Our community blogs
Recent EntriesLatest Entry
Full blog at https://brianyoungphotos. weebly. com/caravan-blog
Posts so far:
7: At last I have made the effort
6: Off to Suffolk coast
5: New tug: BMW X5
4: Good start to 2017
3: Waste water pipes
2: So who is Oscar?
1: To start, a caravanning blast from the past
- Read more...
- 0 comments
Recent EntriesLatest Entry
It started about lunchtime with myself working in my S-I-L's workshop polishing motorbike body work when the cry of FIRE was heard. Now, at this time of the year the Almeria province issues bonfire permits providing the fire is started before 2pm. Recently a neighbour's fire had set the nextdoor's house on fire, burnt to the ground and he was jailed. We are in Tabernas, the driest place in Europe, home of film studios for the Good, the Bad and the Ugly and many other spaghetti westerns.
Fire here is to be feared and rightly so. Within 2 minutes 7 of us ex-pats were in a neighbours garden with buckets taking water from the swimming pool to try to put out a fire in the neighbours edge of the property. The Spaniard had started a bonfire and then driven into town as there was no wind. What an idiot!
The fire spread along 60m of the property border and we just made it in time and managed to put it out and dowse everything down.
Returning to our house we decided on a BBQ so went off to the local supermarket DIA to get burgers and assorted buns and rolls. We then had a super BBQ on a fire pit made on my SIL's plasma cutter finished off with roasted marsh mallows for the grandchildren.
Then we all got in the jacuzzi, my first time!
Self, OH, daughter and three grandsons. We enjoyed it whilst drinking red wine and Gasiosa (lemonade) having started with sherry. Not a gin and tonic in sight! The sun set, the moon was 3/4 full, we saw the Space Station go over and stayed in the water till 10 pm with just the fairy lights for company. Then back to bed.
All this in March and the weekend was sunny but very cold but suddenly today was hot and Andalucia has gone from late winter to early summer in 2 days. The temperature today was hotter than any summers day in Cumbria. We have been coming here to see the family 2 to 3 times a year for 11 years now. But any later than April or earlier than October and it's too hot for us.
P.S. The jacuzzi cost €800 but is worth over €2,000. It had a fault so my SIL (who can fix anything, nearly) took the risk and we fitted a new temperature sensor got off eBay for £2. You have to be lucky sometimes!
Opinions are polarized over the question of whether or not one should use the caravan’s onboard shower. My choice has always been to use it. Therefore I was horrified when during the past winter spent in Spain I saw what looked like a crack developing across the corner of my shower tray. Upon closer inspection there was more than just the one. But maybe it’s not surprising. It is after all eighteen years old and plastics do seem to become brittle with age. Also it gets a lot of use – approximately 150 days per year.
Without removing the tray there’s no knowing how deep the cracks penetrate. And if the old tray has to come out, it makes sense to replace it with a new one. Should the cracks go all the way through then the floor is going to become damp and eventually lead to rot. After so many years an identical replacement was impossible to find however, a suitable tray was found at https://www. grasshopperleisure. co. uk/ Although it was going to need some modification.
Before I started removing the shower tray, I unscrewed the bifold door. Only when I had it removed and outside, did I realize how coated with lime scale it had become. I set to with vinegar and a paint brush. Eventually it came up looking like new.
With the six screws removed from the corner unit, the moulding pulled away from the wall, exposing the water pipes behind it. To remove the tap unit completely the water pipes needed disconnecting. Next I unscrewed the eight screw caps and screws holding in the shower tray. With the screws and the drain outlet removed I expected the shower tray to lift out, but not a chance. It was firmly glued to the floor with 6mm x12mm strips of adhesive pads along each moulded channel. It would yield to nothing less than a garden spade thrust under the tray. Of course, the tray came out in pieces - shattering along the cracks I noticed several weeks ago. . Finally all was removed and I was relieved to see the wood floor was quite dry and sound.
With the new tray temporarily in place, I could see at once that the drain hole in the floor would need re cutting. Also the new tray was smaller than the previous one. There were gaps all around it – 15mm down each side and around 40mm along the back. . Leaving the tray in place, I marked out the position of the new outlet. Then I began cutting the holes for the new drain – 90mm diameter on the top sheet of the floor and 40mm through the bottom sheet.
The old tray had been attached to the floor with 12mmx6mm sticky, spongy strips which also reinforced the fan of ridges across the tray. I used silicone sealant to overfill the grooves on the new tray so that the cured sealant would support the ridges, and at the same time the excess would squeeze over the floor and when cured will hold the tray in place. Some bags of sand on the tray held it down whilst it cured.
Next day some thin but flexible plastic angle was glued between the top surfaces of the shower tray and the walls around the cubicle. Later, when it was dry, lengths of upvc window trims were selected from a variety of stock widths. Each piece was measured and mitred then attached with white sanitary silicone to the angle which was laid down yesterday. Because the new shower tray was considerably deeper than the original, the corner unit needed to be raised. Because of that, the water pipes had to be lengthened by about three inches. The bifold door also wouldn’t fit in its original position so that also needed to be raised. With a bead of silicone run down the inside of the door frame and around the tap unit, the job was finished.
Recent EntriesLatest Entry
“And then there is the most dangerous risk of all — the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.” ― Randy Komisar
We found that we were becoming very averse to this kind of risk , so we gave up work and accidentally bought a caravan, Kismet and four cavapoos; Kai, Rosie, Ruby and Lani.
Then, we rented out the house, sold most of our possessions on eBay and began to travel full-time with The Fab Four. In the summer, we tour in caravan Kismet. In the winter, we rent a small ski apartment.
Our purpose is to experience a different life. We are not millionaires; we made choices about what’s important to us and live within modest means. However, we feel rich beyond measure because we have time; time to do more of what we love.
What we love is water, woodland and wilderness; our passions are windsurfing, skiing, cycling and, well, just wandering where the fancy takes us!
My blog is about all of this; how we escaped; how we travel with four dogs; the fun and frolics involved in being first-time caravanners and quite simply, the wonders of the world!
They say that a journey of 1000 miles starts with a single step. If you want to know how it happened for us, see my very first post World Wide Walkies – The First Step https://worldwidewalkies. blog/2017/07/04/first-blog-post/
Picture - Kismet, pitched just feet from the Adriatic on the Island of Krk, Croatia
For advice on touring with dogs, saving money, giving up work early or to follow our travels around Europe, check out my site at http://www. worldwidewalkies. blog/
Ferry crosssing fantastic, Brittany ferries, short comfortable journey our dog Summer was priority for choosing this short crossing.
Summer is very spoilt and also elderly at 13, but she certainly doesnt look it or act like it, even so the thought of putting her in a kennel/cage was not going to happen on other routes.
The Cherbourg route was ideal so she stayed very happily in our car in her bed, happy dog therefore happy us. No problems with checking her in, this is our first time towing abroad and Summers first abroad adventure so we needed to plan it as stressfree as possible.
The towing experience was fine, I was map reader with the help of Miss Sat nav (Ummm??) and we managed to get to our first stop a campsite Mont St Michel - having ventured through the tinest villages around to get there. We have an 8 metre caravan and a 5 metre car - Swift Conqueror 645 and Nissam pathfinder. This site was excellent - do remember that a lot of sites you have to pay for water, here it was 3 euros for 10 minutes of water we only used 2 minutes - but had no change so had to go off looking for change as reception was closed and after a long day and journey it wasnt ideal - a lesson learnt for next time!
