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Hiring and Driving a Car in Europe

[vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1433753900038{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;}” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” parallax_content_width=”in_grid” angled_section=”no” angled_section_position=”both” angled_section_direction=”from_left_to_right” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Hiring a car anywhere abroad should be a relatively easy and transparent process, but very often it is not and is something that can cost you dear when you get home.

The array of insurances and confusing conditions can make it virtually impossible to make an informed judgement – there’s a chance that you may either take out unnecessary insurance or face additional and often considerable costs later.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1433754037283{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;}” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” parallax_content_width=”in_grid” angled_section=”no” angled_section_position=”both” angled_section_direction=”from_left_to_right” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

Plan Ahead

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type=”normal” position=”center”][vc_column_text]If you leave it to the last minute and simply pick a car hire desk at random when you arrive at your destination airport you’ll have no idea if you’re getting a good deal or not.

The best advice is to plan ahead and book before you travel. This will give you plenty of time to read and understand the conditions of hire and consider the cost and value of any additional charges.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1433755003295{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;}” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” parallax_content_width=”in_grid” angled_section=”no” angled_section_position=”both” angled_section_direction=”from_left_to_right” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

When you’re there

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To help you plan accordingly, we’ve listed advice below for hiring and driving a car in countries such as Spain, Portugal, France and Italy.

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Spain

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Source: “Llançà coastline” by Dennis van Zuijlekom on Flickr used under

Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence

[/image_with_text][vc_column_text]Who can I rent from? Many well-known car-hire brands have offices throughout Spain such as Hertz, Avis, Europcar, and Alamo. If you’re an AA Member you can save up to 10% on global car hire.

What about tolls? Spain has a large number of tolls dotted throughout the country – inconvenient at times, but these roads enable easier access than their alternatives. You can view a list of toll prices in Spain here.

Is there anything else I should know? Hire cars are often targeted in service areas or tricked in to stopping on the hard shoulder by the occupant of a passing vehicle. They will gesture that something is wrong with the vehicle, so lock all doors and keep bags out of sight. The number of thefts by bogus policemen has increased in Madrid and Catalonia. It’s also worth remembering to bring the same credit card to the rental check-in desk that you initially booked with.

Fuel Prices
Unleaded: €1.25 – Diesel: €1.17

Advice from AA spokesman Conor Faughnan: “More Irish people drive abroad in Spain than anywhere else so lots of people have had the experience. The Spanish have spent hugely on their roads and the motorway network is excellent but it can be scary.

We are spoilt in Ireland because our motorways are new and feel comfortable in terms of lane widths and hard shoulders, compared to Spain especially. I saw a truck driver trying to change a wheel near Barcelona a year or so ago on a hard shoulder that was only half the width of his vehicle.

What you do find though, are plentiful good quality service areas (National Roads Authority please take note).

Spanish motorways are a good deal cheaper than France but they too are sprinkled with toll booths. Often the toll itself is set according to by-laws or converted from old peseta or franc denominations. Hence, you get utterly stupid charges like €2.56 that have tourists wrestling for small coins.

The Spanish have got their act together more recently in terms of enforcement. If you haven’t been in a while, you might be tempted to treat their speed-camera signs as just roadside decoration. A mistake – Spanish, French and Italian authorities can and do pursue you, and you will get an unpleasant demand in the post weeks later for anywhere between €45 and €80.

Especially in tourist areas, park carefully. It’s not just bag-snatchers – many parts of Spain are notorious for cars with dents and scratches.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” parallax_content_width=”in_grid” angled_section=”no” angled_section_position=”both” angled_section_direction=”from_left_to_right” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern” padding_top=”20″ padding_bottom=”50″ css_animation=”element_from_fade”][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

Portugal

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Source: “Lisbon, Portugal” by Arden on Flickr used under

Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence

[/image_with_text][vc_column_text]Who can I rent from? Many well-known car-hire brands have offices throughout Portugal such as Hertz, Budget and Thrifty.

What about tolls? Tolls are charged at several motorways throughout Portugal. It is compulsory to either carry a Temporary Electronic Toll Device (DEM) or pre-pay tolls. This is required for many motorways throughout Portugal. The official guide to paying tolls can be viewed here but we understand the toll motorways to be the A4, A17, A22, A23, A24, A25, A28, A29, A41 and A42.

Is there anything else I should know? It’s not unusual to spot police cars at the side of the road with speed guns as speed limits are strictly imposed. In built-up areas, drive at 31 mph (50 km/h), outside built-up areas at 55 mph (90 km/h) or 62 mph (100 km/h) and on motorways at 74 mph (120 km/h).The minimum speed on motorways is 31 mph (50 km/h). Motorists who have held a driving licence for less than one year must not exceed 55 mph (90 km/h). In some town centres the speed is reduced to 12 mph (20 km/h).

Fuel Prices
Unleaded: €1.41 – Diesel: €1.23

Advice from AA spokesman Conor Faughnan:There wasn’t just a Celtic Tiger in Ireland – Portugal had one as well. They invested very heavily in infrastructure so like Ireland, Portugese motorways are good quality modern ones.

In years gone by the Portugese road safety record was appalling, one of the worst in Europe and far worse than Ireland’s even when ours was a disgrace. However times have changed all around Europe and in Portugal standards have improved to the point where you will hardly recognise them if you are remembering a trip from a decade ago.

Even so, these roads are relatively more dangerous than Irish ones. In tourist areas especially you do need to concentrate at all times.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” parallax_content_width=”in_grid” angled_section=”no” angled_section_position=”both” angled_section_direction=”from_left_to_right” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern” padding_top=”20″ padding_bottom=”50″ css_animation=”element_from_fade”][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

Italy

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Source: “Rome” by Moyan Brenn on Flickr used under

Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Licence

[/image_with_text][vc_column_text]Who can I rent from? Car-hire is available from Hertz, Avis and Thrifty alongside plenty of smaller independent car-hire firms.

What about tolls? Tolls are levied on the majority of motorways in Italy. You can calculate tolls here.

Is there anything else I should know? AREA C (A pollution charge, formerly Eco-pass) is levied in the centre of Milan. Charges apply Mon-Fri and generally from 7.30am until 7.30pm. Drivers must purchase an eco-pass before entering the restricted zone. Tariffs vary according to the emissions of the vehicle. Mopeds and motorcycles are exempt.

Traffic is also restricted in many historical centres/major towns known as ‘Zone a Traffico Limitato’ or ZTL’s, where circulation is only permitted for residents.

