I admit to being a bit hesitant about hitting the road again back to France. The paperwork trail all looked a bit daunting and I was anxious not to be abroad and catching Covid. Anyway, it all has suddenly got easier and so last week we took off via EuroTunnel and had a trouble free and delightful brief stay in France – our first for twenty seven months.
We stayed at the CAMC recommended Château du Gandspette in Eperleques just forty five minutes from Calais. It’s a lovely family owned site and has received some serious upgrade attention over the last couple of years. It sports a café open each evening, grass and hard standing pitches and an extremely friendly welcome.
So, with my doubts now set to one side, European travel is now back on the agenda. And as for the paperwork we carefully prepared – no one was the least bit interested in any of it. But our passports received a stamp like in the old days!
This is one of my favourites mainly because of its London location of course. John and Maria Street have worked the site for some time and are intrepid public transport users on their days off.
Here are just some of their invaluable tips:
Maria and I worked on the site last year and we used just about every bus, train and boats going, it really depends on where in London you want it go and what you want to do. If you want the centre of the Thames which is around Waterloo station or London Bridge where the Shard is, you want the bus outside the shell garage which is the No 363 to the Elephant & Castle. You can either walk from here to the Thames or take the Bakerloo line to London Bridge, we often stay on this train to Paddington station and walk to the canal at Little Venice.
Another option is the No 3 bus on the same side as the garage but the next bus stop walking towards Crystal Palace, this bus will either take you to Lambeth Palace depending on the demonstrators or further to Whitehall Horseguards Parade where you can see Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square and more.
We often use the Uber boats between Westminster and Greenwich with many stops along the way and just using the tap on debit card service likewise with the buses and trains.
Another option is a walk through the park to Crystal Palace station from the site and there are trains for all directions, we often go to Victoria station and then the tube to Kew Gardens (mostly overground) We also take the Highbury & Islington train to Canada Water for tubes to Canary Wharf or the Stratford Centre or stay on the train and visit many other places like to Camden Town. From Camden we often walk the canal to Paddington station, Regents Park and on to Oxford Street.
There are other buses for different directions from the site and I’m sure we can help you, have fun, we do every time we visit.
Fiat has released the first details of the all-new Ducato, the most popular motorhome base vehicle across Europe.
It has already started taking orders, including in the UK, where prices start at £27,005 excluding VAT.
The Ducato is the flagship model of the Fiat Professional range and is used by the majority of motorhome manufacturers – and many campervan makers – as their base vehicle of choice, although it is receiving increasingly competition from Peugeot (Boxer) and Ford (Transit), especially in the UK.
With this all-new model and the recent arrival of the excellent new nine-speed automatic gearbox, Fiat looks set to retain its top spot in the motorhome world for some time to come.
This new model focusses on technology and connectivity, as well as enjoying a refreshed design and improvements to the interior.
A new all-digital configuration of the internal instruments, courtesy of Fiat’s Full Digital Cockpit that, it says, can immediately and clearly provide practical journey information and alerts – from the sat-nav to the driver-assistance systems right down to the options for reconfiguration and interaction with the UConnect infotainment system.
The new UConnect interfaces has screens up to 10”, a top-of-the-range full satellite navigation system including TomTom 3D maps and built-in wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. These latter systems provide access to the most commonly used vehicle controls in just one tap. There are smaller UConnect 7” – also with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto – and UConnect 5” available also.
The interior design sees a redesigned dashboard and steering wheel, along with a new gear lever, new door panels and automatic air-conditioning controls.
There are also new driver assistance and safety systems, and the new Ducato is being marketed as the first light commercial vehicle with level 2 autonomous driving, offering a full range of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) both on the road and when parking.
There is also a new digital central mirror, which digitally improves and shows the rear view to replace the relevant mirror, plus the ESC system has Cross-Wind Assist, Trailer Stability Control and Active Park Assist, the latter a semi-autonomous assistant for parallel and perpendicular parking maneuvers.
Other additions, which will all probably be optional extras, include Keyless Entry and Go – to lock and unlock the cabin and load compartment doors and start the engine without the key; electric parking brake to reduce clutter in the cabin and facilitate relocations; a compartment to charge mobile phones wirelessly; double USB-A and USB-C ports; a high-voltage 230-V power socket; larger and more spacious door panels; heated windshield with internal electrical resistance for quick defrost and self-leveling air suspension.
