Issue 47 – March 2013

Editor’s Column

We returned home at the beginning of March, having spent 4 months in Spain. So this issue is later than usual. It was the sunniest winter we remember if a little windy at times.

We had a good, but eventful trip back. We encountered snow for about 100km in northern Spain and then the clutch started slipping in France.

There were a few other BOC members on site, Ian & Sylvia Tilley were there twice (going home for Christmas in between), Graham & Christine Baines came later and were still there when we left. Mary Pennington was there on and off. Richard & Lynn Edwards appeared for 2 short stays and Roy and Sylvia Gill put in a surprise appearance, jetting in from the wetlands to stay a couple of weeks at the local Saga Hotel. They seem to fit in very well – no wonder Roy is trying to sell his ‘van.

I am indebted to Graham and Christine (the baines of my life) for filling up this issue. Graham’s article on overwintering in Spain and Christine for the Minutes of the last AGM.

If you have any resolutions that you would like to put to the meeting, please get them to Christine in writing by April 3rd.

Talking of AGMs, I hope that most of you will be able to make the Peterborough rally, or at least the AGM.

It is the best chance in the year to meet many of your fellow members, and I am sure that it will be a sunny and warm weekend for us – we are sure due one.

I heard that Colin Varley suffered a heart attack in early Feb. He had 2 stents fitted and is recovering well. He thanks everyone who sent their good wishes.

Ron Smith

The next issue is due out mid June.

Input to me by the end of May please

 

A New Look not a New Motorhome

Ron Smith

Once again during the summer Judy and I considered changing our 8 year old motorhome for a caravan or another motorhome under 3,500 kg.

Once again we could not find a motorhome that came anywhere near what we had in mind. We did find a caravan that we were happy with but in the end decided that we couldn’t give up the motorhome lifestyle. A caravan would suit us better when wintering in Spain, but for the rest of the year a motorhome wins.

So, we decided to have our ‘van upholstery refurbished.

We are lucky that we live near to several firms who specialise in this work. We chose Regal Furnishings of Ilkeston because of their reputation and recommendations.

We had met Barry, the boss, at the Peterborough Show (before he was driven to abandon due to the rain and wind) and knew the set-up.

We called in on the factory one day and were greeted by Barry, who was up a ladder cleaning a gutter. After explaining what we wanted he took us through to where all the materials were kept. We were left to look through all the rolls and pulled out a few that caught our eye. We discussed having 2 different materials and also combined some leather.. We were given a sample of the various materials we had selected to take home and try in the motorhome. We had timed our visit while the Shepton Mallet Show was on and a number of rolls of material were on the Van destined for the show Barry suggested that we return the following week, when the Show rolls would be back, with our motorhome to finalise our choice of materials.

When we got home we tried the samples in the motorhome and to our surprise our favourite looked very different in daylight and we rejected it.

The next week we were back, with the motorhome, and looked through the rolls again. Barry brought the rolls of our favourites into the motorhome so we could see them in situ. After much deliberation we decided on the main material a matching plain one and a leather. Barry was very patient with us while we made up our minds.

We booked our motorhome in for a couple of weeks time.

We arrived on a Thursday at noon as arranged and were looked after by Michael (the manager) who retrieved the materials that had been put away with our name on them. We then went into the motorhome to go through in great detail exactly what we required. Where the leather trim to the seats was to go, which way round the pattern, What material for the pelmets and around the over-cab area.

The cab seats were based on patterns we had seen when being shown that area of production, (they had about two dozen seats in various states of being recovered as they are contracted to make original furnishings for various smaller converters, including IH campers).

The original upholstery in our motorhome seemed to be everywhere with scatter cushions, wall coverings (some with pockets) trim under the seats, headboard, backing for some hooks near to the door and even the inside of the cocktail cabinet.

With all that settled we just had to decide on the hardness of the foam seating and we were free to go.

The next day we returned, again about noon, to be greeted by Michael. Our motorhome was ready and Michel took us to inspect. He likes to be there when customers first see their vans to see the expression on their faces. He opened the door for us and was not disappointed. Judy’s face was a picture.

In we went and the effect was even better than we had hoped. The effect was light and modern,very luxurious looking. The combination of leather edging and the pattered material convinced us that we had made the right choice.

On further inspection we were impressed by the quality of the workmanship, the fitting and the attention to detail with the matching of the pattern design. Also they gave us sizeable pieces of the materials used in case we had an accident and they could replace one or more panels.

To say we were impressed is an understatement and we would whole heartedly recommend Regal Furnishings to anyone considering having their ‘van re-upholstered.

It was so enjoyable to deal with a company who had the time to make sure that we were completely happy with our choice and who employed dedicated staff who obviously took a pride in their work.

