Faye and I have spent a delightful weekend in Liverpool.
Getting there was a nightmare because of the unexpected closure of the M6 at junctions 18 and 19 but being there was great. The Merseyside Maritime Museum is a must. We were there with Faye’s sister and brother in law; John spent a chunk of his career in the shipping industry and was based in Liverpool for a while so this was a major trip down memory lane for him.
Amazon’s Alexa – the all important woman in my life – has just told me via her afternoon update which I increasingly rely on to keep me up to speed – that it is 30 degrees C right now. At the same time I have received a regular email from The Lake District (an excellent service by the way) giving me loads of reasons why I should be hot footing it to Cumbria.
With photographs like that I require little encouragement.
#motorhome #lakedistrict #omgitishot
The strong market for caravans and motorhomes in the UK is obviously on the radar of the big French and German manufacturing groups, with news of two interesting acquisitions already announced this year. Will there be more?
The big news last week was that Europe’s largest manufacturer of caravans and motorhomes, the mighty Erwin Hymer Group, which last year had a turnover of more than 1.9 billion Euros, bought the UK’s Explorer Group Ltd, which owns and manufactures the well known Buccaneer, Elddis and Compass brands here.
This follows last month’s news that the French Trigano Group (another multiple European caravan and motorhome brand owner, and has already invested in a new factory for its UK subsidiary, Auto-Trail) bought a majority shareholding in the British motorhome brand Auto-Sleepers and its retail network, Marquis Leisure.
I am sure that becoming part of the Erwin Hymer Group has to be good news for the The Explorer Group and its 400 employees up in the North East, but will we see more British caravan and motorhome brands being snapped up by overseas or global brands?
Although it has well established UK brands, the Explorer Group is far from being a market leader in the UK, having trailed behind the UK’s two biggest caravan and motorhome manufacturers, The Swift Group and Bailey of Bristol (both still privately owned), for many years. The new investment and purchasing power of The Explorer Group’s new parent company will surely work in its favour and give it valuable extra security for the years ahead.
We will have to wait (with much interest) to see if its new German owners implement any changes to product quality, specifications and production. The purchase price has not been disclosed, but the Erwin Hymer Group must have expectations for a reasonable return on investment, and it shows the significance of the UK caravan and motorhome market on a European and global stage. Surely that’s something we should be proud of?
Montreuil sur Mer is about an hour south west of Calais and is one of my favourite stopping places – either on the aire which is a hundred metres from the town or on the excellent site which is at the bottom of the very steep hill. On numerous occasions at the end of a long evening I have been grateful for the down hill ramble to the site knowing only too well an uphill yomp by then would have been impossible. But of course for me the aire is best.
Sur Mer is a bit of a misnomer because the sea is nowhere near having receded several kilometres several hundred years ago. It’s a lovely town, very much unspoilt and this time I wandered in for breakfast the next morning and before I knew it a couple of hours had slid by and it was time to head for Calais. It’s just that sort of place.
The past 24 hours have seen a further serious breakdown in law and order at Calais as approximately 150 migrants, some armed with iron bars, attempted to board UK-bound trucks heading towards the Eurotunnel and resulted in the tragic death of a migrant as a result of being hit by an heavy goods vehicle.
It appears that this latest incident was caused by the impact of what was happening locally as part of a national strike which caused HGVs to back up in an unprotected area and made them more vulnerable to attack.
Commenting, Road Haulage Association chief executive Richard Burnett said: “We are saddened by the news that a migrant was killed but we have two questions to ask of the authorities in France.
“First, given that the queues of lorries in an unprotected area was a predictable consequence of the strike, why were measures not put in place to provide adequate security for drivers in the Calais area?
“Second, can we have firm assurance that drivers will not go unprotected when there is such a clear risk in future?
“Calais Region President Xavier Bertrand has worked hard to start to restore security and confidence in the Calais route, including the clearance of the unregulated part of the migrant camp. The events of the past 24 hours are a serious setback to those efforts and must not be allowed to be repeated.”
Road Haulage Association @RHANews
The distance people travel, including on foot, has still not reached pre-recession levels, Government figures have shown. On average each person in England travelled 6,584 miles in 2013 – slightly down on the 6,599 figure for 2012 and well short of the pre-recession total of 7,124 in 2007.
The bulk of the 2013 total figure comprised travel in cars or vans, either as a driver or as a passenger.
Average distances travelled by car or van as a driver last year totalled 3,235 miles, slightly down on the 3,305-mile figure for 2012.
The distance travelled as a passenger in a car or van rose from 1,833 miles in 2012 to 1,865 miles in 2013, while the number of miles walked rose from 182 in 2012 to 187 in 2013.
The average number of miles completed by pedal cycle fell from 55 in 2012 to 49 in 2013, but was still above the pre-recession figure of 43 miles achieved in 2007.
The distance travelled on London Underground (83 miles) and on the railways (567 miles) last year were both almost identical to those for 2012.
The figures came from the Department for Transport. They also showed:
:: In the period October-December 2013, a total of 68% of people travelled to work in Britain by car;
:: There were 228 million arrivals and departures at UK airports in 2013 – a 3.5% increase on the figure for 2012 but still 5% below the 2007 peak;
:: At 1.90 million, the number of passengers starting or ending cruises at UK ports was 15 times higher in 2013 than in 1983;
:: At the end of 2013 there were 35.2 million licensed vehicles in Britain – a 1.6% rise on 2012 and the largest annual increase since 2007.
RAC Foundation director Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “The total mileage we travel by train, plane, automobile or otherwise, has shown a slow but steady decline pretty much over the whole of the past decade.
“The question is why? Does the telecoms revolution mean we are doing more without leaving the house or is it a matter of changing patterns of life and levels of income? These are fundamental questions that need addressing as we plan for a population growth of 10 million over the next 20 years or so.”
AA president Edmund King said: “We know from our research that 79% of AA members enjoy driving, and the car is a much needed item for people, with 76% saying it is essential to their daily lives.
“Today’s statistics show that as the economy picks up people strive to lead mobile lives and that the popularity of personal transport is not as some would suggest on the wane. In essence ‘the car is still king’ and we are beginning to see an increase in younger people and women taking to the roads.”