Issue 30 – July 2008

 

EDITORS COLUMN

Welcome to a bumper edition (the biggest yet). My pleas for more input at the AGM have been answered in full and more. 5 reports of rallies, a lengthy article on Island Hopping in Scotland (thanks to new member Catherine Simpson) and welcome news from BCS and Easirent.. I have reduced the font size to enable more words per page, I hope the older ones amongst us can still manage to read it – I wish I could. At the last minute I was hoping to include details from the Benimar Dealer meeting that included at least 2 (and maybe more) from the UK. There is nothing on the Benimar website yet, but Paul Glicksman from BCS had promised me some pictures but although he took 150 shots his camera has gone wrong and can’t get them to me. However, Nick Hanley from Easirent is trying to help. I am sure there will be a lot more detail in the next issue. It seems that Benimar will be at the NEC in October. I think that we ought to try to have a Club presence to help both the sale of Benimars and raise awareness of the Club. The AGM passed off smoothly and I would like to welcome to the Committee Lisa Smitherman (Secretary) and Ray Beach (Events Co-ordinator). At the same time a big thank you on behalf of the Club to Chris Baines and Colin Varley for their contributions over the last few years. I usually issue the Club Handbook at this time but with the size of the Mag. it may be too heavy, so I will leave it till the next issue. With this issue, however, will be a list of Member Registration Numbers and email addresses. If there any errors/omissions please let Alan Williams and/or myself know. We shall miss the Lincoln Rally but are going on Paul & Carol’s Walking Rally (if it is still on, as they only had 3 outfits attending the last I heard). Support it if you can.

Ron Smith

 

MEMBERS LETTERS

Two new members

We’ve signed up today as new members of the Benimar Owners’ Club and Alan passed us some back copies of your Magazine which I’ve been reading on the way back from Peterborough. I see that you are always pleased to receive contributions for your Magazine, so thought I’d tell you a bit about us and our beloved Benimar.

We bought our Benimar Europe 6000 STL in 2001 from RDH Motorhomes after a lot of research, and we’ve loved it ever since. It was our first motorhome but we had owned a small cabin cruiser before that, so were used to the outdoor life and living in small spaces.

We decided to buy a motorhome for three reasons (1) we spent all our time working – at work during the week, then around the house at the weekends, (2) we live in Derbyshire, on the edge of the Peak District, and within 30 mins. of leaving home can be in some of the UK’s most beautiful countryside – except we rarely went and (3) we are fortunate to live on the wonderful island of Great Britain, with so much to explore – coast, country and cities, all within easy reach, and what better way than in a motorhome?

Since having our Benimar, we are away many weekends and all Bank Holidays from March to October (we tend to be fair weather motorhomers) and always take our 2 week annual holiday in the motorhome. We have visited so many wonderful places we would not otherwise have visited, with so much of the UK still to see. Last September we went Island Hopping in Scotland, an absolutely amazing experience, and I have written an article about it, which, if you think your members would be interested, I could let you have in instalments together with some stunning photographs we took. (see elsewhere in the mag – Ed)

We also run a website for to enable campers to find late availability touring pitches, and I could write a brief article about that too, again if you think it would be of interest.
Catherine Simpson

How refreshing to receive a letter like this. I would love to have the articles you mention. Ed

Thanks

I would like to thank all the members of the b.o.c. for their kind get well wishes and thoughts after I was rushed into hospital for an emergency operation whilst I was in Spain this spring. I am now on chemotherapy and progressing quite well after being repatriated by my insurance (Saga) door to door. The van arrived a few days later on a low loader.

Special thanks to Roy, and Mary who had her own trauma to contend with. We were lucky to be on a C.C. Rally amongst Brits who were absolutely brilliant, as were the stewards, at Tropicana, Barbara and Nelson. Thanks to all. Geoff Follows

A Site to remember or forget

This winter after three weeks in Spain we set of for Portugal. We being, Mary and George Pennington, Shirley and Harry Lord plus ourselves. It was quite a long journey from Cuevas Mar ( Garrucha) to Quarteira in Portugal, a stop en route was decided upon, Seville being the overnight stop.

Sylvia and I were leading, all went well until the outskirts of Seville. The first mistake, I missed the turn off, at least I saw the sign as I passed it. Brake, we all did, it then involved reversing three motorhomes up the hard shoulder (not motorway). Mary took charge and with the co-operation of a friendly Spanish truck driver (they do exist), who put on his hazard lights and held up the traffic, we reversed took and the correct road.

Once that hurdle was overcome, we had to follow signs that were sparse and signs to the campsite were non- existent. I tried asking the way, but I am ashamed to say that my knowledge of Spanish I can write on a postage stamp and still leave for the Queen’s head.

Eventually we found the site, something to behold, the road looked as if it had been used for a ploughing competition. We found three level pitches and set up for the night. We were issued with keys for the toilets. We each had a chalet, to which there were no paths and no logical way of numbering. Still for one night!

The rest of the site comprised chalets and “statics”, some of which looked like they had not been used for some time. We did not use the electric hook-up, that was the most expensive we would have paid for the whole of the holiday. To say the least it was an interesting site, the peace during the night was interrupted by the dreaded Spanish dogs. Still one night, but it was enough!!

Roy Gill

 

PETERBOROUGH SHOW RALLY – 1

Roy Gill

The weekend did not start too well, departed Ulverston with a view to stopping the night at Uttoxeter. On arrival at Uttoxeter, the road to the racecourse, where the campsite is located was closed. At this point we caught up with Harry and Shirley Lord, who were to help with the marshalling. We did a turn around in a factory yard much, to the bemusement of the people working there. We then backtracked and found our way to the campsite via the town centre, not the easiest task.

Next day, to Peterborough, followed the signs to the entrance by the Harvester pub, the chap on the gate told us that we could not enter this gate and to follow the van he had just turned away, this we did and like sheep ended up in the housing estate and building site, all turn. Okay for us, but one soul had a “car-tow”, one cannot reverse with these. Back to the main road, went in the general direction of South gate, on the next island saw a sign for the Showground, unthinkingly I followed it and realised I was heading in the direction of the first gate. Once again caught up with Harry and Shirley, who were being refused entry at the gates they had been told to use. The term Fred Karno comes to mind.

