Sunday, 12 July 2020

A step closer to what is normal........

Over this past week our campsite has taken a step closer to what we think of as normality...  The sign that was put out at the entrance to the site at the start of the lockdown announcing that the touring section of the site was closed has now been removed....

 The site is now open to all and for most of the past week every pitch has been taken..... 
We have had people visit us from Liverpool...London... West Sussex and even someone from just six miles down the road who wanted a slight change of scenery after being stuck indoors for the past three months....

The very first caravan to arrive was an Eriba Troll similar to our Eva that was our touring home for the past five years.......

The site here as I have said before is only a small site. ..  it is more like a CS in lots of ways as the touring section can only accommodate about seven units.... The longer term/seasonal section holds about fourteen units..... I am saying 'about' as when people come and go the numbers can vary.   

The site never feels busy even when all pitches are filled .... Some of the pitches are more secluded than others with some being enclosed by mature hedges and others being more open...... Our pitch is surrounded by hedges and being a corner pitch is very secluded and private....
 We don't have such a good view over the Tamar Valley as some of the more open pitches but for a seasonal pitch I would place privacy over the view every time.     

At the same time that the site opened again another large box arrived at the site for us..... 
 It was a box from Kampa Dometic.... It contained an all season annexe for our awning.... Something else for me to put to the all season test....

As with all things in camping it's always a good thing if everything you have has multiple uses.... The annexe is a useful extra space that can be used when we have visitors in bad weather..... It can also be used to accommodate my bikes....

(I recently had to drive up to Bournemouth for a hospital appointment and while I was there I was able to pick up my best bike the Felt and so currently I have two bikes here..)

It can also be used as an additional sleeping area as an inner bedroom tent was also supplied with the annexe ....
This has the potential of being a really multi use bit of kit for us and I will be putting it to the test very closely over the coming months.....
What I can say is that the annexe was an easy fit to the awning and is made from the same heavy duty all season fabric....
It has just one air pole that takes just 20 pushes of the pump to inflate it to the 9psi that is recommended for both awning and annexe.... The spacing on the pegging points is similar to the awning and it has a two part metal pole that is used to create a very stable ridge along the length of the structure.... 

As with the awning I will let you know how it all performs in the various weather conditions that can be expected over a multi season pitching......

Monday, 29 June 2020

Three weeks with Sophie





Well it has now been three weeks since Eva the Eriba left us with Kevin on her way back up to Automotive Leisure in Bournemouth.
  In less than 24hrs of them putting her details up on their website Eva was sold. I hope that the new owners enjoy her as much as Anne and I did over the past five years.

So.... we have now had three weeks with Sophie the Swift and I have to say in some ways it has been a bit of a learning curve.... 
The Swift Command panel controls lights... water pump.. heating.... power and more including the radio. All these things can be controlled by the touch screen panel itself.... or by an app on my phone or remotely by using an internet connection.
 Most of it I got to grips with quite quickly except for the heating controls that have driven me to distraction... The caravan has Alde central heating installed and the Swift control seemed to be in a constant conflict with the Alde control particularly when it came to setting the heater/hot water timer. 

Last Friday we popped back to Tamar Caravan Centre who I have to say have been great and they set up a similar caravan with power and their technical guy went through everything again for me and sorted out all the queries that I had.....

 He did admit that the system is confusing not helped by the fact that the MK2 panel that we have works in the complete opposite way to the MK1 version.
 As the handbook wasn't updated to include this latest version it was no surprise that I had ended up confused and driven to distraction...but...we got there in the end.
 As I said a bit of a learning curve....

The observant regular readers amongst you would have noticed that in the image of Sophie that I included in my last post there was a large box under the front of the caravan. This was an awning just waiting to be errected...

The awning that I bought last year was Eriba specific so wouldn't have fitted Sophie. When I purchased her I also bought a new awning amongst other caravan goodies.