Fuel Prices
Unleaded: €1.65 – Diesel: €1.52

Advice from AA spokesman Conor Faughnan: “The Italians have a reputation for being warm, friendly, chaotic, stylish and disorganised. It is a wonderful country to visit but in keeping with the clichés their roads can be difficult for visitors. I drove in northern Italy a number of years ago and it is a Mecca for car nuts. At one stage, as we sat in traffic in our diesel Ford Fiesta hire car, I noted that the car in front and the two cars behind me were all Ferraris. We also took a spin up into the Italian Alps. I gather the scenery was lovely; I didn’t get to see it. Along twisted mountain roads that looked like they were straight out of The Italian Job, my abiding memory was of dodging the bikers flinging themselves into hairpin bends. I half-expected to see piles of smashed bikes at the base of the cliffs.

Don’t let it put you off. Italy has a good quality modern network, and while town and city centres probably do require an experienced and calm visiting driver the general driving environment feels safe and secure. Motorways are extensively tolled but are far cheaper than France and more comparable to Spanish rates.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” parallax_content_width=”in_grid” angled_section=”no” angled_section_position=”both” angled_section_direction=”from_left_to_right” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern” padding_top=”20″ padding_bottom=”50″ css_animation=”element_from_fade”][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

France

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Source: “Paris Skyline, France” by Luke Ma on Flickr used under

Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Licence

[/image_with_text][vc_column_text]Who can I rent from? You can rent from companies like Hertz, Sixt and Argus Car Hire. Rental vehicles in France come with unlimited third party liability insurance included in the initial price.

What about tolls? Pay-as-you-go tolls are charged on most motorways in France. You can pay toll fees by credit card or cash.

Is there anything else I should know? “French authorities are quite stringent on all motorists carrying the correct documents and compulsory equipment when driving. These include a warning triangle and a reflective jacket. The jacket must be kept within the passenger compartment of the vehicle and be put on before exiting the vehicle in an emergency/breakdown situation. It is absolutely prohibited to carry, transport or use radar detectors. Failure to comply with this regulation involves a fine of up to €1,500 and the vehicle and/or device may be confiscated.

Fuel Prices
Unleaded: €1.39 – Diesel: €1.39

Advice from AA spokesman Conor Faughnan: “France is a beautiful part of the world and the roads make it easy. On the motorways especially, you quickly forget that you are abroad. The locals are reasonably friendly provided you don’t bring bad Irish motorway habits with you. Our tendencies to hog the outer lane or to switch lanes without indicating do not go down well.

The Autoroutes are peppered with tolls and they really add up. As a rule of thumb it is usually between 0.07-0.10 cent per kilometre travelled, add about half that again if you are towing a caravan. I did a 375km trip in the south of France last year and it cost nearly as much in tolls as it did in fuel: €31.00

French traffic police are notorious and their law is tough. Treat them as formally as you would airport security or you may regret it just as much. They are much more laid back off the roads but be warned. Don’t dream of taking an alcohol-risk.

Don’t ignore speed cameras either – they work and you’ll find a charge either applied to your card or sent to you back home in Ireland.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1433771293246{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;}” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” parallax_content_width=”in_grid” angled_section=”no” angled_section_position=”both” angled_section_direction=”from_left_to_right” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column][vc_column_text]

For peace of mind

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type=”normal” position=”center”][vc_column_text]• Damage – check the car for damage with an employee from the car rental company before signing a rental agreement, and again when the vehicle is returned. Have the damage-free condition confirmed in writing, or note any damage. Disputes can sometimes arise after you arrive home so it’s a good idea taking the time to take some phone pictures of the car both when you pick it up and when you return it.

Controls – Check all the switches, indicators and other controls carefully and if any are unfamiliar or don’t work, ask the rental firm for guidance
Refuelling – check the refuelling requirements in advance and keep fuel bills as proof of a full tank when the vehicle is returned. Consider taking a photo of the fuel gauge, particularly if dropping the car off without a hire company employee present.
Insurance cover – third-party insurance is a must but in some countries the minimum statutory cover may be higher and if cover is insufficient, the hirer is personally liable for the excess. There may be a charge to increase cover.
Additional insurance – if you can, choose comprehensive damage cover without an excess, but check what is actually covered as some may exclude damage to tyres, rims, the underbody or stone chips.
Theft insurance – recommended if this is not included in the comprehensive insurance.

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England Featured France Germany Italy Northern Ireland Scotland Spain USA Wales

Avoiding a Medical Emergency Abroad

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There are plenty of steps travellers can take in advance of a trip away to minimise financial costs and the inevitable stress that comes with a medical emergency abroad. We’ve listed below some incredibly simple steps to take ensuring everyone has a safe and enjoyable trip.

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See your doctor before you go

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It’s a good idea to get a medical check-up from your doctor before you go. If you’re planning on taking part in strenuous physical activities such as hiking or skiing, pay a visit to your doctor to make sure you’re in good shape for it. (And don’t forget to check with your travel insurance provider that these activities are covered under your policy.) Consider whether you need vaccinations for your destination, too. In an AA study, 23% of males aged 17-24 years old told us they needed medical attention whilst abroad compared to just 15% of women in the same age bracket. So once you pay a visit to the doctor, tell your partner/dad/brother to do the same!

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Medical care at your destination

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Learning about the quality of medical care at your destination means you’ll know what to expect should you need it. For example, in Spain there are two types of health establishments you can visit depending on the severity and type of illness – a hospital and a health centre (Centro de Salud). For serious illnesses or injuries, it’s expected that you would visit a hospital, but for instances not requiring immediate hospitalisation the Centro de Salud is your best bet. Knowing information such as this allows you to make sound judgments about what type of treatment you need.

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Know how to seek medical care

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Do you know how to call for help in a foreign country? It’s not something you even think of amongst the flurry of packing and printing out flight tickets, but it could prove to be the most vital. Click here for a map that shows local emergency telephone numbers from around the world.

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Carry health information

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type=”normal” position=”center”][vc_column_text]You might know your blood type and that you’re allergic to peanuts, but what about other background information like medications or previous surgeries? These could be crucial to a doctor giving you emergency treatment.

And while it’s wise to carry your EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) with you if you’re travelling to Europe, be aware that it won’t cover for things like an air ambulance home if someone is in serious trouble, which can cost up to €20,000.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

Check your insurance

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People often think medical care isn’t included in their travel insurance policy, but a lot of the time it is and they just don’t know. Check your policy to ensure you’re getting value for money and sufficient coverage. The AA provides unlimited medical cover for Members who have an extra Travel policy, meaning there are no restrictions on the amount you can claim.

[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]For more information on AA Travel Insurance, please click here.

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England France Ireland Italy Scotland Spain Wales

Top 10 Dos and Don’ts When Travelling With A Roof Rack

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]The folks over at Mick’s Garage know their stuff when it comes to travelling with a roof rack.

