Saturday, 31 December 2011

Year End by 'M'

Hi All
well you probably all think that i'm not into this 'blog stuff', but i can honestly say thank god for Jools as i wouldn't have the time, but do think that many appreciate it. going by your comments etc. and get a lot from it!!!

Well what a year!!! certainly not the best, not for me anyway.

I absolutely must stress though that I love our life in a caravan, and don't want to go back to bricks and mortar, EVER!!!!

The year started for me with some very stressful personal problems with my son. this lasted till May!!! he came through ok though. for once justice did prevail!

Then I had my lump scare in June!!! which i know Jools informed you all of (with my consent).

By mid July I had trapped the major tendon in my shoulder and was looking at a long hall to recovery with cortisone injections and the threat of surgery!! My immediate boss was not sympathetic to say the least, which added to my stress of possible redundancy, so i fibbed and said I was better and went back to work.
I took it very carefully, having a very good, understanding work colleague.

Then by the end of July, my son announced that I am to be a Nannie in March 2012 :-)

The rest of the year we plodded along, which is something I don't enjoy doing. I believe in living!!!

Poor Jools has been through it this year with me nagging although i know he does his best.
It's not really in my nature to nag so he got a bit worried at times to say the least, but you know what they say, if you can't take it out on your nearest and dearest,then who can you take it out on?

So goodbye to 2011 and HELLO 2012, which looks promising, new job for Jools, new baby coming and (i forgot to mention) a new woman for my brother!!! who has been with the ultimate dragon for 8 years!!! now she's gone(hurrah) so we shall see more of him, where ever he shall be!

Looking forward to all our Rallies next year and meeting up with new friends and old.

Happy New Year to one and all. With positive thinking we can make it a better year XX

Friday, 30 December 2011

2011 Review On Living Full Time In A Caravan

January 2011

With most of the snow gone, we travelled back from to our campsite, where we stayed for a couple of weeks, then moved on later in the month. A few frosty days, but winter was more or less over by the end of January. Plenty of windy weather to contend with but that was about it.

The Freelander required its rear prop shaft removing after the 4wd system failed.

For some unknown reason we were banned from UK Campsites we never did get an explanation why we were, so can only assume that the armchair caravan brigade did not approve of our choice of life style. Please if anyone is from there and reads this feel free to enlighten me as to why you banned me! I suspect I will hear nothing!

Back in January I mentioned about writing a book, this is still work in progress! It may take some time as I seem to have so much on my plate and not enough hours in the day to do it all!

We also had a splendid day out down at Hurst Castle and managed to get some great photos (Click Here To See Pics)

February 2011

6 months in and still living the dream! This month an old army mate Mark and his family came down to stay with us for a few days in their  caravan. A fine time was had by all, with trips to the Royal Signals Museum Salisbury Cathedral and to the NEC caravan show, where we bought our CADAC Carri Chef Deluxe This has been our best buy ever, apart from our caravan!

March 2011

We got to try out our new porch awning that we got whilst at the NEC, we also experimented cooking on the CADAC Carri Chef Deluxe managing roast chicken and loads of other dishes to numerous to mention!

I helped some one move house, and I had a day at the caravan in shorts and t-shirt!

I also wrote our most looked at post called Living In A Caravan - Top 10 Questions Asked! Its amazing the sort of questions we are still asked even a year later. 

We also joined Slimming World in an effort to loose a bit of weight, emptying my pockets of all loose change before getting on the scales was only kidding myself!

April 2011

We bought a flat screen TV and a laptop this month, both gets used, but one obviously alot more than the other!

We also took on an Industrial Unit to store all our gear and for me to work from. This ended up being a bit of a money pit, but as you say, you live and learn!

There was some lovely warm weather in April with me sat outside working with the laptop.

Whilst on one site we encountered some rough pikeys, that caused problems with noise, kids and rubbish everywhere. I don't want to stay on sites like that so after asking the site owner to do something, and being assured that he would, after a few days of no action being taken we decided to leave! This is the only trouble we have had since we have started!

We cut our last ties with Shaston by giving up our old Victorian garage as well.

Our first rally of the year took place at Abbey Hill - a great rally that we both enjoy going to. I know the guys from the rally read this, so looking forward to the start of the season all ready!!

May 2011

May was spent sorting out ebay for others and not keeping an eye on the ball and earning money for myself! This was the start of the slippery slope as far as money was concerned as it had a knock on effect which lasted all year!