Eventually access was gained to the showground. When we entered the arena, where Benimar was based the track around the grass central area was a sea of goo and that is being polite. Once the Benimar area was found we parked up and had some lunch. Harry and I then started to mark out the pitches to the requisite 6 meter spaces. We soon realised that as per last year, Warners had not allocated enough space. That necessitated a trip to Information to request more space, I was told that David the chief Warner’s marshall would come and see us. He had not come an hour later. Another visit to information, he was at a meeting. Still waiting to see him.

Harry and I decided to mark out with smaller pitches to fit our members onto the grass, no way could we have put members on the track as happened last year, with track being as it was. Warners were notified of this move. We also asked if they could provide something to make a mud free path off the grass area.

Once we had marked out, Sylvia and Shirley went to put out the markers to guide members to the Club area. Having just completed the task they were told that the vans would be coming in from another direction. Remove the markers and replace them as directed with the proviso that it might change on Thursday.

Once all the marking out was completed, the rain started so a little liquid refreshment was the order of the day. Thursday came with some sunshine, no sign of the Benimar members until we decided to have some lunch. We forecasted that. The first to arrive was our President (Ron) bringing Mary and George’s Benimar, having picked it up at Stockport. The members continued to arrive and as they arrived so did the rain. The track once again became a quagmire. It made one worry whether or not we might have a problem on Monday when members were leaving. That was not to be, after the Thursday downpour, the weather behaved itself. Friday at 10-00 hours we had our usual tea/coffee morning, alfresco the members there being pleased to see Mary and George Pennington. We also welcomed four new members – Gary and Lisa Smitherman plus Jim and Ellen Taylor.

By this time the Show was open to the public and off went the members all agog to spend their money. About this time the showground people laid some 8×4 plywood across the track to make access to the showground easier. Saturday brought decent weather so we were able to have the Annual General Meeting outdoors under the gazebos starting at 14-00 hours.

Ron Smith was elected for a second three year stint as President. Christine Baines retired as Secretary, her place was taken by Lisa Smitherman. Ray Beach took over as Events Co-ordinator and Chief Marshall. The result of the ballot during the year was in favour of paying Club membership to ACCEO, but if members wished to pay the personal membership, that was their choice. Our Treasurer Alan Williams requested that more members pay their membership fee by Standing Order. A resolution was passed to expand Associate Membership to friends of Benimar owners to allow them to comply with DEFRA rules when attending rallies organised by the Club other than those organised by the likes of Warners. An example being Pip and Vic’s rally in West Sussex.

After the Annual General Meeting one or two announcements were made regarding future rallies – see the Website or the Newsletter. Saturday evening was the main show night, the star attraction being Julian Cleary, some members went there others to the Harvester for a meal. Sunday was forecast to be showery, there were one or two spots at about 17-00 hours. We had a tea/coffee morning at 10-00, Agnes Johnston was the star, it being her birthday. Beryl Peer gave a little talk on losing weight using a drink formula after the quiz was checked. Carol Beach won the quiz.

During the afternoon, awnings etc were stowed. Some members had to leave for work, whatever that might be, at least when one is working one has holidays etc., one does not have such luxuries when one retires. In the evening some members went again to the Harvester. Monday was departure day, it takes quite along time departing, with the usual long farewells. The saving grace was the track and arena had dried up quite well, so there were no problems. Six units went onto King’s Lynn for the follow- on rally. PS no matter what the Webmaster says on the front page of the website, I was holding the beaker in that manner to enable me to unfold a raffle ticket.

 

PETERBOROUGH SHOW RALLY – 2

Mary Pennington

 

I can’t remember whether at the AGM anyone volunteered to write about the show and rally. If I missed it then here’s another to fill a page in the mag. BOCs 7th birthday at Peterborough ………

A few facts escape like how many vans were on the rally marshalled by Roy & Sylvia Gill. Our van arrived at Peterborough before us courtesy of Honor & Tim transporting it from Kent where it had been resting on its way from Portugal to our house in Bredbury, Stockport some 300 miles, then Ron & Judy collected it from us on the Wed before the rally, took it to their house then on to Peterborough on Thursday.
George and I went by car on Thursday the van was in situ ready to put our bags in and enjoy rally. It had been raining before our arrival as we were allocated the area in front of the grandstand with its speedway track round our area of grass, the buzz word was mud and more mud.

Harry managed to fall in it whilst filling a water container at the tap his front was covered in mud so he tried hugging a few ladies leaving them with mucky fronts.
Eventually, after a lot of complaints the management put down duck boards to enable us to get to the show with clean feet. The show had lots of new vans with telephone numbers on the windscreens don’t know where they get the prices from, many of them sold. I had a good look around couldn’t believe what I was offered in px for our van settled for a pair of crocs for my feet and forgot about trading in.
The AGM went well a good turn out with many day visitors joining in. A number of new members were welcomed. Sadly Christine Baines resigned as secretary a position she has held for some years. Colin Varley resigned as events coordinator – it must be catching…..I seem to think these positions were filled by two new members.

It seems Trigano are looking for dealers to take Benimars again after an absence of no real dealers for 3 years it would be good for all the Benimars there are left and the Club if it were to happen but don’t hold your breath. During the meeting it was announced Brownhills had gone into receivership, an hour later a management buyout was rumored so it was business as usual.

After the BOC serious business a raffle was held then it was birthday cake and imitation champagne all round. Saturday evening show was Elvis reincarnated, didn’t go but gather he was very good unlike the star Julian Clary who went down like a lead balloon everyone was complaining about him. Glad we went to the Harvester instead. Over the weekend the rain held off but it was too cold to have a communal meal outside on the Sunday so it was the Harvester again.

What a glorious day Monday was, wall to wall sunshine but a bitterly cold wind. Some members were off to the follow on rally at Kings Lynn others to home. Ron & Judy took our van to their home and eventually to Rvtec for a few jobs. On completion Graham & Christine collected it, brought it back here where it sits with a For Sale sign on it. I do hope we can get sorted out and its not the end of our motorhoming days the people in the Benimar Club have been been so good to us over the past few months. Thanks a million from us both to you all.

