Archive | July, 2016

Flash Floods and a political (common sense) comment

29 Jul

RV flash flood calif

In the mid to late 1980s we were fortunate enough to buy a Minnie Winnie. An American, 24ft, 6 berth Winnebago RV. It was truly wonderful and almost as much fun as our current campervan, especially with all the family on board.
In the handbook was a warning NOT to camp on, or adjacent to, dried up riverbeds. At first, I found this to most unusual but as I have slowly meandered through life, I realise why this warning was made. This sad photo above is from Russian River, California.In a more recent Flash Flood, over 20 campers lost their lives.
We once camped up in the “Bago” alongside the River Rhine , not far from Rudesheim. Despite the flooding of the River, which was alarming to see and causing me to park the Motorhome , ready to roll, should the waters rise even further, we were loadly berated by a drunken German giant for taking water from a drinking water tap on the outside wall of the local public conveniences!
back in England, in the year 1607, something really strange occurred
somerset flood 1607somerset flood notice
It is thought that a Tsunami ,or tidal surge,hit the Bristol Channel.

Somerset in the West country was flooded all the way to Glastonbury Tor (to a depth of 5ft there) and many people and animals lost their lives. Villages were decimated and local churches eventually erected plaques to record the wrath of God.
Sorry to get political, but Hinkley Point, the site of one ageing Nuclear Powerstation and a proposed new one is right in line, should the freak weather conditions like those seen in 1607 should ever re-occur. What are the chances? Whether or not it was a tsunami or freak tide and weather combination, it makes for a Fukushima Style disaster in waiting. see
Can we really risk one of these:
Fukushima , Japan flood damage.  That would screw up any run to the sun to the West Country!

Tales from overseas. Shropshire?

27 Jul

clive and coffyne
pezenas pie

Hit busy times at home and so today we just drove over to Market Drayton.

It was the busiest that we have ever seen and visited 3 car parks before finding a space. The street market itself was buzzing with activity. We packed our shopping away in the campervan and visited an old aquaintance at his new pub “The Clive and Coffyne” which can be accessed just over the street from the Buttercross covered ancient market.

The carvery was as good as ever. A choice of lamb or beef and several vegetables to choose from. I managed a pint of Hudsons too. We let a lorry driver jump in front as he had to get back somewhere before his HGV turned back into Lady Penelope’s Rolls Royce! Highly recommended medieval Pub. But just what is a Coffyne? It is a pie made from minced dried fruits and prunes with shredded mutton or beef. That is a genuine Pezenas coffyne above. see Clive of India, a local from Market Drayton lived there for some time when returning home from the East. He had something to do with the spices in these pies and he brought the recipe back to Shropshire. We may see these back on the menu I believe………

Market Drayton is Twinned with Pezenas.

A window of opportunity for a short escapade

21 Jul

cat close to steering wheel
We have a chance of a couple of night’s away, especially with the weather improving. We also need some aerobic exercise and so, a solo(?)  trip with the campervan is on the cards to Lake Vyrnwry once again.

Found two good sites close to the circular route around the Lake, Taking the kitten this time to test him out “camping” , which could be fun (aaah , how sweet”)  or could be very expensive depending on his state of mind (look what the little ………s done now!)

The bikes are coming along too and we can test out our leg (and other muscles…..) by cycling around the Lake. Oh yeah, self harming is alive and well at Chateau Dinkum! Watching too much Tour de France! At least I can have an alcoholic beverage once more on my return to the camper. Which is nice.

What then? Well, can still fit in a trip to Cornwall before our definite trip to Scotland in the Autumn. What??????? The “A” word already???? Got to escape the current project……. Working in a chimney, installing an Inglenook fireplace and a restored “portable”  (LOL) cast iron mini oven range. No wonder chimney sweeps died young in the early 1800s !

Spotted an unusual choice of base vehicle today

16 Jul

crisps hearse campervan
Returning from Oswestry today on the A5, we spotted the above. A campervan made from a converted Ford Hearse. It is featured in todays “Shropshire Star” and has also been subject to Mr George Clark’s Amazing Spaces on TV. see more at

Apparently called the “Reaper” it is fully functioning ! The proud owner, Norman Crisp is shown below.
norman crisp
Perhaps a more normal project but no less distinctive object of desire can be seen here:
range rover
Assume that the body is included with this one………..

Wow! Ryan and Mel’s NV200 Tekna is finished!

14 Jul

I have to ask the question: can Nissan see into the future? Their current strapline, “Innovation that Excites” certainly equates with the finished NV200 campervan, self built by Ryan and Mel. You will have caught glimpses of this, fixed “non pop top” project here on my Blog before but nothing really prepares you for the actual finished product. It really is that intriguing.

I got the word from Ryan late yesterday evening that it is viewable now on YouTube. I abandoned watching TV and had a look.
The video gives a comprehensive tour of the campervan, it’s systems and features. To do it justice you must watch the full 24 minutes or so to take it all in! Then watch again to pick up anything that you missed first time around.
I thnk that the video will provide massive inspiration to many would be NV200 converts. It is a visual reference document with creativity in abundance. Watch it here:

This comes following Michael Stanton’s fine work with his NV200 (scroll down below).

