Welcome to the May edition with a warm welcome to everyone we met at the (very last ever) Peterborough Motorhome Show. The show has now found a new home and we have a few more details on this later.
It is now officially the start of the season and we are very pleased to have two tours away - Ian & Linda are in France while Gary & Eleanor are heading down to Croatia & Slovenia. We will have full tour reports in next months newsletter. It feels like it has been a long winter (we had a fire in last night) so I think everyone is looking forward to a bit of warmth.
In other news, we have now gone live with the 2024 tour schedule on the website and the new brochure is out. More details below.
We also begin our 'spotlight on...' feature where we pick one of next year's tours and tell you all about it. This month we feature one of our more adventurous tours to The Baltic States.
Regular readers will know that I am developing a bit of a fixation with regard the minor celebrities that we come across. Our favourite so far has been Toyah (from the 80s). Last night we bumped into Dr John Cooper Clarke (from the 70s) on the way out for a pizza in Lincoln. Nothing to do with motorhoming - but worth a mention.
And finally for this section, we welcome our latest future tour leader in the shape of Joseph Reeves (pictured at the top). Because I am male I am not that good on weights and dates but I know that everything went well and everyone is healthy. Joseph is looking forward to running his first tour in 2042 in an all-electric motorhome.
2024 Tours - Website and brochure updates
We are very pleased to announce that our talented designer lady has worked her magic and that the 2024 brochure is now available. The website has also been updated to include all the details for the 2024 touring season.
To view details of the 2024 season please click here:
To view and download the brochure PDF please click here:
The bookings are now open so if you see anything you like you can book now here:
If you have any questions about any of the tours, please feel free to get in touch at any time.
A brief note on 2023 Tours
2023 tours have been fully booked for sometime although we do get cancellations from time to time. We have not had anything come up this month, but please stay in touch if you are looking for something with us later in the year. Please call or drop us an email if you would like to be contacted and we will get back to you straight away if a cancellation comes up.
The Peterborough Show - a last hurrah and a new home
We had a fantastic weekend down at the Peterborough Show at the tail end of April. The Show is not complete without a bit of rain, some bails of straw and a fleet of tractors to pull the motorhomes out of the mud, and this year was no exception.
Having said that, the weather on the Saturday and Sunday was great. It was also great to seem so may familiar and new faces. Hello to everyone who came to see us over the long weekend.
Sadly, the showground has now been sold for development. It is not 100% clear on whether the arena will survive, but most of the land will soon be houses. I remember it when it was all fields!
According to Darren (pictured delivering straw) who is the Show Manager from Warners (https://www.outandaboutlive.co.uk/shows/), the show will be relocating to the Newark Showground. It will retain its branding as 'The National' and there will be an emphasis on quality entertainment, most of which is included in the weekend camping price. It is hoped that visitor and exhibitor numbers will be the same, this being the biggest show in their arsenal.
It is most likely that the show will take place in June rather than April. Almost everyone (apart from the tractor drivers) are quite happy about having it slightly later in the season.
Spotlight on...The Baltic States
The idea of the 'Spotlight on...' section is NOT to re-write what we have put in the tour brochure. Instead, this section offers our own personal reflections on the tour and explains why we were drawn to the destination in the first place. You can read this in conjunction with the tour brochure which is here:
The Baltic States are made up of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and offer something a little bit different for the motorhomer. We were first drawn to it for the distinctive look of the towns and cities including the Soviet era architecture and the orthodox 'onion-domed' roofs of the churches/cathedrals and the palaces. We also liked the fact that it is relatively undiscovered as a motorhoming destination.
Perhaps the best known city out of the three countries is Tallinn, although we have a soft spot for Riga straddling the Daugava River and home to the unusually titled House of the Black Heads. The third capital of Vilnius (Lithuania) is equally enthralling with some interesting and unique attractions including a KGB museum that will linger in the memory for some time.
Away from the cities you can expect miles of open, gently rolling countryside with plenty of forests and lakes and distinctive towns. The roads by the way and very quiet and in really good condition as they were made with EU investment. The older towns are characterised by painted wooden houses and small churches while in the newer towns you will still see the large-scale Soviet style housing blocks and mid-century trams.
In the east of the country the lifestyle remains fairly basic with subsistence farming, head-scarved old ladies and the odd horse and cart (a bit like Lincolnshire in many ways). This is in stark contrast to the cities, which feel very modern and trendy in parts, largely due to the investment they have enjoyed since joining the EU.
There is some attractive low-lying coastline to enjoy in all three countries. We stay in Parnu, which feels almost like an English Victorian seaside town. Down the coast in Lithuania there is the massive Curonian Spit, a 60-mile long thin slip of sand dune in the Baltic Sea.
On the subject of the Baltic, we spend two nights at sea on a mini-cruise. The well-equipped boat has two restaurants, a bar, a relaxing lounge and well-appointed cabins. This is an additional cost on the tour price but previous guests have reported how enjoyable the journey is. It also saves around six days in driving.
Our personal highlight for this tour is the Hill of Crosses, simply because we have never seen anything like it anywhere else. It is a pilgrimage site from the early 19th century, which is home to tens of thousands of crosses, statues and other religious artifacts, erected by people from all over the world.
A final word on the campsites. The camping scene is not as well developed as it is in other parts of Europe. For us, this is part of the charm. Some of the campsites we use are pop-up sites that only exist in the season. Typically these are on harbours or in the grounds of exhibition centres. All have electric hookup (usually 16amp) and wifi.
If you would like to join us on this tour, please get in touch sooner rather than later as early bookings have been very strong.
Coq au Van (the amusingly titled recipe feature)
Chicken and mushroom orzo (it's a pasta)
1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, halved
2 large shallots, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken stock
1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 cup orzo pasta
3-4 cups baby spinach
⅓ cup freshly grated Parmesan
¼ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
Season chicken with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
Melt butter. Working in batches, add chicken to the skillet in a single layer and cook until golden brown and cooked through.
Add mushrooms and shallot, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in garlic and thyme until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute.
Stir in chicken stock and Dijon, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Stir in orzo; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until pasta is cooked through, about 6 minutes. Stir in spinach, Parmesan and heavy cream until the spinach has wilted, about 3 minutes. Return chicken to the skillet.
Serve immediately, garnished with parsley.
This tip came up at the motorhome show at Peterborough. It's a slightly silly one this month. We won't mention the customer's name as it is a bit personal. It's to do with leaks.
We have probably all had that faint whiff of gas sometimes, particularly in the cupboard where you store the gas bottles. You need to be sure that you don't have a leak. Traditionally you might do it with a soapy finger, but over time this will degrade your brass fittings. There is a product for the job and it's called 'Cura Leak Detector".
As far as we know, it only works on gas leaks. For all other leaks, seek medical advice.
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.