A visit to Manchester.


, , , , , , ,

One of my children – Anna – is by way of being a standup comedian and I was in Manchester this week watching her gig. Obviously I am totally biased but it was another excellent performance, a fifteen minute chat with edge which got lots of laughs and applause.

Later that evening I walked the mile home and in doing so walked past Manchester Southern Cemetery. This is Europe’s second largest municipal cemetery and takes a long time to walk past even at eleven o’clock at night along Barlow Moor Road. It is the final resting place of Sir Matt Busby, L S Lowry, Tony Wilson “Mr Manchester” and Ernest Marples and many other famous people. One of the signs also reminded me this is a famous Commonwealth War Graves Commission site with some 1228 identified casualties.

So, as I wandered home smiling at Anna’s act I resolved to return to the cemetery in daylight and have a wander round. Readers of this blog will know I have an interest in WWI and WWII history and it often escapes notice that many casualties – of many nationalities – were returned to the UK for operations and treatment but, sadly and inevitably, perished as a result of their wounds and of course they were afforded in death the same respect as had they perished in the active field of warfare.

During the First World War, Manchester contained between thirty and forty war hospitals including the 2nd Western General Hospital and the Nell Lane Military Hospital for prisoners of war. Many of those buried in the cemeteries and churchyards of the city died in a long list of Manchester hospitals. It is to the enormous credit of Manchester that the city cared for so many casualties many of whom survived even though by today’s standards medical knowhow for trauma injuries was in its infancy.

There is also a screen wall (one of my pictures) bearing many names who were cremated and, of course, rightly honoured.

For me these visits remind me of the numbing number of casualties, that it remains as important as ever that we remember and, above all, we avoid for ever conflicts of this scale.

For some factual information I have referred to the CWGC website:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Christopher Macgowan



The Scottish Caravan, Motorhome and Holiday Home Show.


, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Caravan Times’ William Coleman caught up with CAMC Director General Nick Lomas at the show.


By William Coleman

On the opening day of the Scottish Caravan, Motorhome and Holiday Home Show we caught up with Nick Lomas, The Director General of The Caravan and Motorhome Club. We spoke with Nick about The Club’s sites in Scotland that are pitched on locations that film fans will certainly recognise.

Nick also gave us the rundown on The Club’s ‘Adventure Outside’ campaign which will include the Cycle Fest. We have a full article of CAMC’s CycleFest.

For those who love films here are a few of The Club sites that have been given the Hollywood treatment. Some of these are contenders for list of all time greats. The films are good too.

The Highlands: Film- Stardust

Kinlochewe Club Site

Set at the bottom of the rugged slopes of Beinn Eighe and along the shores of Glen Docherty, Kinlochewe Club Site is somewhat famous on the network. The Site played host to the stars of 2007 romantic fantasy film Stardust; including Robert de Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer, when it was used as a base camp for filming in this beautiful region. Kinlochewe offers a slower pace of life and is a great spot to wind down after a busy day outdoors exploring the surrounding mountains. This Site is also popular with bird lovers trying to get a glimpse of the golden Eagle at nearby Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve.

From £18.70 per standard pitch per night based on two adults sharing

Glencoe: Film- Skyfall

North Ledaig Caravan Club Site

Home to one of the most famous battles between Scottish Clans, Glencoe also played host one of the most recognisable Special Agents in the country. Featuring in the 2012 film Skyfall, the childhood home of James Bond, Skyfall Lodge, was set and filmed in the natural beauty of Glencoe. For 007 fans, combine a visit to this stunning landscape with a stay at the North Ledaig Club Site. This 30-acre Site is located on two miles of sandy beach and has been awarded the David Bellamy Conservation Award. The Site is ideal for those who love watersports and is only a 40 minute drive to Glencoe.

From £20 per standard pitch per night based on two adults sharing

Fort William: FIlm- Harry Potter

Bunree Caravan Club Site

Deemed one of the most iconic film locations in Scotland, Fort William and the surrounding area welcomed the magic of the Harry Potter movie series for over ten years of filming. Muggles will recognise the infamous Rannoch Moor in the area, where the dementors boarded the Hogwarts Express in the first instalment of the final movie. The West Highland Line also runs through Fort William with services from Edinburgh and Glasgow and will be familiar to Potter fans as the route of the Hogwarts Express. For those looking to be close to all of the enchanted action, Bunree Club Site offers a great pit stop. The Site is only a 20 minute drive from Fort William town centre and is on the water’s edge of Loch Linnhe.

