Living With Our Rapido 963f Le Randonneur Motor Home.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Following On From Yesterday's Post.

Yesterday I posted footage of what appeared to be a scale model of a jet airliner flying around the inside of a warehouse. It appeared to defy gravity. Whether that footage was for real or not, this post is the real deal, a fabulous large scale model of the Airbus A-380 flown at a 2013 modeler's meeting in Germany. It is only due to today's technology that this is possible, a far cry from my own modeling days when together with my son, we flew large scale piston engined aircraft at Sunday afternoon club meetings.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Is This For Real Or Some Sort Of Trickery?

If anyone still hasn't decided what to buy me for Christmas yet, then this will do nicely - pretty please! After further research it appears these are Electric Ducted Fan, (EDF) super models, and can also be flown outdoors. Below is an earlier flight of the same model.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Looking Forward To 2015.

As we approach the Christmas Holidays and the end of 2014, a year that held many occurrences for us that should be forgotten, we look forward to 2015, and in early Spring our 4th visit to India. This trip has a 3 weeks duration, with a privately arranged tour in the North for the first 10 days, before flying on to Mumbai for a full week's stay in the luxury of one of the Vivanta by Taj Hotels there, allowing us to further explore this amazing city in more detail. We then fly south to "God's Own Country" - Kerala for a further week's stay again in the fabulous Taj Malabar.

This trip we fly in to Amritsar and fly out again from Cochin, having travelled the full length of the country during our stay. One of the highlights of our tour of the north will be a 60 mile, 5 hour trip on the Shimla to Kalka railway, known locally as the "toy train" due to it being a narrow gauge railway. This hill railway was built by the British during the Raj, 100 years ago when Shimla was transformed into the "place to be seen" holiday resort in India due to its location in the foothills of the Himalayas, giving it its temperate climate. We are booked with 1st class tickets. The cost of the 60 mile journey? £2 per person each way, 10 times the normal standard class rate! We will only make the journey to Kalka after our stay in Shimla. Our first class trip will also provide us with unlimited tea, and food served by waiters. A one hour documentary of the railway was made by the BBC in 2010, and can be seen here. The scenery should be magnificent.

Friday, 12 December 2014

The New Yamaha Delight 115cc Motor Scooter.

Readers who may be researching vehicles to use with their motorhome once they have reached their destination may have already read my experiences with our Yamaha EC-03 electric scooter here: Living with the EC-03.
We have now used this high quality little Yamaha during our motorhome trips throughout last Summer, and although at 56kg and carrying no liquids, it has lots of advantages for this type of use, its very limited range lets it down for us somewhat. I have extended that by fitting LED bulbs all round, (the lights are permanently on when riding, for safety), but at its maximum 28mph I can still only achieve around 15 miles or so, with a 7 hour charge time in between. More range is available if used in the low power mode, but that is really slow, and in my own opinion then has issues when used on open roads midst other, faster moving traffic.

As I indicated at the end of my post about the EC-03, in our own circumstances I would have been better with the new Yamaha Delight as it would offer much more versatility.

I have now bought one ready to use next season.

At 98kg wet weight, it just about fits within the maximum payload allowance I have for the rear garage of our motorhome, leaving a margin of around 52kg to spare before we reach our total maximum allowed payload above the weighbridge certificate I obtained during Summer when we were fully loaded, less the EC-03. Height is also a consideration, with a maximum locker door height of 1040mm, with more available once inside. The Delight fits through the door with a few cms to spare at the handlebar once the mirrors are removed, and the angle of the loading ramp comes into play.

The Delight is a 115cc 4-stroke scooter, and is by design very small and light-weight for its class. Being that size of engine, the UK rider must hold either a full motorcycle license or at least a provisional one with a CBT, (Compulsory Basic Training), pass. It has a top speed (one-up) of around 55mph. I have acquired a lightweight aluminium motorcycle loading ramp to get it into the storage locker (which we tried at the Yamaha dealership before finalizing our purchase), and it fits fine, except it obviously takes up more room than the EC-03 did. It is also relatively easy to get in there, but is easier if two people are involved in the process if just to guide it in. Once at our destination, as the bike has a large comfy dual seat, I expect it should be able to cope with trips into the city two-up without having to tidy everything up within the camper in order to use that.

If you think this might be an idea you could use (I don't like the idea of towing cars - too many regulations for one thing - particularly in Europe), then the Yamaha website, with all the tech-specs can be found here: Yamaha Delight Specifications.

I went for the metallic creamy white version. Most scooters in Spain are white!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

And Now For Something Completely Different!

On Saturday 29th November we had an excellent full day out with two friends courtesy of Compass Tours By Rail who provide day excursions all over the UK using historic locomotives and rolling stock.

