Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Woke To No Electric!

I woke up just after 0200hrs this morning and found the air temperature within the caravan had dropped a good bit!

On peering to the end of the caravan I noticed that my extension socket that has a little red light on it was not on.

That can only mean one thing, no power!

So first things first, check the consumer unit to make sure nothing had tripped within the caravan. Nope, they all looked good, but I had my doubts as when I first moved back into the caravan I had a dodgy isolator unit. As soon as I fitted a new one the power stayed on. But could it be the same fault again?

I put my wellies on and ventured outside to check the cables as I have two joined together so that I can be as far away from any other campers as possible. These looked ok and the site plug box had not tripped either.

Back in the caravan there was nothing for me to do, but go back to bed and leave a note in the morning for the site owner to check the main fuse box to see if anything had tripped there.

During the day I had a nagging suspicion that it may of been the new isolator switch unit that had blown. The last one did not trip it just stopped working, so as I was in Ringwood and I had a spare 40 minutes between my bus trips, the bus was parked up and I dived into Screwfix and a new isolator was bought for £9.80

On my return to the caravan this evening I was much relieved to look in through my door and see the tiny green light on my fridge shining away telling me all is well and the power was back on.

So as I have not seen the owner yet I have no idea what caused it, certainly not me as nothing had tripped my end.

But glad it is back on. This morning it did give me the chance to fire up the gas heater which I haven't done for a while. Blimey that kicks out some heat! I had to turn it down by the time it took to boil a kettle!

Another glorious day here in the New Forest with a couple of showers but mostly sunshine, and that is what is needed desperately!

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

Oh, I've added a link to my facebook page, you will see it on the right had side. So please feel free to send me a friend request, if you could also send me a little message so that I know your real it would be most appreciated!

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Is That Winter Over Now?

Just wondering after another day of sunshine and showers if the winter is over?

In fact did it really start at all? I ask this based on the fact that so far I have not yet used a whole can of de-icer!

I have seen my first daffodils in flower, snowdrops have been out for a while, crocus are in bloom, the crows are building nests and in the forest there are all ready baby donkey's and cattle.

Yes we have had unusual amounts of rain, I would go as far to say epic amounts of the wet stuff, but the weather you usually associate with winter, ie, freezing temperatures, snow and ice has certainly been lacking so far.

I also am aware that living on the South Coast we do get it easier than those up North, but even so winter has been a wash out so far.

Reading back over old post's temperature's dropping to -10 and below were not uncommon, along with weeks of snow on the ground. Making caravan living a challenge what with frozen water taps, and then when you got water making sure that it didn't freeze in the aquaroll or connector pipes!

The evenings are drawing out which is a welcome relief and all in all there has even been some sunshine over the last few days. The odd heavy shower thrown in but hey, it's still only February, we could be knee deep in snow!

So am I being over optimistic that winter is over and spring is bounding in? I hope not. Spring being my favourite time of the year, the dull and drudgery of winter being replaced by new shoots of life in every direction.

And so where there is decay and rot and dead wood it is all replaced and covered over by a vibrancy that starts the cycle of life once more.

This is true of me as well. Time to re-invent myself, my journey in 6 weeks time will be the start of a brand new chapter in my life. I have no idea what will happen on my return.

I have read and seen that once a journey like this has taken place where you are tested to your limits that your outlook on life changes. I feel that making the break way back to live in a caravan full time certainly did that to me. But now this new mini adventure lasting only 12-14 days I think will have a huge impact on my future plans.

So with the clock ticking and with so much more to organise I will go to look over routes once more.

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

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Camping Equipment Kit Check For Honda C90 Adventure Trip

Over the last few months I have slowly been getting together all the kit that I require for my 3500 mile journey on my Honda C90.

Some of the kit I all ready have, as a camper of some time I all ready had a good quality sleeping bag which was fit for purpose.

But the rest of the gear I had to buy as there are a few considerations when camping on a motorbike. It has to be light and small!

So the first thing I had to buy was a tent, I opted for the Vango Banshee 200. A two man tent but once all my gear was inside such as panniers, motorcycle gear etc there was only room for me and my sleeping bag.

