Just a few miles from the Caravan Cliub Site near Durham is the Three Horseshoes pub in Leamside which, conveniently also houses the Leamside Brewery set up in 2012, so it certainly wasn’t suffering from travel sickness. 3.8% and very acceptable.
Wednesday, 30 April 2014
Monday, 28 April 2014
Thursday, 24 April 2014
Tuesday, 22 April 2014
Ah, thought that would get your attention! Allow me to introduce The Tug – a portable dolly designed to make manoeuvring a trailer or caravan easier. Reg, from The Tug Co recently got in touch through Twitter and offered to send us one for reviewing. Of course we said yes and was able to give it a thorough work out whilst on our Easter weekend break to the Caravan Club site at Crystal Palace.
Right, it’s supplied flat packed, but don’t let that put you off. An instruction sheet is provided but it’s really simple as you will see. First, you will see all the parts laid out. There are no tools in the picture because none are needed.
You can put it together a number of different ways. This was my second attempt and was quicker than the first.
First, the brackets are attached to the axle bar – 2 slot in blots and wing nuts on each, then the tow ball is added, again 2 bolts and wing nuts. The height is adjustable and we will see why later.
Next, the steering arm is attached using two quick release clips, then the handle is attached to the arm with a single clip:
And finally, the wheels, each using a clip release clip:
Position the tow ball under the hitch of your trailer or caravan, lower it on as if you are hitching up, raise the jockey wheel and away you go. Alternatively, depending on the height of your hitch and the tow ball on the dolly, position the Tug and then ease the ball in to the socket by lowering the arm on the Tug.
So, how did we get on with it? Well, first, let’s set the scene. Our caravan; Patsy 2 is no lightweight and weighs in at nearly 1.6 tonnes when fully laden – which she generally is. On the tarmac and level road manoeuvring her was easy – and I’m not exactly muscle bound as you can see. Here, getting the correct angle for you height helps – what is more comfortable for you is better for your back.
The height of the tow ball becomes crucial when steering the TUG – it needs to be high enough so the wheels of the tug don’t foul the A frame at acute angles. You will see also that the hitch–head stabiliser is not engaged – there’s no point making things difficult is there?
On the loose gravel it was a little more tricky – wear something with chunky soles – not cheapo imitation crocs like I was. Getting (and keeping) a grip will make life much easier, and, more suitably shod, I was able to still manoeuver her ladyship with out any help. The pitch sloped upwards towards the rear edge and it did need two of us to move her the last couple of feet.
Our neighbour for the weekend turned up just as we’d finished playing, and he was more than happy to let us use the Tug on his van too. His Eriba was quite a bit smaller than Patsy and clearly lighter as it was easier to move, even on the sloping gravel.
So, what do we reckon overall? Well a great bit of kit – British made too – and no, it didn’t fall to bits after five minutes. It can be put together and taken apart very easily, though you could of course just take the wheels and/or handle off depending on how you plan to store it. For the record, my first attempt took six minutes, the second time it was less than four.
It certainly makes manoeuvring a ‘van easier. At less than 10 kg it’s lighter than a motor mover, and considerably cheaper but obviously more effort is required. A motor mover will get your ‘van over gravel, through muddy grass, and up hills - to a point so clearly there are limitations. However, for quick and easy shunting of ‘vans around a dealers yard, or around a storage compound it’s perfect. It would be a useful bit of kit for campsite owners to have available for campers use too. It’s not limited to caravans, obviously. It will fit any trailer with a ball hitch so will find itself useful in a variety of situations – horseboxes, boats, builders yards and so on.
Two types of Tug are available – we tested the heavy duty one which comes with puncture proof wheels and roller bearings, and coming soon is the option of a erm, longer shaft. Oh, stop it! For more information, including some videos of the Tug in action, check out their website here. All in all, it’s a great product. Well thought out and British designed made too. Good on ‘em.
Tuesday, 15 April 2014
What they say? Well, Tetley’s is owned by Carlsberg and there’s not a single mention of this on their website. However ratebeer.com have this description: Robust & full bodied, with a firm, malty base. A sleek hint of complexity follows, the recipe drawing on a warming nip of Guyana sugar - specially formulated for Tetley’s. The characteristic country charm of the Northdown hop canters across the palate, for a rosy glow after a brisk chase to the finish.
There was certainly a malty presence, but don’t recall anything cantering across my palate! OK but not particularly memorable.
What they say: India Pale Ale is brewed to a lower original gravity and this beer undergoes a similar process of maturation to the Blue Label. The result is a lighter, more mellow ale with a distinctive hoppy character.
No complaints. Nice and light at 3.2% A.B.V. so a good session or party beer.
It’s also the bottled version of Harveys Sussex Best which is rarely less than excellent. Delicious but 3.6% ABV in the bottled compared to 4% A.B.V from the cask.
Monday, 14 April 2014
On as a guest in our local club. This is the only beer to date that I couldn’t finish. I was assured it wasn’t off but it smelt and tasted awful. Not convinced there wasn’t something wrong with it. Will try it again when the opportunity arises.
What they say: We wanted to create a low alcohol, easy drinking beer that is not lacking in flavour…….this ale is light amber in colour, has soft caramel and toffee notes and is dry hopped with an array of citrus-forward hops.
Low alcohol? Christ! This weighs in at 4.7% A.B.V. An American brewery, this was actually brewed by Everards for Wetherspoons Real Ale festival and must be in contention for the weirdest name.
A Friday night pre cinema pint in Wetherspoons and probably the first of the week too. Again I prefer my ale a little more bitter but it was ok. 4.5% A.B.V.
An impressive ale from this relatively young (2008) Cotswold based brewer on offer at Wetherspoons in Devizes in February. 4.4% A.B.V.
What they say: we use pale ale malt and torrified wheat mixed with roasted barley to make this a brew with a malty flavour and bitter sweet finish.
Enjoyed this even though it was not crystal clear. The end of the barrel rather than end of life I’m guessing. 5.0% A.B.V.
What they say: A beer of full body and robust bitterness with a fiery amber hue - just the stuff for dragon slaying! The palate is crisp and tangy, leading to a long dry 'digestive biscuit' finish with hints of orange and blackcurrant.
One of their regular seasonal beers. A bit fruity for me but again in excellent condition. 4.5% A.B.V so no lightweight.
Pleasant but a bit golden for me. Would be nice in the summer I imagine though. Was in excellent condition – like all the Wadworth beer’s we’ve had, but then the brewery was only a few miles away
What they say: A golden brew with an intriguing aroma from the delicate Saaz and spicy Styrian Goldings hops. The full flavour is well balanced with hop bitterness giving a clean finish for easy drinking.
It is certainly easy drinking, but it is also 5% A.B.V so it’s not a session beer unless you’ve a high tolerance or a love of paracetamol. Enjoy
Saturday, 12 April 2014
Wadworth’s seasonal winter ale is just the thing in front of a roaring fire on a cold winters night. 5.8% A.B.V. Powerful stuff and it’ll drown out anything less punchy that follows.
Our February half term break in the caravan was at the Camping & caravan Club site on the outskirts of Devizes, which is also home to Wadworths brewery. How convenient. Even more (or perhaps too) convenient was the pub that was just two minutes walk from the caravan site. Some of the Wadworth regular ales, I‘ve had before, such as 6X and Henry’s – and these are already on the blog somewhere.
What the brewer says: With a gentle rum aroma and dark, unrefined sugar adding a rich smoothness, it is a full-bodied, deep copper coloured ale with a base of crystal malt and delicate Fuggles and Goldings hops.
The rum aroma comes from the addition of Pussers rum to their 6X and brings a slight sweetness to the beer. Would happily drink again. 5% A.B.V
I honestly don’t remember much about this – and no, I hadn’t been overdoing the ‘research’. However I finished it so it must have been ok. A January special from this West Sussex brewery at Wetherspoons on the Marina.
What they say: Classic English tawny pale ale, brewed with pale, chocolate, crystal and wheat malts, blended with spicy Challenger, Styrian and Golding hops, to create a fruity beer with peppery aroma and fruity, biscuity flavour.
