The Piano Raft

After seeing a Facebook post from a friend talking about an unusual boat moored outside the Canal View Cafe in Rishton, and then an article in the Lancashire Telegraph about the owner’s search for some 55 gallon plastic drums to keep his boat afloat, we decided to go for a visit.

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Ben is a lovely chap, and his boat is an amazing creation of repurposed drawers and other materials, including a bathtub, and a piano at the rear.

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Ben has plans to use the salvaged windows to build an enclosed glass area on the boat, as well as using at least 10 plastic drums and expanding foam to keep the boat afloat, as the front end has sunk somewhat after he was entertaining some guests. He has a very clear idea of what he needs to do with the barrels to get the boat ship shape, and then he can continue on his journey to London, complete with his piano. He’s been called a ‘nomad’ and compared to Johnny Depp playing Roux in Joanne Harris’ Chocolat.

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If you have access to some 55 gallon plastic drums that you could donate to Ben, he’d love to hear from you. You can phone him on 07957924858 or follow his travels on the Piano Raft blog.

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It was lovely to meet you, Ben, and we hope that you get your drums soon and continue on your journey!


Street Art: Special Edition #8

Here is a post I wrote for Emma at The Gift Shed, as she features a lot of Street Art on her blog. Thank you for inviting me to write for you, Emma!

The Gift Shed's Blog

This special edition is a guest post by Kat of Adventures in a Campervan, and it’s brilliant – lots of great street art, as well as background information on the area.  Thank you, Kat, for agreeing to write a guest post for me! 

I’ve been travelling to Northern Cyprus for 6 years now, and we tend to spend a day in the capital city, Nicosia, exploring the Turkish side, but also taking the opportunity to cross the border on foot to the Greek part of the capital.

Since 1963, Cyprus has been divided by the Green Line following disputes between Greece and Turkey, with the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus only being acknowledged as formally existing by Turkey. The Green Line goes right through the walled city of Nicosia itself, making Nicosia the only remaining divided capital city in the world, following the fall of the Berlin Wall. In…

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TheFitDog’s top tip for getting through the heatwave

Frankie TheFitDog has some top tips for keeping cool in hot weather. I would like some biscuits in ice cubes please! Luv Teddy xxx

The Fit Writer Nicola Joyce

*This is a blog post from Frankie the office dog*

Hey guys!


Isn’t it hot? I’m not complaining, no way, I love baking myself in the garden til the insides of my ears go pink. But Nic says “that’s the whole problem”, and that I have “no common sense”.

It seems that she takes issue with the fact that, no matter how hot I get or how long I spend in the sun, I don’t really drink enough water. I dunno why! I just don’t really make the link. Hot+panting=water? Really? I’m not convinced.

Anyway I know the science behind hydration and so I have been trying a few tricks to get myself to drink more water. I thought you guys (or maybe your dogs) might like to hear them.


Frankie’s best ideas for drinking more water when you’re really really hot in the Summer but can’t be bothered…

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Archie’s Mirror

This was the book I read when we went to Dubs in’t Dales. Emma at The Gift Shed has written a great review. Do go and give Emma’s blog and Archie’s Mirror a read!

The Gift Shed's Blog



It’s been a while since I last reviewed a book, and although I usually stick to reviews of craft books I’m breaking with tradition to help promote my brother-in-sin’s* latest offering.

Archie’s Mirror is Geoff Turner’s first foray into writing children’s literature, and it’s really rather good (for non-Brits, this translates as “excellent”).

Of course you may well be reading this and thinking “Well of course she’s giving it a good review, it was written by someone in her family.”

That’s not the case at all.  Although I tweeted briefly about it the day the book was published on Amazon, I refused to blog about it until I’d actually read it – and I certainly wouldn’t recommend something unless I truly liked it!  Family and friends of the author were promoting Archie’s Mirror all over Twitter and Facebook immediately after it was published, but I preferred to wait and…

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My own amazing space

As a fan of George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces, I was really impressed with how Emma has created and adapted a working space at the end of her garden. With bonus cute puppy pics too!

The Gift Shed's Blog

Are you sitting comfortably?  Then I’ll begin…

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I’m a big fan of George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces, so I thought I would share my own amazing space with the world.  I’m incredibly proud of it, and love it to death – so I hope you enjoy this little peek into the creation of my unique work space.  It’s been quite a long journey, and the studio has continued to evolve over time; this is merely the latest regeneration but it dawned on me that it would be no bad thing to have the whole journey (to date) recorded in one place.

Once upon a time I decided to build a studio at the end of my garden.  It sounds so simple when it’s put like that, but it was quite an emotional thing.  I had a lovely studio in Brentford (click here to see some photos of that), but…

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Beetle Crisis – Pumpkin Edition!

In the run up to Hallowe’en, a lot of friends have been sending me pictures of pumpkins carved into the shape of splitscreen vans, being as how I’m an aficionado of of both Hallowe’en and splitties.

I, however, decided to be contrary, and carved a Beetle into my pumpkin instead. I’m really pleased with how it turned out!

pumpkin vw beetle slammed halloween

pumpkin vw beetle slammed halloween

pumpkin vw beetle slammed halloween

pumpkin vw beetle slammed halloween

The day after, some of the trim was starting to look a little rusty:

pumpkin vw beetle slammed halloween

And today, my poor pumpkin can only be described as “ratty!”

pumpkin vw beetle slammed halloween

In need of a resto, methinks!

If you like my pumpkin, please go and give the photo a like on Volkswagen UK’s Facebook page – I’m in with a chance of winning a VW Camper moneybox. Thanks!

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 –…

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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.)

Stanford Hall 2013

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



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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VW love in Northern Cyprus

Sorry the blog has been a bit quiet of late, Rooobarb and I are now officially Mr and Mrs Crumble (thanks to DubMinx from the SSVC for that excellent moniker!) and wedding stuff has got in the way of important stuff, like VWs.

Except, whilst in Northern Cyprus, getting hitched and having a honeymoon and stuff, we kept our eyes peeled for VWs. We saw quite a few Beetles being driven around (especially bright yellow ones, oddly enough!) and even found one for sale:




We saw a couple of bay windows in need of some TLC (and parts) parked near to the main road to Ercan airport, but I thought I’d hit the jackpot as we were driving near Alsancak, and yelled the familiar refrain “SPLIT!”:



Or maybe, just a bay that’s had a nose job…