From £17.50 per standard pitch per night based on two adults sharing Mon-Thurs during mid-week discount periods

Perth: Film- Braveheart

Balbirnie Park Caravan Club Site

Situated just north of Edinburgh, Perth plays host to the filming location one of the most iconic Scottish movies of all time, Braveheart. Some of the best known scenes of the 1995 classic starring Mel Gibson, were filmed at Loch Leven in Perth including the famous mountain walk of William Wallace after the killing of Mornay. For the perfect Scottish getaway this year, combine a trip to Loch Leven with a stay at nearby Balbirnie Club Site only a 30 minute drive away. The Site is set within 400 acres of parkland and is a popular stop off point on the network with hikers, cyclists and dog walkers.

From £13.50 per standard pitch per night based on two adults sharing Mon-Thurs during mid-week discount periods

SOURCE: William Coleman of “Caravan Times”

Christopher Macgowan


Burrs Country Park and Castleton CAMC sites – and a bit of drama.


, , , , , , , , , ,

TOP: The scenery and walks around the town of Castleton are stunning.

SECOND: Burrs Country Park.

THIRD: History is well preserved at Burrs.

BOTTOM: Well; the road was closed for goodness sake!!

It was only three degrees Centigrade with a bitter wind and a tiny sprinkling of snow but my stay this week at the Caravan and Motorhome Club’s sites in Bury, Lancashire (Burrs Country Park) and Castleton in Derbyshire was quite simply brilliant. I am a great one for my creature comforts and both sites have the latest of everything and on both sites my set-up time was a mere eight minutes despite one set-up at Burrs being at eleven o’clock at night in a snow storm.

Castleton is a tourist trap and has wonderful walks all around but the side effect for me is the tiny town can support six pubs and two restaurants. The Master Plan was for Faye and I to embark on our usual Dry February but my side of the bargain fell apart in Castleton so Faye is ahead of me in will power and smugness.

The A623 was closed but I never take any notice of those signs because mostly they are out of date. The weather was cold but dry – but on this occasion I was partially caught out due to heavy lifting equipment removing trucks and indeed closing the road. A truck in front of me had a major drama turning round but I took a couple left tuns into deepest Derbyshire countryside and was soon back on track. There was a slightly anxious moment when I came face to face with a seventeen tonne FedEx delivery truck on a single track road. We had a Camp David meeting in the mud between our two vehicles and the upshot was I put my reversing skills to work – such as they are.

Christopher Macgowan


Interview with Caravan and Motorhome Club peeps.


, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

SOURCE: Caravan Times

Interview Exclusive With CAMCs Head Of Communications And Events

By William Coleman

Last week I ventured up to Manchester to the Caravan and Motorhome show to speak first hand with senior members of the Caravan and Motorhome Club about what they had in store for their members during 2018.

So with both the Scottish and Birmingham NEC Caravan and Motorhome shows only a handful of weeks away I wanted to speak with The Club about how they prepare for the show and what it means to them to have such a presence. As an industry leading holiday provider I feel they do a great job with communicating with their customers, and the public in general. So here is my interview with CAMC’s very own Brian Morgan.

The Club always have such an impressive stand and presence at the shows. How far in advance does the planning start?

It’s an ongoing process, we exhibit at both NEC shows, Manchester and Glasgow, as well as a number of outdoor shows and events throughout the year. We are always in ‘show mode’!

What goes into making sure you have something for everyone at the show?

We make sure we have details of all Club products and services available for show visitors, we can help them from the very first stages with inspiring them to choose the right leisure vehicle for their touring group, to sharing ideas of where they could have their adventures and giving them help and advice along each step of the way and, of course, make their actual holiday bookings for them. Our show staff have such a vast amount of knowledge and experience and they love being at the shows and talking to people. We really do have a great team, not only at the shows but at head office and throughout the site network.

It is quite clear that The Club invest heavily in listening to their members, how can members communicate with you so they are heard?

It’s really important for us to listen to our members to hear about what they want and need from us. We have our Club Together forum with over 400k registered users, our social platforms are a great way for members and future members to interact with us, we carry out regular research and surveys with our members to hear from them – first-hand – about their views. Our Magazine is also a great source of information for members. And, most importantly, we act upon this information we receive. We provide over 60 relevant member offers (everything from discounts on outdoor clothing, fuel discounts, unbeatable ferry offers), our ongoing sites investment programme, we represent the members views through parliamentary channels and other associated bodies such as Transport for London and the FIA to name but a few.

As Matt Allwright said at the Manchester show, ‘there’s nowhere our members haven’t been’ and we are keen to provide the platforms for members to share their knowledge and experiences as they, in turn, inspire others to have great adventures.