They are based at Ilkeston, between Derby and Nottingham. Their website is www.regalfurnishings.co.uk

 

Events coordinator

Ray Beach tells me that he intends to stand down as Events Co-ordinator at the next AGM (at the Peterborough Show in April)

Ray has held this position for some years and wants a change. He and Carol have ended up marshalling most of the rallies this year because of lack of volunteers. They will marshal Peterborough and Knutsford again in 2013, but we will need some other members to come forward for Newbury, Malvern and Lincoln. (Now sorted)

So, have a good think – can you put a bit back into the Club and marshal one of these events ?

Or do you fancy serving as Events Co-ordinator?

I am sure that Ray will explain what is required if you ask him.

Lincoln Rally Report

No report received

 

Another Winter in Spain

Graham Baines

 

Getting there.

Would it happen or wouldn’t it? were the occupying thoughts in the weeks leading to our departure date.  A host of jobs we had booked tradesmen for had been delayed by the bad weather.  Carpenters, carpet fitters & decorators were all being slotted into the remaining 3 weeks before our proposed departure for warmer climes, then the bombshell dropped.  We had a rather tall and ancient tree in our garden, and in keeping with ‘best practice’ and ‘duty of care’ principles (who’s been on a health & Safety course then!) to comply with our household insurance, we had always had the tree checked by a firm of Arbor???? tree surgeons.  This years visit had revealed an internal fungal growth and its days were numbered, for safety reasons it would have to come down.   As the tree carried a preservation order, planning permission had to be sought.  The extremely professional, nationally known and ‘by appointment’ firm’s recommendation and request was refused pending an ‘MRI’ scan.  This done, at no small cost to us, another application was made which was also refused.  So a full application had to be made to the planning committee and a 6 week wait.  Finally and after representations by neighbours who weren’t keen to see their houses demolished if the tree collapsed, sense prevailed and permission was granted.  And so it was that with 2 weeks to go, our drive was filled with a collection of chippies, carpet fitters and painters vans AND a huge tree branch mincing machine.  After all was done, we had just 24 hours to tidy up the mess, load up the motorhome and be on our way if we were to make it to our winter hideaway in time for Christmas. Driving down to the channel tunnel from Yorkshire was easy enough but a serious crash between two lorries on the M25 just north of the Dartford tunnel caused some delay.  The second lorry had smashed into the rear of the first truck, a low loader.  The injuries were so severe that the Southbound carriageways had to be closed for a rescue helicopter to land, let’s hope the drivers made a full recovery.
The channel tunnel was once again our choice of crossing.  We had toyed with the idea of the Portsmouth to Bilbao ferry but as we quite enjoy the drive and done the sums the tunnel won the day, (just as well as the ferry we would have been on was cancelled due to visibility and I don’t think we would have made it in time for Xmas.
Our first leg would normally take us down France on the old N10 (now re-designated the D910) as far as Saint Maure de Tourane.  There is a good, well surfaced and clean ‘Aire de repose’ in the town and a matter of only 50 metres off the D910 also a nice days drive to get there by about 7.30pm.  This time however we had been recommended to try another ‘Aire’ by BOC member Ian Tilley, this one is at Saint Denis just West of Chateaudun.  As this was a good deal less distant we would arrive there earlier but it would make our next days driving somewhat longer.  Nevertheless we resolved to check it out and arrived at St Denis by early evening to a clear moonlit sky, the stars were out and Christmas lights on the houses and church twinkled in the crisp evening air and reflections danced on the river just a short distance from our windows.  The tranquillity was soon moderated by the Village Hall just beside the Aire coming alive to the sounds of Zoomba? music and and what sounded like the whole village doing ‘keep fit’ dancing, Zulu bass drums couldn’t have competed!  Now before this puts you off, let me say that they were all exhausted well before we needed sleep.
Next morning we were on the road by 8 (ish)  and on our way to our 2nd nights stop at Ogeu le Bains (how apt).
Ogeu is a small village between Pau and Oleron St Marie at the foot of the Pyrenees and our last nights stop before crossing into Spain.  The rugby club have kindly put an ‘Aire de service borne’ in the car park and while this is free for the emptying of loos in Winter, the fresh water supply is turned off for frost protection, (we carry a spare bottle of water for loo flushing at times like these).  The parking itself is on the cinder car park and there is a designated space alongside the conifer hedge.  As with all the Aires we mention, we have always felt quite safe and undisturbed.  Most French Aires make no charge in winter.
Next day were were away again by 8am, through Oleron and on our way to the Somport Tunnel.  Although a little frustrating we obeyed the 3.5ton rule and took the Ring Road round the town (around 10 roundabouts!) but soon we were into open sunlit countryside and heading for the hills.  The roads leading to the tunnel through some small villages are rather narrow in places though not half so intimidating as some Pyrenean passes we have tried and this route has always been kept open through the winter when we were there, there is also a new bypass running through a beautiful valley before we reach the tunnel.
The Somport is a modern tunnel, very smooth, well lit and free of charge.  After the exit, the route down the Pyrenees and on towards Huesca has seen massive improvements in the last few years and makes for a good clear drive down the (free) Autovia to Zarragossa and Valencia.  Some overnight at Camping Municipal Zarragossa which is a large clean but rather characterless site so we push on.  We can leave Ogeu at 8am and arrive in Denia on the Med. by 7pm including coffee stops and lunch and all without breaking speed limits.
During our drive down I often listen to language courses on CD to brush up on our rubbishy abilities, but it all adds to the fun and I think I can honestly say that by the time we arrive we can fluently ask for such everyday items as a box of ketchup or a jar of corsets!

