Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Live on BBC Radio Derby, AvailablePitch talks about camping and staycations

Here at AvailablePitch headquarters in the heart of Derbyshire, you just never know what's round the corner, or what the next email, phone call or tweet is going to bring...

We recently received a tweet from Aleena Naylor of BBC Radio Derby asking us if we'd do a live radio interview on her morning show about camping and the trend for staycations.  At that point, Mr AvailablePitch became a small dot on the horizon, which left yours truly in the hot seat. 

Of course the answer was "Yes" and after a 20 minute initial chat on the phone with the lovely Aleena, I was booked for 10:15 am the next day.  Then nerves set in and the "What-ifs" started:   What if the traffic was bad and I was late, what if I froze and didn't know what to say (Mr AP thought that HIGHLY unlikely), what if it was less Richard and Judy and more Paxman or Humphries???

Out of my comfort zone?  You bet!  Yet I did it.  I really did.  And it was absolutely FANTASTIC.  Aleena immediately put me at ease, and it was just like a happy chatty gossip with a really good friend.  I guess that's the sign of an excellent interviewer. 

And so for twenty minutes, we chatted about all things camping and caravanning and I was able to help promote the camping and caravanning industry in general, and in particular, the many smaller, independent and unusual campsites that are registered with AvailablePitch, getting a special plug in for those sites located in Derbyshire and the Peak District as an added bonus. 

To listen to the interview, please visit our Facebook Page.

Aleena indicated that she may like to have me back in future to discuss other camping related topics, so who knows, maybe a whole new career on the radio beckons?!  For now though, it's down to earth and back to blogging, Facebooking, tweeting, emailing, re-vamping AvailablePitch, and all the other stuff we do to promote all the campsites who are registered with us. 

Above image:  Catherine Simpson, AvailablePitch.com and Aleena Naylor, BBC Radio Derby.  
Copyright AvailablePitch.com 2012

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Saturday, 24 March 2012

Eskdale Campsite Cumbria - a return to traditional camping values

Camping Pod at Eskdale Camping and Caravanning Club Site

Here at AvailablePitch.com, we speak to some really interesting people.  This week we had a fascinating conversation with the owner of two very different but complimentary campsites in The Lake District: Ravenglass Camping and Caravanning Club Site and the Eskdale Camping and Caravanning Club Site both run under franchise by Martyn and Sara Merckel.

We "met" through Twitter - we'd put a tweet out asking for campers' experiences on staying in a pod or wig wam, and straight back came an offer from Eskdale Campsite to stay in one of their pods.  A quick phone call later, and we were in!

We stayed on the Ravenglass Camping and Caravan Club site in Sept 2011 when Mr AvailablePitch did the Traction Engine Experience  which runs out of Muncaster Castle.  Little did we know at the time that this was a franchised site.  In fact, Martyn tells us, it was the very first Camping and Caravanning Club franchised site in the UK. 

Ravenglass Camping and Caravanning Club Site

Aimed primarily at caravanners and motorhomers, Martyn and Sara purchased the site in 2004, opened for the 2005 season, having completely revamped and landscaped this tiered, wooded site.  We were very impressed with our stay on the site, particularly the warm welcome from the wardens, (well, it IS The Friendly Club), the landscaping and layout of the site and the amazing shop situated in a log cabin, which sells everything you might ever need, and much more besides.  The site is perfect for motorhomers, because the sea is within easy walking distance and for longer journeys without the 'van, the railway station is just round the corner. 

Having never been camping or caravanning in their lives, Martyn and Sara then thought "what the heck" and bought the Hollins Farm Campsite in Eskdale in 2006, developed it over the winter and opened in 2007.  They have continued to develop it ever since, and it is now a Camping and Caravan Club franchised site, with an AA 5 pennant's award, for tents, trailer tents and smaller motorhomes (no caravans).  Whilst remaining passionate about traditional camping values of enjoyment, safety and comfort for campers, (they have a "wellies welcome" policy!) Martyn and Sara ensure that campers enjoy top notch facilities including new showers and toilets, a family room, drying room, children's play area and a camping barn for larger groups.

