Monday, 28 February 2011

Cadac Bolted Together - Now Where's That Sunshine!?

We took the Cadac out of its box yesterday and bolted it all together. We didnt get to use it yesterday due to the weather being rubbish.

We went for the carri chef, which consists of a ribbed grill and flat grill (which is the same bit of kit, you just turn them over) the BBQ, the pan stand and the lid. We also bought a magnetic spatula and a cover.

So as Im itching to give it a go, if its dry tomorrow I might just have to try it out as we have bacon and eggs in the fridge! I may even do an omlette on it!

I spent the day back in Shaston, the time flew and managed to get loads done!

It was "M"s first day back at work after having a week off and she struggled!

Im not going anywhere till late on Thursday now, so working from the awning for the next few days. Looking forward to that.

The evenings are definately drawing out, as I walked out of the office this evening at 1800 hrs it wasnt completely dark, I could see my way without breaking my neck on the steps as it takes a few seconds for the security light to click in!

We are both so looking forward to the summer, we feel that we have done the hardest part and survived the winter!

Not sure if I have mentioned it but last weekend was 6 months of consecutive nights in our caravan! A big milestone for us both! Its funny as depending on what we are thinking about it either feels a long time ago or just 5 minutes. Weird!

One thing we havent done, but need to do rather urgently is sort out the shows we wish to attend. Ive got as far as printing the forms out, just need to fill them out and get them posted!

Tomorrow Im on the search for new trailer tyres, Ive no idea when they were last changed and I dont really want to have a failure with the stationary engine in the back as that could get a bit messy! So will be getting the tyre spec and seeing what we can find on good old ebay!

Well, dinner is just about to be served, Chicken covered in cheese and bacon with roast potatoes, roast parsnip, peas and carrots! Who says you cant cook in a caravan!

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

Sunday, 27 February 2011

NEC Boat & Caravan Show 2011

Well! Where do I start! Such a big show, with so much to see, really you should take two days to get a proper look round.

But, in a nutshell there were just four caravans that caught our eye! But Ill come onto those in a moment or two.

Firstly a big thankyou to Lea at who supplied us with our tickets. Im probably right in thinking that Lunar had the biggest stand at the show. It was massive!

We looked at every caravan stand, and the one thing that we found in common was that they were staffed by a mixture of Manufacturer staff, dealer staff and engineers/technicians. Now as I have been in sales for many years and have personally attended and manned stands at NEC Motorshow and Earls Court Motorshow. The one thing customers like to do is talk! But what we found was that very few staff wished to talk! Most notable was the sales staff provided to the manufacturers as support staff on the stand, as soon as you mentioned that you were not looking to change on that particular day and on that particular minute, they were off like a shot! Not good and very off putting and also a poor reflection on the manufacturer or dealership. One salesman in particular who worked for  was so eager to be off he didnt even have the courtesey to let me finish my sentence!

The staff that would talk to you were the technicians, and as usual were more knowledgeable than the majority of the sales staff!

The other thing that we found confusing was the fact that dealerships were intermingled with the manufacturers, you wouldnt have that at a motorshow, so why do it here?

I went to see the manufacturers with all models clearly displayed and layed out, not walk onto a stand and be confronted by a mixed bag of caravans! Just looks shoddy!

The biggest let down Im afraid to say was Stealth Caravans they look very stylish and to be honest probably one of the best layouts around, but, the build quality that we saw on the van we were interested was just not there, trim was falling off, paint rubbing off the wooden surfaces and wrong hinges on a cupboard door which meant the cupboard door did not sit flush!

Now you could say that paint rubbing and trim falling off was the result of the amount of people looking at them, but isnt that the same as us living in a caravan full time. After a couple of years it would be a right state!

So Im afraid that it didnt make our top 4

One of the vans that did was the Lunar Delta Ti twin axle with island bed. However there were still a few niggles that we found which are the same as on our van, and thats 5 years old!

We loved the layout with the large end bathroom and large fridge which is a definate improvement. But once compared with other vans of the same type there was just a touch of class missing and it was starting to look slightly dated.

Our next caravan which we thought had alot of potential was The Edge an american import with a slide out side! It was up to its maximum legal width and would require a hefty 4x4 to tow it but it certainly felt spacious. Shame though that they didnt have the model on display that we were interested in. The one we saw was certainly large enough but the Americans seem to have funny ideas when it comes to style and the kitchen was poor.

It only had two rings and no oven! The shower looked as if it was the bottom end range from B and Q, in fact worse than the bottom end range! However, we have been told that all this can be sorted out for us if we are seriously interested!

The model we are interested in is the M21 I think the price was around the £28,000 alot of money but certainly looks well made with onboard water tanks 36gallons and a grey waste and a black waste of both 36gallons each! These can be found at

Our next one that we liked the look of was the Buccaneer Schooner, it has a side on bed which is going away from our island bed set up, but the bathroom is to die for. It also has rain sensitive Heki rooflights, you can control your hot water and central heating from your mobile phone and has a satellite dish as standard!

