And arrived to find a very busy showground, but found just enough space to squeeze Ruby into, to get set up in order to enjoy a relaxed evening:
Whilst the show was overcast and breezy for much of the weekend, there were lots of traders with a good variety of clothes, handcrafted goods, autojumble and food to enjoy, and some excellent Volkswagens in the Show and Shine field:
We set off on Sunday shortly before the heavens opened, and Custard managed to drive Ruby back and get her under cover before she got all wet and dirty.
Bank holiday Monday provided ample opportunity for Rooobarb to get down and dirty with Rufus’s rear hubs, which are going to need some different castle nuts in order to fit on properly. Fun and games!
There was lots to see, lots of familiar faces, and good to meet up with friends, including Claire, who got intimately acquainted with Rufus whilst checking his ride height!
What a great start to the 2014 show season, all the bad weather we’ve had recently hadn’t made the parking too quagmirish, although some people did get stuck, and a good turnout from punters and traders alike meant that there was something for everyone.
What’s your next show going to be? Let us know in the comments.
We’re looking forward to meeting up with more friends at SpringDub on March 2nd. See you there!
Kombi Life is a digital magazine, that is available for mobile/tablets and PC/Mac, and at £1.99 per issue or £6.99 for a year’s subscription, it’s a very reasonably-priced way for you to get your fill of the VW scene, and with about 200 pages per issue, you certainly get your money’s worth!
With features on all vans from splits through to T5s, show news and reviews and all the usual features you would expect from a VW magazine, Kombi Life is a welcome addition to the VW magazine scene.
You can read Custard’s review in Issue 4 of Kombi Life, available now. Back issues are also available for download at £1.99 each.
They chose it as one of their finalists in their pumpkin competition, and it was chosen by fans to be one of the top three pumpkins, meaning I won a prize!
On Friday I had a “while you were out” card from the postman, and on Saturday morning I went and collected this:
Which now means we’ve got a bit of a show and shine line up going on in our living room, with the Lego camper my parents bought us last Christmas.
Yay! Lucky old me. Thanks Volkswagen. That was a really nice thing to do, the money box came really quickly, and brought an extra smile to my face as I didn’t carve the pumpkin to win a prize, just for my own amusement. It made me smile lots though that so many people liked it.
Now, what do I carve to top that next year? I was thinking an Evolution of Van line up – best start earlier if I’m going to be carving 5 pumpkins!
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!
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:
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.
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.
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)
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!
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.
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!
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.
Sunday brought more sunshine, and the show and shine, with a nice variety of air and water cooled vehicles on display.
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!
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:
We knew we’d got to the right place – but we didn’t seem to fit in with the colour coordinated parking!
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!
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.
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!)
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.
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.
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!
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!
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:
On Saturday we woke up to glorious sunshine, but a bit of a breeze, but we weren’t deterred.
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!)
There 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?)
After 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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
As I took a weekend off from taking photographs at VW Festival, I’ve decided instead to blog our weekend in the style of Caitlin Moran’s Celebrity Watch.
Custard’s Top 10 of VW Festival:
10. (Down) The weather.
It rained. It winded. It made puddles in the awning, it poured down the cargo doors (and ergo, round the cargo doors thanks to crappy seals), it filled up shoes and soaked into jeans. It could not make its mind up what it was doing. The wind also ripped the gutter rail pole for the awning out of my hand on Sunday, meaning it now has a slight kink to it. However, necessity is the mother of invention, so I now know that it is possible to peg the doors of the awning up to stop the rain pouring in, although I wish I hadn’t found that out during a torrential downpour. Also, I got to sit in the van (in my shorts, as I had only taken one pair of long trousers with me; my (sodden) jeans) with a pint and read my book for a couple of hours. Bliss.
9. (Down) Festival toilets.
These are never, ever good, to be honest. As I was heading to the loo on Sunday morning, a camper remarked to her friend “Oh, I really feel sorry for anyone who hasn’t been to the loo yet today!” So I asked if they were that bad. I’ve seen worse, but if the loos had been serviced during the weekend, this might have improved matter slightly. Still, you do know what you’re getting with a festival loo, and at least the proper loos at Harewood House itself were open.
