Archive for July, 2012
There’s nothing worse than a long journey in a car that whiffs. Adrian Flux Insurance Services like to keep things fresh, so the team have brought together a guide to car air fresheners.
There appears to be a car air freshener in any shape or scent imaginable, so there really is no excuse for a smelly motor…. although it’s best to keep the interior of the car clean and locate the source of the pong. You can even get fresheners that smell like the scent of a new car.
The traditional car air fresheners hang down from the rear view mirror. There are versions of these on the market, including car-shaped air fresheners from Haynes, depicting various models, including this VW Beetle one available from Halfords. For the really traditional look there’s the classic magic tree air freshener, available to purchase from a number of garages and retailers, including Amazon.co.uk. The shapes available range from feet to football team emblems. Even Jelly Bean (www.jellybelly-uk.com) have brought out a range.
Another type of air freshener, known as vent sticks, clip onto your car’s air vents discreetly to deliver a more subtle way to keep your car fresh-fragranced. Like these Carplan odour eliminating pink lily and grapefruit vent sticks, £2.49 from Halfords (www.halfords.com).
Also available on the market is spray air freshener specifically designed for use in a car. There are a number available including these from Richbrook (www.richbrook.co.uk). Richbrook manufacturer Ford and Vauxhall branded pump air fresheners, as well as a general spray, all designed to give off the new car fragrance, without having to have an air freshener on show. Using these kinds of air fresheners enables you to use them just when they are required, which also makes them last longer.
Other Flux favourite fresheners include Richbrook’s refillable air fresheners, depicting MG, Vauxhall or Ford logos, which stick to dash board. Some of the teams film buffs also like those depicting favourite film characters, such as this Dr Who Dalek one available from Amazon.co.uk.
Driving in Europe can be a great pleasure – especially on some of the less crowded roads, such as through central and Southern Spain. On the other hand, for inexperienced drivers heading for, say, the Paris Périphérique or Central Barcelona, it can be a harrowing experience.
Here the experts at Adrian Flux Insurance Services give a few pieces of sage advice about how to get the most out of driving in Europe.
The key thing is: plan ahead. Obviously you’ll need maps, even if only as back-up to the Sat Nav, and there are plenty of sites to buy them online, such as Drive Alive. It’s a good idea to have paper versions of your planned routes, too, using one of the many services available. One of the Flux team’s favourites for European routes is ViaMichelin.
If you are driving your own car abroad, check you have what you need in terms of emergency triangles, first aid kits, spare bulbs, headlamp beam adjusters, hi vis jackets, GB stickers, a Green Card, and so on. Regulations vary from country to country. There are plenty of sites giving advice, including the AA and RAC, both of whom offer kits for those travelling abroad. There are also lots of sites selling essential legal items individually, so if you already have a triangle (or two) you don’t need to buy another as part of a package. Try Auto Bulbs Direct for starters.
Make sure you tell your insurance company or broker you are taking the car abroad. Most insurers include some driving abroad as part of the policy, assuming it’s for pleasure, for a limited time and in permitted countries. You need to tell them where you’ll be visiting so they can check your cover. They can also give you information about your Green Card.
If you’re not used to driving on the right, take extra care and give yourself time to get acclimatised. Pay special attention when overtaking or driving on narrow lanes, as your spatial awareness needs to adjust. Hazards like roundabouts take a while to get used to. The Foreign Office site has some useful tips on driving abroad.
These days many people will buy Sat Navs to help them navigate on the continent. Make sure the model you select has maps for the countries you plan to visit – often two similarly-named units will cover either the UK only or all of Western Europe, for example. Also, don’t assume that, because it’s new, it will have the latest maps on it. Many manufacturers offer a free map update within a specified period of purchase, so make sure you take the time to log on to a computer to do it before you set off. SatNav Expert offers price comparisons on many of the most popular models.
The number of people taking to the road in caravans has increased by 25 per cent in recent years, according to figures released by the Caravan Club. So for those of you planning on a road trip with your caravan for the first time, specialist insurance broker Adrian Flux has come up with 10 essential tips to make sure your journey runs smoothly.
10 tips for first-time caravanners:
- Get the basics right: make sure you have the correct licence for towing your caravan (check direct.gov.uk for details) and make sure you know the maximum speed limits for driving while towing a caravan – for example, the maximum speed limit on a dual carriageway is 60mph and 50mph on single carriageways.
- Ensure that you’re in full control of your caravan by practicing potentially tricky manoeuvres such as parking and reversing before you set out onyour first journey. Extension towing mirrors on your car will allow you to have a clear view down both sides of your caravan and make sure that all lights and indicators are working on both the caravan and your car.
- Never leave home without a caravan first aid kit: WD40, Milton fluid, a reliable torch, spare fuses, adjustable spanner, two screwdrivers, a set of battery leads and a strong tow-rope. You’ll have all the equipment you need to deal with a crisis – or to allow you to be a Good Samaritan to someone else in trouble.
- Face facts: caravans are often unpopular with fellow road-users, so don’t compound the situation with poor or selfish driving. Plan your route carefully, carry a road map in addition to your sat nav, avoid dawdling and if a queue builds up behind you on a single lane road, pull over when it’s safe to do so and let faster vehicles pass. Unless it’s vital, try to avoid travelling during the morning or evening rush hours.
- Remember when you are planning to overtake in your caravan that you will need to travel for further than normal to pass a vehicle, so allow plenty of time and space to do so. Similarly, bear in the mind the size of your caravan when approaching low bridges or using car parks.
- If you find your caravan swaying from side to side as you drive, don’t panic, simply reduce your acceleration and slightly loosen your grip on the steering wheel until you regain control.
- Don’t be too adventurous on your first trip: choose a location close to home so that you can allow yourself more time for the all-important unhitching and setting up.
- On that note, don’t be frightened of your caravan. Everyone was a novice caravanner at some point and even experienced travellers may take several attempts to reverse their caravan into their pitch. You’ll find that most fellow caravanners are happy to help if you need a hand and are full of useful tips.
- Give yourself peace of mind by making sure your caravan has the right insurance policy to suit you and your needs. Caravans cost a lot to replace and insurance can be surprisingly inexpensive. Call specialist broker Adrian Flux on 0800 369 8590 or visit adrianflux.co.uk for the best quotes on the market.
- Relax: you’ve bought a caravan to escape from the stresses and strains of everyday life, not add to them!
Parents experience some trepidation when piling children into the car for a journey of any length – children quickly get bored, and long trips especially can deteriorate into a miserable, bad-tempered experience – unless you do a certain amount of forward planning.
In these days of iPods, iPads and hand-held gaming consoles things have got a lot easier but sometimes you can’t beat good old-school games to get the family chatting and laughing while the miles tick away. Here Adrian Flux Insurance Services looks at the top ten games that have stood the test of time.
Friend or Foe is probably the most common and the most irritating game. It’s where children wave at people in passing cars and if they wave back they are a friend, and if they don’t, they are foe.
When I went to the Car Boot Sale is a variation on the old ,when I went to market’ game. The game weeds out those with a poor memory. The first player says “when I went to the car boot I picked up an aardvark, the second player then repeats this and adds another item and so on. If you forget an item, you’re out.
Link Words is a category game. Once a category is chosen, such as footballers, the first player says a name, for example ‘Lampard’ and the next player has to think of a footballer that starts with the last letter of that name, so they could say ‘Defoe’, then the next ‘Earnshaw’ and so on.Terrace Chants is a useful reference site to settle arguments.
I Spy is one of the simplest games around and known by all. Someone starts off by choosing an object and saying, “I spy with my little eye something beginning with ….”, the others then have to guess the object. You do need to choose an object that can be seen at all times to avoid a huge shouting match.
Treasure Hunt needs some preparation by making a list of things to be seen on your journey that can be ticked off as they are spotted along the way. If you can’t be bothered putting together a list, then I-Spy Books, which were first published in 1948, and have recently returned to the shelves provide a ready-made alternative. There are now 37 titles in print that also cover holiday activities such as On the Seashore as well as On a Road Trip.
Rock Paper Scissors, a game for two players, is another old favourite that doesn’t need any preparation or any special equipment, just a couple of players, each with a free hand. There is even a Rock Paper Scissors Society that has tips on how to win. For anyone who doesn’t know how to play this game of bluff and skill, the UK Rock Paper Scissors Championships website has some simple rules.
Silence of the Lambs is usually a short game which, unlike the film of the same name doesn’t involve cannibalism. Simply offer a treat as a prize for whoever can stay quiet the longest. It might be advisable to put a minimum time requirement on this one, or else you will need a humungous bag of treats!
Who am I couldn’t be easier. One member of the family thinks of a well-known person and the others have to guess who it is by asking up to 20 questions.
Fizz Buzz is the age-old numbers game, deceptively simple but fiendishly difficult. This one is especially popular with maths freaks as it requires a working knowledge of your multiplication tables. Players start counting from one and on every multiple of five say fizz and of seven say buzz. When someone makes a mistake they are out. Details of the rules can be found on Classic Games and Puzzles.
Number Plate Bingo requires some Bingo Cards. Players look out of the window and cross off the numbers on their cards. Double figures require seeing that sequence of numbers. The winner is the first one to complete their card.
An insurance broker is offering big discounts on motor insurance for those who have owned their vehicle for at least four years, after seeing a dramatic fall in claims.
Adrian Flux Insurance Services has pledged to beat virtually any quote until the end of August 2012 where the driver has owned the vehicle for at least four years and has had no fault claims in the past 12 months.
It’s further good news for hard-pressed motorists after research showed that car insurance premiums have fallen for the second consecutive quarter.
The average cost of car insurance between April and June was £797, compared with £816 in the first three months of the year – a decline of 2.3 per cent.
And Gerry Bucke, general manager at Adrian Flux, said the summer sale was the result of a steep decline in claims from motorists who keep hold of their car, van or motorhome.
“We’ve noticed a massive drop, so these are clearly the type of people who deserve to be paying less for their insurance – and the motorists we want on our books,” he added.
“Our records show that a lot of accidents happen within the first year of owning a vehicle, and they fall away significantly after the fourth year.
“It’s partly down to experience, and it probably says a lot about the more steady type of person who doesn’t chop and change their vehicle all the time.”
The number of fraudulent claims, a major contributor to the rise in premiums in recent years, is also virtually non existent among longer-term owners.
“All of these factors combined have enabled us to reduce our rates this summer for this group, subject to our usual underwriting criteria,” added Mr Bucke.
Going on holiday is an annual institution. It’s a time to relax, unwind and forget the cares of the world. But it’s also a great time for burglars. They know there are lots of empty properties around, and cruise the streets looking for easy homes to target. Worse still, they may also have been monitoring your behavior and waiting for you to leave.
There are some easy precautions you can take to deter burglars. But even the best security measures will not put off a determined burglar, so make sure your home insurance policy is fully paid up and that you have adequate cover. If you are going away for longer than two weeks, it is probably best to check with your insurance company that there are no exclusions likely to kick into action.
In an attempt to cut down the on number of break-ins while property owners are on holiday, Adrian Flux Insurance Services has put together six top tips to deter burglars.
- Make sure you have locked up properlyo look around for windows that may have been left open.
- Don’t leave garden tools outside, not only as they might get stolen but they may help the burglar gain access to your home.
- Burglars don’t like to be watched while they are breaking in, so cut back bushes to make sure there are no hiding places.
- Make your home looked lived in. Find a neighbour who can open and close the curtains, manage the post and clear up rubbish. If this is not possible there are timed switches for lighting on the market and even automatic timed curtain tracks for opening and closing the curtains.
- Move valuables away from the window so the inquisitive burglar won’t be able to assess what you’ve got. If you’ve got some spare time you could even follow this tutorial and make a false book to keep small valuables safe.
- Don’t put a name and address label on your luggage. This not only tells thieves you are not at home but also where to go to get your goodies. A mobile phone number is a better form of identification.
Take a look around at other sites on the web such as Response Electronics and Absolute Security. Although they are primarily selling security devices they do have some good information to offer. And for unbiased advice visit Crime Stoppers who, like Batman, are only interested in fighting crime.
For many the appeal of a caravan holiday is the lure of getting away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, visiting far off places and meeting new people. But for others it’s the time to curl up in the sun with a good book. And if it rains no-one wants to be without something to read.
Adrian Flux has put together some holiday reading recommendations for the whole family that should fill those long, lazy sunny days or those rain-soaked, ‘what shall we do’ hours. Not all the titles are new but they are all different and absorbing in their own way.
Stieg Larsson’s Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the first book in a trilogy, is very popular at the moment especially with the release of a feature length film. It’s not for everyone though, the sex is somewhat weird and it is very violent, but with that proviso it’s a compulsive read. Larsson dropped off the manuscripts with his publisher shortly before dropping dead, adding a further twist of intrigue to the tale. All three books in the trilogy are now available in paperback if you get hooked.
And of course no caravan holiday should be complete without reading Two Caravans by Marina Lewycka, the author of the highly acclaimed A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian. If you like this type of book then try Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday for genuine laugh out loud moments and perfect plotting.
Teenagers, both boys and girls, are sure to be drawn into Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking Triology. Start with The Knife of Never Letting Go. Set in a world where things are certainly not as they seem, and, due to a virus, men’s thoughts can be heard by everyone. It is a story of man’s inhumanity to man and other species, downright cruelty, madness, deep sadness and a boy and a girls sheer determination to try and do what is right. Put aside some time for this one as you won’t be able to stop, so get all three books in the trilogy lined up before you start.
For younger children Andy Stanton’s Mr Gum books are a laugh a minute. They start with You’re a Bad Man Mr Gum, and there are now seven books in the series. Mr Gum is a truly nasty old man. He’s absolutely grimsters according to the author Andy Stanton, himself a comedian. But this book is not just about Mr Gum. There is also a little girl called Polly, an evil butcher, heroes and sweets and stuff, and Jake the dog, who must be saved from terrible, terrible evil.
But let’s not forget about the little ones in the family. James Mayhew’s charming Can You See a Little Bear illustrated by Jackie Morris is excellent for reading aloud and the pictures are exquisite. And John Burningham’s John Patrick Norman McHennesy – the boy who was always late – is a witty tale and sure to be a hit all round.
All books are in print and available from high street booksellers as well as online bookstores such as Amazon.
With the Olympics on the not-so-distant horizon, it’s a good time for sports fans to start looking at accommodation near the events. Unfortunately this can come with a high price tag. So it’s a great opportunity to get the caravan off the driveway and visit some of the action around the country, without having to spend an arm and a legon hotels.
With events taking place throughout the country, many established and temporary caravan sites are providing special offers for the Olympic games. Here the caravan insurance specialists at Adrian Flux suggest some of the best caravan sites that are near to the main events.
- There’s so much happening in central London that caravan sites in the surrounding area will be packed out. Early booking is recommended. The Elm campsite is only seven tube stops away from the Olympic park and the main stadium, so it is very central to many of the events. The campsite will also be creating their own ‘sporting village’ atmosphere, by erecting a marquee and TV, so even if you are not lucky enough to have tickets you can still watch the events.
- Another site, Camping 2012, located just off the M25, is also a great location for the 2012 games. It claims to be only 15 minutes from central London, with camping pitches from 20 pounds per night. There is a bus service running to central line train stations to make access to central London even easier. They will also provide a marquee, open daily, with a bar and live coverage of the Olympic events. If you’re unsure about getting from the campsite to the games they’ve made a video diary of the journey.
- There are also many events happening outside of central London. The Lee Valley Water Centre, VeloPark, Hockey and Tennis Centre which are all located along the 26-mile-long Lee Valley Regional Park. The Lee Valley Camping and Caravan Park in Edmonton offers peace and quiet away from the central buzz of the Olympics in London.
- Another sport taking place outside of London is mountain biking, at Hadleigh Farm in Essex. Staying here is a great opportunity to combine your trip to the Olympic games with a seaside holiday. Riverside Village Holiday Park is close to Hadleigh Farm, the seaside and also easily accessible to London.
- The Millennium Stadium in Cardiff is hosting some of the men’s and women’s football and is situated right in the heart of Cardiff. However there are plenty of caravan sites that offer affordable and easily accessible accommodation nearby, such as the Llandow Caravan Park is around a 30-minute drive from the stadium. The stadium is particularly special, as it will be hosting the very first event of the Olympic games.
Although E.M Forster’s novel ‘A Room with a View’ is essentially a comment on the repressed culture of Edwardian England, the sentiment of wanting to have a pleasant aspect outside the window still holds true. Any property with an outstanding view and especially those overlooking water command a premium price.
The Household Division of Adrian Flux Insurance Services arranges specialist home insurance for properties throughout the UK both for private householders and landlords. Flux is used to sorting cover for homes that may be just a little bit different from the run of the mill and has got to know where their clients go to find a home with a spectacular view .
- Waterside apartments in marinas offer relaxing retreats for those of the boating fraternity or for ‘would be boaters’ – those who just like to lounge around soaking up the atmosphere. Specialist agencies such as Waterside Properties have a great selection of homes from flats to waterside chalets with integral boathouses.
- A panoramic cityscape takes a lot of beating and night-time views can be breathtaking. For those wanting to live the high life Our Property offers advice on buying a penthouse. Dockland property such as that at Canary Wharf not only has the combined advantage of water and city views but it is right there in the centre of the action for the 2012 Olympics. Excel Docklands handles property in Canary Wharf, Poplar, E14, Isle of Dogs, Millwall, West Ferry, Wapping and Bow, Royal Albert Docks and Wapping.
- As a complete contrast, property in the Scottish Highlands is for those who like the outdoor, rural life – hiking, shooting, fishing, mountain biking or even gentler activities like painting and drawing. Local agencies such as Scottish Highland Properties based in Inverness, Nairn and Dingwall can offer first hand advice and knowledge to would be purchasers including a full rental management service.
- If you’re wondering how prices compare around the country, nationwide property sites like WelcomeHome are a first stop to browse and make comparisons.