Friday, 20 March 2015

Saving the best till last....

Virtually everything has now been removed from Purple Towers and apart from a few small things to sort out, we are almost ready to leave after spending seventeen years of our life here.
Currently we are sitting on camp chairs in an empty room.....well empty apart from the chairs and a television set.... 

Luckily we still have the bed in the bedroom so we have something to sleep on which is good news, as we have just over one week left here whilst we tie up the loose ends.....

There are always mixed emotions when you move on to something or somewhere new....
Over the past seventeen years whilst living here a lot of things have happened in our lives.... Family landmarks...Friends made.....Health scares.....Redundancy....Retirement.....Good and bad decisions made.....Some cycling and walking successes as well as failures........
In short lots and lots of memories which we will be taking with us when we finally close the door on this part of our life's journey.....

This whole project has been over two years in the planning and as we approach our very last week at Purple Towers the excitement of the whole adventure is really starting to build...

Some of the last items to be moved out have been my well loved bikes......  
I have been taking them over to my daughter's house where Eva the Eriba is parked up ready for us to 'hit the road'.

When it came to our moving strategy it really was a case of saving the best till last..!!

Tiffany the Tifosi meeting up with Eva the Eriba....



Friday, 13 March 2015

I never knew it was there.....

Earlier this week I met up with Jason Boynton-Lee for coffee..cake....and a chat..
Jason rode down through France and into Spain with me and a few others back in 2009.... 

It was at the end of that ride after disembarking from the Santander to UK ferry in Plymouth that I had my accident. I came off my bike near Budleigh Salterton waking up in Exeter hospital.......
Jason was one of the first of the other riders on the scene and it is always nice to meet up and have a chat about old times and some of the rides we have done together....

It has to be said that currently I think that Jason is a lot fitter than I am.... Over the last few months he has got back into his cycling as if he is on a mission.......
As we are hoping to meet up for a ride or two once Anne and I get started on our long term adventure trip I think that I will have to put some serious work into my fitness levels just to keep up with him....

Anyway, on the walk back from the coffee shop Jason pointed out a plaque on the wall of St Peter's Church in Bournemouth...........

St Peter's Church- Bournemouth.

It is interesting...but after living in Bournemoth for the last seventeen years I never knew that it was there...
It just goes to show that we can live in an area for many years and yet if we look closely we can always see and learn something new.......

The Plaque that Jason pointed out to me..
Thanks Jason, for reminding me that you don't need to go on the road full time touring to see and learn new and interesting things.....

Friday, 6 March 2015

Boosting my Caravan WiFi Connection....

One of the problems that I have experienced while on long camping trips, is maintaining a good internet connection....
Of course with 3G/4G you can always access the internet with your smart phone if you have a suitable signal.....however that is also a very good way of eating up your data allowance in double quick time.
In the past on trips up to about six weeks such as the trip I did cycling back to the UK from Gibraltar, that is exactly what I did, buying extra data as I went along.

This is perfectly acceptable for those sort of shorter trips, but is not a good idea for much longer trips like the one that Anne and I our starting out on in a few weeks time. 
Also we will be wanting to use laptops...tablets and also a kindle...
At home we connect these devices to the internet via a WiFi router and they work pretty well that way.

When staying at a lot of campsites WiFi is often available free or for maybe a small fee....however the signal is often very patchy and slow around the campsite and very dependent on where on the site your pitch actually is.....
You can quite often see people sat on a wall outside the reception office trying to get a good reliable WiFi connection in order to post to their blog or social media and surf the net.....
I can remember spending a good couple of hours in the toilet area of a campsite in France trying to make a posting on my blog...the toilet area seemed to offer the least troublesome (but not perfect) connection....Not the best place to spend and evening though.....

Now what I wanted for our life on the road was something that would give us (most of the time) a good solid reliable WiFi connection that we can access in the comfort of Eva the Eriba.....
After communicating with others out there already travelling long term in Europe and doing a bit of research myself I was directed to the I-Boost Pro D8 Directional System .........
The I-Boost D8
I have seen and heard lots of good reports for this bit of kit, so I am hoping that it will solve the problem......

According to the information on the website of Motorhome WiFi who market the D8 :-

"The I-Boost D8 serves to both boost the externally available WiFi signal and then repeat that signal at full strength inside your van, creating your own secure network with your own unique security code......
Compatible with I-Pads..Tablets..Smartphones and even Kindles...
There are no drivers to install on the devices and no wires between you and the system..."

I have tried the unit out at home... normally my computer shows that there are 7 available WiFi signals that could be connected to....
With the D8 linked up it shows an available 46 WiFi signals....so it certainly seems to boost and multiply the strength of the WiFi signals....

Once we hit the road I will update you on my real world findings of this bit of kit.....
I have high hopes.....

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Even the Toilet Rolls.......

A few weeks ago at the end of January when I posted about picking up Eva the Eriba from the dealers, Steve from the blog DPF Point to Point in the USA, left a comment asking me when Eva would be painted purple...... to which I replied :-

"I won't quite go that far Steve, but I will be adding lots of purple things inside the van like cushions....containers....wine glasses etc".

Well just to reassure Steve that all is going to plan in line with the 'purpletraveller colour chart' here is a photo of the latest items to go into the van,  proving that even the toilet rolls are purple!!

