Archive | December, 2017

A snowy adventure (or two)

29 Dec

We had a planned road trip today. We were going to head for Bakewell in my son’s Fiat 500L and when we heard of the heavy, Peak District,  snowfall in the early hours of this morning we decided to still go ahead. After all, it was not as cold as it was up at Loch Lomond:

Does this Pug look chilly or what !!!!!  Martin had towed his caravan there for a Christmas break. Made of stern stuff, these Scots !

We turned off the main Leek to Buxton road and headed to Crowdecote via Longnor. We made it to Crowdecote but almost all the locals were parked up, still covered in snow and we failed to climb back out of Crowdecote. Oh the shame of it ! But we did press on, making it to Buxton in time for a craft beer Bistro style lunch in front of a log fire.

We fared much better than other nutters out on the moors. A fully laden HGV stopped at the highest point between Leek and Buxton. A parcel delivery van blocking a lane near Crowdecote and a couple of cars following the van too close, preventing any of the 3 from turning around.

We trudged across the snow in Buxton to the 53 Degrees for a tasty lunch.Lots of people were sledging on the hill not far from the market, right in the town centre. Great to see.

This wonderful Bar/Cafe couldn’t have contrasted more with the chilly bleakness of the “Winking Witch” at The Roaches. Great service , great food and a warm welcome.

On the way home, we detoured to The Watt Russel Inn near Illam for another log fire thaw.

A great day out but extending Christmas is not too clever if you are trying to lose weight and on a health kick. Still, great fun and lovely to experience the snow once more.

Merry Christmas

24 Dec

Merry Christmas everyone! Hope that you don’t need your snow chains !

Safe journey to my relatives travelling abroad to see friends and loved ones.

See you all in the New Year !

Some cheap insurance and a bit more maintenance to pay for

20 Dec

We have some winter travels planned and with the weather reports covering their “butts” with forecasts of doom and huge snow deposits, when I saw snow chains on offer at one of our local Lidl stores , I couldn’t resist paying the £9.95p for a pair. It’s cheap insurance really. They look a lot like these Tule chains above but came in a nice plastic storage case like this one:

There is no guarentee that actual road  conditions would allow the use of them and don’t damage the road surface or you could get billed. In nose to tail, full congestion, you would not get far but in some situations that £tenner may get you onto a layby, side road or other place of safety to get the pop top up, the heater on and a kettle set to whistle a hot coffee tune.

In Europe , signs go up when chains are permitted and compulsory. They are an alternative to snow tyres. The kampa is poor , traction wise in muddy or snowy conditions. Economically running tyres are not the best for snow.

They definitely look as if a demo practice fitment is needed in a spare moment. Reading the instructions in the dark, in snow isn;t advisable for a first trial. So planning on that before we make a big move.

Oh yes, that cosy heater. The self diagnostics on the Propex thermostat is showing a low leisure battery. Well it is almost 5 years old and it has done well. The green built in, battery condition indicator is still showing “green” but it needs a proper check. By the time an amber indication is showing, the voltage can be way down on what “captain propex” requires. Looks like a replacement is due. Wouldn’t want to be without a couple of kilowatts of blown air in that snow drift now would we?

30 mph maximum with snow chains but even that can be a brave speed if you want to keep your body panels in shape.


LPG top up and a beautiful model at my door

12 Dec

I tried to start the blown air heating on the Kampa to defrost and pre-warm it for my sensitive, ageing, body but it “wo-go”. So today I headed for a nearby Shell garage for a refill of Autogas.

The gauge indicated that we were about a quarter of the way into the amber zone. The weather was VERY cold, possibly down to – 5 deg C. With the gas so low, it was likely that there was insufficient “gassing” pressure to fire up the burner and satisfy the sensors on the Propex heater unit.

The plastic cover on the body mounted filler point on the rear offside wing would not come out of it’s recess. A ring of ice had formed on the plastic and it would rotate but not pull out. Eventually I got the little plastic devil  free and filled up with LPG. Ice can be very strong !!!!

It took 7 litres and cost £5.30p.The Gaslow cylinder is the medium, 6 Kg version so the physics does work out about right for the 80% cut off auto fill. Shell is not the cheapest supplier but we use so little LPG for heating/cooking that it’s not a big issue of cost. It is just so convenient to be able to top up, 24/7 at the garages selling Autogas. The refill brought the gauge level right back up to the safe, full, limit. Back home, the heater soon fired up correctly and we had restored the defrost function and avoidance of ” neshness”. ( Nesh is sensitivity to something trivial, like excess cold , damp or mild discomfort.)

And what about that beautiful model at my door, mentioned in the title of this post ?……………………..

No, not this one, although I still find her very beautiful after well over four decades. No, this one:

My pretty little model Fiat R470 Pilote arrived, all the way from Italy this morning. Extremely well packaged and looking even better in it’s  die-cast and plastic, 1/43 scale  reality. It really is “nice”, for want of a better word. I was so cheered up by this that I put up the Christmas lights overlooking the pool. (Mainly for the benefit of the good folk living on the other side of the pool , but hey, I am a socially aware type of person.

Looking forward to a pre-warmed trip to the outdoor market tomorrow. What a “sad” little person I am becoming. So easily pleased………………… LOL

Caledonian Campers, Clydebank. VW Caddy

11 Dec

I just love this VW Caddy conversion from Caledonian Campervans of Clydebank, Glasgow. Sent in by, (you guessed it ! Martin) , it screams Scotland to me, with that rampant Lion and dark , classy, tartan trim. When I think of Glasgow, I think of talented Marine Engineers, a strong work ethic and gritty determination. The strong, dark richness of this lovely campervan emphasises all that for me.

There’s quite a bit of LED style which adds to the atmosphere. The familiarity in many ways with our own “Nevada” eases the way when thinking of a replacement campervan ( dare I even think it????).

Caledonian Campers and Conversions are at 582 Glasgow Road, Clydebank G81 and they have a website well worth a look.    see

(This post is in memory of Murdoch)

murdymurdy tractor

(Daz, this is how Pascal should have received his farewell) What a magnificent send off.


Let it Snow……………..

10 Dec

The weather report was actually close to the truth for once (see the post below) and we have indeed had overnight snow. It looks beautiful.

Realised yesterday that I need to refill the Gaslow LPG as it has dropped to the point where it’s not “gassing” enough at very low temperatures to supply the blown air heating. It’s ages since I last topped up but remember this happening previously.

The snow is a bit “wet” and vehicles are dispersing it on the road surface. Not sure if it’s my imagination but the geese on the pool look a little nervous seeing the snow. Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat………..

Got lots of logs in before the snow, last night. The log store was covered over this morning, much to the cat’s delight. Not sure whether or not we can venture out to an antiques fair later? Will watch the coverage and decide later. If not, it’s a traditional Sunday lunch day, methinks…………….. The LPG can await a while longer.

Another fulfilling week in London

9 Dec

With my son in law again in West Coast USA., we are just back from another rewarding , heart warming, week in London with some of our family. A grandaughter , aged nearly 3 years but with conversation of a 12 year old and a gentle giant of a grandson, aged around 10 weeks or so , but the same weight as my weight loss (which is significant !) , we have had a wonderful, tiring , but totally engrossing seven days or so, trying desperately to take the pressure off my dedicated daughter. I can highly recommend spending some family time with your loved ones at any time of the year, not just Christmas. It’s not a dress rehearsal you know……..

Despite closure of the M4 and an accident on the M1 (our alternative route) we made great time coming home before the snow hits tonight. We collected El Pussy Cat a day early to avoid a short but possibly tricky snowy trip to pick him up on Sunday.

He was completely rested. Sleeping under an infra-red lamp when we picked him up. Obviously kept in overnight for over a week, we hope that we continue his diurnal pattern as he became nocturnal when we last away for a week. This manifested as a 2 hourly trip downstairs to allow him in and check that he was not carrying a live rat into Chateau Dinkum. To ignore him  resulted in noisy, and I mean NOISY tapping at the window from the flower box and/or SCRATCHING and door banging. In a quiet village, this can sound like Attila the Hun….. Angry ! We shall see.

