Where has the time gone!

It only seems a day or two since the last blog, unfortunately time seems to have passed me by!  We had a hectic week last week, and unfortunately none of it involved Sydney.  Following the normal manic work week, we also had to include catching up on the boring household stuff i.e.: washing, hoovering etc. following our weekend away.  It’s really not fun getting back to #realworld living.  On Friday I had a training course on communication to attend, learning how best to communicate with patient’s and their families.  It was a useful course and I volunteered, you’d think that I’d learn never to volunteer for anything by now, but no it seems to be a built in part of me.   The fact that it was on a day off is even worse!

Saturday saw us at the wonderful Hoar Cross Hall in Burton upon Trent. Hoar Cross Hall website.

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If you’re anywhere in the vicinity, this is a place to visit.  It also boasts it’s own spa, so perhaps you could book a treat!  We didn’t have much time to explore but the old greenhouses still seem to be in situ, next to the kitchen walled gardens to the left of the main building.

The gardens are immaculate and the church is beautiful, with stunning stained glass windows and high vaulted ceilings.

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On Sunday, we traveled two and a half hours across country to meet a few people that you may have heard of at the Yorkshire Hussar Campsite for #TwitterCampUK the weather was gorgeous on the way there.

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We were treated to an afternoon of sunshine and delightful company, although Jack and Jess were banished to the car at one point for being anti-social and causing us stress.  After 8 and a half years of camping and caravanning you’d think they’d love the company, but they’re terriers and a law unto themselves, grrr.

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Didn’t even have to lift a finger and Trev and Richard let us borrow their plates for the event.  Why is it men congregate around any kind of fire?  It did get a tad worrying when the Cadac started giving out smoke signals to the whole of Yorkshire at one point, but it was quickly resolved.  The food was great, I especially loved the lamb burgers with a dollop of mint sause with garlic apparently from the Isle of Wight, and one of my favourites, cheese and biscuits to follow the main event.  A very big thank you to Cover4Caravans

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It was a long trip back with the sat nav taking us literally up hill and down Dale for what I guess was the scenic route, the air was a little blue.

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A thoroughly enjoyable, if exhausting, weekend which wasn’t helped by losing an hour’s sleep on Saturday night.

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Weekend No 2, Day 2, Nantwich trip

So on Saturday I managed to stay asleep until 07:00!  To some that may be a ridiculous time to wake up whilst on holiday, to me that means I had a a lie in of about 1.5 hours, which is one of the many reasons why I love #mycaravan.  At home I’m lucky if I lie in until 05:30, on a good day, many mornings I can see the unearthly hour of 04:00 and as much as I do my best to bury my head under the pillow and pretend the light really isn’t starting to change outside, it doesn’t work.  How is it that Jack and Jess know when I’m awake, I don’t move, I don’t make a noise, but they KNOW.  Can I just point out that they don’t bother when Rob wakes up, they will quite happily stay snoozing in their bed and just keep an eye on him but if I’m awake that’s it they want to be up and at ’em, whatever ’em might be.

The sky looked rather ominous and we decided on a stroll around Nantwich so we could take advantage of doorways should the rain descend would be preferable to a walk along the unprotected canal on a stroll to Audlem.

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View from our side window #OverwaterMarina

Nantwich is a lovely little town with plenty of boutique shops, coffee shops and the usual array of high street names.  The architecture is stunning and I’m afraid to say that my phone camera doesn’t quite capture the beauty, although the weather really didn’t help either.

There’s a gorgeous little bookshop, whose signs amuse me greatly….not so much Rob!

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There’s usually something going on in town, at Easter there’s the Jazz Festival (Click here for more information)this weekend there was a Vintage and Artisan market and our favourite was the Vintage fire engine providing pizza!

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If you’re planning a trip to the area here’s a site for you to see what’s coming up (Click for more information) the Food festival in September is well worth a visit, but it does get VERY crowded and we have often been forced to pick up Jack and Jess and carry them to avoid them getting stepped on, they’re not very big and often get missed.

I was enticed to have fish and chips, whilst Rob enjoyed a Steak pie and half my chips, we retreated to the car for an al fresco lunch and may have saved a chip each for J&J.  We also picked up 2 jumpers on sale for the little monsters, at a bargain price of 50p each!  They weren’t impressed and could probably have done with a bigger size but for 50p it was worth the looks we were given.

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Back to the caravan to dry out and wrap up warm, put our feet up and watch life going on through the caravan window for the rest of the evening, with a beer, for him, and possibly a #Dragonfly for me!