They have been selling and fitting roof racks to customers’ cars for over a decade. During that time they’ve built up a wealth of experience and knowledge with regards to the common issues that you might face. Here’s their list of the top 10 things to look out for:[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_text_separator title=”READ THE INSTRUCTIONS” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no” background_color=”#ffcc00″ title_color=”#000000″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

“As a rule, us chaps don’t read instructions and to be fair, most of us get away with it 95% of the time! If you’re fitting a roof rack to your car it’s extremely important to read all the instructions fully before you take a single bolt out of the box. They will help you get the job done more quickly, easily and safely in the long run. While not essential, a second pair of hands is certainly a big help. Remember your car is worth a lot more than the set of roof racks you’ve just bought, so don’t damage it by not reading the instructions!”

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“Pay particular attention to the torque settings (if mentioned). A properly fitted and used roof rack will give years of trouble free service and will not damage your car. An over-torqued, under-torqued, badly fitted or overloaded roof rack can damage your car. If you’re unsure about how to fit a roof rack correctly, check out this MicksGarage video for some top tips.”

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“If left on your car, your roof rack will be exposed to the elements, and as a result the fittings can corrode over time. To counteract this, a bit of copper grease on the mounting bolt threads will help protect against corrosion and make removing them in the future so much easier.”

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“The owner’s manual for your car will have a section on the maximum weight that can be carried on the roof. We often find the car will have a lower weight limit than the roof bars so it’s important to check and never exceed whichever is the lower of the two.”

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“Loading a roof rack with big, bulky items can be quite difficult. It’s when you’re struggling and straining that things tend to get damaged, so rather than scratching your lovely paintwork with that 12-foot canoe you’re trying to manhandle on your own, get someone to give you a hand.”

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“You’d be surprised at the number of calls we get from customers telling us they’ve just driven their car into a multi-storey car park (or their own garage), forgotten they had the roof rack and roof box or bike racks fitted and ripped the whole lot off! It’s more of an issue on taller MPVs and 4×4s but still possible in family saloons, so try to remember the extra height you’re carrying!”

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“At MicksGarage, we only sell roof racks with security locks – be sure to use them at all times, especially if you’re carrying bikes or kayaks that can be worth thousands. It can also be a good idea to keep your roof rack keys on your car key ring. We get hundreds of calls every year looking for replacement keys!”

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“Canoes, kayaks and surf boards must be tied down to the car front and back, not just to the roof rack. You can use the car’s towing eyes or tow bar if it has one. These kind of products can generate absolutely colossal amounts of aerodynamic lift when travelling at speed and could rip any brand of roof rack clean off your car if it’s not tied down properly. Even if you’re not travelling quickly, strong winds (and it often is very windy when surfers/wind surfers are heading out) could exert forces higher than the roof rack is rated for and cause damage so this is a really important point.”

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“Some roof rack accessories such as roof boxes come with a maximum speed warning which shouldn’t be exceeded. Aerodynamic drag increases with speed, and exceeding the speed rating could effectively exert too much force onto the accessory or the roof rack.”

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_text_separator title=”TAKE IT OFF” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no” background_color=”#ffcc00″ title_color=”#000000″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]”Despite the use of lightweight materials and aerodynamic profiles, a roof rack still adds a degree of weight and aerodynamic drag to your car. Although a small amount, it will negatively affect your fuel economy. So if you’re not using it, take it off!

“Finally, if you’re planning on taking a trip to the safari park with a roof box attached to your rack, stay away from the baboons! Or just make sure you lock it.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

For more information on roof racks and travel accessories, whether for business or leisure, head to MicksGarage. They have a team of experts on hand seven days a week.

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England Europe France Ireland Northern Ireland Uncategorised Wales

Why I Love Camping With Family – A Customer’s Story

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AA customer, Jennifer Browne, shares her experiences of camping with family and offers some top advice.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Camping with family started for us only as recently as August, 2015.  We were invited to visit with friends in the U.K. but were told once the flights etc. had been booked that we would be spending 2 nights camping as a group in Forest of Dean in Wales. We were told not to worry as we knew they were experienced campers who would show us the way and had everything we’d need for the experience. I was so reluctant to camp because I had never done it before. The thought of sleeping in a tent with only a thin piece of material separating me from the elements did not immediately appeal.

However, my family and I took to it like ducks to water and how things have changed. I now love camping and so does my family. What’s not to love; the outdoors, the easy way of living, the peace, the memories for the children. You just can’t beat it or put a price on it.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_text_separator title=”Equipment is everything ” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no” background_color=”#f2c02b” title_color=”#111111″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

As soon as we got home we bought our first tent, an eight man Vango which has so far proven to be a very good family tent. As our experiences of camping have evolved and so has our equipment list. We bought the matching awning for our tent which is very handy for rainy camping trips. You can take off wet rain coats and wellies in the awning to avoid getting the tent wet. Our most recent purchase was the camping fridge.  It’s so handy and I would totally recommend it.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_single_image image=”21060″ alignment=”center” border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”full”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]When it comes to camping with family, your equipment makes the difference between a memorable experience or wet, cold and miserable days that no one will look back on with fond memories. As such I would recommend the following items to make your tent feel like that home away from home:

  1. A ground sheet. It provides an extra layer of protection for you and your tent from the ground. It will also help lengthen the lifespan of your tent.
  2. Picnic blankets or carpeting for the floor inside the tent for extra comfort. There’s nothing nicer that sitting down and playing a game of cards with the kids last thing before you hit the sleeping bags.
  3. Blow up beds. We found that once you can afford the little bit of extra space these take up, then they’re a must have item for the best night’s sleep.
  4. Some compact fold up chairs.
  5. Sleeping Bags. Invest in a good quality sleeping bag for that extra sleeping comfort. Just check the season grading on the bags.  Generally a season 2 bag is great for spring/summer and provides that extra warmth for those cooler nights.  We even brought our own pillows – great comfort for the kids to guarantee a good nights sleep.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_text_separator title=”Preparation is key” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no” background_color=”#f2c02b” title_color=”#000000″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]When preparing for your trip, get each family member to pack their own rucksack so they know where their own belongings are. This is great for teaching the kids to look after their stuff. Everyone knows the main things to bring camping, the tent (a good start), sleeping bag, chair, plate, cup, spork and a flash light. After that you’re into the luxuries.

Going on so many camping trips you get to pick up ideas weather it’s bringing new equipment or putting up or taking down the tent.  It’s very much a team effort.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_text_separator title=”Camping highlights” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no” background_color=”#f2c02b” title_color=”#000000″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

When camping with family, there are some amazing experiences and adventures to be had and every family or couple should take what they want from camping. But, the best things for me and my family about camping are:

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  1. Escaping the busy day to day life to the peaceful, quite country side.
  2. Learning to appreciate and experience the outdoors.
  3. Spending true quality time as a family.
  4. Having fun cooking outdoors.
  5. Learning new skills.
  6. Doing it all on a budget. Camping is very affordable.

