Monday, 4 June 2012

Away on a jolly!

For a change we decided to go off in the van for a small holiday over the Jubilee weekend as a change from only using it to go to shows where we were working all the time. We went up to Colliford Lake where we booked a site with the idea of doing some fishing. And it was my birthday on the Saturday June 2nd and we could have a meal in the restaurant on site. We couldn't get a hookup but we weren't too bothered as we had the auxiliary battery to get light by and we cook and heat water by gas. The first night was good and after Graeme cooked dinner we went down to the pub/restaurant to see what it was like. It was a karaoke evening! I shall say no more! What we did find out was that there was no access to the lake from the camp site which was a blow. 
The next day we walked to St Neot's which I thought was about two and a half miles. It turned out to be nearly five miles and I ended up walking nearly ten miles!!! St Neot's has a lovely church with some lovely old gravestones. Being the Jubilee weekend there were flags everywhere. 
We passed various car parks giving access to the lake but in the event we didn't do any fishing. On the Sunday we went to Lanhydrock which is a large country house just outside of Bodmin. The weather was atrocious! Rain, mist and more rain! 

Then today we came home via Inness  which is a private fishing lake. Graeme caught two trout of a good size. I took loads of pictures. The sun shone and it was a good day. So all in all a lovely relaxing weekend! And the van behaved itself the whole time! 

Tuesday, 22 May 2012


We had an uneventful journey to Malvern for the Quilts UK show at the Three Counties Show-ground. The van behaved itself and motored really well. The roof ventilator is staying put even though it is still only held on with gaffer tape! The weather was good on the journey up though the rain came on the second day. We were lucky as we could camp on site and had water to hand and hook ups which meant we could use the electricity. We had quite a load on board as we had made our own quilt stands and with four metal feet and four hefty eight foot poles they weren't lightweight. However the van behaved well and we travelled at a sedate 60 miles per hour sometimes even getting up to 70! It even went up the hills without grumbling! 

We were able to sit outside on the first evening and enjoy the sun. The sky was blue and all was peaceful. The next day it poured with rain!

On the way home we heard a few ominous creaks from the ventilators. Not just the back one but also the one in the middle. So this is a job we must do before our next show which is Sandown in the middle of June. 


Friday, 6 April 2012

Exeter Quilt Show!

We were really fortunate with the weather at Exeter. It was warm and sunny and we were able to sit outside the van and enjoy the sunshine once we'd set up the stand. We saw two buzzard type birds overhead and loads of rabbits. Also at night we heard foxes and in the morning there was the sound of a peacock in the distance. Not the most salubrious of parks but in the country! 

As can be seen from the photo below we weren't too far from the exhibition centre but far enough away that we were on our own and had fields and woods around us. 

The weather has been very dry and so this pond was dried up and muddy whereas in other years it has been a beautiful spot with wild irises. 

We followed the nature trail and had a most enjoyable walk each evening after the show. It was good to get out into the fresh air and see the sun! 

And when the sun went down we retired to the van and then to bed! Surprisingly we both slept exceptionally well! All that walking and hard work in the stand no doubt! We are very pleased with the van and so far everything is working well. Apart from the little reading lights over the bed! But that is a minor problem!  Malvern is next in the middle of May!

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Exeter on the horizon!

Well a week today and we will be on our way to a quilt show at Westpoint, Exeter. It is only about 100 miles from where we live so is not a long journey. We won't have to leave at the crack of dawn and will be able to take it easy on the journey; maybe even stopping for a cup of coffee! Ooh such luxury!

So a week in which to get things ready. There is already a panic on getting things finished to sell. There shouldn't be a panic on getting the van ready as most of the things we need are still in situ after Ardingly. We have repaired the things that needed repairing though we have done a Heath Robinson mend on the roof light as it was too complicated to take the module off completely and replace. We will do this sometime but not now! The guy is coming to sort out the water filler tomorrow so we should be able to fill up the water tank without difficulty. Talking to other mobile home owners they don't lock their water inlet so we won't either and then this problem won't occur in the future. I can't see this being a problem! As we don't know where we will be able to fill up we are going to travel with water in the tank. Not full but some. I know that one is advised to empty the tank before travelling to make the journey more economical on fuel but in view of the fact that we may not be able to fill up on the first day it seems sensible to have some water on board and after all it isn't an epic journey!

When the weather gets warmer we are going to have it oil sprayed underneath to help protect it. I've always done this with my cars and it has prolonged their lives before they start rusting up! It seems like a good idea!

So this weekend I shall go through the cupboards and see what is needed in the way of sustenance and start making lists! I love lists!

Friday, 10 February 2012

Ardingly and Back!

