Issue 29 – April 2008

 

EDITORS COLUMN

It is Easter as I write this, having just returned from a warm and sunny 2 weeks in Madeira. Here the wind is howling, the sky is grey and the snow is starting to thaw – at least we didn’t go away in the ’van for Easter.
Another Peterborough Show is fast approaching. That means our first Rally of the year and, of course, the AGM (the 7th) on the Saturday. If you can’t get to the rally please try to attend the AGM. You will find the minutes of the 6th AGM elsewhere in the Magazine – please bring them with you to the AGM.
We had some shocking news in January when we heard that George Pennington was taken ill while he and Mary were in Portugal. George is now making good progress and they are hoping to attend Peterborough. I have penned (with Mary’s permission) a short piece.
I am pleased to see that membership is continuing to recover, with 9 ½ couples joining in the first quarter of 2008. This is in no small part due to the efforts of Alan Williams and getting the link from the Club Website working.
I have received no information from any of the Benimar importers, also I have seen no advertising from them, and their websites don’t give much away either. What a difference to the old RDH days.
A few new members seem to be buyers of ex-rental vans from Vivanti though.
See you at Peterborough
Ron Smith

 

MEMBERS’ LETTERS

BENNY MAR’S UPDATE

It seems ages since I last wrote about my adventures. I actually started to write on the day the last Magazine arrived so I knew I had missed the deadline! (cue for the editor to remind potential contributors to check dates in the current edition) {The deadline for the next issue appears after the editorial on page 3 – ed}.
Mum, Dad and I have been busy on the Benimar front. There have been trips to Somerset to see Mum and Dad’s younger son and his family. Their four year old daughter Eden loves me! There have been visits to different parts of France, Germany and Luxembourg.
The last holiday proved to be the most exciting as our Benimar broke down. After several phone calls to local garages without success, Mum rang the Caravan Club as we had Red Pennant Insurance. They organised a garage to come to us as the campsite as luckily we had not been able to move off the pitch. A little man in a very little van arrived and said he could do nothing, we would need towing. A few hours later another man came with a flatbed lorry and winch. He quickly realise that our overhang would prevent us being pulled onto the lorry. He said he would come back the next day with another lorry.
He came back — with the same lorry! The crucial difference being he had a rigid tow bar. He took us to a Ducato van place but after a long discussion they said we ought to go to a lorry garage. We were thus towed there.
We were told to go and have some lunch (in the middle of an industrial estate) while they had a look at the ‘van. On return we were greeted with “Tres grave!” – possibly 3000 euros and a week to repair. Gulp. Red Pennant gave us the option of hotel until finished or fly home. They put us up in a hotel and flew us home the next day. Ironically we got home within an hour of when we would have done without the breakdown.
We were given the option of flying out when the ‘van was ready or a Caravan Club driver bringing our ‘van back – we chose this. The driver only lives a mile away from us in Newark – what a coincidence. The whole exercise must have cost the insurers over £1000. We were so glad that we had Red Pennant. However as this was our first claim in 30 years I don’t think we are a huge risk.
MORAL -Do not go abroad without insurance cover.
FOOTNOTE We think that the trouble was the oil pump so not quite as bad as originally thought, although it still took a week to repair.
On a different note, we will only be going to Peterborough for the AGM and a quick look at the show but Dad is keen to go to the follow-on rally so that we can catch up with all you lovely BOC people. That also means I hopefully will see Penny Mar. Please make sure that she is at the AGM and preferably at the follow-on with her new family. I MUST see her as I have something very special for her! All will be revealed in April.
Love to you all, especially Penny
Benny Mar
THANKS TO EVERYONE
To all the members of the Benimar Owners Club: George & I want to say a very big thank you to everyone for the cards, telephone calls, and concerns for George’s well being.
You are all the salt of the earth.
We are so thankful that we made the trip to Peterborough and joined up all those years ago. First of all for the good friends we have made and enjoyment we have had at rallies, and especially at this time the offers of help from everywhere. “Thanks” doesn’t begin to express our gratitude. When George is more mobile we will go to W.H.Smith to spend the voucher the club sent him. That’s another big thank you also for the flowers which are much appreciated. We hope to make Peterborough to see you all but George will be the deciding factor,
Love to all,
George & the Dragon