I trialled the tent out recently in stormy weather and it held up well, keeping me dry and warm. The heavens opened and with gusts of wind in excess of 60mph I'm confident it is up to the job.

The list of gear I have bought is quite long, all though I had a camping stove, which is great for when I'm wild camping in the Pajero I needed a small lightweight/compact version. Also one that I could run a propane/butane mix cartridge from as when I last camped out using the portable gas cooker using just butane cartridges at -3 to keep swapping the cartridges over every couple of minutes just to boil a kettle was a bit of a pain!

So after a bit of research I bought a Highlander Field Valve Stove. It basically just screws into the Coleman C500 propane/butane mix cartridges and it works a treat.

To cook with I'm using tried and tested Army mess tins, robust, lightweight and cheap. Together with a Trangia 0.6ltr kettle. I did buy a cheap 1ltr kettle but the plastic handle broke on day one of my two day trial of kit. So was binned as being not fit for purpose.

My sleeping bag is a 3 season bag, which having used down to -3 kept me plenty warm enough and I was sleeping naked, so with a layer of clothes it shouldn't be a problem if it is colder. I bought this from Mountain Warehouse and if I remember it was less than £30.00. The spec say it is a "Mountain Warehouse Summit 300 XL" with a comfort temperature of -2 which I can personally vouch for and an extreme of -18. It's mummy shaped with hood and draw cord and a little pocket at the top which I keep a torch in. It is also very roomy, as I have often said I'm a big lad and there is plenty of room to move about inside. I cannot fault this bag and would be more than happy to buy another.

For my kit trial I bought a cheap foam sleep mat from Go-Outdoors. I wasn't too sure how it would work, but this was why I decided to trial things before I set off, and I'm very glad that I did.
The mat worked extremely well at insulating me from the cold ground, however it made my hip bones extremely sore and that was after the first night. So today I tried out Vango Ultralite 3/4 self inflating mat. It is certainly comfortable. At this point I'm not sure if I will take both or just the Ultralite. The size of the Ultralite does mean that it is small enough to fit in may panniers which is a huge saving on space!

I have also recently bought a couple of items for the trip which as they haven't arrived yet remain untested!

After watching many motorcycle adventure stories on YouTube I decided I wanted to capture some of my trip on video. So a bit of research later concluded that the best camera to do this would of been a GoPro but this did come with a hefty price tag, and to be honest I just could not justify the price.

So the search continued and after reading all the reviews decided that a generic copy would do the trick. So this is the one I opted for "My Chosen Camera"! At £49.99 if it lasts the trip then it would be money well spent. The camera comes with a variety of mounts so I should be able to get some good shots as I trundle around the UK!  I added a 32 Gb SD card which should be enough for a days filming at sporadic intervals!

I also decided that a watch would be a good idea, as when my phone went dead I had know way of telling the time, so not wanting to spend a great deal I decided on a Casio digital watch that had a few bells and whistles on it, but for less than £20.00 reckon it will do the job well enough without breaking the bank.
Now on previous camping trips I have always found that drying out a towel after a shower or wash was always a problem if moving off straight away. In the Paj it was strung up over a couple of bungy cords and it dried out as I drove along. As I'm on a motorbike this would cause a slight problem. I found that being in the tent that a normal towel would just not dry out. However my small microfibre hand towels did. So I have bought a larger version in the hope that this will dry quick enough to be packed away dry and not stink in the process. I bought a Milestone Large Towel which untried at the moment will hopefully do what it supposed to do!

For lighting my gas stove I have matches, but these can obviously get wet, so looking at fire steel flint strikers decided that as they were so inexpensive it would be daft not to have one. 

I also thought that as I could find myself in an isolated situation with a motorbike that has either broken down or that has decided that it is fed up with carrying my fat arse around and deposited me in a ditch that an emergency foil blanket may well be a good idea. I all ready have a first aid kit that I bought a while ago which I keep in the car at all times which will be coming with me.

As for storage on the motorbike I all ready have a set of panniers that I bought from ebay second hand at a cost of £25.00 a zip is a bit dodgy on one of them but they work well and for my trip will see me through. A top box is all ready fitted, a tad small but again it will do for the trip. I bought a waterproof bag from a local Army/Navy surplus store for £15.00 which is just big enough to keep my clothes in and my sleeping bag. This is strapped on the seat behind me. The front of the bike will have another carry rack mounted which will have a shopping basket attached to it to hold spare fuel and tent, but it will also have two small bags attached either side which will carry all small/loose items that I will be taking with me.

