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Look up postcode TW11 9BE Send email to letters@practicalcaravan.com Open www.practicalcaravan.com Open caravan.com/blog Go to page 5 Open www.remap.org.uk Open www.practicalcaravan.com
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>>LETTERS

Have your say…

WRITE TO Letters, Practical Caravan, Teddington Studios, Broom Road, Teddington, Middlesex TW11 9BE OR EMAIL letters@practicalcaravan.com

Shady pitch? No thanks!

STAR LETTER £40 PRIZE

I FAIL TO understand why anyone in a caravan holidaying in the UK would want a shady pitch. Shade is fine if you are within hailing distance of the Mediterranean, but here in Britain, you need every ray of sunshine you can get!

We recently spent a week in Scotland and were fortunate enough to get six really good, sunny days. Our caravan park of choice was in a walled garden which was beautifully set out and cared for. However, there were walls (understandably) and trees! When we arrive at any caravan site, I always have my compass at the ready to make sure that we choose a pitch so that our awning faces south to ensure that we benefit from any sun there might be both in the early morning and in the evening.

If that is impossible I will settle for west-facing so that, at least, we get sun in the evening. On this occasion, we managed to find a pitch which gave me my south-facing awning but failed to see the tree behind us which completely blocked our morning sun and, having deemed the wall far enough away

UNMADE IN THE SHADE Jenny cannot fathom why anyone would prefer a shady pitch not to put a premature end to our evening sun, failed to register the huge trees behind the wall which did just that! Had the weather been poor I would not have cared but, despite the sun, our mornings were chilly – we even had the heater on one morning – and in the evening we were reaching for the fleeces while others in the centre of the park, enjoying full sun until about 9pm, were stripped to the waist (the men that is). I estimate that in the absence of the sort of balmy evenings experienced in the more southerly parts of Europe, there can be 10˚ difference between shade and full sun.

It occurred to me one evening, while wrapped in my fleece on my shady pitch, that wardens could have a colour-coded map of their site indicating the pitches in full sun, sun in the morning, sun in the evening and fully shaded. Or at least they could have an under-the-counter copy that obsessive, painful people like myself could consult on request! You never know – someone might want a shady pitch! Jenny Germain

THOUGHTLESS OR OVERSTRETCHED? After booking a pitch on the CL at Gallowhill Farm, Kinross, we set off for what we thought was going to be a great weekend. On arrival we discovered the entrance was very muddy and the hook-up points were lying on the ground. The fee was for £8.50 per night.

As we did not want to take our caravan through all that mud, we stayed on the non-CL portion of the site, which cost us £15 per night. On reaching our pitch we found the park was covered in clumps of wet grass due to the rain. We had to wash the grass off our water containers after filling them and brush off our footwear every time we entered the van or car, hoping the next day would be better. It was and we had a great day out. The next day the grass was a lot drier. We went to Aberdour for the day and again had a wonderful time.

When we arrived back at our caravan, it was almost swallowed up by a tent. It was only two to three feet from our van – a fire hazard. The tent was so close we could hear every word that was spoken and we could have tripped over the guy-ropes coming out of our van. The next morning we were awoken by children, so no lie-in. We complained to the owner, Mr Paterson, who apologised and offered us a discount for the next time. But we told him we would not be returning. A wonderful weekend spoiled by a thoughtless owner. William Fleming

Claudia Dowell says It seems you have not had good luck with this site. Maybe the owner was overstretched and unable to keep hook-ups off the ground or clear grass cuttings.

Reviews of this site are mostly positive and praise the helpful owner. Most of the reviewers are tent owners and one wrote that he was told to pitch his tent anywhere he found a space. Perhaps more vigilance on pitching arrangements would keep everyone happy.

16 | NOVEMBER 2011 | www.practicalcaravan.com >>NOTICEBOARD LETTERS

HOT TOPIC WHERE ARE ALL THE ENTRY-LEVEL CARAVANS?

In the September issue of Practical Caravan, editor Nigel Donnelly bemoaned the lack of new caravans designed for people new to the pastime. Here are some of your responses.

IS ‘SIMPLE’ TOO MUCH TO ASK FOR? We enjoyed your ‘Pitchside view’ in September. Having just sold our VW campervan we are looking at buying our first caravan and you hit the nail on the head. We’re not looking for all the bells and whistles but just a reasonably priced functional caravan! I was interested in the Eifelland Deseo but have been unable to locate a UK stockist. Jeremy Randell

BIG CARAVANS PUT TUGS OUT OF REACH YOU HIT ON a noticeable issue with the weight and size of current new caravans (‘Pitchside view’, September, page 5). As a new caravanner, I started very small and very old with a circa1990 ABI Jubilee Diplomat (so small it was essentially a toilet on wheels, without the toilet).

After six months and half a dozen weekend breaks we moved to another golden oldie, an Equerry (much more room, still very old but with a fitted toilet). We plan to upgrade each year or two but, as we have eyes on some new caravans, we wonder how we’d ever afford the car capable of pulling them.

