Thursday, 19 April 2018

Social Event........

Last Saturday we attended the Annual Social Event put on by Automotive Leisure the suppliers of Eva the Eriba....
It is always good to pop along and meet up with other owners and also see the latest models and gadgets for the Eriba range of touring vans.....


Eriba Owners at the Social Event....

Another view at the Social Event.....
We have attended the last three events in order to keep us up todate with everything Eriba....
This year my main interest was in a prototype of a new inflatable awning that is based on the awning that was destroyed in the recent storms.....

This new awning is made from the same material that our previous awning was made from... this was a material that we really liked as it was easy to keep clean with just a quick wipe over with a damp cloth and it also didn't fade.

Our current summer awning made by Kampa fades really badly and it is also not very easy to keep clean.....
The roof being made from a white material shows every mark .... it looks fine from the outside but from the inside you can see every mark....not really a very sensible colour when you think about it.....

The protoype awning which we viewed at Automotive Leisure seems to tick all the boxes for us and it also seems to have avoided a number of the errors in design that Kampa made with our current awning......

Unfortunately the new awning won't be available until after June this year.....
Our plan is to continue with the Kampa awning for this summer season and then buy one of these new awnings in September/October......
The Grave of T.E.Lawrence
 One interesting thing to be found in the village of Moreton is the grave of T.E.Lawrence known as Lawrence of Arabia......
His cottage 'Clouds Hill' is just a couple of miles away from the village and is well woth a visit if you are ever in the area.....
Lawrence once described Clouds Hill as his 'Earthly Paradise'.
He finished writing his account of the Arab Revolt 'The Seven Pillars of Wisdom'here, and he made friends with Thomas Hardy who was then living at Max Gate in Dorchester......
For all you Post Box fans......
Another thing to be seen in the village is something that will be of interest to all you Post Box enthusiasts out there.....
This post box can be found on the outside of the old post office.....

It has been a while since I have posted an image of a post box so I thought that I would share this one with you....

Something else of interest in the village are the Moreton Gardens.... more or less opposite the Moreton Tea Rooms... but you will have to wait until my next post to see a few images of that......

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

We thought that we had got away with it........

On Monday we left the Tavistock site........
It's always sad at the start of our touring season saying goodbye to all the people that we have spent the last five months with......
Mind you it's not as if we won't catch up with them again either at Tavistock or in a different part of the country as we travel around.......

After all the rain that we have had it was a real bright and sunny morning as we hitched up and slowly drove out of the site......
We thought that we had got away with it...... no rain!!

Things never work out the way that you want them to though.... It stayed nice and dry and sunny until we went past Exeter and then the rain came down....it was heavy rain... raining cats and dogs (what does that mean?) and it continued all the time during our journey only easing as we arrived at our destination.... and this is where we are....

Our current location.

Site entrance...
Yes...we are now at the Moreton C&CC site in Dorset.......
Although we have been back to Dorset a number of times over the past few years this is the first time we have stayed at this site with Eva the Eriba.......

I have stayed here before though although that was a number of years ago...probably ten or more and that was with the Backpackers Club on one of our circular walks around Dorset that we called 'The Dorset Round'.

The main reason we have decided to pitch up here is in order to enable me to ride some of the routes that I used to ride when we lived at Alum Chine in Bournemouth......

Anyway...when we arrived it was too wet to put up the summer awning but on the Tuesday we managed to get it up and our timing was perfect as the moment we had finished the rain started again and yes it was heavy.......

This morning we woke up to bright sunny weather and it was dry.... What should I do..?
No need to think twice..... I prepped the bike and set off on a ride in the Purbecks.... I had a complete route in mind but it would depend on whether the military firing ranges were open as my route would be taking me across a section of the ranges....
Yippee....The ranges were open.....
When I got to the start of the ranges as luck would have it they were open......
My route was to take me to Steeple via Creech Hill.....
For someone who hasn't been able to get out and ride much recently this was a bit of a tall order as the hills are STEEP and I am really out of condition...... But I made it...


Up on the Wareham Ridge at Stonehill Down.....

A slightly different viewing angle......
The route to the top of the ridge is one that I used to train on before the Ten Countries in Ten Days ride..... It has a nice hairpin along it which was useful for preperation for the Swiss/Italian Alps.....

