Happy New year to you all.
The new year has brought us new things here at Crossings HQ. First of all, we are very pleased to welcome a new set of tour leaders: Rebecca and Andy. Read more about them below.
We are also very pleased to give you a sneaky peak at the 2024 Tour Schedule, with the chance to express an interest now for anything you like the look of. We also have a brief update on the current state of play for our 2023 tours.
We have another great winter warmer recipe for you and this month's motorhoming tips follow on from last month's with more advice on winter storage.
Welcome to our new tour leaders, Rebecca and Andy
We are very pleased to welcome a new couple of our happy band of motorhome tour leaders. Some of you will recognise Rebecca and Andy from previous tours. Here's their bio:
"We’ve always enjoyed travel and we spent years visiting Britain from Land’s End to the far tip of the Shetlands. Additionally, narrow boats have featured strongly in our travels. We then looked further afield and have since had many trips both within Europe and beyond. After that we discovered motorhoming...since then we haven’t looked back and have embraced life on the road.
Following Andy’s career as an engineer, initially within the merchant navy, then private industry and finally the NHS and Rebecca’s as a brewer, we are now retired. Since then we have been fortunate to be able to spend the majority of our time on four wheels – although those who we’ve met on campsites are more likely to associate us with two! These journeys have been widely spread throughout Britain and Europe.
Our first contact with Crossings was as customers. We really appreciated the confidence we gained from travelling in a group whilst retaining the freedom to continue to ‘do our own thing’. We found it very useful to be given suggestions on routes to take between sites, interesting places to visit on the journey and even where to find local supermarkets.
We look forward to meeting and travelling with fellow motorhomers and sharing our enthusiasm for travel".
2023 Tours - Update
As regular readers will know, we are fairly well booked up for the coming year. However, we do currently have limited availability on our Summer in Sweden Tour in August and our Loire & Burgundy our in September. If you are interested in either, please get in touch. Please note that our Summer in Sweden Tour is having a break in 2024, so this will be the last chance to go on it for a couple of years.
Everything else is booked up by now although we do get cancellations. It is always worth going onto our reserve list should any spaces come up. It costs nothing and there is no commitment to go on and book - it just means that we will contact you as soon as a space comes up and you can take it up if you want to. It's on a first-come-first-served basis. If you want to be added to the reserve list for any of our tours, the easiest thing to do is email us and let us have a phone number so we can get onto you quickly.
2024 Tour Schedule
As you may know, people to tend to book up very early for our tours. With our most popular tours, they fill up within 48 hours of them being announced! Consequently, we try and announce the tour schedule as soon as possible for future years.
At this time of year, we like to put out a sneaky peak of what we have planned and give you the chance to 'express an interest' now. What this means is that when we do open the bookings, we will contact you first to see if you want to take up a space. Newsletter readers always get first dibs on the tours before they go live on the website. If you express an interest, it puts you at the right at the front of the queue.
We will be previewing the tours at the NEC Show in February and opening the bookings shortly after that. To express an interest now, just email us or give us a call and we will add you to 'the spreadsheet'. We love a spreadsheet.
So at this stage the broad schedule is:
Three-Country Taster Tour | May | 18 days: A little bit of Holland, Luxembourg and France. This will be less than 1000 miles all the way round.
Baltic States | May | 25 days: A big adventure in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania with a mini-cruise across the Baltic Sea too.
Idyllic France | May | 16 days: Our ever popular jaunt focusing on The Loire, Dordogne and Burgundy regions.
Budapest, Prague & Vienna | June | 25 days: The title says it all really with time spent in The Czech Republic, Hungary and Austria.
Tuscany and Rome | June | 25 days: A variation on our incredibly popular Tuscany tour, with the added advantage of a trip to the Italian capital.
The Alps | June | 16 days: Our very popular Alps tour returns with time spent around Annecy, Geneva, Bern and Interlaken.
Provence & The Ardeche |September | 18 days: Stunning French countryside, mountains and Medieval towns await you in Southern France.
Lake Garda | September | 18 days: A permanent fixture on the schedule. Plenty of time on the southern and northern shores of the lake, with the chance to travel into Italy's most beautiful cities, including Venice.
Croatia & Slovenia | September | 25 days: Another staple of the schedule, the tour takes in both capitals, stunning stretches of coast, mountains, lakes and waterfalls.
Brittany, Normandy & The Atlantic Coast | September | 18 days: A new tour for our Francophiles. A little bit of each area with the focus on the coast and coastal towns of the regions.
We would just like to make it very clear that when you book a tour, the price will be clearly stated. This is the price you will pay. Even if costs go up significantly (like they have recently), we will not be charging any supplements or increasing the prices. We honour the price you booked at. We have always done this and will continue to do so, even though times are a bit uncertain at the moment (aren't they always)!
We would also like to point out that if your tour does not go for any reason you will receive a full refund within 14 days. This is what we did throughout COVID and will continue to do so.
Coq au Van (the amusingly titled recipe feature)
Chicken Chorizo Rice
· 1 tbsp olive oil
· 85g/3oz chorizo, halved and sliced
· ½ large onion, sliced
· 200g/7oz chicken thigh fillets, chopped into 2½cm/1in pieces
· 1 garlic clove, finely sliced
· 1 green pepper, sliced
· 110g/4oz basmati rice
· 200ml/7fl oz chicken stock (½ stock cube dissolved)
· salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan with a tight fitting lid and fry the chorizo over a high heat for 1 minute. Add the onions and fry for a further minute, then add the chicken and garlic and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the pepper and basmati rice and stir well to combine. Pour in the chicken stock and stir, then turn the heat down as low as it will go, put the lid on and leave for 12 minutes.
Turn the heat off but do not remove the lid and leave for a further 12 minutes, then remove the lid and give it a good stir with a fork. The water should be absorbed. Season to taste and serve straight away.
Following on from last month's tips on getting the van ready for winter, we have received lots of (polite) suggestions. It's each to their own with this type of thing. As we use our motorhome all year round, we don't tend to do much in terms of preparation for the bad weather. If you are not using your van at all, you may choose to be a bit more careful than we are! Here are a few more suggestions:
Consider a breathable cover. Make sure it doesn't cover any solar panels if you are using these to trickle charge.
Some folks use 'wheel savers', which are like a bit like levellers, except that they contour the shape of the wheel. This stops your tyres squaring off. You might use axle stands to life the wheels off the ground instead.
You may choose to leave a small heater/humidifier in the van during the really cold weather. If you are using a heater, make sure there is some form of ventilation to prevent condensation.
Keep it clean. It seems that just before winter is a great time for a Spring clean for many motorhomers. This means a full internal and external job and maybe consider using a 'overwintering' solution on the bodywork e.g. Fenwicks.
Keep it lubed. Oo-err missus. This year I discovered Thetford Seal Lubricant, which I sprayed on the 'blade' mechanism on the loo. Works really well. No-one likes a sticky blade.
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.