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  Welcome to the April edition of Hotspots


Happy Easter! This month we bring you things to do during the Easter break, as well as National Parks news and some family pub walks just perfect for Spring. Plus the chance to win AA books.

We kick off the British camping season with award-winning campsites, and an exclusive extract on 'glamping'.

Motorists will welcome the AA 'motoring manifesto', the latest on electric cars, details of the AA's budget concerns, and much more.

I hope you find 'Hotspots' interesting and informative. Please get in touch if you have any feedback or suggestions. Email me at hotspots-editor@theAA.com

Hotspots Editor

Not currently subscribed? Visit theAA.com to subscribe to Hotspots.


Battle of the sexes
Male driver

Male motorists are almost one-and-a-half times more likely to have a driving conviction than female motorists, according to findings from more than 1 million AA car insurance customers.

Overall, 18% of motorists have at least one conviction to their name while 4 per cent have two or more. This compares with 14 per cent in a similar AA survey carried out a decade ago.

The vast majority of convictions – 85% – are for speeding offences. Second most likely offence is for jumping traffic lights (9 per cent) while a worrying 2 per cent are drink-drive offences. And men are more than twice as likely as women to have a drink-drive conviction.

Read the full story »

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Routes manoeuvre

iPhone London AppThe AA has launched a route planner application for the iPhone, growing its portfolio of apps for the device.

More than 16 million routes are provided every month by the online Route Planner, and iPhone users can now easily get routes wherever they are.

AA President Edmund King says: "It's estimated that at any one time up to 15% of drivers in urban areas may be lost, adding to congestion and frustration among motorists. A well-planned route not only saves time, money and carbon dioxide, but also makes for a calmer, safer journey."

Find out more about the AA route planner app »

More AA iPhone apps »

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Car review
Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion 5dr

VW Golf BlueMotionFollowing the successful introduction of the sixth generation of Golf, Volkswagen is broadening the range by adding several variants, one of the most important being the BlueMotion. Using numerous fuel saving technologies, the BlueMotion brings even greater savings than the outgoing model and also substantially reduces its carbon footprint.

The Golf BlueMotion is a perfect example of how fuel saving technology can be implemented without impacting on the car's practicality, driveability or fun factor. The BlueMotion is really gaining an image of its own and, thanks to the sportier suspension, it's arguably more fun to drive than the regular car. All this also comes at a modest price premium.

Our ratings

Overall rating 8
Value for money 8
Costs 10
Space and practicality 8
Controls and display 9
Comfort 7
Car security 7
Car safety 8

Read the full review »

Read more than 1,200 other car reviews online »

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Motoring tip of the month

If you're one of those people who cleans the car only once a year, 'whether it needs it or not', then now's the best time to do it. After months of winter neglect a thorough clean now will help to maintain the car's value and reduce the risk of long-term corrosion damage.

How to give your car a spring clean »

More seasonal motoring tips »

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  Electric Vehicle

Fully charged

Electric cars are heralded as the future by many, but a switch from petrol and diesel cars will be a giant leap, according to AA President Edmund King.

Five minutes to fill up a conventional car at the pumps versus five hours to charge an electric car, is just one of the challenges of the 'electric car revolution'. And we need pioneers to lead the way. Speaking to a Durham County Council electric vehicle seminar, Edmund said he believed local authorities would be key to the success of electric vehicles.

Read the full story »

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Populus survey results

Last month, more than 20,000 AA/Populus panel members were quizzed on the issues affecting motorists. Topics ranged from identity theft to cyclists on the road. The full results are as follows:

  • 41% of members who drive their children to and from school generally travel between 0 and 2 miles each day
  • Responsibility for the school run is evenly spread between fathers and mothers
  • 26% of members would be concerned about giving their name and address to another driver if they had been involved in an accident with them
  • 4% have received a parking/congestion charge or a speeding fine for which they were not responsible
  • Just over two-thirds of members would like to see the immediate suspension of a person's driving licence after a failed breath test
  • Two-thirds of respondents believe that cyclists on the road feel intimidated by the traffic
  • 82% of respondents stated that encouragement campaigns do not make them more likely to use a bicycle

We need your views on motoring, join the AA/Populus Panel

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Budget concerns

As part of the formal consultation process for the budget, the AA met recently with the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury.

