Archive | September, 2015

Where have we been “Day Vanning” recently?

28 Sep

edwardian farm acton trussel

Recently, we have taken advantage of the sunny weather and visited some of our old haunts.

The picture above is the “Edwardian Farm” at Acton Trussel, not far from a favourite destination of Church Stretton. For us, our drive there takes us past a super village Garage which sells an upmarket selection of sports cars. I find an excuse to stop and dream , pretending to be buying a newspaper. We get a lovely view of the River Severn around Shrewsbury. Then, of course the Wrekin and the Long Mynd hills. There is even a clay shooting ground to collect cartridges. A variety pack of interests to follow.

st peters wenlock edge

Here is St Peters, Church Stretton again. This time we picked up some ornate timber shelf brackets , cast iron finials and other odds and ends for a “gypsy caravan” that I intend to build for my grandkid(s). Lovely little detail items to hopefully create some interest for young eyes and imaginations. A mate is searching for a matching pair of rear cartwheels.

county showground poultry show

This is a poultry show at Stafford County Showground. There are shows here ranging from livestock, through classic cars and motorcycles to dogs, cats and Antiques. Also known as Bingley Hall, it’s a short trip for us but usually very enjoyable. Secure your vehicle, though. We know of a top notch Landrover , stolen from the car park with our relative’s two little dogs in the back. We got the dogs back in a clandestine mission, following a phone call, but the 4 x 4 was never seen again!


The sadly missed Landrover. With the weather report showing good prospects, I think it’s a quick clean and prep for more travels.

Histeria about Diesel engines

23 Sep

diesel rig

Today there appears to be , the usual gross over reaction to breaking news. This time it’s the use of diesel engines. This follows the alledged disgraceful secret instalation of software on some VW cars which makes it easier for a vehicle to pass vehicle testing of diesel engined cars in the USA. I shall make my own decision about buying anything from a brand which misleads. Let’s see if other brands have fallen foul of temptation.

In a world of dwindling fossil fuels, it should be remembered that Diesel engines have the lowest specific fuel consumption of any large internal combustion engine employing a single cycle.That is a scientific FACT.

Before we all panic about diesels, we need to evaluate where we need to go with engine design and vehicle design in the future. The last thing we need is an ill-informed knee jerk reaction from  non-technical politicians, boosted by equally unbalanced rubbish from the media.

Vehicles should all be moving to much lighter materials. Three cylinder, low friction, turbo-charged engines with ultra high pressure fuel injection and energy recovery for a starter. In my opinion manufacturers have not even scratched the surface of where we could be with the efficient use of fuel. We shall all have to change our expectations but talk of diesel engined cars immediately becoming worthless??? I don’t think so.

Just saying…..

Safe driving

23 Sep


On our trips around the country, we often witness some terrible driving. Lots of people still using mobile phones, turning without signalling, children not wearing belts or not in safety seats and so on. Not wanting to preach but there does seem to be a contempt for the highway code. We no longer see many traffic cars with police monitoring. It mostly seems CCTV has taken on that role.

I used to drive around 35,000 miles a year on business As part of a safety drive, I twice achieved Gold standard on the ROSPA advanced driver scheme. It’s all about defensive driving. Putting your vehicle in the safest possible situation, anticipating actions needed ahead and observing what others are doing or what they may do.

I recently added a safe driving app to my phone (from AVIVA) to see if I could get a discount on my insurance. After more than 200 miles of mixed driving they scored me 9.5 out of  10,  the average is 7.7, I believe.  I have front and rear cameras fitted to the campervan and several times we see tailgaters backing off when they spot the rear one. You have to get pretty close to see it !

On a lighter note, here is a funny story (true !) to end with. Whilst attending one ROSPA test, one of our team got into his car with the ex Police assessor and two other members of our staff. He checked the seat position, adjusted his mirrors and in his own time carefully reversed off the car park. Problem was, he had not noticed the short, stumpy concrete bollard behind his car The car mounted the bollard, deforming the floor and trapping a rear seated salesman by his feet which were under the driver’s seat. It did not go down too well………………………….

Next long trip is to the Lake District and onwards to Scotland. Will report as WiFi allows! Drive safe

A complete diversion from topic

13 Sep


Recently , in Cornwall , I had one of the best fisherman’s platters I have ever tasted. The Norway Inn , between Truro and Falmouth. So today, having a rare day at home, I thought that I would try to recapture some of that seafood flavour experience. I hope that you forgive my being completely off topic. It has little to do with campervans but it could be part be part of where holidaying leads you. If you have been to Spain, I’ll wager that you have tried paella. In my view, if you like seafood you will probably enjoy Paella. I hope yoou enjoy a version of my recipe. That’s not mine above. There are many many different ways to achieve a tasty dish. I have a few controversial hints for you , but trust me they work.



Chicken breasts. Allow a small one per person.

Chirizo. I used some from central France but usually I use that from Lidl or Aldi, you need about a three  inch piece for two people.

Onion. Red is nice but not essential. One small onion per person.

A length of celery is enough for two people. It acts as a natural flavour enhancer.

Quarter pieces of red , yellow and green bell peppers. If you like them.

Diced mushrooms. Three to four per person

A cup of sweet white wine. I use cheap German wine from Lidl.

Rice. Either two thirds of a cup of long grain or (what????) a pack of microwave rice which will cater for two persons. (The latter is much quicker and tastes just fine!)

Chicken stock, gel type in a little pod.


Crayfish tails from the chiller in Aldi or Lidl and/or  Large peeled pre-cooked Prawns.

A jar of pickled mussels and essentially for a deep seafood flavour, a jar of pickled cockles. B&M have these but Sainsbury will have them.

Smoked paprika . sainsbury do a great version but can be bought elsewhere. Two heaped teaspoons to colour the rice.