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Finally, our most memorable trip so far was to a beautiful four star campsite in Co. Wexford called Morriscastle Strand Holiday Park. When we arrived, not knowing what to expect, we were met by friendly staff who managed the family run site since 1969. The pitches were well layed out and sheltered, the facilities were top notch and spotless and best of all, the beautiful beach and sand dunes were right next to us. We have had some great trips so far and we look forward to trips that are yet to come.

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With thanks to Jennifer Browne, an AA Car Insurance and Membership customer,  for sharing her camping journey and giving us real insight into  great tips and benefits of camping.

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Some useful links:

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Are you an AA customer?

Keep an eye out for regular Great Outdoors offers too with AA Rewards perfect for all your outdoor activities.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”20899″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_blank” link=”http://www.theaa.ie/aa/aa-rewards/welcome.aspx” img_size=”medium” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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Win a €300 Car Hire Voucher From Hertz

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Win one of two Hertz car hire vouchers 

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Hertz are giving two lucky people the chance to win a 3 day weekend car hire voucher for anywhere in Europe, each worth €300.

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The prize is: Two Hertz vouchers to give away to two lucky winners, where each voucher gives free 3 day weekend Hertz car hire anywhere in Europe.  Each voucher is valid until 31st December 2017 and is valued at €300.

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COMPETITION NOW CLOSED

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Congratulations to our 2 Winners:

 

  1. Neil Jackman from Tipperary
  2. Caroline Ryan

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Don’t forget, if you’re an AA customer and planning to hire a car when abroad, you’re entitled to up to 10% off Hertz car hire with AA Rewards.  To find out more click here.

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Best Books To Read This Summer For All The Family

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Check out Easons top books for all the family to read this summer.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Summer is just around the corner and that means it’s time to plan those long anticipated summer holidays.

Whether you’re jetsetting across Europe or stay-cationing in your very own backyard, a good book is the perfect accessory to any summer holiday.

To help alleviate the search for the best picks, we’ve teamed up with Easons.com to give you a round-up of this summer’s most anticipated releases, for all the family. From eagerly awaited follow-ups to new releases from bestselling authors, the below titles will help you escape this Summer![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

Books For The Kids

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 1.   Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

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In her seventh novel, international bestselling author and twice winner of the prestigious Newbery Medal Kate DiCamillo tells a masterful story that blends pathos and humour. Raymie Clarke has come to realize that everything, absolutely everything, depends on her. And she has a plan. If Raymie can win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, then her father – who has run away with a dental hygienist – will see Raymie’s picture in the paper and (maybe) come home.

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2.    Broken Hearts Club by Cathy Cassidy

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A brand new standalone book! Is it ever too late to mend a broken heart? Andie, Eden, Ryan, Tasha and Hasmita love being part of the Heart Club. They’ve promised to stay best friends forever and nothing can tear them apart. But sometimes things happen that you couldn’t ever have expected and forever might not be as long as you think. Now, two years later, Eden and Ryan are haunted by memories of the past. Can they find a way to bring the club back together or is it too late to mend a broken heart?

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3.    Apollo 1 by Rick Riordan

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After angering his father Zeus, the god Apollo is cast down from Olympus. Weak and disorientated, he lands in New York City as a regular teenage boy. Now, without his godly powers, the four-thousand-year-old deity must learn to survive in the modern world until he can somehow find a way to regain Zeus’s favour.

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4.   Tom Gates by Liz Pichon

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Look out! Tom, Delia and the whole Gates family are going on holiday. How will Tom manage to keep himself busy on the most boring campsite ever? By doodling, of course! An exciting new story – with doodle your own elements! – from award-winning and best-selling author Liz Pichon.

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Young Adult Recommendations

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1.   Desolation by Derek Landy

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THE EPIC NEW THRILLER CONTINUES. Reeling from their bloody encounter in New York City at the end of Demon Road, Amber and Milo flee north. On their trail are the Hounds of Hell – five demonic bikers who will stop at nothing to drag their quarries back to their unholy master. Amber and Milo’s only hope lies within Desolation Hill – a small town with a big secret; a town with a darkness to it, where evil seeps through the very floorboards. Until, on one night every year, it spills over onto the streets and all hell breaks loose. And that night is coming.

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2.   Flawed by Cecelia Ahern

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Celestine encounters a situation in which she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule and now faces life-changing repercussions. She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found FLAWED. In this stunning novel, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern depicts a society in which perfection is paramount and mistakes are punished. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her everything.

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3.    Asking For It by Louise O’Neill

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Centred on the story of a Leaving Cert student, Emma (18), who lives in a rural town in Ireland, Asking For It is about what happens to her one night at a party, an incident that changes the course of her life. Filled with uncertainties and perspectives, this is brave and clever writing from a relatively new voice in Irish fiction.

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4.    A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

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The stunning sequel to Sarah J. Maas’ New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses. Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court – but at a steep cost. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms – and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future – and the future of a world cleaved in two.

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Books For Him

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1.   The Last Mile by Baldacci David

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Memories can be a real killer Melvin Mars awaits his fate on Death Row. He was one of America’s most promising football stars until, aged twenty-years-old, he was arrested and convicted for the murder of his parents just as he was due to begin a very lucrative contract with the NFL. A race against time ensues because, when revealed, that information threatens to tear apart the corridors of power at the very highest level. The case proves to be life-changing for both Mars and Decker in ways that neither could ever have imagined.

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2.   World Gone By by Dennis Lehane

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He has everything he could possibly want; money, power, a beautiful mistress, and anonymity. But in a town that runs on corruption, vengeance and greed, success can’t protect Joe from the dark truth of his past — and ultimately, the wages of a lifetime of sin will finally be paid in full . . . Chilling, heart-breaking and gripping, this is the most complex and powerful novel to date from Dennis Lehane, writer on The Wire and author of modern classics such as Shutter Island ,Gone, Baby, Gone and The Given Day .

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3.   The Hurley Maker’s Son by Patrick Deeley

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Galway, 1978. In the wake of his father’s passing, Deeley makes the slow, sad journey home. Remembering the tiny, precious moments of his childhood spent in his father’s hurley-making workshop and at his mother’s side, this is a beautifully evocative memoir, reminiscent of John McGahern’s Memoir.

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4.   A Time of Torment by John Connolly

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Parker is not like other men. He died, and was reborn. He is ready to wage war. Now he will descend upon a strange, isolated community called the Cut, and face down a force of men who rule by terror, intimidation, and murder. All in the name of the being they serve. All in the name of the Dead King.

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Keep an eye out in May for…

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Books For Her

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1.    All She Ever Wished For by Claudia Carroll

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Tess Taylor is gearing up for a wedding day to remember. And nothing is going to get in her way. That is, until an unexpected summons arrives completely out of the blue for jury service. Kate King, celebrity socialite, is going through a very public divorce. On the surface, the two women couldn’t be more different, but their worlds collide as the courtroom drama unfolds. And lessons in love and friendship await them both.