It just looks so classy, just look at that shower! To see more go to

Now our last caravan is the best we saw, it beat the lot of them on all levels. Style, equipment, design and at an incredible price!

Its a Hobby 650WFU we found that it had everything that we wanted. Such a classy interior, a massive bathroom and a front end that would sit a rugby team!

It really is a class act, and the price - yep, just under £19,000. It has a bubble effect surface to the outside, which is supposed to be stronger and as the technician said hides all those little dings that you get on your van! Its also ultra strong so you can walk on the roof (if you wished) and you can have a bike rack mounted to the back end or A frame.

This for us won the caravan of the show award. It did everything we wanted it to do, with style and at an extremely attractive price. So what if the door is on the wrong side, Im not camping in lay-bys! Have a look for yourself at Also the technician had time to talk to us, like I have said in previous posts, its all very simple people buy people! The technician we talked to knew his product and did not try and sell to us or ask us about when we were changing. Hobby you now have new fans and a potential new customer! Thankyou!

The show itself was massive, we had a look around 3 of the halls, we didnt see any boats! We had a good look around the trade stands as we have been saving our pennies and decided that if the price was right we would get ouselves a Cadac or possibly a small porch awning.

The Cadac we bought was the Carri Chef, we also bought a lid for it, a cover and spatula with a magnet on the end! Total price £119.00 which also included 4ft of hose and jubilee clips! So I think we did ok.

However, we also ended up with an awning! We saw a Portico Plus Awning for £80.00 so we had that as well. The normal price is £129.99 but have found them at £89.99 so still a bit of a saving!

Another little thing we bought was a microfibre carpet for £20 which the lady demonstrated by walking into a bowl of mud, then wiping her feet on the carpet once, then onto a tile. The tile was spotless, and as its usually me that brings mud in I didnt need alot of convincing.

We went to the Thetford stand where we spoke to Joe Sedgwick, our flush is not working as it should do, so he explained how to take it apart, find the problem, which we think is straight forward and then how to order the part complete with part number! Brilliant so thanks Joe for your help!

Buying all these goodies is all very well, but for anyone who has ever been to the NEC before will realise that you dont park close to the arenas. So by the time we got back to the car I had managed to cut off the circulation to my right arm, and my left arm was that weak I struggled to lift crisps out of its packet!

Mind you we were very happy with our goodies, so cant wait to try them out! The smaller awning will get alot of use whilst we are away at the shows and we have even thought about putting it up on the other side of our van to protect the aqua rolls and put our bikes in!

Im looking forward to a bit of sunshine to try out the cadac! Hope its good next weekend!

Whilst up at the show we met up with our friends Mark and Kate who have just spent the week with us and Marks parents who I met many years ago as a fresh faced 17 year old!

We also met Darren and Tracey who are looking at doing the same as us in the not too distant future. One of the things Darren asked was - Are you saving money? Well, depends how you look at it, yes we are saving money by not having to pay out on rent and all the household bills etc, but physical notes in a pot, the honest answer has to be no. Not any considerable amount anyway. But, we have to be realistic. There have been certain things we wanted to buy which we now have to make our life better. We have also been out for days out and meals, which is something that we havent dont in ages!

As the summer gets closer our expenses wont be as great, so we are planning to save more during the summer and not worry too much during the winter. We will get what we want eventually, but in the mean time we are living life as we want to.

So a very enjoyable and totally knackering day out! My legs ached last night so didnt get a good nights sleep so hopefully will sleep better tonight.

Ive worked today, playing catch up due to having time off, and "M" has gone off to see her daughter who has just had a tatoo on her foot! Ouch!

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

Friday, 25 February 2011

Got That Friday Feeling?

We said goodbye to my old army mate Mark and his family today, with the promise that we wont leave it another 23 years before we see each other again!

Infact we are meeting up at the NEC tomorrow! Must admit that after they had left, I sat down in the caravan and was a little bit emotional! It seems to me the older I get the worse Im getting. I never used to be this emotional!

Marks caravan is a Bailey Pegasus 534 with the black front locker. A good looking caravan. He had a rather nifty levelling plate, which by placing under a wheel, you wind/jack up the wheel on a plate. Im sure that the serious caravanners have seen them before, but I certainly havent. It worked a treat. Mark also has a motor mover on the van and it was absolutely effortless to get the caravan hooked up.

I think that a motor mover could well be a good investment, even with the extra weight.

Mark & Kates caravan

Bailey Pegasus 534

Placed under a caravan wheel, wind it up till level! Easy!

Alice, Kate, Mark & Millie not forgetting Maggie the dog.

I went into Bournemouth this afternoon and helped out for a couple of hours, then headed back to meet "M" at the laundrette, as she had China Dog with her. I got back to the caravan and caught up on emails and sorted a few things out.

