Welcome to the March edition of the newsletter with a special hello to those of you who were cajoled and generally strong-armed into signing up at the NEC last month. The show was the biggest ever for a February Show and we have a brief round-up later.
We have also finalised the 2024 Tour Schedule with dates and prices now confirmed. You will find the latest PDF attached to your email reminder.
With regard to this year, although we were full on everything, we have had two cancellations on our May tours. More details below - please act quickly if you fancy either of them for this year.
We have another great winter warmer recipe for you and this month's motorhoming tips are about handbrakes (there is no way of making that sound any more interesting than it is).
2023 Tours - two cancellation spots available
Due to cancellations, there is one space on each of the following tours:
Croatia & Slovenia - May 2023
Lake Garda & Venice - May /June 2023
These are available to book on a first-come first-served basis. If you would like to come then please book direct via our website.
We expect these spaces to get taken up quite quickly so do get in touch if you want it. Full details of both tours are on the website. If you need any further information, please feel free to contact us.
2024 Tour Previews
We have now finalised the Tour Schedule for 2024. Attached to the email reminder that you have just received, you should find a link to the PDF. If you are having any problems please contact us (or ask a young person).
We will be opening the bookings in next month's edition of the newsletter so please keep an eye open for that.
In the meantime, it is not too late to express and interest on any (or all) of our tours for next year. We will be contacting every who expressed an interest during March to see if you want to take up the space. As always, there is no commitment to go on and book - it just means we will give you first refusal.
We are very much looking forward to next year as we have more tours and more tour leaders than ever before!
NEC February Show round-up
It was lovely to see so many existing and new customers at the NEC last month. It was also nice to meet so many newsletter readers. I personally spoke to around ten of you, which represents half the readership!
Apparently there were around 104,000 visitors over the six days of the show. The show is the second biggest event of the exhibition diary and it is fair to say that is was absolutely buzzing. The picture shows the team relaxing after a hard day at the show (we bribe them to come with ice-creams).
As well as meeting customers, the show is a great way for us to keep in touch with what is happening in the motorhoming industry. It seems that the motorhome bubble is not going to burst anytime soon. Demand for vans is still out-stripping supply with customers waiting up to 18 months for delivery of new vans (depending on the model).
The net result of this is that the market for nearly new vans is also very buoyant without a great deal of stock around. One dealer we know employs two guys full time to scour the internet for vans coming onto the market. They are then straight on the phone is they sniff out anything decent. Two of them jump in the car and head off to the four corners of the UK to look at the van. If it's any good they buy it there and then and drive it back to base.
This is all great news for the dealers, but perhaps not so good if you are looking to change, or get your first van. When will it end? Opinions vary, but I think we are looking at two years before things settle back down again.
In other show news, Paul Merton is not as funny in the flesh as he is on the TV.
Coq au Van (the amusingly titled recipe feature)
1 teaspoon dried mint
160 g mature Cheddar cheese
50 g stale bread
2 heaped tablespoons plain flour
2 teaspoons English mustard
1 litre semi-skimmed milk
300 g frozen peas
500 g frozen broccoli
250 g dried lasagne sheets
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6. Put a large shallow casserole pan on a medium-high heat. Wash, trim and slice the leek (see tip) and place in the pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the dried mint. Season with sea salt and black pepper, then cover and fry for 5 minutes, or until soft, stirring regularly and adding a splash of water, if needed.
Meanwhile, coarsely grate the Cheddar and finely chop the bread to create rustic breadcrumbs, and put aside for later.
Stir the flour into the leeks, followed by the mustard, and slowly stir in the milk to give you a loose white sauce, then add just half of the grated Cheddar and leave to blip away for a few minutes. Season to perfection with sea salt and black pepper, then stir in the frozen peas and broccoli.
Snap in the pasta sheets, mix up really well to coat and separate, then pull some of the sheets to the top to create a top layer – use the back of a spoon to create some dips and wells.
Toss the remaining Cheddar with the breadcrumbs, then scatter over. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden and bubbling. Serve topped with an extra grating of Cheddar, if you like.
A really quick one this month prompted by a conversation with someone at the show.
The handbrake on a motorhome is usually a long way down - particularly on A-Class vans. A very simple solution that will cost you around £80 is a "handbrake extender" (Google it).
This handy gadget slides over the end of your handbrake and increases the height of it by around 20 cm, making it much easier to grab hold of.
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.