 

Kings Lynn & Seaside Rally Reports

Andrew Sheldrake

Ann and I could not get to Peterborough or the AGM so sent our apologies. We were determined to attend the follow-on at Kings Lynn. We went on the A17 and saw fields of daffodils and tulips. The other five vans were already there when we arrived but we were soon renewing friendships with everyone.
On Tuesday we all went into Kings Lynn on the local bus. As there was another large rally the bus was full with about ten standing, so the company laid on a second bus to bring us all back! In the evening all 12 BOC folk went to the pub for a superb meal and then stayed on for the quiz. Nichol, Lorna, Ann and Sylvia won a prize and the rest of us never heard the end of it! The evening was full of good natured banter as you expect from BOC. Wednesday morning saw another get-together over coffee and a communal evening meal in the campsites meeting room as the weather was showery. At coffee Benny Mar proudly showed off his baby, and was heartbroken to have missed Penny Mar at Peterborough and Kings Lynn. BOC newsletter readers will recall that B and P were getting on really well last year. We now know exactly how well! On Thursday we said farewell to Roy and Sylvia & Alex and Julia. Friday lunchtime saw Nichol and Lorna & Ann and I set off which left Ian and Agnes & David and Yvonne.

This concluded another successful BOC meet. It would be good to see some new members at future get togethers. You would be very welcome!

SEASIDE RALLY

Evelyn & Dave Hill

Come to Whitstable for an English summer holiday….. so we did, in total 16 motor caravans parked by the foreshore. Weather was sunny the week before but as this is England it turned cold, wet and windy. Sunday the sun came out, followed by an orange sunset over the sea and for early risers a glorious sunrise on Monday.

Our English holiday was carefully organised with local information packs to help experience the Kent coast. We had walks into Whitstable town which had been a working fish and shell fish port, with early steam engine links to London for Victorian holiday makers. We walked amongst village shops and fishermens’ cottages with narrow alleys, including ‘Squeeze Gut Alley’ – just making it through! The colourful and quirky beach huts still line the beaches and these were the theme for our gazebo decoration.

Another venture was walking to Herne Bay which is more of a seaside town (you can still buy candy floss) and is the home of BCS who are trying to become Benimar importers again. Return journeys from our visits were by local bus to the campsite entrance.

True to BOC tradition Thursday night welcome was ‘nibbles’ etc, many home cooked by our hosts. Friday was seaside fish and chips night, again with extras from our hosts and Saturday we were treated to a lavish BBQ and sangria! The English holiday theme was followed with many games and quizzes. Bingo was included on Friday along with a Mr. and Mrs. competition complete with miniature glass clock as the prize. Saturday was Jo’s big quiz night which was keenly contested by four teams and only decided in the last round. Sunday coffee morning we had guess the number of Jelly Beans and the jar was won by the Porter family which included two grandsons!

During the rally our hosts ran a Tommy Appeal for research into causes and possible preventions of miscarriage, premature births and stillbirths. There was a guess the name of Penny ‘Ma’ – Margarita which Gary won and donated the £10 prize to ‘Tommy’. Paul from, BCS joined us for a drink and donated £100 plus a Sony Radio/CD for a BOC type raffle of many prizes. In all £267.70 was raised. We made full use of the BOC gazebo, Paul kindly added another and Honor and Tim a cooking tent.

The rally was truly reminiscent of English seaside holidays and was great fun. Maybe if we can persuade our hard working hosts to do it again, we will bring our kites and wind socks to fly! Our thanks to Jo and Alan, Vi and Pete who put in a lot of effort and planning, plus everyone who ‘mucked in’ to make the Seaside Rally a great time and another BOC happy memory.

 

WHITSTABLE FOLLOW-ON

CANTERBURY/PORT LYMPNE /ZOO

Lisa Smitherman

As we left behind the last amazing sunset and sunrise in sun drenched Whitstable, four vans headed to Canterbury ‘Park and Ride’ for part one of the follow – on Rally.

Those of you who are seasoned continent explorers are no doubt familiar with this concept, but for Gary and me it was another adventure! I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, ‘Park and Ride’ is not a service we’re familiar with so I was relieved to discover it was simply an opportunity to enjoy stress free travel in order to beat the traffic queues, and after parking up in a secure, dedicated Motor home area, we took a short bus ride to the heart of the City. However, the most attractive feature of this service has to be the £2.50 daily charge, inclusive of parking, bus journeys and an overnight stay – bargain! We all made the most of a beautiful, warm afternoon in this charming City and enjoyed a lovely meal together at one of the many restaurants the town has to offer. (Italian – Gary’s favourite!!)

The next morning we all set off for the ‘African Experience’ at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park near Ashford, Kent. We spent the day in the Zoo where we saw a variety of animals from huge (and I mean huge!) African elephants, Zebra’s, Rhinos, Lions and Gorillas, to name but just a few. Port Lympne is quite large so it is very easy to find yourself alone looking at an enclosure. The animals are clearly very well cared for and act naturally in enclosures that are designed for them and not the public. The zoo also boasts an impressive and successful breeding programme to help save some species from exstinction.

The highlight of our visit had to be the evening Safari. After being greeted by a glass (or two!) of Bucks Fizz we headed off out into the wild in our Safari truck with our expert Guide. We saw Wildebeest, Antelope, Rhino, Zebra and Ostrich and other amazing wildlife roaming free as if on the plains of Africa! The entire two hour tour was just fantastic, and the icing on the cake had to be observing the Lions and the cubs feeding on a snack of rabbit from just a couple of feet away (not for the squeamish!). It may have put others off, but I was ready for dinner! We were driven back to the main Zoo where we greeted by extremely friendly staff to our prepared table. We enjoyed a fabulous two – course meal with wine and coffee before receiving a gratefully received lift back to our Motor homes.

The entire Rally was superb, but the follow-on just surpassed expectations and very special thanks to Alan and Jo from all of us for making this such a memorable and enjoyable encounter. I would strongly recommend a visit to Port Lympne to anyone that has not been, you must however, witness the ‘African Experience Safari’ – absolutely brilliant!!

 

WPC 2007 & 2008

The results of last years competition were announced after the AGM. Vic Paine and Jane & Geoff Perry tied for 3rd place, 2nd spot was taken by Lorna Thomson. The winner, with an intriguing entry depicting 5 Frenchmen squatting bare bottomed in a wood having drunk the dodgy local water, was Graham Baines. Graham was presented with his prize – of a packet of immodium.