Talking of Attila the Hun. We again saw appalling ” driving” , if that is the word for transferring your lounge onto the motorway and behaving as if you are asleep at the wheel. What on Earth has happened to standards? We saw 2 children, less than 12 years old in the back of an “S” reg big Jaguar , without seat belts or booster seats, being driven by a very relaxed Grandpa ( excuse the language but I would call him a dickhead) at 70 mph, changing lanes with no signals etc etc etc. I turn into Attila the Hun. What is wrong with these people? texting at the wheel:

Texting and talking while driving, hands of young man on steering wheel

Oh dear ! Rant over. But yet again, a journey of appallingly bad driving standards. Still, don’t let it marr a beautiful Family week. Walking in the Park. Fairy stories. Watching Sharks from a glass tunnel on YouTube. Pretending to be a Bear whilst cooking Salmon and driving to Sainsburys for forgotten groceries. I cannot wait to take my grandkids away in the Kampa and caravan. It will add yet another dimension to this short life. Enjoy it whilst you can ! LOL

Virtual reality camping

6 Dec

On our travels we have found many model caravans and cars that jog my memories. Some have been picked up for just a few pounds. Others have cost a little more, but they come from the sparce end of supply. Most of the models that I collect are scaled at 1;43 but I have a few which are bigger. This Predom N126 is from Poland and is as close as you can buy to a model Freedom Microlite. Another caravan which we once owned but now have as a virtual reality reminder is the Sprite Musketeer from Tekno. These can be very expensive in good condition. I matched it with a model of our old Audi Coupe GT which took us all as a young family all over France in the mid 1980s.

I have even bought a model of my brother’s TAB, which I know he has fond memories of. We last camped alongside it at Crich in Derbyshire.

Sometimes you can buy a desired model caravan ,cheaper,  as part of a “car” and caravan combo. We got a little tear drop caravan this way. The TAB had already been removed from it’s tow vehicle and was marked up at a slight premium. Motorhomes are somewhat harder to come by. I could not resist this Fiat Ducato based Pilote recently. It’s still en-route from the seller in Italy.

Here it is at the forefront of other models in a series. I think that may have been sold in mainland Europe as part of a magazine type collection, bought monthly. The model has a bike on the back, reminiscent of hundreds of real motorhomes seen each year at the Tour de France. It also reminds me of our old Talbot Excalibur.

Being a complete anorak with unhealthy child like tendencies remaining in big doses, I think that this Pilote, rare in the UK., will look just fine as part of a model Tour de France diorama. I am not able to show a photo of it right now, but will pop one onto the Blog once it’s completed.

Decent models of the NV200., Combi and /or Evalia are difficult to find in the UK. There is a white van version available now and again, sourced in Japan. Chinese versions have far too heavy paintwork which spoils the scale and detail. Would like to re-vamp one into a replica of the Kampa. It’s got to be done at some stage. must dig out all my modelling tools. Sad or fun ? You decide. LOL

Here are one example of a White Evalia and one NV200 van in white.

nissan evalia wht

nissan nv200 fr wht

It would probably be simpler to “convert” the van into a replica Kampa but maybe the Evalia is a better model? Mmmmmmmm……………..

Time for contemplation

5 Dec

It’s that time of year, when you find time to look back over the last year and look forward to the fresh clean sheet of next year’s plans.

2017 was disrupted (in a very pleasant way !) by a 3 week trip to the USA in May. This took a large chunk out of our leisure budget but we still managed some time away in Wales. We visited lots of National Trust and English Heritage properties along with our inevitable Antiques centre days out. The kampa has performed very well despite a large bill to replace a sheared air inlet pipe and a mass air flow sensor (which did not really need replacement). Otherwise, totally reliable and building a huge sense of “trust” in the entire package.

It has been a year of “day vanning” with a few overnight stopovers but crammed with Castles, interesting Welsh and English towns and repeated family visits to London. Next year looks ambitious before we even start !

Having thoroughly enjoyed two trips to Scotland ,previously, including Loch Goyle and Skye , the NC500 is again on the cards. The seaside is also calling with Cornwall and Anglesey high on the wish list. We have not visited our beloved France for far too long and a trip to Lac de Maine , Angers has to be a must. So we have much to budget for and I enjoy the planning so much. Before Christmas, I shall get the timing and auxilliary belts changed in preparation. The rust proofing will have to wait! Now, where’s my pen and planning pad?