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Monday, 26 March 2012

Tillie meets the Toerag

When Tillie was a mere twinkle in the eye I had actually pre-ordered a Touareg from belltent, having sold a few bits off, my Toerag fund was ready.

So duly ordered and delivered this week earlier than expected, it was a perfect excuse to clear off yet again (yes the house is buried in dog hair, the kitchen is a shambles and any day I expect to go home and find the windows boarded up, grafitti all over the house and a few squatters moved in. Hopefully the squatters will be good at DIY and can finish the house in my absence. Just shove Steve off the sofa if he is in the way)

All packed up and set off Friday after work to go to Brook Meadows (Northants). After about 8 mile I was on the M69 and warning bells started. Tillie was struggling at 45mph and her temperature gauge was steadily rising so high I could have boiled the kettle in the engine...with 7 miles to the next exit off the motorway I had visions of a lovely weekend in a layby on the M69. It wasn't until I looked down and noticed I was in 5th gear. However Tillie only has 4 gears (all arranged in a circular grab it if your lucky sequence) and it dawned on me that perhaps 4th gear would be a better option than the 3rd she was pleading with me to change...

So in the right gear we carried on (I am a novice still, give me a break) and managed to cover the 27 miles there with no further mishaps

I arrived nicely at 6:30pm just in time for it to get dark. Brilliant idea hey, new tent, clueless and a torch in one hand

Luckily the Toerag was a doddle to pitch, even though all the guylines needed tying on. So with a belly full of fish and chips (thanks to cathy), a bottle of cider, and 2 hours later we were sorted for the night

Homer was obviously highly distressed by now...

Up the next morning and surveyed the pitching, apart from not bothering with one side of pegs, and slack guylines it looked ok

Complete with the german tarp it made a perfect set up

The sun streams in with the windows and it is very airy and light in there

And a perfect channel to Tillie's kitchen area

Porch is probably a bit OTT, but at least if it rains I can gather the whole campsite under there (Moroccan plastic matting from here)

Had a quick trip into Market Harborough (I did remember to dismantle ehu and gas bottle rather than drag them along the lanes of Leics)

Got back and just chilled round the tent until Smoky and Scep arrived. Within an hour they were here and pitched up with 'surfer dude' tent (there is a panel at the front that on ebay looked like flowers, however on close inspection they are little surfer men like you would get on a 7 year olds underpants)

So after Scep had chewed Smokys ears off about to how to correctly pitch, iron and press the tent everyone was set up. Scep made a few mods on his tent with a rather enchanting piece of B & Q turquoise plastic. After about an hour I think it is now lining the Brook Meadows skip

Having a play at breakfast with the swing out kitchen

Homer practices his gurning techniques

Rare shot of me, with Smoky and Cathy. Homer looks very pensive, I'm not sure if this after, thinking about, or about to rob someones food

Barley pleading with the neighbours that she has been dumped and left homeless. I think she prefers caravans, or maybe just any place that Homer isn't..

Time for a photoshoot round the lake

Packed up Sunday and went home via Foxton Locks

Homer pulling strange faces at the prospect of getting his ice cream

Few pics of the locks

The bridges are about 12 inch wide, was fun convincing homer he could fit over them

Pubs everywhere

Remains of the old lift system that was brought in to replace the never ending locks. Shame it wasn't workin as Homer could have done with a lift by now

And then the drive be welcomed by the dog hairs and kitchen tip.

Next trip out is easter in Cornwall in the tin tent. OH is trying to convince me to take Tillie. However if we did, apart from another loan needed for fuel, it would probably take about 2-3 days to get there and back, and we would probably end up on the back of an AA transporter. I'm not embracing this idea

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Tillie is home

So a bit of updating to do...

Thankfully I wasn't murdered in Arundel and I did pick up Tillie the VW T2. After purchasing a bargain train ticket for £10 it was soon obvious why it was cheap. 45 station changes and a 6 day journey (ok slightly exaggerated) and I arrived at the station in Amberley.

The seller met me there with Tillie, so there she was sitting pretty in the train station car park

Had a poke around her (hadn't got a clue could have been made of paper mache for all I know), then the owner drove her down the road, handed me the keys and said here you go...

Gulp. I haven't actually driven one of these before.... So after an initial search for the hand brake (what that handle??), get familiar with which side the indicator lever was (there is one lever, that was a quick process) and a quick poke around with a large spindly gear stick she moved to layby entrance towards the road. ARGHHHHH, after 2 yards I screamed, it has no brakes...!!! Seller kindly informed me they are just slower and harder to kick in than a modern car...

So said thank you very much, watched the seller run off at 100mph giggling, and it was just me and Tillie and a 166 mile journey home

First stop after 5 mins for petrol (i had cleverly checked what to put in it, so altho paraffin was evidently acceptable, unleaded petrol was more readily available) After 10 mins of turning one of the 400 keys supplied (see campervans have so many parts replaced you end up with the entire collection of VW keys available) I couldn't get the petrol cap off. Luckily there was a mechanic next door to the garage. I dragged him over and the very clever man manhandled tillies petrol cap off (he is now bound and gagged and stuffed under the seat for the next time Tillie needs filling up)

So journey home was pretty uneventful, nice and slow (60mph max), and FREEZING. My hands were like blocks of ice. But at least I had the lovely retro radio to listen too. Err maybe not, no sound actually comes from it but it does looks the part

It started to go dark so I decided to play pick a button. I had a choice of 3 , all with a picture of a light on them. I went for the middle one. So apologies for anyone on the M40 who went past a campervan with fog/side/full beam as I haven't a clue which one I used. I'm sure I was fairly noticeable tho, as when i finally got home I realised the interior strip light was on the entire way.

