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The 50 most amazing feline facts

You may know that your feline friend is the cat’s pyjamas, but did you also know that Napoleon ran a mile if he saw a cat? Or that the average cat meal is the equivalent to five mice? Adrian Flux Insurance Services, which provides a full range of cover for all kinds of pets, discovers 50 funny, quirky and downright amazing facts about cats.shutterstock_142870015

1) Cats get stuck up trees because, while their claws are perfectly evolved for climbing up trunks, the curved claws make it impossible for them to climb down – unless they climb backwards.

2) Only three animals walk by moving the front and hind legs first on one side and then the other: giraffes, camels and cats.

3) The richest cat in the world, Blackie, was left a staggering £15 million by his owner, Ben Rea.

4) A cat purrs at 26 cycles per second, the same as an idling diesel engine.

5) Egyptians shaved their eyebrows as a sign of mourning when they lost one of their beloved cats.

6) Cat jaws only have the capability to move up and down and not side to side.

7) The first cartoon cat was Felix the Cat in 1919.

8) A cat has no fixed collarbone and so can fit through any opening the size of its head.

Cute little red kitten sleeps on fur white blanket

Cute little red kitten sleeps on fur white blanket

9) A group of kittens is a kindle, a group of grown-up cats is a clowder.

10) Cats do not have a sweet tooth.

11) The first cat show was held in London in 1871.

12) Cats can make around 100 different sounds in comparison to a dog, which can make around different sounds.

13) The word ‘tabby’ comes from the Spanish word ‘tabi’ which was a kind of cloth made of watered-silk.

14) Cats have almost 60 vertebrae in their spines compared to the 34 that humans have.

15) The first mention of a cat flap in literature was a hole described in Chaucer’s the Miller’s Tale from his Canterbury Tales. The first use of the words “cat flap” was in 1957.

16) Cats can independently rotate their ears 180 degrees.

17) Along with primates, cats are the only species that can choose shapes – such as triangles – out of a group of circles.

18) A cat can travel at a top speed of approximately 31mph over a short distance.

19) The first cat in space was a French cat called Felicette who went into orbit in 1963. She survived the journey.

20) Cats need whiskers in order to determine whether or not a space is too small for them to squeeze through.

21) A cat can jump up to five times its height in one bound.

22) In just seven years, a single pair of cats and their offspring could produce an astonishing total of 420,000 kittens.

23) It is believed that cats can detect earthquake tremors up to 15 minutes before humans can.

24) Cats were first domesticated more than 4,000 years ago.

25) Most cats detest the scent of orange and lemon.

26) Cat urine glows in the dark if a black light is shone on it.

27) It has been scientifically proven that stroking a cat can lower one’s blood pressure.

28) The Turkish Van cat is one of the few cats that enjoys swimming. It has a coat with a unique texture that makes it water resistant.

29) Just like fingerprints, every cat’s nose pad is different.

30) In addition to using their noses to smell, cats also use an additional organ called the Jacobson’s Organ which is located in the upper surface of the mouth.

31) Cats can see clearly in only one sixth of the light that humans need.

32) Kittens begin dreaming when they are a week old.

33) The world’s most expensive coffee is made with beans that have been excreted by Civet cats.

34) Napoleon was terrified of cats.

35) In America, there is one cat for every four people, in the UK the ratio is one cat for every ten people while in Austria the ration is one-to-one.

36) If a cat is frightened, its fur stands up all over its body. If it is ready to attack, the hair only stands up in a narrow band along the spine and tail.

37) The average cat food meal is the equivalent to about five mice.

38) An unneutered male cat is called a tom while an unsprayed female cat is a queen.

39) A tower was built in Scotland to commemorate a cat called Towser who had killed more than 30,000 mice throughout her lifetime.

40) Onions, garlic, green tomatoes, raw potatoes, chocolate, grapes and raisins are all bad for cats.

41) The largest cat breed is the Ragdoll – a male Ragdoll can weigh up to 20lbs and females up to 15lbs.

42) Cats respond to names best when they end in an “ee” sound.

43) If a cat shows you its rear end, it means they like you and are offering you the opportunity to sniff their scent glands.shutterstock_116104834

44) The cat is one of the only animals that can stare fixedly into the human eye.

45) In order to drink, cats lap liquid from the underside of their tongues rather than the top.

46) In relation to their body size, cats have the largest eyes of any mammal.

47) Two out of 10 cats don’t have the gene that allows them to enjoy the effects of catnip.

48) A cat will spend nearly 30 per cent of its life grooming.

49) The domestic cat is the only species able to hold its tail vertically as it walks. Wild cats hold their tails horizontally or tucked between their legs.

50) Nikola Tesla was inspired to understand the secrets of electricity after being shocked by static electricity from his beloved cat Macak.

