Issue 48–June 2013

 

 

 

 

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Front Cover

Village sign in the mountains behind Denia.

Editor’s Column

 

What a cold Spring we have had. I thought that returning to the UK in March would mean we had missed Winter but it seems to have lasted till late May.

The Peterborough Rally was very enjoyable with some relatively kind weather and we were lucky to obtain q room for the AGM, which negates the need to cobble up some awnings and gazeebos into a suitably protected area.

The AGM went very smoothly with no surprises – see report elsewhere.

We recently spent a few days away visiting well dressings, horse trials and then ended up on a site near to Chester.

We hadn’t visited Chester for decades so we used our free bus pass and it was just as I remembered it, quite a pleasant surprise as most city centres seem to have been ruined with empty high streets and anonymous shopping malls so that you can’t tell which town you are in.

The next day we used our pass again going in the other direction and ended up in Liverpool. What a nice surprise this was. It was our first visit and I was most impressed with the extensive retail area which blended ancient and modern buildings and was very clean and tidy. No chewing gum on the paving that I could see.

We then walked on to the old docklands area. I had heard that this had been redeveloped and what a great job they have done.

Although it was bitterly cold it looked most inviting with plenty of eating places and cafes. There are many museums, galleries, leisure and conference centres. We had a look round part of the Liverpool Museum, which if you are into Football and 60’s Pop/Rock music makes it even more special.

It really had a good feel to it and we shall certainly return for a longer look.

Ron Smith

The next issue is due out early October.

Input to me by the end of September please Articles and photos urgently required.

 

Obituary – Gerald Dickenson

Gerald Anthony George Dickerson

18th February 1940 – 20th March 2013

It is very sad that I have to inform you that Gerald has passed away.

We first met Gerald and Jill at Quarteira, Portugal in 2002.  Dave and I were taking a stroll round the site and noticed a Benimar, so we knocked on the door and from then on became great friends with Gerald and Jill.

Many a times Gerald and I would email and plan the meals we would share at MMM Rallies and there would always be a welcoming cup of tea and Gerald’s signature ‘fish soup’ awaiting us.

Gerald was BOC Auditor for several years and a keen member of the ‘Boys Group’ who held long discussions over their new Benimars.  We remember him introducing us to the Remoska cooker, bread making and his love of kippers, which he had to cook outside as Jill disliked the smell!

Gerald had two sons of which he was rightly proud, two teenage grandsons who are members of orchestras and just two years ago, Florence, his granddaughter arrived – a girl in the family much to Gerald and Jill’s great joy.  Gerald had many hobbies, wood turning, painting, model making, fixing old cars, bowls, etc and was very much an active member of his local village community.  The last few years were spent on holiday at his apartment in Lagos, Portugal, visiting Florence and family in Switzerland, and wonderful trips to New Zealand, Canada and Japan.  Last year Gerald and Jill sold their beautiful house with its large garden for another smaller house in the village of Great Bowden and were about to embark on having it remodelled to their requirements.

We were very fortunate to spend holidays in Spain and Portugal with Gerald and Jill and also enjoyed their great hospitality at their home where we remember some very merry times.

The church was full to capacity at Gerald’s funeral last Wednesday.  We send our condolences to Jill and her family and say goodbye Gerald – we will miss a good Beni friend.

Evelyn Hill

Springtime Blizzards – Dave Hill

It was interesting to read that Graham and Chris Baines used the Aire at St Denis recommended by Ian Tilley.  Evelyn and I have been there several times and although the village hall is well used we were there for ballroom dance night – rather more quiet than Zoomba!  There is a large enough area to park well away from the hall but on wet nights the chalky gravel is messy.   Good location but early in March we left in the direction of Calais only to run into a blizzard that brought the south of England and northern France to a standstill.

In the last few years several members have had snow to contend with travelling to and from Spain and will have experienced the limitations of front wheel driven motor homes in slippery conditions (also Peterborough, etc).  We all worry and consider about how we would cope but the reality of suddenly being enveloped in a freezing blizzard is an ‘eye opener’.