In mid May we travelled to Shillingstone home of the Three Okefords Preservation Society Vintage Rally. This is really a home event for me seeing as I class Child Okeford as my spiritual home which is just down the road.

At the tail end of May we travelled up to Selwood for their rally, being a bit of a damp and blustery weekend the show did not attract alot of visitors, we saw hardly anyone walk by our stationary engine, but they did have some good Cheddar Valley Cider on in the beer tent!

June 2011

In June I became very stressed working with a certain individual and decided that I was losing more money that I was making and decided that enough was enough. 

We also had a breast cancer scare which thankfully proved only to be a cyst, but a very worrying couple of weeks went by.

West Bay Vintage Rally and Bournemouth And Poole Preservation Club Limited Steam And Vehicle Show were both attended, and both had down pours of rain! Westbay rally was cancelled on the Sunday and Canford Magna stopped letting vehicles in on the friday evening, till later on when things started to dry out a bit!

"M" managed to tear a muscle in her shoulder which put her out of action for a few weeks.

We also started to think about our trip to the Brecon Beacons later on in the year with "M"s Mum!

July 2011

In this month we did a tiny little rally at Witchampton, its that small there is no website! We had a cracking weekend and didnt stop laughing all weekend!

The fridge stopped working, but with the aid of superglue I managed to repair the knob and its still working fine now!

The inlet manifold gasket on the Freelander developed a leak, and we managed to sell the Fiat and buy the Pajero! It was a busy old time for the vehicles!

I started gardening, and got a couple of contracts which kept our heads above water, but only just!

My sister Ali and her partner Matt joined the ranks of caravanners by buying a brand new caravan!

We didn't go to the Portland show due to lack of funds!

August 2011

Mid August we went to Purbeck Vintage rally and had a good time, the weather once more was not kind to us being rather chilly, but at least it stayed dry!

This was the first time we had towed with the Pajero and with the stationary engine in the back. Needless to say it performed extremely well, I had to keep reminding myself that we were actually towing our caravan!

We also passed our one whole year of living in our caravan this month! It certainly didn't feel like a year had gone by!

We also had our holiday in the Brecon Beacons which we both enjoyed, and would love to go back again when funds will allow!

This was the furthest I had ever towed before and again it was a doddle.

September 2011

Saw another two shows . The first being at Harmans Cross which is just outside of Swanage, what makes this one so special is the tickets we are given to go on the steam train that runs from Norden to Swanage on a regular basis.

Its only a small show, and even with having the caravan perched on a hill we still enjoy this rally.

Another small do at the Hollycombe Steam Park near Liphook. We had a week of camping and helping out the park and we ran our engines in the evening as this is when the park opened. Another fun week with never a dull moment, plenty of relaxing and generally doing very little for a few days was rather nice!

Towards the end of the month it started to get warm again!

We also had our very own "One Big Pikey Party" with "M"s brother turning up from Ireland in an old beat up transit with Irish plates he looked and sounded the part! A number of other friends and family turned up and we had a full on weekend, loads of BBQ's, beers and camp fires. A good time was had by all!

October 2011

This month saw our last show at the Cross Keys Pub, a small gathering of stationary engines, miniature steamers and vintage tractors. A great way to finish off another year of exhibiting.

We had our first frost this month, but in general the weather turned out very  mild, if not a bit barmy on a few days!

I won a photo competition run by the National Trust of a lizard that I took on a wooden fence whilst in South Wales.

And we handed back the keys to the unit, we simply could not afford to keep it on.

November 2011

This month we watched the tree's change colour and the leaves begin to fall, it was also a month when I suffered from depression.

I'm usually an upbeat, positive kind of person, but I let things get on top of me, hence the lack of posts in this month. I simply did not feel like writing.

I still have good days and bad days, but on the whole I'm feeling more positive about the future.

I had an interview for a job and as long as all the paperwork goes through the outlook for the future looks better.

December 2011

The run up to Christmas is never a good time for me, so there have been good days and bad days. I associate Christmas with spending money which is totally wrong. The whole meaning of Christmas appears lost in the hustle and bustle of outdoing each other for best gifts and who's house has the best lights on it! 

I'm not religious at all, but I think we should really all take a good look at ourselves this time of year, and really think why we spend so much money!

