Welcome to the December edition of the newsletter.
First of all we would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas for the festive season. For the heathens and Christmas resistors (like me), we wish you Happy Holidays. It will all be over soon.
It's that time of year where we round up the touring season in our Annual Review. We have asked all of our tour leaders for their highlights and they have sent some us wonderful pictures of warmer times! Read on for the full report.
Due to a cancellation we have a space available on our Baltic States Tour 2024. Full details are here: https://www.crossingsmotorhometours.com/the-baltic-states-2024
As usual we have another great one-pot recipe (to warm your cockles) and this month's motorhome tip is all about the perennial issue of insurance.
The 2023 Annual Review
We have had another wonderful touring year from Stockholm in the north, to Krk Island in the south and everywhere inbetween taking in France, Italy, Croatia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Austria, The Netherlands and even Belgium (briefly). The main theme that has come back from all of our tour leaders is that the highlight of any trip is the people. I think it is fair to say that travel experiences are improved when they are shared.
So this feature could best be described as "The Year in Pictures" and I will let the photos do the talking to a large extent (relief all round).
Inevitably, many of our tour leaders favourite photos were group shots. Some of these were taken on the night of Crossings tenth anniversary. On a personal note, we would like to thank everyone who shared the night with us across France, Italy and Croatia. Regulars will be aware of the legend that is Colin and Sue's Cafe, so the year would not be complete without a picture of that too.
Our first tour out was with Linda and Ian who took a group on our Idyllic France Tour taking in the Loire, the Dordogne, the Puy de Dome and Burgundy. Linda and Ian had a busy year, also taking the Summer in Sweden Trip. A couple of highlights were the light show in Bordeaux and the wonderful sunsets in Scandinavia. Here is photographic proof and we are assured that no special effects have been used:
Croatia & Slovenia also throw up a few wonderful sunsets. Gary and Eleanor led the tour with the help of Rebecca and Andy. Here is a photo of our guests taking a photo. Thanks also to Nigel (professional photographer and guest) for the bottom three shots from the May Tour. The only problem with Nigel's excellent photos is that they make our happy snaps look a bit rubbish by comparison! His shots show the amphitheatre at Pula, the central square in Ljubljana and an unexpected accordian festival in Lake Bled.
Debbie and Gwyn took their first tour off to the beautiful Lake Garda. They were lucky with the weather and the group were able to explore the southern and northerns shores of the lake along with the city highlights in Venice and Verona. One of the highlights was the funicular up the mountain on the shores of Lake Garda.
Wendy and I took two tours out this year - one to the Alps and the other down to Tuscany. As always, there are loads of highlights but off the top off our heads we love the Swiss capital of Bern, the area around Interlaken and the hilltop town of San Gimignagno in Italy. The first shot shows one of our customers (hello Steph) throwing herself off a mountain attached only to a a man called Rito. The second photo is taken from the campsite - that was the view from our pitch. The bottom photo shouldn't need any explanation.
Our Croatia and Slovenia Tour is so popular that it went twice this year. The September outing was led by Colin and Sue. Some of their highlights shown in the photos were (in order), the Plitvice Lakes, St Mark's Church in Zagreb (despite the building work) and the moonlight boat cruise that they organise each year for the group to see the islands and the dolphins.
Gary and Eleanor were out again in September, this time on a new tour - The Loire and Burgundy. This is a lazy(ish) tour with a relatively low mile count taking in Le Mans, Anger, and Tours on the Loire and then across to the wine-growing region of Burgundy. This is a tour for the Francophile who just wants to soak up the French countryside, cuisine and wine.
It proved to be a very popular tour and one that we hope will become a staple of the touring season.
So to finish this whistle-stop photographic summary of 2023, here are a couple of gratuitous chateaux pics. The top one is one of the Loire's most famous castles, Chenonceau. Below is the less well-known, but equally interesting castle at Brissac.
So all that remains is to say thank you to everyone who travelled with us this year. We look forward to seeing you again next year. If you are travelling with us for the first time in 2024, hopefully you appetite has been suitably whetted.
On a personal note, Wendy and I want to express our thanks to all of our tour leading couples: Colin & Sue, Gary & Eleanor, Ian and Linda, Gwyn and Debbie and Andy and Rebecca for all of their hard work this year.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.
2024 Bookings - Early Bird Discounts end soon
Just a reminder that our Early Bird Discounts are available until 31st December this year. There is £100 off every single tour that we run. If you have travelled with us before, or if you are booking more than one tour, you are also entitled to our £50 loyalty discount. You can use both offers in conjunction with each other.
We never offer last-minute deals so booking early is always the best value. So if you are thinking of travelling with us in 2024, please get in touch soon.
Coq au Van (the amusingly titled recipe feature)
This South African favourite contains sweet and spicy mince and is a bit like a moussaka (but without the squidgy aubergine).
For the topping
Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Pour cold water over the bread and set aside to soak.
Meanwhile, fry the onions in the butter, stirring regularly for 10 mins until they are soft and starting to colour. Add the garlic and beef and stir well, crushing the mince into fine grains until it changes colour. Stir in the curry paste, herbs, spices, chutney, sultanas and 2 of the bay leaves with 1 tsp salt and plenty of ground black pepper.
Cover and simmer for 10 mins. Squeeze the water from the bread, then beat into the meat mixture until well blended. Tip into an oval ovenproof dish (23 x 33cm and about 5-6cm deep). Press the mixture down well and smooth the top. You can make this and chill 1 day ahead.
For the topping, beat the milk and eggs with seasoning, then pour over the meat. Top with the remaining bay leaves and bake for 35-40 mins until the topping is set and starting to turn golden.
This months we look at the contentious issue of travel insurance. Regular readers will know it is one we do regularly as it becomes a significant factor, particularly when you hit 65. It seems that it is at this age that the perceived risk goes up along with the premiums.
The questions we get asked the most are:
When should I insure? We advise that you book your insurance before you book a holiday. Insurance is not just for when you are away. A key element of travel insurance is cancellation cover.
Annual or trip by trip? Depends on how often you travel really. We opt for annual, but much depends on the cost.
Over 31 days? You may find that your home insurance does not allow you to leave the house empty for more than 30 days. Check with your provider. Also check how long you are allowed for each trip with your travel insurer. Some annual policies will only cover you for 31 days for each trip.
Pre-existing conditions? Many providers now will not include pre-existing conditions.
Can I get it cheaper? It always pays to shop around. Insurers don't really reward loyalty these days. You can reduce premiums by agreeing to a higher excess.
Keep in touch
Please feel free to contact us at any time. When we are away, calls will bounce to our mobiles at no expense to yourself.