For my part one of our best trips was when Faye and I followed the Napoleon Route – http://www.ultimatedrives.net – in France from Grenoble to Nice; it was stunning and we had the sense to do it in the summer whereas Napoleon made the treck in winter in snow and all sorts and had a pretty terrible time by all accounts. That was in 1815 on his return from Elba. Whereas by contrast Faye and I lived quietly for a few days in St Tropez at the end of our route – Napoleon went on to attempt to rule the world at the end of his. This contrast would have worried my mother who was always concerned that I would “never amount to anything” without ever specifying what it was she had in mind.
Also following Sandra and Iain Baxter on their Grand European Tour affectionately called “Mind the Gap Year” was a delight – they can be found at http://baxterbus.wordpress.com
I shut down now for Christmas with a photo of this morning’s visitors. A flotilla of Long Tailed Tits is in town and they visit me as a team of between two and eight strong. They are sociable and polite; do not fight over the food or with one another and display the sort of behaviour my mother would have approved of.
Have a great break and may you, your friends and your family have a wonderful time and still be talking to each other on Boxing Day! I will do my best.
I thought by way of a change I would take a look this week at an alternative means of travelling the world.
In a city like Dubai, driving around in a Lamborghini Aventador isn’t all that impressive. After all, the incredibly wealthy city is home to many limited edition hypercars from McLaren, Porsche, Ferrari, Pagani and Koenigsegg. With those cars roaming the streets, the only Aventadors which can properly turn heads are modified examples and the following from Oakley Design is one of the most impressive we’ve seen.
While not quite as crazy as say a Mansory Carbonado Aventador with a reported 1200 hp, this Oakley Design Aventador currently up for sale from Deals on Wheels on James Edition has been adorned with a number of bespoke visual and aerodynamic touches to make it stand out on Dubai’s blisteringly hot roads. Additionally, power from the naturally-aspirated 6.5-litre V12 engine has been lifted to 760 hp thanks to some ECU tweaks and a new exhaust system.
From a visual standpoint, this Aventador has been painted in Lamborghini’s stealthy shade of matte black, dubbed Nero Nemesis. It is rolling on a set of custom gloss black wheels complete with bright orange center locks and sitting over matching orange brake calipers. As this Aventador is Oakley Design’s ‘LP760-4 Carbon Edition’, many exterior elements are finished in carbon fiber; most notably, the front splitter, front air intake surrounds, roof, wing mirrors and side air intakes.
At the rear, it includes a custom carbon diffuser and the obligatory carbon fiber rear wing finished with orange endplates. The interior perfectly complements the exterior thanks to the combination of black leather upholstery with orange alcantara across the seats, steering wheel, door panels, center console and transmission tunnel.
Source of the Lamborghini story: Brad Anderson http://www.carscoops.com
I stayed at The Caravan Club’s Chapel Lane site over the weekend and it is in full autumnal colours. The wardens are doing a brilliant job keeping the site in tip top condition whilst the leaves fall and a state of calm and tidiness prevails. The site is south west of Birmingham very close to Solihull and the M42 but is a surprisingly rural setting in the shadow of an old chapel. It is open all year and, needless to say, is very popular.
Earlier in the week Faye and I had somehow found an evening we were both free and booked a couple of online seats for SPECTRE which lived up to all my expectations for sheer escapism and wonderful action. The opening scene in Mexico City does your head in. James Bond is partnered throughout the film by the daughter of an old nemesis and in tracking down SPECTRE finds out rather more about his childhood than he had bargained for.
One aspect of the film concerned me.
My lobbying work places me all too frequently in the “politically correct” arena and consequently I am perhaps more on my toes than I would normally expect to be. After one particularly high charged action scene Bond and his partner find themselves in a heap on the floor at which point she turns to him and says, admittedly rather coyly, “What do we do now?” and of course we are next in a romantic clinch – and more.
My point is this. I am not sure when someone turns to you next time and says “What do we do now?” it is safe to interpret that as an invitation for some highly personal interaction and I think Bond may have taken advantage of this woman without getting her clear and unequivocal agreement in advance in the cold light of day.
This is quite shocking and sets a poor example to other would-be spies who see Bond as a role model. How this country is expected to recruit quality spies with standards when this is the way they are portrayed is difficult to grasp.
And then of course there was Saturday afternoon.
Faye is a New Zealander but has lived in the UK since the 60’s and many years ago passed the Tebbit Test. Tebbit you will remember is a former MP for Chingford and a former cabinet minster. In 1990 he made the remark that immigrants should be asked which side their grandparents fought for during the Second World War and which cricket team do they now support living in the UK? If they did not support, say, the England cricket team living in England, they could not be considered truly loyal to England.
