Bike Bus back to England. I call that bit sensible – the rest I can only admire them.
When the owners asked, many times, “We hope you are coming back next year, you have been a good help” we smiled sweetly and thought “No chance, once bitten ..etc”.
We escaped from Colditz for Camping du Lac in the Gers , Gascony region (an area I had never been to or knew existed). What a difference; a well managed site run by a couple of Brits, Rob & Louise who have owned it for 9 years. It is within easy reach of the town of Marciac (800m) by foot or bike, 300m distance is a lake with a pleasant walk or cycle ride round.
Marciac is a fortified town on the pilgrim’s route to Santiago de Compostella. It has a large square, old buildings on all 4 sides comprising Post Office, Bank, well stocked 8 to late minimarket, restaurants, all daily needs. A market is held in the square each Wednesday. On the outskirts of the town is a Super U supermarket and petrol station.
Camping Du Lac has a swimming pool, bar for drinks and snacks (lovely chips), cycle hire, wi-fi, children’s play area, petanque, volleyball, table tennis and newly acquired table football. There are 80 pitches, 50 with hook-up (6 or 10 amp) 5 hard standing and 30 for tents Hot showers, washing machine and ‘van service point. They also offer mobile phones for rent.
The site is within 60 miles of Toulouse and the Atlantic Coast, approx 1 hours drive to the Pyrenees. A car is needed to visit these places.
A number of walkers and cyclists stop off for a night on their travels. A Belgium couple had walked from their home came in on their way to Lourdes. Another couple on small wheeled bikes were heading for the Pyrenees – rather them than me. Yesterday a lone walker arrived, put up his tent and was gone again before we were about – but then that wouldn’t be difficult!.
A neat looking small coach built motorhome came in for a night. I liked the look of it so went to investigate the make – it was a French registered Benimar (Tessoro 400 I think). I tried to speak to the owner but didn’t make any headway.
Finally Marciac is famous for it’s Jazz Festival held every year, July 30th – Aug 15th. This is the only site in Marciac so is bursting at the seams. To find out more about the festival it’s www.jazzmarciac.com and the site is www. Camping -marciac.com. If you fancy going to the festival it is advisable to book your pitch before March – tel: 05 62 08 21 19

 

SIX TO ITALY

– Janet & Bruce Lawson
The camper was washed and packed, the morning of departure, get everyone in (3 kids and 3 adults), settle them all down and away we go, its still raining but further down the M40 its ok. The M25 not too bad, down to Dover and the ferry.
Picked the motorway up out of Calais till the first peage then travelled on local roads, how we ever got anywhere, with coffee stops, tea stops and feeding times for the kids its wonder we made it past Reims to park for the night at Chalon en Champagne. Next day we headed for Dijon and stopped for a couple hours at the big park by the municipal camp site with its large lake, sandy beaches and cycle tracks, so I kicked the kids out of the van and told them to run round the park 20 times to use up some of their energy. On the way again heading for a camp site in Beaune.
The following day we had a tour of the city on the visitrain which was very good also it was market day so very busy but we bought some fruit then went to the Hotel Dieu which was a medieval hospital for the poor, it still has all the beds in the main hall all curtained off like little cubicles and various medical instruments on show. The following day we were on the road again heading for Les Deux Alps, about an hour the other side of Grenoble to where our son is working. We arrived in the afternoon ,the sun was shinning from a clear blue sky as we pulled onto the aire, for 7eu a night you get electric, water by your van and a new toilets and van emptying point further down the parking area. Next day was raining till after lunch, the weather did ‘nt seem to put the mountain bikers and skiers off the village was buzzing with activity.
The following day was clear and sunny so we all went for a trek up the mountain, the views were outstanding, we stayed about four nights then we were on our way again aiming for lake Garda, but first we had to go over the passes into and out of Briancon, which is a lovely scenic route, as it was a beautifully sunny day, snow capped peaks and lakes along the way. We carried on down the Susa valley towards Turin ,picking up the motorway to go round the city and on to Milan, the motorways in Italy are much cheaper than France. All through the lovely scenic countryside in the Alps what do you think the kids are doing , they are playing on their games consoles or reading. Anyway we get round Milan and stay the night at a lakeside camp site on Lake Iseo and a very beautiful place it is, (sun shining again), the kids swimming in the lake.
The next day the 22nd we are booked in to the camp site on Lake Garda, in a place called Peschiera. We came off the motorway and it was choc-a-bloc with traffic, luckily for us everyone else was going the opposite way, the camp was well sign posted and we were there in about ten minutes to camping Butterfly, weather still beautiful and hot, booking takes forever (but that’s another story) .
Pitch up, awning out table and chairs out, cup of tea on the go and relax, kids go to find the pool. Wake up in the morning and find our ground sheet under water, the camp waters the hedges every night and we have a little dip in our pitch .The next hour I spend digging a ditch so we don’t get flooded again. Efforts are in vain, so British engineering came into play. I remembered that I have some clamps in my tool box, so I clamp the water feed while it is dark, next morning no flooding, take clamps off so no one will know. That night put clamps on again, great, next morning get up to find the clamps on the table by van, I have been rumbled, have to think of something else.
Decided to go for a boat trip to Garda up the lake and very good it was too. If you haven’t been to this area it’s well worth a visit. High living continued drinking wine, barby suppers, cheese, chocolates, no expense spared. Two days before we were due to leave we went to the pool for a swim and frolicking with the kids I jumped into the pool with the van keys in my trunks, had visions of all of use sleeping under the awning for the night. Spent an hour or so trying to dry the keys out, they did work eventually while we were there but they haven’t worked since and now I am visiting my Fiat dealer.
We had allowed ourselves only two days for the return trip and headed for the Mont Blanc tunnel, don’t recommend that way as it cost 46eu for our van. Out of the tunnel on the other side we stopped in Chamonix for about an hour then back on the road to Calais , where we stayed on the aire by the port for the night, up early to catch the 6:40am boat, lovely sunny day again, off the boat and carry on home to Birmingham, If you haven’t been to the Italian lakes why not try it a very beautiful area, on the whole a very good trip.