WPC 2008

Only 3 entries so far, from Andrew Sheldrake, Benny Mar and Graham Baines. Get searching.

WTPC 2008

Pip Rowe has decided to run a parallel competition – this one being the Worst Taste Postcard Competition. So send in the most disgusting postcards that you can find. She has requested that you put them in an envelope so that they do not offend Vic (or her mother!)

 

MEMBERSHIP

Alan Williams.

A big thank you to all those members at the AGM 2008 that helped raise club funds to the value of £83.80. With regards to ACCEO, please note that the constitution has now been changed and any new members from April 2008 will not receive personal membership to ACCEO. All existing members will have personal membership until the end of 2008. From January 2009, all members of BOC will have membership with ACCEO as “club” members instead of “personal” membership. Should any members wish to contact ACCEO and pay personally they can still do so by contacting ACCEO membership officer – Colin Barnett on 01889 585328 or email on membership@acceo.org.uk. I would like to welcome new members that joined at the AGM :-

Catherine & Kevin Simpson.

William & Patricia Whiting.

John & Angie Botterill.

Harry & Shirley Lord.

The current membership stands at 153 (76 couples & 1 single)

 

ODDS & ENDS

One Upmanship

Its a motorhome Captain, but not as we know it. Formula One team Force India’s owner Vijay Mallya is said to be pleased with his new motorhome. They may be at the back of the grid but their new “Motorhome” outshines those of McLaren and Red Bull. It is a triple decker, 350 sq metres and weighs 40 tonnes.

May 1 Election Results

Ulverston Central

BISHOP-ROWE Norman Con 292

GILL Roy Lab 159

HUMBERSTON John LD 58

All together now – Ahhhhhhh

CL near RvTex

If you are visiting RvTex for some work on your motorhome then you may wish to stay locally before your appointment for an early start, or after some work for a shakedown. Either way there is a Caravanning and Camping Club CS about a mile away. You don’t have to be a member if you are visiting RvTex. There is plenty of grass and 2 hardstandings. The charge is £6 a night (£8.50 with hookup). They are open from Easter till just before Christmas.

Contact:- Hayes Farm on 01159632755

www.hayesfarm.co.uk

Hucknall Road,

Newstead Village,

Notts. NG15 0BD

Acceo

At the AGM the resolution to withdraw personal membership of ACCEO as part of the membership was passed. Existing members prior to the AGM will be personal members until the end of the year. New members will not be members of ACCEO. Anyone wishing to join as personal members may still do so.

Canterbury Park & Ride

Ideal for overnight stay to/from the ferry. GPS Coordinates Longitude 1.101906 Latitude 51.261840

There are 3 Park & Rides in Canterbury – The ONLY one MH can park in and stay over night is New Dover Road Park & Ride,

Directions: – Leaving the M2 at junction 7 heading for Dover via the A2, follow the A2 Dover bound past the first slip road for Canterbury, heading for the 2nd slip road signed Bridge. At the end of the slip road, turn right at the T junction, immediately after the A2 bridge turn right and right again, keep right (else you will end up A2 London bound) joining the slip road into Canterbury following the signs for Park & Ride.

The Park & Ride is situated behind the Gate Inn Pub. There is water,toilet / grey waste emptying facility available. It costs £2.50 from 12 noon to 12 noon (24hrs) which includes unlimited travel into Canterbury via the bus.

 

BENIMAR NEWS

Exciting times – at last we seem to have some good news regarding Benimars imported into the UK again. On the weekend of June 14th there was a Benimar Dealer Meeting in Spain. This was attended by BCS and Easirent which means we now have 2 proper dealers at last.

I received the following from Nick Hanley of Easirent who has just returned from the Dealer Meeting in Spain :- Just to keep you up to date we have been appointed North West Dealer for Benimar and we have ordered 20 new models for 2009. We will be at the NEC in October on the Benimar stand so hopefully we can meet up there. Also once the 2009 brochure is out I will get some across to you. I also spoke to the main shareholder of Trigano and asked him to get the Benimar website up to date with a good English section which he has promised to do.

Looking at the the 2009 models:-

Perseo and Tesseo have been improved with minor modifications to interiors.

Sport now has radio/cd player and a new bathroom and new upholstery.

New settings in the current range are:-

SPORT 245,340,345

PERSEO 585

EUROPE 760, 785,790

BENIVAN 145

CANTABRIA MINI VAN is a new product.

We have just collected 8 new Benimars for the rental fleet:4x Sport 310, and 4x Europe 780. The sport are very good value and the new Europe 780 with a separate bedroom is fantastic and very high quality but expensive. We have suffered due to the exchange rate going against us. We have for sale at the moment some Europe 6000 which are 06 plate. These have the U shaped lounge at the back and are very popular. We also have some 5000s for sale. These have the 2 bunks at the back, 6 berth and are ideal for a young family. If any of your members want new models please let me know and also any extras which they may need. It appears that Benimar, or more likely their parent company Trigano, have suddenly realised they are missing out on the UK market !! Perhaps now we will see some progress.

Regards, Nick Hanley

Paul Glicksman from BCS also attended the Dealer Meeting and took 150 photos. Unfortunately something has gone wrong with his camera and he can not access them.

 

Scottish Island Hopping in a Benimar

The story of our Island Hopping Tour, Sept. 2007

We had not planned to go Island Hopping in Scotland, but that is what we ended up doing Island hopping in a 23 foot motorhome? A crazy idea? Were we mad? No! It is dead easy. And what an amazing holiday experience it was so here is the story.

The original plan was to drive from Derbyshire to the Kintyre Peninsula and back, taking in various stops both ways. Then a friend asked had we thought of taking the ferry from Ardrossan to Brodick, and another from Lochranza to Claonaig? Where to where? Who was Brodick and what was Claonaig? A visit to the excellent Caledonian MacBrayne Ferries Website, made things clearer. We chose Island Hopscotch 16 ticket(£220 for up to 10m motorhome and 2 passengers) which took us from Arran to Kintyre and Islay and back to Kintyre. We had to change our plans on the way back because we didn’t read the small print and mistakenly thought the Hopscotch ticket got us back to our starting of Arran. So instead of retracing our steps, we travelled back via Inveraray and Loch Lomond, seeing places we would have otherwise have missed. All done in two weeks – and it felt like we had been away for a month.

