Archive | June, 2017

Thoughts from abroad. Not campervan related.

29 Jun

This Blog does not always comment directly about our campervan travels. This post reflects upon the effects of travel and perhaps the mindset found when seeking the good life. Hope that you like it. (Sven probably will not……. LOL)

Nine little stones

On a wonderful trip to the North East tip of the USA., I picked up seven little stones close to Bar Harbour and the Acadia National Park.

My dear two year old grandaughter , had previously brought me two other little rock samples. They were beautifully smoothed and differed in colour, one being green and the other a lovely shade of grey. I think that I now have in a small ceramic dish in our bathroom, a collection of at least three of the major types of geological debris eroded by glacial activity from millions of years ago.

When I pick one up, when shaving or brushing my teeth for example, each one reminds me of some memory or other from that trip. Memories change on each occasion, rather like a Nixplay digital photo album. I have had stranger things happening inside my head !

Here are nine examples of what comes to mind.

  • A lovely, cheering smile and windswept hair of my little darling handing me a stone and walking off purposefully to find another.
  • A large group of my son’s in-laws laughing, drinking and eating sea food over lunch.
  • My daughter’s “bump” aka my soon to be first grandson and her winning glow of life.
  • My wife’s beautiful smiling glance on a sunny beach when we witness a young couple in love
  • My daughter in law’s intense joy at her fabulous wedding with her marvellously diverse group of family and friends
  • Finding an outstanding new dark beer in a bar in Portland with my son in law
  • Looking West from Bar Harbour and seeing the edge of Canada where my late father was born
  • Trying to see inside the tiniest stone of all to read what joys the future holds
  • The immense optimism that comes from seeing a billions of years old rock still intact

I wonder what thoughts will spring to mind when I next have a shave?

Room 101. Ugly? campervans and motorhomes

27 Jun

I love some classic campers. I can get quite nostalgic about times gone by. Sometimes though, I have to admit my darkest thoughts. Do some of them , new and old, belong in “Room 101 ?”  Do you know of one to add to the list? Send in a pic. (contact via the comments tag below)

This Mercedes based “two up, two down” must have been incredibly, perhaps dangerously slow if my experiences of just the base van are anything to go by.

This is adding insult to injury ! Some of the Mark IV Ford Zephyrs were very unreliable. V4 engined versions used to shear the paper, yes paper rolled and glued timing wheels frequently. The column change mechanisms used to break their white metal casings and you would lose gearchange facility. At least with your home from home above you , you did at least have somewhere to stay whilst repairs got underway. The Zodiacs did seem somewhat more desirable and reliable.


Who did this to you ? What a horrid deed. I never thought that I could describe any Citroen H van as ugly. What an act of vandalism.

What was I thinking all those years ago? The Starcraft was a fibreglass kit which was stuck to the back of a Ford Cortina. I almost bought a kit in my youth……..  My wife stopped me dead in my tracks when she saw one in the flesh. The lower entrance door on early models used to hinge in a very odd way, adding to the displeasure. There is one of these still in use not far from the village. Was it run out of town by a lynch mob?


When I  saw this, my first thoughts were, ” well it would not have lived anyway….”  Part fish, part cyclops. Or is it pure Warthog??  Would you pay vast sums of money to show this much bad taste?

Somebody’s pride and joy, no doubt. This reminds of one of those Caddisfly larvae that you caught between your toes whilst paddling as a child. Still sends shudders through you does it not?

Not so certain about this one. Getting “the golden cut” of proportions right is very difficult when using fibreglass. Just look at the enormous number of horribly distorted Kit Cars available. They may look stunning from one aspect but then when seen from another angle, you almost gag with horror. (My old Cox GTM was like that, sadly.)