With a loud grumbling rumble in the distance
Our transport for the day arrives to collect us.
Our tour, starting and ending in Southport, collected us from Westhoughton Station at 9.20am and took us via the "scenic route" to York to visit the St. Nicholas Christmas Markets, and what a full on, busy day it was.

After settling down into our comfy seats around our own table, it was bacon butties from the buffet car, where all manner of food was available as well as hot drinks. The train was also carrying copious amounts of real ale courtesy of Southport Brewery.

We arrived in York at 12.10pm and enjoyed 6 hours exploring the city, which allowed shopping for the ladies, historic sightseeing, lunch out, and everything else this city has to offer, while others chose to stay on the train for an additional 4 hour tour to Saltburn and back to York.

Departing York for Saltburn.
We re-boarded our privately chartered train at 6.15pm ready for our 6.30pm departure, arriving back at Westhoughton at 9.20pm.

The locomotive used on this trip was Class 40 diesel 345 in BR blue livery, immaculately turned out by its owners, the Class 40 Preservation Society, who own two of these which are kept at Bury on the East Lancashire Railway. Only this example holds mainline certification though. This type of locomotive became famous when its sister locomotive, D326 was stopped by Ronnie Biggs, Bruce Reynolds, Buster Edwards and others as they robbed it in Buckinghamshire in 1963 while hauling a mail train, which infamously became known as "The Great Train Robbery".

York was "buzzing" all day.
And as darkness fell the Christmas atmosphere grew.
We can highly recommend one of these trips, this was our second. A great day out, with an interest for everybody.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Living With The Electric Yamaha EC-03 6 Months On.

I bought the little electric Yamaha EC-03 as a vehicle to get to the shops on once on site and pitched in our motorhome. Our particular motorhome is a Rapido 963F, and has a huge rear "garage" storage area with access doors either side. The space itself is ample to carry a small motor scooter, but the maximum gross weight rating of our particular vehicle is currently at the popular 3500 kg. This of course could be increased without further modifications to around 3840 kgs by submitting weighbridge data to one of the companies that specialize in this work, and obtaining a new rating plate and certificate which would be then submitted to DVLA for re-classification.

This is all well and good, but that would then negate our son and his young family from using the vehicle due to the nature of his own driving license. Having passed his car driving test after 1998, he is only allowed to drive vehicles up to a maximum gross weight of 3500 kg without taking a further driving test. The gross weight also has implications for drivers over 70 years of age, (10 years to get there if I make it that far).

Taking weight restrictions into consideration, the little Yamaha seemed to be ideal at only 56 kg, and also the fact that the bike carries no liquids, volatile or otherwise.

The manufacturer claims a range of 43 km (26.7 miles) at 30 km/hr (18.6 mph). This will obviously vary with rider weight, road and wind conditions and temperature.

I have been using this bike now for approaching 6 months from the motorhome while we have been on various sites throughout the UK. It is pleasant to ride, if terribly slow. (Until quite recently I owned a Yamaha R1 1000cc sports motorcycle). I use it on a mixture of the two power settings, which are easily changed at the push of a button on the headlamp console. It would be ideal if it could be used on its highest setting permanently, but I have found that this reduces the range to between 12 and 15 miles between fully charged down to one battery indicator. If used wholly in the lower power setting this gives me a maximum speed of no more than 17 mph, slowing even further on gradients. This is where I use the power setting to increase to full, just to give it that extra boost, and this is where I would say, in my opinion, the bike is slightly dangerous. It can be as slow as a pedal cycle, but other drivers, seeing the registration plate and a rider wearing a motorcycle safety helmet, don't expect that, and become frustrated when stuck behind in traffic. A bus overtook me today using the wrong side of a "keep left" traffic island in the centre of the road.

Used mainly in low power mode (when safe to do so), with bursts of full power when needed, my own range findings are around 15 to 20 miles, from fully charged down to one battery indicator. This of course is significantly less than the claimed 43 km. A warning light and beeper come on when actual speed exceeds 27 mph, which I presume is a nod to the 50cc petrol moped construction legislation that the bike is built to comply with. What I have now done is installed a cree LED H4 fitting motorcycle headlight bulb. I don't use the little bike in the dark, and this type of bulb, used in the housing designed for a halogen bulb doesn't give a beam, so is only good as a daytime safety running light, and would not pass an MOT for use in darkness. Being rated at 8 watts though instead of the 35 watts of the halogen bulb provided in the original specification, it increases the range of the bike by around 25%. I also use an LED stop/tail bulb for the same reason.

Was it good value? At the original launch list price of £2650 - certainly not. New ones can be obtained at dealers now for around £1000 as they apparently struggle to shift them. The build quality however is excellent. I obtained mine as a "dealer demonstrator" with less than 10 miles on the clock for £900. I vaguely remember catching a glimpse of him rubbing his hands with a smile on his face as I left the showroom ;-)

Am I pleased with my purchase? Yes and No. The bike is ideal for motorhome or caravan use, and is light enough to be carted around in this manner. However, for use as a serious mode of transport, I think the technology still has some way to go. 30 mph with 100 mile range is what would sell it. Unfortunately this is still not possible with the technology available. Even providing for an easily changeable battery so the rider could carry a spare if they wanted to would have been a better, if expensive solution to the range issue in my opinion.