I spent a good few days working for Bob an antiques dealer up in Shaston, which I am very grateful to as without the cash injection it would of been a bleak existence! It also cheered me up working with someone who has a dislike for Christmas greater than I have!

So to round things up its been a tough year financially, like a lot of folk, we are feeling the pinch, but we do have a way out and a plan which is probably more than most. We have a roof over our heads, ok, a tin one, but its a roof, its dry, warm and secure, and it does not cost much to run. So we have a lot to be grateful for.

Next year I will be starting my new job, hopefully by late January or February at the latest and we will see a rise in our income and a better standard of living.

That's not to say we will be giving up living like this. That will not change for some time, it is too good to leave!

So it only remains to say, thanks for all your support over the last 12 months, it really is great to hear from you all.

I couldn't go into thanking everyone who contributes to this blog, but a mention to New Zealand, Canada, USA and all those in the UK, full timers who we have got to know via this blog, and those who we have actually met! Of course not forgetting 007Herbert who as we speak is probably planning his next round the world trip and Mr Gulliver who over the year has been a steady visitor turning up in his camper van through all the seasons and weather to join us for a beer.

Those of you who have contacted us for advice or have found this blog useful, thanks for dropping by, I hope those of you who are full timing are enjoying the experience and those of you who are thinking about it, well, stop thinking and start doing!

So HAPPY NEW YEAR to you all, I know a day early, but we will be celebrating the end of one year and looking forward to 2012 tomorrow so this is the last chance I will get. 

Till 2012...........................

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Freelander 1.8 Petrol Clutch Master Slave Cylinder Removal Replacement

We bought a new clutch master and slave cylinder, it comes as a sealed unit so you cant buy one without the other. We got a good deal as "M"s daughter works in a garage.

But, it was down to me to fit it! Having never done it before I had a quick read up about it on the internet, which gave me a rough idea of how to set about it.

Up with the bonnet, after fighting with the bonnet release cable as that requires a tug with a pair of pliers as the end has snapped off from the handle!

Up it goes and - what's going on in here. Rat shit! sneaky blighters had nested on the battery, it was full of seeds and stuffing! So with that cleaned out I set about removing the air box.

Easy, four clips to the top and bend the top back out of the way and secured it with a brass pipe I had lying about! Then, remove the bottom hose, undo the two screws that hold the bottom of the air box and remove.

I could then see where the problem was, the slave cylinder had broken apart, hence not being able to change gear. It was lying limp, so traced all the hose back unclipping as I went up to the master cylinder on the bulk head. 

This is where the fun began! It is attached to the clutch pedal by a metal pin, that then clips into a 4 pronged clip housing. How to remove the four pronged clip whilst lying upside down, holding a torch and trying to prize apart the clips! Impossible!

This is the bit that is not mentioned any where on the internet! So Chris the other full timer that we know was enlisted in to help. Being mechanically minded, we came to the conclusion that as the clip wasn't required why not cut if off with a pair of snips, and this would release the pin!

Well, it worked but it took a bit of time as it was a bugger to reach! I should like to make clear that when you release the master cylinder from the pin/pedal that the pedal fly's up on its spring wacking you on the cheek! Ouch!

Ok, so that's it removed! Next step to insert the new one, threading the hose into place, remembering the route it was in before you removed it! We slotted the slave cylinder into place but it looked really loose in its mounting bracket. It was by shear luck that Chris looked right in and found a "C" shaped plastic clip that had fallen off the old one.

This wasn't in the new kit, so it was lucky it hadn't fallen out when we recovered the car!

Then came the fiddly bit of getting the clutch pedal pin back onto the end of the master cylinder. Not made easy because the end of the pin is very close to the side of the lower dash board, so not a lot of space. But, with a bit of wriggling around it popped into place.

Finally securing the master cylinder in place simply by turning it 45 degree's!

We started the car up and put it into gear and hey presto every thing appears to work fine!

Airbox back in and all the hoses secured the best they can be, and that was it.

So to be honest a reasonably simple repair, thankfully I had Chris as back up to help out, as you really could do with two pairs of hands, and to be honest it's always good to have some one else's opinion on things.

So thanks to Chris the Freelander is back up and running and earning its keep!

Once again I wonder how much that would of cost if we had to have a garage repair it! One thing is for sure, living the way we do, you certainly become self reliant! Of course with a little help from friends!

