Living With Our Rapido 963f Le Randonneur Motor Home.

Monday, 13 June 2016

The Trial Run.

Once we were home from Spain I arranged a full mechanical and habitation overhaul for the motorhome, and also a few modifications to the 12V systems to rectify a couple of problems that had developed with the battery charging system and the fridge running when the vehicle engine was running. The problems were related to faulty relays and were fixed by installing a modern electronic voltage sensing relay between the leisure and engine batteries rather than replacing the complete control panel they were mounted on, the advantage not only being cost, but also the mods allowed the use of a modern electronic relay rather than the ignition voltage controlled mechanical ones that had failed.

All that was left to do was try everything out not too far away from home before we ventured further afield during the summer.

We booked a few days on the Caravan Club Southport site as we had been told its location was right on the front with close proximity to town. We were not disappointed - it is one of the best kept sites we have been on, with spotlessly clean facilities. Southport and the beach are just 40 minutes from home.

It is a linear site built on the old route of the Cheshire Lines Railway from Aintree Liverpool into what was, before it was demolished, Lord Street Station Southport. There is great access to mile upon mile of safe cycle trackway and all completely flat.

The site is also quiet and peaceful even though it is placed right next to the Pleasureland amusements site. There is a Morrisons supermarket within walking distance, which has a great cafe, where we found afternoon tea at just £1.25 each. Full English breakfast tomorrow.

The only thing that could have been better was the weather, but that turned out better than had we stayed at home. Further more, every modification I designed to update the camper's electronics are working perfectly. The main benefit being that the fridge freezer can once again be run while travelling, without flattening the leisure batteries.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Car Hire In Spain.

This is a brief post to inform visitors to Europe about possible car hire pitfalls now that the holiday season is getting into full flow.

Our latest car from Kisacar Almeria. 
Car hire can take your holiday to a new dimension, exploring the many off the beaten track destinations that won't be seen by just sitting around the hotel pool, providing a much fuller view of the country you are visiting. Click on the image captions below for more information about these Almeria locations.

Almeria City
La Alcazaba of Almeria
El Cortijo del Fraile
We have now hired in Spain over the last 4 years, and each time from a different hire company, as well as speaking to others who have both found excellent deals as well as some that have found, shall we say not so good deals, which only came to light at the end of the hire period in the form of hidden charges.

Car hire can be obtained from many sources. Our own first hire was pre-arranged over the internet from one of the major international brands who have desks at the airport. We found this worked well, with a car ready for us to collect on arrival, and the ability to drop off on our way home. The car was clean and new, and the contract came with a choice of whether to return the car full of fuel - or empty, in which case a charge for fuel (at a premium) was made at the outset. The only downside here is that the price of hire is usually relatively expensive, especially when wanting a longer contract.

Alternatively we have spoken to others who have hired from a certain popular Spanish based car hire company, and while many of them have found great deals without issues, some have found themselves with excessive hidden charges at the conclusion of their hire period on top of their very reasonably priced headline hire charge. This tells me that perhaps "there is no such thing as a free lunch" and care has to be taken with the choice of company and research should be undertaken prior to the contract, viewing other's experiences if possible. A compromise has to be made between an open and honest hire with a quality product against a very cheap headline cost that may conceal other charges that render the hire to be poor value.

During our last visit to Spain we hired from a local Almeria based company - who we found to offer excellent customer service - delivering and collecting our car from our choice of location. Their price was by no means the cheapest, but on the other hand was far cheaper than the major international brands for the month long hire that we did. We concluded that the correct balance had been found, providing an excellent, safe, value for money hire car for a month.

Their car, a white Seat Ibiza in good condition was delivered full of fuel, and we were to return it also full of fuel at our own expense at the end of the hire period. Their representative carried a mobile debit / credit card machine to take payment at our chosen drop off location, and spoke good English. Importantly he also took the time to go over the vehicle's existing minor blemishes for me to agree on the contract form before taking charge of the car - something many companies don't seem to be bothered doing, leaving the hirer open to being charged the high insurance excess  payment for damage they were perhaps not responsible for. A close inspection together with the representative at both ends of the hire period is essential.

While on the subject of insurance excess, all hire companies will offer a waiver insurance policy intended to cover the excess attached to the main driving insurance policy. This can cost several hundred Euros. We choose to use our own independent annual policy that will provide the same cover for just £39.95 for a year's cover. There are many companies that will provide this, but again after research, we used one called icarhire insurance. When filling in the hire contract forms all that needs to be done is show the evidence of cover. This particular company also have apps available for smart phones, so that this is always available for you to show.

All that is required for a successful hire abroad, without being ripped off is a little common sense linked to a little research before signing on the dotted line.