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


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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.


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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


Hunter’s Moon Caravan and Motorhome Club site, Wareham.


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I am spending time at Hunter’s Moon on the outskirts of Wareham. This is one of the Club’s Open-All-Year Sites and it is a delight to stay at.

Not least because a short ten minute walk takes you to the exquisite, friendly and family run The Silent Woman Inn which does excellent food and a big choice of wine and beers. It describes itself as the only local public house designed exclusively for adults.

Christopher Macgowan


Winter caravanning increases.


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More people booked pitches in November 2017 than the same month a year ago according to The Caravan and Motorhome Club.

The club saw an 11% increase in pitches booked during November this year by caravan, motorhome and campervan owners. The same is happening with campers who booked 13% more tent pitches than in November 2016.

Club marketing director, Harvey Alexander, said:

“Our members love an adventure whatever the time of year, and we are here to help and inspire them. Our Sites have fantastic facilities and over 50 of them are open all year round.”

“We also have an extensive five-van site network – Certificated Locations (CLs) – so the range of Sites and CLs enables members to enjoy the best of the UK countryside or explore some of our most vibrant cities throughout the seasons.”

With ‘record-breaking’ bookings in the summer months too, the club’s figures highlight the growing popularity of holidaying in the UK.

Christopher Macgowan


The Orwell Bridge on a fine November morning.


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Today I attended the AGM of the Anglia Region of the Caravan and Motorhome Club in Ipswich – or more specifically on the Nacton Road in Ipswich.

I was brought up here as a child and the River Orwell played a big part during my early school years. Not least because we had to go into the centre of Ipswich where the river was narrow and there was the only bridge to get across it. Many many years later the Orwell Bridge was built enabling Felixstowe to become the hugely successful container port that it now is. And Ipswich was largely bypassed.

Consequently, I felt today a small diversion was justified on my way home to spend a bit of time by the river and as always marvel at the bridge. It serves to remind me that good infrastructure makes things happen and generates growth.

Christopher Macgowan





White Water Park, Stockton-on-Tees, is a must to visit.


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The Caravan and Motorhome Club has given this site a huge upgrade and makeover in the last twelve month. To say it is impressive is an understatement.

In the shorthand that we all use it is 15 acres, Open All Year, 100 touring pitches, Late Night Arrivals Area, Security barrier, TV Room, Games Room, latest Easy Empty grey water point for motorhomes and a Beefeater restaurant within 100 metres.

I thoroughly enjoyed my stay and on leaving the site could not resist a ride across the Transporter Bridge in Middlesbrough. Anyone who loved “The Black Stuff” about a group of Liverpudlian tarmac layers on a job near Middlesbrough and the sequel “Boys from the Blackstuff” will know why.

Christopher Macgowan


AA Caravan and Camping awards 2018 announced.

AA Caravan and Camping Awards 2018

Britain’s best campsites – revealed

The very best spots for caravanning and camping have been revealed today as the AA announce the winners of the AA Caravan and Camping Awards 2018.
Awards winners – the best sites

Amongst those celebrating is The Old Oaks Touring Park in Glastonbury, Somerset, winners of AA Campsite of the Year for England 2018 and Overall winner.

Brexit and the fall in the value of the pound has helped contribute to the rise of glamping and luxury options available, helping to ensure these camping and caravanning sites remain firm family favourites for holiday destinations. More and more sites now provide the likes of luxury yurts and huts in addition to the more traditional family holiday options.

Brand new guide

All winners will feature in the 50th anniversary edition of the AA Caravan & Camping Guide. Each of the 800 sites included in the guide have been visited by one of the AA’s experienced Campsite Inspectors, grading sites from one to five Pennants, based on their facilities and hospitality. Only the parks of the very highest standard are awarded the coveted Gold Pennant award. Each entry within the guide includes location, ratings, contact details, directions, prices, opening times, facilities and a description to help select the right site for your needs.

The winners of the 2018 AA Caravan and Camping Awards are:


ENGLAND AND OVERALL WINNER: Old Oaks Touring Park, Glastonbury, Somerset

SCOTLAND: Trossachs Holiday Park, Aberfoyle, Stirling

WALES: Red Kite Touring Park, Llanidloes, Powys


SOUTH WEST: Trevalgan Touring Park, St Ives, Cornwall

SOUTH EAST: Whitefield Forest Touring Park, Ryde, Isle of Wight

HEART OF ENGLAND: Cakes & Ale, Leiston, Suffolk

NORTH WEST: Skelwith Fold Caravan Park, Ambleside, Cumbria

NORTH EAST: Herding Hill Farm, Haltwhistle, Northumberland


Woodside Bay Lodge Retreat, Wooton Bridge, Isle of Wight


Wheathill Touring Park, Wheathill, Shropshire


Seal Shore Camping & Touring Site, Kildonan, Isle of Arran


Runach Arainn Glamping, Kilmory, Isle of Arran

Buy the 50th edition of The Caravan and Camping Guide
Christopher Macgowan