Welcome to the June edition and finally we have some sunshine to tempt us out and about.
It's nice to hear that plenty of you are now getting motorhoming in the UK. It seems that the majority of our customers (being of a certain vintage), are now double jabbed and looking forward to greater freedoms.
With that in mind we take a look at the NHS app, which we would recommend everyone getting, as this looks like it will be the passport to European travel moving forward,
We have now gone live with the 2022 Tour Schedule with full details available on the website. Although there is still some uncertainty about European travel this year, there is a lot of confidence for 2022. This month, we will be restarting our 'spotlight on...' feature where we focus on a particular tour. This month, it's our new Three-Country Starter Tour.
We have another great one-pot recipe and this month's motorhoming tips are all about cleaning your water tank.
The NHS App
Now that most of us oldies have had both jabs, the next stage of the process is being able to prove it. There has been much discussion about Covid passports and it looks like the way that this is going to be achieved is through the NHS app. Therefore, we are recommending that everyone takes the time to get it downloaded. It is a relatively simple process and it's free.
You can download the app from your app store for either Apple or Android devices - just search for NHS. Once downloaded you will need to know your NHS number in order to access it. You also need to prove your identity, which is a fairly straightforward process of uploading a picture your passport or driving license.
Once you are on the app you can do lots of things relating to the NHS like make appointments, check prescriptions etc. It also has a large chunk of your NHS record on there including all vaccinations. On mine, I can even the see the MMR jab I had when I was a baby in 1987 (OK - 1967).
More useful is the fact that it shows that I have had both of my Covid jabs. This information is also encoded into a QR code (see picture). This QR code regenerates every month to prevent fraud. When you need to prove that you have been jabbed, you simply show this QR code to the official (in our case a border agent) and they will scan it. It's as simple as that.
It looks like most countries will be only require a double vaccination in order to enter the country. Therefore, the app will be all that you need. We are awaiting final confirmation on this from the EU Commission later this month.
Spotlight on...The Three-Country Starter Tour
Keen-eyed observers will notice that our 2022 Tour Schedule is quite similar to 2021. This is entirely due to Covid. Where we have cancelled a tour this year, we have simply moved it across to next year so that everyone still has the chance to go on it (at this year's prices I might add).
One tour that is new is our Three-Country Starter Tour. We have always done a starter tour, but this year we have made a few changes to incorporate a few new areas.
The idea behind the starter tour is to try and get a decent mixture of coast, countryside, local towns, cities - and a few well-known tourist attractions. We also wanted to visit more than one country to give you a taste of different cultures. At the same time, we wanted keep the mileage quite low so that you are not doing lots of driving days.
The latest incarnation of the Three-Country Starter Tour starts in Belgium's prettiest city, Bruges. The historical centre is an architectural treat and being compact, is very easy to get around on foot, by bike, or even on a horse-drawn carriage. Belgium us famous for its beer and chocolates and Bruges does not disappoint on that score.
Our tour then heads north into The Netherlands where we have time to visit the stunning capital Amsterdam. We would highly recommend seeing the city by water taxi on its network of bicycle-lined canals. For quieter days out we have built in some smaller, but equally attractive towns such as Edam (yes - the cheese town), Zwolle, Hoorn and Arnhem (great for WW2 history buffs).
Our tour is timed to coincide with the blooming season at the world famous Keukenhof Gardens. Eight million daffodils all out at the same time is a quite an experience. You can expect to take lots of photographs as every corner you turn is packed with rivers of colourful bulbs.
The tour then heads to the southern section of Holland to take in Maastricht and Valkenburg. Maastricht is a largely Medieval city that is now home to a lively and thriving cafe culture. You can expect stunning building, large open squares and streets lined with historical buildings. In contrast Valkenburg is most famous for its underground caves and is also an all-year-round Christmas town!
In terms of the coast, we visit a little bit of Dutch and a little bit of French coastline. In France, we spend a couple of days on the beautiful stretch known as the Opal Coast. This is in reference to the colour of the sea on this stretch. You can expect pretty fishing towns, sandy beaches and sweeping cliffs.
You can expect some pleasant drives between our various well-equipped campsites, from quiet coastal roads, through colourful Dutch bulb fields and onto the rolling landscape of Northern France.
Full details are on the website here and we are now taking bookings for 2022, which includes our Covid Guarantee.
Coq au Van
1 tbsp olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
500g chicken breast fillets, cut into 2cm pieces
300ml thickened cream
2 x 325g ricotta and spinach tortellini
1 green shallot, trimmed, thinly sliced
60g (3/4 cup) finely grated parmesan
1/4 cup small fresh continental parsley leaves
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh chives
Heat oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until softened. Add the thyme and chicken. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until chicken is light golden.
Add the cream and 180ml (3/4 cup) water to the pan. Bring to the boil. Add the tortellini. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 6 minutes or until mixture is thickened and tortellini is tender. Season. Stir in the shallot, 40g (1/2 cup) of the cheese and half of the parsley and chives until combined.
Serve pasta topped with the remaining cheese, sprinkled with the remaining herbs.
We took the van out for the first time in ages for a few nights in Scotland. Hello to our Scottish friends - it was nice to see you.
Anyhoo, having not used the van for a while we went through the usual procedures of getting everything back up and running again. One thing we really noticed this time is how grotty the water tank and water pipes had become.
We always leave it empty over winter and make sure we run the taps off. However, we still had a fair amount of 'cack' come out the pipes when we first filled up and turned the taps on.
Our solution to this is Milton tablets (or liquid). We half-fill the tank with water, drop in around six large tablets and then go for a drive to get things sloshing around. We then leave it over night before running load more water through the taps.
We then dump the lot and refill the tank. There is a slight smell of Milton for a little while, but obviously this is not going to hurt you.
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.