At the Manchester show you had Matt Allwright open the show and do a acoustic set with his band ‘The Walnuts’. Will we see Matt again in Birmingham this February?

Yes! Matt will be with us on Club Day (Tuesday 20 February), he will again be hosting a series of informative forums for show visitors. Matt is a Club member and really enjoys getting away with his family in his campervan.

The shows are a fantastic way for members, new and old, to have face to face interaction with key members of The Club. What aspect of meeting the public do you enjoy the most?

You will always find me at the front of the stand, encouraging people to come and say hi to our team. I really do enjoy that aspect of my job. It’s so important to get to meet and talk to people, face to face, you can’t beat it.

And lastly what can we expect from you guys at this years Glasgow or the NEC shows?

We are heading to Glasgow soon, it really is a terrific show. We will be opening the show on Club Day with our Director General, Nick Lomas, the show Director, Jamie Taylor, and there will be a performance for show visitors by a really talented local quartet called the Capella String Quartet, so if anyone is in the area, come and say hi. And then we are at the NEC, Matt Allwright will be with us and we will have an exciting announcement to make, so make sure you are there on Club Day!

Source: Caravan Times

Christopher Macgowan


UK is set to be British holidaymakers’ destination of choice in 2018.


, , , , , , , , ,

Research by travel trade association ABTA* has revealed the UK is set to be British holidaymakers’ destination of choice in 2018, as 66% of the British population are already planning time away closer to home. Europe follows a close second with 63% planning to visit and 14% look to travel to North America.

2017 was a popular year for UK breaks, with British adults taking an average of 2.1 UK holidays: up on the previous year. Families with children aged five and over enjoyed 2.7 UK breaks and adults aged 35 to 44 ventured on 2.5 domestic vacations.

Research indicates that British spending on holidays will also increase, as a significant 31% are putting aside more money for their vacations in 2018. 47% are hoping to spend the same and just 14% plan to spend less.

Fresh figures from The Camping and Caravanning Club^ suggest the trend is already underway, reporting a 10% increase in bookings across its 106 club campsites for the 2018 season year-to-date versus 2017. The Caravan and Motorhome Club also supports the forecast+, announcing that 2017 was the best-ever year for tent camping, with a 13% increase compared to 2016 and its best-ever figures currently for winter camping. Leisure vehicle holidays were also up in 2017 with the club reporting an 11% growth in pitch nights over 2016 and a record November for touring caravan, motorhome and campervan stays.

Commenting on the rise of UK holidaying, Jenny Summers, Group Marketing Director of the NCC (National Caravan Council), the UK’s trade body for the tourer, motorhome and caravan holiday home industries said: “Sales of both motorhomes and caravans were up in 2017, with motorhome registrations rising by 14.9% and tourer factory dispatches to dealers increasing by 8.7%. This clearly demonstrates the continuing popularity of using a leisure vehicle to explore the UK and beyond.”

The growth of the British tourism industry augurs well for the NCC’s next event in February, the Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show 2018. A record-breaking 101,583 visitors attended its sister-show in October last year.

Taking place at Birmingham’s NEC between 20 and 25 February, the Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show 2018 brings together over 370 exhibitors and is the UK’s largest showcase of caravans, campervans, motorhomes, caravan holiday homes and lodges as well as new season tents, trailer tents and folding caravans.

The family-friendly event features a variety of holiday destinations and trip options. Show sponsor Freedom to Go is on hand to help visitors plan their next adventure and the leisure vehicle industry’s two largest clubs, The Camping and Caravanning Club and Caravan and Motorhome Club also provide advice and inspiration for all.

Tickets for the Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show 2018 are now available at www.ccmshow.co.uk and by phone on 0844 873 7333. Advance prices start from £7.00**, with children 15 and under entering free.

Christopher Macgowan


If it’s Thursday it must be Manchester so Friday will be Chester.


, , , , , , , , , ,

Just a small section of the Caravan and Motorhome Club stand.

Chester Fairoaks CAMC site.

The Caravan and Motorhome 2018 Show is on at the moment at Event City in Manchester. I attended the opening day on Thursday and it looked well attended to me. The organisers are probably hoping that 20,000 people will visit and if the people traffic on the Caravan and Motorhome Club stand are anything to go by it would not surprise me if that target is met. The cold weather does not help but offsetting that is the enormous population in and around Liverpool and Manchester which provides the bulk of the visitors.