Firstly snow chains can be a legal requirement in France so after Peterborough 2012 I made the investment.  I bought Truma quick release, self adjusting ones, rather heavy but the lady on the video put them on effortlessly!  You are advised to practice putting them on.  The reality is you must practice until you can do it in pitch black and first time, as in a howling wind, freezing blizzard with cars sliding around you, every second counts.  Latex gloves have been recommended as they have a good grip and will help keep a little heat in the fingers.

I did not get the chains on but was still shaking nearly 30 minutes later.  So, are they worth it?  We were towed off the road along with others by a 4×4 driven by gallant French locals, in appalling conditions, to a field which provided some shelter.  I am not sure we would have spotted our refuge but even with chains on were not going very far.   We stayed there for 3 freezing nights before other kindly locals assisted us on our way.

Some lessons learnt

It is useful to have ‘baby wipes’ when the exit tubes for the sinks freeze.  The solar panel did a good job once 3 inches of snow were brushed off and pm on the second day the light improved.  A Lidl 15 minute battery to battery charger kept the engine battery alive.  A spare Butane gas cylinder helped but only when the temperature was in positive.  I have refillable gas cylinders but had missed a chance to top up that day – that will not happen again.  The nearest main village was 2.5km away but walking through snow drifts and muddy fields is unpleasant and slow.  Best have some food and drink on board even on the last leg home.  We relied somewhat on croissants we were taking home for the family.  We carry light polyester throws and have often used them to keep the navigators legs warm.  With no heating at night and -5˚ outside these extra blankets kept us warm, although I borrowed Evelyn’s woolly hat!

With motorways and channel tunnel closed we could not speak directly with Eurotunnel and whilst on the phone with our daughter-in-law, she easily re-scheduled our crossing over the Internet, keeping our original reference number and we did change twice at no extra cost.  Booking with Camping & Caravan Club comes with a discount but they charge for changes and it is easier with the options on your own screen.  I have often tested Eurotunnel to the limit but never yet had anything but positive professional service from them – hope it continues!

I had checked the weather reports although not directly and in enough detail as it was through a cousin, on a computer, who wasn’t keen to share it, but although the forecast was wrong I should have picked up on wind speeds, after a very windy couple of months in Spain.

The very big lesson is understanding the motor home limitations and when to stop (especially within a town or village).  Do not hope or expect it to better ‘up the road’, it will likely get worse.  Do stop in a town or village if at all possible.  How we longed for a cosy French café!  Wondering whether you will survive ok alone is very stressful and likely to test your blood pressure monitor to its limit!  We had experienced -7˚ in the Netherlands a few years earlier and been ok, but the high winds and flat plains of Picardy changed all that.  Using motorways can leave a motor home stuck at least all night with vehicles trying to pass.  So remember the yellow jacket, if possible use a jacket rather than waistcoat which will not flap around.

The diesel engine turned over ok but would not start.  It was flooded because a fuel heater attached to the filter had failed.  I did get the engine started before we were towed off the road so had some brake power needed for a downhill slope.  Whilst in the field I changed the oil filter and cleaned the air filter.  Rescue vehicles were only operating from the middle of the second day. All this says don’t press on but stop in the best most sheltered place you can find before it is too late!

On the third day with daytime temperature going positive we made contact with some very kind French locals who came out on day 4 and pushed and towed us with a tractor bar and soon the flooding cleared.  After visiting our new friends to say ‘merci beaucoup’ we could restock with croissants and dash for the Tunnel.  Hopefully it will be a long time before we need that fuel heater but will change it anyway.

Snow chains may save a fine, get you off a road, or help in mud but impact on your payload.  I have since been recommended ‘Spikes-Spider’ which are expensive but can be fitted very quickly to a disc that you bolt on before your winter season.

Other options may be cheaper or lighter but like the lady fitting chains in a video are not as easy as you might hope when faced with extreme conditions and a heavy motor home with large tyres.