Purple toilet rolls for Eva the Eriba

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Far more 'spring like' than the local tip......

Since my last post Anne and I have been really making some headway with our plans for our big adventure...
We have managed to shift out lot's of items of furniture etc....... you really know you are getting on top of it all when the rooms have a bit of an echo....
Even the garage is almost empty and I think that all our trips to the tip and upcycling and recycling organizations is slowly coming to an end.... probably two or three more trips should see it all done...

We seem to have been working on the task of simplifying and removing all the clutter in our lives for ages - we actually started on it back in mid September last year - but we are both feeling the benefits of our decision already, it's like having a weight lifted.

It is really surprising how much STUFF we can accumulate over our lives.
In the past whenever we have moved we have just packed everything up and moved it on to the next house.....we have never had a proper sort out, so over the years the STUFF just grows and grows.
Deciding to go travelling before moving into our next home has been a great opportunity to just get rid of everything..!!

We have both agreed that when we finally stop our travels and settle in Devon we will keep everything simple and will live a more clutter free existence......

Rather than show you an image of the local tip or a charity shop or recycling organization's offices (all of which I seem to have spent a lot of time at recently) I thought that I would leave you with a picture of some snowdrops....far more Spring like........

SNOWDROPS - far more Spring like than the local tip!!

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Pop along to Shaftesbury.....

A few days ago I met with Jon Joynes for lunch and a natter..... Jon was one of the team who rode with me on the Ten Countries in Ten Days (10in10) ride back in 2013....
In actual fact Jon is the only one of the riders whom I have cycled with since that adventure.....

It's always nice to meet up with friends, especially if you have shared the adventure of a trip such as the 10in10.....It's almost as if there is a bit of a bond that is formed by the pleasure and pain jointly experienced by all who were in the team.......

Jon and I met up in Shaftesbury in North Dorset.....
Although on this occasion we both travelled to the town by car, I've cycled to Shaftesbury on a number of occasions in the past and it is a great destination for a cyclist.....
One of the reasons is Gold Hill.........
This is the cobbled hill immortalized in the 1973 Hovis Bread TV advert directed by Ridley Scott and it really is a picture-perfect chocolate box scene..........

It's a great hill for a short... hard.... cobbled hill climb........
In Simon Warren's book 'Another 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs he rates it as 7/10. 
On his scale 10 is the hardest........

The thing with attempting this hill, is that because it is a bit of a tourist honey trap you will always become part of the attraction.....tourist eyes will be on you.....watching your every revolution of the pedals.......you dare not fail to reach the top..!!!
Worth a go though!!

When you've completed that..... just head about a mile south of the town and you will come across another hill listed in Simon Warren's book....
This one is the Zig Zag hill and he rated this an easier 4/10....but don't be fooled as it is still an enjoyable and worth while climb for the cyclist hill climber.....

If you are ever in Dorset with your bike........ pop along to Shaftesbury and give those hills a spin.......
Gold Hill - Shaftesbury

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Eva...The arrival.



As I said in my last post, the drive from the Eriba dealers over to my daughter's house was uneventful.
Not having towed a caravan for many years meant that I was more than a little apprehensive but as it turned out I need not have worried as everything went pretty smoothly.

The last mile of the shortish journey was up a reasonably stiff hill..... 
I have cycled up this hill a few times in the past and on the bike it presents a nice tough workout, particularly if you want to maintain any decent speed. 
Towing Eva up this gradient was no problem at all and I barely noticed that I was actually hauling a caravan up a stiff gradient...

When I arrived at my daughter's home I drove straight on to the drive.... There was no way that I was going to mess around trying to reverse it......Anyway I had already sorted the manoeuvring aspect of caravan ownership as I will explain shortly.

I unhitched the caravan and then the 'magic' began......

(When I ordered the caravan one of the extras that I had added was a MOTOR MOVER.
Everyone I had talked to at various campsites who owned a caravan advised me to have one fitted and that was a view that was supported in the caravan magazines I had read.)

Trying to remember all the instructions that Jason the dealer had given me during the handover regarding the operation of the motor mover I switched this bit of kit on and using the handset supplied proceeded to  manoeuvre the van.

Initially I couldn't get Eva to respond correctly to the handset instructions.... and then I realized that I had made the number one beginners mistake... I had not released the handbrake!! 

Actually it was not me who realized the handbrake was still on, it was my daughter who was watching  from one of her windows.
She was filming the whole thing on her smartphone ready to play at a later date for all other family members as a form of comedy entertainment !!.....

Once the handbrake had been released, moving Eva around on the drive was an absolute dream.
I moved her away from the car and then managed to do a 180 degree turn and slot her into the chosen spot to one side of the house entrance....

So....... Eva has now been parked up, already for our adventure starting in a couple of months time.
I know for some people their idea of a retirement adventure would be an around the world cruise or something like that....but that's not for me. 
After a lifetime of camping...backpacking....cycling etc... a caravan is a bit of luxury but still allowing us to enjoy the outdoor life...and that includes still doing a bit of all of the above.
Eva's first dusting of snow.
Since parking Eva up and putting her cozy winter coat on, my daughter has sent me this picture above showing that Eva has experienced a light dusting of snow....
Eva slotted into her temporary home
Eva and the car from where she had been manoeuvred

All you need to move a caravan...My motor mover handset control.