* Adrian Flux is one of only a handful of brokers in the UK to offer a full range of insurance cover to owners of all kinds of pets, including cats. All polices are designed for individuals to ensure you get the very best deal. Call Adrian Flux on 0333 55 55 000 or visit adrianflux.co.uk for the best quote for you.

The Eight Strangest Things To Happen In Cars

 

To most of us our cars are an essential part of everyday life, a convenient way of getting from A to B. But as well as taking us to work, the shops or on holiday, our cars are home to a whole lot of weird and wonderful events according to a study by specialist insurance broker Adrian Flux.

 

Proposals

Forget the romantic ideals of Paris, Rome or Venice, a surprising number of our respondents chose their car as the perfect place to pop the question. It would be nice to think these proposals were romantic affairs looking out over a placid lake in a classic car rather than an after-thought in a clapped out Fiesta parked in a lay-by…

 

Giving birth

Childbirth usually involves hospitals, midwives and delivery suites. But things don’t always go to plan, and more than a few babies have made their entrance in the back seats of cars en route to hospital. Some may even have been conceived there too!

 

Bumbling thieves

There are few more irritating motoring moments than returning to a car that’s been broken into. However, thieves normally at least wait until the car is left unattended. One bumbling thief got more than he bargained for when he tried to break into a car while the owner was still inside. Strange items have also been stolen from cars, including a packet of crisps, birdseed and an umbrella.

 

The all-important firsts

It seems that the humble car is often the scene of important life events, including proposals and childbirth as we’ve seen. Another couple thrown up by our respondents are two more of those never-to-be-forgotten moments – your first kiss and losing your virginity – as youngsters look to escape the prying eyes of vigilant parents by turning their cars into makeshift bedrooms.

 

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Lightning strikes

One driver got the fright of his life when the sign-post he was driving past was struck by lightning. Despite having rubber tyres, vehicles can be hit by lightning, although the car body acts as a Faraday Cage to protect the driver – as long as they’re not touching the metal bodywork.

 

Caught out

Thrill-seeking Brits have always branched out of their bedrooms and moved to their cars for sex. Part of the thrill is the risk of being caught, and our respondents confirmed that it’s a real possibility. But beware the apparently little-used farm tracks and churches because, as two of our respondents know to their cost, farmers and vicars are often on hand with torches and a disapproving stare. Another of our naughty couples was collared by the long arm of the law, so be careful where you park! Check out our naughty hotspot map to find out more!

 Pair_of_lions

Lions den

You think you’d fill up with petrol before visiting a drive-through safari park. Unfortunately one driver wasn’t that organised and ran out of fuel in the lion enclosure. They didn’t tell us how the situation was resolved but we’re pleased they were alive to complete our survey.

 

Nudity

While most of us like to stay fully clothed behind the wheel, our survey participants told us tales of flashing and moonies while driving. One respondent happily remembered the time they saw a naked driver on the M25 and admitted that it still makes them smile to this day.

 

Adrian Flux was particularly interested in the driving habits of the nation, especially which parts of the country have the sauciest motorists. Find our map of the UK’s hotspots here.

 

Our range of car insurance policies won’t cover you for the above incidents, but it will help you out in day-to-day driving situations. Things don’t always go smoothly, so we offer Flux Rescue Breakdown cover, Keycare for lost keys and Driverguard licence protection on top of our vehicle policies. Call 0800 369 8590 today to find out how Adrian Flux can help you.

10 of the best American muscle cars

With vast straight roads and a love of drag-racing, only America could have invented the muscle car.

There was nothing particularly sophisticated about these beasts, which operated on a simple premise: slam a V8 engine into a small (in American terms) car and drive it fast and straight.

And although they’re not wholly suited to UK roads, muscle cars have been held in awe by plenty of motorists this side of the Pond for decades.

Specialist American car insurance broker Adrian Flux took a look at 10 legendary muscle cars of the past six decades to coincide with the latest edition of Influx magazine, which is focused this month on American muscle.

The seeds of the muscle car may have been planted in the late 1940s, but it enjoyed its heyday in the Swinging Sixties through to the early 70s, when the Clean Air Act, the oil crisis and high insurance costs in the States brought about their temporary demise.

The kings of the road became unaffordable and impractical, with Detroit focusing more on emission controls and taxes on high-powered cars increasing. Aimed at hot-blooded young men who could no longer afford them, these street-legal hot rods became more of a rarity on US highways.

But in their golden era, some truly stunning and brutal beasts roamed the streets. Enjoy our own personal top 10 – and feel free to disagree.

1. Ford Mustang Boss 429

Boss 429 green

Clearly there have been many Mustangs over the years, but the 1970 Boss 429 makes this list partly because of its rarity and partly because of its racing pedigree.

Built for NASCAR homologation purposes, what makes this car special is that each one is hand built to fit the 7-litre V8 into the engine bay, and with only 859 made prices are astronomical, with a high-point of $417,000 paid at auction in Florida.