The cab seats also get a new look as well as new padding and offer more space and comfort, while the new electric power steering, which is standard across the range, is more precise and manageable and benefits from a smaller steering wheel with a reduced turning circle.
There are also new versions of the Multijet diesel engines based on the new and exclusive H3 power architecture proprietary to Stellantis, which lower CO2 emissions by up to 7%.
The New Ducato engines, which are promised to be quieter than the outgoing versions, will be available in four levels of output: 120, 140, 160 and 180bhp with a new 6-speed manual transmission available across the range with that new 9Speed automatic transmission available in the 140 160 and 180bhp variants.
On the exterior, the front features the new Fiat badge in its center. Similarly, the grille, engine housing and skid plates have been redesigned to give, says Fiat, “an impression of stylistic uniformity in step with the times”.
But perhaps more importantly, the new Ducato now comes with high-performance full-LED lights, which are divided into three sections, with the lower one dedicated to the LED light guide, which develops the luminosity “signature” characteristic of the Ducato. The three central lights come with a sporty look and offer 30% more brightness than conventional halogen headlights. Finally, the upper section is dedicated to the direction indicators, the style of which has also been refreshed with an LED light guide with a slider switch, an effect much appreciated and used in cars and now available in a commercial vehicle.
Finally, a new colour – Lanzarote Grey – has been introduced as a color at lunch, which says Fiat has been introduced to emphasise the “adventurous spirit of the New Ducato and specifically dedicated to clients from the recreational sector”.
The new model will be available in three configurations: Easy, Business and Lounge, which can be customised further by adding additional packs with ADAS systems, improved functionality and aesthetics such as in the Trekking pack.
Last but not least, the New Ducato’s Uconnect system can be enhanced in many ways: Uconnect Services and the Fiat app will make it possible to manage and monitor your vehicle directly from smart devices, wherever and whenever you like.
Many services are available through the app, such as remote assistance, smart navigation, remote control, and much more. This means owners can interact with the vehicle even when away from it, to lock and unlock the doors, check its location and set up alerts on speed, area and time slots, as well as monitor fuel level, tyre pressures, odometer readings and receive of direct notifications on maintenance or repairs.
There are other appealing features such as Send&Go, Parking Search and Refueling Station, which mean once you have searched for your destination in the app, it can be sent to the sat-nav with just one tap, then you can view refueling stations and parking lots along the way. The maps are always kept up to date over-the-air, without having to visit a workshop.
It also feature My WiFi, with added WiFi Hotspot, to allow owners to connect up to eight devices and use the Amazon Alexa Voice Service. For alerts if theft is attempted and to receive assistance if the vehicle is stolen, the My Alert pack is available.
Sometimes motorhomers find Cornwall a long way away but in an era of staycations it is back to being hugely popular.
Clearly my loyalties lie with the CAMC but even in these early summer days the sheer number of motorhomes is very apparent and and I can foresee “invasion” headlines appearing in local papers. Congratulations to the Tintagel beauty hot spot for accommodating day time and night time motorhome stays.
For my part I will stay on regulated sites and try to be a responsible tourist. Simply because that is easily the nicest way to have a cracking good holiday – which we certainly had this week at the drop dead gorgeous Trewethett Farm.
I have no idea what the The New Normal will look like but if being out and about virtually non-stop is the route to it, I’m doing all the right things!
Someone asked me what the main changes in my life look like being as (Boris permitting) things start to ease.
Firstly I speak an entirely different language. My most commonly used utterance now is “You’re on mute.”
Secondly I suspect hugging will soon be a recognised Olympic sport as seemingly everyone wants to hug everybody else. Handshaking may never re-emerge.
Thirdly, working from home was formerly seen as tantamount to skiving. Soon it will be so widespread and universally approved that offices will be converted en masse to fast food dark kitchens delivering to hermits skulking in their homes.
Meanwhile The New Normal has yet to be defined but anyway Faye and I are off out tonight to our favourite pub restaurant for an indoor meal.