Saturday, 30 August 2014

Concrete Laid - IKEA Hell - "Lucille" Finds Shelter

Vic managed to get all the concrete laid, he did look like a drowned rat by the time he had finished but he got the job done.

The rain poured down and I was not convinced that it would be set by the next day as Vic suggested! However, true to his word it was.

A couple of planks were laid across the base as this was the only way the cats could get out to the garden from the cat flap on the back door.

So next week the building of the outside walls start, well, hopefully. We were told that it would take 2 weeks start to finish, we are now starting week 4!

We also took a trip to IKEA as there were a few things we wanted to get, mainly kilner jars for my pickled onions and eggs and I also wanted to buy a sheepskin rug. 

The sheepskin rug is going to be made into a seat cover for "Lucille" my trusty Honda C90.

So my sheepskin was £30.00 and the kilner jars were a couple of quid each, so I'm really not to sure how we managed to rack up a final bill of £158.00!!!

Then the queue at the checkout - I've seen shorter Russian bread queues! 7 or 8 deep and there were checkouts not being used. I cannot see how this could happen in a store as well organised as IKEA.

Finally, we made room in the garage by taking a few things out and moving them into the cabin in the garden. This meant that "Lucille" now has a place to call home, out of the elements.

It's the first time in my ownership she has had this, and to say I am relieved is an understatement.

So there you have it - a quick update as the summer draws to and end and the kids start back to school.

Next post will be more about the the items we have recently bought for our T25 "Duckie" so a bit more of a camping related post.

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

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Off Out Again In "Duckie" Our VW T25

Bank Holiday weekend and what plans do we have?

None - I'm bloody working all weekend including Monday!!!!!!!

However, all is not lost. Saturday night saw us at a Retirement Party for one of the drivers from work. A good evening was had by all, with plenty of food cooked on the BBQ.

It was at Boldre, not a million miles away, but we thought that if we had a couple of beers we could "Pop" the roof and stay over in the hall car park. So this is what we did and it was a lovely quiet night as Boldre is in the New Forest and it is a bit out of the way!

No one bothered us, and next morning we were up fairly sharpish as I had to go to work.

Kiera dropped me off at work, and then picked me up in the evening where once again we set off to cook supper in the forest.

Our chosen location this time was Hatchet Pond just outside of Beaulieu.

A great spot for supper! During the day this car park is heaving, but come evening we had it almost to ourselves!

We both agreed that buying the VW T25 was a brilliant move, as we appear to be getting a lot of use out of her. Not only that but on the day's I take her to work, during my breaks I head back to put the kettle on and get some quality down time before I hit the road again.

Conservatory Update.

As it is now Tuesday, Vic our builder has laid the membrane and is currently filling up the base of the conservatory with cement. The only problem is that the heavens have just opened and it is quickly becoming a paddling pool half filled with cement. As the cement has been delivered and is laying out on a tarp on the grass to the front of our house, I think he has no option but to carry on all it could turn into a catastrophe.

As there is a bit of cursing going on outside, I feel it wiser and safer to stay out of the way and scuttle off to work before I'm enlisted to help!

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

Friday, 22 August 2014

Conservatory Build Update - Foundations

Old Victor our builder has been cracking on single handedly with our conservatory.

The foundations are now laid, the base wall built and he has now nearly completed the infill of hardcore so that sand followed by the waterproof membrane and finally the cement can be poured.

Also the waste pipe from the kitchen sink had to be rerouted and a new drain laid.

It's all coming together slowly but surely, considering he is doing this all on his own he is making really good progress.

Today the sand and membrane is laid all ready for concrete to be poured on Tuesday.

Still a lot of work to be done. One of the good things is that Vic has managed to source the same bricks as the house for the new brickwork. The house was built in 1979 so it will all look the same once completed.

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

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Supper Cooked In Duckie VW T25

It had been a lovely sunny day and we had both been at work, so what better way to spend an evening than looking out over the sea and cooking our supper in "Duckie"

We are so lucky that just a 10 minute drive away we are at the coast, with many places to park up.

This evening we decided on Hordle Cliffs, which is just West of Milford On Sea.

We parked up and popped the roof and watched the sun go down as I rattled some pans.

I managed to cobble together a chicken tagliatele which tasted awesome if I do say so myself!

We watched the sun set and it grew dark as we sat watching the sea, finishing up with a hot chocolate before we headed home. It would of been rather too easy just to fall asleep in the back but yet again I was on early's so not really practical.

Oh well - always another day!

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

Not Another Puncture In the VW T25

Monday morning and it's early o'clock. A puncture is not what is needed, but that is what I had.

The 2nd in a week! Surely I cannot be that unlucky.

Thankfully with a choice of cars I made it to work ok, and left "Duckie" on the side of the road till I returned that evening.