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Blue bio toilet fluid review

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We recently received a sample of blue bio toilet fluid to try out in Sydney.  I don’t know if anyone else has a problem with black bits?  We have always used a popular blue and pink type toilet and tank fluid, we drain the flush tank at the end of each trip, we flush the tank through with clean water at the end of each season, yet we still have black bits.  I spend half my life in the caravan cleaning the toilet bowl it seems!

I HATE BLACK BITS.

With the promise of a product that will eradicate the little pests and also be eco friendly, one bottle and a handy measuring cap built in, why wouldn’t we try it?

This weekend we got a chance to give it a go.

Before leaving we filled up the flush, drained it, filled it up, drained it to try and make sure that as much of the previous fluid was removed as possible.  Off we went on our jollies for the weekend.

The first thing I like is the one bottle bit, you don’t’ have to keep a check on 2 bottles to make sure you have enough of each and you only have 1 bottle to carry.  Anything that saves time and storage on a camping or caravanning trip is a bonus.

The second is the handy built in measuring cup.  No tipping into a lid, no guessing how much you’ve put in, squeeze until you’ve filled to the required level, that’s it!

Next the amount you need to use, teeny tiny amounts.  20ml in the bottom tank and 10ml in the flush.  30ml – that’s it.  From a 1 litre bottle that’s 33.3333 doses, which will last 3-4 days dependant on how much you use the loo.  One dose will last us the weekend easily, that’s 33 weekends on one bottle.

It’s blue, much preferable to pink, I’m not a girly girl and pink flush fluid isn’t really my thing.  It smells good!  No chemical type smell, just fresh smelling.

So Friday night we still had a few black blighters, but I expected this.  As the weekend progressed we found less and less, by Sunday I was struggling to see any.  *Happy dance*.

I’ve found a new toilet fluid that I’m happy with, that seems to have rid us of the dreaded toilet black spot, that saves space, smells good and is eco friendly.

Will we continue to use it?  Definitely, and I whole heartedly recommend it following this first use, time will tell if we remain as happy.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overwater Marina 17 March 2017

Driving down the road on the last part of the journey towards our destination for the weekend, you can feel the sense of anticipation, the joy of being almost there, I want to behave like a child and ask “are we nearly there yet” but I know we are.

Sydney unhitched and in position, we’ve remembered to align the wheels for the Al-Ko lock this time, Rob pops the lock on and I set to with the drill on the legs.  Next the towing cover comes off, I grab the water containers from inside and the electric is connected.  We’re in business and the kettle’s on.

Now there is one pitch here that is an awful long way from the EHU, we know it, yet we still end up on the pitch and we’d only bought 1 EHU lead with us!  Can you guess where Rob was going?  Temporarily we hooked up to the vacant pitch next to us with fingers crossed that someone else didn’t arrive before we had the means to move our connection.

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Time for a quick brew and a sandwich before one of us nips off to get the other extension and the other one, me, hoovers, tidies and then sits down to relax.  The constantly on switch is set to off and for the first time this month I’m winding down.

Friday didn’t see us doing a lot just continuing to work on releasing that escaping fizz, a quick walk round the new pitches to check on progress, the water and drainage points are in but no EHU yet.DSCN0164

Coming along nicely.  The shower block wasn’t quite ready either but someone was working in there quite late and again on Saturday and Sunday.  Friday night was mainly spent with the blinds up so we could admire the view that we know so well.  But the view is always changing, the sky changes constantly, the light, the trees and flowers are yet to get their summer clothes on, our perspective changes, and our frame of mind changes.  I suppose it’s tantamount to Mindfulness, taking the time to just be, to take in your surroundings and not project anything, to allow any thoughts to sweep on by without grabbing them by the scruff of the neck and shaking them.

Saturday morning dawned and the caravan had worked it’s magic I didn’t wake until 7, which is pretty much unheard of for me whilst at home.  I did ache though, my back has been playing up recently and reminding me it’s pretty much had it, c’est la vie!  We  were undecided on a trip into Nantwich, it can get quite busy but it’s a beautiful town the architecture alone is worth a visit or a walk along the canal to Audlem, looking at the sky we went for Nantwich!  Jack and Jess get rather grumpy in the rain.

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Weekend No2 2017 is looming

3 sleeps left until weekend No.2 of 2017.  It really can’t come soon enough!  The last couple of weeks have been stressful, work’s busy, I’m trying to get my private work organised ready to hand over to someone else (I hope) on the 31st of this month, we’ve had different editing software – CyberLink PowerDirector 15, new laptop and Surface which all needed to be set up and I’m still adding apps that I need, veteran’s lunch last weekend where I ate almost my own weight in Guinness cupcakes, visit to the Grandparents who had managed to set the car display to Portugese and KPH which confused them no end and I may have had one or three Dragonflies.  Yesterday it took me over 2 hours to upload a Vlog because PowerDirector was adding some Codec or other to the MP4 and YouTube was spitting it out like a spoilt child, but not until it had loaded each time to about 98%, I was ready to forget vlogging forever.

