Welcome to the February edition of newsletter. It's perhaps not as eagerly anticipated as one of Sue Gray's reports, but here we go...
We have more good news in relation to European travel, plus we have details of a brand new French Tour running at the end of April. This new tour is only open to newsletter readers. We also look forward to the NEC Show, which is at the end of the month and as usual we have another great one-pot recipe. This month's motorhoming tips are part two to last month's, which prompted responses from a few of our overweight subscribers.
Latest travel news
The good news is that there has been yet another relaxation on overseas travel rules. From 11th February, the UK government has scrapped the requirement for testing when returning to the UK, assuming you are fully vaccinated. This means that there is no requirement for any tests of any kind to re-enter the UK having been on overseas trip. Great news.
Obviously we still have to be mindful of any requirements to test when travelling to an overseas country and things are starting to free up there too. Much of Europe has now relaxed its rules for the double vaccinated and we are hopeful that all rules will be removed in the Spring. For those of you booked on tours this year, we will be contacting to to inform you of the latest requirements well in advance of your tour.
Where testing is required it is either an antigen or PCR test that is required, which you can complete completely online for around £20 per person. This makes it much less onerous and costly than previous requirements. We did this with our French tours last year and it proved to be a fairly straightforward process. In fact we all had a pizza party in Strasbourg after all the tests were complete!
NEC February Show
Another quick reminder that we will be at the NEC February Show from 22nd to 27th. We are in Hall 4 on Stand 4055. Advance sales tickets have double since last month with around 80,000 advanced ticket sales. It promises to be the biggest February Show ever.
New Tour for April/May 2022: Brittany and Normandy
With travel restrictions easing, we are very keen to make up for lost travelling time and are offering a new tour to Brittany and Normandy. It is a tour we have on run successfully on several occasions before. This is a 'one-country' tour with not too many miles to travel, which we thought would be perfect as we ease ourselves out of travel lockdown.
We have attached a full itinerary to the newsletter email we sent you. If you are having any problems accessing the PDF, please contact us. We expect that there will be plenty of interest in the tour, so please contact us straight away if you would like to come or if you have any questions.
The tour is only being made available to newsletter readers, so it's a bit of an exclusive! If you would like to book, just go to the Book Now page in the website and select it from the list on the booking form.
Coq au Van (the amusingly titled recipe feature)
extra-virgin olive oil 3 tbsp
fennel 1 bulb, finely chopped
garlic 2 cloves, thinly sliced
fennel seeds ½ tsp
tomato purée 2 tsp
carnaroli or arborio rice 200g
white wine 150ml
fish or light chicken stock 1.2 litres
cherry tomatoes 150g, halved
mussels or clams 150g
raw peeled prawns 150g, butterflied
parmesan 75g, finely grated
butter a good knob (oo-er!)
lemon a squeeze of juice, plus wedges to serve
flat-leaf parsley a small handful
STEP 1 Heat the olive oil in a large, deep frying pan over a medium heat and add the fennel and a pinch of salt. Cook for 15 minutes until the fennel is soft and starting to caramelise. Tip in the garlic and fennel seeds and cook for a minute, then stir in the tomato purée and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the rice and cook for 2 minutes, stirring, until all of the grains of rice are coated in oil and they begin to toast slightly. Pour in the wine and bubble for 2-3 minutes or until reduced slightly.
STEP 2 Put the stock into a pan and heat until just under a simmer. Add a ladleful of the hot stock to the rice, stirring constantly, only adding more once the previous batch has been absorbed. Cook for 15 minutes, then taste the rice. It should be nearly cooked but still a little chalky. Add the cherry tomatoes, mussels and prawns and cook gently until the mussels open and the prawns turn pink, adding more stock so that the risotto stays saucy.
STEP 3 Season and add the parmesan, butter and lemon juice, stirring until melted and combined.
STEP 4 Leave to rest with a lid on for a few minutes, then spoon into shallow bowls, scatter over the parsley and serve with lemon wedges.
This month's motorhoming tips are a follow up to last month's tips on motorway tags for France. I feel I should apologise to fellow travellers who are overweight. By this I mean those of you whose vans are greater than 3.5t (what did you think I meant?)
I should have mentioned that the Emovis tags are only for motorhomes less than 3.5t and under 3m in height. There is another system called Eurotoll for larger vehicles but this appears to be mainly for lorries.
As far as we know, the French authorities do not actually weigh vehicles passing through tolls. Instead, they take a height reading and it would seem that if you are over 3m, you are assumed to be over 3.5t.
This presents another issue in that some vans do just go over the 3m mark. For example, the Autotrails with the 'bulbous' bit over the cab are sometimes just over the limit. Similarly if you have a satellite dish or dome, then the sensors can take these as the highest point.
If this is the case, when you get to the toll booth (if you are paying manually), the charge will be shown on the display. If it comes up as Class 3, it thinks you are over 3m and will charge you accordingly. We suggest pressing the help button if this happens to you. Just say "camping car" (which is French for motorhome) and they should automatically adjust the payment to Class 2.
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.