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2.    One with You by Sylvia Day

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The final chapter in the global blockbuster Crossfire quintet Gideon Cross. Committing to love was only the beginning. Fighting for it will either set us free . . . or break us apart. Heartbreakingly and seductively poignant, One with You is the breathlessly awaited finale to the Crossfire saga, the searing love story that has captivated millions of readers worldwide.

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3.   The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

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A one-in-a-million story for anyone who loves to laugh, cry, and think about how extraordinary ordinary life can be. Not to be missed by readers who loved THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY, ELIZABETH IS MISSING or THE SHOCK OF THE FALL.

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4.   Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

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This version of the Bennet family—and Mr. Darcy—is one that you have and haven’t met before: Liz is a magazine writer in her late thirties who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. When their father has a health scare, they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help—and discover that the sprawling Tudor they grew up in is crumbling and the family is in disarray. Wonderfully tender and hilariously funny, ELIGIBLE both honors and updates Austen’s beloved tale. Tackling gender, class, courtship, and family, Sittenfeld reaffirms herself as one of the most dazzling authors writing today.

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Keep an eye out in May for…

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With thanks to Easons.com, our AA Rewards partner, for providing us with all the best new reads this summer for all the family.  These are sure to keep everyone entertained over the summer holidays.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”20282″ alignment=”center” border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_blank” img_size=”full” link=”http://www.easons.com/”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Easons’ are giving all readers 10% off online purchases.  Just click here to start shopping and enter the promotion code: “AASUMMER10

 

Don’t forget, if you’re an AA customer, you’re entitled to regular discount on Easons.com.  To find out more click here.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1433517982393{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;}” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” parallax_content_width=”in_grid” angled_section=”no” angled_section_position=”both” angled_section_direction=”from_left_to_right” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column width=”1/1″][action full_width=”yes” content_in_grid=”no” type=”normal” show_button=”yes” button_text=”Get a Travel Insurance quote” button_link=”http://www.theaa.ie/AA/Insurance/Travel-Insurance.aspx” background_image=”20216″ button_text_color=”#000000″ background_color=”#0a0a0a” button_hover_text_color=”#e5e5e5″ button_background_color=”#ffcc00″ button_hover_background_color=”#ffcc00″ button_border_color=”rgba(0,0,0,0.01)” button_hover_border_color=”rgba(0,0,0,0.01)”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Categories
England Europe France Germany Ireland Italy Spain Wales

Safety Tips for Driving Through a Tunnel in Europe

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If your journey takes you through one of Europe’s longer road tunnels – the longest is 15 miles – it’s important to be familiar with this safety advice in case an emergency should occur.

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Approaching the tunnel

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  • Check your fuel level
  • Switch on the radio and tune into the traffic radio station if there is one
  • Switch on your headlights (low beam)
  • Take off your sunglasses
  • Pay attention to traffic lights and other traffic signs

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In the tunnel

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  • Keep a good distance from the vehicle in front
  • Observe speed limits (maximum and minimum)
  • Make a mental note of safety features – emergency exits and phones – as you pass
  • In tunnels with two-way traffic, use the nearside carriageway edge for orientation Never cross the centre line
  • Never make a U-turn or reverse
  • Don’t stop, except in an emergency

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Congestion

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  • If traffic slows suddenly, turn on hazard warning lights
  • If traffic stops moving completely, leave a distance of at least five metres from the vehicle in front
  • If traffic stops moving turn off the engine
  • Do not leave your vehicle
  • Tune in to traffic radio if there is a system

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Breakdown

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  • Turn on hazard lights
  • Pull over into a lay-by, emergency lane or as far to the nearside as possible
  • Turn off the engine
  • Leave your vehicle – wear a reflective jacket and pay close attention to traffic
  • Notify the rescue services – use an emergency telephone rather than a mobile phone which is unlikely to work
  • Follow any advice from tunnel control – wait for help in the vehicle if there is no other place of safety

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Accident

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  • Turn on hazard warning lights
  • Park as far to the nearside as possible
  • Turn off the engine
  • Leave your vehicle – wear a reflective jacket and pay close attention to traffic
  • Call the rescue services. Use an emergency telephone rather than a mobile which is unlikely to work.
  • Help any injured people

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If your vehicle catches fire

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  • Turn on hazard warning lights
  • Drive out of the tunnel if possible – but never make a U-turn or reverse
  • If you can’t drive out, drive to a lay-by, an emergency lane or pull over as far to the nearside as possible
  • Turn off the engine but leave the key in the ignition
  • Contact the rescue services – use an emergency telephone rather than a mobile which is unlikely to work
  • Only try to extinguish the fire yourself if it has just started – don’t open the bonnet it may be hot and can increase the fire
  • If it’s not possible to extinguish the fire, leave the tunnel quickly – move away from the fire and use emergency exits
  • Don’t waste time gathering up personal belongings
  • Help injured people get to safety too
  • Don’t wait to be told what to do
  • Never forget that fire and smoke can be fatal – Save your life and not your car!
  • Follow any instructions and information provided by tunnel staff

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If another vehicle catches fire

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  • Turn on hazard warning lights
  • Keep a good distance from the burning vehicle
  • Park your vehicle in a lay-by, emergency lane or pull over as far to the nearside as possible
  • Never make a U-turn or reverse
  • Turn off the engine – leave the key in the ignition
  • Call the rescue services – use an emergency telephone rather than a mobile which is unlikely to work
  • Only attempt to extinguish the fire yourself it is has just started. – don’t open the bonnet it may be hot and can increase the fire
  • If it’s not possible to extinguish the fire, leave the tunnel quickly – move away from the fire and use the emergency exits
  • Don’t waste time gathering up personal belongings
  • Help injured people get to safety too

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Motoring organisations across Europe, including the AA, have inspected and rated around 250 road tunnels, including a number in the UK, under the European Tunnel Assessment Programme, EuroTAP.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1433517982393{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;}” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” parallax_content_width=”in_grid” angled_section=”no” angled_section_position=”both” angled_section_direction=”from_left_to_right” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column width=”1/1″][action full_width=”yes” content_in_grid=”no” type=”normal” show_button=”yes” button_text=”Get a European Breakdown Cover Quote” button_link=”http://www.theaa.ie/AA/Insurance/European-Breakdown-Cover.aspx” button_text_color=”#ffffff” background_color=”#0a0a0a” button_hover_text_color=”#e5e5e5″ button_background_color=”#ffcc00″ button_hover_background_color=”#ffcc00″ button_border_color=”rgba(0,0,0,0.01)” button_hover_border_color=”rgba(0,0,0,0.01)” background_image=”20100″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Categories
England Wales

AA Membership – Don’t miss a match!

[vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1443110411946{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;}” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” parallax_content_width=”in_grid” angled_section=”no” angled_section_position=”both” angled_section_direction=”from_left_to_right” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]If you’re heading over to the UK for Rugby World Cup season with your car in tow, breakdown protection could be something to think about. Having AA Membership means you’ll never be left stranded because our unique rescue service covers you in any car 24/7, 365 days a year.

AA Membership covers you, whether you’re a driver or a passenger in any car. And more than 80%* of the time we fix our Member’s cars right there – on the roadside.

Just recently, an AA Member’s son had their car break down while on the way to an Ireland match – the panic! See what she had to say below:[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1443110856681{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-right: 40px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;padding-left: 40px !important;}” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” parallax_content_width=”in_grid” angled_section=”no” angled_section_position=”both” angled_section_direction=”from_left_to_right” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern” background_color=”#efefef” css_animation=”element_from_fade” transition_delay=”200″][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]This is just a short note to thank you for your assistance to my son when his car broke down in Wales, on the way to the Ireland Rugby Match.

Your efficiency towing the car back to Holyhead, arranging a replacement car for him to drive to Cardiff and then organising the safe return of the car along with himself to Holyhead and on to our house in Castleknock from the ferry in Dublin was brilliant. He found the Irish branch of The AA were on top of the situation straight away and were instructing the Welsh branch on all things.

His trip had not started out well when the B&B booked was closed when they arrived and would not answer the contact numbers. As the World Cup was on, there were no rooms available in hotels and so they slept in the car.

Your efficiency saved the day and they made the match and enjoyed the trip![/vc_column_text][vc_separator type=”normal” position=”center” up=”20″ down=”20″][vc_column_text]

Anne Garrigan, Dublin

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1443110450297{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;}” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” parallax_content_width=”in_grid” angled_section=”no” angled_section_position=”both” angled_section_direction=”from_left_to_right” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]All our personal Members are covered anywhere in Ireland and the UK. If you’re driving in the UK and you happen to breakdown, all the benefits you have on your package here applies in the UK. If you have AA Roadside Rescue, we will tow you locally and if you have Rescue Plus, we can arrange to recover your vehicle back to Ireland if it’s beyond repair.

To get AA Membership today, click here.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Categories
Wales

AA Roadwatch RWC Guide to Cardiff

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Featured Image Credit: Dan Kamminga on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 licence

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_video title=”AA Roadwatch Cardiff Rugby World Cup Video” link=”https://youtu.be/cfntuNDDa8g”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1433512803702{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;}” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” parallax_content_width=”in_grid” angled_section=”no” angled_section_position=”both” angled_section_direction=”from_left_to_right” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]The good news is that Cardiff is generally a compact city and can be easily navigated on foot. The majority of shops, restaurants, hotels and attractions, including Millennium Stadium, are all within a few minutes’ walk of each other.

The guide is divided into two sections. The first is a general guide to Cardiff City while the section section is a guide to the Millennium Stadium itself, what to expect on match day and other tips.

Don’t forget, if you’re an AA Customer and you’re travelling to the Rugby World Cup we have a variety of AA Reward offers especially for the event itself; including ferry crossings, accommodation and food and drink. Click here to find out more.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_accordion style=”accordion” collapsible=”yes”][vc_accordion_tab title=”Getting There”][vc_column_text]

BY BUS

If you prefer to use public transport, Cardiff Bus runs an extensive service through the city. Take note that, similar to Dublin Bus, exact change is needed to travel on the buses. However, if you reckon you’re going to be knocking around Cardiff for a few days, you can get yourself an iff card.

Credit: Jeremy Segrott. Used under CC licence.
Credit: Jeremy Segrott/ Under CC licence.

Like the Leap in Dublin city, you can top up this card with money and simply select a ticket option and you’re away with it. The card itself is free of charge, so you only pay for the ticket option that you use.  There’s also a few discounts and offers available in local restaurants, cafes and shops when you show off your iff card. It also gets you 10% off all standard tours of Millennium Stadium – handy!

There’s also an iff app available for those of you with iPhones or Android smartphones. The app is easily downloadable from the App Store. After that, you add your payment method, pick your ticket and then simply, show the driver the ticket on your screen.

More information on the app can be found here.

BY TRAIN

Trains run from Cardiff’s Queen St station to Cardiff Bay and stop at a number of locations in the city. For up to date travel times and information on services, check out Arriva Trains Wales.

A shuttle bus service also runs from the train station to the Airport for passengers, which connects with all trains, to carry passengers on the short journey to the Airport terminal. The journey takes approximately 10 minutes and there is a charge of £1 each way on the shuttle bus.

BY CAR

If you’re heading to the stadium from Holyhead, you’ll take the A55 North Wales Expressway towards Bangor. Stay left of the A55 and then, exit onto the A487. Continue on the A487 southbound through Caernarfon and Porthmadog. That then merges onto the A470 and you’ll travel on Brecon. At Brecon, continue straight on the A40 towards Cardiff. A little further on, you’ll turn left at the roundabout onto the A470. The exits for Cardiff should be signposted from here onwards. Once you get to Cardiff, the A470 changes to Northwood. Follow North Rd to the end and take a rght onto Castle St. After the second set of traffic lights, turn left onto Westgate St. You’ll find the stadium then on the right hand side.Driving-abroad_600x300

If you’re travelling from London or Bristol, you’ll leave the M4 at J28 and then, take the A48 West and follow signs for the city centre.

Remember that the standard legal speed limit in Wales, for private vehicles without trailers is 30mph (48kmph) in built up areas, unless otherwise indicated while outside built up areas limits tend to average at 60mph (96kmph). On motorways and dual carriageways, limits are up to 70mph (112kmph).

Bear in mind that motor caravans with weight exceeding 3.5t or motor vehicles adapted to carry more than eight passengers are banned from the outside lane of a motorway with three or more lanes.

Keep in mind that if you are travelling by car to the UK for the RWC and are an AA member, you’ll be covered under AA Membership and Rescue Plus should you experience a breakdown.[/vc_column_text][/vc_accordion_tab][vc_accordion_tab title=”Car Rental”][vc_column_text]If you’ve decided to rent a car instead of bringing your own to Cardiff, remember that you can rent a car with The AA. car-hire-260x300-v01Car Hire is available at most airports, ferry ports and cities worldwide, and it searches various companies which offers car rental.

To save yourself any extra stress or hassle, it might be worthwhile to take out breakdown cover if you’re travelling abroad. For more information on European Breakdown cover, see our website.

Also, if you do break down in the UK, you can call the AA on 0800-88-77-66.[/vc_column_text][/vc_accordion_tab][vc_accordion_tab title=”Things to Do in Cardiff”][ordered_list]While the focus of your stay in Cardiff will probably be the games in Millennium Stadium, there are a few interesting sights and attractions worth a look in the city if you wish to add some cultural value to your sporting trip.

