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Spruce up your static home – on a budget

Most owners love their static homes. It’s as simple as that.

However, it can sometimes come as a little shock to look around and realise that, well, overall it’s looking a little “tired and jaded” inside. That realisation can sometimes dawn due to a casual remark from a visitor or when you are in another static home and have started to compare it to yours.

If you decide to spruce up your static though, don’t worry – you don’t necessarily need a vast budget to do so. A few basic things can change its ambience entirely.

Don’t forget if you are upgrading, it might be worth checking the value cover levels of your static caravan insurance to ensure that they’re still adequate.

New cushions and upholstery

You don’t need to rush to a designer boutique in order to secure some very good quality and highly attractive slip-on upholstery. The same is true for cushions, both in terms of upholstery and their internals.

Changing your colour scheme and replacing those scrunched-up cushions can make an immediate and major positive impact on your surroundings.

Flooring

Just normal footfall traffic over time can start to make any flooring look as though it needs resuscitation.

The really good news here is that things such as lino floor tiles (and similar) are now really very affordable and they’re typically far better quality than those available just a few years ago. It’s perhaps worth spending a little more than the absolute minimum here in order to get more durable flooring if you can afford to do so but even if you do, the costs are not likely to be prohibitive.

Decorative items

Tastes and fashions in decorative items change over time. True, most of us probably can’t afford to follow fashion to the extent that we change all our decorative possessions every other season but even so, it might be time for a new look.

Whatever your tastes are, modest decorative items are usually available for relatively small amounts of money from retailers and perhaps even less from boot sales etc. They can make a huge difference to how your room looks. Don’t forget, you may be able to sell the old ones to contribute towards the cost of replacement.

Lighting

Modern LED systems are not only highly energy-efficient but today are also often set in mountings in stunningly attractive styles.

Replacing those old lights and suspensions and replacing them with more up-to-date versions will make an immediate positive impact on your décor.

In passing, some of those old annoying features of LED lighting, such as waiting for several minutes after switching on for them to “warm up” and deliver light, are now the stuff of history. The modern ones are superb and it’s worth checking them out.

Bathrooms

It’s possible for shower rooms and bathrooms to also start to suddenly look very dated.

In reality, completely ripping out your existing shower and replacing it with state-of-the-art systems is likely to be expensive.

However, by simply adding in a few extras such as towel racks, dispensers and stylish WC seats, you can transform the look and feel of this area for relatively small sums.

Summary

The realisation that the internals of your static home are looking rather “yesterday” can be painful. However, with a little effort, some ingenuity and not a lot of money, you may be able to do something about that – and relatively quickly.

Why should you compare caravan insurance?

When asked the question, “why should you compare caravan insurance”, most people respond by saying something relating to the opportunities for saving money.

However, as we at Cover4Caravans like to point out, there are a number of other reasons why these exercises are typically highly advisable.

The cost factor

One of the things that it is sometimes intuitively difficult to grasp about caravan insurance is that it isn’t necessarily advisable to become exclusively focused on the cost of a policy.

For many people, that advice naturally runs a little against the grain. We live in a society where cost containment is, for the vast majority of people, a major daily imperative. Trying to suggest otherwise can sometimes be a challenge.

However, in the context of insurance, it’s extremely important to remember that the cost of a policy will be entirely irrelevant to you in a situation where you are considering making a claim. In such circumstances, your focus will be 100% on the nature of the cover the policy provides and the amount you may have paid for it won’t be a consideration.

All your focus would be on whether or not the problem is covered by the policy.

It therefore seems logical to conclude that you should be selecting your policy at the outset not based upon its price but on the cover and security it provides.

Comparing caravan insurance

The second tendency is for some to argue that caravan insurance reviews aren’t important because broadly speaking all caravan insurance is more or less the same.

That sentiment is simply incorrect.

Caravan insurance policies can vary significantly from one to another. There are many ways this can be illustrated but perhaps one well-known example is that relating to awnings.