8. (Down) Running out of cash.
Our own fault for not bringing enough with us. Meant that we couldn’t buy coffee on Sunday. Argh! A lot of the traders accepted card payments though, so we didn’t miss out on buying big stuff. Just coffee 😉
7. (Up) A varied collection of stalls, autojumble and displays.
Got to buy some great things, including this lovely necklace from Louis Edwards jewellery:
There was a good range of clothes, VW stuff, food, toys, cleaning gear and autojumble. The displays on both days were amazing – as well as club stands, there was a red, white, blue and black vehicle display on Saturday and a beautiful show and shine on Sunday, with a high standard of vehicle in both.
6. (Up) Sooty’s School Bus.
We have been following the progress of Sooty’s bus on the SSVC forum, so it was great to see it in the flesh! Also, his bus was featured in an article in the Daily Mail about the show, which also featured this fantastic video by Bright Lights Photography which to me, really sums up the feeling of going out in your VW and meeting fellow dub nuts:
5. (Up) The Green Bay Cafe.
Coffee. Real coffee. Also, handily placed in the main camping area, rather than the trade area, which meant less distance to stagger to get our caffeine fix. We love the Green Bay Cafe with their fairtrade, real coffee. Yum.
4. (Up) Gluten free food!
The Two Tarts, Lulabelle and Heck sausages all offered gluten free fayre, ideal for a hungry Custard. I’m used to not being able to sample things at shows, so for there to be lots of things I could eat was a good thing! Still having to carry my own soy milk in a hip flask for my coffee though…
3. (Up) Showing with Volksgirls.
We’ve not entered a show and shine before (although we did show with the SSVC at Stanford Hall as part of their massive line up) so when Volksgirls invited members to show with them, we jumped at the chance. Volksgirls is a friendly club and forum for ladies on the VW scene, and boasted a full stand at VW Festival. We were the only camper on their stand on Saturday, and our first show taught us one or two things;
Make sure that you either put your stuff for making food in the van, or in the awning. Don’t leave half in one, and half in the other. Of you’ll be very annoyed when you realise you can’t make lunch.
The majority of people show their vans with the beds folded up and their tables all set nicely. Our van is hardly period in the style, so it’s very hard to dress. Next year, I’ll be showing it with the bed made up, with nice cushions and things. It may also have a Custard-shaped accessory catching a few zzzz’s in it during the afternoon as…
I don’t do well at getting up early enough to get the van to the arena without the option of an afternoon nap 😉
Mark out the space next to the awning that the van goes in, or someone will park in it before you get back in the afternoon!
Make a sign telling people all about your van, or you’ll find yourself repeating a lot of stuff. We love talking to people about vans, but if they could read it too, that would be nice, and we could put some photos from the resto on the sign too.
2. (Up) Chilled, family friendly atmosphere.
There was a really nice vibe to the show, lots of things for children and adults to do, and everyone was friendly, having a good laugh and up for a chat about VWs, dogs or just life in general! The camping was generally quiet (well, it was where we were anyway!) and people didn’t seem to let the weather get them down.
1. (Up) Good friends.
We finally got to meet some fellow camper owners from the SSVC forum. Dubminx and Custard both tell lies to small children for a living, Roobarb and Carl both love watercooled and aircooled dubs. You know when you meet someone and think – “Yeah, I could camp with these guys and have a whale of a time!”
We’ve enjoyed our first year exploring the VW show scene, but what we’ve found is that, after a while, it all gets a bit same-y if there’s only the two of you, so being able to meet up with like-minded people and have a good chat makes the shows all the more worthwhile, and if you’re lucky, you get to meet someone lovely like Minx, who not only has a beautiful camper called Mabel (with the wonderful period set-dressing that Ruby lacks) but also sent us some bunting for Ruby before she’d ever met us for real. Which just tells you that she’s a nice person, and someone you’re going to enjoy being around.
We would definitely do VW Festival again – it has been one of the best shows we have visited this summer, and wasn’t a long drive for us, which is always a bonus. See you in 2014!