My dear departed dad, once bought a truly vile looking, Ford Transit which “sported” (LOL) a fibreglass high top which had an overcab. This stuck out forwards above the bonnet and for all the world looked to be imitating Elvis Presley and his quiff. But worse still, it was much less attractive than Elvis’ own. I begged him not to buy it and regretted driving him over to the seller to buy it. It was actually embarrassing to witness it in use. Like watching a cringe making episode of “The Office.”

ford campervan with quiffimitation quiff

Do you see the similarity?  Here’s another lookalike:


ugly-snobThey do say that dogs look like their owners, so do campervan owners begin to take on the persona of their travel home?

A Trio of Lancashire Delights

26 Jun

Have you ever ordered something to devour and been pleasantly surprised by what arrives at your table? Well, yesterday, we had a surprise trio of events and visits to enterain us, despite an initially, rainy trip North.

Driving through Padiham we stumbled upon the “Padiham on Parade” and Farmers’ Market. A celebration of the 1940s and 50s. The whole town was decked out in Union Jack bunting and crowds covered the pavement.

There were many couples dressed in period, looking very stylish indeed. We decided to return later for a better look around but got engrossed in our other visits and sadly never made it. We did get a good view of events as we drove through.

We have been out and about a lot more recently and had a picnic lunch the day before on a field at Shrewsbury Flea Market. The food on offer at Padiham smelt so much more inviting!

nv200 shrewsbury

Next stop was Gawthorpe Hall near Burnley. A National Trust property, once a hot bed of Civil War Parliamentary intrigue but also a place of superstition. In view of part of Pendle Hill, home to the infamous Pendle witches, it is said that some of them were questioned in the great hall, now the dining room at Gawthorpe before being marched off to their trials at Lancaster, on foot ! One hell of a trek. The Hall was left empty for over 120 years (!) because of worries about death curses from Witches.

Here’s a little dialogue about the Pendle Witches.

Language alert !

There is a large collection of textiles at Gawthorpe and some amazing dresses showing the tiny waists in vogue back then.

Wow ! What a sexy look. Like Marilyn Monroe or a young Brigitte Bardot. Was this dress really worn?

The car park at Gawthorpe was quite small and crowded with cars but that did not stop some motorhomes from being parked up and used for afternoon tea. We had to cram ourselves partially into a large bush to park.

There was a poster on show indicating the hospitality offered or aspired to in the early 1900s. I am going to copy it and display it in the cellar bar to lift the standards!

    and less swearing chaps! Please.

We moved on to Towneley Park where a Classic Car show was in full swing. A massive event with funfair, helicopter rides and mini doughnuts to die for.

There was so much to see. The first thing to catch my eye was this self converted Suzuki Vitara. The interior was dark but appeared to be a small dinette with conversion to a 3/4 bed? The owner was nowhere to be seen and so information was limited. A go anywhere , versatile and novel conversion.

This little motorbike is just one version of the Honda 50, a hugely succesful genre of two wheeled transport. It made me both happy and sad. It was the first motorbike that my characterful old mate ever abused as a teenager. The happy memories of our dangerous activies flooded back.  Sad because he is now quite poorly, his joy of life curtailed.

The rain held off whilst we were out of the ‘van. Altogether a lovely day out. A triple whammy Sunday.

More on the Petrol, Automatic, NV200 Campervan and the latest Euro VI spec Diesel Vivaro

20 Jun

If you don’t want the hassle of self-build and need a well documented, reliable, easy to live with daily drive , the Nissan NV200  has got to be one of the better solutions. Petrol won’t upset your Green neighbours in London (and right to be concerned , I may add) and the luxury of right foot only , Automatic transmission in the City?  Ace !

Is Diesel Dead? I don’t think so. For we rural dwellers with much, much lower density traffic, diesel , under the laws of thermodynamics, offers maximum utilisation of valuable fossil fuels. For the very latest Diesel campervan, the Vivaro is a slightly larger option to rival the traditionally favoured VW Transporters. See how clean the Euro VI spec engines are below. Thanks to Daniel from Sussex Campervans:

Click on related topics below to read more. I make no apologies for pushing these important issues. The future of clean, low impact camping is at stake.

