Meet Rufus.

Some of you may know that Rooobarb’s trusty Seat Ibiza decided to break itself in spectacular fashion, dropping a gear fork into the gearbox amongst other things, making it uneconomical to repair.

So we decided that the time was right to replace our hitherto reliable and sensible daily driver with something air-cooled and full of personality.

From our Beetle pumpkin design it is fairly obvious what our tastes are and what sort of bug we were looking for. So we were really pleased when we went down to Bidford-upon-Avon to see Alex’s 67 in original ruby paint:

show and shine line up beetles campers

red patina ruby vw beetle interior steering wheel

ruby red patina beetle vw slammed stance

ruby red patina beetle vw slammed stance

ruby red patina beetle vw slammed stanc

And decided that it was the car for us. Rooobarb drove it home with no drama, although the fact that it is slammed made getting it up the dropped kerb into our back yard interesting!

backyard bugThe plan is to use it as a daily driver, although that plan took a slight hit when the accelerator cable became disconnected on Day 2 of garage manoeuvres, and we subsequently discovered that the pedal assembly was incomplete and would need replacing or reconditioning if it was going to be in regular use. So, currently, the car is off the road, with a reconditioned late pedal assembly in place, which means new cables that are slightly longer to reach at both ends. But hopefully back on the road this week. The car is mechanically sound, full of lovely period charm and solid underneath. Who could ask for more. Watch this space for further updates.

Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce Rufus!

red vw beetle patina slammed

red vw beetle patina slammed night streetlight

red vw beetle patina slammed

red vw beetle patina slammed

Incidentally, the name Rufus means redhead. Works for us! There are other interesting links to his name too, but you’ll have to wait for those until another day…

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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!

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!

Viva Skeg Vegas 2013

Viva Skeg Vegas is a calm and chilled show that takes place in Revesby, Lincolnshire. It’s a beautiful picturesque drive down to the site, with lots of opportunity to play roadside roulette with the prevalence of farm shops and small roadside stalls selling produce.

The show had a fancy dress theme of Day of the Dead, and all the usual traders, stalls and evening entertainment. Whilst there was no coffee stall (boo!) there was a stall selling fish singer sandwiches (genius!) and the Pop Top Kitchen, selling delicious cuisine out of an Eriba Puck.

Things were slow to kick off in the mornings, perhaps because everyone was still recovering from the night before, but there was a good selection of autojumble, Seaside Neil was available for pinstriping and had customised the trophies for the Rust and Prime show on the Saturday and the Show and Shine on the Sunday.

Camping was calm and chilled, not spoiled by the light rain we had, and we were very lucky that our neighbours had good taste in music – which saved us having to touch our stereo all weekend!

Type 3 vw skeg vegas

vw splitscreen ratty rust and prime

beetle ratty vw rust prime

this is what awesome looks like rust prime vw

beetle painted patina vw skeg vegas

splitscreen vw skeg vegas gnome safaris

polo vw ratty pot belly brewery skeg vegas

lucky 7 splitscreen vw camper skeg vegas

pot belly brewery vw polo skeg vegas ratty pub

vw type 3 patina

bay vw panel van autobody repairs skeg vegas

fire damage bay window vw skeg vegas red

splitscreen vw awning skeg vegas

seaside neil pinstriping vw skeg vegas trophy rust prime

beetle show shine skeg vegas

beetle vw green grass skeg vegas

vw beetle skeg vegas signwriting cartoonies

beetle ratty vw skeg vegas rust prime

vw bay yacht broker skeg vegas

vw badge bay window ratty patina rust

no worries yellow vw badge skeg vegas wahugoy

beetles show shine vw skeg vegas

autojumble skeg vegas splitscreen single cab vw

vw transporter wedge t25 roadsign skeg vegas

bunting splitscreen vw blue skeg vegas

viva skeg vegas window t4 vw

VW Festival Leeds 2013

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:

photo grid image of Ruby the rhubarb and custard splitscreen camper at VW Festival 2013

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.

Pint of cider inside a split screen camper van

Rainy view from the back window of a split screen camper van

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:

Campervan half crown coin necklace Louis Edwards

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.

split screen crew cab twin cab panel van with signwriting

r u low enough striped painted vw splitscreen bus

23 window samba vw interior vintage suitcase

purple and white split screen vw panel van 1966

6. (Up) Sooty’s School Bus.

Queenswood girls school bus jake sooty shuttleworth splitscreen vw

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…

The Two Tarts green camper van come in and have a cuppa VW sign

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.

VW bus camper green t25 scrabble tiles

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!

VW split screen camper panel van rhubarb and custard red and yellow Ruby

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.

dog toilet 2dog toilet 3dog toilet 4

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.

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.

Vintage Retro Kitsch

Another inspiration from my reading over at Junkaholique was the thought of using vintage suitcases in the camper for clothes and bits on the back shelf.

With this in mind, I got in touch with lovely Sarah from Vintage Retro Kitsch to see if she had anything suitable. We popped over on a Sunday afternoon to look at the wide array of cases she had stashed away, and came away with this one:

2013-02-03 07.46.10(Apologies for the frankly awful picture quality, but we came home to discover that after a power cut caused by the thawing of the snow, we had an electricity “brownout” (reduced voltage) for nearly a week, so the lighting wasn’t great in the evenings, and during daylight we were both working hard to pay for Ruby!)

2013-01-27 22.32.12It was very tempting to buy two, as this one is navy blue (believe it or not) and Sarah had another similar one in brown, but we wanted to check on how it would fit on the shelf first. Having put it in the van yesterday (and completely neglected to take a photograph. It was dark by that time anyway!) there is room for a second without stacking them, as this would call for fitting jail bars ASAP, but to be honest, I’m not sure if we need another. We have got a lot of cupboard space. But also a lot of camping stuff that I completely forgot to pack away yesterday.

What we need is a nice warm weekend where we can experiment with taking things in and out of cupboards and working out what belongs where. It needs to be warm, as I’m more inclined to look for proper storage solutions when I can feel my fingers and toes!

The next three weekends are fairly stacked up in terms of other commitments (if you can call going on your own hen do a commitment!) which means any van stuff we do will be, well, without the van! We have the old curtains here, having given them a good wash, but they have seen better days and I intend on replacing them with some made from lovely fabric from Fabric Rehab, Fabric Inspirations or Spoonflower, along with matching tablecloths and bolster cushion covers. I may need to enlist the help of Rooobarb’s mum though, and that would entail telling her that we’ve bought the van…

We also need to spend some money – a cover from Just Kampers is on the shopping list, as are some fairy lights (essential, obviously), a leisure battery charger, a spare set of keys need cutting, and at some point we’re going to need to replace the quarterlight window seals and handles. Which then makes us look at the door handles and the grab handle in the cab and wonder if they’d look better in chrome to match the handles on the quarterlights. Yeah, I can see how this gets expensive!

I was not paid to plug anything here. I’m just posting about things I like. All opinions are my own.