The arrival.

Just before leaving the UK it had been my birthday and ‘she of few surprises’ had hit me with a gem.  Remembering that in my youth I had been in the Air cadets and like most I had done a bit of flying in a Chipmunk but nothing more since, I was presented with a present for my birthday afternoon of ‘familiaris-ation’ followed by an hours flying time in a full size Boeing 737 simulator with a proper pilot as co-pilot, how fantastic. (I think by the smile on C’s face she rather liked the cut of his jib)!
Meanwhile back to the trip.  And so it was that as we entered our chosen site and manoeuvred towards our pitch just as light was fading, we could make out some huddled figures by a makeshift Xmas tree fashioned from one of the Pine tree branches, its decorations twinkling in the remaining light and a plaque on the wall stating “RESERVED FOR FLIGHT CAPT BAINES AND HIS TROLLEY DOLLY”  Oh the joys of true friendship and motor homing, thanks guys (gals).

The Stopover

I must confess that although we do join in a limited number of the organised walks and cycle rides, our main reason for exiting the UK in Winter is to ease our aching joints.  While some may prefer to have a change of venue each year we are quite happy wit our choice and have settled you might say into a bit of a rut, (mind you, quoting His Highness of the Glens our very own BOC member Nichol Thomson “Theres nothing quite like a comfy rut” )
I think it is true to say that our campsite ‘WiFi’ or ‘weefee’ as they call it around these parts presents a bit of a challenge at times and leaves our communications in dis-array, but texting still keeps us in touch with loved ones..
Talking of texts, while we were changing our Yorkshire Sheckles to this Euro stuff I received a text from our erstwhile Chairman Roy Gill (he of Lancashire blood and master of the Wetlands as we affectionately call the Lake district) saying he’d seen on the news that Yorkshire youths were injecting drugs directly into the roots of their teeth and calling it ” E’ by Gum” .  Although of Yorkshire stock he seems to have some complex from being deported to Lancashire in later generations, all good fun eh.

The Shaver and the Bumble Bee


Now settled into the swing (or should that be hammock) of things down here and preparing for some outing walking thingy, I decided to give the old greying beard a trim and do it outside rather than leave a mess in the bathroom to clear up after (it’s  man thing).  Trimming away quite happily I noticed a change in the tone of the trimmer, being of nerdy roots I moved the trimmer away from my face and switched it off, the buzzing continued and I turned to find a very large bumble bee had taken quite a shine to my shiny new trimmer, yipes – time to run. Cycling trips
The cycling group (an informal gathering of ex cycling club members, push bikers and ‘Open All Hours delivery boys’ gather once a week on anything from old school bikes to the latest electrics to take off for a spin, generally in the direction of a cafe (bar), Tapas (bar) or coffee (bar).  I must say that some of the local hostelry’s (bars) food has been superb and with a ‘menu del dao’ generally consisting of 3 courses, bread and Alioli, water and wine for 7 euros and up one cannot grumble.  The rides have been anything from 10kms each way to a rather hilly 35 kms return trip which left me flagging on the last steep hill.  Then suddenly by the grace of god I found my legs again and shot up the hill at high speed, taking my feet off the pedals for a rest I heard the voice of god himself (Arthur on his electric bike, asking if the little push had helped)!  By the next day I could join in with the groups  “good one eh lads” but only after   a 10hr rest!

