Author Archives: Mashley

The Party

As mentioned in the last post, it’s Lolly’s Dad Ian’s 65th birthday.

Much of the day had been spent getting the place decorated for a small soirée kicking off at about 17.30.

In true English tradition, the bunting had been rolled out!

Even the barn had bunting on it.

Loads of lovely food was prepared, I was in charge of the bbq for the day which is a bit of an honour as Ian loves to BBQ and I’m not sure he entirely trusts anyone with the job!

There are no pictures of me actually manning the BBQ so here is a picture of the BBQ and what became the smokers table.

All of the guests are local to Ian and Lindi and are friends they have made whilst renovating the house, some of their friends speak English, some don’t, one of their guests grew up in this house and lives not to far away, they’ve never been abroad, never really left the village..

It was lovely to see so many people at the house, Lolly and Stella made Ian a cake and we all sang him happy birthday.

The day flew by in no time at all and one by one the guests headed home.

The evening ended with a beautiful sunset.

Ian fell asleep in the garden, I helped with the tidying up and Lindi went on a washing up mission till three in the morning!

What started off as a pretty stressful day turned into a lovely afternoon and evening, hopefully Ian enjoyed it.

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Annoying….

All good things must come to an end and in this case I am referring to my pleasant hassle free journey to my in-laws…

20 mins after leaving my stopover I noticed a strange noise coming from the van.

When you’ve owned a vehicle for long enough you know the difference between the weird sounds that go with it and ones you’ve not heard before, they usually indicate something is wrong, sure enough, there was…

I first tried to repair the puncture using some tyre weld but then realised there was a gaping hole in the wall at the rear so the next option was to change the wheel, one slight issue that I’ve never sorted out, no jack.

Luckily I had the sense to take out some breakdown cover prior to leaving, the cheapest I could get it for was 100 quid for a years UK breakdown cover that includes 6 weeks euro cover from Just Kampers, well worth it. I called the breakdown number and in no time at all the nice lady on the phone told me there would be a breakdown truck with me in about 30 minutes, while I waited for the truck I got the spare wheel out from under the van.

I’m pretty sure this is the original spare wheel, it’s never been used, it’s also been strapped to the bottom of the van for nearly 20 years so it’s a bit rusty, still serviceable however, in 30 minutes the truck arrived.

In no time at all the wheel was changed, I noticed the spare looked a bit flat and I couldn’t get the dust cap off so I asked the recovery dude to borrow some pliers, he brought some and had a go at removing the dust cap but as he did he must have dislodged the valve momentarily and some air came out, I’m pretty sure what he said in French was leave it alone and get as far as you can…

I drove for about 20k and wasn’t convinced the tyre would make the 180k journey in it’s current condition so I stopped off, bought a couple of pairs of pliers, got the dust cap off and topped up the tyre to the correct pressure, I then did another couple of stops every 20k or so to check the tyre wasn’t losing any air, all good and happy to sit at about 80mph without any vibrations through the steering wheel.

Lindi and Ian live in a place called Le Tourondel and it turns out there are 2 of them 50 mins drive apart, guess who has now visited both of them…

At about 17.30 I eventually arrived and was reunited with Lolly and Stella who I think were very pleased to see me, I was definitely pleased to see them!

Many cold beers were drunk and Lolly’s mum made a lovely roast which went down a treat, it’s very relaxing in Le Tourondel, it’s also dead quiet and it’s lovely to sit out the front and listen to all the wildlife. There are bats roosting in one of the buildings and right outside the house is a commune light, the light attracts insects and the insects attract the bats, you could watch them for hours….

The next day was a pretty laid back affair, Lindi and Ian had things to do in the garden ahead of Ians birthday, Lauren managed to lie in the sun for nearly 10 whole minutes without Stella putting sand on her, I made some lunch for everyone and took an aerial shot of the place..

The house with the nice grey roof is the main house, the building with the rusty roof is the barn, the building next to Bumblebee is the bat hotel and the building up at the top by the motor home is the little house which Ian has recently restored. The garden is being remodelled hence the lack of vegetation, next time we’re here I’ll take another shot to see how things have progressed.

Ian and I ventured down in to town to get the tyre fixed to find the tyre shop closed till the end of August. Ian called one of his friends who organised a new tyre for us to be fitted the following day in a town called Tulle. Lolly had organised a trip to some epic caves, Gouffre De Padirac.

Looking down the entrance is impressive…

Looking up is even more impressive…

I’ve always fascinated by underground spaces, be it tunnels, bunkers or caves and these ones are incredible, they are massive, it’s mad to think all of this has been carved out by water over millions of years.

There are numerous lakes in the caves which have been lit up beautifully.

Part of the tour takes you on a small boat along the underground river which is awesome although you aren’t allowed to take any pictures or video while on the boat.

You are given audio guides that tell you loads of interesting facts, the thing that blew me away is when the caves were discovered it was in the 1800’s, two blokes went down that entrance on a rope ladder with some candles, got as far as the river, went back up and got a canoe so they could go further. They can’t possibly have seen as much as we could until electricity came to the caves some time later.

To work out how high the halls were they got a kind of chines lantern with some string on it and sent it up to the roof, then measured the string, genius!

This picture above gives you an idea of how big the caves are, you can see people walking up the steps and this was halfway up one of the halls.

It does get cold down there so I’d recommend talking a jumper, it’s a great trip to do on a wet and rainy day, we spent two hours in the caves.

By the time we got out it was 21.30, we headed home, had a bite to eat and crashed.

The next day was get the tyre sorted day.