George
George and Mary Pennington are original Club members, attending the very first meeting in 2001 and have marshalled many rallies (they were due to marshal Peterborough)..
Whilst on holiday in the Algarve, earlier this year, George was rushed to hospital in Faro. Mary thought he had suffered a minor stroke which after a scan a malignant brain tumour was diagnosed. Luckily they were with friends (club members) and their son and daughter were able to fly out. George was flown back to the UK from Lisbon under medical supervision with his daughter, while Mary returned from Faro with her son. Honor Hewitt flew out to Faro and drove their Benimar to her home in Spain. Later Tim flew out and between them they brought the ‘van back to the UK.
George has undergone some radiotherapy treatment and appears to be responding positively.
The Club sent George some book tokens and Mary a bouquet of flowers (thanks Alan for sorting that).
I am sure that all members will wish to join me in wishing you all the best George.
PS This is a reminder of the value of good travel insurance. While the E111 covers you for most things within the EU, the repatriation costs and organisation are born by the insurance company.

 

NEW BENIMAR 350 SPORT

Derek Merkl
We were delighted to take delivery of our new ‘07 Benimar 350 Sport from Vivanti Motorhomes last November. It arrived just in time for our Autumn break. I must say it is a vast improvement over our previous ‘04 Benimar 600ST. Vivanti made the exchange so easy for us by advertising our old van on their website. I had only to show the van to the first enquirer and it flew off to Swindon and its new owner in double quick time. The 350 sport with which we have replaced it is a great van. Slightly longer than the old one the space inside with it’s new layout seems vast. We went for this model because we particularly like the rear lounge layout – call me old fashioned – its just so practical. We get to choose whether to leave the bed made up all the time, or whether to use it for the grandchildren, keeping the majority of the van for ourselves, or we can just use it for the panoramic views when reversed up to the cliff top or other beauty spot.
The Sport has twice the space in the cubicle than the 6000 with a ‘proper’ shower space alongside the loo. This is a perfect arrangement for grandma when it comes to bathing the grandchildren, she can sit on the loo and scrub kids to her hearts content.
Forward of the rear lounge and loo is the kitchen area – we have a built in Microwave with combination oven/grill and the usual gas hob – whilst we no longer have the old full oven we find that the new arrangement is more than adequate for our needs. The new central heating/hot water boiler is housed in one of the floor level cupboards and has a new very easy to operate control panel. As do all the electrics. The over cab bed is vast and even I, at over six feet, can sleep in it either sideways or lengthways which provides acres of space to wallow in! The bed also folds in half and hinges upwards supported by gas struts which makes for easy access to the cab and again lots of space . The forward seating area provides four seats with seatbelts (essential for the grandchildren) and opposite is a fifth seat, the table having a slide out extension for the extra body.
The van came with a super telly which plays DVDs, CDs, and has a built in radio all essential when transporting grandchildren over several hundred miles!
Disadvantages – a few – although the garage is accessible from both sides and is bigger than the old model, the storage space inside the van is limited, there are a series of ‘cubbyholes’ without doors around the rear lounge which is just where we stored our clothes in the old van. The kitchen area, despite not having a cooker has less storage (that boiler). The cupboards over the forward table stow the china and food but I’ve added a shelf to maximise that space. There is a deep locker under the additional seat which is good for outside shoes.
However, the greatest improvement is in the travelling. The Transit chassis is splendid, twin rear wheels provide great stability when cornering and the 2.2ltr diesel engine is more powerful than our old 04 model Fiat Ducato 1.9. The six speed gearbox is a joy with plenty of grunt in the lower gears and terrific quiet cruising on the motorway in sixth. Engage cruise control and driving is effortless.
We are missing some of the luxuries we had in our old van (rooftop aircon, two tellies, two reversing cameras, and awning/safari room, but are planning to add these ‘essentials’ soon!
Even without sunshine we enjoy using the van, but still say “Roll on summer sunshine!”
TALES OF OLD IRELAND
Five Englishmen in an Audi Quattro arrived at an Irish border checkpoint.
Paddy, the officer on duty , stops them and tells them: “It is illegal to carry 5 people in a Quattro … Quattro means four”
“Quattro is just the name of the automobile,” the Englishman retorts disbelievingly. “Look at the papers, this car is designed to carry five persons. Five seats, five seat belts, five people ”
“You cannot pull that one on me,” replies Paddy “Quattro means four. You have five people in your car and you are therefore breaking the law.”
The Englishman replies angrily, “You idiot! Call your supervisor over I want to speak to someone with more intelligence!”
“Sorry,” responds Paddy, “Murphy is busy with 2 guys in a Fiat Uno.”