Always at the forefront of new innovations, Eskdale was the first campsite in the UK to have camping pods.  Sara had seen the concept and was determined to have them at Eskdale.  Some interesting conversations took place with the local authority, and after 5 months of negotiations, the pods were erected entirely in keeping with the Lake District scenery.

Camping Pod at Eskdale Camping and Caravanning Club Site
So campers now have the choice of either taking their own kit to Eskdale, or staying in a heated pod.  And even if the weather turns a little wet, there is so much to do from the Eskdale site, ranging from a ride on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Miniature Steam Railway, several pubs within walking distance, local walks from the site, to a walk up Scafell Pike accessible from the campsite for the really, really fit!

So huge thanks for the invite, Martyn and Sara, can't wait to visit and experience a pod for ourselves! 

Pod images courtesy of the Camping and Caravanning Club
Ravenglass image, copyright AvailablePitch 2012

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Have you grabbed your Twitter name yet?

Even if you have no intention of tweeting and cannot see the relevance or importance of tweeting for either your business or personal use,  there will probably come a point in the future when you change your mind.  Honestly.  By then, the name of your business or campsite may have been taken, and you will have to choose something which is less memorable or relevant.

The reason we're sharing this is that we've only recently started tweeting at AvailablePitch, however, we've been tweeting for our other business, WhichWay Marketing, for some time now.  We were fortunate that @AvailablePitch was untaken. However, had someone else nabbed it, it's hard to think what alternative username we would have chosen.

We were discussing just this subject with Sue at Upper Hurst Farm, Hartington, Derbyshire recently.  After our conversation, she registered @UpperHurstFarm immediately, sent a few tweets, then went back to getting her campsite ready for opening at Easter.  Her Twitter account is waiting for her when she has more time, and she has got exactly the name she wanted to use for future tweets. 

So for now, it's a good idea to go to Twitter.com and register either the name of your business, campsite or your personal name, then it's yours for when you want to use it in the future. 

This is called "grabbing" your Twitter name and as Sue said, "if I can do it, then anyone can"


Saturday, 10 March 2012

Boat or 'van?

Did you spot an article in the Daily Mail recently?

Might this caravan float your boat?  The Schwimmcaravan is a caravan that becomes a boat.  

The English name is the Amphibious Sealander caravan, it’s been invited by a German industrial designer Daniel Straub and manufactured by http://www.sealander.de/.    It is expected to go on sale in the UK in 2013 for about £13,000.  Designed to be light enough to be towed by a medium-sized family car, it can be launched into the water by hand.  

Are you brave enough to buy one?

Photo courtesy of The Daily Mail  


Saturday, 3 March 2012

Scooter mad dad builds VW camper sidecar

Luxurious: Jay Dyer shows of the VW camper sidecar he built for his son on his scooter in Northwood, Middlesex

One scooter enthusiast's boy can boast the hippest ride after his dad pimped his sidecar to look like a classic Volkswagen Camper. The custom-built accessory was created by Jay Dyer, 44, for his 11-year-old son Kaine to sit in while they drive around the country.  After buying the 'skin' in Belgium, Mr Dwyer spent seven months welding and painting the one-of-a-kind modification in his back garden.  He then had to make sure the lights on the camper van worked before fitting it to the 1961 Lambretta.

Now the father of two, from Northwood, Middlesex, is continually stopped while driving by people desperate to have their photo taken with it.   He said: 'When my son and I are driving along the roads we turn everyone’s heads.  'We get absolutely mobbed by people when we take it to shows and journeys can take ages because we’re constantly stopped for photos.

'No-one has ever seen anything like it and it’s a great feeling to see the look on people’s faces once they realise it’s a miniature camper van.  'I’ve had scooters for 27 years and see them as an iconic part of British culture, I’m glad to make my contribution.

'My friends think I’m a bit eccentric but I’ve built them so many things throughout the years that they are really quite pleased with my hobby.'  He added: 'It cost me about £2,500 to build but I have had people stop me and offer £8,000 for it.  'But there’s no way I would sell it, you can’t put a money value on something like that.'

Source:  Daily Mail 19 February 2012
Above photo courtesy of Daily Mail