Till later......................

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

2nd Christmas In Our Caravan.

This has been our second Christmas in our caravan, this year we have had the big awning up. Last year we went to stay at "M"s Mum's partner of the time, in his garden. We were still surrounded by snow and ice so we could not put the awning up.

This year, its been very mild and as we have had the big awning up it is all decked out with fairy lights and a tree.

Christmas day for us this year was at The Royal Oak pub, I had game pate, followed by venison pie and a chocolate tart, "M", her Mum and her son had the more traditional roast turkey and all the trimmings and Christmas pudding.

We stayed there till around 1630 where we then drove back to Bournemouth to drop off "M"s mum. We also left "China" dog with her for the night as we were heading over to "M"s brothers house deep in the New Forest, and staying the night. He has two Great Danes, who would of probably been ok with "China" but "China" probably wouldn't of been ok with them! So as we didn't want to spend the evening pulling dogs apart "China" dog was spent the night on holiday!

This was the first time we had ever left her anywhere and it was strange without her. We had a good night, drank too much port and finally got to bed just after 0300hrs. I then spent the next day feeling rather rough!

We drove back, well, "M" did as I had trouble walking due to the amount of Port still inside me back to Bournemouth where we had a bite to eat and collected "China".

I was glad to get back to our home and relax. Our caravan really does feel like home and it was a good feeling to be back.

We have had a very slow start to the day today, we are off on another round of visits later and will be spending the afternoon at "M"s daughters and son in laws in New Milton. I'm driving today, so "M" can have a drink. 

Tomorrow, its back up to Shaston to tap some keys which I'm looking forward to. "M" still has time off!

We collect the clutch master/slave cylinder kit today, which means that on Thursday weather permitting I will be getting my hands dirty! Having never fitted one before it will be a bit of a learning curve, but in the words of "Del Boy" - "What could possibly go wrong"!

Hope every one had a great Christmas, even being the Christmas grump that I am, have enjoyed this year.

Thank you all who have left us messages and emailed us, sent us cards etc. As you know I'm terrible for doing things like that, so please take this as my personal thank you and best wishes.

Till later......................

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Mitsubishi Pajero Rear Door Handle Stuck - Easy Repair!

Tis Christmas Eve, and with not much to do this morning I thought it about time I tackled the job of working out why the back door of the Pajero wouldn't open!

Having looked up on the Pajero Forum to see if there was any clues as to what the problem was, I found that it was a common problem and an easy fix.

All though the first fix did not work, which was a vast quantity of WD40 and hit the handle hard!

This being a Royal Signals Technicians way of fixing things. I decided on a more of a logical way of firstly removing the screw which surround the door opening handle and removing the shroud, the next was to remove the two screws which hold the rear door grab handle on. Then the four screws which hold the tool box compartment in place within the back door.

Once these were removed I unpopped the lower plastic window surround, so that I could get to the top of the rear door panel, then popped the lower panel off.

Finally having to break through the plastic insulation cover to get to the mechanism, where by I resulted to the R Sigs technician method of a liberal coating of WD40 and wiggle everything around. This freed up the mechanism and all is now working properly and we now have full use of the back of our truck!

Total time spent - 20 mins. Materials used, 1/4 tin of WD40 and some skin off my fingers!

Should of taken some pictures but all self explanatory if you happen to have a Mitusbishi Pajero with a sticking back door mechanism!

Till later................

Friday, 23 December 2011

Christmas All Wrapped Up!

Well, if that;s it, all the shopping done! If we haven't got it, we just haven't got it!

We did the Asda shop in Bournemouth's Castlepoint yesterday evening (Thurs) and to be honest it was fairly quite. A bit of a nice surprise. I was expecting a bit of a battle.

As we are on a bit of a budget this year, we have bought small presents for close family, but we have made the decision not to buy each other anything. We will wait till things are better later on in the year.

We are off to "M"s daughter's tomorrow afternoon to deliver presents, Christmas day we are off to The Royal Oak for our dinner, then once we have dropped "M"s mum back to Bournemouth we are off to "M"s brothers deep in the New Forest for a much needed beer or two as Im driving and will be dry till we get there!

Boxing day, we are heading back to "M"'s mums as China dog is staying with her for the night! Her brother has two Great Danes and they would eat China! So we thought it best that China went on holiday for the night!

