Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Top Tips For Towing

Came across these guys the other day, they started following me on Twitter "caravanliving" so I thought I would give them a bit of a plug.

On their website they have a useful guide to towing, so if your new to towing, or and old hand that maybe a bit complacent (it happens to us all) then it may well be worth a quick read just to refresh your memory.

So go to their website at West Country Towing and have a peek.

As their name suggests they will tow anything to anywhere, so if you are fed up with lugging your shed behind you, let these guys do the towing for you!

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

Its Not Just Me!

I had a comment left for me by Johnny5 who regularly reads the blog with his partner TJ. They took the plunge, like we did 5 or 6 months ago, and have been full timing in their caravan down in Devon.

Like us, they have seen the benefits of living like this, and are enjoying the experience.

So don't forget as you scroll through the posts to click on the comments and read those as well!

Last night we drove down to Lymington and had a meal at a pub called the Mayflower. The food was absolutely amazing! I had whitebait, they were almost the size of sardines! Tasted wonderful with home made tartare sauce. Followed by a massive tuna steak on a caesar salad, with anchovies mixed in! Mind blowing, "M" had mussels in a white wine sauce followed by a sirloin steak with a stilton sauce!. So if your ever down this way, pop in here for a bite to eat!

We went as it was "M"s daughters (Jody) birthday. It was a nice drive down as we have to travel through the New Forest, the heather in full flower and looking very purple at the moment. Encountering a few ponies on the way down, but none on the way back!

Had a bit of a drama before we set off, as we had noticed that the off side head lamp bulb had gone, thankfully it was easy to get at, but not only had the bulb failed, but on removing the plug from the rear, then a rubber surround and finally the clip holding the bulb in place I discovered after hearing if drop that the bulb had parted company with the circular backing plate! You know the bit that mates up with the rear of the lens to stop it falling into the headlamp!

Luckily I had an extendable magnet which with a bit of job I went fishing to get the bulb end out of the headlamp casing. I certainly didn't want to leave it in rattling around, and I didn't want to start taking the whole headlamp out. Thankfully all sorted fairly quickly and off we went!

On site at the moment, but not rushing! I've got packing to do after a sale that finished on ebay, so that will take most of the morning, by the time Ive posted it all as well, then off to the tip with the garden waste from yesterday, then the rest of the day will be spent emailing, trying to drum up a bit more business.

This approach does seem to be working, as I've another quote to do later this week, once a time can be sorted for me to see them.

Basically its all down to numbers, the more you send out the more chance you have of getting a reply. Not rocket science, but you just have to get on and do it, which when your in a caravan with an amazing view watching the swallows skimming the field for insects, can get a bit distracting and before you know it another hour has floated sweetly by!

So with that in mind, better get going and do something other than blog, drink coffee and look out the window!

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

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Back To Work -Its A Struggle!

Having had a few days off it was a struggle to get going this morning!

I had a gardening job in Bournemouth to do today, at an old folks home, raking lawns due to the pine trees dropping like mad, and cutting laurel hedges back as they have been left for a while and require rather a lot of cutting back.

I'm back at the caravan now, got to get myself ready as we are off to Lymington for a meal with "M"s daughter Jody later. Another celebration!

We are here till the 9th September when we are off to Harmans Cross Vintage Rally which is near Swanage. Whats great about this rally is that is on the Corfe Castle to Swanage Steam Train Line, and last year we were given free tickets by the organisers. I say free we paid £10 towards the cost as an exhibitor entrance fee. But money well spent, as we could use the train everyday to go into Swanage or Corfe Castle.

Its only a very small rally, but thats the way we like them!

It seems very quiet in our field! A whole field just to ourselves! Its lovely.

Well, best get things moving here, so

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

Monday, 29 August 2011

One Year Later - What Do We Know?

Its strange to think that we have been full timing in our caravan for a whole year now!

Living back at our old house seems a very long time ago, almost as if it was several years ago and not just 12 months ago!