Derbyshire to Ardrossan

The AA route planner showed the journey to the Kintyre Peninsula would take 8.22 hours (based on a car) – a distance of 413 miles – we’d be exhausted. Plan B – Island Hopping had us driving to Ardrossan at 5.39 hrs, 315 miles – still a long haul in a motorhome, so an overnight stay was advisable. We broke our journey at Ashes Exclusively Adult Caravan Park, south of Kendal in the Lake District, so we could take in some of this beautiful area. This site is ideal for stopping off, as it is only 3 miles from the M6 motorway. Kendal was delightful that weekend as there was a Street Art Festival, with all sorts of performers doing weird and funny activities. It was a great start to the holiday. We wanted to stay longer here, but Scotland was calling, and our ferry was departing soon………

Ardrossen to Arran

Three hours/166 miles later we arrived at the ferry port of Ardrossan, north of Irvine. We allowed time to check ferry times/days – especially ferries for Islay, which were particularly confusing. The staff were patient with all our questions, and pre-booked all our ferry crossings with the exception of Arran to Claonaig, which is not bookable. It is important to reserve crossings for motorhome/ caravans to and from Islay as these get booked up very quickly. We drove back down the port approach road and fuelled up. A supermarket was being built adjacent to the port, which will be ideal for stocking up before departiure. Back at the port, we were first in the queue, and first on the 5 pm ferry to Brodick, the main town on Arran.

Caledonian Macbrayne Ferries have the monopoly on the ferries and run an efficient, and value-for-money service. The ferries dash into the port, their front ramp coming down as they approach and within seconds of docking, vehicles of all sizes pour off. In no time, the waiting vehicles are loaded with expert guidance from port staff, and off the ferry goes on it’s return journey. We were excited and nervous about taking our beloved motorhome on so many ferries, but there’s no need to worry about anything. It’s a whole lot easier than Cross Channel ferries, and really nothing like it. Dogs are allowed on board and there is a lounge where they are welcome with well-behaved owners, and they can be walked on deck too. The cafe on the larger ferries serves reasonable food relevant to the time of day, and there’s a small shop selling newspapers, sweets, gifts and books. It’s well worth having a look at the books – we picked up “Hebridean Island Hopping” by Martin Coventry, which became our bible for the islands we visited.

The crossing to Brodick, the main town on Arran, was smooth and took just 55 minutes. On arriving at Arran, we turned left and headed for Seal Shore Campsite, Kildonan, on the south of the Island – a picturesque journey of 12 miles, 40 minutes. We were nervous about travelling on narrow roads, but the journey was a doddle – we hardly met another vehicle, and there was plenty of room for passing at most places when we did. The short drive down to Seal Shore had us full of anticipation at what looked like a beautiful site……

Isle of Arran

Most folks just pass through the Isle of Arran without stopping. Big mistake. We wished we had longer on the Island, but two days was all we had, and we made the most of it. Seal Shore Campsite is a very laid back site tucked away in the south corner of the island. The site owners sell freshly caught lobster and crab (which you have to dress yourself) at very reasonable prices – and are well worth tackling with any tools handy.

A 20 minute walk/5 minute bike ride takes you to Kildonan Store with a huge range of food and drink goodies. On the way to the port of Lochranza, the departure point for the Kintyre Peninsula, we called in at several tourist places including the delightful Museum of Arran life, Arran Brewery and Arran Aromatics and had no problems parking the ‘van at any of these places. Arran in September was very quiet, and had we been on the island longer we would have had no quarms about taking the ’van out for the day.

The port at Lochranza, destination Claonaig (on the Kintyre peninsula) is tiny – a small grid-like car park with a ramp down to the sea, and the ferry is not bookable. You just turn up and wait. We were first in the queue, and had plenty of time for lunch. This was a much smaller ferry and was open air to allow for tall or large vehicles) We left the sunshine behind, and approached the Kintyre Peninsula shrouded in mist. Our destination – Muasdale Touring Park, Muasdale, Kintyre.

Kintyre Peninsula

The 10 pitch touring field at Muasdale right next to a white sandy beach and turquoise sea, with lovely sea views of the islands of Cara, Gigha and Islay, with the Paps of Jura visible on clear days. All sorts of wildlife can be spotted with patience, including seals, and the owners are happy to share their knowledge of the flora and fauna. Unusually, camp fires are allowed on the beach, and as we had our firepit, logs and axe, we had a campfire on several evenings. Beachcombing for driftwood is encouraged, and the local shop sells peat logs. Campfires are great, but in the romance of it all, you forget how much they smoke we filled the campervan with smoke on several occasions! We’d pre-booked a small hire car from the Vauxhall Garage in Campbeltown, which meant we could tour the Kintyre Peninsula, and beyond, over the next few days…………

The Kintyre Peninsula is almost an island, and is worthy of further exploration. It attracts many walkers and nature lovers, and the Kintyre Way is a long distance walk, of 89 miles which is very taxing and not an activity to be undertaken by the inexperienced.

The main town Campbeltown where there is an excellent range of independent shops, takeaways, the ubiquitous Co-Op and a Tesco Metro. We decided we HAD to visit the Mull of Kintyre, but were a little disappointed. “Oh Mist Rolling in from the Sea” sums up the day we visited, and we could very little. The drive down to the Mull is 7 miles on a single track road, which is a spectacular drive with plenty of passing places clearly marked with black and wide striped poles but it would have been crazy to take the motorhome down. There’s a small car park at the end – for approx 10 cars, and from there you continue on foot to the lighthouse, down an EXTREMELY steep hill. We ventured about half way then decided we could see what we needed from there, thank you very much.
The small east coast fishing village of Carradale is worth a visit, but our favourite place was Southend, in the south, where seals were close to the shore and totally unfazed by humans. There are prehistoric caves to explore too, where stoneage man (and woman) would have lived pretty cold, wet and miserable lives. A must-do trip on the Kintyre peninsula is the circular drive round the coast road, stopping off at places of interest on the way, and this is do-able either in a day or in bite-sized chunks. What we noticed most about Kintyre was the sheer peace, quiet and lack of other people – wonderful! We had most places to ourselves, and it was rare to meet anyone else.