Tuesday, will be spent at "M"s daughters, then Wednesday I'm back to Shaston and tapping keys!

And that's it for another year!

This is our 2nd in the caravan. Last year we were knee deep in snow with temperatures not getting above -5. This year we are 10 degrees! Such a change!

In case we don't get another chance we hope you all have a fantastic Christmas.

Till later.....................

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Medical - You Have Cold Hands Matron!

I'm not what you would call a frequent visitor to the doctors. The last time I went was a couple of years ago as I had strained a muscle in my arm throwing a stick for my old dog.

On booking the appointment they asked me who my Doctor was, Dr Weir was the reply, ah said the receptionist he retired 10 years ago!

That's how often I go!

So yesterday I must admit to being a bit apprehensive, the last time I had a medical was in the Army.

Which reminds me of my very first medical to see if I was a healthy specimen to join in the first place. At the tender age of 15 I was told to report to a surgery in Salisbury, and to make sure I had a full bladder as they required a sample.

Not ever given a sample before I didn't have a clue what this meant, so when presented with a rather large carafe to provide a sample in, I did as they asked and as I was at the point of bursting I filled it to the brim! There sat in the waiting room waiting to be called with a large steaming carafe of pee produced a few looks I can tell you!

Anyway, I now know that my blood pressure is ok, I am not diabetic, my back and eyesight is ok, and (famous last words - I don't think my hands are cold) (now cough) have a hernia!

So another hoop jumped through, just waiting on the CRB people to complete and now that the medical is completed my provisional PCV licence has been applied for.

Just waiting on the paperwork to catch up with itself now.

Off to Shaston for the day to tap keys, a quick run around for China dog on Wingreen hill first, but before I go I must do the washing up!

Till later....................................

Sunday, 18 December 2011

A Bit Chilly!

This has been the coldest it's been so far, with temperatures just getting above freezing. It's strange to think that this time last year we had plenty of snow and the temperature didn't get warmer than -4!

Lovely and warm in the caravan, but it always is, averaging out around 21 degree's - roasty.

Yesterday we popped over to our storage unit to try and find the decorations for the Christmas tree, we couldn't find them! We found the tree, so no idea where they have got to!

We then drove over to Gillingham to see my folks and drop off presents etc, then back to Shaston to have dinner with Mr Gulliver and his parents. A very enjoyable evening was had as we dined on toad in the hole with some great sausages.

I asked what type of sausages they were called "Black Farmer Sausages" yes the farmer is black and I have no problem with any of that at all. However, what I do have a problem with, is that if a "white" farmer called himself the "white farmer" he would more than likely be called a racist or supremist! So what's with calling yourself the Black Farmer? 

I'm not racist but it all does seem a bit funny, or is it just me?

Like, the many specialist channels, asian network, music of black origin only. I dont see a mention of white music only? Like I said I'm not racist just have trouble getting my head around it all. It appears to me to be one rule for one then another for another group! Equaility - My arse!

Moving on swiftly before the left wing brigade liberal do-gooders with feather dusters come to get me!

Spent the day today, (Sunday) tapping keys back up at Shaston, I know its Sunday but I'm happy to grab every penny that's available to me at the moment!

As I pulled out of the site this morning, at the top of the hill the road was blocked by police, there had been a serious accident, so I had to turn around and make a bit of a detour. Thankfully I left in plenty of time, as I hate being late for anything. I would rather be one whole hour early and have to wait around than 1 minute late! Wonder where I got that from?

Anyway, the roads were very slippery this morning, plenty of black ice, can I still call it that? or is it just "ice" these days? I took it steady and got up to Shaston just in time.

When I got back this evening "M" had that look about her, not good, she had been doing battle with the water connector, and could not shift an air block, so she had been without water. I took a look and had a bit of a waggle and 10 mins later we were flowing again!

Roast pork tonight, looking forward to that as I'm starving, so just having a pre-dinner tipple of a pint of Marstons Pedigree a very easy drinking pale ale.

Spending the next few days tapping keys in Shaston, so a few more much needed pennies coming in!

Well, going to enjoy my pint,

Till later.........................

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Top 10 Essential Caravan Equipment - Dummy's Guide!

I've put together a top 10 essential caravan equipment list, not only for those who are thinking about getting a caravan for the 2012 season but also for all you old hands who maybe thinking of replacing or upgrading your kit.