Managed to get some air into the tyre, enough to get it back into our parking bay, but by the following morning it was flat once more.

I finished work early that day, so swapped the tyre over with the spare, and made arrangements to get it repaired the next day.

No visible screws or nails could be seen and this was confirmed by the Tyre Shop who said they couldn't find the cause of the puncture either.

So a new inner tube, and yes our T25 has inner tubes, I thought that they stopped putting them in, but talking to the Tyre Shop owner it depends on the size of tyre and rim used.

Well, £15.00 later we were back on the road. At least the tyre did not need replacing as that cost us £78.00 last week!

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

Visitors From Holland

At short notice we had word that Kiera's Dad and Step Mum were over from Holland and would be staying with us for a couple of nights.

Good job the kids were away, or they would be sleeping either on the floor or in "Duckie"!

They arrived on Saturday and after I had finished work headed home to meet them for the first time.

A bit daunting even at my age meeting your girlfriends Dad for the first time! But it all turned out well.

Sunday we took a trip to "Molly's Den" a big industrial unit full of antique stalls, had a good browse and bought a couple of postcards. Kiera spent rather more than me and ended up with bags and cups and saucers!

Then we took a trip out to Blackfield which is where Peter  (Kiera's Dad) was born to find the actual house he was born in. This we did, but there was no one in when he knocked the door as I think he would of liked a look around his old house.

On then to Lepe beach, now a nature reserve but during WW2 it was an important area. This is where the pipeline left the main land before heading over to the Isle of Wight and then onto France. Without this pipeline, fuel would of been in very short supply if not impossible to get hold of and the invasion would of failed. Not only this but here is where a lot of the Mulberry Harbours were built and it was a major embarkation point.

We had lunch in "Duckie" with four adults sat around the table, followed by  ice cream.

On our return it was a quick change as we were off out that night for a curry with some of the lads and their partners from work. At the end of the evening as we were all settling the bill, Peter became very insistent that he was going to pay for Kiera and I. So much so that he threatened to stuff my card up my arse if I didn't put it away!

A late but enjoyable evening was had by all.

Monday night I cooked a Lasagne, not my best by far, but it went down ok.

Tuesday night we headed out to "The Haven" at Lymington Marina. Here they cook the best Mussel's ever!

Peter (Kiera's Dad) - Kiera

Another late night, not helped by the fact that the following morning I had to be up at 0400hrs for work!

Peter and Annamarie left on Wednesday morning to catch their ferry back home armed with large jars of pickled eggs and onions!

An enjoyable few days, and now back to the grindstone of work.

Till later.........

Friday, 15 August 2014

2nd Night In T25 VW aka "Duckie"

I had a late start at work and Kiera was off to London for the day. The plan was that we both roughly would be home at the same time and we would shoot off for another night in "Duckie"

However, Kiera's train was some what delayed so we took all of 30 seconds to decide that all though late we should still head off.

Quick change at home, a stop at the local kebab shop and back down to Keyhaven Marsh again!

It was lovely just sat in the back looking out through the front towards the Isle of Wight and watched the sky being lit up by the lightening way out at sea.

Another very peaceful night and a very lazy start once more with tea and bacon rolls, the sun shining warming the van up nicely.

Our view from our door this morning, you may be able to make out Hurst Castle and the Lighthouse with the Isle of Wight in the background.

A few things that need to be added to the shopping list is:-

Gas spanner - I haven't found one in the van, either that or I make sure there is an adjustable spanner handy. I have all ready decided that we will be changing over from butane to propane.

Porta Potti - A bit of a cumbersome item, but we feel that it is a requirement when wild camping, there were a lot of dog walkers around this morning at 0700 hrs, rather too many for Kiera's liking!!

Levelling Ramps

Hand Held Hoover - Too many crumbs!

Electric Hook Up Cable - Complete with fused sockets. The camper van does not have 240v hookup built in.

So still a bit to do, plus we also need to take a look at how the curtains work, well, really how they hook onto the square clips in the runners. There must be a better way, so we will be looking through the forums for ideas but open to suggestions!

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

1st Night In VW25 aka "Duckie"

With the kids at their Dad's and Kiera off, myself on a late start, it would be an opportunity missed if we did not spend the night in "Duckie"

So to save on a bit of time, that afternoon I rustled up a spaghetti bolognase so all that was required would be to reheat it and cook a pan of pasta later.

Living in this part of the world we are very lucky to have a choice of where to stay for the night. No campsites for us now we have "Duckie" - just wild camp where it is safe to do so!

Wild camping or freedom camping is when you pull into a secluded or out of the way spot and spend the night. Generally the authorities turn a blind eye as long as you are not causing an obstruction or doing anything stupid.