2. Ford Thunderbolt

1964-Ford-Fairlane-Thunderbolt_255414_low_res

Although legal for road use, 1964’s Ford Thunderbolt was considered just too hot for the streets, and only 111 were built.

Based on the mid-size Fairlane body, the Thunderbolt was a 7-litre monster that lived almost exclusively on the track, where its massive traction bars and trunk-mounted battery were intended to maximise its huge 500bhp output on the strip.

Weight-saving measures showed just how unsuitable this car was for the road, with no sun visors, heater, passenger windscreen wiper, arm rests, mirrors and even carpeting.

Ford even felt moved to rivet a metal plate inside the glove box which stated: “Because of the specialized purpose for which this car has been built and in order to achieve maximum weight reduction, normal quality standards of the Ford Motor Company…are not met on this vehicle.

“This information is included on this vehicle to assure that all customers who purchase this car are aware of the deviation from the regular high appearance quality standards of the Ford Motor Company.”

The Thunderbolt could run the quarter mile in 11.6 seconds at 124mph and the car dominated the NHRA World Championship and is almost certainly the fastest production drag racer ever produced.

3. Plymouth Roadrunner Superbird

Superbird

Without doubt the most eye-catching car on our list thanks to its massive rear spoiler that looks like a carrying handle for a giant, the Superbird also featured a futuristic droop-snoot nose.

A highly modified version of the successful Roadrunner, the Superbird was designed for racing and fitted with a 7-litre V8.

As well as its startling looks, the car was famed for its horn tone, which copied the sound from the Looney Tunes cartoon Roadrunner character, which was also featured as a decal on the vehicle.

Only 135 were made with the 7-litre “hemi” engine, which has seen prices soar to between $100,000 and $200,000 today.

4. Chevrolet Chevelle

Chevelle SS 1970 ad

The original Chevelle was a fairly ordinary looking mid 60s saloon, but the introduction of the SS model was Chevrolet’s first real foray into the muscle car market.

But it’s the mark 2 of 1968 that moved things up a gear, with a new tapered body with a long bonnet and shorter body seeing the Chevelle become America’s most popular mid-sized car. It was a muscle car for the masses.

Many consider the 1970 SS 454 model as the high point of the muscle car movement, with the 450bhp LS6 version able to blow away virtually all of the opposition at the time.

With its swept-back roofline and bonnet bulge, there was no disguising that this car was something special.

5. Oldsmobile 88

Oldsmobile 88

The Oldsmobile 88 was introduced as long as ago as 1949 and is considered by many to be the forerunner of the later true muscle cars, thanks to its relatively small, lightweight body and powerful new Rocket V8 engine.

Until this marriage, Oldsmobile had produced fairly middle-of-the-road motors, but the 88 went on to become the first “King of NASCAR”, winning 36 of 69 races between 1949 and 1952.

A curvy coupe with protruding rear wings, the Rocket’s race-winning pedigree saw buyers flock to the Oldsmobile showrooms, with many young men coming out of the army post-war looking for the type of powerful machinery they’d been used to operating.

The car inspired early rock and roll song, Rocket 88, and the company adopted a rocket logo on its trunk lid in 1950.

By 1952 the Rocket pumped out 160bhp from its 5-litre V8, and the 88 name continued for 10 generations until it was discontinued in 1999 – just five years before the Oldsmobile brand left the motoring arena completely.

6. Chevrolet Corvette L88

Corvette L88

The Corvette L88, produced in 1967 and 1968 in the stunning Stingray body shape, was a racing package featuring a 7-litre big block engine, and so concerned was Chevrolet at the power on offer they discouraged dealers from selling it for the road.

The company said the car pushed out 435bhp, only slightly more than a standard Corvette, to further discourage buyers, but later testing showed the power was closer to a staggering 560 horsepower.

Anyone buying it for the road would have had trouble driving far, however, as the high compression ratio required 103-octane fuel, only available at a small number of service stations.

Only 196 were made as increased emission controls saw production stopped and Chevrolet readied themselves for the Corvette’s new model shape in 1968.

7. Chevrolet Camaro ZL-1

1969-ZL1-Chevrolet-Camaro

Chevrolet had no such qualms about selling 1969’s Camaro ZL-1 to the public, despite it utilising a lighter, aluminium version of the L88 engine from the Corvette.

The engine alone cost $4,000 and was hand assembled in a surgically clean workshop, each engine taking 16 hours to put together.

The resulting $7,200 price tag for the car put off buyers, as well as fears over its power, with some cars sent back to the factory to be fitted with smaller engines to help them sell.

With the first 20 cars sent straight to the drag strip, and problems selling to the public, only 69 aluminium-engined ZL-1s were made, making these among the fastest and most rare of all the muscle cars.