No trip to the Kintyre Peninsula is complete without a visit to Gigha, so the day before we left, we took a day trip as foot passengers across to this small island, which is owned by it’s residents ……….

Day Trip to Gigha

The small island of Gigha is accessed from the tiny hamlet of Tayinloan, where the ferry departs every day to Gigha. We discovered that this runs every hour, except between 12 noon and 2 pm. It’snot worth taking the car – it costs about £36 and there is only one road of approx 5 miles. It’s best to take bikes or explore on foot. , but we weren’t sufficiently well organised to do that, however going as a foot passenger (approx £5)

The Isle of Gigha has a total population of approx 150 people, and has been community-owned since 2002. One of the must-see attractions is the Achamore Gardens (honesty box entry) and we had plenty of time to walk to and have a look round the beautiful gardens – and dogs are allowed! Camping is possible on Gigha – there is a field in front of the Gigha Hotel, but pre-booking is required with the Hotel. As we waited for the last ferry back the heavens opened and we took shelter in a very, basic waiting room in a shed. Meanwhile, our ‘van was back at Muasdale and a bottle of wine was chilling in the fridge.

Kintyre to Islay

An 05:00 hrs start was required to catch the 07:00 hrs ferry from Kennecraig (Kintyre) to Port Ellen (Island of Islay). There are two ferries most days in summer but not every day, so careful checking of timetables is essential. The crossing takes 2.5 hours, the first part of which is a picturesque cruise down West Loch Tarbert. Approaching the end of the Loch, the Paps of Jura were clearly visible, and to the east the Island of Gigha.

Driving on Islay was a doddle, and we parked easily wiithout worrying. We decided on the spur of the moment to do a whisky trail. Not being a whisky drinker myself (although I kept that quiet on the tour), I did not expect to be enthralled by a distillery visit, but it was incredibly interesting. If you believe the guidebooks, distillery tours are by pre-booked appointment only but we found that tours run regularly throughout the day. Our first stop was Lagavulin, and we had the tour all to ourselves. It took much longer than the usual hour, because we met the Head Distiller halfway round, got inside information, and ended up sampling the whisky at various stages of its short fermentation process (when it’s more like a weak beer, apparently). The statistics are mind-boggling. Millions of litres of water and thousands of tonnes of barley are used every year at this distillery alone.

We left the ‘van in Lagavulin’s car park (after checking that was OK) and walked up the narrow road to Ardbeg – 20 minutes away, which has a café with outdoor tables, where we could sit with our dog. The food here is fantastic and well worth a visit even if you are not interested in whisky. Ardbeg has a mascot called Shorty – a pushy Jack Russell used to getting his own way. He took great interest in our Jack Russell until she saw him off, following which he turned his affections to a more timid little dog on the next table and amused everyone for the next hour with his antics. Last stop was Laphroaig, where there is a large car park, and we just stuck our nose into the Visitor’s Centre and Shop and picked up some little souvenirs. Time was getting on and we needed to get the the campsite, so we headed for the wide, windswept beauty of the site at Kintra Farm, 3 miles out of Port Ellen.

Islay – The Whisky Isle

Until recently, there was just one campsite on IslayKintra Farm, 3 miles out of Port Ellen. Then Port Mor Centre and Campsite at Port Charlotte opened in 2007 which we can’t comment as time did not permit us to visit it.

This is the most beautiful and natural location we have ever camped in our motorhome. The wide, sweeping beach is right in front of your door. After checking in at the farmhouse, you make your way slowly over the solid grass-covered sand dunes to pick a pitching area of your choice. There were just a handful of fellow campers whilst we were there: a few tents and a couple of other motorhomes but we did not see any caravans in the two and a half days we were there.

This is a basic site, with lots of rules which are strictly enforced. There are no facilities for chemical toilet disposal because apparently the septic tank cannot cope. We were only there for a couple of days, so it wasn’t a problem, but I have no idea what you would do if you wanted to stay there for a week or more. Water comes out of the taps brown and has to be boiled. We had filled up before arriving, and had plenty on board to last us, but it’s a good idea to take a supply of bottled water too.

We spent our time here walking on the 10 mile beach, or just soaking up the amazing views. It was extremely windy whilst we were there, so sitting outside for any length of time was bracing. We’d loved to have stayed longer here and explored Islay further, however, a text message from CalMac meant we had to adjust our return journey arrangements.

Islay to Kintyre – The Journey Home Begins

A word of warning here about the importance of re-confirming ferry bookings. Our departure plans from Islay back to Kintyre Peninsula were changed by a text message the day before from CalMac advising that the ferry was departing at 14:00 hours, not 15:30 as booked. A nearby motorhome had not left a contact mobile number, and only discovered by chance from us about the time change. Had he turned up for the 15:30 pm ferry, it would have been long gone, with the next one leaving 48 hours later.
But that’s not all. We spoke to a couple on the ferry back to Kintyre, who should have been going on to Oban, where their car was, but that journey had been cancelled and no onward arrangements were offered to get them back. CalMac were one ferry down due to pre-winter maintenance, and some services were being changed or cancelled at short notice. Goodness knows what happens to those folks who are not contactable! It’s therefore advisable to make sure the CalMac office has a mobile number, AND that you ring to re-check the ferry well in advance of the return journey.

Kintyre to Inveraray

Having caught an earlier ferry from Islay back to Kintyre, we travelled further towards home and headed for Inveraray. The choice of sites in this area was not great, and we ended up at Argyll Caravan Park for an overnight stay.

Inveraray is well worthy of exploration, however, there was no town parking for our motorhome however Inveraray Castle has a huge free car park about a 5 minute walk down the drive into the town from there. The castle itself is fantastic and should be visited if time allows. Continuing south, we stopped off at the Loch Fyne shop a short drive away. Parking at the restaurant/shop was no problem and we stocked up on fresh fish, sea food and gifts at the fabulous shop.

Our destination for our penultimate night was the Camping and Caravanning Club site at Luss, Loch Lomond, a site we’d stuck our nose into last year whilst walking round the Loch and really, REALLY liked the look of. We were not disappointed…………..

