Back at the start of July we had an invitation to travel up north to visit Erwin Hymer Group at their manufacturing facility in Consett, County Durham for the first look at the 2020 caravans and motorhomes.
By coincidence a young lady that I had been ‘chatting’ with via email for several months was visiting from the far off land of a thousand landscapes. We had provisionally planned to meet up in Derbyshire but after realising we would both be staying at the same site – C&MC Teesdale Barnard Castle for the Erwin Hymer event we could catch up there and travel to the event together, woo hoo… go us, saving the planet.
The last time Sue and I were at Barnard Castle was back in 2011 or 12 (link here) I think and we were staying at the C&CC site a little further along the road. We drove past the C & MC site and both remarked at the time that it looks either new or recently redone, as you could see all the pitches from the road and the planting was nothing more than two foot tall twigs with a few leaves. What a difference a few years and careful ground maintenance makes.
As the event was scheduled for the Monday, we opted to travel to the Barnard Castle site on the Sunday. This would hopefully allow us to traverse the Pennines when the traffic was the lightest on the M62. Usual prep saw us hitched up and ready to roll by 11:20. Selecting the Barnard Castle site in the Garmin GPS gave us the option of two routes – east ofer the M62, then north uptimes he A1M or North M61, M6 and east via the A66. Now two things at this point… one, my own internal navigation had never considered north than east… I’d always thought of the north east as a M62 – M1 route. The second was being given the option of two routes with an overview map with distances and timings on the Garmin, our previous TomTom GPS just gave us a route.
A stop around 12:45 for coffee saw us arriving at Teesdale Barnard Castle after 128 miles of towing around 14:45. The traffic being light all the way.
I flirted off a text message to say we had arrived and shortly after received one back.. a few minutes later a familiar, yet never met person came wandering up.
It was course Karen, from the great YouTube channel “Travelling K“. Karen was over travelling around the UK meeting up with some of her followers and some of the people she follows.
We sat outside for around three or four hours chatting about all sorts including caravanning (duh that’s a given) and New Zealand and everything else in-between. I’d previously offered a lift to Karen with Sue and myself over to the Erwin Hymer Group preview of the 2020 Elddis Caravans & Motorhomes and we confirmed details. It was about a 50 minute run from the C & MC Barnard Castle site to Consett through some spectacular countryside.
2020 Elddis reveal…
Nope… not going to see it. At the time of rising there is still an embargo on any release of info or photos. That’s why you haven’t seen Karen’s video about it yet and I’ve not posted some of my usual trivial scribblings on the subject. Save to say…”Hmm, that’s new”.
We did meet up with Karina & Jules (Here We Tow) , Stephen and Karla (Adventure Wheels Blog) to name a few (well I don’t want to drive my google stats crazy by name dropping too many!)
So no photos or comments about the reveal for now. It is fairly new territory for many caravan and motorhome manufacturers to invite the great unwashed bloggers and vloggers to their events. Traditionally it’s been members of the esteemed market sector press, dealers and suppliers. However over the last couple of years most of the manufacturers are catching up (I think Bailey were one of the first) realising that the traditional outlets for marketing are changing. For instance the ABC figures (Audit Bureau of Circulations) for Practical Caravan Magazine shows issue sales around 18,000 copies per month Practical Motorhome 12,300 per month, Caravan Magazine 7,500 per month and Motorcaravan Motorhome Monthly (MMM) around 28,000 per month. If you look at those figures, revenue for the publishing house has to come from advertisers, the cover charge cannot cover the printing and publication costs alone, therefore advertising brings in the main source of income and this brings the marketing budget into focus for a lot of manufacturers. Now I don’t know what the figures are for other blogs and vlogs but Caravan Chronicles gets around 200,000 page hits per week. At some point I probably get more people reading something I’ve written than an article in one of the magazines. Same goes for video blogs on YouTube. At some point more people will watch something about caravanning than will read about it.
This has not been lost on marketing departments. It’s now becoming easier (read cheaper) to invite a number of social media “commentators” for want of a better word, to launch and reveal events that it is for a printed press campaign and get a far wider reach across to people that may not buy printed publications.
Don’t have a problem with it… we might get a freebie buffet now and again but as I’m not being paid for it I can basically ramble on as I like. However there are a couple of rules, one being you don’t break ‘publication embargo’ dates, the other is if you are in a position to take photos or videos of something and the company requests not to publish as its privilege or proprietary then you don’t. Not difficult rules really.
We ( well I ) had promised Karen an evening meal after the Elddis event and that boring I’d put all the ingredients for a Rogan Josh curry into the slow cooker.
I might have set Anglo-Kiwi relations back fifty years…
Unfortunately the recipe was untried although from a reliable source. It smelt good and the nan bread was placed int he over for a quick warm up. Wine was opened, the smell form the slow cooker was enticing. Rice was microwaved, plates laid with associated ironwork and finally the slow cooker brought to the table. OK insert screening to a halt sound.
It was awful… no flavour, no bite, no heat, not enough seasoning and watery, not thick. It couldn’t cling to a wall if you threw it. Karen was very diplomatic and said bugger all… mind you that might have been something to do with the…. ‘would you like another glass of wine” tactic to divert attention from the curry. This night may have done bugger all for Anglo-Kiwi relations.