One delightfully “British” thing happened to me. I dutifully followed the visitor parking signs in my motorhome and in due course arrived at this huge space sandwiched between the Event City exhibition centre and Trafford Park retail outlet. As I got to the front of the queue a man wearing a high viz jacket emblazoned with the parking contractor’s name approached me waving his arms. “You can’t bring that thing in here!” he announced sternly. “But it’s a motorhome show!” I protested. He was having none of it and I couldn’t help but note the difference in attitude in Manchester to that at the Dusseldorf Show. Sometimes I despair!!

Later that day in the early evening I drove along the motorway to Chester in sleet and light snow. The wardens at the CAMC Chester Fairoaks site were still in the office at 7.30pm together with their delightful cat – even the cat provided a much more welcoming experience than had the parking attendant earlier. My AutoSleeper Malvern took its customary eight minutes to set up and in no time at all a glass of wine had been poured, supper was cooking and I was on WiFi via my annual subscription which I can cart from site to site.

All was well with the world.

Christopher Macgowan


Tracker thwarts caravan theft – quickly.


, , , ,

File photograph.

Spencer Allen, head teacher at a local school in Swindon, and his partner, had to put their holiday plans on hold when thieves stole their caravan from a secure storage site near to their home. Fortunately, the Sprite Major 4 was fitted with a TRACKER device, which quickly led Surrey Police to the stolen vehicle. TRACKER’s Mesh Network played a key role in helping police trace the caravan to an industrial site in Guilford, allowing them to return it to the delighted owners.

Building work had been taking place on the storage site where Spencer had been keeping his caravan, and a skip had been blocking access to the locked gate to the caravan for some weeks prior to its disappearance. However, as soon as the skip was taken away, thieves swooped in, suggesting they’d been watching for the perfect opportunity.

Once the theft was reported to the police and the TRACKER device was activated at TRACKER HQ, police were led to its location within just three hours. TRACKER’s unique Mesh Network technology takes advantage of other vehicles on the road that are already fitted with a TRACKER, to relay information about a stolen vehicle that is equipped with the same technology. This brings drivers together to create a UK wide network of ‘listening vehicles’ which can help pinpoint the location of a stolen vehicle.

Spencer Allen says, “We’d been planning to go away with the caravan before winter set in, so it was still kitted out with our personal belongings. These would have normally been taken out when we prepare it for winter storage. Sadly these items been taken by the thieves, right down to a tube of toothpaste and some doggy chews, but thankfully we got our caravan back. We’ve already had one caravan stolen, but that one didn’t have a tracking device fitted and was never recovered. It was our pride and joy, so having a SVR device fitted in our replacement caravan was a must, both for our peace of mind, but also for our insurance.

“The TRACKER installation was part of the deal we secured with our caravan retailer and it’s fair to say I was sceptical, originally, but now I can see that it’s a service that really does works. What’s more, the team at TRACKER that co-ordinated the recovery with the police, were second to none. The reassurance they gave us throughout, kept us at ease and gave us the confidence our caravan would be recovered. I can’t express enough that the level of customer care the team provides, let alone the technology used to track stolen vehicles, is worth every penny. If it wasn’t for TRACKER, we’d probably have lost another caravan to thieves. But not this time.”

Andy Barrs, Head of Police Liaison at TRACKER (part of the Tantalum Corporation), comments, “TRACKER’s Mesh Network plays a significant role in the speed of recovery of vehicles stolen that have a TRACKER fitted. And as more and more motorists recognise the power of TRACKER’s SVR technology, the power of the Mesh Network continues to grow. Spencer’s case clearly backs up these figures and demonstrates the value of this unique technology in reuniting stolen vehicles with their owners.

“When a vehicle fitted with a TRACKER device passes any vehicle reported as stolen with us, and which is also equipped with our stolen vehicle recovery technology, it automatically sends a signal to TRACKER providing the location of the stolen asset. Whilst it won’t stop a caravan or vehicle from being stolen, a TRACKER device, enhanced by the Mesh Network, closes the net on thieves by increasing the chances of police locating and returning stolen assets.”

Unlike other devices, TRACKER’s unique technology can locate stolen vehicles anywhere, even when they are hidden in a garage or shipping container. TRACKER has been reuniting car lovers with their vehicles for nearly 25 years, and it’s this expertise which makes TRACKER the leader in stolen vehicle recovery. TRACKER stolen vehicle recovery systems work like an electronic homing device. A covert transmitter is hidden in one of several dozen places around the vehicle. There is no visible aerial, so the thief won’t even know it’s there.

Press here for Tracker.

Christopher Macgowan