Some policies may not cover them at all. Others may do so but only for certain specific types. Yet other policies may cover awnings in terms of the general category but only if you meet certain usage conditions when out and about in your caravan.

Essentially the key message is – what you are getting for your money may differ considerably from one insurance provider to another.

Better the devil you know

Caravan insurance reviews are important for another reason.

Insurance providers regularly change what they call their “cover propositions”. In other words, what their policies cover and their associated terms and conditions can change from one year to another as they bring out new products.

It therefore only makes sense, assuming you are interested in maintaining the most appropriate cover possible for your particular caravan, to check the market on a regular basis to see what’s out there (we can do that on your behalf at Cover4Caravans, using our “get a quote” button). It’s perfectly possible that reasonable as your existing policy is, there may now be more suitable ones available.

Caravan insurance reviews allow you to compare your existing degree of protection against perhaps more up-to-date offerings in the marketplace.

It’s perfectly possible that your existing policy is still the most suitable fit for your current situation. However, it might be better to know that rather than just to assume it.

Pricing

Of course, price cannot be entirely excluded from caravan insurance reviews and nor should it be.

It is though important to keep it in context and to consider some of the above issues at the same time.

Above all, it is advisable to conduct periodic caravan insurance reviews in order to provide you with peace of mind that you have the most appropriate cover at the a cost-effective price.

Why we love having our dogs on holiday

In a sense, the above title is a case of stating the obvious for most dog owners!

From our own customer surveys, here at Cover4Caravans, we know only too well that most people want to have their pooch with them when they are out and about on holiday. However, that sort of begs the question as to why that is the case.

In what follows below, we’ll explore some of the more obvious explanations that we’ve heard from our customers over time.

A member of the family

Most owners don’t regard their dog as a commodity or possession. A dog is a living breathing thing and its relationship with human beings is a phenomenal one, having evolved so far back in pre-history that its origins are unclear.

What is certain is that the old saying that “a dog is part of the family” is more than just a platitude. For many people, leaving their dog behind in kennels would be somewhere between highly undesirable and unthinkable.

In passing, this isn’t just a UK phenomenon either!

Security

Although perhaps not exactly a positive reason, it’s also a fact that many people like having their dog with them for reasons of security and personal comfort.

It is widely accepted that, for example, nothing puts burglars off faster than a dog being on a targeted premises. Even when we are touring around, having a dog present can give that little bit of extra companionship, peace of mind and reassurance.

Playtime

Anyone who has ever seen a dog enjoying itself in the open fields or on a beach will appreciate their sheer exuberance at being out in nature. Their enjoyment is infectious so it can also add to the pleasure of your outside life too.

It’s also a fact that, although it is said slightly “tongue-in-cheek”, a dog is often a real imperative in terms of forcing us to get out and take some exercise!

Some admin

Of course, fantastic as dogs are, if you are planning to take them on holiday with you there are a few points you will need to consider:

  • some touring caravan insurance may have certain conditions and restrictions relating to having pets aboard. For example, it’s possible that a policy might stipulate that such a pet cannot be confined inside the caravan if left alone;
  • make sure that the site you are planning to use will accept pets. In the UK today many sites are pet-friendly and have excellent facilities. Most will offer your dog a warm welcome.

Even so, some don’t – and that’s something you’ll want to know in advance so you can avoid them, rather than discovering it for the first time when you arrive. It’s always worth confirming beforehand;

  • don’t forget that some attractions, country parks and even beaches, ban dogs totally or at least during the peak tourist season. Do some research about your chosen destination to make sure that there are plenty of places locally where you can take your dog for exercise;
  • however well behaved your dog is, in the relatively confined spaces of a touring caravan, they may be a little more inclined to misbehave and jump around than normal. Make sure that your upholstery is appropriately protected and be careful with any breakables.

Above all though, have fun with man’s best friend on holiday!

Further reading: Guide to caravanning with pets

 

Taking your tourer to Germany: need to know

A touring caravan gives you the freedom of the open road – and if that road starts the moment you drive off a cross-Channel ferry or the Eurotunnel, the open road winds all over Europe.