Many sites we have found were not open at this time of year (Dec 28th) and also many unsuitable for twin axle caravans. Coming of the motorway and hunting these sites down which we could find, was going to be very stressful, so we decided the only solution was the motorway aires. Also a warning about unmanned french petrol stations - Dont use them, they take 100 euros from your bank even if you only put in 50 euros, a few days later they take the 50 euros but hold onto your 100 euros for 2 weeks!!! This is apperently normal on debit cards so do beware of this - Spain is fine operates as in the UK - I had not read this on any foums anywhere - we thought we had been victims of fraud.
This as I metioned is our first time towing abroad, Id read the forums the warnings and picked up tips on parking in the Aires. .. so we took a chance we had no other choice, they were ideal for us, you just pull in, park up then straight off again in the morning. We found that the 2 we parked in one being in France near Bordeaux and the other near Zaragoza, were absolutly fantastic and it is such a shame theres so much bad things experianced in these aires. We parked at the end of a lay by pull in, as advised no one can then block you in and rob you we parked close to lorries and other fellow campers. I also kept a light on all night so it was visable just slightly through the caravan blinds.
It was all very quiet, not much noise, but it was New years eve maybe everyone was where they wanted to be. Will we do it again? - yes we will on the journey home.
We arrived at Bennicasm around 4pm - first experience of a Spanish campsite. ... oh lordy. .. large twin axle caravan with no motor mover. ...um we will save that one for the next blog. ...till next time x
Photos below Summer at the first campsite in France,
- Read more...
- 0 comments
December the 3rd 2017. Our beautiful bundle of grandaughter arrives in Cardiff at just over 6lb and all is well with mother and baby. Izzy we call her and she's lovely! So off we go in the caravan to a lovely little site only just a few minutes outside of Cardiff called Ty Coch. The Lunar performed well as it had done on our other excursions but we were falling out of love with it fast. As I'm sure must be the case in most families, it's mum first who shares her dislikes, the younger generation follow suit pretty quick and I have to conceed in the end they were right!
The double dinette layout is good, but if you put space aside to make up 2 large double beds in a single axle caravan, then something has to give in the middle right? In the Lunar Quasar 556 it's the kitchen storage and the washroom. The kitchen storage you could put up with, seems a little silly to have food in lockers over beds, but it's not the end of the world. The washroom, now that's another matter. We don't claim to have an athletic stature, quite the opposite, a few pounds lost here and there is on our new years resolution list but I don't class us as large either. The side washroom in the Lunar from 2011 was just to small to move and given that it is in the centre of the van it's also impossible to maintain modesty by dressing elsewhere in the van as you exit into the centre viewable from both dinettes !
We'd booked our two weeks in Tenby for August '18 already so I was delivered the ultimatum! "I don't think I can stand two week in Tenby in this van". I didn't argue, she was right.
I had to start searching again and this time it had to be the van we wanted - no compromises.
I had the Elddis Affinity in my sights but it was not going to be cheap. I wanted to have a van that was going to last us, going to look modern, going to look good inside and out. The fixed bed was a must this time, it needed to sleep 4 and I was keen to have proper heating as I knew we would be using it well out of season for say Christmas visits to Cardiff!
Time to trawl around the websites again. Time consuming and I often came away from a session of looking thinking, "not sure I achieved a lot there!"
There's lots of info out there, there's lots of dealers out there, I just find on most websites I'm a little underwelmed by the presentation. There's too many websites of dealers and some of the caravan search websites that are franckly dated and should be much more interactive and wow than they are! And if you're going to make a video of a caravan to show potential buyers, do it professionally please. Too many are point the mobile phone at the van and then start to wonder what to say about it on camera. Is it me? Maybe I spent too long looking at caravan websites this year??
We took our time. I found some vans that fitted the bill and we went and looked mainly locally in Lincolnshire. It's mid December. Most dealers are thinking of closing for Christmas, but some are using the time of year to do some discounting. A 2017 Lunar Quasar with transverse fixed bed took our eye at Grantham Caravans. Lovely van but it didn't quite tick all the boxes and the finish a little cool.
Snowy Monday the 11th December. Return to Cardiff but this time without the van. Nanny is going to stay for a couple of nights whilst dad goes back to work and new mum just needs that little support. Although the snow from the previous day had been quite bad through the west midlands the motorways were fine. I dropped new Nanny off and returned. I knew what I'd be doing with the time now available to me at home ! Caravan searching!
There had to be an Elddis Affinity 554 somewhere, because we just kept coming back to that model ticking all the boxes. I kept searching. I dropped onto Newport Caravans website. They were having an end of season sale on some of their vans. Guess what - Elddis Affinity 554 2016 model with £1500 of their original price !
The Chance is here today!
Wednesday 13th December, back to Cardiff to pick up new Nanny. Pickup time 1pm. (daylight left approx 3 hrs !!).
"So everything alright" I said. "yes baby doing well, mums doing well". "oh good. Thats good" I said. "I've found a caravan" I casually mentioned. "Oh? What have you found?" says new Nanny. "Er, an Elddis Affinity like I showed you before" I said, still casually. "Oh? Where that then". "Oh in Newport - just up the road here on the way home if you wanted to look?"
You see new Nanny although wanting to look at new vans just like me and enjoying it mostly, becomes a little tired of it in the end. So I have to be shall we say "timed" with my suggestion of when to look at them! But it was a yes. I set the satnav for Newport Caravans and followed the instructions (we'd never vetured into Newport before, it was just another town name on the many road signs between Cardiff and Lincolnshire for us).
They had two on show. A 2015 and 2016 of the 554. Both very well kept vans and with the reasurance of buying from Newport that they would come with warranties and balance of manufacture warranties. I'd already said we won't stay long with 3. 5hours ahead of us travelling. An hour later we'd had the speculative valuation of our Lunar as a trade in and the resulting maths produced a figure which was reachable. ..this was the Chance. The chance we were going by a dealer the other side of the country with the right van at the right price !
I called the dealer back a couple of days later and left a deposit. Date set to pick her up - 12th January. A later Christmas present to ourselves we thought!
- Read more...
- 0 comments
Recent EntriesLatest Entry
I have sold my 2017 Elddis Crusader Aurora Caravan
I have for sale the following items:-
- Full Caravan Storage Cover with Side Door Entrance + Storage Bag only used a few times.#
- Full Fitted Bedding Set Crusader; Aurora;Fitted Sheet 1x still in package + 1 x used twice - Color /Percale Cream;Duvet Tog & Filling / 10. 5 Hollow Fibre -/Pillow Cases
Please contact me for sale price or any further information on 07584170520
A few weeks before we set off, the car had been giving me error messages that the diesel particulate filter (DPF)was filling up, culminating in putting the engine management light on and refusing to rev more than tickover. Unwilling to chance Darlington afternoon rush-hour traffic and a trip down the A1 back home, I elected to be recovered to a Peugeot specialist in Darlington where the car was given a '2-pack DPF clean and forced re-gen'. After I had fettled the front brakes for the MoT and changed the engine oil (recommended after a forced re-gen), I thought the car was in good shape for a French tour.
The holiday, part 1
We started off by cruising down to Kent to stay at a familiar site at Womenswold before getting the ferry the following day and setting off for Mrs H's family's houses near Chaource, Aube. The outfit felt good and we arrived in the evening, pitched up in what used to be a large farmyard at s-i-l's house. We were able to connect up to mains water and drain grey water under the caravan; very civilised. During these get-togethers, the other s-i-l and b-i-l join up with the group either by them walking down the hill, or us cycling up the hill to where the rest of them are to have a joint meal and catch-up.