I guess the biggest factor you have to take in when living full time in a caravan is the weather. We have seen lovely hot sunny days, gale force winds where we thought the caravan may actually move, to freezing temperatures to -9.5, rain that heavy that we seriously thought we could get flooded out and of course snow!

One of the biggest myths we have had to bust is simply that no it doesn't get cold in our caravan! Even at -9.5 we were still a toasty 22 degrees in here! No it doesn't get damp, moldy and full of condensation either. Our old house suffered more from condensation!

Over the last 12 months we have only stayed at a handful of camp sites in total, we have traveled to many different Vintage Rallies and had a great time, and just recently returned from a short break in mid Wales.

So what have we learnt since we have started full timing?

A number of things spring to mind, so Ill list them below, they are not in any sort of order, just as they come to me.

1. People have some strange ideas about living in a caravan, the strangest comment I've received was that it was unhealthy! Not too sure how they came to that conclusion?

2. You can get stereo-typed very easily, doing what we do. I've gone past the point of caring now, and actually play on the fact!

3. There are a lot more full timers doing this than you think!

4. That anything is possible, sometimes you just have to sit back and think about it for a bit, but by hook or by crook there is usually away around any given situation.

5. That we are a lot more hardy than we thought, we have not had one cold since we have started this way of life!

6. We are more in tune with nature (the changing of the seasons/weather) and the wild life. This year we watched a pair of Canadian Geese, hatch, rear and fly away with all 5 of their off spring! An amazing experience.

7. That life is too short to worry about things too much. You have to live life each day, not save it up for the weekends or when you retire! We may not get that far!

How has our caravan stood up to full time living?

Amazingly well, is the honest answer. The heating circuit board for the electric heater packed in and required replacing last November, but apart from that, nothing serious has broken or dropped off. We have had to change one bulb for the outside light, and a few of the cupboard door hinges have come loose.

We had a broken dial on the fridge, which I repaired myself. Other than that I can safely say that Lunar have done a good job.

Oh, there is one thing that could of been done a little better, the support for the front seats is pretty poor, a very small piece of wood is used to support the seat, I've beefed it up considerably. This is the only real repair that I've done so far.

The caravan itself is a Lunar Lexon 640 twin axle with a fixed island bed to the rear. A big old lump, but for its size fairly light weight due to Lunar's construction.

Its now 6 years old, we have noticed that where the feet of the awning sit on the top of the van side it has started to mark it slightly, but, a small price to pay for having our large awning up.

Would we go for another Lunar? Well the answer is yes, but we do have our eyes on a Hobby, they appear to have a much greater spec, as well as being bigger.

We have upgraded our towing vehicle to a Mitsubishi Pajero which is brilliant and more than capable of pulling a large caravan around.

You must be saving a fortune?

Well the answer to that is yes and no. Yes because obviously we do not have the outgoings that we used to have, but as far as saving is concerned, we really should of, but we are enjoying life rather too much, this next year should see us starting to save.

How have we changed as people?

Thats a hard one to answer, so feel free to comment! I know that I personally feel more relaxed and can now sit and just look out at the view. I always used to be having to do something, relaxing was something I didn't do or to be honest knew how to!

As I write this I'm watching swallows skim across the field feeding on insects.

I think that you have to have a certain outlook on life to do what we do, it wouldn't suit everyone, in fact I think that the vast majority of folk couldn't do it, well, when I say couldn't what I really mean is wouldn't. There is a vast difference between the two. 

When we first started this, some people that we knew never thought we would be able to do it, let alone enjoy and actually love it so much that there is no way we would go back to bricks and mortar!

I think we have annoyed some of them by the way we have coped and are obviously happy in what we do. Its not as if we have had to prove ourselves to people, but when some people expect you to fail, it is most satisfying to be able to show them you are clearly enjoying the experience!

The only reason why this gets to me a little bit is because its members of our family!

But, I have to ask, is it really that difficult to do what we do, I personally don't think so at all. I know other couples out there full timing that think exactly the same way we do. Its just about applying common sense and a can do attitude.