 

Rvtex

I recently visited Rvtex for a Damp and Gas inspection, on the motorhome

It is so important to have a damp inspection annually in order to maintain your warranty. It must be done by a registered company and you get the appropriate paperwork to back up any warranty claims in the future. The charges are not much when you think of the expense of having major repair work done.
Below are the charges that Rvtex make for various services – these already competitive ch0arges are subject to a 10% discount for Club members.
Damp Inspection £47
Gas Inspection £53
Gas & Damp Inspection £95
Gas, Damp & Electrics Insp £140
Full PDI incl walkthrough £300
0Oil & Filter change £90
Strikeback Alarm Check, incl 1 year maintenance contract £60
Fault finding appraisal 1 hr £47 refundable on repair
All prices include VAT
Don’t forget Rvtex are authorised Van Bitz Alarm installers (no Club discount allowed on this though)
They have for sale an Easilift Scooter/light motorcycle carrier.
This is designed to fit on a heavy duty towing bracket with a 4 hole towball (not swan neck). The device incorporates a hydrauulic jack – so you just undo a knob to lower the scooter to the ground, and pump it up like a bottle jack to raise it and clip it on – simple. This is secondhand, little used and the asking price is £250 (price new about £450 I think)
Telephone Ian or Pete on 01623 722477 if you are interested.

 

WPC 2008

This years competition is now open. Send in the worst postcard you can find on your travels.
So far only 3 entries for this year
Parrot from Benny Mar
Japanese Greetings – from Andrew Sheldrake
Natural Sheep (by email) – from Graham Baines
For new members, this is a competition to find the Worst Post Card. Runs each year, pathetic prize at Peterborough to winner. Entries to Ron Smith.

 

MEMBERSHIP

A warm welcome to the following new members :-
Frank & Heather Norwood of Cradley Heath, W Mids
Richard & Jennifer Plaice of Long Eaton, Notts
Keith & Sandra Fairhurst of Manchester
Peter Cooke of Midhurst, W Sussex
Tom & Jo Foster of Nottingham
Stephen & Lorraine Fitzgerald of Romford
Kevin & Jane Randall of Wareham, Dorset
James Flynn & Mary Hopper of Breaghwy, Ireland
Glen & Marion Ainslie of Great Wakering, Essex
James & Ellen Taylor of Chester
Paul & Jane Beckford of Preston
Robert & Jaqualine Tuner of Sherbourne, Dorset
The current membership stands at 145 (72 couples & 1 single)
A LOT OF HOT AIR
A man in a hot air balloon realised he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a woman below. He descended a bit more and shouted, “Excuse me, can you help? I promised a friend that I would meet him an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am”.
The woman below replied ” You’re in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You’re between 40 and 41 degrees North latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees longitude.”
“You must be in IT” said the balloonist. “I am replied the woman, “How did you know?”
“Well” answered the balloonist, “everything you told me is technically correct, but I have know idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I’m still lost. Frankly, you’ve not been much help at all. If anything, you’ve delayed my trip.”
The woman below responded, “You must be in Management.” “Yes, I am” replied the balloonist, “But how do you know?”
“Well” said the woman, “you don’t know where you are or where you are going. You have risen to where you are, due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise, which you have no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were before we met, but now, somehow it is my fault”.