In no order, just as I think of them.

Electric Hook Up Cable, now, before I had a caravan I wouldn't of had a clue what a hook up cable was or indeed if I needed one. Your caravan or motor-home normally has two different ways of getting electrical power, either from it's on board batteries, or by plugging into the mains on site. To plug into the mains on site you are required to have a special cable, commonly known as a hook up cable, or EHU cable. These are normally bright orange in colour with special plugs either end. You cant just use a 3 pin plug electrical extension reel!

They come in various lengths, but I would suggest you go for the longest you can, say 25 metres, and if your like us and want to be fully prepared have two of them!

Then if one fails, or becomes damaged you will always have power, not only that but you cant always be sure of getting close to a hook up point! This doesn't happen very often but it can happen!

One thing to do though is always check your cables on a regular basis, just run the cable through your fingers (with it unconnected)! and look for splits, cracks and nicks to it, dont repair it, buy another, 240v running through yr fingers is not a good idea.

25 Metre Electric Hook Up Cable

Aquarolls. Until we started living in our caravan we did not realise exactly how much water you tend to get through! We have two aqua-rolls, these are like barrels which you can hook a handle over each end and push or pull depending on how your feeling! Really great as they save carrying heavy water containers, the handles also come apart for easy storage.

They generally come in two different sizes, 29 litres and 40 litres, although I have seen a 50 litre one.

In my own humble opinion I would like to suggest 2 x 29 litre aqua rolls. Why? because if you work on the principle that each 29 litre roll weighs when full 29Kg then its easier to stand up and move about a 29 litre roll than a 40 litre roll, let alone a 50 litre roll!

We use 2 x 29 litre aqua rolls, and each roll is more than enough for a shower, just make sure its full to start with or you may upset your other half if it runs out half way through! An early lesson 

Go for having two as well, you can be sure that when you do run out its just when you need it the most, so a simple switch over to the other roll is far simpler than having to wander off across a field to get water, especially if it happens to be raining!

The one below also comes with a filler tube, this connects to the tap and then you simply put the other end in the aquaroll, this stops you getting wet legs and shoes, we have all done it haven't we!

Aquaroll 29L Complete With Filler Tube

Grey Waste Container - Waste Hog. Grey Waste I hear you say, what the heck is that? Grey waste is your washing up water, shower and wash basin water, it has to go somewhere, you cant just let it drain onto your pitch, so you need a container to put it in. Specially designed ones like the Waste Hog which are slim and can normally fit underneath your caravan on a level pitch. The water from your caravan drains into this, then once full, off you trot to the grey waste emptying point on pitch, and empty out.

Just dont forget to have some piping from your waste outlet points on your caravan and possibly junctions depending on how many outlets you have so you can direct it into your waste hog.

We have three outlets on our caravan, they all join to a single pipe direct into our waste hog. 

Waste Hog For Grey Waste

CADAC - If you have been reading our blog for a while you will know that this bit of kit is my No 1 essential piece of equipment. I think they are brilliant! A CADAC originates I think from South Africa and its a gas powered BBQ, but not just a BBQ, you can cook all sorts on it. 

You only have to look back on our blog to see that we have roasted chicken, beef, lamb and pork, cooked chilli's, curry's, roast potatoes, yorkshire puddings, full english breakfasts, and a multitude of fresh meat, fish and vegetables with the CADAC's different cooking tops. From Griddles, Roasting Pans, Paella Dishes to even being able to use your own roasting tins! Infact i challenge anyone to find me something that you cannot cook on one of these! (Did I really just say that)!

This really is a versatile piece of kit, that packs up easily into a bag! A real must have for anyone who enjoys eating and cooking outdoors! I can often be found under an umbrella cooking or on a cold frosty night looking up at the stars. You cant beating cooking outdoors!

CADAC Carri Chef Deluxe

Head Torch. You can be sure of one thing, if your gas bottle runs empty it will run empty when its dark! Being a two handed job unless you are an octopus you need some way of holding a torch whilst this is done. A head torch also comes in very handy for emptying loo's and filling up aqua rolls. I know we all say we always do these things during the day, but life isn't always that simple is it! So a head torch is near the top of the list of essential caravan equipment.

LED torches being all the rage, and to be honest they are bloody good, a better, brighter light and longer battery life ensure that LED torches are the way forward. We have many different types but the head torch certainly gets used the most by me.