So to sum up, living in our caravan full time is absolutely brilliant! If you are reading this and still at the stage of thinking about it, please, don't just take my word for it, I'm sure other full timers who read this will only be more than happy to pass on their words of advice to you!

And for you full timers, well, I don't need to convince you at all do I!

Thanks once again for reading this, its always great to hear from others, whether your thinking about it or actually doing it, or just like reading the nonsense that I write!

Feel free to leave comments on the bottom of the blog, you don't need to be a google member to do this, or you can email me direct at

You can also find me on Twitter just search for "caravanliving" 

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

What A Weekend!

Its now Monday, the last of the family have headed off and we are now left in a big field on our own - feels kind of strange after having so many people around us all weekend.

We have had a brilliant time, with 007 Herbert and Mrs Herbert coming across on Saturday evening to see us. Mr Gulliver and Grayer, old friends of mine. Jody ("M"s daughter) Leanne and her two boys ("M"s niece) Ronnie and Jane and their daughter Tara over from Ireland. All camping with us.

Its been a bit hectic.

We had to warn the camp site owners, Ronnie moved to Ireland 18 years ago, his accent isnt English and it isnt Irish, its just sort of Pikey! And what with driving a beat up old white transit van with Irish plates, well you can put two and two together! So we thought it best to warn them in case they thought they were being invaded!

Saturday night we had a roaring fire going on, and that kept us all going till the wee hours! Then Sunday feeling rather fragile we headed off to a pub down the road for a family meal as it was "M"s Mums 65th birthday. 

I was lead astray by Ronnie and had a few pints, well it was either kill or cure!

Last night we sat around the fire again, and had a couple of drinks, it was a lovely time.

Just clearing up, so much food left as well!

Ill be writing more about what a whole year living in our caravan full time means to us later on, but just wanted to get this down before I forgot!

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

P.S. thanks for all the kind messages/congratulations etc!!!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

One Whole Year Of Full Time Living In Our Caravan!

So that's it then!

We have got through our first year of living full time in our caravan. 

People have thought we were mad, doing this, that we had lost the plot by selling up and buying a caravan, and some times I even think it myself.

But, do you know what, its the best thing we have ever done! Its a brilliant way to live, we are so much happier, and richer, not in the monetary sense but in the life sense!

As we are having a bit of a party weekend, with family over from Ireland, Im rapidly running out of time today to write, so will write more tomorrow, as there is 30 of us off for lunch today!

I just wanted to say thank you to all that read this blog, its great knowing that there are people from all over the world who regularly sit and spend a few minutes reading through the nonsense I write!

Its great getting feedback from people, makes it all worth it!

Thank you!

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

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Travelling Home!

We managed to get packed up, the awning down, all without getting wet! That was a good start to the day and to be honest was very glad about.

All loaded up, with a different route set for the journey home back to Silverwoods in East Dorset.

I thought the traffic would be a bit tricky, but I was surprised by the lack of traffic on the roads, it got a bit busy through Salisbury, and as we came into Ringwood, but thats normal. It took us 5 1/2 hrs this time, but we did have a bit of a longer break half way through the journey.

As we are celebrating this weekend, one whole year of living in our caravan full time, yes it really is a whole year! We have a large field on the farm which is all ours, and for our friends and family that will be joining us later for a bit of a party!

Before we set off I took a photo of the Pajero and caravan hooked up, its big!

Well, got to get ready for our party today (Saturday) so will write more later, once Ive collected the Generator as we are off grid in this field!

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

FForest Fields Camp Site Thursday - Chill Day

Heading home tomorrow, so we wanted a day of just really doing nothing. So we mooched around the caravan all day doing a bit of reading and people watching.

There have been a few comings and goings on the site, alot of folk are camping in tents, out numbering the caravans by at least 2 to 1. Its great to see families out camping, memories that their kids will look back on happily.

By around 1700 hrs I was starting to get a bit restless, so I decided that a walk was required. Luckily there are plenty directly from the camp site up over the hills in front of us, so I set off with "China" dog, and walked to the summit of a rather large hill to the right of the site approx 400m above sea level. As you can imagine at the top I had panoramic views, so I took a few pics with the iphone (I was travelling light). 