8. Chrysler C-300

Chrysler c300

In 1955, the Chrysler C-300 burst on to the scene, boasting 300bhp (hence the name) from its 5.4-litre “hemi” V8.

Essentially a racecar aimed squarely at NASCAR, the C-300 was produced for the road for homologation purposes, with 1,725 sold for road use.

At the time, this was the world’s fastest stock-car, and within a year it monstrous engine was pumping out 355bhp – the most powerful car produced in the United States and enough to propel the Chrysler to a speed of 127mph in the Flying Mile.

Over the years the styling of the 300 (with different letters attached to its name) became even more dramatic, with huge yawning grilles and large rear fins, and engine size increasing to 6.8-litres, propelling the car to 142mph.

9. Pontiac GTO

1970-pontiac-gto-ad

If you’re not convinced of the true muscle car credentials of the C-300 or the Rocket, then maybe the Pontiac GTO of 1964 is your idea of where it all began.

Not as pretty as the Oldsmobile or the Chrysler, the Pontiac is basically a Tempest with a 6-litre V8 lump producing 348bhp – fast and powerful, but its true legacy is that its success convinced General Motors to produce the following stable of Chevrolet, Buick, Oldsmobile and Pontiac muscle cars.

The name was the ideal of John DeLorean, who noticed that Ferrari had not patented the GTO name in North America – it officially stood for Pontiac Grand Tempest Option.

In 1969, the second generation featured bolder, fastback styling with engine capacity increased to a massive 7.5-litre urging the car from 0-60mph in just 5.2 seconds. Seriously rapid for the time.

10. Dodge Challenger

1970 Dodge Challenger advertisement

The 1970 Dodge Challenger was slightly larger than the average muscle car or pony car (we’re not making a distinction for the purposes of our list), going head to head with the Mercury Cougar and the Pontiac Firebird.

Aimed at affluent young buyers, the design was similar to the Dodge Charger and the car was a hit with the public, selling 165,000 units.

The Challenger was offered with a vast array of engines, but the pick of the crop from a performance point of view was the R/T (road and track) model fitted with a 7-litre 425bhp unit.

The model lives on today, with styling cues clearly taken from the 70s, in the shape of a 485bhp monster.

 

Insurance from Adrian Flux

Get competitive American car insurance for all types of muscle car with Adrian Flux.

Features can include:

  • Agreed value
  • Limited mileage discounts
  • Owners club discount
  • Laid up cover
  • Wedding hire cover

Caravan Week: FAQ

AF2987---Caravan-Week-Blog-Posts---FAQ

Throughout Caravan Week we’ve covered a massive range of topics related to caravans, including buying, towing and furnishing your caravan, as well as finding the perfect campsite.

Today’s post is a compilation of camping and caravanning FAQs. Throughout the series we’ve asked for your questions about the world of caravans, and here are the answers.

 

Who buys caravans?

Hopefully after Caravan Week you’ll know the answer to this, but it’s still one of the questions we hear most often. Many people wrongly assume that caravanning is reserved only for the elderly, and that campsites are no place for the young – but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

These days there are campsites that cater to all sorts of people; families, couples, single holidaymakers and groups of teenagers, to name just a few. No matter who you are or what sort of holiday you’re looking for, there’s a caravan and campsite to suit.

 

Should I insure my caravan?

Although insurance is not a legal requirement, and your motor vehicle policy may cover your caravan while its being towed, it’s always worth checking what your insurance includes. Caravans are expensive to replace, and policies can be surprisingly good value. Static and touring caravan insurance will cover your van while it’s stationary, including protection from theft and weather damage.

A specialist insurer like Adrian Flux can also provide agreed value policies and combined cover for caravans and contents. If you’re wondering whether you need to insure your van, read the “Why do I need caravan insurance?” guide here.

 

Can I keep a caravan on my driveway?AF2987---Polaroids5

If you want to keep a caravan on your driveway, laws can be confusing, and cause a lot of questions. As long as it’s your own property, and there are no covenants on your house deeds or local planning restrictions forbidding a caravan on your property, then it should be fine to keep a caravan on your drive. If you’re in any doubt, give your local council a call to confirm whether there are any local restrictions.

 

Can I live in my caravan?

If you’ve ever wondered ‘can you live in a caravan?’ – the answer is theoretically yes. However, you can’t stay on Caravan Club sites for more than 21 nights at a time, or on Certified Locations for more than 28 nights at any time. An easier option for caravan living is a static caravan on a park home. As this would be your permanent address you would still have to pay council tax, but it will count as a permanent address on the electoral role.

 

Should I join a caravan club?

Absolutely! There are loads of benefits that come with joining a caravan club – whether that’s an international group of thousands of enthusiasts, or small regional group. From discounts on pitches, cheaper caravan insurance and access to vouchers for local restaurants and businesses, the benefits to be had from joining a club can easily outweigh the cost of joining, and get you access to a community of people willing to offer you caravan help and advice.

 

Is it worth going to caravan shows?AF2987---Polaroids3

Visiting caravan shows can be a great way to learn more about your hobby, meet new people and discover new equipment for your next holiday. Throughout the year there are all sorts of caravan accessory shows, where manufacturers from across the world attend to show off their latest offerings, and you’ll get to see brand-new caravan designs too. There are also loads of caravanner meet-ups around the country where you can meet like-minded people and share tips, advice and your favourite caravan tales – well worth the trip!

 

 

So there we have it – the Adrian Flux Caravan Week has come to an end! Hopefully this blog series has shed some light on the details of caravanning, and inspired you to get out there this summer and to make the most of the great British countryside.

In the future we’ll be putting all of our advice together in a handy PDF guide, perfect for printing out and taking on holiday with you. Until then, if there’s anything you think we’ve missed, or some great tips you think we should include in future guides, let us know in the comments or via social media, and we’ll feature your advice.

Happy caravanning!

Caravan Week: Finding A Campsite

AF2987---Caravan-Week-Blog-Posts---Finding

Welcome back to the Adrian Flux Caravan Week. Today, on day four of our run-through of caravan top tips, we’ll be looking at how to pick the ideal campsite.

No matter how long you spend preparing for your holiday, all of your work buying and furnishing the perfect caravan will have gone to waste if you can’t find somewhere nice to make camp.

There is a huge range of campsites out there to suit practically any sort of holiday, from woodland retreats to seaside villages, family-focused holiday parks to mountaintop hideaways – so you’re sure to be able to find somewhere you like.

 

Finding The Right CampsiteAF2987---Polaroids6

The perfect campsite is an illusive and subjective thing – one camper might love the tranquility of rural sites whilst another wants family entertainment and nearby shopping centres.

The first step to finding your ideal site is deciding what kind of holiday you want to go on – the locations for shopping city breaks and relaxing beach holidays are worlds apart.

Once you know roughly what area you want to stay in, consider campsite amenities. Some sites are nothing more than an empty field, whilst others house their own fully stocked supermarkets and restaurants. You get what you pay for, of course, but better-equipped sites can make your holiday much more comfortable.

The type of holiday you have in mind will determine the size of campsite you choose too. Small, privately-owned sites might be more picturesque and relaxing, but with fewer facilities, whilst larger sites might be better equipped, balanced by being busier and louder.

There are all sorts of caravan and campsite directories available, both online and as books and catalogues – perfect for taking with you when travelling. Guides will usually let you sort campsites by facilities, location and size, enabling you to shortlist a few favourites to visit in the future.

One of the best campsite directories is available from the Camping and Caravanning Club – head over to the Site Seeker to check it out.

It can be temping to camp on private land, outside of campsites – often just in fields, on tracks or farms. Whilst this is legal in some countries, in the UK you need to make sure you have the landowner’s permission before you set up camp, and failure to get it can land you in serious trouble.

 

 Choosing A PitchAF2987---Polaroids7

On arrival at your campsite of choice, you might be given the chance to pick where you want to park your caravan. Some sites may not give you a choice, and in those cases you’ll just have to hope they chose well, but here are a few tips for picking your own when you can:

  • Facilities – Think about whether you want to be sited close to the campsite’s facilities or not. Being near to the toilets or the shops might be more convenient, but can mean more people walking near your pitch, and more noise late into the night
  • Flat Ground – It’s fairly simple to get your caravan level, no matter where you park it, but choosing a flat pitch will help prevent rain water running into your pitch when the weather turns bad
  • Clear Ground – If you’re thinking of setting up a small tent or seating area on your pitch you’ll need to make sure the ground is clear of stones, food waste, discarded pegs and other rubbish
  • Roads – It might make it easier to manoeuvre in and out of your pitch, but being next to a road could mean tolerating traffic at all hours of the day and night as other campers come and go
  • Natural Shelter – Trees, hedges and hills all provide natural shelter from wind and rain, but come with some downsides too. Watch out for camping under trees in a storm, and remember that hills could direct rainfall your way!
  • Insider Info – If you get the chance, ask other campers which pitch they think is best. It’s unlikely that you’ll get the chance to ask anyone when you arrive, but look online for reviews before you set off; people often give tips on the best pitches to choose

 

Have you got any tips and tricks for campsite and pitch selection? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook.

Check back tomorrow when we’ll be taking a look at some of the most frequently asked questions in caravanning!

Caravan Week: Furnishing Your Caravan

Caravan-Week- Furnishing

You’ve bought the perfect caravan, learned all there is to learn about how to safely and legally tow it, and it’s almost time to hit the road!

Before you head off for your week in the British sun, you’re going to need to make sure you’ve got everything you need for a happy holiday, and that your caravan is truly set up to be the perfect home away from home.