This year, our hosts were due to start a contract in the far east so we feasted, drank their health several times and said goodbye to them as they set off for their home in England and thence to Shanghai for 2 years.
Soon after it was time for b-i-l, a non-driver, to return from Paris and so we travelled to Troyes to collect him from the train station and return him to his house. Mrs H and I like Troyes; the buildings are of a similar age to York, it's largely flat and water runs through the town. Troyes is a lot more spacious and open than York and there are arty displays of sculpture or pictures arranged above the canal; this year it was photos of historic Tour de France events. We enjoyed a peaceful lunch in one of the many restaurants in the town centre.
With the gap in my holiday budget caused by the DPF incident still painfully fresh, I was more than irritated to see the car again reminding me that the DPF was filling up. I searched for an phone-based app that would talk to the DPF and came across FAP lite which works for Citroen and Peugeot cars. It talked to the car's on-board diagnostic port via an ELM 327 reader that I had. The app showed the DPF as nearly blocked, or 'overloaded' as the app put it. At 105k miles, it was possible that the DPF was scrap, so what harm, I reasoned, would come from taking the filter off and washing it? Having done it before, it wasn't a difficult job to remove the filter and run some water through it. Pale pink fluid like rose wine trickled out the other end. Surely the water should run more freely than that? While I was pondering the failings of my car and its DPF system in particular, my b-i-l's neighbour came round to say hello. After some small talk I asked to borrow the pressure washer that I had heard being used the day before. There was a choice of 2 so I borrowed a mighty Karcher device. The stuff that came out of the filter this time looked for all the world like tomato soup. A couple of hours squirting first one end of the filter, then the other and I seemed to have much better flow of water. Maybe I'd managed to delay the purchase of a new DPF after all.
The holiday, part 2
We had agreed to transport b-i-l to near Cazaubon in the foothills of the Pyrenees in 10 days or so; he was to sing opera in a nearby small town for the owner of one of the Armagnac vineyards. The interval before this trip was ours to do with as we pleased so we set off south with the intention of visiting Dijon and the surrounding area. The car with its cleaned DPF performed well although the app showed the DFP as full and needing attention. There was more performance than I'd had for years. We like to camp near canals or rivers as they usually offer flattish cycling and pleasant scenery, so we chose a campsite 'Les Herlequins' at St-Jean-de-Losne which is at the junction of the River Saone and the Canal de Bourgogne. Les Herlequins was fronted by a busy bar and restaurant that clearly served campers and locals but the site was peaceful enough. Madame paid us the compliment of allowing us to practice our French on her while we registered, although I heard her later chatting to other Brits in English. We rolled out the Fiamma awning, put sides on it and settled in. We liked the site so much that we decided to stay in the same place rather than move around. Our arrival was hampered slightly by me not bothering to look at the approach on Google maps and trusting the satnav (and not for the last time either). It turned out the road along the riverbank to the campsite was not mapped by my Garmin. Knowing the coordinates of the site, the satnav sent us as close as possible to the campsite coordinates on a road that was mapped, but on the wrong side of the river. We were left looking at the campsite 100 metres away with only a short stretch of river in the way. After some amusement, Mrs H and I started looking for the more trustworthy 'camping' signs in the town. That evening the app showed the DPF as fully serviceable; now it could get some flow through it, I speculated it had performed a re-gen on its own on the Autoroute. I was happy.
The Canal de Bourgogne runs arrow-straight from Dijon to the River Saone near the camp site and ends in a lock and a sizeable boatyard where there was plenty of boatbuilding and repairing going on. We looked around the boatyard, listened to the crackle of some welding and someone beating something with a large hammer, and saw a plume of smoke from a diesel engine at full throttle. We cycled up the canal for several kilometres, declined to lunch at an expensive restaurant at Aiserey and we returned to base. During our stay we visited Dijon twice, and Beaune and Dole once each. Parking in Dijon was expensive, so we moved towards the outskirts for the second half of our day in the town. On our way back we tried some restaurants, but we had missed the noon – 2pm lunch window. It was purely by chance we came upon an all-day restaurant in a big square where we had a good value omelette and a beer. We admired the architecture in all 3 towns but Dole seemed to be our favourite. I was amazed by the organ in the church which filled the end wall with its intricate carvings and drapes that hadn't been touched for years. One of our highlights in Beaune was a tour of the Hotel de Dieu which catered charitably for the sick of years ago. Mrs H thought the arrangement of hospital beds in a line was much more sensible than modern, head-to-the-wall layout.
Mrs H declared that we could not admit the we had visited Dijon unless we returned bearing gifts of Dijon mustard, so, a bit more canny about parking, we went back. We found some gardens and a bus stop with my name on which honoured the departement's Chief Engineer who had sorted out the town's water supply and developed a law governing water flow in porous media. Laden with mustards, we returned to Les Herlequins and thence to the Chaource area to pick up b-i-l for . ..
The holiday, part 3
With no sign of the annoying messages from the car telling me the DPF was full, and the outfit seemingly able to travel for dozens of Autoroute kilometres in 6th gear at 100kph, needing no more than a squeeze on the throttle to get up hills, it was with some enthusiasm that I looked forward to the next 800km leg. Cazaubon is off the D933 halfway between Mont-de-Marsan and Condom. As I am the only driver, we elected to stop at Châtellerault, the half-way point. B-i-l, being a thoroughly decent sort, offered to stand us a meal near his hotel. We checked in at the Camping Municipal, did a quick set-up and found b-i-l his hotel in the centre of town. Our caravan is nominally a 4-berth but 2 of the berths are children's size, and b-i-l likes his comforts, so staying with us in the van wasn't on the agenda.
We returned to the caravan for a chill and got the bikes out ready to set off for the town centre and some food. Chatellerault had a lovely welcoming feel to it that evening. We had an excellent meal and found our way back to the caravan. The only thing to disturb us was the occasional rattle of a train swishing past at the edge of the campsite.
The following day we launched ourselves at the A10 again, this time in windy conditions. We were crossing the R. Dordogne on a long, exposed bridge just outside Bordeaux and I was passing an artic trailer with a bulldozer on it. Unusually, the towing mirrors started shaking badly in the slipstream. Then some 'dirty' air swiped the caravan. The driver of the truck I'd just passed got a fright and so did I. I thought we might have had to stop and discuss the loss of one of the truck's mirrors. Lesson learned and I slowed right down.
Several kilometres down the D932 brought us close to our destination. Rolling along a narrow French road, the satnav (and Mrs H) suggested a right turn. I took the turn onto a single track road and then stopped at the entirely unnecessary cul-de-sac sign where the track disappeared into the undergrowth. Checking the satnav showed two right turns but they were close enough to appear as one unless zoomed in more than normal. That's my excuse anyway. For the record, the map showed one right turn. Flanked by two deep ditches there wasn't space enough to unhitch and turn the caravan round; even if we could spin the van, I couldn't have got the car past to hitch up again. I would just have to reverse out into the 'main' road. My 2 passengers were stationed as lookouts and I backed out.
