A Not So Simple Plan.

We finished the last blog entry with a very blasé statement about checking in each country we pass through if we needed a vehicle Vignette / road Toll Sticker and off we go.

Remembering that for every retirement traveller we have spoken to, Italy has been a “Marmite" country they either loved or hated. The lovers have said the roads were a "little challenging" the haters that they were "bl**dy awful", the lovers said the caravan site pitches were “cosy” the haters said they were “minuscule”.

With the minuscule comment in mind we got out our trusty ACSI books and looked up sizes of some caravan site pitches  in various parts of Italy - 


40 sq m is, it seems, not uncommon and 80sq m, which we consider an absolute minimum, seems to be (generally) a maximum, of course there are bigger but . . . .

With this firmly in mind we have bought a smaller caravan especially for the trip, it’s a little long in the tooth but it is a proven design that should be reasonably easy to sell when we get back.


Bailey Pegasus 462


Bailey Pegasus 462 - layout

The new (to us) van is two metres shorter and a half tonne lighter than our twin axle Bailey Unicorn Cartagena, the Princess Fiona, who has been our companion for all but our first adventure will go into storage till we get back in the late spring.

Princess Fiona

Princess Fiona


Princess Fiona - Layout

We thought, having been caravanners for 35 years, that we would need to buy nothing extra for the little van, how wrong can you be???

There is no fixed bed, but two sofas that we will turn into two single beds at night. To make them more comfortable to sleep on, by smoothing out the knee rolls upholstery buttons etc, mattress toppers are essential. Sadly the more reasonably priced units for use at home simply don’t fit caravan beds so we bought from Duvalay a company that specialises in toppers and other bedding for caravans.

We didn’t have bedding for single beds, so after lots of research we went shopping for single duvets and bought a pure silk filled duvet for Sue and a silk/hollowfibre fill duvet for me, both of which are very light and purport to be "all season duvets", warm in the winter and cool in the summer so in theory we will not need to carry a summer weight and a winter weight duvet as we normally do.

We have also gone back to our “old” method of making up single caravan beds. The duvets we bought were King Size duvets and we will make up the bed by folding it in half, laying on one half being covered by the other half. Quick and easy to make and srtip and only one item (duvet cover) per bed to wash.

The crockery storage system was awful we ripped it out and replaced with a setup the same as that in Princess Fiona.

The tyres on the Peggy were both less than a year old but one was a summer tyre the other a winter tyre, OK I agree I should have noticed that when we looked at it and got the dealer to match them but I didn’t so it cost me two matched tyres - much to the disgust of the tyre fitter who could not understand why we were changing a new and a one year old tyre. It is illegal to use different tyres on the same axle in many European countries, in fact we are told that, in some European countries, tyres can only be purchased in pairs.

We have moved into the new van and started to empty and clean the old ready to put it into storage till we get back and the first thing I have discovered is that a folded duvet is a most uncomfortable thing to sleep on - how on earth did I manage before - the downy soft silk fibres seem to turn into rock hard ridges after an hour or so of laying on them, so I have jetisoned my new king sized super doooooper silk duvet and bought a single duvet.

Oh well. Live and learn.

When we travel we tend not to “over research", we have, as previously said, a quick look at the "AA Driving in Europe” web page, check if we need a Vignette / Toll Sticker and off we go.

For our next adventure I was aware that both Germany and Austria have winter tyre laws that require all cars etc to have winter tyres identified by the Alpine mark.

 However in Austria the winter tyres are required between 1 November and 15 April, while in Germany there are no specific dates but “. . . vehicles must be equipped in accordance with weather conditions . . . “ having fitted a new set of Continental tyres just eight weeks ago we decided to leave UK mid august to avoid the winter tyre blues.

On reading "AA Driving in Europe” for each of the ten countries we planned to transit we discovered that virtually all require winter tyres - Oh bugger!!!

To stay legal we would need to be in Greece by October 2018 and could not leave until April 2019, and that simply 'aint gonna happen.

Winter tyres apparently wear rapidly if used in summer and (according to several reviews on t’interweb) have what can best be described as “interesting” handling characteristics in hot and wet summer conditions so - what about all weather tyres? There are only two makes of all weather tyres that carry the Alpine mark and just one that that makes them in the 255/60/18 size that I require.

Mitchelin CrossClimate tyres, complete with the Alpine mark, have been fitted, and the Continentals put into store.

© S W Ghost 2018