Archive | May, 2016

Another nostalgic look back

30 May

sprite family caravan

About 30 years ago, we had one of these. A Sprite Musketeer. Four berths and lightweight, they were very popular at the time. The timber frameworks inside were held together with glue and staples. Ours was coming apart and with an unusual 3 weeks spell planned in France I had to restick it all together. Re-stapled it was all solid but the interior wall material looked faded and old so we wall papered the lot! With new curtains and varying shades of “beige” throughout, it was restful on the eye.

Our caravan was the same colour green as above. I think that the Musketeer only came in a few pastel shades. I had “Tee Cutted” and polished the hell out of ours to retrieve the original factory gloss finish. With the heavy glass windows buffed with Windolene, it looked a real gem and I was proud to hitch it behind our Audi Coupe. I could not afford the desirable and Rally proven Quattro version. But ours was family friendly and automatic. I had a blade type stabiliser fitted because, back then, young and foolish, I had been known to push the upper speed boundaries when towing. ( I blush now at the very thought!)

Audi_Coupe

We went off to France with the front passenger seat removed and replaced with quick release brackets and wing nuts to secure our 3 month old baby in his old style pram body. You could secure baby within the pram tub using the built-in clips and a harness. Surrounded by pillows the little one was as safe as possible for the time. A 12v cooling fan was secured to keep baby cool but when our four year old spotted it, she wanted one too in the back seat where her polystyrene “toddler” seat was secured using the lap and diagonal. All this is sorted for you now. just pop into Halfords with the dosh and it’s yours!

Balloons in the colors of the French flag in front of the Eiffel Tower

Balloons in the colors of the French flag in front of the Eiffel Tower

Just picking out a few of the multitude of memories from our epic 3 weeks tour down the Western side of France (in the main) but using Dover /Calais ferry for cheapness.

  • Driving down overnight and through Central London to Dover. No congestion charge then!
  • Sleeping each way at the Ferry ports to save time and money
  • Towing the caravan into Central Paris (against the Law) and parking it outside the Louvre! A passing Brit told me that I could get arrested. First I knew about that rule.
  • Fresh French bread, tomatoes and local cheese for lunch most days. Oh, and red wine too.
  • A camping chair placed outside the caravan door to give us a buffer zone from other road users when lunching at the roadside.
  • Quiet roads. Straight roads and fast cruising at times.
  • Henk at his Dutch campsite near Villereal. His inspiring story of success and a warm welcome with a cold beer. (His family is still there now. More later this year!)
  • Hundreds of caterpillars under the shady oak at Henks
  • Washing baby in the stainess steel sink
  • Clouds of butterflies rising as we walked the paths at Henks
  • The caravan almost being literally blown over at Dunkirk Ferry port
  • Driving home with the front tyres worn down. Then quitting my boring job when I got home.

louvre

A short review of the Elddis Explorer 302 SE in use

29 May

 elddis pikup m1

On the 14th March this year I posted a photo tour of our caravan. I did not really cover a review of it in use. So, here ’tis.First time out with the “Elddy” and the campervan.

IMG_0989

We went up to Anglesey. This Beaumaris Castle on the East Coast. It was easy and quick to set up the caravan on the Caravan Club site at Marazion, just north of Benlech. The motor mover made the whole process much less stressful. It was the first time that I had used an external, drop in, fresh water pump and the 40 litres capacity “hog” gave enough water for domestic use and showers for 2 people for easily 24 hours.

elddy shower room

The shower itself was spacious enough and the electric/gas hot water system was superb. Plenty of instant hot water for an efficient and effective wash. There were no toilet/shower facilities on site, so this was essential in my mind. Storage within the shower room was good. Enough space in the mirror fronted cabinet for most essential toiletries and a good sized shelf above the toilet for day to day, “in use” bits and bobs. The toilet paper holder protected the roll from excess water splash from the shower. As always, the shower curtain was a bit clingy in use and I was surprised that there was no drip protection on the bottom, inside of the shower room door. I had fitted one in the previous Freedom Microlite. Not a costly item, but it stopped any runs from getting outside the shower room.

elddy lounge

Making up the bed, should have been an easy job on paper. In reality, it was a bit of a pain. The base cuchions were quite heavy and cumbersome in such a confined space and you could not just hold them up and delve underneath for the bedding and cushions like you can in a Freedom Microlite or Sunseeker. Fortunately the wardrobe on the Elddy is huge after the quite functional one on the Freedom with space to take the sleeping bags, pillows and two duvets which we use as mattress toppers on the base cushions. This is what we will do next time out. It makes the whole bed making process much easier. Alternatively, you can use the sofas as two singles with feet together in the corner or, if like us, you have a campervan, you could leave the bed made up and eat “au Van”.

IMG_0923elddy fridge wardrobe

TV., even in poor reception area was really good to the point where I am wondering if we would use the Micro Sat TV dish and system ever again? Test this out before we discard it , however. The fridge was efficient and large enough for the two of us especially when combined with the powerful fridge/freezer in the campervan. Just remember which “room” you sleeping in and keep breakfast materials in the right place. Also, if planning on sandwich picnics in the campervan, ensure that the bread and cheese etc go in the correct fridge. Ahem……

Storage wall cupboards and under worktop cabinets were all useful and we have fitted those under the high worktops with extra slide out wire shelving to keep things tidy. The wall cupboards above the front caravan window are only really suitable for socks and pants. Not deep enough for folded , larger garments.

elddy kitch

elddy heki

The sink and gas hob were excellent and I do not think that they had been used much previously to our ownership. We have not as yet tried the oven. Plenty of light and ventilation is offered by the Heki roof light. The roof vent in the shower room is a bit frail It works OK but I was worried that it may break especially in really cold weather.It relies on interference fit between plastic tabs. Who designs these bits of tat??????

The blown air heating is brilliant. Gas or electrically powered, it runs silently on lower settings  overnight.

bargin_hunt

Overall then, a Big Hand for the Elddy. Comfortable for lounging  and sleeping. Well equipped apart from that ceiling vent but the storage space beneath the sofas a little compromised by the seat cushions. Oh , like with any lightweight caravan, you do need to control and watch your weight……..

heavy load

(Hope your leg gets better soon Martin !)

 

Just back from a Sunny week in the South East of England

28 May

meantime brewery

If you go to London, do yourself a massive favour. Visit Greenwich and perhaps see the tea clipper, The Cutty Sark and then , without fail sample what are, in my opinion, the best craft beers in London, by visiting The Meantime Brewery and Cafe nearby. The food is really good too. Highly recommended !

meantime taps

cutty sark

Had a fantastic week! Glad of the secure feeling given by the front and rear facing dash cams though ! Some dodgy driving witnessed! Just do not want to get the campervan bashed.

Where next ?

27 May

granthamlincoln brayfordcranwell flypast

Our next visits are likely to be Grantham , Lincoln and surrounding area. It’s almost a direct drive to the East from where we live. After that? Trying for a trip to Angers on the River Maine in France to see the Tour de France once more and to get in some cycling ourselves in now familiar surroundings. Would almost certainly then spend some more time in Kent and  Surrey , camping for the first time with our closest family members. I don’t plan too far ahead and like to retain flexiility. Only a campervan and nearly as good , a caravan can offer that quick getaway, drop of a hat , holiday opportunity. 

Autumn has Scotland calling and a long, extended trip by steam train.

“Mmmmmmm ” said Poo, “Honey for tea!”

Brighton. Hot and sunny. A cool car place.

26 May

brighton vw microbus 1brighton vw microbus 2

To make it easier , we took the train to Brighton. It was my first visit there and I was surprised at it’s size and City atmosphere. Thoroughly enjoyed the day and did what you do at the seaside, excellent cod and chips at a beach cafe then a cooling reak in the Pavillion Gardens on the climb back towards the railway station. Saw this absolutely beautiful VW Microbus on the way. The photos speak for themselves.

brighton vw microbus 3

Had a close call at lunch with only a slight “wound” from a pooing seagull. If that’s lucky I will eat my hat. Some fanastic artwork for sale along the beach level promenade but way too expensive. We did the 60s type tour of the pier and even had a go on the “Tipping Point” penny falls. Great fun in all honesty.

brighton beach cafebrighton pier 1

We loved the cosmopolitan and diverse atmosphere of the people and places. Sadly, a lot of homeless folk in evidence.

