Inspirational readers: Chris and his 14-stone weight loss

It’s not really campervan related. Well, I suppose it is a bit. Rooobarb has been on an incredible journey over the past year, and has lost half of his bodyweight.
13 months ago we wouldn’t have been able to consider a camper – he wouldn’t have fit behind the wheel, and fitting the pair of us on a 3/4 rock and roll bed would have been a struggle.
We decided we wanted to get married, and start our Adventures in a Campervan together, and Rooobarb decided he wanted to have lost 12 stone by then. Which he did. Since then, he’s continued on his fitness journey, and it’s a lot like being in a camper – it’s not the destination, but how you get there that is exciting.
Please go to Nicola’s blog and read Rooobarb’s amazing story.

The Fit Writer Nicola Joyce

Welcome to the first in a new blog series where I shine the spotlight on a totally inspirational “real life” person.

To kick us off I’ve got a humdinger of a story. Please read, you won’t believe the stats and photos!

I met Chris through his wife Kat who is a friend of mine. They both came to the NPA Finals, one of my bodybuilding competitions, last year (thanks!) and since then I have been pleased to count Chris as a friend too.

Over the last 13 months, Chris has lost 14 stone. Yes: FOURTEEN stone. About 88kgs. Half his body weight. And he’s still going. This is not a before-and-after story. It’s a before and now, and just watch me achieve even more than I already have story.

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Over to Chris, and his Blackburn-based PT Liam Ainsworth.

Tell us about your amazing weightloss and fatloss –…

View original post 2,265 more words

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The Camper Van Coast

You may or may not be aware of a lovely chap called Martin Dorey. He enjoys cooking in his camper and had a BBC Two series called One Man and His Campervan which was a lovely whimsical tour of the UK, with cooking and sightseeing and general loveliness.

He can often be seen at VW shows, as thanks to the aforementioned TV series, he is a bit of a celeb in the camper world and generally an air-cooled ambassador. He has written a couple of cookbooks, including The Campervan Cookbook and The Campervan Coast.

It was only upon reading his blog today that I found out that when his eldest daughter, Maggie, was just past her first birthday, she was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia, which Martin writes very candidly about here. He explains, in detail, how CLIC Sargeant supported his family through Maggie’s treatment and recovery, and how the experience also prompted him and Joanne to buy a T25, the promise of which gave them hope during the gruelling days of treatment.

Martin presented the Show and Shine awards at Devon Dub Fest this weekend, a festival that fund raises superb amounts for CLIC Sargeant every year through ticket sales and Show and Shine entries.

Martin, understandably, wants to give support back to CLIC Sargeant, for all the help that they give to his and countless other families facing one of the hardest ordeals anyone could ever have to go through. For this reason, he will be donating £5 from every sale of The Campervan Coast through his website this August to CLIC Sargeant, and as a bonus, your copy can be personalised too.

I’ve ordered my copy, as I found One Man and His Campervan a very enjoyable romp around the British Isles, and picked up some good recipes to enjoy in Ruby (chorizo frittata is a Rooobarb and Custard favourite) and I’m sure that we will find more to enjoy in this book. 

Go and buy your copy now, and enjoy the warm feeling in your belly that comes from doing a little bit of good in the world (or that could just be the frittata.)

The Simple Things

Last night I received a picture from Emma at The Gift Shed with a message telling me that I might want to go and buy a copy of The Simple Things Magazine :

The Simple Things Magazine Issue 13 with pictures of Splitscreen Campervan noses.

Issue 13 has a feature on camper vans, and the accompanying photo feature contains one or two very familiar looking noses, including our very own Ruby:

The Simple Things Magazine Issue 13 with pictures of Splitscreen Campervan noses.

Original photograph copyright Tim Gainey/Alamy.

Turns out that when Ruby and other vans from the SSVC were lined up at Stanford Hall, they were immortalised on film.

The article gives a potted history of the VW Transporter, prompted by the news that Brazilian bays will soon no longer be produced and has some nice photos to accompany.

It does suggest that splitty owners are elitist wankers who look down on drivers of newer VWs (this maybe happens a bit, but I will wave to *anyone* in the van, and don’t think we’re better than anyone else just because we have a split, but I personally would rather have a split than any other van, whereas I know people who feel the same way about bays) and that we all sneer at T25s (nope, love me a good Wedge) and Brazilian bays (again, no sneering, but not my cup of tea). But it also explains about Westies and Sambas for those who might not know (which included me 6 months ago!) and that love you end up developing for a large brick-shaped vehicle that uses up all your money.

Yes, we talk to our van. I say goodnight when we’ve put her cover on her. We pat her dashboard when she starts first time, or manages to get up a hill, like a clever puppy, and she will never, ever fail to make me smile, even when we’re jacking her up for the 3rd time in two days to hit her starter motor with a lump hammer. Everyone deserves something that makes them feel like that, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a barndoor, hi-top, samba, bay, wedge, T4 or T5, shiny show winner with lots of windows and chrome or a ratty panel van. Your van will always be the best, because it’s yours.

The Simple Things  issue 13 is available in supermarkets and WHSmith now. Unless you live in East Lancashire, where I would abandon all hope of finding a copy in Asda. Although somehow I walked out with this month’s VW Camper and Bus instead, which is no bad thing.

All opinions are my own. I have not been paid to write about The Simple Things, although if they wanted to give us a copy of that picture of Ruby’s nose for saying nice things, I wouldn’t complain.

First time reader?

Hello to anyone who might have just recently come across the blog, perhaps because they’ve just been given a wedding thank you with the web address on:

Photograph of a wedding invitation with wedding photographs and pictures of a red and yellow splitscreen campervan

So now you can see what we’re up to! Leave us a comment and say hello!

Wedding photos by the amazing and wonderful Susie Forster. Van photos by me, thank you cards from Vistaprint.  As always, all opinions are my own, and I haven’t been paid for any of them.

Dubs at the Castle July 2013

On Friday 19th July, Custard graduated from Edge Hill University with a Postgraduate Certificate in Specialist Primary Mathematics. Smarty pants. I also decided that I would like to travel to my graduation in Ruby, and then go to a VW show afterwards.

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We had a choice of two – CumbriaVAG or Dubs at the Castle. I chose DATC, because it was in Wales, and we were starting from near Liverpool, so I figured it wasn’t so far. Please note that my qualification was in Maths, not Geography. When we were 25 miles from Bristol, I realised how far south South Wales actually is.

Coupled with a two hour standstill on the motorway near Stoke, discovering that the heater is jammed open and pumping scorching hot air into the cab now that Rooobarb has replaced a missing piece of heater pipe in a bid to keep the starter motor cooler – oh yeah, the starter is still overheating, meaning that we daren’t turn the engine off whilst sitting still on the M6, as we know it won’t start again. Air-cooled engines don’t like not moving – the air-cooling bit doesn’t work so well.

By the time we stopped at Michael Wood Services 5 hours later, we could actually wring our clothes out, but decided a nice iced coffee from Starbucks would keep us awake enough for the remainder of the journey, and cool us down. The news that the ice machine was broken was actually met with an audible whimper from me (dairy intolerant, can’t drink the canned coffee from the fridge) and it was two very dejected campers who trudged back to the van to continue on our journey.

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The view from the Severn Bridge was pretty epic at sunset, but that did then mean we were trying to find Caldicot Castle in the dark. And the Sat Nav took us to the middle of a housing estate. And then I couldn’t get mobile phone signal to try and look for better directions. Rooobarb threatened to turn round and drive home at this point. We found the castle at around 10pm – I’d had a frantic Facebook conversation with the organisers the night before about what time we could turn up until, and they kindly said they’d keep the gate open until 11pm if needs be.

We were waved onto site, and told to follow the other vans, and that there would be marshalls around to point us in the right direction. Yeah, there weren’t. And in the dark, it was really hard to find a pitch that the van could actually fit into. And driving a lowered van around wobbly rough fields is no fun. I was now using my special “talking to children who have got very upset and are about to completely lose the plot” voice, perfected during many years of teaching, to placate Rooobarb. We stuck the van next to someone else’s pitch and hoped for the best, gave up on any notion of putting the awning up, stuffed all our crap in the front of the van and went to bed.

We woke up in the morning to this view:

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And were mightily relieved to find that we hadn’t actually parked in a dog toilet the night before.

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Although we did have to roll the van forward 6 feet to avoid a giant hole in the ground right next to the cargo doors.

Before our neighbours woke up, we had got the awning up and cooked breakfast. Marvellous. Things were looking a lot rosier after a good night’s sleep and a cooked brekkie!

We went off for a wander around the show – and were very pleased to find that despite driving for 73 gajillion miles* after getting on site, we were actually reasonably close to the main arena, having gone around in a bit of a circle.

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Splitscreen icecream – utterly delicious!

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Camper Coffee Co. – Rooobarb declared this the best coffee he’d ever tasted.

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Early Bay display.

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Autojumble.

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Tempting!

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And if there weren’t enough things to look at in the show and trade fields, there was the superb setting of the castle to explore.

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The Saturday night entertainment was superb, with great bands, and ample refreshment provided by the Welsh Cider Wagon.

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Sunday morning brought the Show and Shine:

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And then we had a quiet and sunny journey back, with a brief stop near home for coffee and fuel, involving a “jack it and whack it” starter motor related pit stop, and we met some people with a Bay, who were similarly chuffed to get their van restarted after filling up!

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It was a great weekend, and a good show, although a show guide given out at the gate would have meant we would have had a better idea of what was going on. Also, it was a very long way away, but that can only be blamed on my appalling geography! Definitely worth a visit if you are nearby.

Limebug Open Day July 2013

Those lovely people at Limebug had an open day, with hot dogs, a show and shine and, of course, the opportunity to peruse and buy from the Limebug shop. The sun was shining, so it would have been rude not to. It was also Ruby’s first appearance in a show and shine line up, and it was nice to stand back and listen to people saying nice things about her, and in some instances pose to have their photos taken with her!

The pictures speak for themselves really:

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Camper Jam 2013

When going through the VW show calendar for the year, we saw Camper Jam and figured it might be good for a laugh, and wasn’t too far away. I can safely say that the show was the highlight of our summer so far. I’m hoping another show will top it, just because if something can be better than that, I will be a very happy camper!

Rooobarb picked me up from work on Friday afternoon, everyone cooed over the van (apart from 9 year old boy who hadn’t been collected yet. 9 year old boys are hard to impress.) and we set off, stereo blaring, sunshine blazing. All good. We were most amused that the blue and white split that I’d taken to stalking along the M65 was two cars ahead of us as we left Accrington, but he left us for dust on the motorway!

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We got to Sandbach services, and decided to stop for a comfort break. I wander back out to the van, considerably more comfortable, Rooobarb goes to turn the engine over, and nowt. Nada, zip, zilch. I experience a wave of panic, given that our last starter motor induced troubles involved a call out for the RAC and a fraught journey to Accrington but Rooobarb kept his cool, jacked the van up and used the conveniently stashed lump hammer to give the starter motor a wee tap whilst I turned the key. One tap, and success! We were on our way again, after about 20 minutes spent fannying about with the jack.

We could tell when we were getting closer to Weston Park, as we began to join in impromptu convoys:

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We arrived in good time, found a place to camp, met up with Sarah from VW Camper Curtains to collect our lovely new cushions and curtains (more on those later) and the nice man from Lightning Leisure who had some replacement awning clips for us, ours having been put in a really safe place. I put the new curtains up, whilst Rooobarb got the awning clips and somehow managed to come back with some Mooneyes dust caps from Limebug as well and then we put the awning up. This was our first go of the awning for real, and it went up a treat. I decide to celebrate:2013-07-05 19.57.04

Whilst laying in the awning celebrating, I hear a voice say “There’s stalking, and there’s stalking, this is getting daft!” and lo and behold, I finally meet Sean, the driver of the blue splitty, who has pitched up about 20 feet away from us! We had a bit of a chat about the buses, and no mention of a restraining order was made. All good.

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If nothing else, this was great, because someone in that group had put up a Lancashire Rose flag, which gave us something to aim towards when we were trying to find Ruby!

Dinner was cooked (already we’re faring better than we did at Vicky Farm, as we have an awning, hot food and have not had to bugger about in the dark trying to get stuff sorted) and then it was off to bed, whilst listening to the Grease tribute band sing through their set. Twice.

We awoke the next morning to bright blue skies again (seriously, I ended up putting my sunglasses on to go wandering in search of a loo) and after a cooked breakfast, we ambled off to the ukulele workshop, led by the Bridgnorth Ukulele Band. This was brilliant fun! Lots of people playing simple tunes on ukes together:

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They ran several workshops during the weekend, culminating in a huge performance on the Sunday. Their site has lots of easy to play songs available to download, for free. Hurrah!

After that, it was off for a wander round the food stalls:

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The Green Bay Cafe

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Chilli Gone Barmy

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And then a mooch around the copious amounts of traders – the website proudly boasted over a mile of trading stands!

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Slightly Sheepish

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Panels

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Spray paint and airbrush artists

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CoolFlo Vintage

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Busmeister VW restorations. That hi-top shell was getting a lot of attention, but it’s not a for sale, it’s a current resto for a client.

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Yes, yes we were!

Sunday was the Show and Shine, and there were plenty of wonderful things to look at:

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Now that’s patina!

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KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAI loved everything about this van.

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This Devon Moonraker was all original.

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Betty Blue made another appearance.

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KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAWe like stickers. Everyone knows that each sticker adds 1BHP.

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A Dirty Weekender Adventure Van

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See you next year Camper Jam!