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It's Pancake Day

Ali Ray PancakesI heard on the radio this morning Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day will be more celebrated than Valentine's Day.

Certainly in my house pancakes will be on the menu this evening. Quick and easy to make - especially if you are camping - flour, eggs and milk are all basics from the local shop.

Here's my very own recipe for sweet Summer Berry pancakes and even sweeter toffee apple pancakes. I've added a bit of a twist using fruit yoghurt to give a denser pancake and also some bicarbonate of Soda for a rise.

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Ali Ray

Ali Ray

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Ali Ray is as passionate about camping as she is about eating and cooking with locally produced food. You can read more from Ali in Camping & Caravanning and online.

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The Club on the telly and spring in the air

Candy was explaining to the presenter of BBC series Great British Railway Journeys about the origins of the Club, and a fine job she did too!

Ted watching tellyAs you can see, I was engrossed, and while the maid scrambled to find her camera, I watched intently from my perch on the ‘buffet’, as the chauffeur calls it. However, after a couple of shots the maid’s camera battery failed. Honestly, you just can’t get the staff these days!

Now we’re into February, it feels like spring is truly on its way. We’ve seen daffodils flowering early and even blossom on some trees, so it must be almost time to get Milly the caravan out of storage and check her over.

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Travelling terrier Ted, together with his maid and chauffeur, visit campsites around the UK with Milly the caravan in tow. Ted offers tips for places to stay and shares some of his holiday capers.

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Both hands on the wheel

You need a very good reason for getting up early on Sunday mornings – lucky then the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) Skill for Life course is worth the struggle, not least for the immediate sense of achievement.

Stratford-upon-Avon and South Warwickshire Group of Advanced Motorists is run by volunteers who give their valuable time to witness varying standards of driving – in some cases providing in-car therapy for the highly-strung. You have to take your hat off to them.

IAM driving classIt appeared everyone had turned up for the class and while we waited to begin I quizzed one or two about why they were there. In the under-25 camp Kerry explained her employer had booked her on the course as her work involved a lot of time on the road. The experienced driver to my right was Paul. At 70 years old he said he wanted to refresh his skills – conscious of a few areas for improvement.

Week 2 covered Chapter 3 of the ‘How to be a Better Driver’ manual issued by IAM head office weeks before the course began. The classroom session took us through observation, steering, gears and brakes, acceleration and deceleration, with film slides and discussion before we each set off with a designated observer.

Before going anywhere, each driver – or ‘associate’ as we are known – is asked a series of questions about their vehicle. This covers the sort of checks that should eventually become second nature, like ensuring the windscreen isn’t damaged or dirty, checking the tyres are ok, that the licence plate is clean, and prior to pulling away, a quick check of the brakes.
In the classroom we’d watched a clip of a police driver in training to highlight the advantages of push-pull steering (feeding the wheel through the hands as opposed to exciting variations on the norm), block changing gears to save time, and considering potential hazards before spotted: eg fresh horse manure on the road could mean riders around the corner.

We now had the opportunity to put this into practise. Around Kenilworth it seemed everybody was out to play in the road. “Tell me about the possible hazards as we go,” observer James suggested, as dog walkers and cyclists crossed our path. The IAM consider such commentary useful to gauge a driver’s thought processes, and I was soon happily yelling about loose dogs, pedestrians and stationary vehicles along with the odd thing that wasn’t much of a threat at all.

IAM driving class 2
Back at base, James made notes – some good points, others that needed work and a reminder to study the IAM manual as homework. I'm going to have to get into the habit as Week 3 promises driving in town and country, manoeuvring, junctions, signals and cornering.

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