Hope these notes help you be prepared in case you run into trouble some day.

Buying a Benimar in Spain

– Dave Hill

As a follow-up to Ron’s article about Cruz International Motorhomes at Elche, I would offer some observations, our Benimar having been their first export back in 2000.  We had a relatively easy import into the UK with a very large saving, some of which of course was exchange rate.  A booklet from DVLA at the time, explained you can drive from the UK port to your home without number plates.  There is a useful letter in MMM, May 2013, page 222.

They do sell to ex-pat British living on the continent so although not dealing with Miguel, whom Ron spoke to, we did our lengthy negotiations with a sales person who did speak good English (essential)!  He did need to brew camomile tea each session before we could talk of any business!

Unless there is a large price difference, or this is the only way to buy the van you want, you must be very sure of your warranty rights which vary between countries (no likely problem with the base vehicle if new).  It is best not to change the specification from standard and at the time we purchased their fitting work was awful.  Also at that time there was no translation of the word ‘discount’ and the management were inflexible on all issues.  However the Spanish economy is very different now!  We arranged for a Spanish driver to transport the Benimar to the customs area at Bilbao.  I flew from Gatwick to the port in order to guard it for the weekend, living in the van on Chinese takeaways, and paid P&O to freight the van to Portsmouth, where we could collect, having insured using the vin number.  Cruz International Motorhomes are at Elche which is handy for Alicante (and near Honor and Tim’s Spanish retreat)!

I mention Honor and Tim as perhaps the big gamble would be the security of any deposits and they may have local knowledge! We purchased from Caravanas Cruz – why did they change the name?  The situation in Spain especially in retail is dire!  Cruz International Motorhomes is not too far from the Benimar factory but I would consider agents nearer Santander or Bilbao.  A few years ago on a visit to Elche they told us Benimars were not their main line anymore.

Now of course there is the question of part exchange, right hand drive, finance and English ovens.  I am sceptical of the claim to Ron that they have a right hand Perseo, but not on site.  Also if you need an oven, install it back home.  It is best for your health to minimise the time deposits are held by Spanish agents or in Spanish banks!

Our purchase from Caravanas Cruz at Elche was for a left hand drive which was the van we wanted, and at a huge saving at the time.  Being a lot younger then and well used to negotiating in Europe it was an interesting and rewarding challenge which gave us a great lifestyle and new friendships particularly with the BOC.

*Benia

– Roy Gill

As Sylvia and I were unable to travel to Spain this year in our motorhome, we decided to go for a fortnight by Saga to the Port Benia Hotel, not very far from Los Pinos, where the Benimar Group were camped for the winter. We had not told the crowd that we were to make the trip, just a case of turning up on their doorstep to request a beer. Needless to say our thirst was soon quenched. Quite a pleasant walk from the hotel to the camp along the promenade, one can catch a bus, but the walk was welcome after travelling “cattle class” from Manchester airport.

When staying at Los Pinos and travelling by bus to the town from the campsite, I used to feel sorry for the people holed up in a hotel, but having tried it, we found it quite pleasant. A motorhome is still a lot better.

The first Saturday at Benia, we accepted an invitation from the President and First Lady of the Club – Ron and Judy Smith, to a lunchtime party at their abode. I forget the reason for the party, but out there, I am not sure that there needs to be a reason. Quite a crowd attended and the liquid refreshment flowed freely. Ron has a strict limit on the amount of alcohol each person can consume. The limit seems to be when the person falls over. Transport was provided back to the hotel.

Sunday, was a repeat of Saturday, the hosts being the Club Secretary, Christine Baines, ably assisted by a very capable chef, her husband Graham. Graham is a dab hand with a pinny and he makes a good meal. Once again in convivial company, helped along with a snifter or two. Transport was provided back to the hotel.

 

Camp Cooking

The company made the parties very enjoyable, plus the weather, which was a lot better than what we had left behind in England. I was quite envious that we had only a fortnight out there.

