Sunday, 24 July 2011

Last minute holiday prep

So, it was Spinneys on Friday.They looked at the fridge burner and fitted a draught deflector cos evidently the burner's right behind the lower outside vent; so the slightest draught could blow it out.They glued the fridge "salad tray"; seems ok. They put a longer length of pipe below the shower drain, with a bit of a dip in it, in an effort to stop waste water backing up into there; we'll see if it works. They reckon they'll have to remove the cooker to sort out the rivets and need more time to look at the wiring for the waste tank warning. No problem. They didn't have a lot of time and I'm happy for these bits to be sorted with the habitation service in Sept/Oct.

While we wre waiting we had a bit of fun persuading a couple in the sales area that what they really needed was an A/S Warwick. They seemed to take our tips in good heart. Or, if they didn't, they didn't let on!

Yesterday I checked the tyre pressures and found the front o/s down quite a bit. Topped 'em all up and checked the front o/s this morning again - gone down again! So, off we go to Kwik Fit in Glossop.
"No, can't do that mate, cos we don't have torque settings for van wheels so we can't take it off"
"I'll take it off then."
"Sorry, can't let you do that on our car park ... We can look at a loose wheel though, if you bring it in off the van."
Drive round the corner to Autoden, our favourite car accessory shop. Buy a vanity mirror for the passenger visor and ask if it's ok to take the wheel off outside their shop.
"No problem."
Remove wheel, roll it round to Kwik Fit, who, in double quick time, identify a leaking valve, replace it, rebalance the wheel and say, "No charge".
Down to Tesco for last minute shopping and return with a tenner for our friend at Kwik Fit. To be fair, these lads don't make the rules. They work for a big company with an unhealthy approach to health and safety. What if I'd found a flat tyre on the van while it was in their car park?
Anyoldhow, at least I found out about the slowly leaking valve before we hit the motorway down to Dover! Not only that, but now Chrissie can check out her limitless beauty from the passenger seat whilst travelling.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

You can see our house from up here

Today I decided, for the first time, to get up on the van's roof to give it a good clean. I do use one of those long brushes to do this from a step ladder every so often but I wanted to get to those nooks and crannies, including around the vents, where dirt acccumulates. I'm not good with heights but, aided by Chrissie's steadying hands on a ladder, I managed the job quite successfully. I restricted myself to kneeling so as to spread my weight and, hopefully, not dent the roof panels.

We have a few minor problems so the van's going to Spinney's next Friday afternoon.
Firstly, when running on gas the fridge burner keeps going out. It seems to happen at least once in a weekend. You can see the orange light flashing as it tries to reignite but you can only get it to work by switching it off then on again - just like a computer! A post on motorhomefacts suggests it may just be dust on the burner.

Next we a have a rattle on the cooker which, after lots of investigation, I found is caused by two rivets which should, but don't, hold the grill reflector in place. A bit of sloppy assembly by Thetford it would seem. I currently have half a clothes peg wedged in there to stop it rattling, but I did once light the grill before removing it. What's that burning smell?

Some time ago I found the cause of the water leak in the washroom. Water with coffee grounds in it revealed that it is, in fact, water from the waste tank coming in through the two plugholes in the shower tray as we're driving. We get round this by always emptying the tank before driving off from a site, but it can be a nuisance when wild camping.

Lastly, a broken lug on the plastic box in the bottom of the fridge means the lid doesn't open and close properly.

I'm taking the van in at 2pm, the only slot they have available and this is just four days before we're off to France again. I've said that the priority is the fridge burner. Don't really expect them to deal with the other, less important issues. The van will be due for a habitation service in September anyway. Let's see how they do.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Does my bum look big in this?

Time on my hands today, so I added some press studs to the rear window curtains to stop them gaping. Really don’t want anyone passing to see us in, as Ian Dury said, “…the naughty, naked nude.” I think I noticed this had been done by A/S on a later van.

I put ‘em on both sides of the curtains/door.

Will I ever run out of modifications? Don’t answer that.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Have tags, will travel! Part two!

While lazing on the moors near Malham, we picked up a message on our home answering service. The dogs' pet passports were ready!

So our pups now have their very own passports.

Tilly is so excited, as you can see.

And Dixie is simply beside herself at the thought of transcontinental travel!

By the way, we only allow dogs on the furniture on special occasions. And if you believe that ... you'll believe anything!

Of course, those of you paying close attention to the news of late will know that the powers that be have decided to relax the rules for pet passports ... from next January (2012). There'll no longer be the 6 month for the passports to allow re-entry to the UK (only 21 days instead) and no need for a £90 blood test for the rabies jabs. We've just forked out for two of these. Oh well!

A Dales weekend

Chrissie had no teaching on Friday so after a quick turnround - Tilly and I only got back from our few days over in the East Riding on Thursday - we were off on a journey up to Malham and the Dales again. We had a quick Macdonalds lunch, fuelled up with Shell V Power diesel and hit the motorway. By 4 oclock we were set up, under a brooding moorland sky, in this beautiful location close to Malham Tarn.

The scenery in these parts is typified by this pic showing the white limestone drystone walls.

While the atmosphere in the van was typified by this scene of a hangdog lab doing her best Snoopy inpression. "When do I get a flippin' walk?"