Thought about walking a bit further, but I could see the storm clouds gathering, so decided that heading for home was the safest option. Its definately not wise to be caught out on the hills, even with a good jacket on.

With only 1/4 mile to go the heavens openned, and I do mean openned! Monsoon style, "China" dog was not impressed at all!

Safely back, dried out, and "M" had been busy cooking a stew! Lovely!

A relaxing evening of reading, and then to bed!

Tomorrow will be one whole year of living in our caravan!

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

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Grumpy Old Ken

Ive been reading Grumpy Old Ken's blog for a while now, he has a knack for words and his look on the world is very similar to my own.

In his recent blog he shares a poem. Please pop over and take a look, its worth a read, it gave me a lump in my throat and made "M" cry.

Please take a look, it applies to us all!

Click on "Grumpy Old Ken"

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

Do We Really Need This?

Are we in such a state, the urban dwellers need this sort of help?

I was looking at the BBC News website when I came across this article.

I find it very hard to believe that urban dwellers cannot or do not understand the country side!

The article can be found here BBC NEWS

Apparently they get help on what sort of foot wear is good for the countryside!

Maybe its me who is completely out of touch, but surely in this wonderful country of ours where we are not that over populated and we are blessed with some amazing countryside, do we need someone to tell us that if your out walking in the hills wear good boots or wellies and not Nike trainers or high heels!

Surely common sense?

Till later, off to check that I have the correct footwear for our walk later!

Sgwd Yr Eira - Waterfalls And A Bit Of A Drive

Before we came away "M" was told about some waterfalls, one of which you can apparently walk behind as it falls over the rocks.

So a quick look on google, (what would we do without the internet) and we located it around 30 miles away. Its called Sgwd Yr Eira This is the waterfall through which Arthur and Merlin ride (virtually at least) on their quest to find Morgause in the episode The Sins of the Father. The link is here.

We found the place, parked up in a forestry commission car park and set off. It did start to rain a little but it didn't last for long. The going isn't easy, and "M"s mum did struggle, so a word of warning, if your not actively fit, don't go, as there are alot of steep steps to go up and down.

There is a circular route which takes in half a dozen or so waterfalls, we did two of the waterfalls, but we want to return when the rivers are a little fuller and on our own to do all of them.

We spent a couple of hours here walking, then once back at the Paj we set off on a route via the lanes to Sennybridge, we crossed the A40 and then headed up over the hills on lanes once more to Llandulas then up to Llangammarch Wells which is a Military Road, which luckily was open the day we went along it with some great views.

From here it was a quick drive over Builth Wells and back to the camp site. We eventually got back just after 1800 hrs.

Another 100 mile plus day in the Paj, which again, drove with no problems at all, coping easily with 25% gradients, not a whiff of black smoke even under heavy acceleration!

Oh, and found out last night that we have electric mirrors which fold flat, not bad for an 18 year old truck!

Once back on site, which has emptied out considerably since we have been here. "M"s mum said she would take us out for a meal. We headed over to the Seven Stars Inn Really good food and a good pint of Felinfoel. Could of quite easily sank half a dozen of these but as I was driving had to do with just the one! Shame the pub was a little quiet, as with the quality of food they were serving they should be packed to the rafters! So if your in the area, head here, as its worth the trip.

Whilst I'm recommending things, when we were in Hay On Wye at the top of the carpark was a rather lovely looking VW camper, which was up for hire. So if you cant afford to own one, or just cant justify owning one, then this may be your chance to hire one out, a sort of try before you buy sort of thing! You can find them at Hay Campers 

Today, Thursday, we are having a lazy day around the site, and hopefully heading out for a walk up some hills later on. Well, that's my plan.

Here are some of the pictures.

The first of the waterfalls

Sgwd Yr Eira - A 50ft waterfall

Filling up his kettle!

Twisted tree - strange shape!

Resting after a rather steep incline!

More single track roads

So till later..............

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Tuesday - Hay On Wye And A Bit Of A Drive

Today, we decided to give walking a miss!

"M"s mum wanted to see the black mountains, so I sorted out a route that we could drive which would hopefully give us some good views, and some narrow country lanes to go down.

We set out late morning and headed for Crickhowell, where we turned left and headed for Llanbedr, from there we headed up a single track road as far as we could which ran along side the Grwyne Fawr. At the very top was a Forestry Commission car park where we parked up and had a short walk.

After that we headed for Lllanthony and up pas Lord Hereford's Knob which had spectacular views which you can see below in the pictures!

From here we dropped down into Hay-On-Wye. We had a good walk around the town which is famous for its book shops. I must admit that I thought the town was larger, so was a bit surprised that it really was that small.

After a couple of hours of exploring the town we headed back to the camp site.

98 miles of driving around lanes today, the Pajero worked brilliantly, but what else did I expect!

Once we were back and after a cuppa, we decided that it was time to look into how the rear seats and the third row of seats fold down to make a bed. We started out by trying it with all three rows but it just didn't work. So we only used the last two rows, and to be honest it worked really well.

We thought that it could be useful for when we want to get away for a weekend, and to do some wild camping and not have to lug a massive shed behind us.

No plans for tomorrow yet, really all depends on the weather, which doesn't look too good at the moment!

Just outside of Hundred House, near our camp site

Cant see the wood for the trees!

Grwyne Fawr

The next set of pictures are taken from Lord Herefords Knob!

Confused with these road markings? On a street in Hay-On-Wye

It's Chilli tonight, "M" bought some scotch bonnet chilli's which I tried out last night on a burger. One whole one chopped up, its not just the Welsh Dragon spitting flames this morning so was my arse!

So on that note - till later....................

Monmouth And Brecon Canal

The plan for the day was to go for a walk around the Talybont Reservoir, but as the walk was completely covered by tree's and for the most we couldnt even see the reservoir, after around a mile we headed back to the Pajero. My thinking was that if I wanted to walk in forest I can do that back home!

So, as we had crossed a canal and a rather large river several times, then we would head back to them, park up and walk along the canal tow path or river. We wanted somewhere level to walk so that "M"s mum would be ok, as she suffered on the hill on the previous day.

We parked up at bridge 158 on the Monmouth and Brecon Canal and walked into Brecon it was only 3.5 miles but took us 2 hrs! "M"s Mum not being the quickest of walkers!

We stopped at the end of the canal and had a drink, then headed back, but it was clear that "M"s mum was struggling, so about a third of the way back there was a small village with a pub, which is where I said I would meet them, after walking back to get the car.

I had managed to walk the 3.5 miles back to the car, drive towards the pub, where I met them still walking to it!

We got back to the caravan, had a couple of beers, fired up the cadac, and had an early night.

Talybont Reservoir, stood on top of the dam

Not sure what this little fella is?

Taken from the viaduct on the Monmouth and Brecon canal

G.I. "M" trying not to be pulled into the river by the dogs

Looking up river, the river is looking low.

Along the canal tow path, a good walk, would of been great if we had brought our bikes!

Today, I think we are off for a drive down and through the Black Mountains, then we are heading to Hay On Wye, where I will hopefully loose myself in some book shops for a few hours!

Sunday, 21 August 2011

FForest Fields Camp Site - Powys - South Wales

After having packed up Saturday morning, all I had to do was pick up "M"s mum from Bournemouth and get back to the caravan and wait for "M" to get back so we could head off.

I was just finishing packing up, we hooked up and fully loaded with 3 adults and two dogs, the large awning with pod we set off.

I had estimated that it was around 180 miles of non motorway driving. It was bang on 180 miles and it took us approx 5 hrs and that included a 20 minute stop.

I'd had put £80 in the the Pajero and I reckon we used around £65.00's worth. So considering its tugging nearly 2 ton behind it, the roads were A roads but we took a windy route than all things being said it did well.