We decided on Keyhaven Marsh, looking out towards Hurst Castle and the Isle of Wight.

We finally pulled in around 2000hrs and within seconds we were opening a beer and relaxing. A bit different than pulling up in a caravan! Handbrake on and the jobs done! We did "pop" the roof up though!

We had pulled in front of a Hymer camper leaving plenty of space, and apart from them, there was a handful of cars parked further along.

Not long after parking up as I was getting the tea on a guy walked up to us and said "Are you planning on spending the night here"? quickly I replied no, just chilling. I didn't want to give the game away!

However, what I didn't realise was that he was from the Hymer! He told me that the tide comes in and up and over the road so unless we move around the corner to higher ground we may end up with wet feet!

Realising who he was now, I thanked him for his kindness in letting us know. Flooding "Duckie" on her maiden voyage would not of been a good start.

So once dinner was had, we drove around the corner and parked up on level ground.

Time then for a quick walk out on the spit with a blanket and a bottle of wine. Here we spent an hour watching the lights of boats pass between the spit and the Isle of Wight and also the moon rise up over the spit. Glorious, and a wonderful way to spend an evening!

Back to the camper for a mug of hot chocolate and set the bed up which took all of 3 mins!

With the curtains pulled round it felt snug and cosy.

A good nights sleep followed and a lazy start to the day with tea and bacon rolls!

Three camper cans stayed at this location, this included us. If anyone wants the precise location and directions to it, please feel free to email me and I'll guide you to it.

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

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Conservatory Build Started

We received a phone call from the conservatory people that they were coming a few days early to start work.

Good job I had cleared the bay tree out of the way, I was told just to leave 12" as they were happy to clear the roots - I was rather relieved about this!

The last two pictures show the outside of the house once the bay tree had been removed.

The patio area that you see will be the size of the conservatory.

Victor, who is doing all the work, set about clearing off the patio slabs and digging the foundations out which he has to do by hand, proper old fashion way of doing things, no mini digger to help!

The skip has arrived much to the tutting of some of the neighbours!

So it's all go. The electrician turned up today and sorted out what needs to be done to put electric in the cabin. Just waiting for a price now.

A lot going on here at the moment with never a dull moment. Trying to keep up is hard work!

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

VW T25 Tyre Blow Out

When it comes to punctures it would appear that I have no luck at all!

Since last November I have had four! Two on "Lucille" (Honda C90), once in the Pajero and now "Duckie" on only the 2nd day of ownership!

I was travelling back from work and heard/felt a vibration coming from the back end.

I was on a very narrow winding stretch of road with no where to pull over, so had to drive very slowly to a safe spot where I pulled over and investigated the noise.

Sure enough, a puncture. But, not only a puncture but the side wall of the tyre was torn! I never curbed it so it must of been done whilst getting to safety.

Now, time to find the spare wheel and jack! The spare is situated under the the front of the vehicle and held in place with a locking nut.

No probs, where is the jack and wheel brace?

A quick phone call to Kiera and she came out with my tool kit, a 19mm spanner undid the nut and out dropped the spare wheel.

Under the rear seats was found the jack and wheel brace. However, the wheel brace was split and all it would do is round off the wheel nuts, so I tried my socket set, found a 19mm socket but only a small socket wrench. Which with some leverage I managed to bust, not loosening a single nut!

Stuck, so a phone call to the AA and within 40 mins they were with us, the wheel changed and we were on our way.

So today we are getting a spare wheel, slightly annoying as it looks like the damaged tyre is virtually brand new!

These things happen I guess, just seem to happen to me!

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

Took Delivery Of VW T25 Camper aka "Duckie"

At 1100hrs this morning we went to collect the latest vehicle to our collection which now sits at 4 cars and 1 motorbike!

The owner gave us a full walk through of the van and all it's bits and pieces and once the paperwork was completed we headed off.

Once home we put together a picnic, fuelled up and headed off.

The end of Hurricane Bertha had passed over and we were left with a sunny day, just a bit windy.

We thought we would take her for a bit of a run, so we headed for the Isle of Purbeck and a place called Knoll Beach which is part of Studland.

We took the kids and Flo the dog for a walk through the dunes, unfortunately due to the time of year Flo is not allowed on the beach, so dunes it was.

Looking out towards "Old Harry"

Back at the bus we ate lunch, due to it's layout it was easy for us all to sit around the table. Not possible if we had a traditional Rock 'n' Roll bed as that only seats two.

Once lunch was done and tea brewed we checked out the "Pop Top" roof and got the kids up there to check it out. They were happy and liked the little windows on each side.

Then we laid the bed out downstairs, loads of room and felt comfortable enough.

Time to head back towards home and we took the chain link ferry from Sandbanks to Poole.