I do hope manufacturers look at how they build future generations of caravans. We’re already moving from a Ford Focus to a Mondeo simply to tow a little more, but we know if we want to get towards something like a Bailey Pegasus Milan we’ll need something much heavier and more powerful. Jonathan Gittings

CONTINENTAL VANS HAVE THE RIGHT IDEA I fit the demographic you speak of in ‘Pitchside View’. I enjoy walking and mountain biking, don’t own a caravan but could easily be persuaded. I grew up on cheap grand European tours in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

I believe caravanning has always been split between those who like the home comforts of large plush tourers and those who want to travel. I’ll lay my cards on the table early. If you offer me two weeks in the latest twin-axle gin palace on a top site in Devon or two weeks in Europe on your ‘Croatia on a shoestring’ piece, I’ll be packing my passport every time. In the 1970s, I remember heading south from Calais in a convoy of Brits with Triumph 2000s, Rover P6s and Ford Granadas pulling Safaris, Eccles Topazes and other large caravans, and watching the Continentals overtake the lot with small, lightweight caravans pulled by Citroën GSs (I believe the largest engine was 1.2 litres).

It is no coincidence that the caravans most suited to modern cars are Continental, such as Eribas, Adrias, Sterckemans and Caravelairs. Whatever happened to the Sprite Compact and the Lunar Chateau?

Perhaps the revolution you suggest could be encouraged by including Eifelland, Kip and other Continental brands in your Buyer’s Guide. Perhaps you could do a piece on European tourers, perhaps second-hand and personal imports, although the exchange rate isn’t great at the moment. The only way UK manufacturers will build my type of caravan is if there is more of a market for them, or perhaps competition from Continent.

I look forward to reading more ‘Croatia on a shoestring’-type articles and perhaps a look at what our Continental neighbours produce. If I choose to acquire a caravan again, I suspect it will be an Adria. Simon Craig

Nigel Donnelly says Evidently not every prospective caravanner needs all the frills that the modern touring caravan provides but sadly manufacturers don’t see things that way. Building caravans for people who already own one is a much more tempting prospect. Manufacturers know what their customers want and expect. Trying to find the right blend of caravan kit for somebody making the leap from a trailer tent or tent is far tougher and sales are not guaranteed.

The Eifelland Deseo, which was pictured in September, is no longer imported because the sole supplying dealer stopped trading in 2008. New products that are most similar to these are the Caravelair and Sterckeman ranges sold through Freedom Caravans in Stoke. The Sterckeman in particular offers four-berth tourers under 900kg and £10,000 and ultimately, I can see that being a growth market. Other than that, Adria’s Altea range is excellent, but in terms of genuine entrylevel vans, hunt out a used Lunar Chateau, TEC, Deseo or maybe a Bailey Discovery. Next month, we’ll report from the Düsseldorf show to see if things are different there. Go to www.practical caravan.com/blog to see the original piece from the mag.

STEP RIGHT UP No one sells this kind of step, but Remap could help

CUSTOM-BUILT ACCESS ON OFFER Regarding the letter from Terry Blockley about access steps for disabled people (October, page 17), Remap is a charity that can make one-off special items for disabled people. There is no charge for this work, although donations are accepted. The website www.remap. org.uk has links to groups around the UK. Terry could contact the Remap head office for details. I have contacted the CEO, Susan Iwanek, who will be happy to give you more information. Peter Titterton, secretary, North Hertfordshire Remap

TOURING DETECTIVE RESOLVES FUSE FUSS Can I relate a little mystery (that has now been solved) concerning the electrics on my car and caravan? I own a Toyota RAV4 which has proved to be a very able towcar. I purchased a 2010 Coachman Amara 520/4 in April and I hitched up for our first trip out with no problems.

However, when I hitched up to leave and checked the lights, there was nothing. No brake lights, no indicators and no road lights. After much investigation I discovered that the 7.5A fuse protecting the relay in the car had blown. This was replaced and we travelled home safely.

On the next trip some weeks later, I again hitched up at home and travelled to the site with all lights operating normally. Unfortunately when I hitched up for the drive back home and checked the lights again, there was nothing.

On examination the fuse had blown again. When we got home I arranged for the towcar electrics to be checked thoroughly. No cause could be found and it was suggested that the fuses be uprated from 7.5A to 10A.

The next trip resulted in the same fuse failure. It was time for some serious thinking. The car had dual electrics and the caravan had the latest connections. My connector had worked perfectly on my previous caravan, so what had I done on site that I did not do at home? The answer: reversing on to the pitch. The motor mover was only used at home. On further inspection, I noticed that the van did not have reversing lights.

The remedy was to disconnect the lead in the connector for the reversing lights. Problem solved! Graham Farries www.practicalcaravan.com | NOVEMBER 2011 | 17