How good is this…
If you have ever watched Martin “The Caravan Nut” you might have seen his video “3M Cutting Compound & Wax Trial“… (if not go and watch it now then come back here). He tries out the 3M cutting compound and wax… bit like the title of his video come to think about it…
Well I had ordered some and in the aftermath of ‘the curry incident’ I decided to work off the excess “argh” and give it a try. Well what can I say, but what a fantastic product. It took a couple of hours of work but the first results on the fibreglass front cap are amazing. It’s has removed that powder feel coating and actually started to put some shine back into the gel coat. (a subsequent second go improved things again). I’m not saying it should used every time you wash you caravan but two or three times a year should restore and maintain the gel cote on your fibreglass front cap.
PS.. f you haven’t watched any of Martins videos, go ahead and give them a go “The Caravan Nut“. I like videos about doing stuff, repairing stuff, installing stuff, making stuff and inventing stuff. Martins videos have stuff.
Wednesday saw Karen heading off in the general direction of Hull. We had talked about maybe trying to meet up at Dusseldorf for the Caravan Salon however it may not be an option as Sue is a bit limited in the time she can take around then. I did think about going on my own, but if you look at the cost and logistics it wasn’t really worth it. Been trying to get there for the past three years but for one reason or another never made it. However there is always next year!! If you want to catch up on Karen’s video for Barnard Castle you can find it here… just ignore the idiot part way through…
I’m He’s only on for a few seconds thankfully!
We didn’t have to head back until Thursday and took the opportunity to catch up on a few other chores around the caravan. I still need to finish off the window edges that I started in Betws-y-coed, but I did manage to stick some of the top cupboard door edging strips that were coming adrift.
Thursday morning the weather wasn’t so good. It was dry but rain and strong wind were forecast for the East coast, so rather than head count down the A1M and west over the M62 Pennine route I opted to take our Garmin SatNav’s other offering, west over the A66 to meet up with the M6 then turn south for the M61 and M60 around Manchester. All in all the milage worked out the same but the route was far more scenic, especially coming westbound over the A66.
” The Kiwi Curry Incident” as it shall henceforth be referred to…. I re-created the curry… same slow cooker, same recipe, same everything – except slightly shorter cooking time. The result? The same… it was awful. That recipe now banished and shall never be cooked or spoken of again. In other news I can do a mean chilli in the slow cooker, and my slow cooker slow cooked spicy chicken casserole with chorizo and rice is a bit of a hit too.
Hi Simon. It has been noticed by another CT member that you have not contributed since 1st August 2019 – I do hope that all is well with you both and that your new’ish VW is serving you well.
Simon Barlow said:
Everything is fine thanks. The Amarok is running well… now just over three years old and still under 15K miles so hardly run in yet!
I’ve been involved in a couple of electrical related projects for a leisure industry manufacturer….and writing equipment installation guides, plus searching for a bit of work…. looking for something related in the caravan industry.
With the amount of remote fault finding and Q & A answering on electrical issues I’ve been doing, I’m even pondering setting up as a specialist in the field…mind you would anyone pay me.. Ha Ha!
Thanks for getting in touch.
Hi again Simon. It so good to hear that you are OK and being kept busy and as for the :– I’m even pondering setting up as a specialist in the field…mind you would anyone pay me.. Ha Ha!
When businesses/companies purport to carrying out specialist works and then hire in those few and far between individual that really do know what they are doing and then charge out the work at telephone numbers on top of what they have been invoiced for then it is time for creating a name for yourself.
I found that out when I was self employed for the last 31 years in my trade;doing work in the money-belt areas of the UK during the early/middle 2000’s.
I was lucky in that I knew the people/businesses that I was doing the sub contracted work for and was paid very well for my skills and knowledge in my trade.
Lew Jack said:
Hi Simon – read your recent blog and was particularly interested in your two unsuccessful slow cooked curries. Would love to have a copy of your ingredients to allow me a go at recreating the dish. As a one-time Royal Navy chef…amongst my other roles before retiring in ’94, I still love cooking even to this day. My wife won a watch when she met & married me!!
Can’t give any opinion on the taste or flavour..in any event, you may not welcome one but regarding the consistency of the sauce; it strikes me that there wasn’t enough thickening agent, flour, cornflour or tomato paste, cream or yoghurt. All of the foregoing would have thickened up the liquid. Lentils or chickpeas are also great for thickening curry sauces.
Would also be keen to know the model & size of your slow cooker as my electric ones at home are much too big & heavy for hauling around the UK countryside or Europe.
Keep up your very interesting and often brilliant chronicles.
Humorous and enjoyed it. Our invitation as an owner of an Elddis product is only for 21st and 22nd September so how did you manage to swing it so early in the year for the 2020 model???
Simon Barlow said:
Not sure really…. Invites for various manufacturers launches and press releases hit my inbox.
I seriously think that there is a step change running through the industry right now and the realisation that bloggers and vloggers can have as much or more influence on sales as traditional advertising routes To this end I suspect marketing companies are now looking at who the social media influencers are.
I know I get regular requests from marketing companies to tie up with them and their customers to promote goods and services. The vast majority I turn down as I’m not really into product reviews for the sake of them. If I like something I would prefer to buy it… then if its below standards I don’t have any problem letting rip… so to speak.
The other aspect for me is I do get request to test something and report back on the product and not publish anything. If I then got the same thing to test from another source it could be professionally very difficult.
This also why I tend to buy through Amazon, I’m anonymous. I could go direct to some suppliers but in the past I have received offers of ‘large discounts’ on the product. Now I don’t know if this was in expectation I would give a favourable review and /or promote the company or outlet supplying the product… so I stopped buying direct.
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