When I got up to the top of the ridge there was a guy in a motorhome parked up and we chatted and enjoyed a coffee together..... He comes from the North East of the country and had wild camped in the little lay-by overnight....

We chatted away for almost 45mins and then I headed back along the same route.....
I have to be honest though that I was struggling a bit during the last eight miles of the return.....
First 'proper' ride of the year and I had been a bit ambitious with the distance and terrain but it was a great ride and I hope to have a few more before we move on ........

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Jam or Cream First......

The other day we went to the Two Bridges Hotel for a cream tea...........
It was a lovely day to go for a walk on the moors and what better way to finish the walk than a traditional Devon cream tea.....

Now I say traditional Devon cream tea but of course Cornwall also has their own traditional Cornish cream tea.....
The difference between them apparently is if the jam is first on the scone or the cream is first...

In Devon it is supposed to be cream first and in Cornwall it is jam first.....or so we are told...
Interestingly Anne and all of her family are Devonians and none of them put the cream on the scone first in fact Anne has told me that it is only in recent years that the discussion about cream or jam first has come up......
She thinks that it is another of these 'tales' that's put out by the local tourist boards to add a bit of extra interest and in turn sell more cream teas......

Whatever the truth of the matter we enjoyed the day and the cream tea and for what it's worth I put the jam on one of my scones first and on the other one I put the cream on first.....
To be honest I found that the jam on first was a lot less messy to eat than putting the cream on first with the jam on last......

Some images below taken in and around the grounds of the Two Bridges Hotel.......










Jam or Cream first..!!
 Oh... the summer awning is back up again now...... Lets hope the weather continues to be good enough th leave it up until we leave the Tavistock site

Monday, 19 March 2018

Repeat Performance.....

Two weeks after the 'Beast from the East' we have been given a repeat performance....this time it was called 'Mini Beast from the East......

The Start of the Mini Beast
Following the big beast a couple of weeks ago we lowered what was left of our awning and disposed of it at the tip....
It was a bit sad really as that awning had been with us from the start and had seen us through two summers and three winters...
All in all it had done pretty well and had fought off many a gale force wind and a good number of storms......

Anyway following the awning disposal trip we collected our summer awning from Anne's son who had been storing it for us over the winter....
As it is an air awning it didn't take long to put it up and for two days we enjoyed having it as a fallback and counted ourselves lucky that we had an extra awning to use.....

On the second night with the summer awning we had another very windy night...... The awning withstood the wind quite well and one of the benefits of having an air awning is that you don't have the banging, crashing and flapping sounds that you do with a normal poled awning....
However after that windy night I checked the forecast and after seeing that the 'mini beast' was
on its way Anne and I took the awning down again....

Other campers must have thought that we were mad taking it down after just a couple of days especially as the weather when we took it down was nice and bright and sunny..... indeed the day before we had enjoyed sitting out in it enjoying the sunshine and afternoon tea.....

What a good decision that was......
When the 'mini beast' hit us this past weekend the winds were almost as bad as last time but the snow it brought with it was even worse and Devon was hit hard.....
It was freezing cold but we were able to look out of Eva the Eriba and enjoy watching it without having to worry about an awning being blown about and being torn to shreds...

Nearly all of the roads in the vicinity became impassable due to either ice or snow drifts....
Anne's son who was trying to get back to Tavistock after watching the rugby at Twickenham the day before got back as far as the Fox & Hounds near Lydford before deciding that it was too dangerous to proceed any further..... He had to spend the night there even though it is only about eight miles away from his home......

We awoke this morning to a very cold morning with caravans and motorhomes having frozen water pipes (not us as we have onboard water supplies) and the site road being very icy first thing......

Even though the police had blocked the road with signs and cones people this morning were ignoring the signs and attempting to drive up pork hill..... 
One 4X4 spent ages with all four wheels spinning trying to climb the hill before his stupidity filtered through his thick skull and he gave up his attempt.....
What is it about the words 'ROAD CLOSED' that some idiots don't seem to understand??

Any way we are warm.....safe...and well fed with all the supplies that we have on board and now enjoying watching the snow slowly start to disappear.

Whichever way you look at it, it is a lot more of an adventure than living in a 'sticks and bricks' over the winter and sitting there with a pipe and slippers even though it can get a bit scary at times.....


Sunday, 4 March 2018

The Worst 48hrs Since We Set Out......