In the morning, C&D set off over Fountains Fell for one of the legs on the Pennine Way they'd been forced to miss earlier in the Spring. Tilly and I washed up from breakfast then wound a lazy route over single track roads to Horton-in-Ribblesdale. On arrival, we found more cars than I've ever seen in the village. Turned out there was a charity walk on. I'm never sure about the validity of these events. Why, as a society, can't we support charities without the need for hundreds of people descending on one small honeypot in the countryside? I'm probably wrong but there have to be better ways. Anyoldhow, we eventually found a parking space up a quiet, dead end road on the outskirts of the village. After packing a quick lunch we made for the summit of Pen Y Ghent, hoping to meet up with C&D. The route was much too busy for my liking but, nevertheless, we made the top in good time and settled down for a rest to await the travellers. Once we'd met up we reversed our route back down to Horton, pausing for a look back at the imposing hill.

We had a good view of this waterfall, which crashed into the pool below before meandering a short way down the valley only to disappear into one of the many subterrainean chambers which form part of the extensive cave system in this area of the Dales.

Before returning to the van, I discovered what happens when you stare like a fool at the front of your camera to watch the lens cover close as you hit the power button ... but you press the shutter release instead.

What a berk!

We passed a quiet evening and night on the aforementioned lane in Horton. Next morning Chrissie woke with a bad migraine, so her planned route to Hawes was off. Thirteen miles with a headache's no fun. Instead, we took the dogs for a short walk up the track near Helwith Bridge then meandered slowly back home.

This was likely to be our last van outing before the Pyrenees in just a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

North York Moors and the Howardian Hills

So I just felt like a few days of peace and quiet with my dog. And here we are for our first night, in a gorgeous location on the North York Moors.

Next day I planned to drive further for a walk, but realised that during the day this was quite a busy little car park so I felt happy leaving the van here. Tilly and I walked down into Rosedale, along a sleepy track and back up again onto the ridge. These few days have been quite a heatwave and it's been a little warm for Tilly. Sometimes her tongue's not long enough.

With temperatures hovering around 25 degrees I realised long moorland walks were a bit of a no-no.
After another night in the same camp we set off for a coastal trip. we found a free parking spot at Sandsend and the two of us enjoyed the offshore breeze on a walk on the beach.

Then I had lunch in the van while Tilly watched the sea.

 From here we drove down through Scarborough and on to Flamborough Head; a favourite haunt from my childhood. We climbed down to the beach near the lighthouse.

From here, we drove across country to the C&CC site at Slingsby. Chrissie and I came here with our rented motorhome last Spring.

Next day it was still hot so we booked in for a further two nights and went for a walk around the area, on the level rather than yomping up hot, sticky moorland hills. It was very pleasant, despite the heat.

Dixeland farm reminded us of home.

Wonder if Dixie knows this place is named after her?

We passed these, apparently unused, farm buildings.

And rounding the corner we met these guys.

Tilly really enjoyed the walk.

With the end of the heatwave it poured with rain overnight, but, in the morning it was very fresh with patches of blue in the sky. Donning waterproof trousers we set off on an 8 mile route from the site. As we climbed up into the Howardian Hills you could look back towards Slingsby and get an impression of how open the terrain is.

A little further we turned onto this delightful bridleway.

At this time of year (July) there are lots of poppies around, reminding me of our days around the Somme at Easter.

Towards the end of the walk we passed through this tunnel of trees and shrubs.

We endured a couple of showers on the way and the site's showers were very welcome on our return. The only other noteworthy event was having to shift Tilly off her perch on the driver's seat. She kept resting her head on the steering wheel and sounding the horn!

Now, what time's the fish'n'chip van due?

The next day we were due home. The morning dawned with forecasts of heavy showers across the whole country. Here, it was bright and breezy. We chose a 3 mile walk and cleared it with the site manager that we needn't leave until 1ish.

We found more poppies.

Having completed three walks around here it's apparent that these old lanes, often with beautiful mature hedgerows, are a feature of the area. Can you spot the tail of a disappearing lab?

Being mostly arable country it's great for dog walking; no livestock for them to annoy.

In Tilly's considered opinion, this is an appropriate stick for walking. She carried it for around half a mile, back to the site,

including taking it for a dip in a stream.

And lastly, this view over crops to a wide open sky typifies the local landscape. Must come back here with the rest of the tribe.

Blessed with no rain for our walk, we're now back at the site for some housekeeping and lunch before making our way home. Once there, it'll be a fairly quick turn round. Tomorrow we're off up into the Yorkshire Dales again for the weekend. Chrissie was forced to leave out a couple of days of the Pennine Way earlier in the spring cos the van was with Peugeot. So, we're off to Malham so C&D can complete their efforts while Tilly and I fall back into our support role.

Incidentally, this post is brought to you courtesy of, new-to-me, technology. I'm posting from a small notebook computer in the van, connected by wifi via BT's openzone system where you share wifi with fellow BT users who've agreed to this. It's a clever system, and free! I've also managed on this trip to connect the computer to t'internet using my mobile phone. I never ceased to be amazed by communication technology. Bye for now from the C&CC site at Slingsby in beautiful North Yorkshire.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Clothes storage solution

I first used Eagle Creek luggage organiser bags in the panniers when travelling on my motorbike. Chrissie and I have found they work just great in the van. They are quite simple, but tough, zip bags available in a number of colours. Here's a pic of the large and small ones we use. They're on the van sofa with a standard cushion in view to give some idea of size.

Here they are in a locker. You can just see the keyring labels we use to show what's in each bag.

In there I've got four of the larger bags, with shirts and trousers and the like, and two smaller ones with knickers, hankies etc. Here I've just packed for a week away. For longer, the bags are a little fuller. Then we have a locker each and share a third one.

We bought our bags from Rohan but I believe Rohan have now developed their own brand which, I assume, will do the same job. Eagle Creek are still avalable elsewhere. I recommend them without hesitation.They come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes.