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Monthly Archives: July 2015

  • England’s best canal-side pubs

     

    Whether you are pulling up to the bar from the water or land, England is host to a wide range of glorious canal-side pubs.

    And despite no promises of sunshine, we can’t think of a better place to spend a long lunch, or lazy evening.

    It was a tough job, but here are some of our favourites (in no particular order):

     

    narrowboat canal

    1) The Narrowboat, London

    Situated directly on Regent’s Canal in Islington this pub attracts people from all over London who love its proximity to the canal.

    We think the food on offer is great too and they are famous for their Sunday roasts. Be warned though, this is London, and you won’t see much change from a tenner for two pints.

     

    2) The Blue Lias, Warwickshire

    If you aren’t local or pulling up in your narrowboat, The Blue Lias also has two large fields you can caravan in from April to October - and we recommend you do as it’s one of the finest canalside pubs we know.

    Whilst it’s wonderful to experience the pub in summer, it also offers a delicious winter menu. Because it’s small (and popular) it does get crowded at times, but we think that only is a good thing.

     

    3) The Saracan’s Head, Lancashire

    Boasting an all-day menu this pub is great for both drinks and food. Beautiful and airy on the inside it also has a big garden outside for when the sun shines.

    Right next to the Halsall Warehouse Bridge, there are some great walks nearby. It’s on the banks of the Leeds Liverpool canal and (we think!) home to some of the friendliest staff in the business.

     

    narrowboat canal

    4) The Three Horseshoes, Hemel Hempstead

    Even when the sun isn’t out this 16th century pub is worth visiting thanks to its roaring log fire indoors. If the sun does come out, well you’re in for a treat as you can sit right on the edge of the towpath gazing at the local wildlife as the sun sets.

    Serving both food and drink, this is a very popular spot.

     

    5) The Two Boats, Warwickshire

    It’s another entry for Warwickshire, but the country does possess a very fine stretch of canal – so we might be a little biased!

    The Two Boats is a beautiful old pub with tonnes of character and good beer on tap, though it’s its chunky chips that regulars all rave about. A really great place just to sit and watch the world go by or pull up for lunch on your narrowboat.

  • Everything You Need to Know About Narrowboat Time Sharing and Part Ownership

     

    If you've ever dreamed of spending your days drifting quietly down the English waterways and exploring the countryside, and your evenings in a cosy country pub or tucked up with a good book, then part-owning or time sharing a narrowboat may be the choice for you.

    Find out more about the differences in each option:

    narrowboat boats canal

    Time Sharing

    This is where you purchase the right to spend a certain amount of time a year aboard a narrowboat. When you buy in to one of these schemes, you are often called the ‘Owner’ by the management company, but you don’t actually own the boat in any way. The boat is held in trust by a club that owns a fleet of narrowboats for the purpose of time sharing them out to people.

     

    In time shares, ‘Owners’ have little or no say in the way that the boat is managed; you may not even get the same boat each time that you opt in. You pay an annual fee to cover the costs of all the boats in the club, rather than contributing to the running of a particular boat.

     

    On the plus side, this could be a good step in between hiring a boat for the week, and committing to part owning a boat, which can be quite costly. It’s an attractive option if you only want a short amount of time a year on the water, and is more flexible as many clubs are part of a larger time share arrangement and offer you the choice to spend a week abroad instead if you’d prefer that occasionally.

     

    narrowboat boat canal

    Part Ownership

    For those of you that would a narrowboat of your own, but can’t afford the cost of buying one yourself, part ownership is the next best thing. It’s where a syndicate is formed of people who each pay for a share of a boat, and differs from time sharing in that this group of people actually own the boat until they sell their share, or collectively decide to sell the boat.

     

    Each of the owners is then entitled to use the boat for a number of weeks a year which is proportional to their share; for example, if you bought a 1/12 share, you get to use the narrowboat for 4 weeks a year. Which weeks you get depends on the method used to decide, which can either be random, done on a rotating list basis, or ad hoc in smaller syndicates.

     

    There are companies who manage the acquisition of the boat, as well as arranging moorings, insurance, boat licence, servicing and maintenance, for a fee of around £400 a year per 1/12 share.

    The other option is to organise the syndicate yourself, which probably works best if you’ve got a group of people together that already know each other, want to part-own a boat, and have the time to manage it themselves.

     

    It will cost you between around £7k and £11k to purchase your share, but be aware that you will also be responsible for the running costs, which over the years will probably amount to more than the price you paid for the share in the first place.

     

    With the part ownership option, you face a bigger financial commitment, but you get the satisfaction of actually owning your own boat, which is likely to be of a much better specification than one you wold get in a time share arrangement.

     

  • What You Must Know Before Taking Your Caravan Abroad  

     

    Taking your caravan abroad is an option that has some great benefits; you get the independence of moving when and where you like, while bringing your own little piece of home with you. The rules of the road vary from place to place, so we’ve given you a checklist of things you need to consider before you set off for Europe or the Republic Of Ireland.

     

    Plan Ahead

    It’s wise to be familiar with your route, carrying either maps or a satnav which functions in the countries you’re visiting.

    Check your vehicle and caravan thoroughly before you leave to make sure they’re roadworthy, examining the tyres of your caravan for tread, bulges and perished rubber especially as they’re often a hotspot for roadside trouble. Don’t forget to manually adjust your headlights or buy converters to do the job for you.

     

    caravan europe

     

    Insurance

    You’ll need to phone your insurance provider to make sure you’re covered wherever you’re going.

    Make sure, also that you’ve got breakdown cover for all the countries you’ll be visiting, and have the contact details for them along with a mobile phone that operates in Europe; being stuck on a foreign motorway with no help in sight is not a pleasurable way to spend your holiday!

     

    Documentation

    It’s essential that you have the passports for everyone that’s travelling, your insurance certificate, an MOT certificate for your car if its more than 3 years old, your V5C (log book) and of course your driving license. It’s also a good idea to have a European Health Insurance Card for everyone on board in case you need to make use of the medical system.

     

    Check the Legalities

    Speed limits can vary from one country to the next, and it isn’t always apparent what the limit is on every road. In France, for example, when you enter a built up area, the speed limit automatically goes down to 50km/h, and for heavily populated residential streets may be 30km/h, with no signage.

    For a full list of the speed limits in European countries, see this webpage: http://www.caravanclub.co.uk/overseas-holidays/advice-and-information/compulsory-requirements/speed-limits

    It’s also worth noting that in most European countries it’s illegal to have a navigation system or program that alerts you to the presence of mobile speed cameras, or speed traps; in France, Germany and Switzerland, if you’ve got a satnav you’ll need to disable the fixed speed camera alerts as they’re prohibited too.

    If you’re planning to tow a car, the safest option is to have a trailer so all 4 wheels of the vehicle are off the ground. The law on A-frames is a bit hazy and seems to depend on how the local police interpret it; while some have had no trouble with using these abroad, others have faced on-the-spot fines.

     

    Equipment

    What you’re required to carry with you as you travel varies from country to country. All EU countries dictate that you must carry a warning triangle, and you’ll need two in Spain or Croatia.

    In Spain you’ll also need a marker board for the rear of your caravan, which should be a plain yellow square with a red border.

    Other equipment you are at least recommended, and in some countries required, to have with you are: a fire extinguisher, a reflective jacket, a first-aid kit, spare glasses if you need them, spare headlight bulbs, and snow tires or chains in icy conditions.

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