  1. Millenium Stadium

Millennium Stadium itself is worth a visit, although you can’t get a tour on match days, for obvious reasons. You can take a look behind the scenes, including access to the dressing rooms, tunnel, VIP suites and press facilities. Tours last approx. 1hr and more details can be found on the stadium’s website.

  1. Cardiff Castle

Cardiff Castle is certainly worth a look during your stay. Being less than a 10min walk from the stadium, there’s no excuse not to pay this historical site a visit. It’s surrounded by plenty of green area, and you may find a lot of people chilling out and having a picnic (presuming the weather is OK). If you decide to take the tour, you’re in for a treat as there are pretty impressive views of the city from the top while in the castle itself, you’ll find some of the most amazingly lavish, highly decorated rooms you will ever see.

  1. St Fagan’s National History Museum

St Fagan’s National History Museum is Wales’ most popular heritage attraction. This open-air museum brings the Wales of olden days to life and gives you an insight into the history of the country and what life was back in the day. And the best bit… It’s free to enter.

  1. Boulders Indoor Climbing Centre

If you’ve got loads of energy to spare and fancy stepping out of your comfort zone a little, why not spend your time climbing some walls in Boulders Indoor Climbing Centre? It’s catered to suit both the young kiddies and bigger adults and full info on prices and opening hours can be found here.

  1. St David’s Shopping Centre

If you’re looking to do a spot of shopping your go-to place is St David’s Shopping Centre. One of the largest shopping centres in the UK, it’s less than a 15min walk from the stadium.

  1. The Doctor Who Experience

The Doctor Who Experience on Discovery Quay is a must see for Doctor Who fans of all ages, and indeed for anyone interested in seeing how TV shows are produced. You can book your tickets here.[/ordered_list][/vc_accordion_tab][vc_accordion_tab title=”Accommodation “][vc_gmaps title=”AA Approved Hotels in Cardiff” link=”#E-8_JTNDaWZyYW1lJTIwc3JjJTNEJTIyaHR0cHMlM0ElMkYlMkZ3d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbSUyRm1hcHMlMkZkJTJGZW1iZWQlM0ZtaWQlM0R6XzB6WFFGbkkxM0UuazVyWlMySUtwUEJRJTIyJTIwd2lkdGglM0QlMjI2NDAlMjIlMjBoZWlnaHQlM0QlMjI0ODAlMjIlM0UlM0MlMkZpZnJhbWUlM0U=”][/vc_accordion_tab][vc_accordion_tab title=”Eating Out”][vc_column_text]Taking in all Cardiff has to offer can leave you feeling hungry. Luckily while walking around, you’re guaranteed to stumble upon some bars and restaurants that offer quality grub.  Just in case though, here are four places that have received AA Rosettes for their food (so you know it’s top notch):

Over on Tripadvisor, the top 5 restaurants (which vary in pricing) recommended by users are:

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General Guide to Millennium Stadium

The national stadium of Wales may not have the same historic value as other national stadiums but since it opened its doors to rugby fans in June 1999, it has seen Wales secure two  Six Nation Grand Slam victories – the first in 2005 and again, in 2012. But Millennium Stadium isn’t just for the rugby fans. The Welsh soccer team play here too, and the FA Cup Final took place in these hallowed grounds from 2001 to 2006.

With a capacity of 74,154 it’s the third largest venue in this year’s Rugby World Cup series. And another fact – it’s the second largest sports venue in the world with a fully retractable roof (might come in handy in a pub quiz!)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_accordion collapsible=”yes” style=”accordion”][vc_accordion_tab title=”Fixtures (Ireland and other Big Games)”][vc_column_text]Our very own lads in green kick off the action in Millennium Stadium on Sat 19th Sept at 2:30pm when they face Canada in Pool D.

But what’s set to be the best game of the series in Millennium Stadium will take place almost a month later on Sunday Oct 11th when we take on France in Pool D. Kick-off for that game is at 4:45pm and it’s sure to be a nail-biting, nerve-wracking must-see!

Apart from the Irish games, the Millennium Stadium will play host to a number of Welsh home games. The first, on Sunday September 20th, sees Warren Gatland’s side take on Uruguay and the second, on October 1st will see the meeting of Wales and Fiji in Pool A. Like any home game in Millennium Stadium, the Welsh fans are expected to be out in force so count yourself lucky if you can grab yourself a ticket – the atmosphere will be electric!

The weekend of Oct 17th and 18th will be the final weekend of Rugby World Cup games in the Millennium, as the stadium will set the backdrop for two of the four quarter finals. With a bit of luck, the Irish may just be heading back to Cardiff for another showdown![/vc_column_text][/vc_accordion_tab][vc_accordion_tab title=”Getting To The Stadium”][vc_column_text]Luckily, Millennium Stadium is within a five minute walk of both Cardiff’s Central Railway Station and Central Bus Station. If you’re travelling by rail, First Great Western operates main line routes to and from England and West Wales. If you prefer to take the bus, Cardiff Central Bus Station is the start and end of most local Cardiff Bus services. Double check their website for travel updates on match-day services. They also have a handy app that works on both Apple and Android operating systems, which you can use to pay for day tickets. Normal fare prices can be found here.

To get to Millennium Stadium from the stations, exit the main entrance and take a left onto Wood St for Gates 5-7. For Gates 1-4, you can continue straight ahead from the station to Westgate St and Castle St.

If you’re driving to the game, you’ll travel to Cardiff city centre via the M4 and access to the stadium can be made using Gate 4 on Westgate Street in the city centre. Just keep in mind there will be road closures in place around the stadium on game days, which are listed below.

If you prefer to avoid city centre traffic, there are Park & Ride facilities available on match day which are easily accessible via J29 (Pentwyn P&R (White)) & J33 (Cardiff City Stadium P&R(Yellow)) on the M4. The cost is €8 (£6) per car. The car parks will open at 9:30am, with the first bus at that time also. The last bus will leave the pick-up point at 6:00pm, and the car park will close at 6:30pm. It is advised that you pre-book a park & ride space here.[/vc_column_text][/vc_accordion_tab][vc_accordion_tab title=”Road Closures & Parking Restrictions”][vc_column_text]On RWC match days in Millennium Stadium the following roads are expected to be completely closed off to traffic:

Duke St, Castle St, High St, St.Mary St, Caroline St, Wood St, Central Sq, Westgate St, Quay St, Guildhall Pl, Golate, Park St, Havelock St & Scott Rd.

A number of roads will be partially closed to traffic on match days. The times of these closures will vary, depending on what time games are starting in the stadium.

  • North Rd from Boulevard de Nantes jct to Kingsway jct.
  • Kingsway between jcts North Rd and Duke St.
  • Cowbridge Rd East from Cathedral Rd jct to Westgate St.
  • Tudor St from Clare Rd to the Wood St jct.
  • Plantagenet St & Beauchamp St from their jcts with Despenser Pl to their junctions with Tudor St.

