Welcome to the October edition of the newsletter.
Well the touring season is over for another year and what a great year it has been (especially after 2020 and 2021). Our final two tours have recently returned and we have full tour reports on both in this month's edition.
As it might be the last of the hot weather for a while, we thought we would treat you to a photo of some lovely Italian ice-cream, with Lake Garda in the background!
This month is our favourite motorhome show of the year a the NEC. We will be there as usual. Full details below.
As usual we have another great one-pot recipe and the motorhome/travel tip this month is about (continental) campsite wifi.
NEC Motorhome Show 2022
We are very pleased to say that we will have our own little 'pitch' at NEC Motorhome Show again this year. It's not quite big enough to get a motorhome on it, but big enough for you to come and say hello!
We are in Hall 9, Stand 34b in what they call the 'destinations' area (with the campsite stands).
For those of you who have not been before, the October show is the biggest of the year and the biggest one in the country. All of the main motorhome manufacturers and dealers will be there showcasing the latest models of their motorhomes.
In addition there is tons of other motorhome-related stuff there (350+ exhibitors) and some famous(ish) people giving talks. For those of a certain vintage, Toyah Wilcox is coming on one of the days, but it's a mystery what she is going to be talking about.
Tickets are available on line. They are not selling tickets on the gate.
Lake Garda & Venice Tour Review (from Sue)
We left Dover on a rainy wet morning in early September – 13 Motorhomes, 26 people – destination Lake Garda. After a wet crossing we headed down through France to our first stop over in the Champagne region.
Sadly, it was here that we heard the news that the Queen had passed away that afternoon. The news touched everyone on the site, no matter what nationality they were so we raised a glass to our loyal and long serving monarch. As we drove out of the village the following morning, we noticed that they had lowered their French flag to half-mast as a mark of
We arrived at our next site on the banks of the Saone River the clouds had cleared and we all enjoyed a pleasantly warm evening. Continuing our drive, on day 3 we reached the Alps and were treated to some stunning views of snow-capped mountains on one side and enormous pine forests on the other.
For the next two nights we were nestled in the valley with Mont Blanc towering above us. A
non-driving day gave people the chance to take the Aiguille du Midi cable car up the mountain, the Little Red train to the Mer de Glace, a valley glacier, or just to explore the town of Chamonix. Sunshine and clear skies all day gave us some truly stunning views and amazing sights of the many paragliders taking to the air.
It was an early start the next day for the drive through the Mont Blanc Tunnel and across the border into Italy. The drive was quite spectacular, taking us through a dozen or more tunnels, across enormous viaducts and on towards our destination on the southern edge of Lake Garda.
By the time we arrived at our site for the next 5 nights the temperatures were well into the 20’s and we were enjoying lovely sunny days. Having arrived at the lake we settled ourselves in on the southern shore, and it was time to explore the area. There were train trips to Venice and Verona, boat trips to the beautiful Italian villages, cycle rides around the lake and beyond and a chance to explore the nearby town. The sun shone throughout and temperatures rose until the inevitable overnight thunder storm cleared the air, leaving it much fresher but still hot.
After our stay on the southern shore it was time to move up to the northern end of the lake for the remainder of our stay – here the area is more rugged and mountainous offering spectacular views and yet more sunshine! Here there were more cycling opportunities, a chance to swim in the lake, a trip up the funicular railway, more boat excursions and plenty of opportunities to enjoy Italian cuisine – pizza and pasta dishes with Aperol Spritz to wash it down and of course, Italian ice-creams.
Whilst we were at the north of the lake, the funeral of the Queen took place. Along with millions of people back home in the UK we too were able to watch it – albeit with an Italian commentary – and to give thanks for Her life of service.
Sadly, all good things must come to an end and after a wonderful 9 days at the lake it was time to head for home. The journey back took us through the stunning mountain scenery of the Aosta Valley, back through the Mont Blanc tunnel and up along the quiet motorways of France.
Amazingly the sun continued to shine and the temperatures remained high. We broke our journey with a two-night stopover in the Burgundy region of France, before heading back northwards for one last stop before catching the ferry from Calais.
This was the final Crossings trip of 2022 and our third trip of the year. Thank you to everyone who joined us on this and our other trips this year, we look forward to more adventures in 2023.
Idyllic France Tour Review
It was a second outing this year for our very popular Idyllic France tour. In common with the Italy tour, the group enjoyed fantastic weather for almost all of the trip.
The tour started with a relatively short hop down into the Seine Maritime region in Normandy where the group spent the night on a beautiful farm campsite overlooking the open countryside of rural France.
The next morning, it was off into the stunning Loire valley and to our campsite close to the historic city of Tours. This is the capital of the Loire famed for its half-timbered houses, open squares and ornate cathedral. The city sits on the river with restaurants and cafes lining the banks.