Now I have had mixed fortunes with awnings in fact I have had two awnings destroyed in storms.....
One awning that I had was a Kampa awning. This faded  badly in the sun and the material that it was constructed with ended up just falling apart. The UV light of the sun literally destroyed it. 

A friend of mine had a Kampa awning at the same time and his went the same way. He has said that he would never touch another Kampa product. He has said that one of the things that he has learned since fulltiming is to avoid all Kampa products.

Now I feel that is a bit unfair on Kampa as in the instructions that came with both those awnings it did say that they were not intended for long term or seasonal use. I feel that the fault was ours for choosing a product that was not intended for the use that we put it to.

There were some nice features that I liked in that awning and when choosing this latest awning I wanted one that included those or similar features.....

Kampa do a range of awnings that are intended to be used on a seasonal pitch.
The material is twice as thick as that used on the Kampa awning that failed... The lower section is made of a thick PVC coated canvas that is easy clean and is intended to withstand the rigours of a winter  pitch. The pegging points are closer together than those found on most summer awnings and the whole awning is in a different league to my previous Kampa awning .. ..

This time I wanted a large porch awning and the Kampa Rally All Season 260 fitted the bill. 
I also wanted an air awning as I have seen the damage that can be caused to caravans in winter storms by steel or fibre glass traditional pole systems.....  and the all season 260 is an air awning.

Now I could have purchased an Isabella awning as I know they are first class when it comes to traditional styles but they have only just started producing air awnings and their winter awning is only steel poled. So I have given Kampa a second chance with me with this All Season awning range. 

Since the awning has been up we have had a mixed bag of weather... Blazing hot sun.... Torrential rain and strong winds gusting up to fifty miles an hour. So far the awning has performed well and in the winds is very stable indeed .... I will continue to test this awning and if it fails in any way you will be the first to be told about it.... After I've spoken to Kampa of course...





Monday, 8 June 2020

Hello Sophie..... Goodbye Eva

Yes ... You have read that correctly...
Last Friday Sophie arrived...
Sophie the Swift is a Swift Challenger 565.
 Just before the lockdown we were at the Tamar Caravan Centre near Plymouth. We only went there to purchase some toilet cassette fluid and while we were there we had a mooch around some of the caravans as you do.
 There was one van that stood out from the others for us. It had a layout that we liked....a layout that we first saw back in 2016 when we were at the C&CC site at Oswestry.

 We said back then that if and when we decided to stop fulltime touring we would buy a van with the same layout and pitch it on a seasonal pitch.
 Anyway we purchased the toilet fluid and headed back to Yelverton where we were pitched up in Eva the Eriba. 

Then...a few days later the lockdown was announced due to the Covid 19 pandemic and the rest is history.....something that no one will forget. The lockdown went from days to weeks and we went from one month to the next and as I explained in my last post it slowly dawned on us that it was probably the time after five years of full-time touring to stop the touring and do what we had discussed back at Oswestry in 2016.….. So I contacted Tamar Caravan Centre...by phone of course ... and arranged to buy the caravan. Obviously at that time they were only doing business on the phone and internet. Anyway as we had already seen the van in the 'flesh' prior to the lockdown we arranged to have it delivered to the site a few days after they reopened...... So last Friday Sophie was delivered to the very minute of the arranged time of 1030 . I have to say that the Tamar Caravan Centre have been a joy to deal with from my first enquiry to the delivery and setting up of the van. They even put my name on the rear numberplate..... See the next image....

 So our plan is that we will continue to stay on this site pitched on a long term seasonal pitch..... At some point in the future when this pandemic allows we could well spend part of our winters abroad ..Spain maybe Portugal.... in a longer let villa or similar. This change will allow us to continue to fulltime in a caravan which even after five years we love ...  but also allow me to do some longer multi day cycle rides and cycle touring and also do a bit of backpacking and at the same time allow Anne to be close to her aging mother and the rest of her family including her two year old grandson....

At the same time as all of this was going on I had contacted Cameron at Automotive Leisure at Bournemouth and arranged for them to buy back Eva....