 

TYRE UPDATE

Tyre Update
You may remember reading in the last issue that I was having trouble getting hold of Michelin tyres for our Motorhome.
I found that Continental Vanco Camping tyres were readily available. I phoned a few local Tyre Fitting Places and then trawled the internet. Eventually I decided to go with TyreShopper.com. They delivered the 4 tyres the next day to a Fitting Agent of my choice (National Tyres & AutoCare) who contacted me by phone and had them fitted the next day. By using the internet I saved about £140 on the 4 tyres over what I would have paid going direct.
I emailed Continental for their recommended pressures, giving them the tyre details and both axle maximum weights. They replied almost straight away and the figures were not dissimilar to those that Michelin quoted when I did the same thing 5 years ago.

 

ODDS & ENDS

One Less Ferry Route

On September 5th LD Lines ceased operating their Dover to Boulogne Route due to poor passenger numbers.

 

Tyre Recall

If you have any Hankook tyres on your motorhome it might be worth a check. If they are one of the following Hankook will exchange the them for safety reasons.
All are Made in Hungary
185/75R16 RA08: DOT 2X VF JM H 1308 to2309, manufactured from week 13, 2008 to week 23,2009
205/75R16 RA08 DOT 2X VD JM H 1408 to 2309, manufactured from week 14, 2008 to week 23, 2009
215/75R16 RA08 DOT 2X W8 JM H 1408 t0 2309, manufactured from week 14, 2008 to week 23, 2009.

Missing Cat

As he set off for the Car Colston Rally recently, Colin Varley found that thieves had stolen the catalytic converter on his Motorhome whilst it was parked on his drive, This is the second time Colin has suffered such a loss.

OBITUARY – JIM TAYLOR

It is with deep regret that I have to inform you that Jim Taylor passed away on 30th August.
Jim & his wife Ellen joined the Club in 2008. Our deepest sympathy goes to Ellen and her family.

Derbyshire

Well Dressing Weekend
The rally will be in 2 parts :-
First we stay 2 nights in a Pub car park and on the Thursday walk to visit Tissington Well Dresssing. If you haven’t seen a well dressing you are in for a treat. That evening we plan to eat in the Pub as the landlady is allowing us to stay free for 2 nights. No facilities apart from fresh water.
This is limited to 10 ‘vans – so 1st come 1st served. We then move on to a nearby campsite for 2 nights where we have a walk planned. More details in the next issue. Ron & Judy Smith

Dickensian Weekend
Dickensian Weekend is once again the last weekend of November 2010 in Ulverston Cumbria.
As per last year, I will not be booking a position on the field, as it rather muddy if the weather is poor. We have been known to have rain in Cumbria.
If you are interested in coming, there is a good campsite a mile from town with all hard standings. There is a bus a quarter of a mile from the campsite into Ulverston. The bus stop is near to a pub and a co-op shop.
The campsite is busy for that weekend, so if you wish to book, the details are;
Bardsea Leisure Park
Ulverston
Cumbria LA12 9QE.
Telephone number 01229 584712
You are more than welcome to dress in Dickensian clothes for the weekend, quite a few people do so to enjoy the atmosphere.
Look forward to seeing you
Roy Gill

 

DIARY DATES

Please see the Diary Page

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