Whilst in Benia, we went with the Benimar crowd to a German restaurant for an excellent meal and at a later date to another restaurant for another excellent meal.( I forget the name of this restaurant, but I have no doubt the editor will put me right). (It was the Montgo – Ed)

There are a fair number of good restaurants in the area, which by and large have a reasonable bill of fare and reasonable prices.

On the second Wednesday there,

The AGM

 

……. all those in favour

Graham and Christine took us to Jalon, to a small Spanish restaurant – The Casa Caty, recommended by Ron and Judy. The meal was excellent, the environment good and the company excellent.

We did not go on all the trips laid on by Saga, but we did go to Valencia for a guided tour. Very good it was. Some of

the trips laid on (free) were to Spanish markets and I do not particularly enjoy them. You see one Spanish market and you have seen them all, I have no doubt some people will disagree with that statement.

Eating out at Montgo

Having been to Benia in the past, it was good to visit places we had been to before, in particular the Commercio,(step in editor and correct my spelling), (looks OK as far as I remember – Ed) a pub on the main drag. What I do like about the town, it is a working town, not a Spanish holiday town, where everything is closed down in winter.

Our last Sunday there, Mary and Mike (Benimar group) took us up the mountains to La Val D’Ebo, interesting trip, the road up was designed to be used by donkey carts. Any one who has been over Hardknott Pass in the Lake District will have an idea. Once up there, the view down the valley and to the sea was spectacular, plus the weather was good.

The hotel was very good, clean and tidy, food, plenty of it and good, with a buffet service and a good selection. The drinks in the bar were free as long as you did not ask for the British popular brands such as Grouse whisky. If you did it was half price but they did not use the optic, as per the British measure.

All in all the experience in the hotel was good, but it does not compare to a motorhome trip.

Just up the road from the hotel was an English pub, so I was able to watch the Six Nations, which I enjoyed.

The highlight was on our last night when the Benimar crowd came to the hotel for a goodbye drink. Thank you Benimar Club for your hospitality during our stay.

*Read Denia, situated between Valencia and Alicante, over the hill from Benidorm.

AGM Summary

– Ron Smith

The 12th AGM took place at 10am on Sunday April 21st, in the Bedford suite at the Peterborough Showground during the National Motorhome Show.

The meeting went very smoothly.

The main points were:-

Membership continues to decline slightly and there does not appear to be much that can be done as long as Benimars are not imported into the UK.

The Club enjoyed an excess of income over expenditure of over £400. There is no need to increase membership subscriptions.

Ian Tilley stood down as Webmaster and was thanked for his past work.

Ray Beach stood down as Events Co-ordinator but was quickly persuaded to carry on.

The rest of the committee were elected for another term.

There were no resolutions received.

The meeting ended at about 11:30 and was followed by the traditional Cava and Club Birthday Cake

Peterborough Rally Report (or the ramblings of an Irish Cockney, including a brief mention of Peterborough)

– Honor Hewitt

Just writing yet another report thanks to my dear friends Francesca and Carol. I did this last year,

I was so nice to see so many dogs at the meeting; I had Bentley, the cockerdoodle from a Spanish dog’s home. There was Ben, Alex and julie’s 14 year old black labrador, and Buzz – Carol and Ray’s rescue dog. Mel and Barbara had jack russels Mollie and ?, Richard and Linda had Harvey the terrier, Dave and Joan had their alsation, Alan and Jo with Zac the labrador and mother and daughter daschounds Luna and Lexi. Anyone I’ve missed – sorry. That’s the important bit out of the way, now back to the show.

It didn’t rain, was a bit cold some days but was able to bit out 2 days. The bus was put on to Peterborough on Saturday and ran till 4:45pm. We had a good day in Peterborough.

On arrival on Thursday Carol and Ray met us with a warm welcome as usual (but no cup of tea) Haha. Most vans were there by Friday, 21 vans in all.