I couldn't decide on what type of bags to get but finally came across these small shoulder bags which have a multitude of pockets and zipped compartments. I've bought two, one for either side.

I also decided that it would be a good idea to get a portable charger for my phone, just in case the 12v charging system on my bike should fail, I should be able to get two to three charges out of it, which should get me out of trouble if the worst should happen.

So all in all I have spent a small fortune on this trip! I haven't added it all up but by the time I have completed the trip I reckon it will of cost me around £2000 !!!

I could of had a holiday to a small island in Malaysia but no, I'm trundling around this country on a 20+ year old moped!

But, none of the kit will go to waste, as I do intend a few more adventures during the year so to be honest it is money well spent and not begrudged at all.

My kit list is increasing and will no doubt either get bigger or get smaller as the time for departure gets nearer.

Don't forget you can donate to my charity by clicking the "Just Giving" button near the right hand corner of this blog page.

Also I would like to point out that all the cost of the kit is being met by myself. Any money donated is going directly to "Help For Heroes" not a penny is being spent on the trip itself!

I'm sure I've missed a few items off, but if any of you seasoned travellers can think of anything I have omitted then please get in touch!

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

Thursday, 20 February 2014

My Honda C90 AKA Lucille!

Thought I should introduce you all to my Honda C90.

This is what I will be riding 3500 miles on around our glorious countryside in April this year.

She is a 1997 85cc moped. Built in their masses for the masses.

I gave her the name "Lucille" as BB King the legendary blues and guitar player calls each and every one of his guitars "Lucille" so I thought I would do the same for my bike.

So why am I doing this - the honest answer is I'm not sure! It seemed like a good idea at the time. I do have an idea though as I have been inspired by a good Army friend of mine Will Geordie English who as I type is in Australia mooching around in a campervan! He has ridden all over the world on motorbikes and taken a Honda C90 down to the Gambia for a charity.

Another guy that inspired me was a lunatic called Ed March - this guy has ridden a C90 back from Malaysia and taken one up into the Arctic Circle.

So if he can do it, I can take a C90 3500 miles starting from Lands End, heading up along the South coast to Dover where I head North all the way up to John O'Groats. Along the Northern coast of Scotland, down the West coast then head South all the way back to Lands End.

Not an easy task as I have only 12 days to do the trip in! It will be tough going for sure.

A week ago I took the bike along with all my camping gear to the Red Lion at Winfrith - I set up and spent 2 nights under canvas with one of the nights being stormy with 60mph plus gusts of winds. Not for the feint hearted but I was fortified with numerous pints of Guinness and to be honest slept soundly!

The tent I am using is a Vango Banshee 200 and it is absolutely cracking! But and this is a big but and it does go for all tents. It is classed as a 2 man tent, but once I have all my gear in it, which includes panniers, motorcycle clothing, helmet etc there is only room for one person and that's me!

Now I'm a big lad! but there is plenty of room in the tent if you stow everything well. If your untidy you will have no hope, book a hotel!

The tent stood up well to a night of heavy wind and rain, in the morning only one guy rope had gone a bit slack. It did not leak and being a low profile tent deflected the wind and it did get a good beating! I also have to say that I stayed nice and warm, but I did have a 3 season sleeping bag to snuggle down into.

Going back to why am I doing this, and as I said, I'm really not 100% sure as to why, but seeing as I am I thought I would try and get a bit of sponsorship. My chosen charity is "Help For Heroes" for those of you who have been with me for a while you will know that this is an obvious choice but for those of you who are new here. I'm ex forces - Royal Signals. Enough said!

I have set up a "Just Giving" page which if you look to the right of the blog in the side bar you will find a button to donate, please feel free to donate a couple of pounds!

To be totally honest I'm a big believer in the saying that charity begins at home and my chosen charity should not even need to be in existence. But due to our Governments view of supplying aid to foreign countries instead of looking after it's own first this charity is needed desperately.