We dropped b-i-l off at a huge house that he referred to as 'the château'. It was big and old certainly, but it didn't have the grandeur of the Loire châteaux that we had seen before. There were no carvings, no evidence of white limestone and no steep slate roofs. We headed for a little campsite said to be attached to a farm. When we got there, it was a basically a cart track on a picturesque wooded hillside with a green pond in the middle. The stillness under the trees and the stagnant pond just said “mosquito!” to us, so we left in the direction of Camping Lac de L'Uby. This was a large open site on the shore of a lake catering for watersports. Facilities were excellent and clean, and access to our pitch really easy. The receptionist asked us whether she should do the booking in procedure in French or English; nice touch I thought. I noticed as I unhitched that the blade stabiliser wasn't engaged. Odd; it's part of my checklist before moving off. That might have something to do with the wind incident crossing the Dordogne. Anyway, the man-made lake included a track all around so cycling was simple; Mrs H was happy and therefore so was I. The surroundings were beautiful and exploring was a pleasure.
The evening of our arrival we were invited to dinner at the château with b-i-l, his pianist and madame, who was the owner of the Armagnac business. It was a simple and delicious meal which ended with a sweet that seemed like 50% cake, 25% cream and 25% liqueur. Mrs H drove back to the lake while the musicians stayed at the château.
Inevitably, the day of the performance drew near. Music generally and opera in particular do not feature on my list of preferred ways of spending an evening, but I married into a musical family so I had to grin and bear it. There was a 2 hour interval between delivering the performers to the venue and the start of the event which we decided to fill with some cycle exploring. We were a long way from our lakeside in a village called Mauleon d'Armagnac and in the foothills of the Pyrenees, so a hill was to be expected. Half way up I decided to walk it and got off the bike. Mrs H didn't so much get off as fell off her bike, into a ditch. She had also chosen to fall upside down into a patch of the greenest, fiercest-looking nettles for miles. She was upside down, legs in the air, not wanting to move in case she got stung again. If it wasn't for the nettles, it would have been pure slapstick. We had an anti-histamine roll-on so I emptied that onto the hundreds of stings; we cancelled our bike ride and repaired to the ancient cobbled village square for a beer. I was concerned that Mrs H had more than her fair share of nettle venom on board but she shrugged and asked for another glass of rose. B-i-l performed well to a packed venue; we declined the post-performance party at the château.
The morning of our departure from the area was the first day of the French national holiday, an event which didn't register 'til later that day. We hitched up, left our lakeside pitch and went to say goodbye to the contingent at the château. Before we set off we were invited to have a guided trip round the vineyard, brewery and still to see how the Armagnac is made. A whole year of tending vines ends in two18-hour days as the vines are gathered, pressed and lobbed into a series of vats each as big as a small house with gas burners beneath. No wine is sold as a result of this process, the liquor goes straight to the stills and thence to oak barrels for ageing. The aroma of the Armagnac in storage was divine. By way of a return match, madame politely asked for a look around the caravan. Once she had satisfied herself that there was somewhere to cook, to wash and to sleep, she seemed satisfied, a process that took less than 3 minutes. No opportunity to discuss the relative merits of 13-pin and 2 x 7-pin electrical systems then.
The holiday, part 4
Heading back north, destination La Rochelle, we noticed the A10 was really busy in a totally un-French M25 sort of way. Eventually we were down to stop/start traffic so we elected to take an early lunch at an aire. We changed our plans pretty quickly when we came upon the queue for the aire on the hard shoulder about 2 kilometres before. We went on to the next aire which was virtually solid. Caravan spaces? Not a chance. Cars were everywhere, on the grass, on the footpaths, in the service entrances. The queues to the toilets stretched across the aire. We circulated a couple of times before I spotted a length of grass just big enough to get the outfit off the tarmac without being in the way. It seemed very French to stop in an undesignated area. Lunch and a snooze later and our only choice was to back out into the aire traffic which seemed only slightly lighter than when we arrived. Mrs H did some arm-waving and smiling to stop the cars and we were on our way again.
Then began a chapter of errors and stress that took some hours to resolve. My first error was to fail to book anywhere to stop on this important and busy French holiday. Using Archies as a guide, we headed for a campsite near La Rochelle harbour. It turned out to be for motorhomes only, and was full. So we chose another campsite across the other side of La Rochelle and I stupidly let the satnav launch us into the middle of some really really tiny streets in the town centre. As we were stopped at a pedestrian crossing one chap mimed “your outfit is way too big for this area” and shook his hand as though his fingers were on fire. I shouted my thanks to him and shrugged; it was too late, I'd committed us. There wasn't enough pavement space for the pedestrians; they were spilling out into the road, tourists' shoulders rubbing the travel grime off the van windows, shopping bags sliding along the car sides, and rucksacks clonking the mirrors. Then I saw a bus up ahead. Things were looking up; if I can't fit my caravan where a bus can go, it's time to sell up and hotel it in future. We followed the bus until it took a right fork and a massive stainless steel bollard rose out of the road in front of me. Oh dear! I didn't actually say 'Oh dear' by the way. There was a road to the left but I'd gone too far into the junction and would have to back up to make the turn. I had a queue of cars behind me so I asked Mrs H to bail out and get the drivers to back up. I was just breathing a little of the stress away through my open window and watching Mrs H in the mirror when I was approached by a gentleman holidaymaker;
Could I speak French?
What can I do to help?
Please ask the drivers of the cars behind to back up. I can't move the caravan until they move.
As I was backing up, guided by Mrs H, the driver of the car immediately behind misunderstood the level of trust between Mrs H and me and leaned on her horn when I was about 2 metres away from her car. Eventually we were away, after thanking our helper profusely, to find campsite number 2. It was full. And so it was for two more campsites near Ayrtre. The last two we were 'accompanied ' by a French caravan being towed by a sweet-sounding American V8-powered van.
At 7:30pm we seemed to be running out of options. I had had enough, and so had Mrs H. We decided to turn inland towards Salles-sur-Mer. Mrs H was following progress on a map to try and pre-empt any foolish satnavvery. In Salles-sur-Mer we thought we were on our way to the camp site Le Moulin when we were confronted by a set of brand new 'No Entry' signs. We backed into the car park of some flats to turn round when a lady appeared, and in French that was a model of clarity, and speaking slowly, she explained exactly where the campsite was and where we should look out to avoid missing it. More thanks to this kind lady and we drove down towards the campsite entrance only to see the 'camp site full' sign and to meet Monsieur walking up the hill on his way home. Without hesitation, he invited us to walk round the site with him to see if there might be space for us. Despite the 'complet' sign, there was, and with huge relief, we said goodbye to Monsieur, our 3rd angel of the day, and we pitched up. Registration and payment could wait until the day after. I then distinguished myself by addressing a nearby family in French while I was filling the water containers. They were slightly bemused; they were from Cornwall. We liked Le Moulin so much that we stayed on for a few days.
Phew! I'll book next time there's a French holiday. Incidentally, our plan B was to fill up the containers with water at the campsite taps and 'wild' camp in the motorhome park at the entrance to the camp site as Mrs H and I were both running on empty by then.
We explored nearby Chatelaillon-Plage, found a busy food market and walked barefoot on the beach, something we haven't done for years
A cycle visit to La Rochelle followed. We walked the streets and looked at the bollard that had stopped us in our tracks. We found the harbour and the vieux port where I saw more boats with masts than I had ever seen before in one place. We watched the tourist boats manoeuvring skilfully around one another, we found a market and we watched some street performers dancing energetically in the relentless heat.
Mrs H said that she wanted to cycle to the end of the Ile de Re so we motored across the peage bridge and parked up at the first town we came to, Rivedoux-Plage. What we should have done is park before the bridge and cycle across. More of that later. We lunched halfway across the island, then fate lobbed us a custard pie. I went too fast onto a change of road surface near Ars-en-Re which sliced open my bicycle rear tyre and inner tube. We stopped at a cycle shop to blow the tyre back up with their air line, but it only lasted a couple of kilometres or so. My bike has hub gears meaning that it takes a while and some tools and expertise to get the back wheel off and on again, so we returned to the bike shop, where they replaced the tube and put it all back together for €20 while we had an ice cream. If that sounds a lot, I've done the job before, and €20 is cheap, so thank you Cycland.
