Dubs in’t Dales 2013

Dubs in’t Dales was an end of summer camp out held in the gorgeous surroundings of the Camp Hill Estate, Kirklington. Rather than a full blown show, it was a quiet camping event, with fewer stalls, but still lots going on to keep campers happy.

We arrived as the sun was setting, to a healthy amount of campers, but still plenty of space for everyone. The weather was great all weekend, although we should have camped on the other side of the field, where the sun had opportunity to dry out awnings etc. as the cooler weather made everything very damp!dubs in't dales camping

Saturday morning gave good opportunities for mooching, with a couple of stalls, including the most fantastic stall full of random oddments and trinkets, which when put together made an Aladdin’s cave of curiosity:

dubs in't dales stall oddments curios

Close to the entrance was parked VW Lulabelle, with a delicious assortment of cakes and biscuits, including a gluten free chocolate orange cake that was rich, moist and delicious, and two generous hunks of it may have found their way into Custard’s belly this weekend.

dubs in't dales vw lulabelle cake

dubs in't dales vw lulabelle cake

Sitting at the entrance, enjoying our cake and coffee, gave us ample opportunity to catch up with Kate and Kevin, the organisers, and to see some campers as they came in.

dubs in't dales bay split camper vw

There was plenty going on for everyone, with the opportunity to take part in quad biking, Segway riding, zip wire, high ropes, and an adventure playground on the Camp Hill Estate. There was also lots of woodland to enjoy and explore, and the Orangery cafe. In the afternoon, there was a sports day for children and adults alike.

Whilst Rooobarb wandered around the site and took some photos, Custard chose to find a patch of sunshine and curl up with a book (Archie’s Mirror by Geoff Turner, if you’re interested. It’s very good, and only 99p for Kindle)

dubs in't dales mint green bay window vw

dubs in't dales orange late bay window vw

dubs in't dales betsy boo t25 vw camper

dubs in't dales camper bay window blue vw

dubs in't dales chalkboard hi top bay window black vw

dubs in't dales bay window vw stickers red

dubs in't dales red 9 brm speedwell wheel

dubs in't dales deluxe trim splitscreen vw mint white

dubs in't dales splitscreen vw turquoise graffiti aircooled

dubs in't dales camping splitscreen vw

dubs in't dales custard reading

Early evening came, and it was time for a cruise through the Dales in our VWs, much to the amusement, amazement and bemusement of local residents!

dubs in't dales convoy bedale kirklington

dubs in't dales convoy vw bedale kirklington

dubs in't dales vw convoy bedale kirklington rhubarb and custard

dubs in't dales vw splitscreen convoy line up camper

dubs in't dales beetle blue splitscreen camper

dubs in't dales camper splitscreen bay deluxe green blue yellow

dubs in't dales camper vw splitscreen

dubs in't dales r u low enough rule?

dubs in't dales vw 1600 rear light

dubs in't dales splitscreen camper deluxe graffiti

dubs in't dales barn door vw splitscreen istanbul

dubs in't dales splitscreen vw camper deluxe graffiti

dubs in't dales steering wheel karmann ghia dashboard

dubs in't dales convoy splitscreen sunshine lei driving bay

We drove back to the campsite, had a spot of dinner, then it was up to the barn for another evening of top quality entertainment, including Pip Mountjoy, a superb female folk singer whose CD we bought for lazy Sunday morning camper music.

dubs in't dales band evening

dubs in't dales band pip mountjoy folk evening

Then, it was all change again, as we were encouraged to follow the organisers to the glamping yurt field, where there was a fantastic bonfire and fireworks, mmmm, toasty!

dubs in't dales bonfire  dubs in't dales fireworks

This was followed by more music and merriment in the barn, but we had no problem finding our way back to the van, thanks to Custard’s handy decoration with lots of solar-powered fairy lights.

dubs in't dales tent awning fairy lights grotto

Sunday brought more sunshine, and the show and shine, with a nice variety of air and water cooled vehicles on display.

dubs in't dales golf red

dubs in't dales golf mk2 green

dubs in't dales chrome vw badge polished red

dubs in't dales splitscreen camper vw line up

dubs in't dales kubelwagen trekker vw

dubs in't dales deluxe vw black chrome rust

dubs in't dales beetle gold resto

dubs in't dales vw volkswagen swag caddy

The entire weekend was a fantastic, laid back, chilled out event, with plenty going on – more things to take part in than some shows, if they took your fancy, or the opportunity just to chill out and enjoy the end of summer before the wet weather comes and vans have to be wrapped up. We will definitely be attending Dubs in’t Dales again next year, we just hope it stays the small, relaxed event that it was this year that made it so enjoyable!

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Type 2 Detectives Bus Bootcamp

We knew pretty much as soon as we bought a VW that we wanted to learn how to maintain it and how to carry out basic repairs. After the great start motor debacle that started on the way to Camper Jam and carried on pretty much throughout the summer, we had some idea of how to solve one of the many problems that will no doubt beset our aircooled ownership over the years to come, but if anything else was to go wrong, would we know what to do?

That’s where Type 2 Detectives come in. A garage based near Cambridge, they’re renowned for their high quality workmanship and approachability, as well as the range of workshops and help they are prepared to offer to anyone who is thinking of buying, or has just bought a type 2 VW.

We booked our places well before the summer, and by the time the cooler weather of September rolled around, our plan of camping in Custard’s grandparents’ orchard overnight before the bootcamp was starting to look a little less romantic!

After a long, but mainly uneventful drive down, we tucked ourselves up in Ruby on the driveway, with an extension cable and wifi from the grandparents, ready to be up bright and early for the next morning.

After a quick breakfast cooked on the stove (I really don’t think my grandparents were expecting us to be quite so self sufficient!) and an even quicker wander round the orchard to help ourselves to some apples, we set off for Burwell, along some of the bumpiest roads that the fenland had to offer:

Fenland bumpy road

We knew we’d got to the right place – but we didn’t seem to fit in with the colour coordinated parking!

type 2 detectives squareback moon eyes orange

type 2 detectives bay window vw

We arrived to bacon butties and filter coffee, and a good chat with a few people about their buses and where they’d been this summer. After a brief introduction, we split into two groups, one to do the engines session, and one to do electrics.

We started with Paul, looking at electrics. The first piece of essential advice that he gave us was to maintain your VW at a high standard. IT may take some work to get it there in the first place, but it should then be easier to maintain, rather than constantly trying to deal with the myriad of problems that can arise due to poor maintenance. The second piece of advice he gave us was to never be without your probe!

sealey automotive test probe

An electrical probe allows you to test for and isolate all sorts of problems, using power from the battery. The session took us through how to read a VW wiring diagram, which was incredibly useful, and gave us key pointers about wiring colours and codes. We also looked at common electric problems and how to diagnose and fix them, including specific issues that people mentioned they had with their buses.

After this, it was time for a quick coffee break, with wonderful cakes and biscuits (including gluten free treats for me!) provided by The Pudding Bar.

The pudding bar t2d type 2 detectives boot camp

The pudding bar t2d type 2 detectives boot camp

This was another opportunity to talk to fellow owners, to have a look at the vehicles currently in the workshop, and to put our name on a probe to buy at the end of the day (Paul sold it well!)

type 2 detectives boot camp deluxe vw bus

type 2 detectives still life

After the break, it was off to see Andy, who talked all about engines. There was a Type 1 and a Type 4 engine on display, which meant that people with all ages of aircooled vans could learn the specific techniques that applied to them.

type 2 detectives type 1 engine vw bay

type 2 detectives type 4 engine

Andy gave us practical demonstrations of how the aircooled engine works, how to check and change a fanbelt, how to carry out an oil and filter change, how to check valve clearances, change sparkplugs and maintain the ignition. Again, the importance of good maintenance was stressed, especially checking fuel lines and ensuring that all tinware and rubber seals are in place.

After lunch, it was back out into the workshop again, to learn how to safely remove an engine and examine it, and the jobs that can be done whilst the engine is out. Andy then showed the split owners problems that are specific to splitscreen vans, whilst Paul did the same for the bay window owners.

type 2 detectives splitscreen vw bus

type 2 detectives bay window vw bus

We then went through the most common reasons that a van breaks down and how to fix them. After that, there was a final Q&A session, where people could get advice relating to specific situations they find themselves in with their buses. There was also an interesting discussion relating to fire suppression systems. Andy is of the belief that if you keep on top of maintenance and keep your engine and electrics in order, there is no need to have one fitted. In his words “VW didn’t let the vans leave the factory randomly bursting into flames!” But having one fitted adds an extra level of security and peace of mind – supplement it with good quality fuel hoses and clips, make sure your fuel filter is not in the engine bay, and keep on top of maintenance, performing checks before journeys and addressing any small problems before they have the chance to become big ones.

Finally, it was time to place our orders for any items we wanted for our VW first aid kit, collect our precious Bootcamp bibles and set off on the long journey home into the sunset!

roobarb type 2 splitscreen vw camper

I would heartily recommend the bootcamp to any aircooled VW owner. We’ve already used what we learned to help us successfully diagnose and fix an ignition problem a couple of weeks after the bootcamp. We also now have a basic tool kit with spares to carry around with us, which makes us feel better prepared for any issues which may arise. The bootcamp was a long and information-filled day, which coupled with a long drive there and back, made it fairly intense. However, the information, knowledge and skills that we gained by being there will stand us in good stead for our future years of VW ownership.

T2D also offer a follow up workshop, tailored to your individual requirements and those of your bus, as all buses are slightly different and have their own foibles and oddities. This is certainly something that we are considering for the future to help us better understand how to maintain Ruby and her personal peculiarities!

VW Field of Dreams

Field of Dreams – Aircooled Exclusive is a new show, organised by Kate of Classic Volks and York Classic VW Owners club. When we booked the show, we didn’t realise that it was its first year, as everything was so slickly organised.

We took a scenic drive along the A59 (apparently causing one of Custard’s old uni friends to play a game of “Follow the Volkswagen” near Skipton – small world!) and arrived at York Racecourse in the late afternoon. The sun was shining, the ground was perfectly flat and firm and the camping was organised brilliantly, with marshalls at the entrance to point you in the right direction, put your wristband on for you and help you line up in your plot neatly. We were given a fab plot, tucked away behind the marshalls’ caravan, under their floodlights, which not only meant we could see to cook in the evening, but also that we felt really safe, if a little bit like teacher’s pets 😉 (Which prompted quite a lot of conversation between us in the manner of Karen Powell, Greg Davies’ favourite student, which was one of those “you had to be there” moments.)

We went for a wander around the campsite and took a few photographs of our neighbours for the weekend:

windsocks fish field of dreams

turquoise splitscreen vw camper field of dreams

grafitti samba vw splitscreen camper 23 window

york racecourse field of dreams

vw bay window blue panel van field of dreams

vw bay window orange camper flower spare tyre field of dreams

spraypaint graffiti vw camper beetle camping field of dreams

vw beetle silver relentless gazebo field of dreams

bay window camper cream red field of dreams pop top

split screen camper red black nose field of dreams

karmann ghia pearlescent paint field of dreams

sky clouds brooding field of dreams

On Saturday we woke up to glorious sunshine, but a bit of a breeze, but we weren’t deterred.

Ruby split screen panel van sunshine red yellow rhubarb custard field of dreams

Whilst eating breakfast, we met Vicki, one of our Twitter friends who came to say hello, and then I got my hippy garb on to go and wander round the show (yes, most people don’t dress up until the evening, but it’s dark then, and there’s no guarantees that I’ll be awake!)

hippy red yellow split screen vw panel camper vanThere was a good variety of autojumble, food, craft, clothing and other unusual stands, as well as entertainment for children, a dog show and shine and a hobby horse race (well, when at the racecourse, you’ve got to, haven’t you?)

brown ratty signwritten vw camper van field of dreams

beetle shell primer field of dreams

autojumble speedometer vintage field of dreams

mirrors autojumble field of dreams

rust splitscreen vw badge ratty patina field of dreams

dog costume show and shine field of dreams

boxer dog field of dreams

bay window camper vans vw field of dreams

split screen deluxe trim camper van vw field of dreams

beetle blue sky field of dreams   vw camper bay van wheel reflection field of dreamsAfter a look around we met up with Vicki, Lesley, Lesley’s mum and Dizzi the dog to enjoy a coffee or two from the Green Bay Cafe whilst watching the hobby horse race.

green bay cafe vw camper van coffee field of dreams

dizzi dog collie field of dreams

 

dizzi dog collie cuddle vicki field of dreams

After grabbing a bite to eat back at the van, we headed back to the show arena to enjoy a pint or two of passionfruit cider and listen to the bands, who were great!

band live music field of dreams

band live music field of dreams

band live music field of dreams evening entertainment

Sunday was a little more overcast and windy, but the rain stayed away, allowing a variety of aircooled splits, bays, beetles and ghias to be displayed in the field. There was a really good turn out, with lots of vehicles to look at, including a few for sale.

Bay window maroon devon interior for sale field of dreams

bay window yellow camper van garfield

bay window vw camper red volkswagger cartoonies field of dreams

blue yellow white black beetle shopping trolley leeds united field of dreams

After another wander round to take in the last of the show and chat with friends, it was time to head home over the M62, where we spotted a couple more campers on their travels!

turquoise white bay window camper motorway

red white bay window camper motorway

Field of Dreams did have its teething problems – the camping and show were split up by a walk around the outside of the racecourse due to last minute decisions that were out of the organisers’ hands, which could make the arena feel too spread out and quiet, and also meant a bit of a trek to get to the show, and the wind made life difficult for the traders on Sunday. But, these are things that can’t be helped – Kate, Kevin and the team kept everyone informed of what was going on, were apologetic, friendly, and had everything else superbly organised. I don’t think we’ve been to a show where the camping was so well sorted, or where the loos were serviced every day!

Small local shows are only as good as the people who support them, traders, campers, day visitors and volunteers, and the Classic Volks team are already planning to make Field of Dreams 2014 even better than this year. Make sure you’re part of it!

Review: The Long and Whining Road

In the show and shine at Camper Jam this year there was a T25 with an interesting sign in front of it: “This van drove around the world and slept five!”

Penny t25 vw camper sim courtie long and whining roadWe stopped to listen to the man talking, and soon found out that he was Sim Courtie, author of The Long and Whining Road, and that he and his family had made a round the world journey in Penny, their T25 camper. The idea for their journey was born following a trip to Sim’s native Liverpool, when various members of the family developed wanderlust and a desire to explore the world-wide appeal of the Beatles. The family decided to busk their way around the world, singing Beatles songs and raising money for charity.

The adults took sabbaticals from work, and the children from school to embark upon an epic extra-curricular road trip, planning to begin outside Strawberry Field children’s home in Liverpool, and ending at Strawberry Fields memorial garden, New York. What follows is an engaging and enjoyable travelogue that conjures up the sights, sounds, smells and people they encountered on their travels, with a healthy dose of the troubles encountered by Penny, their 1989 camper van, familiar to anyone who’s owned an older camper.

sim courtie penny yellow t25 round the world long and whining road

 

The book inspired a desire to travel the world in me, but also made me worry about the practicalities of taking Ruby, a 46 year old van, around the world. Sim encountered difficulties with having parts of their van replaced, including one memorable episode that involved a costly misdiagnosis, both in terms of time and money. Also, driving in some parts of the world seems to incur an increased risk of bodywork damage. Eeeek! We’re signed up on a Type 2 Detectives Bus Boot Camp in September, but would we be able to deal with mechanical mishaps that would undoubtedly occur? Also, what spares would we have to carry? (Perhaps it would be best to just tow a complete spare bus along behind!)

Problems aside, what the book created most of all was an endearing image of the camaraderie and support that virtual strangers will give each other all over the world. Invitations to wedding parties, offers of accommodation on driveways or in houses, support for their busking and lots of camper van love! I also particularly enjoyed Sim’s recount of a Turkish massage, as it was similar to our own on honeymoon in Northern Cyprus, and the camper community that sprung up in Agonda that reminded me a little of The Beach, only with a slightly less dramatic conclusion!

I loved the book, couldn’t put it down, and was genuinely sad when I’d finished it. Sim’s ability to engage an audience and tell a story makes the book enjoyable and addictive. It is available in paperback and for Kindle.

The Long and Whining Road Sim Courtie

I have not been asked to review The Long and Whining Road. I just really enjoyed it!