Recent years have seen the widespread standardisation of rules of the road throughout much of the Continent, but local and regional variations may still apply – and catch the unwary offguard.

Since it is one of the favourite destinations for British caravanners – not least because of the accessibility of its free-to-use motorway network and the high standards of its campsites – let’s take a look at some of the things you need to know about taking your touring caravan to Germany.

Documentation and equipment

The AA has published a checklist of documents and equipment you need to carry with you when towing a caravan in Germany:

  • you must hold a valid UK driving licence and be at least 18 years of age – but an International Driving Permit is not required;
  • you must carry the original registration document of the towing vehicle, together with a valid certificate of motor insurance;
  • the towing vehicle and the caravan must both bear GB stickers;
  • headlamps on the towing vehicle must be correctly adjusted for driving on the right – and daytime headlights must be used when visibility is poor.

Driving through France to get your destination?

Unlike many other European countries, German rules recommend but do not make compulsory your having an accident or emergency warning triangle, reflective jacket, first aid kit or fire extinguisher – or, for that matter, the breathalyser that is required in France.

But, if you are driving through France and Belgium (for example, from the Eurotunnel) then you must make sure you have the correct equipment and documentation.

Insurance

As in the UK, third party insurance for your caravan is typcially incorporated in the motor insurance that covers the towing vehicle.

Tourer insurance is essential, however, if you want to protect your caravan against accidental damage, fire and theft – so contact your caravan insurance provider for cover that remains valid for driving in both the UK and in Europe.

On the road

If you have had to fiddle with change to pay the tolls on many motorways in France, Italy or Austria, it will come as a welcome surprise that none of Germany’s excellent motorways (autobahn) have tolls.

Beware that you may face on the spot fines for some motoring offences, however, and do not be tempted to use radar detection devices – they are illegal in Germany.

You might have heard about the high speeds maintained by many cars on the German autobahn. This does not apply to cars towing touring caravans, which are limited to 80kph (about 50mph on the motorways). An exception is made for those drivers who have passed a special car and caravan test in Germany when the speed restriction increases to 100kph (roughly 62mph) and the vehicle bears a sticker accordingly.

If you are stuck at a leisurely 50mph whilst cars in the fast lane are flashing past at 100mph or more, the speed may prove a little frustrating for some drivers.

A contributor to the website Get Out With the Kids recounts his experiences of towing a caravan on motorways with only two lanes of traffic and the frustration of not being allowed to overtake if you are towing a caravan. The situation may be even worse when you approach the steep inclines of the roads in the German Alps and are stuck behind a heavy goods vehicle travelling less than 30mph, and you are unable to overtake.

 

 

Old Hartley Site Review

This review is of the Old Hartley Caravan & Motorhome Club site, Whitley Bay, Tyne & Wear and is based on our visit in March/April 2018 when we stayed for one week.

Firstly as always, the all important getting there. The Club provide directions from the A19 – easily reached from the A1 and are straightforward enough. On our visit there was a signpost missing at one of the roundabouts so we missed the turning, however it wasn’t a disaster – we just headed for the seafront and turned left! Our Site Arrival video below shows the recommended route but also an alternative that we think is viable and maybe better in the busier months, turning off from the A186 onto the A192 then B1325.

The site consists of 59 pitches, all hard standing. The hard standing area is smaller than you might be used to on Club sites and there is a considerable slope on the site so levelling ramps will almost certainly be required. You will be rewarded for your efforts however as almost every pitch is blessed with views out to sea, some facing nearby St Mary’s Island. Pitches at the front will get the most uninterrupted view but be aware that a public footpath runs along the cliff edge at the front of the site. As mentioned the site does slope so those at the front will have an uphill climb to the facilities block. The only chemical disposal point is located here too but there are further water/waste water and rubbish/recycling points at the front and back of the site. Arrival is from Midday as per usual for Club sites but there is no Late Night Arrivals area.

