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Now retired but busy still living..

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!!!!

My last blog post for a few weeks...

 Yes this will be my last blog post for the next few weeks. I am currently approaching the end of my current chemo cycle and then I will hav...