Sunday, 10 June 2018

Not all fun & laughter!

Originally we booked for a Friday to Friday stay, as did friends Mike & Jan, but sadly the passing of a very dear friend of our ours (Gilly Watkins) and a much thought of Aunty of Mikes, meant we had to  amend our stays. Added to that, Wifeys Brother was getting married in Cockington on the 31st of July. It is fair to say that this wedding didnt meet with the approval of his family, but not a story to unravel here! We did go to watch their arrival & departure which was in a Pony & Trap, the groom being of Scottish blood wore a kilt of course! An anecdotal story on the same theme, was whilst attending a rally at which B-I-Law was flying the Scottish Flag (The Saltire) had an enquiry made of him as to why he was flying said flag, and on hearing the response made the comment that "B-I-Law had the strongest sounding West Country accent of any Jock he had ever previously encountered"!!! Weather was "iffy" on arrival but improved as the week unfolded. The Torbay Air Display was on, so we took Mike & Jan to Stoke St Gabriel and had lunch, and then on to Broad sands to watch the Red Arrows perform, who were at their usual best. A boat trip the following day from Totness to Dartmouth proved equally relaxing with tranquil scenes unfolding at every bend. A bleary eyed Jan appeared next morning to inform us that neither had much sleep as their car alarm went off THREE times in the early hours of the morning (bet the neighbours were chuffed) which they believe was caused by a moth that had become trapped inside their car! On our arrival back home, three days ahead of them, we received a text from them both saying that a foul smell had aroused their concern only to discover it was coming from their battery which required replacing.  

Friday, 4 May 2018

Dornafield, so much more than a field!

The first trip of the summer was only a four night stay mostly to ensure everything was in working order following "winterisation". Despite the van leaving our drive in March, the van was looking a tad delapidated. In typical "Dick Strawbridge" mode i.e. armed with appropriate tools I set about the task of setting up for the first time with some vigour. No awning to erect as too short a stay. Everything went fine initially unil connecting the water. I dont know if anyone suffers from the same frustration as I do with the pump "curling" at the bottom of the water butt leaving it not fully immersed, but you wont be surprised to learn that it drives me crazy! We had emptied the water tank in the van over winter, and consequently that resulted in it taking a lot longer to fill. I am not the most patient man and after 20 minutes the caravan tank still wasnt full as no water was coming out of taps. Inevitably after "fidlling" around trying to fully immerse the pump, part of the the little plastic ballcock in the water butt came detached and sank to the bottom of the barrel. After numerous attempts with whatever "long stuff" I could find to try and recover the "bit" from the bottom, it soon became clear that a plan B was required. Empty the barrel of water and start again, which I did and recovered offending plastic bit. The same thing happened again and I had to repeat the whole frustrtating process to recover the "bit" yet again, aarrggh. We eventually got it working & hot water was soon available. Although the weather was cold, it remained dry & sunny with only rain through the evening of day 2 and into morning of day 3. Lunch for one day at Cockington Manor, wedding venue of B-I-Law at end of May, and great fish & chip supper in Brixham. Excellent dog exercise field which pooch Molly thoroughly enjoyed and who was always exhausted at the end of every day.   

Friday, 27 April 2018

Back on line!

My first full day of retirement has reinvigerated my desire to recommence my blog. After 53 "arduous" (that will make a few prople smile) years of work, it is time to hang up my boots and take advantage of my garden and caravan. Last year (2017) we kept the van in Bude (Wooda) for the season and the year before in St Mawes (Trethem Mill) quite simply to avoid the hassle of towing, or more accurately put, to avoid the stress of moving off & on my drive becuase of the haphazard parking of cars in the street, making it difficult to manouvre. Keeping the van on site in summer storage has its advantages & disadvantages. Not towing, having the van in situ on arrival, is far more pleasurable when you have a dodgy kneee, greatly reducing the need to bend considerably! However, having it in the same place somewhat restricts the adventures of discovering new places to visit, but I will bring you up to date on such outings in later blogs. Trethem Mills is worthy of all its 5 star rating, BUT, it has without doubt one of the most challenging approaches to its entrance of any thus far I have encountered. The problem is about 50 yards short of the entrance there is a narrow gap with a wall of rock either side. Add to that fact  I was towing for the first time in an automatic (Kia Sorento) my new car. Acceleration was required as it is on an incline, & I misjudged the approach and damaged the "skirt" at the bottom of the van. To be honest I was  more dissapointed in not having succesfully negotiated the problem than the damage to the van, which was patched up with duck tape. Of course if I had changed to manual it would never have happened as I would have been travelling at an appropriate speed to negotiate successfully. This year we have moved the van to Newton Abbot (Dornafield) again for summer storage, and our first trip is planned for a short 4 day stay commencing Monday, and the weather of course is looking miserable after a great end to last week with emperatures in high 20's, typical. Will bring you up to date with our 2016 & 2017 tales of woe along with all the latest to come!!

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Thursday, 4 July 2013

My interview on Radio Bristol

In June I had the pleasure of meeting up with Steve Yabsley from Radio Bristol. Click on the picture to hear how the interview went.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

The Old Oak’s Touring Park Glastonbury

 10th – 13th September 2012 

We had made a decision to have one last outing before returning the van to our front drive for the winter. Having enjoyed a trouble free very wet summer experience of hitching and unhitching at the storage site, I was having sleepless nights at the thought of having to unhitch in the street and place on our difficult to access drive, for its storage for winter. Friends visited us at Old Oaks when we first went there in 2007 and asked us if it was the best site we had stayed, and at the time my response was that it certainly was one of the best. Having stayed for a second time, we now have to say that in both our opinion’s it is the best site visited in our 6 years of touring. Wifey had decided to modernise our kitchen just prior to visiting Glastonbury, and the work hadn’t been completed at the time of our departure i.e. the sink “couldn’t” be connected to the waste pipe because an electrical switch had to be moved. This prevented us from tipping waste water down the sink, which is quite a difficult action to stop when you have been doing it all your life! A very enjoyable few days away was followed by problem one on our departure, a lorry straddling the junction at which I wished to turn right. The lorry was blocking half the road at the junction, making a right turn an extremely difficult manoeuvre, especially for one so inexperienced. I was happy to wait for the vehicle to move but it became clear that wasn’t going to happen for a while, so I HAD to make the turn, and a very harrowing experience it was too!! Arriving home, my son had “thankfully” and as planned parked his car preventing others from blocking our drive. We unhitched, connected motor mover and pressed forward, NOTHING! The battery was knackered and had been drained of power and water, so re charging wasn’t an option! We tried everything, even connecting power from our home to the van, but nothing worked. The last remaining option was to re-connect the car to the van and reverse it on to the drive!!! Reversing a van is the most challenging of manoeuvres on a site, but in a road with restricted turning it was ten times worse. But with a lot of arm waving directions from my son I achieved the same after a mere two attempts. Winning gold at the Olympics is nothing compared to the satisfaction I felt after achieving what I believed to be the impossible! A few overhanging plants were flattened in the process but no damage was sustained to either car or van!!!

Hidden Valley Ilfracombe

21st – 28th July 2012

No, it's not in here.
The journey was trouble free and we had chosen one of the best weeks for weather of the whole year! We had booked a “large” pitch and were somewhat surprised when escorted to a pitch that could have been described as anything but large! We were offered a larger pitch on the lower site, reserved mostly for tents, and which more than compensated for our initial disappointment. A horsefly bite on my arm caused me some discomfort whilst putting up the awning and generally setting up. The staff were very friendly & helpful and the site beautifully landscaped. Large pot holes caused by the very wet summer were problematic but were being repaired whilst on site. The van behaved very satisfactory and an enjoyable week was experienced. Wise words offered by our son as to disconnecting the battery whilst the van was kept in storage throughout the summer were not heeded, and his predictions were about to come true on our last outing to Glastonbury in September.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Broadway 26th May 2012

We awoke to glorious sunshine, and what a difference it made to our previous outing to Winchester and Yetheridge in the wet, wind and mud up to the caravan door! Our journey was "almost" uneventful other than what appeared to be a gaping hole in the side of the van when pitching on site. It transpired that one of the two fridge vents on the side of the van had disappeared in transit. We phoned a very helpful man at Cotswold Edge Leisure on the Evesham Road who informed us he had a replacement in stock. The first thing he enquired was "had we had the caravan serviced recently?" to which we confirmed that we had. Then he said "I suspect that when they removed the vent to access the fridge they forgot to lock it back in place with the two little black clips that have to be unlocked before it can be removed"! Trying to prove that to Davans might be difficult, but as with all new devices nowadays we had to purchase the whole unit (£35.95) when all we wanted was the front vent part. It didnt spoil our week with visits to Stratford (lunch outside Willies house!)  Bourton on Water (picnic on the green by the water) Tewkesbury Evesham etc. Sudely Castle, Broadway Tower and other sites of interest, in between the wonderful spell of weather, with everyone complaining that it was too hot! Temperatures did reach 29c. An overturned HGV on the M5 blocking lane 1 on our return did add 30minutes to our journey, but all in all a great week away.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

New to Flickr!

Click on the Flickr logo to take a look at a few caravan pictures here

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Purchase of our first van in 2006 Part One

Fleetwood Clochester/Honda CRV
I had started to record events from the purchase of our first van back in 2006 and now record them to my blog ...

My wife had talked me into some silly and extravagant purchases in my life, but never one that was less thought out than buying our very first caravan. We had been "looking" around for some time and were eventually drawn to a Fleetwood Colchester, mostly because it had fixed twin beds. We actually proceeded with the purchase though neither car we owned had tow bars fitted AND we had nowhere to keep it! Amazingly, on regaling this story to a colleague at work, he stated that he had done exactly the same thing two years previously, so that made me feel a tad better. To say that the following week nearly sent me over the top with cold sweats and sleepless nights would be no exageration. The prospect of towing filled me with dread, Part exchanging my then current car to a Honda CRV proved a wise decision, as it was the right car for the job. And so we entered blissfully into the world of caravaning & one that would bring with it just about every imaganable positive and negative emotion that anyone would wish to experience!!!