A well thought through , self built NV200 from Liam

19 Jun

Just look what “Sweeper Liam” has done , converting this above into a super compact campervan. Embedded from YouTube

It’s a very novel, innovative conversion and Liam has listed some very useful suppliers. A great job, well done!

Too hot to wash the Campervan

17 Jun

Had a day’s gardening today which turned into a re-hydration session for our scorched lawn. Went to move the ‘van , thinking that a wash wouldn’t go amiss but decided it was simply too hot at 27 deg C to bother. That’s 81 Farenheit for our US readers.

Inside the campervan it was stifling but flick the pop top up and unzip the two side flaps and it instantly cools down, even with only a very slight breeze. Useful for when the sun does actually come out seriously. I thought that an airing would be a good move.

Nothing worse than stifling conditions, especially when travelling in a confined space. I started some research last night on the old (e) English Mail and Stage Coach routes and found an account of an overloaded Coach somewhere in Yorkshire. It was a very wet day and everyone was wearing various overcoats and waterproof cloaks. Hygiene was not too good in the 1750s and it must have been very unpleasant cramming into an uncomfortable horse drawn coach. Most people smoked clay pipes too which would have added to the bad atmosphere.

We live on a relatively minor coaching route, connecting Wrexham ( and Chester ?) to Newcastle-under-Lyme. I have read accounts of very rough , cut up , local roads which were really just packed earth, usually mud laden. Certainly the road outside was dirt until the mid 1800s. One report claims that the writer measured ruts of 4 feet in depth (over a metre deep) and filled with liquid mud. Average speed could be only 1 mph on the worst sections.

Makes you thankful for the air-conditioned, smooth riding of modern vehicles, although I admit to finding the passengers’ stories from the 18th Century quite romantic. I have uncovered accounts of highwaymen and at least one highwaywoman, a Mrs Hues. When caught, with rewards of around £200 , that’s big dosh for the times, they were at best pilloried (where they were stoned, often fatally) or hung as an example. The final words of these vagabonds and cutpurses were published in newspaper form and were sold to the general public who , like now , love a scandal. These newspapers were very popular. Perhaps the first “Blogs” ?

We don’t need the use of coaching inns for an overnight kip. Not when you have a campervan. Back then you would eat big slabs of meat, washed down with Port if you could afford it or “malt” liquor (weak beer) which was usually free. I have evidence of one Inn at nearby Uttoxeter charging a penny for the malt liquor. Tight devils!

Couldn’t manage my recommended stewed steak, new potatoes and veg tonight in this heat, even in a cool Kampa, but a cold beer, a BBQ and then chilled wine sounds about right. You Lucky People ! You never had it so good !

A sunny day’s shopping and a car park lunch

14 Jun

It was street market day. today in one of our favourite Shropshire towns. Taking a day off from pointing the ancient brickwork of our cellar steps, we had a late start and headed off on the A525. The road was diverted just outside our village, possibly some early preparation for the crazy, overpriced HS2  rail improvements?

The weather was perfect. Hot, sunny and calm. I had an old iphone on charge in the campervan on route so that I could get a price for a repair in town. We parked up in the shade of some trees and began loading the ‘van with shopping, making about three trips with heavy bags to and from the nearby market street. I switched on the fridge as we planned to buy some ice cream for a dear friend who is undergoing some surgery on her throat. Luxury medecine ! “Just take some Haagen Das as required ………”

The phone took more time to charge than I thought and our favourite pub had stopped doing it’s popular carvery, so after collecting the now charged phone and dropping it in for one hour repair, we wandered around town for another lap before deciding upon a jacket potato in the shady, cool campervan. I had the gourmet jacket of the day. Welsh lamb , celery, carrot and mint in red wine sauce. We ate in the cab of the Kampa as the habitation section was stuffed with groceries, wine, beer and bottled water.