In this blog, on day three of the Adrian Flux Caravan Week, we’ll be taking a look at how to furnish your caravan with all the essentials for the perfect trip.

 

Interior DecoratingAF2987---Polaroids4

Depending on how long you’re going away for, you’ll be spending quite a long time in your caravan. Just as you’d want your bricks and mortar house to be well decorated and furnished to your taste, you’ll get a lot more joy out of your caravan if you feel comfortable and at home on the road.

Most caravans come furnished, in fact you’d be advised to steer away from buying just a shell if you’re still a caravan novice, but you don’t have to settle for whatever the manufacturer supplied.

Reupholstering furniture, changing curtains, painting cupboards and even changing the flooring are all simple, if possibly expensive, ways of giving your caravan its own unique look, and making it somewhere you relish spending time.

After-market furniture, cupboards, beds and kitchen utilities are also available, which can help you to tailor your caravan to meet your needs and tastes. You’ll also be able to adapt your caravan for any disabilities that your group might have, from ramps and handrails to accessible showers and toilets.

 

The Essentials

Bucket and spade? Check! iPad? Check! Knives and forks? Ah…

When you’re shopping for caravan accessories and utilities, or packing your bags for the summer holidays, it can be all too easy to forget to pack the essentials.

It’s surprisingly common for people to arrive at their destination only to find out that all they’ve packed is clothes and toiletries, forgetting the essentials of caravan living – especially for those people setting out on their first caravan holiday.

Far from the comforts of hotel life, when you embark on a caravan holiday you need to make sure you bring absolutely everything you need, from cutlery and cleaning AF2987---Polaroids10products to spare light bulbs and a car maintenance kit.

One of the best ways of making sure you’ve packed everything you need, is to make and follow a checklist. There are some available online, such as this one from the Caravan Club, but it’s easy to make your own too.

Just go ‘room to room’ through your caravan making a list of everything you think you’ll need. Go through the caravan a few times, and get someone else to help too, to make sure you get down everything you think you might need.

If, even after all of that, you still find you’ve forgotten things (it’s inevitable, trust us) you should be able to pick things up at local shops, so it won’t be the end of the world.

 

The Luxuries

With the essentials packed away, it’s time to turn your attention to things a little more fun. TVs, iPads, sound systems, games consoles and all the gadgets that make modern life what it is can be packed away in even the smallest of caravans.

With luxury items you’re limited by two things; money and power. The first is obvious; only take what you can actually afford and don’t take so much that you become a big target for thieves.

The second, power, can be a big problem – especially when most of our modern luxuries require a decent mains supply and an Internet connection. What you can power will depend on where you’re staying; one campsite’s facilities might fuel your cutting-edge home cinema system, whilst another’s could struggle to power your toaster.

Not only will you need to think about power needs, but also just how much you actually need them – there’s no point packing in the tech if you’ll spend all your days on the beach, and you’ll only be making yourself a target for would-be thieves on the campsite if all your gadgets are left unattended throughout the day.

If you’re keen to stay at the forefront of modern caravan technology, check out the interactive guide that we’ve put together covering some of the most futuristic gadgets you can get your hands on today:

caravan-accessories-guide

Come back tomorrow for day four of the Adrian Flux Caravan Week, when we’ll be looking at tips for finding the best campsite for your holiday.

 

Caravan Week: Towing a Caravan

Caravan-Week-DrivingOnce you’ve bought your caravan, the next step is getting it on the road. For many people driving with a caravan attached for the first time is either exciting or nerve-wracking.

However you’re feeling about the first tow, it’s best to be well informed and know what to do. Read on to find out about UK caravan laws, towing licences and caravan driving tips, as part of the Adrian Flux Caravan Week series.

 

Caravan towing licences

You may be wondering, do you need a licence to tow a caravan, or can I tow a caravan? Well, caravan-towing laws changed in 1997. If you passed your test before 1st January 1997 then you should be entitled to drive a vehicle and trailer up to a combined maximum authorised mass (MAM) of 8.25 tonnes. However, if you passed after that date, and not taken an extra driving test, you will only be entitled to drive a category B3 vehicle coupled with:

  • A caravan up to 750kg MAM, or
  • A caravan over 750kg MAM as long as the combined weight of the car and caravan is less than 3500kg gross train weight (GTW) and the MAM of the caravan is less than the unladen weight of the car.

To increase the weight you’re able to tow, you can book into a B+E test, the car and trailer test, which will essentially give you a caravan towing licence. You take the test in an unladen category B vehicle towing a suitably braked, unladen trailer of at least one tonne MAM.

 

WeightAF2987---Polaroids9

The weight of the loaded caravan should be no more than 85% of the car’s kerb weight, a figure that you’ll find in the car’s handbook. You should avoid overloading the car or caravan and always ensure the weight of the loaded caravan/trailer is within the car’s towing ability.