The facilities were kept immaculate throughout our stay despite it being a busy – and wet – Easter weekend. Shower cubicles may have been a little smaller than the usual offering but the showers more than made up for it. A wheelchair accessible wash room along with a laundry and wash up area completed the offering. Check out our short Site Tour below for a look around.

For those that like to get connected the usual pedestrian but adequate site Wi-Fi was available and both our ‘phone networks – Three and Vodafone – were fine for voice and data. TV was rated as fair, but we didn’t get the TV out during our stay, preferring the pub near the site!

A short walk past the pub from the site you’ll find the bus stop where you can travel along to Whitley Bay then inland to Newcastle in one direction or to Blyth in the other. Buses run roughly four times an hour six days a week and twice an hour on Sundays. The Metro will also take you into Newcastle, Gateshead, South Shields and Sunderland if you swap trains. Whitley Bay and Monkseaton are your nearest stations. We used Whitley Bay and the small free car park was full but there was no shortage of on street pay parking. The RingGo app is handy here. Five trains an hour during the day and it’s around 30 minutes into Newcastle centre.

Away from the site there’s no shortage of places to go and things to see. Almost next door is St Mary’s Island, easily walkable from the site but check tide times HERE. The town of Whitley Bay is a bit further along and for those that don’t fancy the walk there’s plenty of parking. A bit further along the coast you’ll come to Tynemouth. Check out the English Heritage managed Tynemouth Castle & Priory and blow away the cobwebs with a walk along the pier to the Lighthouse. Then walk around the headland to see Admiral Collingwood keeping watch over the mouth of the Tyne. Shopping, eating and drinking options with the chance to people watch are aplenty in Tynemouth’s Front Street and around.

A 40 minute or so drive away is the famous Beamish Museum – recreating life in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, you could easily spend a day here if not longer – fortunately tickets are valid for year. What made our visit so enjoyable was the enthusiastic and knowledgeable role players – from bakers and dentists to mine shaft lift operators. Trams and buses circle the site regularly and wheelchairs can be accommodated. Dogs are welcome too and there is plenty of free parking as well. I can’t recommend it highly enough and there is also work in progress to recreate a 1950’s experience which I ‘m looking forward to seeing on a return visit.

I’ve already mentioned Newcastle and it’s an obvious draw, but if you have a spare day, take the train from Newcastle across to Carlisle through the beautiful Tyne valley. It takes about an hour and a half passing through the likes of Hexham and Haltwhistle on the way. It’s worth it for the journey alone but Carlisle deserves some of your time too. Check out the Cathedral area and Castle.

Much closer to the site – around a mile away is Seaton Delaval Hall ( https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/seaton-delaval-hall#) under the Stewardship of the National Trust. We ran out of time sadly but it’s on the list for a return visit.

You’ve no need to go hungry or thirsty whilst at Old Hartley. A Co-Op and Premier are a few minutes walk away along the main road and Sainsbury’s is just a few minutes drive away for  a trolley load or fuel.

For eating and drinking out there are plenty of options nearby that ensure you can leave the car at the site. The Delaval Arms(https://thedelavalarms.wordpress.com/) is a couple of minutes walk away – it’s the pub you will have passed at the roundabout. Good value tasty pub grub with a selection of real ales and a friendly welcome make this a must visit. A little bit further you will find the Kings Arms (http://www.thekingsarms-ne.co.uk/) and Melton Constable (http://www.themeltonconstable.co.uk/) at Seaton Sluice. Food wise the Kings Arm’s just edged it in our view but both do some great food. The Waterford Arms didn’t have any real ale on our visit so we didn’t stop. Neither did we get to sample the offerings from the Harbour View (http://the-harbour-view.com/) chippy. We’ve had two points of view offered – one is that it’s the best chippy around – the other is that it’s only popular because of the massive portions. Regardless,  judging by massive queues on Good Friday they’re clearly doing something right.

Site Arrival Video

Site Tour Video