We cycled back to the car after some discussion as to where exactly we had left it, and then sat in a queue for an hour waiting to get back to La Rochelle. As I said, we did the trip the wrong way round, we should have left the car on the mainland.
Then it was time to head north up the N10 to Chartres. We checked in to Camping Bords de l'Eure where we were greeted by Monsieur who fancied himself as a bit of a comedian. The site was large with fine facilities except the tap next to our pitch which wasn't working, and we pitched up near the entrance. The first night some teens disturbed me at 2am screeching and running noisily around the site but it was an isolated incident. A short cycle ride took us into the centre of Chartres with its beautiful cathedral which was illuminated by a son-et lumiere event (in English). The following night we took the little train (a disguised tractor and 3 road-going trailers) around the town and listened to the French commentary, some of which we understood. Chartres seemed to have tried really hard for tourists, much of the city was lit for the benefit of pedestrians and riders on the little train. With the experience of La Rochelle fresh in my mind, I was intrigued at the way the train negotiated the right-angle turns in the narrow streets without running over anyone's toes. From Chartres, we headed back to Calais for an evening ferry. The boat was an hour late and then there was a problem letting us off at Dover. We sat for ages on the car deck among everyone else's engine fumes. A distant siren could be heard, and flashing lights. Eventually a chap in hi-viz clutching a toolbox ran past us. No explanation, nothing on Twitter. Any tannoy announcement would have been drowned in engine noise. Black mark P&O. And so, in darkness, back to Womenswold which signalled the end of the holiday. On our way back up to Yorkshire, it was the A14 that stalled us. Time for a stop and fuel at Cambridge services. The caravan parking area was full of non-caravan vehicles so I parked across the back of them, blocking them in, including an AA recovery truck. Sorry, but it had to be done. As it happened, no-one was inconvenienced and I claimed a slot vacated by 2 cars.
Latterly the stabiliser was unlatching itself every journey so needs some attention. I need to talk to the garage man about his DPF cleaning procedure, its cost and effectiveness, and we need to get back on holiday as soon as possible.
Sorry, no pictures. I've never really made the transition from film to digital. I reflect that my film picture-taking was much more to do with enjoying working a precision machine than showing any talent in photography. Mrs H takes pictures of the family; not really relevant to this public blog.
Recent EntriesLatest Entry
sorry for the delay, yup got the van on the 8th. basically from then until now I've been pressing power on. . . . . power off. Lights on. . . . . lights off. Wait for it. . . . . . . . . water on check, hot water. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . oh yes check. I am now officially a 2week caravan veteran. Heading off down the country tomorrow night so managed to get booked in at a weigh bridge to doubled check everything (moment of truth for my spreadsheet).
Just holding off as to which route I going to go. Weather says west side of country gonna get battered so if that the case then I will be driving the extra 60 miles down the A1.
Who called me a chicken. . . . . . . . . come who said that. .
Charlie, good point mate, didn't think of that
Joanie - the missus has bought 4 of everything, saying that she wore the tshirt I bought her to pick the van up
OCD - Obsessive Caravan Disorder but yeah I'm piling the car high and calculations are putting me at 82% ratio.
- Read more...
- 0 comments
We have just had our Verona GT65 serviced and damp was found on the offside, near the wardrobe the readings were in the order of 100 percent. I was told on the quiet that damp is proving very common on the Alu Tec build and Bailey are very aware of the problem, we have had to wait six weeks before this could be attended to by our dealer. What chance with the resale value as this build problem becomes known? This is our fourth Bailey and boy are we disappointed! With the technology available tto day this should not happen, shame on Bailey!!!
Also available on Thomson's Travels
18th November 2014
After a few days around Civray, in the garden of Julia's brothers house in the Poitou-Charentes, we found ourselves, in light drizzle, headed south down the N10 towards Bordeaux, arriving at the campsite at about 15:30hrs.
A nondescript drive only made notable by the cruise control deciding that it wasn't going to be a cruise control, just a switch on the steering wheel pretending to be the cruise control! Cured by a stop in an Aire, turn the engine off, then back on again to teach it who's boss!
The approach to the campsite at Camping Bordeaux Lac (Now Closed!) is somewhat peculiar: Drive West along the A630, hang a left at junction 5 turn left, turn right under the bridge, head East, back down the A630 to junction 4a drive to a roundabout take the first exit go back under the A630 and the rest is easy. The trouble is that the Mr Tomtom doesn't recognise junction 5 as a way through and wants you to go to junction 7. . . We're getting good at ignoring Sat-Nav's in general!
The campsite, was beautiful, large pitches, lakes, fountains and fresh bread in the mornings, if you order it and a heated shower block.
At 17:00hrs, forgetting that people have to go home then, we thought that we'd go and find the supermarket to get food for the next few days. . . What a mistake!
The Sat-Nav took us to a building site, admittedly one where we could see the shop, but in the end, it took us 45 minutes of hell, driving up and down a clogged motorway until we found ourselves in the carpark. We dumped the car, bikes still on top, in the outside carpark,there were no height signs, so didn't want to risk going under cover. The shop, well if I said a nightmare, some, the shoppers amongst you might complain, but come on! There seemed to be a row for everything! One row for Camembert, one row for Emmental and so on, ad-infinitum! The place was bigger than a big thing on stilts
It took a age to navigate around the wine aisles, the cheese aisles, the fish aisles, the meat aisles (The new shoe aisles, the spare brain aisles!). Finally we made the tills, the car and we set off home. The only way out was through the covered car park! With heart in mouth, we negotiated the speed humps (that would have made a good climb on the Tour de France), under the concrete beams strewn with hanging signs, worrying that the bikes would take a like to one of them and get attached! We made it out and a mere 25 minutes later we were back at the campsite! It was dark and only just over a mile away from the shop!!
NEVER AGAIN! Until next time!
19th November 2014
A day in the sand is planned, except firstly we'll visit, yes you've guessed it, the shops again. I think I've found a quick way there. . .
We set off to check out my 'quick way there', and in a matter of 10 minutes we were driving through the Auchan car park, this time without the bikes on top, looking for the Decathlon, to look at cycling attire.
The trip to the coast of 50 miles was well worth the effort. We parked near the Dune de Pilat, €1 for 4 hours parking, first 30 minutes free (Take note Poole Council!!!), walked the 200 yards to the dune, clambered to the top to be met by a sand-scape to die for. miniature canyons, river valleys and even a crashed (toy) plane which had created its own mini dune.
On the drive home, we decided to stop off at a camping shop we had noticed on the way out, just off junction 11a.
If we'd realised how far off, we may not have bothered! we found it in the end after passing through a Romany encampment which had taken over a number of factories. Not just factory units, whole factories! There was room for caravans, cars, motor homes and tents, all under cover! To top it all, the whole area was covered in clothes from cloths banks hanging out to dry, getting ready to be sold in the local market no doubt.
Once at the camping shop, we bought some toilet chemicals and headed back to our corner of the travellers world.
- Read more...
- 0 comments
No, you can relax this not the start of another epic drivel fest as we’re not away in the ‘van again – although we have been in a ‘van – quite a few as it happens, thanks to a visit to the Caravan & Camping Show at the NEC.