We stopped at Kiera's parent's house to show them "Duckie" and from there we decided that the day was not yet done, and fish and chips were required to finish off the day.

Looking out from Milford beach towards the Isle of Wight we enjoyed watching the waves as the wind had really picked up and was blowing foam off the waves straight at us.

Another brew and so ended a rather relaxing 1st day spent in our camper "Duckie"

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

Friday, 8 August 2014

Wooden Cabin Now In Back Garden

The wood cabin has now been delivered and erected, it took just two days to be built.

But first the ground had to be levelled off, even before this could be done all the plants and garden shed had to be cleared. We also had new fencing put up once the ground was cleared.

With some help I got the shed dismantled and we got a guy in to clear all the ground and level it off. This was a good idea as it filled a small tipper truck!

We then put the shed up on "Gumtree" and listed it as "Free - Buyer Collects" To be honest we should of put a £20 price on it as the amount of calls, emails and texts were unbelievable! I'm not joking, we are talking 30 plus messages all wanting the shed!

It was collected a couple of days ago, and now has a new home.

The cabin which is made out of 48mm wood basically slots together. The dimensions are 10ft by 14ft and fully double glazed. On the first day two guys laid a gravel bed and made the base. On the second day 3 guys slotted it all together.

Not cheap by any stretch of the imagination but it will last and it can be removed if required.

We just need the electrician to turn up next week now to install power points.

As you can see it takes up much of the back garden!

The plants on the right will be cut back, that is today's job!

Sunday we pick up "Duckie" the weather is not looking good, but at least we will find out if she leaks!

Now - time to do some hacking of bushes!

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

Monday, 4 August 2014

Meet "Duckie" - VW T25 Pop Top Camper!

We have been thinking about getting a camper for a while now, but time has been against us. It has been a case of just looking at Autotrader and Ebay and getting a feel for what is about.

We did go to a local dealer to look at campers but none were below £30,000 which was way over budget.

So Sunday morning found me sipping coffee in bed and scrolling through campers on ebay.

We had finally came to the decision that a T25 was the right model to go for.

After our searches we thought that the T5's were either way to expensive for what they were, the standard of the interiors were a bit hit and miss and to be honest looked a bit chavvy!

T4's were looking dated and with basic trim levels just looked tired and unappealing.

The classic shaped Bay window VW's fetched silly money for something up together and once again the interiors for our budget were pretty sketchy!

So, we settled for looking for a T25.

With time being an important factor, we did not want to spend time travelling around the country looking for our perfect van, so when we found a van in Christchurch which is not far away we thought we had struck lucky.

It had everything we wanted, looked good, had loads of history and was well within budget. But, after a quick phone call found out that it had just been sold the day before!

Feeling a bit despondent, I carried on looking. The very last advert on ebay came up with "Duckie"! Being in Lymington she was just down the road.

"Duckie" as she is known as is a 1984 VW T25 with a 1.9 petrol water cooled engine with 99% service history and certainly with enough to be sure that her 77,000 miles is absolutely genuine.

A couple of years ago she had an extensive refurbishment, mechanically and internally. This was done locally and Kiera happens to know the guy that did it.

I think it would be fair to say that we both fell in love with "Duckie" the moment we saw her.

We were shown around "Duckie" and everything looked good. A quick test drive did not show up anything to worry about so after a quick discussion we decided to go for it!

So here she is

A 4 berth with a pop top roof, she also comes with a full drive away awning which is brilliant.

As you can see from the pictures above she has a rather unique layout for a VW. To be honest it is brilliant for 2 adults and 2 kids. Much better that the standard layout with just two seats along the back.

Underneath the seats is loads of storage, so we should be able to get everything we need stowed away.

The upholstery material used is normally only found on super yachts to cover the seating on outside seats, making it fully wipeable and hard wearing whilst being luxurious. It has the feel of suede. 

The pop top roof is simple to operate and has loads of space for the kids to sleep in. The bed down below is large enough due to the cabinet layout. Some of the layouts we have seen have cabinets both sides which obviously restricts the sleeping space.

The galley consists of a two ring burner and grill, more than enough to knock up some fantastic grub. Also a fridge that runs off gas, it is supposed to run off the 12v/240v as well but I don't think it is wired up to do so. I don't remember seeing a 240v hookup point so this will be a little job to get done.

As you can see the whole of the bus has been reupholstered 

Plenty of storage in the rear, and it does have a tow bar which is great as we have a cycle rack which slots onto the tow bar. We do need to get electric to it.

So there she is - a rather fine looking camper which I am sure will give us hours and hours of memories!

We collect her on Sunday, so a whole week to wait, then the fun of kitting her out and putting her through her paces. The day we get her we will be off for a cuppa some where I'm sure.

Can't wait!!

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