Usual pitch in arena, didnt need tractor to pull us off this year.

The evening shows were good, especially the groups on Sunday night – Motown/60’s rock etc. Apparently the Saturday show, which had to be paid for, the Tremelos were not brilliant, like us all we should know when to retire. It’s like me getting up and singing, I know when to give up. (not that I can sing anyway but I do like Karaoke)

The meeting went well, all attended, some had to go back to get hearing aids so they could hear.

Same people voted in except Ian’s job has been taken by Dave ? As Ian doesn’t want to do it any more.

I mentioned about members’ cards, we do not need one every year. I am adamant that if it gets lost, washed etc then it cn be replaced. This will save the Club money as postage is expensive and as they are laminated its not necessary.

I also commented at the meeting that, as it’s a once a year event, maybe on the Friday or Saturday (weather permitting) we should have a BBQ. If the weather is bad do sarnies etc. Sunday lunch at meeting which we seem to hold in the hall now.

Anyone who thinks this is not fair on them who don’t turn up – tuff – come to the meeting. If you can’t come it’ not the Club’s problem. We all have had offers we can’t go through illness or being in Spain

I would like to say it was good to see Sylvia looking so well after her illness, also Colin Varley , who is still smoking – naughty. Helen who hadn’t been well. Barbara hurt her back and had to lay down for one day. Also Mike Bottle , who was not there, and had a nasty fall doing a lot of damage.

As usual I would like to thank the usual lot for their hard work, it’s not only those people but their partners also. A big thank you from us all.

A big thank you for all my birthday cards.

Just a bit of useless info, I went and did a first aid course, and passed, got a certificate. It’s just in case one of the 6 grandchildren swallow something or the eldest, who is 17, falls off her stilettos which, looking at the height of them, could happen. So, providing no-one has been eating garlic, I can save your life, and I know it’s to “Staying Alive” – Vinny showed me on the telly. I am allergic to garlic – yuk!

Tim and I are off to Spain end of June till whenever the bungalow we are building is sold, then we can start on the other one which is ours.

We didn’t have a very good November, December, January. Before we left Spain in November our Spanish gardener had a heart attack in the night. Tim spent a long time giving him CPR until the ambulnce came, but he died, 56. So no one to do our garden when we are not there.

Then our other neighbour went on a cruise and she got airlifted off at Valencia. Twisted bowel and hysterectomy, she’d 73. She then got home 10 days later to her daughter (50) and partner who were looking after dogs, but the partner decided to stab her dad, just caught his hand. He got carted off to prison then sent back to England.

Our other neighbour was diagnosed with brain tumour and his wife got a ganglion on knee. My daughter-in-law bought Tim a bible for Christmas, I knew it would come in handy for something.

Then on the way home Mike Bottle fell off a ladder hurting his back, damaged prostate and broke 15 bones in his right foot. He is still having treatment, waiting for an operation on his foot, held together with plates and pins. Then I went down with a viral infection, 6 weeks, and my sister 69 diagnosed with breast cancer.

So, all in all, a crap 6 months. The good news is everybody is on the mend. I will understand if you don’t want to be our friends anymore.

Well, that’s all for now, keep well, drive safely and please try to come to the AGM as some of you we have never met. I understand that there are 8 or 9 vans going to Exeter, us included.

Love and Best Wishes

 

Newbury Rally Report

 

No report received

 

Club Website

Dave Bennion recently took over from Ian Tilley as the Club Webmaster.

He has been very busy updating and improving the site and it now liiks fresher, more modern and it is easier to navigate around. Well done dave.

There still is not much use of the Forum by members, don’t forget it is a good place to flag a problem and someone somewhere may have the answer. Also you can advertise items for sale.

So why not have a look at the site the next time that you are on the internet?

www.benimarownersclub.org.uk

 

The ‘Middle Wife’

by an anonymous 2nd year teacher

I’ve been teaching now for about fifteen years. I have two kids myself, but the best birth story I know is the one I saw in my own second year classroom a few years back.