Faye passes the test with flying colours and has been an England rugby supporter for years but a crisis emerged early in the tournament when England got knocked out through incompetence and lack of ability. Old loyalties re-emerged quite understandably and I too found myself favouring the All Blacks. So by the time Saturday’s final took place Faye had requested leave of absence from the Tebbit Test and without any UK team of any description in the final I had joined her.
And what an absolutely brilliant game it was; superlatives scarcely do it justice. And what a void is left behind now it is all over!
On a warm summer’s day in 1884, Dr William Gordon Stables, accompanied by his two daughters and a Newfoundland named Hurricane Bob, set off from his Berkshire home for what was to become the first British caravan holiday. ‘The man who is master of a caravan,’ Stables wrote in anticipation of his week-long wagon trip around the Home Counties, ‘enjoys the perfect freedom denied to the tourist, whose movements are governed by the timetable.’
More than 130 years on, millions of Britons still agree. Shunning the lure of low-cost air travel and package holidays, these libertines have been doing it all themselves for decades, and that won’t change soon. The Caravan Club – founded in 1907 to ‘bring together those interested in van life as a pastime’– currently has more than 2,500 badged sites, enough for an average of one for every 30 square miles of the country, and over a million paid-up members. An Englishman’s home may be his castle, but it can always be improved by some wheels, it seems.
Last summer, the Bristol-based photographer Gareth Iwan Jones, 33, undertook a mission to capture the caravan community in its natural environment, in sites from the southern tip of England to the bitter lochs of Scotland. Hiring a three-birth motorhome (a 2010 Elddis Autoquest 180 Sunseeker) with his wife, Kim, also 33, Jones zigzagged 2,393 miles across the country, visiting 32 caravan sites, pausing at each to take portraits of the visitors and collect fragments of their stories.
Though he admits to being familiar with the taste of charred sausages and the dull drum of rain on metal from caravan holidays to Southwold as a child, Jones considered himself outside the culture when he began his journey. ‘It was all pretty new to me,’ he says.
The idea stemmed from his love of ‘hobbyists’; his previous projects have included ferret enthusiasts and child gymnasts. ‘Most of my work focuses on how people spend their leisure time, and I’ve always thought of caravanning as a wonderfully eccentric, colourful world full of quirky characters,’ he says. ‘It is, but I was humbled by how friendly and open everyone was. Not a single person declined.’
Managing to depict the minutiae of caravanning without appearing supercilious, Jones’s images, which feature a mixed cast befitting their itinerant theme, have now become a book, Caravan: A Great British Love Story.
‘Caravanning is not the easiest way to relax,’ Jones says. ‘There are obstacles to overcome at every turn. Even the morning expedition across cold wet fields to reach the shower block can feel like triumph over adversity. But the rewards for sticking with it and embracing the challenges are numerous.’
Just as the pursuit’s famous fans look like the unlikeliest of bedfellows (the former Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett, the England football captain Wayne Rooney and the thoughtless fictional amphibian Mr Toad are three well-known caravan owners), Jones insists there is no ‘typical’ enthusiast. Instead, regions attract their own, distinctive crowds. ‘I noticed that in the north of Scotland there was a much larger percentage of younger couples and families who had made the journey up there, while middle England tends to draw more over-60s, for some reason.’
Despite those differences, Jones found something common among his subjects’ motivations for hitting the road in the first place. ‘People love the quality of time with family and friends that caravanning affords,’ he says. ‘It appeals to our basic, hard-wired instincts, if it is for only a week.’
Caravan by Gareth Iwan Jones (Frances Lincoln, £12.99) is available for £10.99 plus £1.99 p&p from Telegraph Bookshop 0844-871 1514; http://www.books.telegraph.co.uk
You don’t really want to know this but I cannot function properly unless each day I kick off with a refreshing hot shower. And that applies not only at home but even more so when I am travelling in the motorhome.
Ecocamel has come up with the seemingly impossible combination of a really good water spray, some new soft water technology and yet a shower head that uses less water than earlier versions and a lot less than ordinary showerheads. With a 100litre fresh water tank in the motorhome, the sort of water economy I am getting with the new showerhead makes life a lot easier when I am on the road whilst still delivering that all important “charge” to get me up and running each day. The design of the new unit is very high tech – air is drawn in through the air intakes and mixes with water to increase the pressure and forces the water out to significantly boost the power of the shower.
So I get my power shower each morning and use less water.
More from http://www.ecocamel.com
I’m trying hard not to complain about the heat but sometimes, just sometimes, it’s good to leave the motorhome on the drive and enjoy being at home. I guess like all Brits, given half a chance, I am prone to complaining about the weather at all times and under all circumstances but I will admit I am finding 28˚C to 30˚C a struggle.
Am I alone on this??!!