At one point, an elderly, tall man, returned to his 4 x 4 “lorry”, sorry, SUV and literally stood facing us, watching us eat !  I thought that he was even contemplating coming across to talk to us , as he looked very puzzled for some reason. Perhaps there is a by-law not to consume jacket potatoes in the car park? Or perhaps he had spotted a little gravy on my cheek?

A coffee in Costas followed and a charity shop tour for easy listening CDs, inspired by the wondeful accordion music from a busker in the arcade. Great choice of tunes mate if you read this ! 

Anyway we had a full day in town. A cheap lunch in our comfy cab seats and a bit of gentle excercise walking around a friendly, sunny old  town. Having and enjoying a campervan can be rather like watching an old classic, English comedy show. Not challenging and offering light, escapist relief from disturbing news stories. Nice !

NC500 plan and the midge

11 Jun

Martin reported a bad year envisaged in parts of Scotland with regards to midge population. This stag looks  as if it came off very badly .  Having got the worst of the election news out of the way (????????) and having pulled the plug on my Facebook account for a while due to the constant bad news, we are looking forward to our trip later this year around the NC500 route. Keeping an eye on the midge season before making firm plans though.

Following our recent trip to the East Coast of the USA and having got so close to Canada, I have been looking at New Brunswick , just North of the border with the USA as a possible future holiday destination. Again, there is a midge issue in the National Parks of Canada in particular and a lot of discussion on forums as to whether or not the issue is worse in Canada or Scotland. There does not seem to be a definitive answer though.

Will try to geta few short breaks away as soon as possible. Caravans and campervans are only expensive if they are left sitting about on the driveway ! Ready to get away again!


Another look back

7 Jun

I have been searching for a copy of my late father’s birth certificate to prove my Canadian Citizenship (don’t ask)

Our search of family archives revealed only the death certificate and my line of thought was drawn to some of mum and dad’s old campervans and motorhomes.

My favourite was his Bedford CF pop top which boasted a 2.3 litre slant engine and stick shift automatic box. It was lovely to drive. The interior was very similar to that shown above. Basic, timber, but durable and surprisingly comfortable. My parents took it all over Germany and visited many friends made through the Scouting movement.

We still get visits from a few of them, although the number reduces with time. There were many from Austria and some of these young men went on to work in Hotels in Switzerland.

Compare then with now.

Friendships made through camping often endure. This is us visiting German friends in Duren :

   I wouldn’t like to pay for the petrol for this at today’s prices. LOL.

Tomorrow’s political events would definitely have been a huge talking point for Dad if he were still alive. I wish I could confirm to him, that his predictions would sadly become reality.

Best to look forward and plan for future trips. Making new friends and enjoying the company of old friends. No better way of enjoying life than travelling!

How to enjoy a lazy, wet night in a campervan

6 Jun

First job is to enjoy a hot , easily made meal. My choice could be tinned new potatoes, stewing steak, sliced green beans, marrowfat peas (like mom used to give us as kids !!) and whole, must be !, whole, baby carrots. Five heavenly tins always stashed away somewhere in the “van”

Get the washing up done pretty sharpish. If the weather is really bad, we use disposable plates , cutlery and cups. Wasteful maybe, but it saves massively on time and effort when it’s throwing it down. Then get the atmosphere in the van right.

Get the bed made up. We use a duvet beneath us and either another duvet on top or spacious sleeping bags. Decent pillows are a must have, especially for watching DVDs sitting propped up.

Have something from a still. Spanish brandy or some scotch and a bag of chocs. Why not?

Get the temperature right but plenty of ventilation, especially before your DVD finishes and you want to sleep. Don’t foget to leave the toothbrushes and paste handy and some bottled water for in the night.

   Settle back and watch a few favourite DVDs or other relaxing stuff you have stashed electronically on your wotsit device. My wife never allows loud volume after a certain time, especially if there are others camped nearby. Rightly so ! Too

You don’t have to be outside with a barbeque, beers and cold legs. Aaaaaaaaargh……….. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz !