Welcome to the November edition of the newsletter with an especially warm welcome to everyone who got strong-armed into signing up at the show. Indeed, the highlight of this month has been the Motorhome and Caravan Show at the NEC. We have a full show report in this month's edition.
It's also that time of the year where we do our 'annual review' with a roundup of the highlights of the 2022 touring season.
With no more tours this year, our thoughts are firmly on 2023. We do still have availability (from cancellations) on some of our 2023 tours, so please do get in touch now if you would like to travel with us next year.
As usual we have another great one-pot recipe and the motorhome/travel tip this month is about amps (as in electricity) and low wattage appliances.
NEC Motorhome Show 2022
It was great to be back at the NEC this October after COVID had seen off the 2021 show. It seems that our enthusiasm was shared by the rest of you as the show attracted over 110,000 visitors over its six-day run - this is a record.
Talking of records, Toyah Wilcox (who used to make records) was in attendance at the show. She was the only celebrity we had ever heard of that came and Wendy could not resist but have her photo taken with her. Wendy last saw Toyah in 1982 when she went to one of her gigs and had a scarf autographed after the show. Sadly Toyah did not remember this. For those of you who don't know Wendy or Toyah, Wendy is on the left of the photo.
Aside from that we had a fabulous show and it was great to see so many people we knew. Our cupcake supply had run out (gone stale) by Thursday so you were lucky if you got one. Our brochure supply also nearly ran out by the Sunday even though we took 200 more than usual!
Chatting to our fellow exhibitors at the show it seems that the world of motorhoming continues to expand with demand for vans has high as ever. Prices are also as high as ever for new vans (although trade-ins values also remain high). Wait times for new vans keeps stretching out. We have heard that the Malibu for example is due for delivery in June 2024 for orders taken at the show.
A couple of stand-outs for us at the show was a Morello for sale at over $650,000! Burstner also had a new motorhome there with an upstairs. You actually went up the stairs to the bed, which is housed in a pop-up overhead cab. It was the ugliest van I have ever seen and I'm going to stick my neck out and say that it won't catch on.
All in all we had a superb time at the NEC (as we always do). Thanks for everyone that booked during and after the show. Thanks too to all of you who had already booked and came to introduce yourselves. We hope we didn't put you off.
2022 Annual Review
We probably enjoyed this touring season more than any other after our enforced break during COVID. It was a genuine relief to get back on the road again - a feeling which we know has been shared with many customers and fellow motorhomers across Europe.
It seems strange to think that we can now travel without any restrictions at all and you do not even have to be vaccinated. Compare that with even a year ago when we were still having to take COVID tests to leave and enter the UK. Go back a year before that and we were barely allowed out of the house!
So it was with great pleasure that Colin and Sue headed off on the first trip of 2022 onto our Brittany and Normandy Tour. For anyone who has ever travelled with Colin and Sue you will know that they are sunshine magnets. We could do a tour to Bognor Regis in January and it would be hot and sunny if Colin and Sue ran it. This tour was no exception with some fantastic Spring weather.
From the feedback it seemed that customers really enjoyed Honfleur and Concarneau, two of our seaside destinations. Honfleur is the town that the Normandy Tourist Board always use on their website as it is so attractive with its rows of pastel-coloured houses line the harbour.
Concarneau's location is quite unique in that it has the sea on two sides with our campsite overlooking both bays. Another peculiarity is that it has a 'new' town and also a medieval town attached to it - the Ville Close. The old town catches tourists by surprise at it is quite expansive despite its modest entrance. It's like a secret town.
As Colin and Sue were heading back, Gary and Eleanor were heading off down to Croatia & Slovenia. This is one of our most varied tours with mountains, coast, caves, capital cities, lakes and waterfalls. The Alpine region proved popular this year with the Julian Alps providing the backdrop to stunning Lake Bled.
The Plitvice Lakes also went down well with its turquoise lakes teeming with fish, waterfalls and boardwalks. As we were early in the season, guests were able to enjoy a relatively quiet experience with easy access to the boats and land trains.
Another favourite were the six nights spent directly on the Istrian Coast. The group spent time near Pula where they went on an evening boat ride to see the dolphins. They also spent time on Krk Island with access to the beach straight from the campsite.
We ran our Idyllic France Tour twice this year. Colin and Sue took the first group out in June and Ian and Linda took the September Tour. Both groups loved the Dordogne section of the tour where they were able to visit caves and castles and take boat trips (or paddle) down the river. Feedback from this tour was that guests really enjoyed exploring some of the quieter and more authentic areas of the country.
No trip to France is complete without food and wine (in moderation of course) and this tour was no exception. One of our campsites is in the heart of the Bordeaux vineyards and guests enjoyed an evening with one of the local producers in addition to a trip into Bordeaux itself.
While we are on the subject of France, Ian and Linda ran our Provence and Ardeche Tour in June. As with the Idyllic France tour, customers really seemed to enjoy the more rural and unspoilt regions.
Some intrepid guests took to the water, paddling down the Ardeche river to the Pont d'Arc, while others ventured out on foot and bike. Avignon proved as popular as ever with its grand Papal palaces and (still unfinished) bridge.
The lavender was out in full force as were the sunflowers and guests were able to gets some great photos. It was particularly pretty up in the Haute Alps region.
Meanwhile, Wendy and I were taking our lovely group into the Swiss and Austrian Alps. There was a stand-out highlight for us on this tour, which was the bus trip up the Grossglockner, Austria's highest mountain. The weather was so bright and clear that the whole day up the mountain was glorious. It actually looked like a painting or a film set from the bus window - it was so perfect.
Another more unusual highlight was throwing ourselves into the River Aare in Bern (the Swiss capital). This is 'a thing' during the good weather with thousands of folks bobbing several miles downstream into the city. They then get out, walk back upstream and do it all over again. This spectacle was literally right outside the campsite gates.
Wendy and I also ran the Summer in Sweden Tour this year. This is one of our more unusual tours in that it is very varied. As a consequence there is rarely one stand-out highlight. Instead it seems that different guests liked different things. Some folks loved the big cities (Stockholm and Copenhagen), while some preferred the smaller cities (Malmo and Gothenburg). Some enjoyed the long, quiet drives along virtually empty coastal roads, while others marvelled at the large-scale engineering of the Great Belt and Oresund Bridges.
We did a couple of organised bike rides. If you have been on one of my bike rides before you will know that they are not usually very well organised. In terms of distance, whatever I say it will be you need to double it and add one. Therefore our 6 miles bike ride was in fact 13. Thank goodness for electric bikes and forgiving customers.
The final tour of the year run by Colin and Sue (who have had a busy season) was off to Lake Garda. Usually it is the south of the lake that proves most popular, but this year the overwhelming feedback was that the preferred part was in the north around Riva Del Garda. The north is the less commercial part with a fabulous mountain backdrop and pretty towns and villages. From here guests were able to access the lake via the network of water taxis and the mountains via the funiculars and cable cars.
Obviously the weather was great (it's Colin and Sue after all) and it proved a great tour to finish off what has been a very successful season.
Full tour reports on all of the 2022 tours can be read by accessing earlier versions of the newsletter. We will be repeating some of the 2022 tours in 2023 along with some new tours. Please click on 'Tours' from the menu at the top of the page to read more.
Although many of our tours are now fully booked up for 2023 we do still have spaces on some tours and we operate a waiting list for the others. Please contact us if you are interested in travelling with us in 2023.
Coq au Van (the amusingly titled recipe feature)
Sausage and Butter Bean Stew
1 tbsp sunflower oil
16 chipolatas (try chorizo ones for a bit of chilli heat)
2 onions, sliced
2 celery sticks, sliced
8 garlic cloves, sliced
1 rosemary sprig
600ml chicken stock
2 x 400g cans butter beans, drained
75g butter, cubed
small pack parsley, leaves picked and chopped
2 lemons, zested
crusty bread, to serve
STEP 1 Gently heat the oil in a large pan. Fry the sausages all over until brown, then remove and set aside. Add the onion to the pan and fry for 5-10 mins until golden and soft, then add the celery, garlic and rosemary, and cook for 2 mins more. Pour over the stock and bring to the boil.
STEP 2 Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 mins, then add the sausages back to the pan along with the butter beans. Simmer for 8 mins, then stir in the butter, parsley and lemon zest. Ladle into bowls and serve piping hot with lots of chunky bread.
This month's motorhoming tips are all about low amperage gadgets.
With so many of you buying your gadgets and appliances at the show, we did get asked a few questions about (among other things) electrical items and whether they will work on the Continent.
Whether they will work or not depends on the wattage rating of the item. The higher the wattage of your item, the more amps it needs to run it.
In simple terms, UK campsites usually supply 16 amps, the same as in your house. This means that you can get lots of electrical items all running at the same time. On the continent you often get 10 amps or 6 amps. This means that you can run fewer electrical items at the same time.
For example, a standard household kettle might be rating at 2Kw. This will need roughly 4 amps in order to work. A hairdryer might also be rated at 2kw so this too will need 4 amps to work. If you have 6 amps supply and you put them both on, you will trip the electrics.
Apart from being careful about what you switch on, you should also consider buying low wattage items for your motorhome. These are often referred to a travel electricals and are rated (typically) at around 1000w. You can buy low wattage (travel) kettles, irons and hairdryers (all of which are usually 2000w or more). Microwaves are normally 650 to 900w so are OK. Other electrical items (e.g. TVs) are low wattage anyway so present no issues.
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.