Garlic. I use a teaspoon, powdered from a jar. Told you it was controversial………

METHOD:    Brown pieces of chicken in garlic and olive oil with a little butter then put to one side.

Fry off the finely sliced onion, then the mushroom , peppers and celery with chopped chorizo. Put to one side. If you use dry rice, coat it thoroughly with some more oil then add the wine, chicken stock gel and a cup of boiling water. It will take quite a time to cook the rice. Add the chicken, paprika and other ingredients and keep watch until the rice is cooked and the sauce reduced. To save time, use microwaved rice. A 200gm pack feeds two people. Cook as per pack instructions and add the wine wine, chicken gel stock and a splash of water. Reduce until the sauce is thickened.

When you are happy with the rice, you can serve the dish as is for those not liking seafood. Then add the drained seafoods to the remainder and heat thoroughly.

You can add a few garden peas if you like. Serve with slices of lemon and some parsley if you have some. I hope that you enjoy this first recipe!




Derbyshire again for a day out

12 Sep

kedleston hall antiques

We set off in heavy rain but as we retraced yesterday’s route East towards Derby, the sun appeared and the heat returned. We spent half a day at Kedleston Hall Jaguar Antiques Fair. This time we did not enter the National Trust’s Kedleston Hall. I parked the Kampa close to the tarmac as heavy rain made me concerned about getting stuck if the grass got churned up. It didn’t and we had no problem leaving.

cubley church

We took the back lanes across country from Kedleston to drive through Cubley. This is St Andrews Church there. My wife’s family originates in part from Cubley and we are researching into it at the moment via a super gift of three month’s access to an Ancestry website. We crossed the A50 at Sudbury where a time trial cycle race was taking place and headed for Sudbury Hall.

sudbury hall long gallery

I remembered little from our last visit which was twenty odd years ago. The long gallery is around 138 feet long and is unusual as an addition to a house in Charles II era. Apparently built to demonstrate the Norman ancestry of the then owner. We chatted extensiively to firstly a knowledgeable gent about the many properties within the National Trust and then  a delightful Lady of a certain age who told us of some of the saucy goings on in Sudbury when the local prison was an American Officers’ Hospital in WWII and there were large numbers of lady refugees from the German bombings of Manchester. To be honest, I was a little shocked and surprised but her stories were truly fascinating!

Tour of Britain passes through Belper

12 Sep

leading rider

The leading rider arrives on the approach to the Sprint in Belper town centre today.


Trying to chase him down with just 100 metres to go


Part of the Peloton bursts into view from Ashbourne road. Busy taking photos for the Blog , I cannot identify the riders until I catch up on ITV4. We watched the service barges come through then went to view the sprint finish outside Belper Tackle and Gun shop.

movistargun shop at sprint finish

Prior to the arrival of the Tour, we had browsed in the Gunshop where we received excellent advice on rectifying a jamming problem with a recently purchased vintage Winchester semi-automatic shotgun. A gem of a shop! Oh, before I get complaints, I only ever shoot the odd clay. Even then , I don’t “hurt” many clays……………. My mad old uncle, with no previous shooting experience made me look like the total novice I am when I took him to Doveridge. I bet that he would beat me in a bike race too!

Belper is a lovely town in Derbyshire. With a rural feel, some cobbled streets and quaint rows of tiny cottages hidden away behind the shops. Worth a stop.

A last minute trip to Cornwall

8 Sep

gas cpbd 3

Whilst repairing a gas feed in the bottle cupboard on the Microlite Caravan, the gas lid hinge finally gave up it’s will to live. We wanted to get away for a last minute trip and so I stripped off the rotten old timber strip on the fibreglass lid. I cut another strip from marine ply and glued it into place with two part epoxy adhesive. I added a little more strength as per the original from Freedom and added a fillet of adhesive around the wooden strip It’s just done a week in Cornwall and seems as good as new.

falmouth sept

We stayed at Carnon Downs, Caravan Club affiliated site. ( Super site !) but we could not use the Sat TV dish due to huge trees to our South East. Anyway, who needs TV when Fantastic Falmouth is so close by? Here is a pic taken near the Maritime Museum. Don’t bother trying the Mackeral and beetroot pasty unless you are desperate for some fish. I swear that I was speaking “Dolphin” for an hour afterwards! I do recommend the Fish Platter at The Norway Inn though. Even better than those wonderful platters to be found in Brittany or at La Rochelle in France.

coteshele saltash

We made the trek to Saltash , near Plymouth to see the National Trust Coteshele House and Mill, having seen the other NT homes nearby earlier this year. Well worth the sizeable round trip. So many of these places, sdaly,  seemed to go under following the loss of the elder son and heir during WWII. We brought some organic, stone ground flour home to wear out our friends’ teeth a little on a homemade scone or two.

st michaels mount

The days just blended together with lots of sunny spells and a few showers. We did not even get to see our best friend from God’s country (sorry Jan…. see you again soon!) This is a view from the top of St Michael’s Mount. ‘Twas a lovely day out.

leaving carnon downs

Leaving Carnon Downs in time to catch a little of the Tour of Britain later this week. Noticed the head lining on the Caravan is departing from the fibreglass roof. A very common fault on older Freedoms. Luckily, on our LE model, the washroom and wardrobe panels reach to ceiling height, making it easier to repair in sections without (??) the need to strip out all the furniture. That’s my plan anyway. I hope to find a suitable material to replace the whole roof lining and smarten up ” the old girl”.

We were well loaded, taking two bikes, the sat tv kit , cooler etc etc but only managed about 33 to 34 mpg overall whilst towing. We used to get 44 mpg with the 2009 Fiesta TDCI 1.6.  Perhaps driving a bit harder than usual. Did over a 1,000 miles in the week.