The last few days have been full of blue skies and sunshine, even though I’m struggling to sleep recently it’s really lifted my spirits in one way and in others just made me want to be away in Sydney even more.  It’s not possible to explain to someone that doesn’t camp/caravan how it feels to set up somewhere else for the weekend, to look out the windows and see a different view, different smells, and that feeling of relaxation once the legs are down and the kettle’s on.  Best of all I’m still sleeping in my own bed and I can have a lie in.

At home my body and mind refuse to acknowledge any possibility of a lie in, if I’m really lucky I may wake at 6, with the lighter mornings I get up at the crack of dawn along with the noisy sodding birds.  This invariably means that I’m one of those people that gets less sleep on my days off than I do when I’m at work, due to going to bed later in the vain hope that I may actually sleep later.  Yet in Sydney, I’ve even been known to sleep until just after 9am!  It’s rare, but it does happen.  It really is like being in a different dimension or a different life altogether.

We’re lucky in that we have room at home for Sydney and don’t need storage, when we first moved into the house 4 1/2 years ago we had to use a storage site for Casper until we  widened the driveway and as we’d never used storage before it was a bit of a culture shock.  We use the caravan as another larder, it’s handy to pop top the top of the drive to get a tin of something or the coffee and teabags if we run out.  I wish I could say we put everything back in once it’s clean but all those things tend to sit at the side of the dining room table and get thrown in the boot when we’re ready to hitch up.  In our defence, if we go anywhere near the caravan Jack and Jess create an unholy racket and weave through our feet so much that one of these days there’s going to be a nasty accident.  When we are getting ready on a Friday morning, they get put in the car as early as possible and once there we don’t hear a peep out of them, anyone would think they like caravanning.

I tend to have cooked a few spare meals and frozen them so it’s only a matter of grabbing a cool bag, and adding milk, butter, bread (salt and pepper loaf from Morrison’s is our favourite), a selection of cold meats and cheeses, frozen ‘ready’ meals and the usual caravan food that we don’t have every day such as cake and biscuits. Because calories don’t count in the van.  Beer or JD for Rob and a couple of bottles of non-alcoholic wine for me, although this time it may be one bottle of wine and some Tanqueray, ginger ale and lime slices.  Some people are a bad influence.

We need to remember to flush out the ‘pink’ tank well this weekend so we can fill up with Blue_Bio and hopefully wave goodbye to black bits forever.  The weather may not be as nice this weekend as it’s been this week but it always looks better through a caravan window.  Whatever your plans this weekend, have a great one.

Andi x

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New tech…

Ah the joy of pressing that button “Add to basket”, I must admit I do love new things, especially shiny new tech and gadgets, luckily so does Rob!

We’ve had a not so fun week trying to get hold of said new tech, 3 orders cancelled from Amazon sellers without an explanation, 1 sat for a whole week before they decided to cancel it.  To say I was less than impressed is an understatement.

Our poor laptop was struggling with video editing, so of course we had to have a shiny new one, or that’s my excuse anyway.  Luckily some of Rob’s shares had been ready to cash in for a while and this seemed as good a time as any to use them.  Two cancelled orders later and welcome to a shiny new Asus, i7, 512GB SSD + some other normal drive which I’ve forgotten the size of, dedicated Nvidia Geforce graphics card with dedicated RAM of 8gb, we like it a lot.  So far.

Rob’s been on lates and therefore we’ve not really had a lot of time to play with it although I’m happily typing the blog on it at the moment, but of course that’s hardly stretching it’s capabilities.  As Rob will obviously be spending a lot of time using the laptop to edit vlogs I required something equally or more portable that I could use to blog on, as my 7″ android tablet was ok, but I also wanted drawing capabilities.

This was the order that has sat waiting for a week before the useless bunch of toerags decided to cancel the order with no explanation.  I must admit to the air being blue yesterday!  I finally found another Microsoft Surface to order after much mooching around the internet and have just had notification that it’s been posted by Royal Mail 24 hour.  Then of course we have the problem of Royal Mail not delivering all parcels on a Saturday so I still may need to wait until Monday before it actually arrives.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it’s here tomorrow because I have a case and pen to use with it that are staring at me reproachfully from the corner of the living room, I just can’t cope with the poor things feeling so unloved!

Of course, the above purchases have also caused me to add things to my Amazon wish list, a new 13″ laptop bag, a new USB disc drive, oh and we still need to get a longer USB to mini USB for the dashcam, do I need a new card reader for the Surface?  I can’t remember if it has one or not, I may have one upstairs but lets put it on the list anyway.