The Blossom Walk

In this area Almonds grow in profusion along with the Oranges but in early to mid February the Almond blossom excels with the most glorious burst of pale to deep pinks that you could imagine.  Acres are spread out across the valley floor reminding one of pink floral lace.  The wholesome and healthy almonds will mature to provide a valuable source of income for the area along with Oranges, Olives and wine.
Many organised walk are to be seen wandering the paths and lanes between the groves, on our own walk which thankfully caught the best of the blossom display there were 42 people, but we passed a German group of 78 or so.  We often meet and pass parties of other nationalities on walks in the Jalon valley, pleasantries are shared as our group often consists of Brits-German-Dutch-French & Scandinavians.  After parting company, friendly whistles are often heard echoing round the hills for many a km until fading in the distance.
Tours
Bus tours to Valencia, Alicante and a Las Vegas / London Palladium style evening at the Benidorm Palace are all to be had in the area, along with Horse Riding and Segway Tours (more of this in the next issue).
Spain in winter can be your Oyster and you know how good Oysters are supposed to be for you, so go on, why let your beloved motorhome sit on the drive, all alone and cold in winter, all aboard for Spain .
By the way give us a wave as you pass, we’ll be the ones in the full recliners under the palm trees just ‘dreaming’ of all that exercise!

 

Cruz International Motorhomes – Elche

– Ron Smith

While wintering in Spain we flew back to the UK for a week just before Christmas. Our flight from Alicante Airport was early evening so we decided to visit Elche which is only about 12 miles further than the Airport.

We visited Cruz International Motorhomes who are a major dealer of a number of marques including Benimars, in order to have a look at the latest models.

We met Miguel Hernandez Berenguer who speaks very good English. I explained that we were interested in having a look at any Benimars that they had in stock and told him about the Benimar Owners Club. We had a good look round a couple of Perseo models (the top of the range) and also a brief look at a Mileo and a Benivan (panel van).

For 2013 the Benimar range consists of:-

Mileo – Low Profile (best value) – 9 layouts

Perseo – Low Profile (top of the range) – 3 layouts

Tessoro – Low Profile (compact at an unbeatable price) – 5 layouts

Sport – Luton (Family models) – 3 layouts

Benivan – Panel Van – 5 layouts

The Perseo looks very smart and up to date from the outside. The bodywork is all polyester (I think that means grp).

On entering the ‘van the impression was very different from the 2000 year Europe that we owned until 2005.

The woodwork is a rich dark colour and there is plenty of shiny cream plastic. The 591 model incorporated an island bed with shower one side and toilet & basin on the other, all capable of being shut off from the rest of the ‘van to create a large shower-dressing area.

The L shaped kitchen had plenty of soft closing drawers and pull-out rack. Opposite was a large fridge with separate freezer.

There was the usual continental dinette/lounge area which incorporates the 2 swivel passenger and driver seats. Something more unusual was the drop-down bed which can only be used when the lounge seating is unoccupied. All very clever, but I am not sure how practical it all is.

The upholstery was a striking two tone (imitation) leather with the Benimar name embossed on the 2 front seats.

The interior looks very up-to-date and the quality appears very good. But it all seems very cramped, as most of the European ‘vans that I have inspected seem to be. After the spacious feel of our current ‘van I would find it hard to adapt to this sort of layout.

All 3 Perseos are Fiat driven, and 7.39 metres long and plated at 3500kg, but with less than 400kg payload. They

have diesel heating (6kw combi by Truma). The other 2 layouts feature single beds and one across the back.

The Mileo appears to be quite similar with more layout options ranging from 6 metres to 7.26 metres in length. They have a diesel heater and gas boiler.

Miguel said that they have a right hand drive version of a Perseo but it was not at the site at the time.

He also stated that if anyone from the UK is interested in purchasing a Benimar, they were prepared to fly them out to Alicante

and put them up at a hotel in order to view and decide on model and specification, extras etc.

They would then export the motorhome to a UK port. The Spanish vat would be taken off the price, the new owner being responsible to pay whatever import duty/taxes there may be and get it registered. There will be a small network of dealers authorised to carry out warranty and repair work.

I guess this is a joint Benimar factory and Cruz initiative to try to re-enter the UK market.

If anyone is interested in buying a new Benimar I have a few brochures in English. I will bring these to Peterborough.

Before we left Cruz I noticed an old Benimar in the second hand section. It was a Junior 5000 from the early 90s and seemed to be in very good condition.

 

Membership

We lost 12 members who did not renew at the year end.

But we do have new members :-

Membership is now just 61 units.

A warm Welcome to Roger & Arron McGarva of Scarborough

Graham & Penny Fletcher of Driffield

 

 

Diary Dates

2013

April 18-22 Peterborough

National Motorhome Show

Marshals: Ray & Carol Beach

AGM on the Sunday

Book on-line or use form in MMM

May 16-20 Newbury

Southern Motorcaravan Show

 

Marshals: Dave & Joan Reader

Book on-line or use form in MMM

June 13-17 Exeter

Midsummer Event

Marshals: Ray & Carol Beach

Book on-line or use form in MMM

 

July 18-22 Knutsford

Northern Motorhome Show

 

Marshals Ray & Carol Beech

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 & Franceasca 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 me at ann.sheldrake@ntlworld.com

Top