The Ballad of Kex Gill Road.

If you have ever driven from Lancashire to Yorkshire or vice versa on the A59, you may be familiar with this bit of road:

a59 copy

It’s the twisty part with a fairly steep drop on one side, between the steep but straight bits on the way out of Harrogate, and into Bolton Abbey.

It’s the part where you would not want to break down. It’s the part where we did.

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Thankfully, there had been some roadworks, so there were cones further down the road. So Custard hopped out and stuck them in the road to warn people of the impending non-moving Beetle between two bends (there was a low rumbling sound, then all of a sudden, there was no acceleration when revving. Bugger.)

The RAC were called and asked to send a low loader, as Rufus is not one for being towed. They gave us an ETA of about 6pm. It was about 4pm when we broke down. Argh.

Some people gesticulated and beeped at us (yeah, coz we chose to break down here…) some lovely people (mainly VW types) stopped and asked if they could help. Lots of people pulled the special sympathetic face you pull when someone is broken down. Some people went way too fast around us, and we both started to get edgy, especially as the light was starting to fade.

Unfortunately, as one person pulled around us rather quickly, it caused a lady driving a Volvo on the opposite side of the road to have to slam on rather sharply. The young lady behind her in the Suzuki Alto also slammed on the anchors. The guy behind her in the Transit didn’t stop so sharply, and unfortunately the Alto was sandwiched between the Volvo and the Transit, with the Volvo’s towbar going through her radiator, and the Transit crushing her bumper and boot, and ending up a fair way onto the verge.

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Once the Volvo driver had established her car had only cosmetic damage, she left, the Transit driver helped move the Alto to the same side of the road as Rufus, gave his details and left, leaving Rooobarb to phone the police and both of us to look after the two young ladies who were understandably shaken up. Several police cars, a camera man from BBC’s Traffic Cops, an ambulance car and a fire engine turned up, as the police pointed out that incidents on this particular stretch of the A59 are usually much, much worse.

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Custard had been doing her Railway Children “flannel petticoats” bit standing on the verge slowing people down as they came down the hill, as the first police car slowed people on their way up, then at least two more police cars arrived, and the ambulance, to block the road and direct traffic.

The police decided to tow Rufus to a safer part of the road, which involved a rope around his front beam and some very slow and nerve-wracking driving up to the now infamous (to us, anyway) Kex Gill Road, as that was the only point of reference we’d had whilst trying to get the RAC and the emergency services to find us.

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As we were being towed, we saw our low loader heading the other way, and he rang to ask if he’d just seen us, and turned round and came and got us loaded up in a much safer location.

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Turns out, that the lovely man had a 1971 Beetle of his own that is lower than Rufus (!!!) so he got him on the wagon with ease, and brought us home, then helped us push him into the garage. What a gent.

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So all in all, an eventful afternoon! Rufus will require the ministrations of Dave again to get him back on the road, but at least he made it home in one piece. We broke down in a very unfortunate place, and were very lucky to not have been involved a collision ourselves.

So much for a quiet weekend trip out, eh? Look out for us on Traffic Cops towards the end of this year or the beginning of next…


Dub Freeze 2014

The sun was shining, so all the Dub nuts set off to Stafford County Show Ground for the first big show of the year: Dub Freeze!

We were very excited to be out in Rufus, who was running like a dream:

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The sound, the smell, the stance. Love him!

A post shared by arch (@archduchess_) on

dubfreeze roadtrip selfie

We got into an impromptu convoy on the way, then arrived in the day parking field and managed to do a bit of ploughing as we crossed the grass, whoops!

convoy splitscreen van beetle dubfreeze

convoy splitscreen van beetle dubfreeze wedge t25

beetle vw lowered slammed ruby red dubfreeze

beetle vw lowered slammed ruby red dubfreeze

We entered the showground and met Rufus’s brother!

beetle vw ruby red dubfreeze

And saw lots of other lovely cars and vans on show and for sale:

karmann ghia dubfreeze

vw splitscreen badge target mod jam dubfreeze

dubfreeze beetle vw

dubfreeze vw splitscreen ratlook

Inside the hall it was very busy and there was lots to see, with lots of traders and autojumble:

dubfreeze 2014

dubfreeze 2014

dubfreeze bay vw lamp

splitscreen vw van coca cola cooler dubfreeze

dubfreeze bay window reflection paint

rusty front panel dubfreeze bay window

bromsgrove auto trimmers bat dubfreeze

Beautiful work from Bromsgrove, as always.