The more LED's it has the better and brighter it can be, most have different settings so you can have only half the LED's on at a time. Adjustable head straps mean you can have a comfortable fit, well, as comfortable as they can be, so no matter how big your head is, being elasticated you will find one that fits!

We have the one below, it works really well. Having bought some of the very cheap one's in the past this one has failed to fall apart and it does have a hard life, being used every night whilst out walking "China" dog.

Pathfinder 21 LED Headlamp Torch

Welly Boots. When we first started this full time lark, I suffered from a medical condition that I called "Campers Toe" I seemed to always have the front part of what ever shoes I was wearing wet! So a pair of Welly Boots is essential. I've tried cheap pairs which have lasted 5 minutes so a good trusted brand is a good idea!

As you an see they come in a variety of colours, so you can make a statement even in your welly's!

Personally I like the comfort of the shorter boot, having a generous calf, which is completely different from an onerous giraffe!

Traditional Length Hunter Welly Boot or Short Length Hunter Welly Boot

Melamine Crockery. When our first caravan was vandalised and pushed down a hill and through a hedge we saw the results of what happens when all your crockery is china as it all came crashing out of the cupboards and smashed! 

We now have a full set of melamine crockery, all though we still have our china tea mugs. I wont travel with out it. Unless I'm drinking out of china it's just not the same. (That's china porcelain and not "China" Dog)! Its also lightweight, which is also an important factor.

If your full timing like us, then I would advise against a light coloured set as they do tend to discolour with continued use. But for weekends and holidays, I wouldn't let that put you off.

Outside Seating. One of the attractions of being in a caravan, is that you are out in the fresh air, surrounded by wonderful countryside. So don't sit inside and watch strictly dumb prancing on the TV, which in my opinion should be left at home. Instead why not sit outside and talk to your other half! Or if you cant manage that at least sit outside with a book or dare I say it just simply relax and enjoy your surroundings!

To do this you do need to have a degree of comfort, or you will end up with pins and needles in your legs. We bought these when we first started, a pair of Vango Corona chairs, and worth every penny. With us they get a hard life being used almost daily, as we nearly always have the awning up so get used right through winter, and during the summer we are always outside! They are still in great condition with no problems at all, but they have faded slightly but this is to be expected considering the use that they get.

Three reclining positions, very comfortable, I've fallen asleep in it many a time. and they have beer holders in each arm, very handy indeed!

Vango Corona Camping Chair

Mattress Memory Foam Topper. If your caravan mattress isn't that comfortable get a piece of memory foam, cut it to size and use your sheet with the elasticated ends to secure it. It really is that simple. With this caravan, I thought the mattress was fine, but "M" didn't like it, so we did what I've just suggested and it works a treat. In fact its one of the most comfortable places I've ever slept in. As I've slept in many a strange place (read a post done a while ago) I do know what I'm talking about!

This option is much cheaper than having a mattress made to size and spec!

2" Double Memory Foam Mattress Topper
Bombay Saphire Gin. Yes, you cant have a caravan without a bottle of Bombay Saphire! I know its glass but a top tip with any bottle is simply place an over glove over the top of the bottle whilst travelling to protect it.

There is nothing better than after you have emptied out your waste hog, and filling your aqua roll to have walked on your new EHU cable without fear of being electricuted in your Hunter welly's as you start to cook on your CADAC and dish up your wonderful home cooked food onto your Melamine plates in the dark using your LED head torch, relaxing in your Vango chair sipping a Bombay Saphire gin and tonic before retiring to your memory foam bed!

Thankyou and good night.....................

Friday, 16 December 2011

Caravan Security Devices - Wheel Clamps Reviewed

Here's a quick review of wheel clamps. These I have come across, all being found on line.

Purpleline Fullstop Nemesis Wheel Clamp

  • Fits Tyre Sizes from 145 to 255
  • Suitable for alloy wheels
  • Integrated high security 10-lever barrel lock, exclusive to FullStopTM.
  • Protects wheel lugs to prevent wheel removal attack
  • Fits vehicles from mini trailers (10") to 4x4s (20") wheels and all caravans, trailers, campers, cars etc
Claims to be the ultimate wheel clamp! Used by all the major wheel clampers and the DVLA.
It says it is resistance to cutting, drilling and gas freezing. One of the very few which exceed the Sold Secure Gold but still remains quick and easy to fit.
It certainly looks the business and so it should as it has a hefty price tag of just under £95.00

Full Stop Samurai Caravan Wheel Clamp

  • Compact & lightweight
  • Integrated high security lock system
  • Approved gold secure for caravan use
  • Fits caravan alloy wheels from 145 to 255 tyre width
  • Fits wheel sizes from 10-20 inch & Ifor williams trailers
If you have alloy wheels on your caravan then this could well be the clamp for you. unobtrusive and a light weight design and look. It certainly looks better than the one above!
Priced at just under £75.00 a good visual deterrent for those of you with alloys.

