Stanford Hall 2013

Malc over at Bandwagen has really captured the feel of Stanford Hall in these photos. Great blog.

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On Sunday Alison and I made our way over Stanford Hall for this year’s annual show which is organised by the Leicestershire and Warwickshire Volkswagen Owners club. I usually take my beetle to display in the Historic VW line-up but, this year we decided to bring my Audi A3. Last year’s show was one of many which fell fowl of the appalling weather being postponed to later in the year. By the time we got to Stanford Hall, at about 10.30 am, the show was in full swing and looked to be busier than ever!

There were lots of great VWs for sale including some nice, early stock examples, along with the lowered and custom cars which are always in plentiful supply. One of several which caught our attention was a very straight and original split screen pick-up which was a fresh import from Ohio in the US.

The concourse…

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Shining Star

Unfortunately, because of the aforementioned starter motor issues, we didn’t get to shine Ruby up the way we’d hoped. However, when we got back from Stanford Hall on the Bank Holiday Monday, we had a few hours before she needed to be back in the garage, during which Rooobarb got handy with a range of Autoglym products and some muscle.

Rooobarb’s guide to making a shiny:

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First of all, jetwash the van to get all the dust and road dirt off.

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Whilst still at the jetwash, use hot shampoo and then rinse again with clean water.

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Then use Autoglym Bodywork Shampoo Conditioner with some kind of microfibre wash pad to rub each panel down and remove any stubborn dirt.

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Then, using clean water and a clean pad, rinse the shampoo off.

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Once you’ve done that, use a Meguiars Microfibre Drying Towel to dry the van off.

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Then, the fun begins.

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Apply a coat of Autoglym Resin Polish, following the instructions on the back of the bottle carefully; start with small circles and finish with longer straight lines to prevent swirl marks. Leave to dry and then buff off with a microfibre cloth. Do this twice.

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Now, using Autoglym Extra Gloss Protection and a microfibre applicator pad, apply the sealant to each panel and allow to dry (which takes about 30 minutes, weather dependent). Buff off, using another clean cloth.

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Next – to the windows! Apply Autoglym Fast Glass with a microfibre cloth or kitchen towel, allow to dry for a few moments and take off with a clean cloth. Do this both inside and out. If you and your camper buddy do this at the same time, you can also amuse yourselves by pulling faces through the windows, and spot bits that the other person has missed. Don’t forget to do your mirrors too.

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There are many products out there that are designed for cleaning car interiors. Custard is a big fan of Pledge Wipes as you don’t have to wash a duster out afterwards, and they smell very nice. Ruby smells lovely inside whenever you get in her, thanks to Custard’s overzealous wiping of every flat surface.

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For upholstery, we both recommend Autoglym Interior Shampoo, applied with a nail brush, then wiped away with another microfibre cloth. Ruby’s vinyl came up a lovely bright cream after a bit of attention with a nailbrush, and the cloths came away filthy as it brought out years of camping grime.

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A neighbour came out and offered to treat our tyres, and discussed the best way to renovate Ruby’s tired alloys. Watch this space.

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Finally, climb in, go a for a cruise and enjoy all the admiring glances!

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(Warning, your shiny van may now attract people who want to kiss it, as it is so gorgeous.)

Retailers have apparently reported a marked increase in the amount of car detailing products sold over the past two years, with Halfords noting a 70% increase the amount of specialised cleaning products they sell. Some of this is put down to people keeping their cars for longer, so wanting to keep them looking good, as well as wider availability of specialist products online.

This clip from You and Yours, originally broadcast on Radio 4 on 20th May 2013, explores the world of car detailing and meets some of the people who love to keep their cars looking like they’re about to enter a Show and Shine.

How do you get your van looking shiny? Let us know in the comments!

All opinions are my own. I was not paid for any mentions of products. I just really like Autoglym, Meguiars and Pledge Wipes. Clean freak.

Stanford Hall 2013

We arrived at the Hall, parked up with the SSVC display and then went for a good look around:

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Starter motors – seen enough of them this weekend!

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We were blessed with sunshine, and after a wander, went back to the bus for a cheese and ham sandwich (so good!) and a pint of cider:

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We made a few purchases, including an awning to replace the ill-fated gazebo, a purple bay magnet for a friend, a new shiny VW badge keyring and an ammo box and stickers:

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Which has become the new storage container for our food in the van. This weekend was somewhat of an experiment – finding out what worked for us in terms of storage and what we needed to take with us. The first night was a real revelation for us – the van was absolutely packed with stuff and we had nowhere to put it. If we’d had an awning, I think things would have been much easier. Also, the awning would have hopefully been easier to put up, and more resilient than the gazebo. We also decided that modular storage would work better for us than random carrier bags full of food and clothes. Hence the suitcases, the cooler and the ammo box. It looks neater and it’s easier to pack things in the van with less gaps.

We were also foiled by the weather – I packed for cold – jumpers and DMs, and ended up in a vest top and flip flops – with sunburn. So I think next time I would pack for all eventualities, but not so much. Did I need three jumpers? Probably not. Did I need suncream? YES.

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Since Stanford, our awning has arrived, which will make storage and cooking much easier. The rain and wind on Friday night and Saturday morning meant that we didn’t cook – as we don’t want to cook inside the van and make it greasy and smelly. This meant that we were both very hungry and grumpy! Also, getting changed inside the van was possible, but did require some acts of contortion, and taking it in turns.

