Living With Our Rapido 963f Le Randonneur Motor Home.

Monday, 30 September 2013

Settled In Spain

After getting used to our new surroundings arriving at our hotel after a trouble free flight from Manchester courtesy of Monarch Airlines, then collecting our Hertz Citroen C3 diesel from the arrivals hall, we woke up this morning to what turned out to be a hot and sunny day.

After breakfast we drove the 7km to the beach at Cabo de Gata, and first walked the promenade before having a look around the village itself. We are staying in an area of national park, which being low season, is beautifully quiet, with deserted roads and beaches. The restaurants and bars are however still trading.

On our way back to the hotel, also booked independently through, we stopped off at a caravan and camping site within the park to call on friends I met there during October 2011, when I visited an ex-work colleague alone while Margaret was in India for the first time. They arrive here on Wednesday, having driven through Spain to spend their winter here again. The site caters for motor homes and caravans, but also has a few self catering bungalows to let, and facilities include a lovely outdoor pool.

Our afternoon was spent around the hotel pool, which included a quick swim, before pre-dinner wine and nibbles on our balcony. I could get used to this!

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Off For Some Last Minute Sunshine.

Hopefully! The Autumn weather in the UK has been unusually good so far this year, and we are leaving behind warm sunny days.

This holiday, before the winter sets in, was planned earlier in the year so we can visit friends who live in Spain for the duration of the cold season here. We had to be at Manchester Airport for 4am this morning to join our 7am flight, but to us, that is all part of the fun. We still find airports exciting places! We have found changes again, now the airside security person is a machine!

As usual the place is buzzing as we wait in the terminal 2 lounge, with all the usual ways of relieving you of your cash.

A self drive car awaits our arrival, lets hope the Spanish weather continues - 30 degrees sunshine.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Maintaining The Homestead

Is this what is called an Indian Summer? After a pretty wet week, we have seen warm sunshine today, with more of the same promised for the next couple of days, and at the end of September too.

We took advantage of the weather to get some maintenance tasks done around the mooring before the winter sets in proper. Another advantage of having an on-line country farm mooring over a marina, is that we also have our own piece of land which requires looking after. Today Margaret decided she would treat our new fence, which we had installed last year, with our own farm brew of old engine oil and diesel.

That should preserve it for another year.

While she was busy doing this I decided to sand down, prime, and touch up the small patches of rust that had started to form around the external fixings, such as the brass 'gas locker' warning plate fastened to the hatch on the bow. I also tackled the removal of the Morse Ultraflex engine control box in the cockpit. I had previously tried, so I could check the condition of the cables, but had found the four mounting screws seized. Our trip to Nantwich Market this morning secured the necessary impact driver at just £6, and they were off in a jiffy. All was well, so I lubricated the screws and re-fitted it. At least I now know that if a cable breaks while we are in the middle of nowhere, I should be able to dismantle everything without a problem in order to fix things.

A very productive day before we leave for Spain next weekend.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Leaky Roof Vents

This weekend has seen the first persistent heavy rain of the Autumn, and after a long warm and sunny Summer, the first associated problems have arrived with it. During the dark evening last night we noticed a drip drip from the saloon ceiling vent.

My caravanning experience told me that the sunny weather had probably dried and shrunk the sealant that seals it into the steelwork, and that preventative maintenance should probably now be carried out on all the roof vents. Luckily, Saturday brought an interlude of fine weather before more heavy rain forecast for Sunday.

On dismantling the leaky vent I could see that the sealing ring was plastic and in good condition, so it is likely that the vent holding screws were simply not tight enough, allowing water to seep between the seal and the steel roof. However, while it was in bits I cleaned all the individual parts, sanding and priming the small patch of rust that had formed around the fixing holes. I will rebuild it using a non-setting rubberised mastic in addition to the ring seal, ( not silicone sealant, as this tends to lift and separate itself from the components over time ).

Hopefully that will resolve the matter, and it is a good thing we noticed the problem while we are here, instead of it leaking all through the Winter lay-up, as did the chimney fitting last year, eventually causing the Squirrel stove beneath it to be written off.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Cowes Regatta, 5th. August 1920

This is a boating related post that I have taken from my other website, My own interest in all things boats started in my early 20's, starting with a hire boat holiday around 1973. The following is taken from just one of many newspaper cuttings I have from the 1920's that report on the exploits of a distant cousin of mine, Warwick Brookes, who held a passion for competitive yachting in the ocean schooner racing class. During the 1920's he owned and competed with two boats, Tuiga and Susanne, and owned Westward. for a short time, but was forced to sell her before racing her, see page 7 of the flip-book here for those historic details: (Westward's Story). This is the day on the 5th. of August 1920 that his Fife designed schooner Susanne beat both Westward, and the King's boat, Britannia, to the line at Cowes. (Text is from the time, images are from my own collection). Historically Brookes is my 2nd. cousin 2 X removed, (his father was my great grandfather's 1st. cousin).

Britannia beaten in a great race - Cowes, Wednesday.

A fresh breeze blew from the north west all day today, and occasionally there were slight drops of rain, with some sunshine. Conditions generally were uncertain and variable, but not altogether distasteful to yachtsmen, however much they interfered with the social side of the regatta.
The King was early astir on the Victoria and Albert. He is playing an energetic part in the regatta, and has been aboard his cutter, Britannia every time she has stretched her wings. He was sailing on her again today, and had his companions The Duke of York, The Duke of Connaught, The Marquis de Soveral, The Marquis D'Hautpoul, and Admiral Brand. The Queen and Princess Mary had watched the racing from the Royal yacht, and at its conclusion in the early afternoon the Queen proceeded to Osborne House and Barton Manor, where she was joined by Princess Beatrice, returning to the Royal yacht for dinner.
There was a considerable exodus from the roadstead during the afternoon to see the eliminating trials for the international motor boat trophy in Osborne Bay.
The three events of outstanding importance during the day were a handicap for yachts exceeding 100 tons; and a handicap for racers exceeding 35 tons but not exceeding 100 tons; and a handicap for craft of 10 tons but not exceeding 35 tons. For the first of these three, a cup and other prizes were offered by The Royal Yacht Squadron, and the day's entries formed the biggest total of the week. The Queen's course over a distance of 44 miles was taken. Yesterday's event in which Britannia figured was over the same waterway, but only half the length was negotiated. Today, with improved conditions, the whole distance was covered. The entries were the King's cutter, Britannia, Mrs E.R Workman's cutter, Nyria, Mr Clarence C Hatry's schooner Westward, Mr Warwick Brookes' schooner Susanne, and Sir Charles C Allom's cutter White Heather II. Mr Richard A Lee's cutter Terpsichore was on the programme, but did not start, because in the contest yesterday her gear had been damaged, and there had not been time for repairs.

Susanne's Fine Performance.

It was a magnificent start. White Heather II was first away. The King's cutter followed closely on her stern, but had the advantage of being windward. Nyria got into third position and Susanne was last, closely in the wake of Westward. The canvas of all the craft was fully spread, and as they beat to the west yachtsmen were enthusiastic at the prospect of a brilliant struggle. The King's cutter was faced with a stiff bit of work on the handicapping, and in such company. She ran into first place, but was overhauled by Susanne, who not only saved her time, but beat Britannia on the handicap with 11 minutes to spare. Britannia was placed second. The first to cross the finishing mark was Westward, but she was third in the handicap. Westward is an American built schooner.
In the race for yachts not exceeding 100 tons the competitors were Mr C H Moller's cutter Paula III, Major Lionel de Rothschild's cutter Zinita, Mr J W Cooke's cutter Thanet, and Captain C W P Slade's yawl Joyette. Zinita finished first and Joyette second. The race for the 'baby' yachts not exceeding 35 tons fell to Mr J S Highfield's cutter Cyra. The only other starter was Mr G Mackenzie's cutter Patna.
The remaining seven events were for quite tiny boats, and when all were under weigh, the sight was noteworthy. Fifty seven boats had entered, and of these, a very large proportion were afloat. Seldom too, has there been so large a crowd of spectators even at Cowes, which in the past has been remarkable for its competitions for its small racers.
Tomorrow interest will be centred in the races for town prizes, amounting in value to £100, presented by the inhabitants of Cowes. His Majesty's Britannia will be a competitor.
The King had several guests to dinner on Victoria and Albert tonight. The evening turned out fine, and activity on the roadstead was considerable. Pinnaces were passing between the yachts till well after nightfall. The chief social event was a ball at the Trinity Parish Hall in aid of the Isle of Wight County Nursing Association and Trinity Parish charities. The function was promoted by Lady Godfrey Baring, and a number of other ladies of the island. Princess Beatrice, the president of the Association was present and there were visitors from both Royal yachts, the Victoria and Albert, and the Alexandra.

Left-right, Lord Hardwicke, Reginald Tyrell, Warwick Brookes, Major General Francis Lloyd
Hardwicke and Lloyd both held interests in motor boat racing, while Brookes' interest lay in ocean yacht racing. Tyrell was a co-director and life-long friend of Brookes. Brookes also owned Westward briefly during the 1920's. A major contender in the Harmsworth Trophy for powerboat racing was Sir Edward Mackay Edgar, a Canadian born banker, who owned a series of winning power boats all named Maple Leaf. He won the 1913 race in Osborne Bay IOW with Maple Leaf IV, driven by Tommy Sopwith Snr. at an average speed of 56.4 mph. In the 1920 race, the first after the war, also in Osborne Bay, Sir Mackay Edgar and Colonel A W Tate were convincingly beaten by Gar Wood in Miss America I, which was powered by twin Liberty aero engines totalling 1000 hp. at an average speed of 61.4 mph. However, Wood had invested $500,000 on the development of the Liberty engines at the Packard Motor Car Company. The Maple Leaf boats were similarly outclassed by the Miss America series of boats throughout the rest of the 1920's. Mackay Edgar also happened to be the owner of 38 Park Lane, London, Brookes' residence at that time.