 

Driving tips

Towing a caravan can be a daunting prospect at first. With experience comes confidence, and once you’ve got the hang of driving with a caravan or trailer, it will seem more natural. Towing and manoeuvring courses are available from the Caravan Club and the Camping and Caravanning Club if you need some extra tuition.

The caravan should always be towed either level or slightly nose down. Towing a caravan will alter the performance of the car, so you’ll need to give yourself more time and space for everything. Remember you’ve got extra length on your vehicle, so you’ll need to take corners more widely than normal, otherwise the back of the caravan may clip the kerb. Having a good view of the rear of your unit will help with this. You can use extension mirrors, but make sure you take them off when you’re not towing – it’s illegal to drive with them on if you don’t need them.

When towing a caravan, rules of the road are different to driving a car. The legal speed limits for caravans are 50mph on single carriageways and 60mph on dual carriageways. You can’t tow on the outside lane of a motorway with three or more lanes, unless instructed to do so.

 

Insurance

Although it is not a legal requirement to insure your caravan, it makes sense to protect your holiday home on wheels. Caravans are often covered by your motor policy while being towed, but this will not cover your personal items inside the caravan, theft, emergency accommodation expenses or storm damage.

Adrian Flux’s caravan policies include free legal expenses cover, up to 120 days European cover and £1 million worth of Public Liability Cover. Read more about our affordable touring caravan insurance here.

 

LawsAF2987---Polaroids8

You must display the same number plate as your car on the back of your caravan.

This must conform to the relevant British Standard and be illuminated at night.

Your caravan must have a working rear light panel that will show indicators and brake lights while you’re driving. Remember to check before driving off and keep an eye out for anything that changes during your journey. Your car must show that the indicators are working while you are driving, for example with a special light or buzzer when you are indicating.

Finally, be a considerate driver – If you find traffic is building up behind you, find a suitable place to pull over and let the other vehicles pass.

 

Are you a caravanner? What are your top tips for towing a caravan? Did you take any courses before you towed for the first time? Let us know in the comments section.

Join us again tomorrow for day three of the Adrian Flux Caravan Week, when we’ll be looking at top tips for furnishing a caravan.

Caravan Week: Buying a Caravan

Buying

Welcome to Adrian Flux Caravan Week, a series of blog posts aimed at camping and caravanning enthusiasts. This week’s focus is getting started in caravanning, with posts about buying, towing, furnishing and siting your caravan, as well as answering other caravan questions.

Throughout Caravan Week we’d love to hear from you, so if you have any advice to share with our readers, or you’d like us to answer your questions, please comment on the blog posts or get in touch through Twitter or Facebook.

The first post of Caravan Week is about buying a caravan. There are many different factors to consider before choosing a caravan, such as size, layout, weight, price, and history if it’s a second-hand van. Deciding which caravan to buy can be daunting so it’s a good idea to think about your budget, size requirements and how much weight your car can tow before you begin looking seriously.

 

Where do I buy a caravan?AF2987---Polaroids1

Once you’ve decided on the type of caravan you’re looking to buy, you’ll need to have a look at some vans. There are a number of places to purchase caravans:

  • Dealers will stock both new and second-hand caravans, often with warranty included. You have greater legal rights buying from a dealer
  • Private sale will often mean a cheaper price, but it means you’ll need to do more research and checks to make sure you’re getting a good quality caravan. Check the interior for damp, the exterior for visible damage, the fitted equipment (take a gas cylinder and 12-volt battery with you) and chassis & running gear
  • Manufacturers will occasionally refurbish models, giving you greater peace of mind
  • Auctions can sometimes provide a bargain caravan, although you’ll need to thoroughly check the caravan you’re bidding on. Use the same checks as you would at a private sale to ensure you’re getting a good quality caravan

When people are thinking about how to buy a caravan, they often worry about the history of the van. You can use the CRiS Enquiry Service to identify a caravan that has been reported as stolen or whether there are any outstanding payments on it. This check is mainly for caravans built after 1992, so for an earlier model you’ll have to rely on the paperwork.

Check the ownership and warranty documents, service receipts and invoices and log book. Generally if a caravan has well maintained service documents, it has been looked after. A HPI check will also tell you if the van has previously been stolen, written off, has outstanding finance, mileage discrepancies, and also provides a realistic valuation.

If you’re thinking of buying a static caravan, you can either purchase independently or through the site. Consider the layout of the caravan, and the pitch, for example positioning around the sun, car parking, view, noise and residents.

 

When should I buy a caravan?AF2987---Polaroids2

Dealers generally get a delivery of new caravan models in March, and will focus on selling those until May. The best time to buy a caravan is before this delivery, when dealers are trying to get rid of their old or second hand stock.