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New awning!

The awning seems massive – but hopefully when in a field rather than a school hall, perhaps not so much. Since Stanford, Ruby has also had her rightful start motor refitted, and new window seals from Custom and Commercial, which will with any luck mean that the rain stays outside where it belongs!

Alas, our campervantures over the next few weeks will be sadly limited – Rooobarb has just had his cruciate ligament reconstructed – so no driving or camping for him for a while. Hopefully though, the sunshine will manage to overcome the inclement weather (I got hailstoned on during the school summer term charity jog for goodness sake!) and this summer will be one of sunshine, good tunes, sunny evenings, cooking outdoors and, of course, cider.

Stanford Hall Convoy 2013

After a good night’s sleep, we were woken by SSVC display coordinator Rikki James and his loud hailer, calling out registration numbers and admonishing the occupants of the vans for not getting up!

We were soon up, dressed and ready to join in the convoy:

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Marvin

Marvin

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The convoy was simply amazing to be a part of. Here are two videos which, in my opinion, sum up the experience perfectly:

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The thrum in my chest when everyone around us started their engines – priceless.

Victoria Farm 2013

One of the main dates in any split screen van owner’s calendar has to be Victoria Farm. Vicky Farm hosts the AGM of the Split Screen Van Club, where hundreds of members get together to camp, eat, drink, be merry and admire each other’s vans over the May Day bank holiday weekend.

One of the highlights of the weekend has to be the convoy to Stanford Hall VW Show on Sunday morning, where splitty owners line up and drive a few miles down the road to take part in the club display.

Vicky Farm was our first weekend away in the van. It nearly didn’t happen for us, as when we arranged to pick up Ruby from storage, we found out that she wouldn’t start. The guy storing her offered to charge her battery, but then had his power cut off due to work on the local substation! After some tinkering, panicked phone calls to our mechanic, precise hitting of things with hammers and a visit from the RAC, it turned out that Ruby’s starter motor was borked, so after getting her started, the RAC man waved Rooobarb on his way with a cheery “Don’t stall – you won’t get started again!” as he headed off to Accrington Beetles and Campers where Dave examined the offending starter motor, diagnosed it as buggered, and fitted one on loan whilst he had ours reconditioned – what a star!

Following that, Rooobarb then picked me up from work – having not had a chance to wash the van or even grab a bite of lunch, and we quickly loaded the van and set off on our way.

The view might not be great, but we have the best seats in the house

The view might not be great, but we have the best seats in the house

As we approached Vicky Farm, we were joined by some fellow splitties on the motorway (apologies for poor quality pics – bit of camera shake from looking out the back window of the van):

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And had a very small convoy, until we had to pull off to refuel all three of us (Ruby with unleaded, us with coffee!) but caught up with them at Vicky Farm later:

We caught up with them later

We arrived at the campsite, chose a place to call home for the next couple of days, tried and failed to put up our gazebo to cook in, decided we had far too much stuff in the van, stacked it all in the cab, put the bed up and then went for an explore. Please note: never let the person who has decided to start drinking be the only one to wear a head torch, as you will be trying to see where you are going, and the torch beam will be swinging wildly up to the sky as Custard imbibes her first cider of the evening 😉

The next morning we woke up to this lovely view from Ruby’s back window:

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And had another wrestle with the gazebo, in between downpours of rain. It turned out all the poles were mislabeled, so after a bit of swapping, we got it up – but the wind then blew the rain through the sides, making the chairs inside a little soggy. I decide to remedy this by drinking more cider, and sitting in my chair, trying to enjoy the sunshine. We then realised that we needed more fuel before the convoy on Sunday, and to pick up a lighter for the gas stove (we’d not used it for a few years, and forgotten that it didn’t have a piezo lighter) so we went off site for a “splash and dash” and came back on to find… a collapsed gazebo, smashed by the wind. We were very relieved that it had just fallen down where it stood, and hadn’t blown away and hit a van. It was unceremoniously dumped in the bin, and we vowed to buy an awning at Stanford Hall.

Thankfully in the afternoon, the sun came out, so we had a stroll around the site, meeting the other vans, before heading up to the AGM itself to see who had won awards for their vans.

Ruby in the sunshine

Ruby in the sunshine

Bradley Badger, and a Barndoor we convoyed with on our way to Stoke the other week.

Bradley Badger, and a Barndoor we convoyed with on our way to Stoke the other week.

Gorgeous van - I'd follow you anywhere!

Gorgeous van – I’d follow you anywhere!

Loved this van, it had a great packing case interior too.

Loved this van, it had a great packing case interior too.

Pop top and sunshine

Pop top and sunshine

Airstream and a twin cab. Heaven.

Airstream and a twin cab. Heaven.

Bleedingmoody's bus. Love.

Bleedingmoody’s bus. Love.

A very worthy winner.

A very worthy winner.

Headlight detailing.

Headlight detailing.

Eddie's single cab.

Eddie’s single cab.

Line up of champions.

Line up of champions.

Smiley Trekker.

Smiley Trekker.

Beetle bums.

Beetle bums.

High top. Yum.

High top. Yum.

After the day’s adventures, we enjoyed the sunset, then had an early night ready for the convoy:

Sunset and smiles.

Sunset and smiles.

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Night night!