There are two Camping and Caravanning Club sites at Loch Lomond, Luss on the west side and Milarrochy Bay on the east. Because Luss is situated immediately off the A82 Glasgow road, it is an ideal, and very beautiful, stopping off point. The only trouble was, one night was not enough and we didn’t want to leave! This site is incredibly popular, and booking well in advance is essential. The decision had been made some weeks earlier that this was to be the last campsite stop in Scotland and fortunately a pitch had therefore been booked, as the site was completely full that evening. We were amazed to be allocated a loch-side pitch with stunning views through the shoreside shrubs down to our own private beach, and across the loch to the mountains. The friendly Warden walked us down and guided us onto the grass pitch and we parked sideways on to the Loch, with the van door opening straight onto the view – absolute bliss. The village of Luss is very pretty, and is a model village, having been built on the wealth of slate. An untaxing circular walk of about an hour (map available from Reception) goes through the village, across ancient woodland, past the old slate mines and gives a good feel for the area.
There is some road noise however, this is more background than intrusive. Midges? Yes, a few around at dusk, but our well practiced trick of pulling the awning out and lighting incense sticks made sitting outside comfortable. Tomorrow, the journey south would continue, but for tonight, a leisurely evening meal of seafood from the Loch Fyne shop, cooked on the outdoor griddle and a cold bottle of Chablis whilst soaking up that fabulous view, ended yet another wonderful day.

Loch Lomond to Lower Wensleydale – and home.

Nearly the last day of our Scottish Island Hopping holiday in a motorhome, and an early-ish start was required to pulll in a visit to the Maid of the Loch the other end of Loch Lomond. The Maid of the Loch was the last paddle steamer and the largest inland waterway passenger vessel to be built in Britain.

Whilst not fully open on the day we were there, a group of school children were visiting and the boiler in the Winch House was actually in steam, so we were able to tag along. Time was pressing on, and we needed to be in Yorkshire by the evening. The SatNav was set for Leyburn – 205 miles we arrived at the Caravan Club Lower Wensleydale site, near Bedale. As soon as we came over the border from Scotland to England, the sun came out, and apparantly, most of England had had hot and sunny weather the whole time we were away. Typical.

This was our last stop and was nothing more than a pitch for the night before our last 125 miles home to Derbyshire the following day. The Wardens were extremely welcoming, the facilities, as ever with the Caravan Club, were excellent. Once set up, we got the chilled champagne out of the fridge, lit the candles, and sat in the last rays of the evening sunshine, and celebrated what a totally wonderful holiday experience we’d had.

Island Hopping Scotland – What You Really Need to Know!

Here is a quick checklist of what we learned on our fabulous Scottish Island Hopping Tour:

1. Island hopping in Scotland in a large motorhome is much easier than you think.

2. Fill up with diesel when you can – there are some extremely long stretches of road with no petrol stations.

3. The islands are incredibly friendly places – expect waves from random car drivers and white van men as you are travelling round – particularly on Islay.

4. Parking a large motorhome is generally not a problem in Scotland or the islands we visited.

5. Most supermarkets are Co-Ops, the occasional Tesco and a rare M&S.

6. Midges are not such a problem as you might expect in September, and can be minimised with incense and Avon Skin-so-Soft.

7. Wild camping is permitted in Scotland as long as you are considerate and get permission if appropriate. We didn’t do it, because we prefer the security and facilities of campsites, but plenty of motorhomes did.

8. Mobile phones (02) work in most locations.

9. Expect bad weather, anything better is a bonus. Have a range of clothing, particularly good waterproofs, including over-trousers.

10. The ferries might seem expensive at first, but compared to Cross Channel ferries, they represent extremely good value for money.

11. Give the CalMac office your mobile number so they can contact you if there are ferry changes – and these DO happen quite regularly.

12. Our tour took us two weeks. We never felt rushed, and when we got back, it seemed like we had been away for at least a month! You will come back with many photographs and even more wonderful memories, so just get out there and do it!

Christine Simpson

 

GLENN MILLER FESTIVAL RALLY

At Twinwood Arena. The 2008 event will be held on August 23rd, 24th and 25th. You can arrive to set up pitch on the 22nd and there will be some limited entertainment that night.

Please make your booking direct with TWINWOOD but you MUST quote that you will be with the BENIMAR OWNERS CLUB group. You can phone TWINWOOD on their new number 01923 282725 or for further details about the event see Website www.twinwoodevents.com We have always had a superb rally at this event. However, in order for us to have a good Rally Area this year we need to book early, So please put it in your diary and get booking. The details relevant to the BOC have been starred on the booking form. We are in Campsite ‘A’ and you will require 1 pitch/plot per Motorhome. The cost is £45 per person, plus £27 pitch fee for 3 days of superb entertainment and BOC companionship. For your 10% discount you must book before May 31st and we must have at least 8 units to qualify for a Club Rally Area. So, if you havent booked already, PLEASE BOOK NOW You can arrive after mid-day on Friday 22nd, BOC direction signs will be placed at strategic points. Many Thanks.

Graham Baines

 

SUSSEX RALLY

Barcombe Mills Country Show 8th – 11th August

This years rally will be held at a small country show. Previous years attractions included agility dogs, a horse show, quad bike racing, various stalls, a fun fair, fly fishing demo and a boot fair. Live evening entertainment and a beer tent! A pub is also nearby. Camping will be an area of a dedicated camping field next to the show field.

Arrive from midday Friday and leave by midday Monday. Approx cost per unit/night is expected to be about £7.50. All proceeds from this show go to the local Childrens Hospice. Barcombe Mills is near Lewes, East Sussex, BN8 5BU.

I hope that perhaps we, as a club, can think of a sideshow, stall or raffle so we can help to raise much needed funds for the hospice.

Please let us know as soon as possible if you can come – this helps the organiser to plan the camping field.

Tel:01273 513192

Pip Rowe

 

VICTORIAN RALLY

I am hoping to organise a rally in Ulverston towards the end of November 2008. The weekend is when we in Ulverston have a Dickensian Festival. The town sets itself up to celebrate the Victorian era, quite a few of the populace dress in Victorian costume for which the winner, be they child or adult win a prize. There are all types of stalls, food and goods. The town centre is closed to all traffic apart from horse drawn vehicles taking part in the parade. There are also brass bands plus the Local Victoria High School who have an excellent “big band”. This band has travelled all over Europe, next year Palace of Versaille in Paris. I have arranged a venue, about 300 yards from the town centre. The date has been finalised as November 29th/30th.