When I was a kid, I loved show-and-tell. So I always have a few sessions with my students. It helps them get over shyness and usually,  show-and-tell is pretty tame. Kids bring in pet turtles, model airplanes, pictures of fish they catch, stuff like that.  And I never, ever place any boundaries or limitations on them. If they want to lug it in to school and talk about it, they’re welcome.

Well, one day this little girl, Erica, a very bright, very outgoing kid, takes her turn and waddles up to the front of the class with a pillow stuffed under her jumper.

She holds up a photo of an infant. ‘This is Luke, my baby brother, and I’m going to tell you about his birthday.’

‘First, Mum and Dad made him as a symbol of their love, and then Dad put a seed in my Mum’s stomach, and Luke grew in there. He ate for nine months through an umbrella cord.’

She’s standing there with her hands on the pillow, and I’m trying not to laugh and wishing I had my camcorder with me. The kids are watching her in amazement.

‘Then, about two Saturdays ago, my Mum starts saying and going, ‘Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh!’ Erica puts a hand behind her back and groans. ‘She walked around the house for, like an hour, ‘Oh, oh, oh!’ (Now this kid is doing a  hysterical duck walk and groaning.)

‘My Dad called the middle wife. She delivers babies, but she doesn’t have a sign on the car like the Domino’s man. They got my Mum to lie down in bed like this..’ (Then Erica lies down with her back against the wall.)

‘And then, pop!  My Mum had this bag of water she kept in there in case he got thirsty, and it just blew up and spilled all over the bed, like psshhheew!’ (This kid has her legs spread with her little hands mimicking water flowing away. It was too much!)

‘Then the middle wife starts saying ‘push, push,’ and ‘breathe, breathe’.
They started counting, but never even got past ten. Then, all of a sudden, out comes my brother.. He was covered in yucky stuff that they all said it was from Mom’s play-centre, (placenta) so there must be a lot of toys inside there. When he got out, the middle wife spanked him for crawling up in there.’

Then Erica stood up, took a big theatrical bow and returned to her seat

I’m sure I applauded the loudest. Ever since then, when it’s show-and-tell day, I bring my camcorder, just in case another ‘ Middle Wife’ comes along.

Membership

Membership is now just 62 units.

A warm Welcome to :-

 

Darren Walsh from Irvine

 

 

The new Benimar Aristio Class

 

 

Diary Dates

 

2013

June 13-17 Exeter

Midsummer Event

Marshals: Ray & Carol Beach

Book on-line or use form in MM

Too late now.

 

July 18-22 Knutsford

Northern Motorhome Show

 

Marshals Roy & Sylviaa Gill

Book on-line or use form in MMM

 

August 15- 19 Malvern

Western Motorhome Show

Marshals: Richard & Lynn Edwards

Book on-line or use form in MMM

August 29-Sept 2 Car Colston

Marshals: Ann & Andrew Sheldrake

See below-

September 19-23 Lincoln

Season Finale

Marshals: Colin & Francesca Varley

Book on-line or use form in MMM

 

 

If you know of a suitable venue for a club rally (the handbook tells you what is expected) and are willing to marshal get in touch with the Event Co-ordinator, Ray Beach on 01388 607705, to fit it in the schedule.

 

Ray Beach

 

Car Colston Rally

Once again we are holding a rally at The Royal Oak in the beautiful Nottinghamshire village of Car Colston.  Come for a peaceful weekend in the country.  The pub serves superb meals and snacks ( and beer, I’m told), there is a bus stop outside, with a frequent service to Newark and Bingham (with connections to Nottingham) and the Trent valley is god for walks and cycle rides.  There are some electric hook-ups (first come-first served) on a slightly sloping grass rally field.  To book a place, phone me on 01636 702007 or email m e at ann.sheldrake@ntlworld.com

 

 

 

A better way to take your car than an A Frame

 


 

 

There was a time when Club rallies were full of Benimars

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