Today we also received a parcel from @Blue_bio a sample of their all in one fluid for the caravan toilet which I’m hoping will eradicate the black bits that constantly appear in the caravan loo despite it being drained each time.  Time will tell we’ll be off in the not too distant future to try it out.  Also they sent me a sample of their Teak treat, we have an unloved gas bbq sitting in the garden which will be treated to some of this.  I will of course take before, during and after footage for a vlog!

It’s amazing what you can justify when you have a need for shiny, shiny things.  I think we need help and probably need to get out in the caravan where our minds will be occupied with much more natural things and a return to nature!

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A few things for new caravanners

I re-tweeted a post the other day about electric hook up cables (EHU), and was surprised that some people were unaware of the need to make sure that the cable is unwound fully when in use to avoid overheating.  I suppose over time you forget what you had to learn!

So I’ve been thinking of a few things that may be useful for those new to caravanning/tenting etc.  It is not exhaustive but worth keeping in mind.

  1. EHU – if using for tents ensure that you have that you use a special EHU with RCD protection.  If NOT protected bear in mind that you are using it in damp conditions it could be dangerous!  It’s worth paying that little bit more to be safe.
  2. Always fully uncoil an EHU, coiled wires can overheat.
  3. Build up a useful list of “must-haves” that you add to or delete as you progress through your trips.  A simple app like Buy me a pie can work and you can share it between family members.
  4. Keep a notebook (electronic or paper it doesn’t matter!) with notes on where to point the aerial on a particular site to avoid having to constantly adjust.
  5. Don’t go out and buy £100s of specialist caravan kit for inside the van, use what you have!  Duvets, kettle, pans etc.  Once you’ve been away a few times you will know better what you need and can add or remove things from that list at No3. 
  6. Remember your electric is restricted, don’t expect to endlessly plug things in and for them all to work. You don’t need to spend time working out wattages and amps and other things that are beyond me, just use common sense.  Use only one high powered appliance at a time, for example the kettle or the heater or the microwave. 
  7. For those of us in need of a hairdryer and straighteners use your own from home!  12v ones are pretty dire.
  8. Does a particular site have a decent mobile/wifi/tv signal?  Do you need a satellite dish for certain sites?
  9. If towing a caravan – are you legal to do so?  Check your weights carefully if you passed your test after 1997.
  10. When working out what is ok to tow with your car, DO NOT use maximum towing weights.  Find the Kerbweight of your vehicle and work out the 85% guidance from that.  Your car may say you can tow 2000kg however your kerbweight may be much less.  The 85% is a guideline and we currently tow at 91%.  We’ve been towing for a few years now and the outfit (Car + Caravan) is stable and we’re happy with it.
  11. Check your nose weight!  Get a pair of mechanical scales and a stout stick to the height of your towball.  Lower the caravan hitch onto the stick to get your nose weight – you may need to re-adjust your packing to get the noseweight correct, what does your noseweight need to be for your car?
  12. Pack your heavy items over the axle of your caravan, packing too much at the front or the back can cause problems with towing, making the caravan noseweight too light/heavy.  On this note keep cans stored low down whilst travelling., one falling out of a cupboard can make a nasty dent.
  13. Make sure you are not carrying more than your payload (the difference between unladen and laden/MTPLM weights), motor movers, permanently attached awnings, bike racks etc also need to be taken off this allowance.
  14. Remember you are not allowed to tow in the outside lane of a motorway. Please note the rules apply regardless of what you are towing, applies to trailers too!
  15. Speed is limited to 60mph on motorways and dual carriageways in the UK.
  16. Speed is limited to 50mph on single lane carriageways, obviously this doesn’t apply to roads where the speed limit is 30 or 40 etc 
  17. Fit towing mirrors, it’s a legal requirement now. Remember to take them off once you’ve unhitched (also a legal point – thanks to @New2caravanning)
  18. Always check your lights before setting off.
  19. In the same vein, always check your hitch is attached to your towball securely or you will become unhitched and hear a rather loud bang as the van ‘falls off’ (thanks to @davies581) 
  20. Double check that all windows, skylights and doors are correctly shut and locked, losing a skylight on the motorway would be not only extremely dangerous but very costly!  (Thanks to @MWWTMs)
  21. Do you have an Alko stabilising hitch?  You need to remove all traces of paint from your towball, it needs to be super shiny and smooth, do not grease it! (thanks to @mascubelibre for reminding me of that one) 
  22. Another reminder thanks to @mascubelibre – if you have a motor mover remember to disengage before starting off! 
  23. If you have pink and blue for the loo, pink top, blue bottom.  And try not to get the blue on your hands wear gloves. 
  24. Always assume that other road users are idiots, give them a wide berth and plenty of notice!

I hope this helps!

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