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City Arms

Originally established in the 1880s, this cosy, traditional pub on Quay St used to be called The Cattle Market. This bar has an impressive selection of ciders and real ales and is located just a stone’s throw from the stadium.  The large projectors and extensive game coverage on match days mean that it is frequently visited by rugby and soccer fans alike and it’s set to be a popular spot over the course of the World Cup.

The Goat Major

The Goat Major on High St is well-known around Cardiff for its match day atmosphere and its menu devoted entirely to pies (yes, you read that right). If you’re a fan of your pastries then this is the perfect place for you. Steak and mushroom pies, Chicken and Smoked Bacon pies, Leek and Potato pies… the list goes on! Once you’ve had your fill, you can enjoy a quick pre-match pint here while taking in the views of Cardiff Castle across the street.

The Yard Bar and Kitchen

If the traditional, cosy bars aren’t your scene and you’re on the hunt for something more modern, then the Yard Bar and Kitchen on Mary St might be what you’re looking for. This is a great place for both match coverage and live Sunday evening jazz sessions. They also serve food throughout the day so whether you’re looking for your pre-match fry-up or a good quality burger, The Yard will not disappoint.[/vc_column_text][/vc_accordion_tab][/vc_accordion][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Categories
England Florida France Germany Ireland Italy New York Spain USA Wales

Top Tips for Driving in Hot Climates

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This simple checklist will prepare you and your car for driving in hot climates.

 

In the words of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air “It’s (summer summer) summer time”, which for some will mean packing up the car and heading to the South of France, while for others it means the South of Ireland. Whatever the destination, driving in hot climates can be fraught with frayed tempers and possible breakdowns. But don’t worry, Micks Garage has you covered.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1433512831965{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;}” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” parallax_content_width=”in_grid” angled_section=”no” angled_section_position=”both” angled_section_direction=”from_left_to_right” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

Plan Ahead

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When driving in hot climates it is always worthwhile planning ahead. Whatever the country, summer time inevitably means more people on the road and therefore more congestion. Do you have a way to get out of it, either to bypass the traffic or take some quiet time to let the build-up subside? A plan will especially help when there are children involved. After hours on the road in muggy conditions strapped into a child seat they are liable to get grumpy, which, along with being tiresome, can also prove distracting. Much better for them to be distracted than you.

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Use shades

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type=”normal” position=”center”][vc_column_text]Summer is the one time when it is acceptable to break out those vintage Ray Ban Aviators so get them off your head and onto your face. Sunglasses are an essential part of your summer driving kit, but only the ‘right’ kind. Ensure the lenses on your glasses are polarised as they reduce glare and forget your ‘oh so fashionable’ blue lenses. Studies have shown that they can cause confusion at traffic lights with some drivers unable to differentiate between yellow (amber) and green.

It also may be worthwhile investing in a sun shield to place on your windscreen while parked up. If you have kids you may already have them on the side windows, but the windshield is, generally speaking, the largest expanse of glass in your car and we all know the feeling of returning to the car only to open the doors and be met with a wall of oppressive heat that the combined powers of air conditioning and open windows take ages to combat. Prevention is better than cure.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1433512831965{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;}” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” parallax_content_width=”in_grid” angled_section=”no” angled_section_position=”both” angled_section_direction=”from_left_to_right” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

Visit the pharmacy

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As Baz Luhrman said “Wear sunscreen.” Let’s face it, we are Irish and tend to burn in the sun – best to at least wait until you are lying on a beach with a Pina Colada in hand before turning lobster red. While in the pharmacy remember to stock up on any allergy tablets you or your family needs. Many know the anguish of frequent sneezing, runny eyes and congestion brought on by hay fever and dust allergies but few think about how they affect our driving ability. Make sure your car’s cabin filter is clean and that the medication you are taking does not make you drowsy.

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Change windscreen wipers

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The hope is that it does not rain on your holidays but that does not mean you can ignore your windscreen wipers.  During the summer months your windscreen is likely to be battered by flies and other insects and you will not clear that detritus from your windscreen without proper functioning wipers and a fully topped bottle of washer fluid.

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Top up fluids

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In addition to topping up your washer bottle it is also advisable to top up the rest of your car’s fluids before driving in hot climates – or better yet getting a full service done. While most of us enjoy the sight of the thermometer rising, our engines do not. Forced to suck in suffocating warm air they are pushed to the extremes, which is where fresh oil and coolant come in. If you are stuck in traffic keep an eye on your temperature gauge and be prepared to pull over should it head towards the red to allow the engine to cool down. This is also a good time to top yourself up with cooling fluids and maybe a cheeky ice-cream.

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Check your tyres

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Warm air also does weird things to your tyres – or more specifically the air within them. As temperatures rise the air inside your tyres begins to expand, which can, if your tyres are not in the best condition, lead to a blowout – a scary proposition when travelling at motorway speeds. Check for damage to the tyres or uneven wearing, especially on the inside shoulders and make sure the pressures are correct.

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Carry the essentials

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type=”normal” position=”center”][vc_column_text]Along with the sunscreen, medication and sunglasses already mentioned remember to carry plenty of fluids with you in the car. Not in the boot, but in the cabin itself where they are close to hand. If you have an icebox or cooled glovebox use them (you may have to clean out the glovebox first). There is nothing worse than taking a swig of sun-warmed water when you were hoping for ice cold. Also remember to pack some treats, not just for the kids but for the adults too. Spending hours sitting in the car can be draining and that is without taking the temperature into consideration. The sugar rush provided by a pack of sweets may be just what is needed for the last push to the hotel!

Last but not least remember your AA cover. We may not be able to help with cranky kids and dehydrated adults but for a tyre blowout, overheating engine or a tank of fuel should you run out we can help.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1433517982393{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;}” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” parallax_content_width=”in_grid” angled_section=”no” angled_section_position=”both” angled_section_direction=”from_left_to_right” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column width=”1/1″][action full_width=”yes” content_in_grid=”no” type=”normal” show_button=”yes” button_text=”Get a European Breakdown Cover Quote” button_link=”http://www.theaa.ie/AA/Insurance/European-Breakdown-Cover.aspx” background_image=”18625″ button_text_color=”#ffffff” background_color=”#0a0a0a” button_hover_text_color=”#e5e5e5″ button_background_color=”#ffcc00″ button_hover_background_color=”#ffcc00″ button_border_color=”rgba(0,0,0,0.01)” button_hover_border_color=”rgba(0,0,0,0.01)”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1433751978629{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;}” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” parallax_content_width=”in_grid” angled_section=”no” angled_section_position=”both” angled_section_direction=”from_left_to_right” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Featured Image Credit: William Warby on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 licence

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