Stoplock Wheel Clamp

  • Universal wheel clamp suitable for all wheels 12 - 15"
  • Fully adjustable central steel shield adds extra security
  • Easy to fit in seconds
  • Supplied with two keys
  • Ideal for caravans and trailers
A more traditional type of wheel clamp, which does the job adequately, not as stylish as the ones above but it doesn't have the price tag either! This particular one is just under £40.00

We have a similar version to this, the only thing I find is that typically when its dark, raining and cold I find I have to kneel down to align the holes up with the lock on the sliding bar. This doesn't matter that much as I end up wet anyway, so no great shakes!

Fast Fit Security Car Caravan Wheel Clamp

  • Full face security wheel clamp
  • Suitable for 13 / 14 / 15" wheels
  • Ideal for sorn cars / caravans / trailers

The least expensive wheel clamp I came across was this one. You have to remember that unless your insurance company specifies what type of clamp to use all you are buying is a visual deterrent. Regardless of what type of clamp you have on, if a determined thief who is stealing your caravan to order wants your caravan, he will get it! At under £22.00 its a steal - excuse the pun!
Of course there are plenty to choose from, you could spend hours deciding, but one thing is for sure, if I was a thief I would go for a van without one no matter what type it was rather than having to spend valuable time trying to remove one.

Don't forget the prices here are a rough guide only, they can go up and down, so please check the prices.

I'm no expert, so these are my choices based on what I have seen whilst surfing around.

Till later..............

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Caravan Security Devices - Hitchlocks Reviewed

After my last post about caravan security it got me thinking about what was readily available and what different types there are.

I've just looked at physical security, you know something that you bolt on to your hitch or wheel to act as a deterrent 

So with that in mind lets look at hitch lock type security.

Sunncamp Trail Safe - Trailer/Caravan Hitchlock

The cheapest I came across was this one: SunnCamp Trail Safe - Trailer/Caravan Hitchlock bright yellow, a visible deterrent, with a metal shroud, a padlock and two keys. For the price its a cheap option, coming in at under £12.00
Personally I think these are perfect for your small car trailers, especially at that price!

Nimbus Heavy Duty Trailer Caravan Hitchlock

The next type actually clamps into your coupling with a bar looping over the top of the hitch handle, like this one: Heavy Duty Trailer Caravan Hitchlock

Again, a cheap solution with no padlock to fail so may be better. This one costs under £15.00

Milenco Super Heavy D Sold Secure AKS3004 Hitch Lock

The next one looks a little more like it should do, Sold Secure which is good and of a heavy looking construction being drill and cutter resistant. It can be fitted either hitched up or unhitched which is a good idea, especially when touring and stopping off at service stations. The  Milenco Super Heavy D Sold Secure AKS3004 Hitch Lock is priced just under £55.00 a bit of a jump from the last two but in my opinion a better buy for your pride and joy. Milenco also do a version for a Winterhoff hitch as well.

1285810 - AL-KO 2004/3004 Safety Device

The best and most expensive one is the AL-KO as you would probably expect if you have an AL-KO coupling its probably best to fit a lock made by the same company. It can be fitted either when hitched up or unhitched. I really like the idea of having it hitched on, on our travels last year to South Wales I didn't much like the idea of leaving the caravan whilst we went and had a cuppa. This would of put my mind at rest. The AL-KO 2004/3004 Safety Device is certainly not the cheapest at just under £80.00 but we all know how good the AL-KO stabaliser is, so I reckon this should do the job perfectly.
There are many other different types available, but I've just picked out a few which 
I would seriously consider.

I've given rough prices, as with everything these days, they can go up and they can go down, so please check. If you click on the links for each product you will get far more information and an up to date price.

I'll do a similar report on wheel clamps later.........