Getting ready for our trip to Birmingham tomorrow and the caravan show. A big thankyou to and Lea for sorting out tickets for us! We are both really looking forward to taking a look at all the new vans, and we are also on the lookout for a cadac

"M" is back on site and we have both said how weird it is with out our friends here! We have had Mr Gulliver stay over in his camper for a night, but no one for a whole week. Its just back to being us again and it feels very strange!

Back in Shaston we had a fairly hectic social life, our house became a hub after our friend Sharon moved to Cornwall. It was always her house upto then. If there is one thing I do miss it would be having people round, cooking for half a dozen people, playing the music loud and enjoying the craic!

Tonight just me, "M" and China Dog. Early night, up and at them tomorrow bright and early, so if your going - see you there!!!!

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

Salisbury Cathedral - Absolutley Amazing!

Today we headed up to Salisbury for a look around, now Ive known Salisbury for years, but this was only my 3rd ever visit to the cathedral

It was absolutely breath taking! Ive been inside once before but today I actually stood and read nearly all the plaques on the walls, and took so many pictures you wouldnt believe! Ive included a few below.

The architecture, the stone masonary is just simply stunning! The windows, some of which I photographed but seriously do not do them justice. It is an amazing place, which is currently undergoing a £30 million restoration. Mind you I dont think that restoration on a place like that actually ever stops!

We had a wander around the beautiful market town and went for a quick pint in the Haunch Of Venison An extemely old pub with a skeleton hand in a room upstairs!

Heres a picture of Mark and I sat in the Haunch

Mark on the left, me obviously on the right!

Front of the pub

I also took a couple of pictures stood roughly where the pictures in the postcards were took.

Poultry Cross - Salisbury

Looking towards the Market Square

This evening we went into Ringwood for an Italian at Marina's Bettola. As always we were well looked after and the food was good. We didnt go hard on the drink, chiefly through being absolutley knackered and Mark has a long drive towing tomorrow, so sensible campers!

Heres a load of pictures of the cathedral - none do it any justice at all, but you will get a rough idea of its beauty!

Main Front Doors

Saint George and whats left of the dragon!

The Cloisters

Looking up at the spire from the cloisters

Salisbury Cathedral as it was originally built with no spire!

Medevil clock, still working and rings a bell in the tower every hour

Regimental Silk Flags

Carved from soapstone, over the years others have added their names to the coffin!

The architecture is simply amazing

Now thats a roof!

The pictures are a poor imitation of the real thing!

Now I'm not religous, but you cant help being impressed with the shear scale on which the cathedral was built.

We had a look in the Magna Carta building, they had some lovely silver ware, and some very hefty looking pieces! I dont even think that Bob would be able to scrap that lot! But then again!

And so ended our day out in Salisbury.

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

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Royal Signals Museum - Blandford

28 years ago Mark and I joined the 26th Signal Regiment at Ouston Northumberland as Junior (boy) soldiers!

So as Blandford is now known as the home of the Royal Signals we thought it only right that we should go and pay them a visit and have a look around the museum.

It cost £7.50 per adult to get in, and traced the history of the Royal Signals from the beginning to almost present day. The present day bit being a bit difficult as its all classified gear/kit that is used and obviously for security reasons not on display to the general public.

But plenty of kit that we had both used, some of which I took pictures of and added below. Quite strange really as if we had taken photographs of the kit back when we were using it, we would of been locked up and the key thrown away! I even remember the acid containers that if we were to fall into enemy hands then the kit had to be destroyed with the use of a sledge hammer and acid!

This was all during the Cold War, with the frightening prospect that if the balloon did go up due to the nature of our jobs, we had a survival time of 12 minutes! Luxury, when you think that when we both worked at Rhinedahlen our survival time was just 4 minutes!

The museum was laid out well, one of the areas that brought a lump to my throat was an area which displayed medals of former Royal Signals members. It made me feel really proud to of done my bit.

Ferret Scout Car

Series 2 LWB Landrover "Pink Panther" SAS

Volvo Cat - Artic Warefare

T100's Teleprinters - I learnt to type on one of these!

Ptarmigan SAS/MC This is the communications equipment I used either fitted into the back of a lorry or in a 432 armoured vehicle - Not a great deal of room!

Ptarmigan SAS/MC a bit of a squeeze!

Ptarmigan SAS/MC I spent many happy an hour in the back of one of these whilst out in Germany!

Cryptographic Equipment, which I was very surprised to see on display! Top right hand corner are the crypto boxes which had to be changed every 24 hrs by moving the wire plugs around to a different configuration!

We stopped for a cup of tea in the NAAFI and it was still as rough as ever! Somethings thankfully never change!

We both enjoyed the museum and it also gave "M" and Marks family more of an insight into what we used to do.

Where ever the Army is you can put money on that the Royal Signals will be there, in every theatre of operation, no matter where, first in - last out. Hence being once called the Armys most versatile soldier!

We watched a video as we came into the museum, one of the last things they said was that the Royal Signals is a massive family, one that you will never leave. This goes for all armed forces, once your in your in! Im glad Im part of that family.

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