Just after May is another prime time for bargain caravans, as it’s after the rush of new deliveries, when customers have traded vans in for a newer model. This means you can get a good deal on a caravan that’s recently been traded in, making it the best time to buy a used caravan.

 

Have you recently bought a caravan? What would your advice be for somebody choosing a caravan? Let us know in the comments section.

 Tomorrow we’ll be taking a look at all the rules and regulations around towing a caravan, and giving you tips to make the first time as painless as possible – see you then!

 

Guide To Starting A Home Business

In today’s economy, small businesses and start-ups are a vital source of jobs and income for many of us.

An amazing 99% of companies in the UK are now classified as ‘small businesses’ – ones with fewer than 49 employees – and most people will know someone who has left their job to start their own business, or know people who run or work for family businesses.

You won’t have to look far to find examples of small business success stories either, meaning people are now more tempted than ever to break out of the office, try something new and be their own boss.

One of the easiest ways for people to get into the world of small business is to start running one from home. Combining the comfort and flexibility of your own home with low overheads and the freedom of being your own boss, home businesses are a vital first step for many successful companies.

To help people get to grips with starting their own business, we’ve put together this handy PDF guide. Giving tips on everything from planning and financing your business to setting up a home office and networking, the guide is great introduction to the basics of business.

Click the button below to view our guide to home businesses:

Home Business Guide

Did you find the guide useful?

Are there any top tips of your own that you’d like to share?

Let us know in the comments below or via social media.

Flux-Sponsored Rally Team Brave Woodbridge Weather For Trophy

It was an early start for Matt and David Smalley as they headed for RAF Woodbridge in Suffolk to take part in the Cadman Construction Woodbridge Stages on Sunday March 29th

Arriving at 6.45am, the pair completed the scruiteneering and their registration in Class A, and prepped their detailed stage maps and plans for the day ahead.

The car of choice for the Smalleys was a 1995 1.4 Vauxhall Corsa, equipped with a Bill Falkoner clubman spec engine, Alpha engine management, close ratio gear kit, limited slip diff, upgraded suspension, and a full roll cage.

The Flux-sponsored crew was confident of a good first run when the rally started at 9am, but as the rain started to fall just before the first stage, things didn’t go entirely to plan.

The Smalley Car

The Smalley Car

“We decided to run slick tyres on the front throughout stage one as the rain hadn’t really started to settle when we began, and on them we managed the 34th fastest time and were 5th in class,” Matt explained.

“At one point we came around a long sweeping right turn over a jump into a left-hander, and as we were coming around the back end got away from us and we started sliding. As David tried to correct we slid the other way, wiping out and hitting a sign – luckily is wasn’t anything bigger or we could have been in trouble!”

Heavy rain and a switch to front wet tyres and cut slicks in the rear boosted the pair up to 4th in class after stage two and three. Stage four got off to a shaky start though when a puncture in their left-rear was discovered on the way to the stage start, forcing them back into the service area for a quick swap to intermediates. Returning to the start with just minutes to spare, the pair slipped their way around the wet track to defiantly hold on to fourth position.

As weather conditions worsened going into stage five, the pair knew they had to make up time if they were to be in with a chance of a podium finish in their class. Pinning their hopes on one final tactical throw of the dice, standard road tyres were fitted on the rear, with wets on the front.

Delayed by an upturned Escort, the Smalleys eventually stormed off the line, with David recording the best times of his day to drag the duo up to 3rd in class. With a six second lead over the Nissan Micra placed fourth, and 14 seconds over fifth, the pair realised they’d finally hit on a winning formula and so opted to stick with their tyre setup for the final stage.

“As we queued up for the start of Stage 6 we were behind a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6, and I joked to David that I fancied him to catch it that stage, despite it’s four-wheel drive advantage,” said Matt.

3rd Place Trophy

“We couldn’t believe our eyes when we actually caught sight of the Evo on-track in lap two, and David really started pushing to catch up with him. Unfortunately David pushed a little too hard, and going into a jump after a fast left turn the back end went and we ended up in a big spin heading towards the grass verge.

“I thought the car was going to roll when we hit the grass, but luckily we skipped over it – instead skidding off 50 meters into a field. It seemed like eternity until the car started again though, and we ended up losing a good 20 seconds to the crash.”

Eventually getting back on the track, the pair completed the stage as quickly as they could, convinced that their third place was now lost. Luckily for the Smalleys, their two closest rivals had both failed to claw back the time difference, leaving them tied with the Micra for third.

“We posted exactly the same time as the fourth placed Nissan on stage one, but we’d managed to beat their stage two time by 10 seconds – meaning we secured third in class for us, and 16th place overall on count back, a really good result.

“The event was a great day out, and we’d like to thank Chelmsford Motor Club for running it, and all the marshals that stood out in the wind and rain all day – it really is appreciated.”

For more information on the Cadman Construction Woodbridge Stages, head over to http://woodbridgestages.co.uk/