We are getting some great results emerging! Thanks to all for conrtributing.

A quick look back between trips

10 Jul

army tent
My first experience of camping was on Anglesey. Aged about 4, it was a massive adventure. We drove all the way up the A5 from Llangollen at a very slow speed in our Ford Prefect. My dear old dad had borrowed or hired an ex Army tent something like the one shown above.He approached a farmer near to Red Wharf bay and put the tent up alongside some outbuildings. Across the lane, a very old caravan housed two young women (to me !) and their mother, I believe.The tent was very cold and draughty due to the walls not quite reaching the ground. A breakfast of bacon and eggs cooked on meths stoves made up for this and we were soon on the beach. I remember mum getting angry with dad for swimming with the two young ladies. He was a well built man and rather proud of his pecks and biceps ! Later that second day we moved to a local hotel in Red Wharf bay.

Looking back on the NV200 here are a few comments. 1. We never did fit a cruise control. The expense did not justify it. 2. Although we have achieved a genuine 60mpg plus several times, we now average around the 46 mpg mark. Mainly due to quicker driving and heavier day to day equipment carried. 3. When towing the Elddis caravan we achieve less than 30 mpg. 4. We have only had to replace one rear brake cylinder which is the total repairs needed from new. Not bad in almost 40,000 miles from new? 5. Tyre wear has been heavy in my opinion for such slow driving style generally. (more detail later). This is my main criticism of the NV200. 6. Drivelodge made this conversion and did a fine job. Only a couple of poorly fitted press studs for the cab curtain have emerged in all this time.I have to say a big thank you and “well done” to them. 7. We did fit a pullout (not windout) awning to the campervan recently and I hope it will prove it’s worth soon when we have a picnic for four once again. It should have been fitted from new but poor availability at that time ruled it out.

5 Nights near Hastings, East Sussex

5 Jul

battle abbey sussex
We had booked into a Caravan Club site, Normanhurst Court, needing 2 pitches, one for the campervan and one for the caravan. We found two adjacent pitches, close to a shower and services block, surrounded by substantial Rhodedendrum bushes and under huge Cedar trees.Before my relatives arrived, I set up the Olpro pop up toilet tent just in case they found it more convenient if it rained. (It didn’t but they still put it to good use.) The toilet tent was easy to put up but a nightmare to re-pack. Despite YouTube advice, I found it impossible to refold and it travelled home in the caravan, still pretty much full size!
battle scarecrowmorris van battle
This week is Scarecrow week in Battle. Guy Fawkes is thought to have bought his Gunpowder from Battle Abbey where they made the explosive for many years. This is my favourite above.You definitely step back in time in Battle and even the car park had it’s classic car to display in the sunshine. The Town Hall museum had the story of Isaac Ingall, a Butler at the Abbey who lived to be 120 years old. There is quite significant evidence that this may have been true!This little, free to enter museum is well worth a look. Sited in the High Street.We walked a circuit of the Abbey grounds and delved into the deep and alarming ice pit. We also walked the 1066 battlefield itself. Over 900 years have passed but it easy to imagine injured and dying men reaching up from the turf as you pass by. A visit to a pub which dates from the 15th Century also hit the mark.
1066 harold vs harold
In 1066, Harold Godwinson (the King who got an arrow in his eye) had come to the Battlefield near Hastings hot foot from killing Harold Hardraada before succombing to William, Duke of Normandy. Not hard to imagine some confusion when shouts of “Harold is dead” rang out at the first battle.Which Harold????????????
hastings east endhastings old townhastings beach 2
Hastings has the old town at it’s East End. It was our favourite part. Jellied eels, shrimp and seafood in abundance. Great pubs and good ale. The sun contimued to shine too.
magpie sausagekampa awning 2
Back at camp , on our second Barbecue, we started off with a 12 sausage medley which was quickly reduced to 11 sausages by a very quick witted Magpie. One of a strange 2 male, 1 female Magpie “bird swapping” group. The awning on the campervan does act as a deterrent, but too late to save a sausage.
scotney castle old and newbatemans rud kipbodiam castle june 2016
We also visited Scotney Castle, so good they “built it twice”. So good we have visited it twice. That’s the old and new above.

The tiled building is Batemans, the English home of Rudyard Kipling.We found Rudyard’s only son’s bedroom quite moving. John’s school cap, blazer and rugby ball are still there, even though he was killed (like so so many others…) in his very first conflict in WWI. A  beautiful family home with stunning grounds and orchard.

Bodiam Castle is a semi ruined moated fortress which fulfills all expectations. The moat is heaving with huge carp.
leaving battletoilet tent normanhurst
Having had good weather with the only real rain at night, we were sad to leave. The toilet tent could be used for storage or even for changing but Olpro really need to issue instructions with it on how to fold it back up.A really useful bit of kit which we shall use again. I hope nobody filmed us trying several times to emulate the YouTube experts………….. Any Glastonbury pop up tent experts out there ??????????