Probably on as a guest in LLoyds No 1 (I.E. Wetherspoons) on Brighton Marina. It was the first Friday after New Year and having started a diet – of sorts – this would have been the first pint of the week and would have hardly touched the sides. Tasty, but at 4.5% take it easy.
What the brewer says: A mid amber bitter with a nose of sweet Satsuma and a hint of spice on the palate from the addition of cloves to the brew. The mouth feel is long with a crisp dry spicy hop finish.
Not sure about the satsumas but it was very nice nonetheless, but then Wadworth beers rarely disappoint. Found this in our local on our return from Crystal Palace after New Year. A seasonal beer, obviously.
Tuesday, 8 April 2014
The penultimate stop on our spring holiday was at Highfield Farm Touring Park in Comberton near Cambridge. Friends and regular readers – yes there are one or two – will no that Cambridge is our home town and many friends and some of Trev’s family still live here including his 88 year old Mum who is often referred to in our blogs as HRH. Obviously we’ve brought the caravan up here a few a few times and always try and stay somewhere different.
Whilst they have a website – which the above link will take you to – up until recently to book you had to print out a form and send off with a deposit in the form of a cheque, paying the balance by cheque or cash on arrival. I see now that they are taking card payments. Wise move.
Firstly the site is easy to find, being only minutes from the M11 and with no narrow lanes and blind corners to navigate. Being local (ish) we new roughly where it was but the directions given were accurate with the brown camping signs helping you on the way.
The welcome could not have been friendlier. We (as usual) apolgised for being earlier than the sacred midday beloved of so many sites but that is not generally applied except on Saturdays for one night bookings when you will have to pay a supplement. This makes life a whole lot easier but I hope their flexibility is not abused, particularly at busier times.
The site itself is divided into a number of paddocks separated by high hedges which also border most of the site. You can even pitch amongst the trees opposite reception and this area looks particularly lovely.
There is a choice of grass or hard standing pitches and all can be booked with or without electricity. We had one of the larger hard standings but they were not that big. There was not enough room for a car, caravan & awning and some are considerably smaller.
Each paddock has it’s own facilities block – barring the rally field at the end – and they were immaculate. Plenty of hot water and none of this push button nonsense either. Plenty of water points too although these ARE push button. Gives you something to lean on though whilst you’re waiting for your barrel to fill. We were on site right at the start of their season so there weren’t many of us on site, however given the number of facilities I can’t imagine you needing to queue for long, if at all, even during the busy times.
There is a 1.5 mile walk around the farm (no, we didn’t do it – not enough time – honest!). The local pub is about a 15 minute walk away. Only one real ale on offer when we visited.
The City of Cambridge is but a few miles away but for gawd sake don’t drive in unless you like sitting in traffic and getting fleeced for parking. Make use of the excellent park & ride service, the nearest one being at Madingley, however motorhome users will need to go to Trumpington because of height restrictions. There is also a bus stop just a few minutes from the site.
So, all in all, a great site. We were only here for three nights but would love to have stayed longer. The facilities are excellent and whilst both the major caravan clubs are represented in Cambridge this makes a great alternative. It is owned by the people that run it and you can tell their enthusiasm and commitment. We’ll certainly be back at some point.
Look what’s just arrived! A shipment of products from Worcestshire based company OL PRO:
From the left:
- Winter Long - to protect your caravan or motorhome when not in use or through winter.
- Bottom & Top Plus – an er, interesting name which will no doubt raise an eyebrow or two among certain broad minded folk. Designed to replace the traditional pink and blue liquids for your loo.
- Fresh & Clear - all in one drain and pipe cleaner.
- Inside & Out – a seven in one cleaner for your caravan, glass, wheels, hard surface, fabric, bathroom and those annoying black streaks.
And in the middle:
- Sanidry – dehumidifying tray to catch humidity from the atmosphere and help keep the interior of your caravan or motorhome damp free.
Look out for reviews of all of these over the coming weeks.
Monday, 7 April 2014
It was certainly drinkable, and at 3.5% ABV a good session beer but not surprisingly lacks the flavour of it’s more potent stable mate London Pride. Inoffensive and easy drinking.