Infact it did very well, and was a real joy to drive and tow with, so if anyone is considering buying a new tow vehicle you cant go far wrong with one of these. It was also very comfortable.

We are at Fforest Fields Camp Site in Powys,  whats with the two F's? Did they have a stutter?

Finding and getting into the site was all fairly straight forward, but do you think I could get the caravan straight when trying to pitch it? Well its sort of straight, straight enough for me anyway.

So we got the awning up and rigged up the pod, and got all set up followed by a beer sat outside looking at the view.

This is the view I had whilst sipping my beer

Looking out to the left of the caravan

Looking out to the right of the caravan

Our set up, as you can see, its big when you think what size the Pajero is!

"M" wizzed up some chicken Fajitas which were very tasty, and not long after feeling totally shattered headed off to bed.

Now the site itself is fairly large, with some hedged areas and an open field. We are in the open field area, with hook up. If I had kids, then this would be a great place to stay, but as we are used to having peace and quiet, then maybe this place isn't such a good idea. Just too many kids! But that's our fault for booking in here. But, the site is clean and tidy, the showers are mega hot and clean as well. So cant complain.

As I didn't take part in any of the choosing of the sites, I can safely say, well, its not my fault the kids are making a racket!

Woke up this morning fairly early due to the fact that "M"s mum was up and about and putting on the kettle, so at least we had a cuppa made for us!

We then had a good healthy breakfast of bacon, sausage, eggs, beans, tomato and mushrooms before setting off towards Llandridnod Wells and Tesco's for vital supplies. As we didnt really wanted to have the extra weight of a weeks food on board before we set off.

Good old Sat Nav, as it usually does, takes us the most indirect route possible, ensuring that we go through the tightest of lanes, hair pin corners and humped backed bridges it can. As we didnt have the caravan on it didnt really matter, so this time we enjoyed the drive!

We were going over some hills with amazing views, so we stopped and took a couple of pictures with the iphone, then to my right I saw a track, now as we had a 4x4 which can climb mountains I thought it would be a good idea to have a little drive! So off we set, we only went 3 or 4 miles along it before it was decided that my passengers had had enough of been bumped about!

Cracking views, but I must remember to take my iphone out of its leather holder when taking the pictures as the top right and bottom right corners tend to get caught in the picture!

One of the things I noticed about the Tesco's we went into at Llandridnod Wells, was the fact that above the door it had in Welsh and English Welcome To Tesco's with the Welsh dragon next to it.

I don't have a problem with this at all, what I do have a problem with is why don't we in England have a St Georges cross emblem?

Perhaps, some lefty Tesco's employee thought it may stir up racial problems? Well to be honest the only person likely to be insulted or upset is the English or in other words "ME" for not having the same level of patriotic support in England as they do in Wales!

If someone from Tesco's would kindly tell me I would love to understand your logic?

We headed back and after a quick cuppa, sorted ourselves out for a walk, I wanted to head up into the hills immediately in front of us, so that is what we did!

Looking down onto the site, around half way up the hill in front of us on the pictures earlier

Zoomed in

Having a quick rest! It was a long climb up!

We walked for a couple of hours in a circular route right around the back of the tree line and then dropped down again to the camp site. A bit of a climb to start off with, but a nice walk.

I want to go a bit further tomorrow, so will be getting the maps out in a bit to see if we can suss out a route.

This evening, no plans, plenty of red meat to be cooked on the cadac, a few beers, and I've got a large bottle of ginger ale in the fridge, just right to be mixed with my Mount Gay rum!

On a sad and tragic note, over the last few days Bournemouth has been holding an air festival, as we are not far from Bournemouth we are lucky to see the planes fly over, and have seen twice the red arrows fly over, fast and low, for those who have never seen the Red Arrows display team they are amazing. Made up of serving RAF pilots. Unfortunately one crashed yesterday, killing the pilot, but only after he had managed to bring his plane down by steering away from houses on his flight path as he headed for the ground! Truly a hero. For more info on this please follow the link - RED ARROWS 

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

So till later...........