The AA raised many issues, including inflation, petrol prices, fuel consumption and damaged roads.

Find out how the AA is fighting your corner.

Read the full story »

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President's log

AA President Edmund KingI was very proud to have been appointed a Visiting Professor at Newcastle University recently, working with the Transport Operations Research Group. My first transport seminar, in March, was very well received.

I was invited to talk about the power of the media in influencing transport decision making and policy. I argued that the media can be essential in influencing the outcome of campaigns, and it was great to be able to cite examples of where we at the AA have had an impact in this way. From our campaign against cowboy clampers to our issue with inadequate road gritting, we've been able to influence decision making in many areas.

In the seminar I argued that the media, both local and national, can be powerful tools in influencing transport policy whether in pushing for a local bypass, trying to keep down the price of fuel or promoting the electric car strategy in the North-east.

Having studied at Newcastle University I'm honoured and delighted to be able to give something back. As I've worked in the transport field for 25 years in the UK and USA, I have lots of practical experience of the politics and practicalities of transport. I look forward to this new challenge.

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AA Motoring Manifesto

Speed Camera With a general election looming, we've been asking motorists about the issues that matter most to them, and trying to find out which political parties are really fighting the corner of Britain's drivers.

The AA is apolitical but we speak to all main political parties, so we've sounded out almost 15,000 members of the AA/Populus panel on various 'Motoring Manifesto' ideas.

Find out about drivers' main concerns.

Read the full story »

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Get down to the South Downs

Beachy HeadTake some time out this Spring to enjoy the UK's newest National Park – the South Downs, which joins the 'family' on
31 March.

The South Downs stretches South-east from Winchester to Beachy Head, on the South coast, and includes two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty; East Hampshire and the Sussex Downs.

It was the 60th anniversary of the UK's National Parks last year, and the last area to be made a National Park was the New Forest, in 2005.

There are now 10 in England, two in Scotland, and three in Wales: the Broads, Dartmoor, Exmoor, the Lake District, the New Forest, Northumberland, the North York Moors, the Peak District, the Yorkshire Dales, the South Downs, the Cairngorms, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, the Brecon Beacons, the Pembrokeshire Coast and Snowdonia.

More about National Parks »

Walks in National Parks »

Short Breaks in National Parks »

3 for 2 on selected British guides »

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AA Shop Giveaway

AA Big Road Atlas Britain: 2010, A3, Softback National parks of Britain Win a copy of AA National Parks of Britain and an AA Big Road Atlas 2010 the perfect combination to help discover the beauty of the British landscape.

We've got one of each to give away in a bundle to one lucky 'Hotspots' subscriber.

To be in with a chance of winning this fantastic pair of AA books, simply email your name, address and daytime phone number to:
hotspots-editor@theaa.com, with 'competition' in the subject line (competition terms & conditions).

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Hotspots subscribers can enjoy 10% off marked prices at the AA Shop until 30 May 2010. Simply enter the code 'AAHOTSPOTS' at the checkout. Standard delivery is free on all UK mainland orders over £15.

This offer can be varied or removed at any time. It cannot be used in conjunction with the 'Discover Britain' promotion.

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Campsite of the Year

Lincoln Farm Park
One of the pools at Lincoln Park Farm

The AA Campsite of the Year for England, and overall winner of the AA Best Campsite of the Year 2010, is Lincoln Park Farm in Oxfordshire.

