We had a great couple of weeks at the WhiteHouse Beach Caravan Club Site Jun/Jul. Weather wasn't too bad, only one night of rain (and torrential rain it was), but otherwise warm and mostly patchy cloud with a couple of really sunny days towards the end. But we had fun.
First photo of the X5 with Oscar on the hook. Towed perfectly too.
When we arrived we virtually had the upper levels to ourselves:
Had a nice day at Southwold for cream teas:
Our Golden Retrivers, Ollie and Rosie, had wonderful daily walks along the beach and afternoons swimming in the river:
Just changed the towcar for our first trip of the year later this month to:
a BMW X5 (E53) 3.0d in LeMans Blue. Should be up to the task very nicely.
Practical Caravan magazine had an article recently concerning one of their staff sitting the B+E towing test. There were a couple of comments in it that I couldn't resist commenting on, so I sent them an email.
Imagine my surprise, and delight at opening the latest edition, June 2017, to discover my email reproduced in full, together with an old photo I had included, was the star letter. It seems I have won a pair of Aero towing mirrors.
This is a scan of the electronic edition page. This may not be readable so I'll reproduce the email here:
Hello Alistair and PC team
I am very much a fan of Practical Caravan (mag and TV shows) as I have a long history of caravanning stretching back to the 1970s and my time in Germany with the British Forces. Europe was on our doorstep and this old (digitised) photo is of my VW Jetta towing a Dethleffs Nomad 4 berth en route to Northern Italy.
However I am writing with regard Bryony's article in the March 17 edition about her successful B+E driving test.
For the 24 years before my retirement, a couple of years ago, I was a driving examiner with the then Driving Standards Agency (DSA) which has since merged with VOSA to become the DVSA, and for the last eight years I was the Chief Instructor and head of all driving examiner training at Cardington in Bedfordshire.
Bryony makes two comments in her otherwise excellent article that could possibly be misunderstood. When she talks about the reversing manoeuvre she says “There is no time limit on performing the manoeuvre so take your time …” and at the end of the piece she talks about setting out on the road after completing the manoeuvres and says, “drive as slowly as you feel comfortable.”
There is no time limit on the reverse exercise it is true but it is expected to be completed in a “reasonable” amount of time and if a test candidate is taking excessive time to complete it the examiner may consider terminating the exercise, and therefore the test. (Proper training and practice is the key here!)
As for the road drive, and this applies to all practical driving tests, an examiner would expect to see “normal" progress made for the conditions at the time and excessive caution and failing to make proper progress regularly features in the most common reasons for test failures. It is especially true in the towing test as following traffic being held up unnecessarily would be faced with the additional challenge of considering overtaking a vehicle with a trailer.
It is clear that this wasn’t a problem for Bryony, who sensible sought expert tuition in addition to her previous experience of towing, but driving really slowly, unnecessarily, to feel comfortable is not recommended.
We are all set for our first trip this year, delayed due to the new arrival in the household. But its off to the Suffolk coast in May. Also booked for a couple weeks in the New Forest in Jun/Jul.
More to follow
Our first weekend away was in Incleboro Fields near Cromer in Norfolk. The Saturday rained very hard but all was well as we not only survived but enjoyed our weekend away, with Ollie. He certainly enjoyed himself with a variety of walks in the country and on the beach, with a dip in the sea too.
However, the pitch sloped considerable from back to front resulting in the rear of the 'van almost touching the ground. This presented a problem for the waste water outlets under the back panel in the centre. So for the next sloping pitch I have come up with a solution, suggested on the Caravan Talk forum.
More photos in the caravan gallery
As you can see from the first post below, the image in the heading of the newspaper cutting is a snail. He was called Oscar and was the logo for the Sevices Caravan Club (Germany).
As an active rally member of the SCC(G) I was presented with a plaque of Oscar's image, reproduced at the head of the blog, and the original is on the wall inside my current caravan........ which is.......
seen here, under a light August shower, with my tug parked alongside.
Its a 2010 Coachman Wanderer Lux 19/4 which, I understand, was a limited anniversary edition based on the Amara 560/4 for Wandahome Knottingley.
We bought it at the beginning of this month and "Oscar" has been sitting on the drive itching to get out on our first shake down run in a week's time. In the meantime I have been exploring the modern facilities that I never had in those early days of my caravanning life. More about that in subsequent blog posts is the plan.
A few shots of the interior are about to be posted in the caravanning photo gallery (link button above), but this shot is to introduce Oscar, to the right of the door, in his new home having spent the last 25 years in a box!
As you can see from this cutting, taken from the British Forces (Germany) newspaper, Sixth Sense, I was a very active caravanner in the 1970s and 80s spanning a couple of tours in Germany and one in between at the Army School of Mechanical Transport in Leconfield, (then) North Humberside.
I started with a very basic and very small Sprite 400 which I towed with my Renaults (see photos).
During that time the Institute of Advanced Motorists introduced their Caravanning and Towing Test and I'd like to be able to say that I was the first person to take the towing test achieving a pass in all four IAM categories, but I wasn't. I was the second though, with a Master Driver colleague of mine being the first on the same day in Bielefeld.