 

Madeira – not for Motorhoming

Ron Smith Judy and I have just returned from a 2 week break in Madeira. We went with 4 friends, who we have had walking holidays with for many years. We went to find somewhere different, for some warm and sunny weather and to do a bit of gentle walking.
On the first count we succeeded; no rain and the sun shone everyday (some days all day) minimum temperature 14C. The second target was difficult to achieve due to the nature of the island – it is so steep everywhere. There are many levadas (these are irrigation channels which bring water from the upper and northern side to the lower southern sides where most of the cultivation takes place). By definition these are flat but many of them are hacked into the near vertical sides of mountains, with unprotected drops of hundreds of feet, and go through tunnels.
One of our party has a chest problem which means he can’t cope with hard climbs, another member has vertigo and many of the levadas were a” no go”, and a third member suffered a tendon strain in the right leg after a few days and could not do much downhill walking. However we did find 12 super walks without too much suffering.
The people were extremely friendly and helpful. The flowers and lush vegetation were amazing, even this early in the year (Feb/March). They have a perfect climate in the south (cooler and wetter in the North) and manage to get 3 crops of bananas a year. They are self sufficient having rich fishing grounds around the island .One local speciality is Espada which is a delicious tasting fish which is unique to the deep waters around the island (don’t let the look of it put you off). It is usually served with banana.
The airport is unique, half of the runway is built on 180 columns which are built out of the sea.
Madeira makes a good choice for a winter break so long as you can cope with the ups and downs.
Madeira is not a Motorcaravanning destination, however, for a number of reasons :-

  • There are no ferries serving the Island.
  • The roads are very narrow, steep with plenty of hairpins, precipitous drops and tunnels.
  • The drivers, particularly the bus drivers, are, how shall we say, very adventurous.
  • There is only one campsite – for tents only

 

New Rally Details

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 haven’t 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 2008
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.
Pip & Vic 07786 967 030.
VICTORIAN RALLY
Roy GillI 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.
SEASIDE RALLY – WHITSTABLE 2008
(Organised by Vi & Pete Jennings & Jo & Alan Williams) Just think, you’re relaxing in your lounger with a chilled glass of wine, looking out to sea watching the surf whilst the sun is shining across the water reflecting its colours in the sky above… as one day closes another begins…
Like the sound of it, then why not join us and come along to our new rally in 2008. Be sure to book early as there is a maximum of 20 spaces available on a first come first served basis.
The seaside rally will be Thursday 15th May through to Monday 19th May 2008
The venue is a rally field at a seaside holiday site with its own clubhouse & shop. You have drinking water and elsan point available. We will be located on the Lido green, feet away from the pebbled beach with its impressive views out to sea. The site has access to many cycle rides along the sea wall towards Whitstable & Herne Bay and the bus stops out side the main gates for Whitstable, Canterbury or Herne Bay.
For those who are off to France or Spain for the summer, why not join us before boarding your ferry at Dover or spend the rest of the week visiting other seaside towns along the coast.
This is a new rally for 2008 priced at £10 per motorhome per night. Early booking is essential; a deposit of £10 per booking will secure your place with the balance payable on arrival.
If you wish to reserve a space on our seaside rally please send a £10 deposit payable to ‘Alan Williams’ together with your name & address and send it to:
Alan Williams,
2 Bowland Close,
Broomfield,
Herne Bay,
Kent.
CT6-7UP
Tel: 07778-453668

 

DIARY DATES

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