The attractively landscaped park has superb facilities including fully serviced hard standing pitches, two luxurious toilet blocks, a cafe, two indoor swimming pools and a fully equipped gym. These outstanding facilities, coupled with the exceptionally high standards of care experienced by guests and our inspectors, sets Lincoln Farm apart from other top parks.

For Scotland and Northern Ireland the award goes to Ballyness Caravan Park in Bushmills, Co Antrim. With wonderful views across the Antrim countryside the site has outstanding facilities including a modern toilet block with under-floor heating and spacious family rooms, a children's play area, a library and wi-fi access.

Home Farm Caravan Park, Marian-Glas, Isle of Anglesey, is the winner of the Campsite of the Year for Wales. This is a first-class park in a peaceful, elevated and secluded position with views of farmland, the sea and the mountains of Snowdonia. The superbly maintained site benefits from a superb family room and quality recreational facilities, indoor and out, for children of all ages.

All this year's winners feature in Caravan & Camping Britain & Ireland 2010, along with regional award winners and more than 1,000 annually inspected parks.

More about camping and caravanning »

Caring for your caravan »

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  Easter events

Easter eggsNeed some inspiration for things to do this Easter? Look no further...

1-4 April Gosport & Fareham Easter Festival
1-6 April Crook Hall Easter
2-5 April Spring Into Easter
2-5 April Blenheim Palace Easter Egg Challenge
2-18 April Easter at Hop Farm
2-18 April Spring into Easter
4 April Easter Extravaganza
5 April Easter Egg Rolling
5-9 April

Easter Eggtastic Challenge

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Family pub walks

Family walkingWith the spring sunshine finally here, now's the time to ditch those woolly jumpers and venture outside.

Take advantage of the warmer weather and longer evenings and set out on one of these rural walks with child-friendly pubs. With plenty of sights to see in the countryside, the children will love it and you'll be rewarded with a glass of something cool and refreshing at the end.

Read the full story »

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Exclusive extract

Caravan and camping guideThis four-page extract from AA Caravan & Camping Britain 2010, exclusively for 'Hotspots' subscribers, focuses on cool modern forms of camping.

The camping scene has changed a lot in recent years and there are now options to attract younger, hipper campers. From wigwams and pods to glamorous camping or 'glamping', it's all here.

AA Caravan & Camping Britain 2010 contains all the information you need to enjoy the perfect holiday in Britain and Ireland. It's the ideal companion for organising camping breaks throughout the year, fully updated for 2010. Each site is annually inspected by the AA and graded with the renowned AA Pennant Scheme for quality and range of facilities. There is also a quality percentage score to help differentiate between parks of the same pennant rating.

Download PDFClick here to open 'Carry on Glamping'
Adobe Acrobat is required to open this PDF file.

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Competition T&Cs
No purchase necessary. It is a condition of the competition that the entrant agrees to be bound by these rules and in particular that decisions of the AA and the judges on any matters whatsoever arising out of or connected with the competition are final. All entrants agree to take part in any publicity related to this prize draw and to the disclosure of their name and county. The closing date for entries is 5 April. The winner will be notified by 15 April by email. Prize is as stated and there is no cash alternative to the prize offered. Prize is non-transferable. The promoter is the Automobile Association, Fanum House, Basing View, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG21 4EA. Only one entry per person. For name and county of the winner, please send a self-addressed envelope to AA Publishing, Fanum House, Basing View, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG21 4EA. The winner will be the first name picked at random from the entries after the closing date. The winner agrees to take part in any publicity related to this prize draw and to the disclosure of their name and county. In the unfortunate event of the prizes offered not being available, a prize of similar value will be substituted at the discretion of the AA. The AA's decision is final in all matters concerning the competition. Full Terms and Conditions available on request.

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Automobile Association Insurance Services Limited - Registered office: Fanum House, Basing View, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG21 4EA. Registered in England and Wales. Number: 2414212. For further information please visit www.theAA.com.

© The Automobile Association Limited 2010