A good variety of watercooled and aircooled cars in the show and shine:

vw golf mark 1 dubfreeze show and shine

beetle vw slammed narrowed beam dubfreeze show and shine

vw golf r32 slammed show and shine dubfreeze

vw golf mark 2 dubfreeze show and shine

vw lupo dubfreeze show and shine

hang loose wahugoy lupo vw show and shine dubfreeze

vw fastback dubfreeze show and shine

vw fastback dubfreeze show and shine

vw scirocco dubfreeze show and shine

vw scirocco dubfreeze show and shine

vw scirocco dubfreeze show and shine

vw beetle dubfreeze show and shine

vw beetle karmann ghia dubfreeze show and shine

vw golf mark 2 dubfreeze show and shine

dubfreeze show and shine beetle vw slammed

The Carole Nash Sparkplug challenge!

dubfreeze carole nash sparkplug change challenge

dubfreeze carole nash sparkplug change challenge

dubfreeze chocolate vw brownies

dubfreeze where's alan steve festival hat

Alan, Alan, Alan

hayburner sticker speed bumps lowered slammed idiot dubfreeze
Great sticker from Hayburner.

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!

vw beetle slammed dubminx 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!

Coming soon to a show near you

Rooobarb and I decided to have a more formal discussion about the shows were were planning to attend this year.

We’d had a chat back in maybe October or November, and jotted down a few possibles, with the plan to eliminate a few and go camping on our own instead of doing the show thing so much this year. Last year, being our first year of camper ownership, we went a bit crazy with the show attending, and spent lots of money out of the “Repairing old Volkswagens” fund. We said we wouldn’t do as many shows this year.

We got our list out. And ended up adding to it. Whoops.

So our plan for the year looks something like this:

Day visit – 16th February – DubFreeze, Stafford

Day visit – 2nd March – Spring Dub, Harrogate

Easter Weekend – 18th-21st April – Bus Types, Oswestry

Early May Bank Holiday Weekend – 3rd-5th May – Vicky Farm and Stanford Hall

Weekend – 17th-18th May All Types VW Show, Bodelwyddan Castle, Wales

Day Visit – 21st-22nd June – CumbriaVAG, Kendal

Weekend – 4th-6th July – Camper Jam, Shropshire

End of Term Weekend – 18th-20th July – Dubs at the Castle, Monmouthshire

Day Visit – 3rd August – Tatton Park, Cheshire

Day Visit – 8th-10th August – Blackpool Breeze

Weekend – 15th – 17th August – VW Festival, Leeds

Weekend – 5th-7th September – Busfest, Malvern

Weekend – 12th-14th September – VW Field of Dreams

Weekend – 26th-28th September – Dubs int Dales


Other camping:

Goredale Scar

Coniston Hall


Where are you going camping this summer? What shows do you fancy? Let us know in the comments!

Kombi Life Magazine: Custard in print.

After writing a review of Field of Dreams VW Show, Custard was invited by the editor of Kombi Life magazine to submit it for publication.

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.

Kombi life issue 4

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.

Kombi life field of dreams

I did not receive payment for this review.

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…

Thanks, Volkswagen!

You may remember that a couple of weeks ago I carved a Beetle pumpkin for Hallowe’en, and decided to pop it on Volkswagen UK’s Facebook page.

pumpkin vw beetle slammed halloween

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!

pumpkins facebook uk volkswagen

On Friday I had a “while you were out” card from the postman, and on Saturday morning I went and collected this:

volkswagen splitscreen uk moneybox camper

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.

volkswagen splitscreen uk moneybox camper lego

volkswagen splitscreen uk moneybox camper lego_8

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 evolution decal sticker camper transporter t2 t25 t4 t5 splitscreen bay wedge

November camping

After our end of season camp out at Dubs In’t Dales, we thought that that would be our camping done for 2013. However, our friends Andy and Gill invited us to a bonfire and fireworks party at their picturesque home, Harwes Farm.