I do tend to get on my soap box every now and again! Some countries require aid and for those that are genuinely up against it I do not have a problem, but lets take India, we send them aid and their Government has a space programme! What is all that about!?

All the planning has been done, just a few more parts to buy, such as a screen and new shock absorbers for the old girl and apart from that we are ready to go!

As you can imagine this trip has kept me occupied over the festive season which has been brilliant and to be honest probably kept me from losing the plot.

You can read more about my adventure at here you will see more about my trip and the preparation I've done so far.

So don't forget that JustGiving button over on the right hand side, even if it's only a quid it all helps to look after those that have given more than they should of!

Till later........

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Weather Observations And Memories

With the sun shining again today it is amazing to see the difference in people!

Of course there is always the exception to this rule and most of them tend to travel on my bus!

However it also means that due to the sun shining peoples minds are not where they should be.

The amount of near misses today has got to be at an all time record. Slamming on the brakes because you missed your turn is not a good idea when you have a double decker bus behind you!

Nor is playing chicken where you have to give way to me, because firstly I have the road priority, secondly I'm in a double decker bus and finally because I can guarantee I've got bigger balls!

Back to normal tomorrow with more wind and rain forecast so should be a little bit better on the roads!

I dug my old camera out which I haven't used in ages, it brought back a lot of memories as there were some pictures of happier times spent in Devon/Cornwall, Wales and the Bournemouth Air Show.

I will sort through them and put a couple of the good ones up.

Till later................... 

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Survived The Storm In The Caravan!

That was a fairly monstrous storm last night! Thankfully no damage to the caravan, but at one point I did think that the roof hatches may get ripped off!

The caravan was certainly shaking about, good job I had my velcro pants on - kept me firmly in place all though they are a bit scratchy!

The power remained on as well, I definitely thought that would get knocked out.

Just a couple of miles down the road they did not do so well. A number of beach huts made out of concrete were totally destroyed by the sea and a restaurant had it's windows smashed by shingle. 

Here is the link so you can see exactly what happened (Storm At Milford On Sea)

Plenty of tree's down as well, which caused problems for us on the buses today. What made me laugh was that people thought it strange that we were running late due to tree's down, I really do not know what planet some folk live on!

Then I had all the daft questions as if I am the font of all knowledge. Driver when will the road be open? And Driver will everything be back to normal tomorrow? Hang on whilst I consult my crystal ball!

So there you go, just like the buses, none for ages then two posts come along on consecutive days!

I rather like this blogging lark, must do a bit more of it!

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

Friday, 14 February 2014

February 2014 And Still In My Caravan!

It's been a while hasn't it!?

Well I am still alive and in exactly the same place, all though I have moved to the other side of the field so that instead of the sunset I now catch any morning sun we may get!

Nothing dramatic has happened in my life, so still plodding on and keeping my head above water and for the most part out of mischief!

It really has been ages since I last blogged so I do feel as if I do owe you all an apology! So sorry!

I guess there have been a few reasons why I've been quiet, but now feel I am in a much better place and I also have a laptop!

Trying to blog from my phone was a bit of a nightmare.

For those of you reading from abroad, here in the UK we have been hit recently and as I type with continual storms of epic proportions. It really has been bad. Luckily here in the New Forest we have not had the floods but living on the South Coast the wind has been horrific.

The caravan which just to remind you all is a Lunar Lexon 640 is holding up well. She is currently facing South which is just as well as if she was side on she may well of been over by now. The field I am in is a little exposed to say the least!

It is also a bit wet under foot, the entrance to the field is currently approx 6 inches under water so I have to walk up to the caravan. It's a lot drier up this end of the field, just a bit squelchy!

Work wise I'm still "On The Buses" and mostly still enjoying it. Odd days when there is nothing but problems but you can get that in any job.
My departure date for my Lands End - John O'Groats - Lands End challenge is fast approaching and I have now completed the trials I wanted to do before I set off. Some final last minute adjustments and it will be all systems go!

Looking forward to it but I'm under no illusion that it will probably half kill me!

Anyway, enough waffle, if I survive the expected 80mph winds tonight you will hear from me soon.

Till later....

P.S. Thankyou to all of you that have stuck by me whilst I have had a bit of time out - and to all those of you that are new - welcome!!!!