See: History of The Harmsworth Trophy, and Details of Hardwicke's hydroplane Fauber, 1909 Harmsworth Trophy and Pathe News footage of Britannia and Westward racing at Ryde IOW. also Pathe News footage of Cowes Regatta 5th. August 1920.


Sunday, 8 September 2013

The Benefits Of A Country Farm Mooring

Kelly Louise is not moored in a marina, she is on a country farm mooring somewhere in Cheshire. We deliberately chose it this way, and it was a big influence when we bought her. Not only is the annual cost far cheaper than the average marina, but we have our own space which doesn't remind us of a car park. We also have all the benefits of a fresh water supply and shore power, with a marina pump out and workshop facilities not half a mile away.
One hidden benefit of our country mooring is however not so obvious in the first instance. Today we have collected several kilos of ripe damsons that are now being made into jam.

Several kilos of beet root which will be boiled, pickling some, while keeping some fresh.

And several kilos of baking apples which are being puréed to provide fillings for pies and puddings for the next year.

Other produce we are regularly given is rhubarb, carrots and beans. Bonuses that won't be found included with the average marina berth! See my comment for a good jam recipe.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Nantwich Food Festival

We are back at the boat again as usual for our long weekend away in the beautiful Cheshire countryside. Today, on our usual walk around Nantwich, we discovered that this weekend was the one set aside for the annual food festival, and the town was bustling, with warm sunshine again, so unlike yesterday's heavy rain.

There were food and drink stalls everywhere, with samples to try, food being prepared at the stalls of the many restaurants from the area, with everything from oriental, Thai, Indian, you name it, to specialities such as this, anyone fancy a crocodile burger? 

There was also a food preparation demo, with the chef from the nearby 'Residence' restaurant showing how he produces signature dishes from their menu.

And the ancient sandstone church, so many times featured at the end of BBC Bargain Hunt, when they are using the auction house of Peter Wilson and Co., opened it's doors for internal inspection.

What a great day, just one of many events that feature in this town at weekends.

Monday, 2 September 2013

How To Steer Clear Of Hidden Car Hire Costs

Now we are home and settled from our canal cruise, it is time to think about our two weeks in sunny Spain at the end of the month. As usual, we have again researched our trip fully, and booked it as cheaply as possible, eventually booking our Monarch flight and 4* hotel via and then 2 weeks car hire separately with Hertz, simply because I know their office is directly opposite the exit door of the airport terminal where we land, and, in the main, the price of hire for any particular class of vehicle is often very similar between companies.

This post relates to the car hire process and documentation.

What many people fail to realize when hiring a car, particularly in Europe, is that, although the named driver is insured to drive the hired vehicle, there will be a relatively huge excess to pay in the event of making a claim on that insurance. The hire company will, quite rightly, advise at the time of signing the hire documents, that it would be advisable to take out additional insurance to cover the cost of the excess, known as excess waiver cover, as the excess can run into £thousands, to be paid by the unsuspecting hirer in the event of a claim. What they don't tell you, until it is time to pay, is that their own cost for this waiver insurance is usually excessive in itself, usually in the region of £15+ per day. The cost of car rental is highly competitive, and it is in these other areas where they try to make their money, while keeping the headline cost of hire as low as possible. There have been numerous articles on this recently, here is one of them from The Daily Mail.

The most cost effective way to cover this is to buy your own excess waiver cover from an independent source, prior to arriving at the hire company desk to collect the hire car. We chose to use this company, Halo Insurance Services, after our own research, with cover provided by Chubb Insurance. If hiring for over 14 days, as we are, it is cheaper to buy the annual policy, which we did, at £39.99. When you arrive at your holiday destination car hire centre, present your certificate of insurance to them and all should be well.

Other things to watch out for is whether your hire company sends you off with a full tank of fuel and expects it to be full again on return, or whether they want it returned empty, (which it would never be - fully), and they make a fixed charge to fill it. Returning with a full tank is best for you, but make sure you take a date stamped image of the fuel gauge prior to handing over.
Also do make sure that you closely inspect the car for any damage prior to taking it over, making sure any is marked clearly on the documentation, and also take date stamped images of the vehicle on return. If the vehicle is dirty when you collect it, you have the right to demand that it is cleaned, as dirt could be hiding damage.

All too often these days, some of the more unscrupulous companies will try and wrench additional charges out of you any way they can. Excess waiver insurance provided by all hire companies is usually far more expensive than it should be. As always, it is best to be one step ahead of them, and don't forget to take your driving license!.