Tuesday, 14 February 2012


14th February 2012

2 topics of conversation:

One of the great topics of the moment is the status of A-frames. A-frames are devices mainly used by motorhomes to tow small cars behind them and are much favoured more by the british than any other nation - and manufactured by the british. Other countries tended to view them with suspicion as they ranged from a simple frame device to tow a small car with any braking system and only a towing board with lights hung on the back to super sophisticated systems with wireless telemetry to activate brakes & lights. Eventually a standard was established and they were tolerated abroad but mainly because an EU ruling said that any device that was legal in the country of registration would be recognised as legal throughout member states. Consequently, all owners of A-frames carried with them the translations of their units legality as provided by the manufacturer and we have witnessed tow-ers being harassed by the Spanish Policia Traffico at service staions and kept hanging about for a long time whilst their documentation is studied minutely. And everybody we know with an A-frame has been stopped in Spain at least once.So you can imagine the consternation when it was discovered last month via an article on the Madrid embassy website(which is most informative for travellers) that the Spanish authorities had at last decided, unilaterally in the EU, that A-frames were illegal and could not be used in Spain, wherever you originated from. There are at least a dozen A-framers here alone, who now face (and this could be urban myth) 1.heavy fines 2.Heavy fines and tow-car impounded 3.all the previous plus motohome impounded 4. all the previous plus the spanish inquisition and eventual death by public burning to compensate for the banning of bull-fighting in some areas.
The people already here have to make the choice of returning home and hoping they won't get caught,buying a trailer or teaching their wives to drive a small car or a motrohome. It's a great source of amusement for those of us who could not afford to bring a small car..............

The Portuguese started an enormous program to introduce tolls on the motorway network last year. We saw toll booths being built last year for the proposed introduction on 1st April but it was obvious this would not be completed on time. They did however introduce tolls on Dec 1st and the system is chaotic by all accounts. Even the Portuguese don't know what the regulations are and the Govt. website was certainly incomprehensible on the matter when I looked before departing. There appears to be nowhere at the start of the motorway on the spanish border to purchase the correct vignette, day pass,week pass, or monthly pass or 'hire' the black box for the cab of motorhomes over 3.5t (us). People are being told to go to the nearest Post Office and stories of 3-4 hour waits have been verified by frustrated tourists who tried -unsuccessfully- to become legal. So everybody is avoiding the motorways as (urban myth) stories abound of huge instant fines and impounding of vehicles. We are heading into Portugal on 1st March and have usually used the motorway but we can avoid it and would have done so now without the chaos as we don't have far to go. The problem is that everbody is avoiding the motorway, even the Portuguese, and the already really crappy road that is the N145 is now the really busy crappy N145, with potholes like dustbin lids and a surface like corrugated iron.......


  1. oh how the long winter nights must just fly by .....

  2. Did you finish reading the post? I couldn't, got too excited by it all and had to lie down... How did the A-frame saga finish?

  3. believe me ... you will not believe the twist at the end. It comes completely out of the left field and upsets the whole dynamic of the peace. cat, cars, police, mountains, roads, little old ladies, the Italian and a grandstanding entrance from Philip the second of Burgundy. Who would have thought it possible to question the very fountains of science and towing small cars on the back of mobile homes with such alacrity ... My flabber was well and truly gasted.

    3 thumbs up and a damp cloth to the forehead.