On the way back up the hill, we caught an outdoor concert and heard a group of children performing an Indian song.We sat in the shade for an ice cream and chilled water. A very warm day indeed. Suncream much in evidence! Here is Brighton Pavillion. It was much busier than this picture suggests. The lawns were crowded with lovers of all descriptions. A very pleasant vibe on a simply lovely day !

brighton pavillion

In parts, the shopping area resembles the narrow meandering paths between Cornish fishing village shops, cafes and bars. Busier yes. Would we visit Brighton again? Oh yes, definitely!

Another Sunny day out. Polesden Lacey, nr Guildford

25 May

polesden lacey 2

polesden lacey 1

This is the sight that greeted us just a short walk from where we parked our “magic carpet”. “Mrs Greville’s House” or Polesden Lacey to give it it’s name dating back to medieval times,is not far from Guildford, Surrey. The Lady was the daughter of the founder of McEwan’s brewery in Edinburgh. He made huge sums of money re-investing heavily in mining, diamonds, gold and coal plus the railroads of South America.

This beautiful lady was worth some £980 million or so in the 1920s. What’s not to like. She was a huge socialite, throwing very plush parties in the well heated house where each guest had ensuite bathroom etc. Unheard of then. She was generous , to the end, to her Staff and according to accounts, gave away the most lavish of gifts including some to Princess Margaret, The Queen Mother and her senior Maid and friend.

polesden lacey

Here is the Lady herself. From humble and controversial background (in those times) she rose to be accepted into Royal company including foreign dignatories and celebraties of the day. An absolute must place to visit and listen to the Tour.

MARGARET (ANDERSON) McEWAN, THE HON. MRS RONALD GREVILLE (1863-1942), 1891, by Emile-Augustus Carolus-Duran (1838-1917), in the Picture Corridor at Polesden Lacey, Surrey. CMS: 1246442

MARGARET (ANDERSON) McEWAN, THE HON. MRS RONALD GREVILLE (1863-1942), 1891, by Emile-Augustus Carolus-Duran (1838-1917), in the Picture Corridor at Polesden Lacey, Surrey. CMS: 1246442

ps I think I am in Love…………..

Kent, Chartwell House and the E.U. Referendum

23 May

chartwell hse fish pondchurchill at chartwell house

Recently visited Chartwell House in Kent. The family home of Sir Winston Churchill, who died in 1965. But before I get a bit political again, (sorry…….) some advice again on windout awning for the NV200. FIAMMA do an F35 Pro at about 1.9 metres which suits the shorter than VW T4/5 ., NV200 much better. The fixings for VW T4 could probably be adapted to suit but cannot guarentee this.Please check first.

Now, back to the Great Man himself. If you need guidance on how to vote in the forthcoming “Stay” or “Leave” , “EU Referendum” then may I suggest that you search for Churchill’s Wise Sayings on your favourite search engine. Spend some time and I am sure that you will be moved, motivated and inspired in your decision making. He speaks from experience about good friends and bad, democracy and making very difficult and big decisions.I do not advocate anything that he said, decades ago, that can now be considered racist (or hijacked and misquoted to be so!) I refer to his determination to maintain freedom in the main. Not saying anymore but it worked for me!

chartwell hse 3chartwell hse wisteria 2

Chartwell House has beautiful gardens and the house itself is a joy to view. The National Trust has done a great job in presenting England at it’s best. Whilst there we encountered a delightful old German lady whose relative had served under Rommel. She asked questions about almost every painting, photograph and artifact. It was interesting to see her fascination with Winston Churchill. We also visited Scotney Castle.

scotney old castle The old and the new:

scotney castle hse A distant view of the house built above the old site. The old Castle was deliberately ruined to create a “Folly” in the grounds……………. strewth ! Wouldn’t an old Church window frame from Drew  and a brickwork corner have sufficed?

Again , a stunning place to visit and so different from previous N.T. properties we have seen.