Roy Gill

 

WALKING RALLY

Thryberg Country Park

I have finalised the date and place of the Walking Rally. It will be straight after Lincoln show that is from Monday 7th of July to Friday the 11th (or to the weekend if that is what people want. I`m flexible!).

The place or base will be Thrybergh Country Park on the A630 between Doncaster and Rotherham. (or between the A1 and the M1). I opted for this because I know plenty of walks from here (being a local), and if anyone doesn`t want to walk, there is a bus stop outside the park with services to Doncaster and Rotherham for shopping or Museums or Parks. Also the same bus goes to the Meadowhall retail centre or even Sheffield so everyone needs to remember their bus passes!:Arial”>I would appreciate anyone wishing to go to let me know so that I can book enough pitches on the site. The actual rally fee is £7.20 (plus awning if one is used)

Tel:01709 583432

Paul and Carol Smeaton

 

SOME TRAVEL NOTES

Dave Hill

The best deal on buying euros is to use a debit card at a hole in the wall over the other side of the channel. Nationwide cards do not incur commission charges but German banks charge extra to use their machines. Withdrawals are limited to a daily limit per card, usually 300 pounds or 370 euros, but banks in Portugal have limits such as 200 euros per day. Joint accounts will probably allow you to use your two cards and double the limit. French bank machines are English user friendly and three times faster than in the UK. If you are travelling in Germany check the German Tourist Website for details of low emission zones in some cities. For these you must obtain a red, yellow or green sticker. This is for all vehicles. Also they have an additional item to carry with you, apart from triangles, spare spectacles, first aid kit, etc. etc – you must have two orange flashing lights. Check with AA or RAC. If you have spent a night in France near a garage when your fuel ran out and you could not find a pump open (e.g. Sundays) – there is good news. Supermarkets, who are the main and cheapest source of fuel in France, are changing to accept UK plastic at their unmanned pumps. We have used Super U and now have found an ATAC supermarket, near Calais, which had a new and user friendly card machine on its pumps. We have only used a debit card for this so far. Camping Van Tyres MMM for June 08 has two articles on tyres designed for motor homes. After years of difficulty in sourcing the Michelin XC camping tyre there is a new Michelin Agilis range which includes a dedicated camping-car tyre which is said will be more available – hooray! It may be coincidence but in 2007 Continental brought out a new German engineered dedicated camping-car tyre which many new Benimars now have. Tyres are a compromise but after the horrific experiences of the original Firestone tyres fitted to Benimars pre 2001, the Michelin XC was a dream on performance and handling. However the downside was grip on slippery roads and bone shaking jolts. This was probably due to Michelin using hardened rubber to give a long life, stability and that excellent performance. I have changed recently to the Continental camping tyre and so far have found them a better compromise which sounds similar to the claims for the new Agilis. Performance and grip on slippery conditions are good and the ride is much smoother. The compromise is a little more wobble from large passing vehicles and probably a shorter tyre life, but I expect them to last about five years, when I would change tyres anyway. The Michelin XC was scary in frost and snow and braking in the rain. It was also a worry when the grass was soft and wet. Hopefully the new Continental and Agilis camper-van tyres have the right balance. But – now for the good news! I sourced and had fitted newly made Continental camping-van tyres in two days. The price I paid was 25% below Quick-Fit and applies to any car tyre. The trick is to order and pay over the Internet. There are probably a dozen sites and I used www.tyre-shopper.co.uk which direct you to the nearest National Tyre depot for fitting. There is a freephone helpline which was excellent and I would recommend phoning them before placing the order to check availability and not to rely on the web to check stock. Outside of local depots, tyre stocks tend to be held centrally by the manufacturer. They also rang me to confirm stock after placing the order which I had requested and then again the depot called me to arrange fitting. I was also automatically supplied with map and directions to the depot. I felt better treated, having ordered over the Internet, than their other customers.

 

Available Pitch Website

AvailablePitch.com – the original pitch-booking website.

We are Catherine and Kevin Simpson, and have been motorhomers since 2002 when we bought our first Benimar Motorhome, “Manuel”(he is Spanish.) Our aim is simple – to provide an effective web-based service connecting campers, caravanners and motorhomers to sites with touring pitch vacancies. The concept of AvailablePitch.com came from our experiences in two areas: Trying to finding vacant touring pitches or late availability pitches at short notice. The lack of quality, independent online information and photographs of sites for independent and smaller campsites in the UK, including “five van” sites – Certificated Locations and Certificated Sites. With the vagaries of the British weather, like many campers, we watch the weather forecast before booking a pitch. Hours were spent phoning to find a pitch for the weekend. What was needed was a campsite late availability or pitch finding service. AvailablePitch.com was thus conceived and was two years in the research, development and piloting before launch in Spring 2005.AvailablePitch.com tells campers what they really want to know about a campsite. Site owners describe their sites in their own words including what is special about their site and have their own section to keep their information bang up to date. The major Clubs online services are excellent but only represent a tiny proportion of the 4,000+ campsites in the UK and do not provide online availability for their Certificated Sites and Certificated Locations. If you are looking for vacant touring pitches at CLs and CSs AvailablePitch will help you find them. AvailablePitch provides a straightforward, clean and uncluttered way for campsites to advertise that they have availability so that campers, caravanners and motorhomers can quickly find a site with touring pitches available and, just as important, read all about it, before they book. Kind regards, Catherine Simpson www.AvailablePitch.com” – Connecting campers and caravanners to sites with vacancies – A Practical Motorhome Top Ten website

Catherine and Kevin are recent Club members – see the Scottish Island Hopping feature – Ed

HERBALIFE

Lose Weight and Gain Energy – Feel Great

As demonstrated at the Club Rally at Peterborough by Beryl.

If you would like more details then contact Beryl Peer at :-

14 Willow Grove

South Cerney

Near Cirencester Glos G17 5UU

01285 860863

“mail to:dwpeer@aol.com”

DIARY DATES

See Diary

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