I thought that things had been bad weather wise as I reported in my last post on this blog....
What a fool I was......!!!
More bad weather had been forecast for this past week...

Some wag had called the oncoming bad weather "The Beast from the East"..... 
I really hate those stupid names that seem to be given to everything these days...every storm now has to have a name which is designed to make it sound more like the chap (or his wife) across the road...I prefer details on wind speed...rain fall etc...  
Detailed information is far more useful than knowing that the bad weather aproaching is called the beast from wherever....

Anyway after closing the pop top on the caravan a week ago it stayed shut for the entire week due to the continuous very strong winds.....

As we moved through the week the temperature fell dramatically.... on a couple of mornings the outside of the windows on Eva were just like frosted glass with solid ice over the entire outside of the caravan......

I didn't sleep for 48hrs.... both Wednesday and Thursday nights we had storm force winds tearing down from the moor reaching gusts of up to ninety miles an hour.....This was the worst 48hrs we have experienced since we set out.......
The awning was jumping all over the place and was flapping and banging like nothing we have ever experienced before... scary is too mild a term for what it felt like especially when the caravan was hit by the gusts...

Wednesday night was just wind but on Thursday night the snow arrived as well.....
Our awning was being ripped to pieces as we watched.....
The pegs seemed to be holding due to the frozen ground.....all the tension was on the stitching around the bottom edge..... trouble was that after one section ripped it made it easier for the wind to rip out the next section....

The next parts to go were the side windows..... as it was easy for the wind to now get into the awning due to the damage it had already done it made short work of blowing the windows out and tearing them to shreds.......

With gaping holes everywhere the awning started to fill with snow over everything..... 
A few images below to show what it was like:- ........


I went to the toilet block with no snow...10 mins later this was blowing in.

First snow blasting into the site.

Side window torn to shreds..note the snow starting to drift against the awning.

Interior of awning with snow everywhere...

The other end of the awning....

Front panel with rips along pegging points..note previous attempted temporary repair.

No access up Pork hill from campsite.....on late Friday freezing rain had created black ice everywhere.
On the Friday morning only one awning had survived with just minimal damage..... 
The others..mine included.... were all damaged beyond economical repair..... in other words they were all but destroyed.....

All the water standpipes on the site were frozen solid....and those caravans that were hooked up to a water supply had no water......we have all our water in onboard containers so no frozen tap problems for us.....

From the Friday lunch time the electricity supply kept going on and off and eventually went off and stayed off..... The electricity engineers estimated that the supply would not be restored until 1800hrs...later on this was revised to 0030hrs Saturday morning although they eventually restored it at 1915hrs on Friday evening.
This was all caused to damage to the cables caused by the weight of ice on the cables which was the result of freezing rain and wind....

When the rain started it was managing to wash the snow away but then as it began to freeze the roads were like ice rinks....
The road outside the club site where it starts to ascend Pork hill had been closed during the snow and then it continued to be closed with the black ice (see last image above.) 

All in all we have survived quite well.....We are warm and safe.....
All of the country was hit by this.... some areas had it far worse than us and others had it far better than us..
However this was the first time that a 'Red Alert' has been issued for Devon since the coding system of alerts was started and being in a caravan in those truly distructive winds was really a scary experience and one that I have no wish to repeat..... 
Other long time caravan and motorhome owners on site have told me that they had never experienced anything close to this......

Since Saturday we have all started the big clear up.....
Items that were in the awnings have been soaked first from the snow and then heavy rain blowing in so a lot of discarding of damaged items is under way....
We will be taking down what is left of our awning during the next couple of days..... Some of the other awnings on the site have already been removed......

What a calm stress free and  peaceful life caravanning is..........!!

I will keep you posted on any other developments........

Sunday, 25 February 2018

What a Night !!

I was woken up at 0400hrs this  morning by howling winds....
In actual fact I had been waking up off and on throughout the whole night but a major gust that slammed into the caravan from the east was the final push for me to lower our pop top roof.....
Needless to say after closing the roof I went straight back to bed.....

Getting up at 0830hrs I got up again for coffee and breakfast and at the same time I gave the awning a quick checkover..
This is what I found on the right hand side of the front panel......


Damage to the Awning...
 It's a little difficult to see properly but the wind has ripped the panel where it joins the mud flap along the bottom of the awning where there is an attachment to the rubber pegging ladders...