 As the main Eriba dealers in the UK they are always looking for good used Eribas to buy.
 We have always got on well with the team at AL and we always attended their annual open days.....
 This was always a good social event to attend and we have attended every year except this year as due to the pandemic it had to be cancelled.

It was arranged for Kevin their driver to drive down from Bournemouth to pick up Eva on Monday the 8th June.....
Today!!!!!

After five years of living with Eva it was going to be a sad farewell..
  Five years of our lives have been tied up in that little iconic touring van and we have loved the experience.

At about 1040hrs this morning Kevin arrived and the first thing he said was... "You have really looked after this"

 And so we have.
 We have smothered the little van with lots of care and attention in order to keep her in pristine condition.....

Documents were signed....the keys were handed over  and then Kevin hitched her up and five years of our lives headed back to Bournemouth where she originally came from..... 
Hitching up..

Going......

Going ...

Going....

GONE!!!!

Sunday, 24 May 2020

Lot's of Changes Ahead ....

I thought that it was about time that I posted another entry on this blog, although to be honest most days have seemed a bit like Groundhog day throughout the lockdown....
Every day has been more or less as I wrote about in my last post....the same basic  routine......
I mentioned in a previous post that Anne and I were more or less geared up to the possibility that we could be here right around to next spring depending on how things were to pan out with the Covid-19 virus.

Now it seems that there is a possibility that campsites could well open (with some possible restrictions) in July....
 We have thought about it a lot and we have made the decision that we will not be moving on even if they do open. 

The main reason for this is because we have seen what it has been like here on Dartmoor the moment a slight relaxation was made in the lockdown rules. Car parks have been packed and people just seem to have forgotten about social distancing....
 Lot's of the Devon and Cornwall beauty spots have been heaving even though people have been requested to keep away....

 This has made us think that when campsites do open they will be packed with people maybe having to have a staycation rather than their usual holiday abroad. Camping will be something that a lot of people could well decide to do ... 

Being on a packed campsite with screaming kids is not somewhere that we  would want to be.
 The site we are currently on is a small site and has mainly residential and seasonal pitches with only about seven touring pitches....
 Even if it is full it will not feel crowded as the pitches are larger and more secluded than those that would be found at a club site......
All of this has made us think a lot about our fulltiming touring adventure....
It is now just over five years since we totally downsized moved into Eva the Eriba and set off on this little adventure.

At the time we had no idea how long we would continue for. It could have been six months .. it could have been a year or two.
I know that a lot of friends and family thought that we would probably pack it in sooner rather than later, however  here we are five years later and still fulltiming in Eva ..
 We have enjoyed every minute of the experience and would have great difficulty in moving back under the roof of a normal brick built dwelling......
However........
This lockdown has given us plenty of time to review the last five years and look back on all the great places that we have visited and all the great times we have had in Eva our lovely little Eriba Touring Troll caravan.
 We have also discussed where we want to go from here..... 

What we have come up with is an acknowledgement that all things must come to an end and that this lockdown seems to have brought our fulltime touring to a natural end after five years.
 
So...we are going to stop fulltime touring from this point on.
 After all everything has a starting point and an end point.

What are we going to do now? I hear you ask....... 
Well for that you will have to wait until my next post in about two weeks time......

In case you were wondering the flowers in the photos above are all on our pitch here on the edge of Dartmoor......



Sunday, 5 April 2020

Getting a good routine .....

One of the things that I think is important during this period of Covid19 lockdown is getting a good routine going... It helps to deal with what could be a very difficult time.

 By having a good daily routine it stops you having periods of boredom and gives you a basic blueprint to help fill your day.....
 We tend to rise at roughly the same time each day and following ablutions and breakfast I will normally complete one or two small tasks around the van..... Following coffee  for elevenses, if it's one of my riding days the next couple of hours will be riding the bike...