To me, our weekend start around 7pm Friday night when I’ve finished work. The minibus is parked up and the keys handed back to security. Trev picks me up and we head off for grog and grub. So that’s where I’m going to start this blog – Friday night.
Predictably the miserable excuse for a road that is the A27 was partially blocked so after I’d dropped the last kid off, I had to return to Brighton along the coast road. Seemingly with half of Sussex. I’d managed to get stuck behind a driver – I use the term loosely – who was having some issues with clutch control. When they did manage to get going their driving was so erratic that, had I been a copper, I would have been reaching for the breathalyser.
By 7. 15pm however we were on the road, wolfing down sarnies, as we pointed Rosie north – but only as far as Cambridge, the reason for which will become clear. Later.
The journey was trouble free and Rosie performed well and seemed to relish not having a tonne and a half of caravan on the back. We saw the usual thoughtless, careless, selfish and downright dangerous driving and kept well clear of the tail gaters which it had to be said consisted mostly of powerful German cars and big 4 x 4’s.
We’d picked a B & B close to the station and after checking in, uncharacteristically stayed put, despite the presence of a pub not 10 minutes walk away. We settled instead for a cuppa and the remnants of dinner – chocolate and crisps. Yes, the diet is going well…
With our jobs demanding early starts during the week it was no hardship – well not much – to be up and on the platform at Cambridge Railway Station soon after 6am. Nevertheless we were glad of the coffee and bacon baps suspecting – correctly as it turned out – that there wouldn’t be a buffet trolley on the train.
Unusually for me, I’d not gone for the cheapest option when buying the tickets. We could have saved twenty five quid or so by travelling via and changing in, London although the journey would have been longer. As it happened a large portion of said journey would have been on a bus anyway thanks to weekend engineering work.
It was a pleasant enough journey, heading north first through Ely, March and on to Peterborough before veering off to the west, through Leicester and finally Birmingham’s shiny New Street station a little over two and a half hours later.
We needed to get another train to Birmingham International – the station that serves the NEC – and for some reason I hadn’t bought a through ticket. Whether is wasn’t offered on the booking site or not I can’t recall. Anyway, I’d made a list of trains that would call there and one was imminent so we headed straight for the platform where the train was ready and waiting.
We found the ticket inspector who was about to board and asked if we could buy tickets on board and he could not have been more helpful. Our original tickets were amended – both the out and return journeys – and all for just 50p. Result. It’s all to easy to moan, particularly when ‘Service with a Grimace’ seems so common, but this chap was great.
So within a few minutes we were at the NEC and although it only a little after opening it was already getting busy.
We had no intention of trying to cover the whole show so headed straight for the caravans in general and the Coachman area first to see what the latest incarnation of our Patsy looked like. It was good to see the latest models and what the other manufacturers were offering too, but there was nothing that really grabbed us – not that we were in the market for a new ‘van anyway. What our visit did though was change our minds about the sort of layout we’d like in the future. Our original preference had been for a rear island fixed bed with the washroom in the middle – a design we first saw in Coachman’s 545 model. However having had a good look our favourite layout now would be an end washroom followed by two single beds, then the kitchen and lounge. To us it would be a more flexible layout. It was nice too to be recognised as ‘the legs down guys’. Sorry, I should have asked your name, but thanks for saying hi. It means a lot.
There was a couple of other things we checked out too. A towing cover is something we’re seriously considering so we had a look at the offerings from Specialised Covers and Protec. The other was a WiFi aerial and amplifier arrangement and a couple of examples on show gave us food for thought too.
It was time to head to the pub. Well it wasn’t quite but we went anyway, passing the Caravan Club – sorry, Caravan & Motorhome Club on the way. The name change had certainly stirred some interest as the area was packed, although it could also have be that there were plenty of seats and people were simple taking the weight off!
Twitter Beer O’clock – our rather loose excuse for a pint or two – was well attended by both new, old and even older friends and the time flew by. Burgers and chips were consumed and instantly forgotten as the conversation flowed. Some drifted off back to the halls, but we had an appointment with the 1622 from New Street, so made our way back to the train. It had been an enjoyable day, and ultimately as it turned out, a potentially very productive afternoon too.
Regulars will be pleased to know that Saturday did end properly. In a pub.
Sunday brought with it the reason we stopped in Cambridge. A visit to see Trev’s 91 year old Mum, whose jaw continues to baffle medical scientists, it being the only part of the body not riddled with arthritis. Must be all the exercise it gets….
With sundry chores completed and lunch cooked it was time for us to head back south, a journey which was unremarkable – at least until we’d descended Handcross Hill on the A23 and the road had levelled out.
I was in the middle lane, in the midst of overtaking someone, when a large Mercedes 4 x 4 came steaming past on the outside. The noise from the array of drainpipe sized tail pipes suggested he was intent on going even faster too. Up ahead, was a little Kia, busy overtaking someone. The Merc. driver decided to tailgate the Kia in the hope of getting him to move out the way presumably. What exactly happened next was unclear but a short while later, the Kia was a mangled mess, facing the wrong way alongside the crash barriers. The Merc. eventually came to a halt on the nearside, his front off side wing a mess and tyre almost completely detached from the rim.
We stopped too, called the police, ascertained that no-one was injured and went on our way. It’s a testament to the safety features of modern cars that it’s only egos – and probably wallets – that were bruised but could easily have been so much worse. We spent the rest of the journey home speculating what exactly happened, as, sadly our dash-cam wasn’t running!
So that was our weekend away. Hope you enjoyed it and apologies for the earlier lie about a load of drivel!
Until the next time…
Recent EntriesLatest Entry
Most of you will be aware of the damage I caused to my caravan last September. It was
written off by the Insurers, because the damage was estimated at nearly £14,000! Door
and frame smashed, three foot crease behind the door,and some internal damage behind
the table cupboard and wardrobe. Also the nearside wheel.
Having studied the work involved, I bought it back, because I knew It was repairable for a lot,
lot less than that. . . . . . and it was a challenge!
Firstly, it was the wrong time of the year to have an accident - caravan in storage, and
winter approaching, so it has taken until now (March) to start the work.
My intentions were to work from the inside out. With the drawers removed from the
wardrobe, I could see the extent of the damage. Luckily nearly all of it was behind, so
I would not have to be too particular cosmetically, although I would not skimp it.
First job, vacuum all the polystyrene chips out. I could see a split in the wallboard about
two feet long and jagged. I pushed the pieces together and used 2" wide Gorilla tape to
hold it together while I glued a piece of 3mm ply to the back
I intend to cut out the aluminium outside in a square,about 39" x 9",and the same amount
of insulation. I have bought a bag of polystyrene beads, which I intend to mix with Polycell
to pack the space with. I did consider polystyrene sheet but I thought that would leave
The side of the small cupboard was dismantled for access to the worst of the internal
damage. Where the wood was badly damaged I scraped it out and use wood filler to build
Where the damage is outside, I am going to butt joint a square of aluminium, by gluing a
1" strip of aluminium round the edge, 1/2" below,and 1/2" to glue the repair panel to. (I know what I mean! ) Since thinking of using Gorilla glue, I contacted Henkel, who supply Elddis, and a very helpful Mike North suggested Teroson MS939. I have purchased this, and it is very
As I am working outside, security will be a problem with the door off, so off to my sons' farm
where I also have use of electricity. The door needs to come off first because the wooden
frame is damaged, and I cannot proceed until that is sorted.
Good job I am at my sons. The door frame was an horrendous job to remove! - I would
never have done it without his help!