We set off at 6.0am on the Thursday morning in the dark and I had to get used to finding the light switches and other things like the heater and radio. We made good time to Exeter by which time it was getting light and we were only an extra half hour on the journey which was good going. I found that the van handled well and I was even able to overtake going up hill! Mind you the lorry I was overtaking was slowing down by the second as it struggled upwards! We left the good roads after Exeter and took the road to Honiton and then on to Dorchester. We were still making good time though the weather had become wet and misty. Just after Dorchester we were over taken by a small car which then slowed down in front of us. So I had a wee moan about that and wondered why he's bothered to overtake. Then I noticed he was waving and holding something up as I overtook him so I stopped and sent Graeme back to see what he wanted. It only turned out that we had lost our back ventilation cover from the roof of the van. What a kind man to pick it up and then bring it to us. I mentally castigated myself for having uncharitable thoughts towards him earlier! That was a bummer though as it was raining and we didn't want a flood in the shower compartment where we had boxes of fabric stashed. We pulled the blind over the open hole and hoped for the best! The fixings looked so fragile that I am amazed they stayed on so long! Must check the other two! The journey then continued without further incident other than worry of flood! I must say I am impressed with the way the van handles and find it a pleasure to drive. 
We arrived in very good time. Three hundred miles in seven hours. Not bad going! We stopped just before we reached the show ground and filled up with diesal and got some 'gaffer' tape for mending the roof.  By the time we had finished setting up the stand and got everything under control it was dark and I was exhausted. There were no hoses to fill the water tank so Graeme had to manually fill our two gallon jerry can and empty it in by hand. But the gas worked a treat and the inside was soon toasty warm. We found the cooking facilities good and we eventually retired to bed tired but happy! 

However the next day when we needed to re-plenish the water tank we found that the lock on the water opening wouldn't work! Most annoying as it meant that now Graeme had to fill the tank from inside the van! Arduous to say the least! And it was bitterly cold! Also the small lights over the table/bed wouldn't work which was a pain! But the shower was good. There was lots of hot water and we were only a step away from the show entrance. 
That night we walked down to the local pub come restaurant and had a drink and then meandered back. The next day several folk were complaining of upset tums and blaming the restaurant! More of that later! Graeme put more gaffer tape on the roof cover and we survived the frosty nights. 

We left to come home on the Sunday evening and eventually arrived back at 12.30. Not a bad run considering that we'd had to take a detour. On our journey up I'd noticed that several of the roads were due to be closed for repairs on the Sunday evening! So we came home via Andover and the 303. A bit longer and twistier roads and we had snow over the Black Down hills in Dorset and over Dartmoor but fortunately for us the gritters had been out and I didn't feel anxious about the van sliding around! Though I did slow down! The snow did look lovely on the verges and in the fields by the light of the moon! 

The gaffer tape held up well and now needs to be sorted. Unfortunately when we got home I succumbed to what I now know was the norovirus or winter vomiting disease! Not fun! This is obviously what everyone had at the show and the germs were spread around by the hot air system which was right by our stand! I am only now recovering and feel a shadow of my former self! There is a lot to be done on the van but each time we use it we find out more about it. It drives well and I have no complaints. It is warm and cosy but too many things don't work or don't work properly and it needs things mending such as the roof light. But on the whole it is good. Exeter is the next big outing! By then the weather should be improving! 

I was going to take loads of photos but somehow or other time got in the way! Next time! 

Wednesday, 25 January 2012


At the crack of dawn tomorrow we are leaving for Ardingly where we are exhibiting at the Spring Quilt show. This is a new venue for us and a long trip in the van. Nearly 298 miles from door to door. The longest trip we have done so far is about twelve miles! So an experience!

Graeme has been getting everything ready. The van is packed; we've sorted out the gas problem; the fridge is cold; the food is in; the electricity has been made to work in the lights and all in all everything should be tickety boo! It was a bit of a challenge working out where to put all the boxes of fabric and stuff so that they didn't roll around as we travelled but I think we have it sussed. I was very organised and made lists of food, clothes, stuff to sell and stuff we'd need at the show such as curtains for the stand.

So at around 6 tomorrow morning we will be off. I will write about our experiences and include photos on our return.

Wagons roll......well eventually!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Our first trip away!

We decided to spend the night at Stithians reservoir as we were going to be there the next morning helping to clear brambles and stuff from the footpaths. This was a working party organised by CAST fishing club of which I am the Vice Chairman! Before I met Graeme I wouldn't have known how to go about catching fish but now I am actually the Vice Chairman! Amazing! :-)

We arrived in the middle of the afternoon not wanting to have to set up camp in the dark. It was very windy and the guy in reception suggested we park face on into the wind. I'm glad he said this as the wind got stronger and developed into a full gale. The van rocked but not as badly as if we had been side on.  We hooked up the electricity and gingerly plugged in the electric hotplate. The electrician who came and sorted out our previous problems had said it would be alright but I was still anxious. However it worked and we were able to make coffee after a while. I'd forgotten how long electricity takes! But coffee and cake was very acceptable!  We then found that the two lights over the dining table didn't work. Problem number one to be sorted at a later date.  

It was exciting getting dinner and very cosy with the heater working and subdued lighting from a small lantern we had bought earlier in case the leisure battery gave up! We were into trying all our equipment! The water heating was brilliant and the shower was ace. Really powerful though not able to really enjoy it as were saving water so showers were quick! Unfortunately the loo flush didn't work but we were able to get round that with jugs of water. But that is problem number two to sort out!   

The view of the lake was exciting as with the gale force winds waves had been whipped up and we might just as well have been at sea!

Before it got dark we went for a walk round the lake which was exhilarating and very cold!

We were toasty warm in bed and it was lovely looking at the stars through the window. The van rocked in the wind and I did wonder whether we would blow over but all was well. Up early the next morning and managed to get a good breakfast. I had porage but Graeme had bacon and egg! And then we were off to do battle with the undergrowth! 

A lot of things to sort out before we go to Ardingly in ten days time. Most important is to access the gas! But it is certainly fun living like this. But would I want to do it full time?