With lots of visitors expected, the bedrooms and sofas were booked up, but with Andy desperate to meet Ruby, we decided that we should bring her out for one more adventure.

We were really pleased that Ruby started first time when we collected her, although she was a little chilly and sluggish, and took a little while to warm up and chug away contentedly. The sound of her flat 4 engine summoned a fellow splitty owner – who had just bought his prize-winning 11 window Devon camper, Sally.

918 TAL splitscreen 11 window vw camper devon sally

We had a good chat about buses, shows, bootcamps, keys and engines and exchanged numbers so that we can meet up and help each other out. It’s always good to be in touch with local VW owners!

We set off for Harwes Farm in the dark, wind and rain, and navigated the country roads and narrow twisting farm tracks mainly without incident. Ruby was a very popular guest at the party, particularly with 10 year old Emily, who declared Ruby to be “EPIC!” and insisted on helping with parking her up and setting up the bed (sitting in the passenger seat and enthusing wildly about everything is very helpful, especially for morale, when it is dark and raining!)

The party was superb, with food, drink, fireworks, karaoke, and insanely talented musicians. At 1am we toddled out to bed down in Ruby and found that camping on a moorside in the wind is a little bit different to the camping that we’ve experienced so far! Ruby rocked around a bit in the wind, and the bonks, clonks and wobbles made for a largely restless night, particularly for Rooobarb.

We woke this morning to beautiful sun, slightly less wind and breathtaking views across the moors, which Ruby enjoyed.

Ruby vw splitscreen panel van Harwes farm

Ruby vw splitscreen panel van Harwes farm

Ruby vw splitscreen panel van Harwes farm

Ruby vw splitscreen panel van Harwes farm


After a couple of strong cups of coffee, we set off back to bed Ruby down in her garage again – where the owner handily jetwashed the road grime off her (although his jetwash is more powerful than the one at the garage, so Custard in the driving seat ended up a little soggy!)

Is that the last of the camping adventures for 2013? Well, with a New Year’s Eve party at Harwes Farm mentioned last night, it would be rude of us to do Ruby out of another opportunity to be cooed over and admired 😉 Let’s just hope for less wind!

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!

George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces

Last week, some friends pointed me in the direction of George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces. It has everything to appeal to my interests – from a cute paper splitty in the credits, to amazing and quirky uses of unusual spaces.

After catching up with last week’s episode, I popped onto the 4OD website where Series 1 is available to watch (if you register). There are several glimpses of campervans during the series, including an interview with a couple at Bug Jam where they show off their lovely splitty.

The first episode of Series 2 also featured a couple of glimpses of Florence of Polly’s Parlour – hopefully she’ll be making a bigger appearance in future episodes.

Campervans aside, there were many exciting and incredible small spaces to inspire and excite, from the Victorian underground toilets converted into a beautiful flat, offices and work spaces in reclaimed tube carriages and shipping containers to beautiful beach houses and cabins in the woods. I also enjoyed watching the progress of George’s own static caravan, which developed, with a lot of hard work and hours of toil, from something unloved and stuck in the 1970s to a beautiful piece of modern design. His project this series is an accessible tree house, the progress of which I will be following with interest.

Some people didn’t like that the ambulance in the first episode of Series 2 was being converted to a camper, or that the couple paid an expert to carry out the work rather than do it themselves. In my opinion, a repurposed ambulance is better than a rusting, forgotten ambulance in a field somewhere, and if we all tried to do things to the best of our abilities, rather than employing people who were good at them, my daily driver would not be running, but I’d not need it to go to work, seeing as how you’d all be educating your children at home 😉

The great thing about this programme is that it gets you thinking about how to use the space and materials you have more efficiently, and how something functional and practical can also be insanely beautiful. As a child, I harboured a notion of living in a double decker bus for a brief period of time – the space provided would be palatial, if utilised wisely!

George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces is on Channel 4 at 8pm on Thursday.

An episode guide for Series One can be found here.

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!