In addition to the city itself, guests were able to use bike, boat or bus to explore the many chateaux that are characteristic of the area. The Loire boasts over 300 chateaux, which make it the most densely populated area (for chateaux) in France. Most of them are still visitable so obviously you have to be a be bit selective. The stand-out ones for sheer size and elegance are Chambord, Chenonceau and Villandry.
For a more unique experience, some guests headed for the Château du Clos Lucé where Leonardo Da Vinci spent the last three years of his life. In addition to the beautiful chateau you can also experience many of Da Vinci's drawings, inventions and paintings.
It was time for a change of scenery as the group headed off to Bordeaux. More specifically, it was into the heart of the St Emilion wine-growing region. From our campsite, surrounded by vines, guests were able to walk to a local vineyard where the owners explained about the local wines and then sold them lots of it.
After a group meal in the local restaurant, the following day it was off (on our private bus) into Bordeaux. Famed for its wine, the city is laid out on wide boulevards and esplanades making it feel quite open. At its heart is the massive Place de la Bourse bordering the mighty River Garonne.
After the city it was time for a change of pace as the group ambled along the Dordogne river. For many, this is considered to be the prettiest valley in France, with the meandering river, Medieval villages, sloping vineyards and rocky outcrops. Our destination was slap bang on the banks on the river, nestled in the shadow of a castle on the hill. From here the group were able to embark on various relaxed activities, including river boat trips, bike rides and (of course) partaking in the local cafes and restaurants.
This is quite a varied tour and the next stop represented a different aspect of rural France as we headed into the volcanic Auvergne region. Here there are 80 (dormant) volcanoes spread across what is known as the Chaîne des Puys, which literally means 'trail of hills'. The highest of the these is actually up at 1500m making it higher than Ben Nevis. From our campsite, guests were able to enjoy trips on the local trains and funiculars up into the hills.
Time for another change of scenery as the group moved in into Burgundy. This is another area famed for its wine and gastronomy. Our destination for the next couple of nights was in a typical Bourgogne town that allowed wider access to the area via the nearby train station. Guests were able to venture off to Auxerres with its oversized cathedral and network of narrow streets, or Avallon with its fortress wall, turrets and bastions.
Our eclectic tour of France was now nearing an end. There was just time for a stop over in the Champagne region of France on the way home, where the group were able to get together for one last time and enjoy the last remnants of the sunshine.
Coq au Van (the amusingly titled recipe feature)
One-pot mushroom pie
2 tbsp olive oil, plus 1 tbsp extra to brush
600g mixed mushrooms, roughly sliced (we used 200g speciality mix, plus 400g chestnut mushrooms)
2 leeks, trimmed and sliced
6 garlic cloves, crushed
2 sprigs of rosemary, leaves chopped
150g young spinach
2 tbsp vegan butter or margarine (such as Flora or Violife)
2 tbsp plain flour
400ml oat milk
½ tsp ground nutmeg
1½ tbsp wholegrain mustard
½ tbsp light soy sauce
1 vegan vegetable stock cube
4 large sheets of filo pastry from a 270g pack
½ tbsp sesame seeds
Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to an ovenproof frying pan (about 26cm) on a medium-high heat. Fry the mushrooms for 12-15 minutes until there is no moisture left and the mushrooms are beginning to brown.
Add the leeks, garlic, rosemary and some seasoning. Turn the heat down slightly and fry for 5 minutes.
Add the spinach to the pan, cook until wilted then tip the mixture into a bowl. Preheat the oven to 200°C, fan 180°C, gas 6.
Wipe the pan clean, pop it back on a medium heat and melt the vegan butter. Add the flour, stir until combined and cook for 2 minutes.
Gradually pour the oat milk into the pan, then add the nutmeg, wholegrain mustard and soy sauce. Crumble in the stock cube and simmer gently for 4-5 minutes or until the sauce has thickened slightly, whisking regularly.
Return the mushroom mixture back to the pan and give everything a good stir. Remove the pan from the heat, scrunch up the filo pastry and cover the pie with the filo sheets. Brush with 1 tablespoon oil then sprinkle over the sesame seeds. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden and crisp.
This month's motorhoming tips are all about campsite wifi.
Things have changed over the years with the wifi provided by campsites. Here is our summary of ours and other guests experiences on the continent.
Wifi is often provided free but where this is the case it can be very limited. Either it is only available in certain areas (usually around the bar), or it gets so hammered by other users that it becomes really slow.
Many campsites now charge for wifi, which usually means that it works well. The cost varies enormously. If you just want it for an hour it maybe only costs a couple of euros. The longer you stay, the cheaper its gets per hour. For example, they often do a 48 or 72 hour deal.
Our advice however, is not to bother with campsite wifi unless you really have to. 4G signal is good almost everywhere we have been so it is much easier and more reliable to use your phone. If you have an umlimited data deal then this won't cost you any more than normal. If you don't then we would recommend buying a 'bolt-on' of data to use while you are away. This would still work out cheaper than buying wifi from campsites everywhere you go.
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.