It will be repairable by my friendly awning repair brothers who are based in Ringwood in Dorset...
They have done repair work for me a couple of times before and their work is excellent... Highly recommended....
(If you need any work done just contact me and I will pass on their details)

In the meantime this afternoon I completed a temporary repair with the campers friend the always useful duct tape......
Looking up to the Aerial at North Hessary....
 Before I tackled that little job though Anne and I had arranged to meet her son Brian and his wife Rachel for a walk out from Princetown on to the moor.... In and around the North Hessary area along an old rail track.....

Four weeks ago Rachel gave birth to Anne's second grandchild a little boy called Harris (after the Scottish Island where there are family connections) and he came too...although I don't know how much he was aware of what was going on as he slept through the entire walk.

It's never too soon to introduce the young-uns to the outdoors life...!!
Walking along the old rail track on the moor......
 He couldn't have had a better introduction to walking on the moor as the wind was still howling away and according to the weather App on my phone the wind chill temperature was about minus 6c.
Anne.. Brian and Rachel plus Harris (No it's not a doll!)
After our walk we all retreated to the warmth and comfort of the Fox Tor Cafe in Princetown for coffee and cake.... 
Even during our vist to the cafe Harris didn't wake up at all however by all accounts he is not so sleepy when it comes to night time and he doesn't need howling winds to keep him awake as I do.... 

Those of you who have been walking and backpacking with me on Dartmoor will recognise the Fox Tor cafe in the image below...
We have enjoyed many a very tasty breakfast here over the years.....
The Fox Tor Cafe popular with both Walkers and Cyclists...

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

It CAN be a Fantastic place to be.......

Yesterday(Sunday)...... after what seems like weeks of wet weather we had an absolutely stunning day... 
Yes it was cold but it wasn't raining and the sun shone bright for most of the day...
Oh... if only every winters day was as good as that we could be out enjoying walking on the moor every day.....


A great winters day at the Tavistock Site (our unit is on the far left)
 The trouble with lovely sunny winter days with clear blue skies is that the nights can be freezing cold and last night was no exception.....
The night was very cold indeed with a very heavy frost this morning.

Normally we have the heating set not much above the lowest setting but last night I actually had to turn it up a bit which is most unusual for us... Mind you we were really cosy tucked up in Eva the Eriba.....
One of the benefits of having a smaller caravan is that it makes it so easy to keep it really warm in the middle of winter....... 

We woke up today to another fantastic bright and clear day...  
According to the weather forecast I heard a short while ago the temperature feels colder than it actually is due to a strong north easterly wind but make no mistake it is very bitterly cold....

I have to say when the weather is like this Dartmoor is a fantastic place to be..... however when the weather is bad it can be a horrendous location. 

This morning looking up at the moor from the 'glamping' Ready-Camps on site...
 This morning the BBC's Breakfast programme even had a feature live from up on the moor showing everyone how wonderful  Dartmoor CAN  be at this time of the year when the weather is dry sunny and cold......
However... we were told that the dry, sunny but cold weather could well change with snow being mentioned in all the TV and radio weather forecasts....

With the possibility of snow in mind we headed off to the local supermarket in the town in order to top up our supplies.....
If we do get snow we want to make sure that we are able to sit it out if we get snowed in.... not that I actually believe that that is a real possibility.
Live cable left plugged in.......
Now for a bit of a Grumpy moan.....

Check out the picture above... this always amazes me.......
I see this happening a lot on the various sites that we visit throughout the year.....

The motorhome on this pitch has gone out for the day and left his cable plugged in to the power supply allowing the 'live' end to just dangle around on the ground.....

Both The Camping and Caravanning Club and The Caravan and Motorhome Club  have a number of information sheets advising people on the best and safest way to use the electrical connections....
Two of the points they make are :-
1) Remove your cable from the power supply first before disconnecting the cable from your unit.....
2) Do not leave a cable plugged into the power supply and not connected to your unit...

Obviously this camper either never reads the safety advice or he chooses to ignore it....
I wouldn't mind betting that when he plugs the cable back into the motorhome he will leave the spare cable coiled up as well ignoring yet another point of safety advice which is:-

3) Ensure that you completely un-coil the power cable when in use on your unit.....

I won't bother to bore you all with the reasons to follow this safety advice as it seems obvious to me......

Grumpy moan over..!!