While the door is out, a good opportunity to update the awning light! I poked a metal awning peg up to draw the wire down inside to the new light position.
The frame was not too badly damaged, so with G clamps, I re-positioned it, and pinned and
glued it in place. With the piece of ply attached it was now really rigid. I used a (nearly) matching
piece of fablon to finish it off.
Laid the door flat and started filling edge with Teroson adhesive. Cartridge ran out with about
two feet left to do. Opened the second tube. . . . . . . . . . . . . and it's BLACK!!! Past the point of no return, so I had to use it! Kept it on the inside edge, so that it would not show. Luckily it was
at the bottom. Very strong email to supplier!
On this photo, you can see the strip glued in to hold the new panel.
Mixed some polystyrene into a thick paste and trowelled it in to replace lost insulation.
Attached repair panel.
Back to the storage for the mundane task of filling and sanding, about 3 days work!
And finally! d
I have ordered new stripes, but I will leave that for a while, so that the paint can harden and
be flatted down and polished before fitting.
After a LOT of rubbing with all sorts of grades of wet and dry, and a special cutting compound (which knocks spots off T Cut!), this is the final result.
The costs (£) :
New door and frame £323. 25
Paint and primer £35. 00
Filler £6. 00
Terason adhesive £24. 24 (2 free, complimentary)
Polystyrene beads £3. 10
Metal cutter £8. 55
Plywood £1. 50
Sanding paper (Poundshop!) £2. 00
Stripes £18. 91
Cutting compound £7. 95
Total £430. 50
For all I love caravanning and camping with my partner I also dread it at the same time. He can be extremely gung ho and if things don't go right instantly he throws a strop and quits. We don't work well together when setting up camp (at all)
I like to pace myself and set things out in the order they need to be done as to achieve harmony but he likes to just unpack all at once and rush. He also won't accept when I know how to do something that he doesn't. Put it this way we usually need a holiday to get over our holidays. It's a good job to some extent that he works away all week so we get that time apart lol.
I'm not sure if he is in a league of his own or if this is a trait of other men too as the couple in the caravan next to us this weekend were also at loggerheads trying to put their awning up and like us decided not to bother.
It usually takes a night at home afterwards when he has finished throwing a tantrum that I take the tent or awning to my mums large back garden and put them up alone to dry that he will finally admit ok you were right I should have listened.
Maybe if he read the instructions before emptying things into a huge heap we might actually one of these days have a harmonious getaway haha
Throughout my story there has been a variety of nice men, but this time
I have excelled myself with a total of SIX all at once!
Those of you who have been interested in my tale will know that I moved here to a bungalow in readiness for old age, and after a light bulb moment in the middle of the night before removal lorries arrived, I envisioned my new home completely gutted, walls down, rooms moved, driveway re-positioned, in fact a total refurb.
Just as those of you who have the happy luxury of a woman in your life will know, once seen never forgotten, so from that moment
I knew that a simple redecorate was never going to cut it.
Walls removed and rebuilt elsewhere, rooms reconfigured all happened fairly rapidly, the driveway followed with me personally lifting and cleaning approx 8000 paviours for re-use, but the builder I expected to return got himself bogged down (for 2 years) and too busy to remove the chimney and breast which took up space in my small bathroom.
As luck would have it I contacted an old friend of my late husband, a roof monkey, and he and five of his team descended (or should that be) rose onto my roof and beavered away removing repairing and cleaning as they went.
Unfortunately the chimney, which started as an easy demolish, descended to ground level as a double skin. Not satisfied with that the very diligent 1964 brickie bonded them with concrete! The emotional level in my bathroom rose as the days wore on. New tools were brought into play, ample coffee attempted to help but only dampened the surface of the aggravation experienced by those trusty souls.
In the end it was left to two, one to chisel the other to fill the skip, and fill it they did!
Now I have a room with a third more space than it started with. which will allow a walk in shower as well as a bath. All I need now is another nice man with Bathroom Fitting credentials. I should point out that I have fitted and plumbed the kitchen (my 3rd) and done all the decorating and a fair amount of demolition myself, so am not one to sit and watch necessarily and if I bite the bullet and fit the bathroom myself it will be my 4th, but . ...........
well perhaps one more nice man wouldn't go amiss!
We woke to snow showers in the morning, though none had laid. We drove to Scarborough to shop in Morrisons, we needed a frying pan for my breakfast, as well as other sundry items - we never seem to stop buying things for the 'van!
When we returned we decided to put up the awning that was lurking under the bed. After mighty struggles (no wonder they call them "divorce in a bag!") we discovered that there were no side panels with the awning. We reported this to the site warden, who assured us that they would be found. (see later entry!!)
Cat was out all day, roaming the fields and hedgerows we suspect.
Time for dinner and we could not get the gas oven to work, the site engineer called round and informed us that the taps below the oven need to be switched on - I was sure that they were!
It was a lovely sunny afternoon and a relaxing evening. We played Trivial Pursuit and ended one game each.
- Read more...
- 0 comments
And just when you can see the light at the end of that tunnel. ..
Just showed him to a woman from round the corner, good job I did - wet patch around one corner of the roof light, confirmed by a drip in front of my very eyes!
Need to act on it asap
- Read more...
- 0 comments
I bought the Coachman Amara (badged Festival) MY 2009 at the end of June.
Since then I have been away on four relatively local trips with it, and one long one, to north Wales.
Until last weekend (end of August) I had only stopped at sites with full facilities; being cautious, if not apprehensive, to ensure that I could have more factors working in my favour than those which may choose to work against me.
Last weekend I went to a Caravan Club Rally. Not only did I duly receive a small penant to register the fact of my first Rally, but I also had a four day stay with only water and Elsan disposal facitlities.
I was pleasantly surprised to have progressed through the weekend as uneventfully as I did.
I received help and advice from the seasoned rallyers, for which I was grateful.
I came home feeling accomplished and quite satisfied that I would be more confident to embrace 'grass roots' caravanning in the future, and not suffer the 'wobblies' if not offered EHU in future.
Since June I have gradually adopted the caravan and at least cosmetically modified it to suit my own tastes. I have purchased the components and assembled them, so that I now have my own free-standing 100W solar panel set-up. I have received a lot of helpful advice via these forums, including the information to convert my 12V halogen lights to LED's.
In short, I now feel that the caravan is mine, rather than a commodity I have bought from a dealership. I now feel comfortable talking about my caravan, rather than the caravan.
My first significant step into this mysterious world of touring.
Well it's been a busy few weeks and not just with the reupholstery. Been doing 60 hour weeks and spending lots of time catching up with my son who came back from Oz.
The good news is that within a week he applied for lots of jobs and three asked for interviews. He took one of the jobs and the other two also offered him a position There is work out there for those willing to find it.
Back to the revamp. I won't lie when I say that this has been a challenge, from starting the task without a sewing machine, working out how the thing works, teaching myself how to cut & sew material, understanding the folds/creases and getting the foam back into the covers.
I have had a few traumas along the way, sewing things back to front and even spilling a glass of coke over one cover. One thing has kept me motivated along the journey - to show people that anything is possible with the right attitude. It's OK to mess it up, you learn from making mistakes.
My wife has been a slave driver, a 'just hold this' apprentice, a tea boy (in drag) and a finisher (I tried to get a huge cushion under the needle but physics beat me). My sister came to visit one night apparently but I was too hard at work to notice . ..
I can't remeber if I posted this next picture before but all it needs are the buttons to be fitted.
And the back cushions have been finished on one side too. They needed to be pinned to secure the material when I took this photo so they look a little baggy here.