  I am riding the turbo only at the moment and using on line interactive training programmes....
 I know a lot of people don't like riding turbos or static bikes but I have to admit I actually quite enjoy it.
 I find it much easier to focus my training on certain areas of my cycling in a way that isn't so easily possible when out on the road......

 Following the bike ride and a shower it's then time for lunch. Following lunch I then give myself a couple of hours to complete some more tasks such as cleaning one of the cars or now and again the caravan...
 Then on days when I haven't ridden the bike I will go out for a short walk and when I return it will be time for afternoon tea and a slice of cake....

 I will then spend an hour or two on the computer catching up on the various blogs and vlogs that I follow. It will then be getting on for time for our evening meal and settle down for some reading or TV for the evening...

Both Anne and I find that by having a basic plan for the day it enables us to deal with this lockdown in a more positive way .....

I have included below some snapshots of one of our regular walks along which we hardly meet anyone at all.......

I hope everyone that checks into this blog is coping with the major changes to our lives that we are all having to deal with through these difficult times.
 Keep well and keep safe .....




Sunday, 29 March 2020

Major changes.....

Inside Eva the Eriba...(small space living)

A couple of weeks have passed since my last blog post.....
 During that time a lot has changed.

 Over the winter my big complaint has been that due to the weather I have been restricted to the van and not been able to get out much on the bike or even a decent walk.
 Now we have Covid 19 and all the restrictions that that has placed on us all. About 10 days ago due to my age and my medical condition I was advised to stay at home for the next 12 weeks and not go out.
 Since then restrictions for everyone have been introduced and the country is in effect in lockdown.

 Originally there was some confusion about all caravan parks and campsites having to close down.
 Our caravan park is part residential and after a few days some official clarity on the subject of closure was released that stated for those like us whose prime residence was their motorhome or caravan ( full-timers) they would be allowed to stay on sites.

 We have now resigned ourselves to the possibility of being here right round to next spring.
 If the situation is over by the summer then that will be a plus but if it isn't over by then at least we will be prepared for the long haul anyway......

 According to Anne who has had to go out a couple of times for food shopping the police have been stopping people in nearby Yelverton checking people's movements and turning people back if it is felt that their reasons for being out are not deemed essential....

  For our exercise there is a 40 minute circular walk that we can do that follows a country lane and on which we have not met anyone at all. I also have my bike fixed on a turbo which I use with online training programmes ( see the image below).
So currently we are ticking along ok... Not really what we had planned for this year but that is the same for everyone in the UK and most of the world right now....

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Highlight of the week??

Well the weather has still continued to be all over the place with more rain and even more wind... 
I decided that I wasn't going to ride the bike on one good day only to be followed by a further 7/10 days of bad weather when it's impossible to ride.
 Once I start riding I want to be able to work on my cycling fitness every other day or as close to it as possible although I had hoped that by the time we had entered the month of March the weather would have started to be a bit kinder than it actually is...

 Still when I do start to get on the bike again regularly I know that I will be able to get back to fitness quite quickly as I have never had a problem in the past and this year I have been working hard at losing weight.
 Every winter I put on weight and then spend the spring and summer cycling it off.

 This year I have made drastic changes to my diet and by doing so I have been losing 2 lbs a week consistently since the beginning of the year. By the time that we move on from this site in mid April after Easter I will have reached my target weight.
 Getting back on the bike then will mean that I won't be dragging around a lot of excess weight.
 That is the plan anyway......

Not a lot has been happening around the site ...... All is quiet on the western front as can be seen  in the photo's of the site below.....

Highlight of the week? Well it could have been emptying the toilet cassette ha ..ha..

Full time touring is not all about freedom....fun and excitement as a lot of people will try and kid you... a lot of it can be pretty mundane and with the kind of weather that we have experienced this past winter it's been more about battening down the hatches keeping warm and considering identifying as a hedgehog so that we can go into some form of hibernation lol........




Possible highlight of the week??


A step closer to what is normal........

Over this past week our campsite has taken a step closer to what we think of as normality...  The sign that was put out at the entrance to ...