Pulled into Coventry and she was fine except when i slowed down or went into neutral, she was revving her heart out. Managed to manouvere up the pavement onto the newly prepared drive (mud, slugs and grass as it's not exactly finished yet), sure the whole neighbourhood thought I had brought back a formula one car from the racket.

Anyway she is lovely, just has a few quirks at the moment

After a quick email to the seller, a bit of wd40 and some 3 in 1 oil on the throttle pedal she seemed ok now

So off we went to join the other campers at Nottingham just for an overnight camp, and chance to play with Tillies bits

Bit of home comforts and Tillie was snug as a bug (apart from the wind whistling through one of the windows somewhere and obvious lack of heater)

Now the dogs (well Homer) was a bit wary of this 'sleeping in the car?????!!'. Homer has issues with small spaces, he thinks his body is twice as large as it is and he won't go in small spaces. The bed was pretty high, so he went into some strange reversing technique walking all round the front cab and finally taking a run and jump, falling off and scrabbling back up onto the bed

Yay finally!

After saying hello to everyone, conning scep into taking me and my mutts in his car to the pub, we had a nice meal and a few beers. Funniest moment was in car when Scep commented 'Bloody Bill, why can't he dip his blummin headlights???!' Only to realise 5 minute later that Bill wasn't actually behind us, however Scep did actually have his head light still strapped to his head on full beam, which shone nicely in the mirror....There is a nice home waiting for Scep where they will mash his food and change his sheets daily, should the need arise

The campfire was cancelled for after, so bit of an anti climax, but at least I got chance to snuggle in Tillie. EHU all working, gas lines ok (gas heater not working atm but I had a fan heater) so snuggled with a book and got some sleep in her.

Campsite was a bit garbage and the pair of blokes who owned it were a bit strange (anal in more way than one) They were very precious about the 1m square of space they had allocated to us all.

Next day took all of 5 mins to pack up and we were off home

Minor panic when I realised Tillie eats fuel like I eat cream cakes. Had to do a 10 mile detour to get petrol from a local Morrisons. This was a bit traumatic as the island was a bit small, and I appeared to be the only vehicle on it that had to do a 3 point turn to get round to the petrol station entrance. Bloody steering is muscle building

I let the mechanic out from under my seat to do the petrol cap and we filled up and coasted home (actually still revving our bllx off)

So first trip all done!

Loads of info/videos about Tillie here from the original advert

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

All rational decisions out the window as usual...

So yes.....I have decided to get a camper van

Mr Lloyds Gloucester Cheltenham TSB finally decided I really did need that home improvement loan, and transferred the money. This incidently was money I was paying off any debt, doing up the house and putting a bit away for security. See very grown up in my middle age. Well obviously not, as I have blown it on camper van instead.

I'm not sure if it was a coincidence but within 24 hours of transferring they were announcing job losses at TSB. Apologies if this was a direct result of some poor person releasing money to me

I had my eye on a little van for the last few weeks on ebay, but with no funds couldnt get in the bidding war. However, as it never reached reserve, I contacted the seller and we made a deal. Results of which mean I am travelling the 160 mile trip down to Arundel on Friday to pick her up.

I have my £10 special train ticket booked, and will be meeting my mysterious seller at the station - where he is picking me up and taking me to a barn somewhere (At this stage I would just like to say if this is my last post, he has murdered me)

I am fully briefed with everything you need to know about campervans. I have asked all the pertinent questions off the seller, does it have a cigarette lighter?, what's the awning like?, does it run on unleaded? Where's the handbrake?

I even bagged for £2.10 a copy of the haynes manual

Initially I bid on this copy but it scared me the amount of oil and pages falling out. Not a brilliant omen....

Finding the whole process very exciting, I have sent all week trying to amuse myself. Last night I sewed together a strange looking camper van fleece. I am hoping Tillie (yes yes that is my new babies name!) is slightly in better condition than my attempt at one

And no, she will not be filled with every vw paraphernalia on the market, I am being very reserved (cushion, chopping board so far)

I had a lovely weekend preparing for Tillie's arrival. This involved knocking down three courses of brick wall on the front garden. It came down relatively easy, except for a few bricks where i wanted to adopt foetal position and sob as they wouldnt dislodge. I then chopped down a small tree and dug up some shrubs and brambles, making the drive at least clear now if not exactly gypo block paved.

A couple of wood wedges to get her up the kerb (classy) and she will be safely tucked outside the kitchen window. Which is also an advantage, as you can now see into the kitchen having removed the shrubs, and obviously the kitchen is still piled high with crap during the decorating saga

Had a visit to T K Maxx in the week which was entertaining. There was a strange large bowl on the shelf with no price but with other clearance items. I asked the assistant how much so he went off looking for a similar item to compare it to. Being a man he compared it to something nothing whatsoever like it and came up with the price of £7

Debated for a bit and thought yep ok, is huge and would look good with indian themed garbage. Asked him what I said at the till and he said just get them to phone 'Bo-bil' and I will confirm with them the price

So gets to the checkout and repeats this to the cashier, he phones Bo-bil and takes the card payment. Meanwhile Little Miss Jumped Up shop assistant wanders over and asks why he is taking £7 for the bowl??? She had priced it yesterday and it was £50, reduced to £20.

So I stuffed the bowl in the bag, put my purse away quick and left the shop to the tannoy ringing out 'Bo-bil to customer services NOWWWWW!'

Sorry Bo-bil

Anyway, in less than 48 hours I will be on the train to Arundel, to pick up I haven't got a clue what, and may never reach home due to either mass murderer, or may in fact get home on the back of an AA transporter.

Will keep you updated!

CRAFTY POST - My revolting conservatory-camping-store-room, really needed a makeover....

Finished!  So I get asked, where do I store all my camping kit? The answer is