I have brought home the last three from the living room so I am hoping to get less hours at work this week as working till 11pm and getting up at 4:30 means my beauty sleep is suffering.
Will try to get some more updates soon.
Edit: Pic added of sewing machine.
Recent EntriesLatest Entry
While in southern Italy recently with very high temperatures the dome of our doubled glazed Heiki roof light came apart with the lower section dropping down, we closed it down to get it to go back together.
has anyone had this problem and how did you fix it?
Recent EntriesLatest Entry
Can anybody tell me if there is a caravan smart repairer in the Hornsea East Riding of Yorkshire area as I have trawled the internet without success. I would appreciate any information (Please see photo's of the type of repair that I require mainly on the ribbed section).
The journey home
At the end of our time in Samoens it is time to head home. We intend taking it a bit more slowly than the two day dash down here, so our first stop has been planned for Langres. It’s one of these places we have meant to visit before, partly because being close to the autoroute it’s somewhere we have passed close to on many occasions over they years, and partly also because it looks an interesting town worth a visit.
Thankfully our journey from Samoens is not nearly as windy as when we were travelling down here. The autoroute tag continues to work well, and seeing cars avoid us at the tollbooth and join another queue, only to be left sitting there as someone fumbles with their credit card, while we sail on through without any delay, brings a smile to our faces.
The road is actually quite busy today however, most of the traffic Belgian for some reason – must be the end of the Belgian holidays and everyone is heading home. There’s an increasing amount of British traffic as well. Still very few caravans around.
The site we have chosen is Kawan Lac de Liez, a few miles outside Langres. It’s a large site, set on a hillside location overlooking a reservoir. The site is fairly quiet and we didn’t have any trouble arriving without having booked. Most pitches have good views of the lake, but the downside is that many are sloping, some fairly severely, and I could imagine you would find it tricky to pitch a large caravan on some of them. Our pitch however isn’t too bad, and most of the pitches seem to be serviced as well. An added advantage is that at this time of year (April), they take camping cheques.
The site has good facilities. There are a few well equipped toilet blocks, and there always seem to be staff going about on cleaning duties. There are indoor and outdoor pools, although the outdoor pool isn’t open yet. We thought about trying the indoor pool, but a family on a neighbouring pitch told us it was fairly cold, so we decided to leave it for another time! There is also a restaurant and bar, and a large deck area that will obviously be popular later in the season. Unfortunately the restaurant and bar aren’t due to open until the week after we are staying.
A short walk down the hill from the site takes you to the lakeside area, where there are a couple of restaurants and bars, and pleasant walks along the lake. Even early in April, it’s a popular area with locals and it’s quite busy when we take a stroll down. The walk back up the hill involves a couple of fairly steep sets of steps and might be a problem for anyone with limited mobility.
Next morning we took a trip into Langres. It was a Sunday, so when we arrived around 10am the place was quiet, and we got parked easily just outside the town walls.
We had a walk around the town, looking at the cathedral and some other buildings on the way. On the way we stopped at the tourist information office and a very helpful lady gave us a few idea of what to see. This included a walk around part of the ramparts around the town, giving some excellent views over the surrounding countryside.
The town filled up a bit with more people as the day went on, but was never busy and we quite often found ourselves alone in some of the atmospheric side streets. You could imagine however that in the height of summer it would be a lot busier with tourists.
After a couple of nights here we are ready to head further north.
As we leave Langres we are heading towards our ferry from Ijmuiden near Amsterdam, but intending to stop somewhere on the way. We decide to aim for a site at Seraucourt-le_grand just outside St Quentin, chosen as it is not too far off the autoroute and it’s more or less half way towards our last stop before the ferry.
The site is easy to find, albeit that the last few miles of road are incredibly bumpy. The “le Grand” bit of the name is a bit optimistic, as it’s a fairly small village by the Somme, but the site is very attractive and the lady on reception very friendly and welcoming. Quite a number of semi-permanent caravans sited here, many of them British. A very nice spot not too far from the Channel ports for those of you lucky enough to live within a short drive of the coast.
Some ponds off the Somme are literally within inches of some of the pitches, although well fenced off. A field adjoining the site is open for walks and holds a few donkeys and goats that are very friendly until they realise we don’t have any food. Would have been very popular with our two daughters when they were younger!
We visited a nearby Commonwealth war grave, well tended as always, and had a walk around the village. Not that much to see, but a very peaceful attractive village nonetheless.
Wifi at the site was 2 Euros extra, and although fairly slow we were able to check emails and download the newspaper. After a night here, off we go again.
This time we’re heading for Leiden near the Hague to spend a couple of nights at the Konigshof site. It’s a fairly short drive from our ferry, and we have planned to meet friends whose son is studying at university nearby.
Other than an unplanned drive around an industrial estate just up the road, we find the site fairly easily. Surprisingly however we find ourselves in a queue at reception and it looks touch and go as to whether we will actually get a pitch here. We hadn’t realised that the gardens at Keukenhof were very close by. They are only open from March until May and are extremely popular of course – we’d heard about them and seen pictures but hadn’t realised that they were quite so close to the site.
The site is packed – mostly British – and a lot of people seem to be on a rally or organised tour. Luckily, we manage to get a pitch, and, even luckier, a serviced one, so no lugging water and waste around! Surprisingly the site takes camping cheques at this time – even better.
We had a very nice, and very reasonably priced, meal in the site restaurant. The site has a lot of facilities, including indoor and outdoor pools. Pitches seem to vary in size. Some look quite small and are surrounded by other pitches, but our pitch is huge and hedged off from others.
Next day we head off to the Hague, driving to a park and ride and getting a train in to the centre. We visited the Mauritshuis museum, home of Vermeer’s Girl with the Pearl Earring. Very busy, even at this time of year and reasonably early in the day.
Later we met up with our friends and their son. They live very close to us and it was purely by chance that we discovered we would all be in the Hague at the same time. After lunch, we visited the Mesdag Panorama – Google it if you want to know more, but well worth seeing if you are ever in the area. We then had a look at the Peace Palace and took a tram to the panoramic tower building giving great views across the city and beyond.
As we were so close, we could hardly pass up the chance to visit the gardens, all the nicer for being an unexpected bonus at the end of our holiday. The caravan site sells discounted tickets.
As our ferry doesn’t leave until 5pm, and Ijmuiden is only about an hour away, we decided to go on the way back to the ferry. We spoke to a couple of people on the site who had been already, and they assured us that there wouldn’t be any great problem taking the caravan there. We did get a bit of a funny look when we turned up at the car park, but the staff were very helpful in getting us parked in a spot where we wouldn’t get blocked in and miss the ferry. Lots of camper vans, but only one caravan!
The gardens are outstanding – stunningly colourful displays of flowers. Very popular and busy, but not to be missed and we were glad of the chance to see them. The day was a bit on the cold side, but the rain stayed off until just as we were leaving.
The ferry home
Back to Ijmuiden and the ferry back to Newcastle. Again not too busy, and thankfully a quieter night’s sleep than on the outward journey.
Next day it’s off up the A1 and we’re home in Fife by mid afternoon.
Just got the bill for the autoroute tag. 199 Euros, so about £70 each way. Not cheap, but worth it in as much as we wouldn’t have been able to go so far in two weeks by meandering along lesser roads. Strangely, we were charged at Class 1 on one section, but disappointingly it was about the shortest section!
Had such a good time that we’re already planning something similar at the same time next year. Before that, back on the same ferry in July for three and half weeks away, this time heading for Italy.
- Read more...
- 0 comments