With hindsight, I would have been better off buying the excellent little Yamaha D'elight. This is light enough to carry (just, in my case at sub-100 kg) and would provide the ability of limited two up touring from the caravan site once pitched. The only problem there is that management refuses to ride pillion with me - lingering memories of that R1.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Last Of The Summer Wine.

Here we are, Friday evening, and enjoying ice cream sundaes in the evening sun at the local heladeria, (ice cream parlour). Our month here has flown by, and we are due to return to the UK on Sunday. Our last planned event here is dinner together with old and new friends at their casa 10km down the road.

Our next trip is another tour of India, Margaret's 4th visit, my 3rd, booked for next March / April, followed closely by a fleeting visit to Barcelona to meet my Australian cousin who is joining a cruise ship there in May.

However, our biggest plan for next year is to bring the motorhome down here for an extended stay next Autumn, combined with a road trip. In the meantime here are a few images of the locality we have been in since the end of September. Out of season rental property here is just so cheap. This trip has cost no more than our two weeks in the nearby hotel last year. Keep travelling while you are able to!

Details of our fabulous rental apartment here can be found by clicking this link> HomeAway.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Alcazaba Almeria - Moorish Fort.

Today's destination was a visit to the spectacular Alcazaba Almeria, an ancient Moorish fort second only to the Alhambra at Granada.

It is a little complicated to access by car, and we found the easiest way was to park the car near to the port area and complete the journey to the entrance on foot. It is up the narrow streets directly opposite the port, and you should walk up Calle De La Reina which will take you right to the entrance steps.

If you are an EU resident, and have your passport with you, then entrance is free of charge.

The monument is in relatively excellent condition and dates from the Muslim occupation of Spain of the 11th century, together with some Roman artefacts.

It reminded us of the Mogul Dynasty forts of a similar era that we visited in India.

Well worth a visit if you find yourself near to the city of Almeria.

Lunch today was at a restaurant of world renown - burger and fries at the Golden Arches.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Lunch With Bombo And Sammy.

Today we received an invitation to lunch from Bombo and Sammy, and when we arrived, much to our surprise, they had brought along mum and dad, Paul and Elaine, fellow bloggers from The Manly Ferry Blog. They knew that we had missed a meeting with them in Sydney in 2012, and the two little fellas wanted to make sure we all met up before they returned to Oz. They are such clever little fellas, because the day was a huge success for four people who have never met, yet felt they had known each other for years. Yes, that is the power of blogging.

We were told to meet at  Titos Beach Bar Mojacar which Sammy told Margaret was the coolest place in town to have a few drinks and lunch. Super food, loads of drinks, and all at very reasonable prices. Of course, all outdoors in the warm Spanish sun.

We chatted for hours on varying subjects, peppered with motorhome and narrowboat talk. We arrived in Mojacar at 11.45am and left at 6.15pm, and only then because they were closing the bar, and darkness was rapidly descending.

What a truly fantastic day, our best so far while we have been here this year.

Thanks Bombo and Sammy you did good.

Thursday, 16 October 2014


Today's short trip out was to CostaCabana, which is located adjacent to Almeria Airport on the coast road between Almeria City and El Toyo. It is just a few kilometres from our base at Retamar.

The village is small, with its own 1km Avenida Marinera which fronts a beach of rock and pebbles to the south west, transforming to the more normal gritty volcanic sand to the north east. The beaches in this area get more sandy with less grit and pebbles the further north you travel up the east coast of the country. This beach also appears to be dog friendly as we observed many of the locals walking their pets here during the morning.

Of all the places around this area, CostaCobana would be our choice to live. It has a great upmarket feel to it, which unfortunately is reflected in the property prices. A brief check revealed a 1 bedroom studio apartment overlooking the western beach at €90,000, a three bedroom terraced house in the same location for €495,000, rising to a stunning detached villa on the eastern beach for just shy of €3,000,000! The average 3 bedroom apartment in the gated complex in Retamar where we are, which also benefits from a swimming pool, sells for between €100,000 - €150,000. A few kilometres makes a huge difference.

After a walk up and down the marine drive, and half an hour taking in the rays, it was back for lunch at the apartment. Living here you have to treat every day as you would at home. It isn't possible to have daily excursions, and to eat out frequently on a budget similar to what we have at our disposal at home in the UK. However, with the weather set hot and sunny and cloudless skies with an average daily temperature of 30+ degrees for the next two weeks at least, I could see the idea growing on me.