Unfortunately Simon hadn’t told me which tyre shop in Tulle he had made the appointment with so there was considerable cocking about while I tried to get hold of him to confirm. Turns out he thought he had sent me the address but the message didn’t send. Once I got to the shop it was to close to lunch time to get the tyre sorted so they told me to come back at 2PM after lunch.

In France, nothing gets in the way of lunch, for two hours everyone downs tools, shuts up shop and has lunch. There is also a rule that you must change either both front tyres or both rear tyres, Simon explained I only needed the one, the garage agreed but said they could not fit the wheel to the vehicle, I would have to do that myself, no worries.

We did some shopping at Noz and Decathlon, I chipped off to get the wheel and the Coups headed to Lidl to grab shopping.

Tomorrow is Ian’s 65th birthday so there is a little bit of a party going on in Le Tourondel, I can’t wait…

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AND SO IT BEGINS…..

Lolly and Stella flew to France a few days back and I’m driving to her Mum and Dads place in Argentat to meet them, from there we’ll spend three weeks travelling around France staying in what will be Bumblebees last adventure with us…

Saturday morning at 9am I was all packed up and ready to roll..

The journey to Folkestone was uneventful but the satnav did take me on a rather long winded route as one of the sections of the M20 was closed, the upside was a saw some beautiful countryside I’d not seen before.

When you get on the train, driving through the carriages always reminds me of the Death Star run and I always hope a tie fighter will come screaming past me, never does 😦

It’s all very efficient on the train and with in no time at all Bumblebee was secured and we were on our way..

I took a wander down the carriages to find the loo and saw this which made me laugh

Hopefully they’ll see the funny side of it too.

From Calais the plan was to head to Oreleans and find somewhere to plot up for the night using the trusty all the Aires book, I was aiming for a place called Beaugency which is about 4.5 hours drive. It chucked it down for the entire journey and when I got there the Aire was permanently closed. I looked up another about 25 mins away, got there and also was closed. The next one you had to be a member of a camping club to get in, finally I found a little spot that was actually far more up my street.

As you can see I was the only person there, there is a serviceable toilet, the road it’s next to is reasonably quiet and it’s right opposite a lake.

Everything happens for a reason!

The van is full of stuff so I had to empty the van to get the blinds and bed setup, then find somewhere to put everything, at this point I have realised it’s unlikely we’ll be able to stay at any aires as the space I used to store most of the stuff is where Stella sleeps, we definitely need a bigger van!

As I cracked open a beer a small Mercedes Vito turned up and the owners proceeded to beach their vehicle on a concrete kerb stone, much revving and wheel spinning later they gave up trying to sort it and went to bed.

I had a great nights sleep, probably the best one I’ll have of this trip! I woke up and started to pack up the van ready to roll to Argentat. My neighbours got their van unstuck, rolled out a table and chairs and made themselves some breakfast, very civilised..

I made some tea and munched a BLT I picked up yesterday.

There’s been a lot of activity here this morning, some dog walkers, a chap fishing on the lake and what appears to be a hunting party.

There was also a couple of vans with hunting dogs go past, this place does remind me a little of Lake Crystal from Friday the 13th, I hope they’re not hunting for the local murderer!

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A few trips in the UK….

Life with a kiddo leaves little time for writing blogs and as such there have been few entries here with what we’ve been up to in our trusty VW…

Long warm sunny days out numbered by long wet days or summer as we like to call it is in full swing at the time of writing, we’ve been cramming in as many weekends as possible, you know us, we like to get away 🙂

Our first trips to acclimatise Stella to the van again was to our go to get away in Penshurst, our usual spot is at the bottom of a hill via a mud track which was still pretty soggy, we had spent a day higher up and been blown about considerably, we were also overlooked by a new thing which appears to be some kind of running / cross country event the people at kingdom put on, loads of people about the place overlooking our spot so we had a look round and found a hidden platform we could reach and was big enough for both vans…

It’s quite hidden from the main track which suited us just lovely!

This was in May and the weather was still fresh but dry enough to have a fire and cook on it..

Our next outing in the van was to Peppa Pig world for Stella’s birthday, we went with Laurens parents and her brother and his family, the in laws have an awesome motor home and Kris and Helen had a tent.

We stayed at Paultons campsite which is no more than 10 mins walk from pig world, the site caters for motor homes, camper vans, tents and caravans with generous sized pitches each with electric hook up, showers and washing facilities are excellent, there are also some quite stunning glamping options too!

Despite the weather being rubbish we all had a great time and Stella got to meet Peppa and George, she was truly star struck!

As the weather improved over the next few weeks we spent a couple of weekends back at Penshurst in our usual spot, good food, company, plenty of booze and massive fires!

For fathers day we spent the weekend in a lovely little site in Arundel called Acorns, all pitches are set in a woodland setting with quite possibly the cleanest showers and toilets I have come across..

The weather couldn’t make up it’s mind what to do, luckily we brought the drive away awning and managed to fit the whole family in it!

Not long after this, Lolly and Stella went to Morocco for 10 days leaving me to fend for myself, with a weekend free I decided to check out a place I’d been eyeing up staying at for a while, Birling gap, I went for summer solstice and parked up in the national trust car park, we are members so I didn’t have to worry about any parking charges…

I parked right by the cliff which I probably shouldn’t have done as I was wild camping but I got no bother so no harm done.

There are some table and chairs that belong to the trust cafe which was well and truly closed so I fired up the Cobb on one, opened a beer and made some food..

This was the longest day of the year and the sunset was glorious, it was lovely to be by the sea and watch the sun set..

Our next trip of note was to Volks Wealde in the grounds of Penshurst place, hands down one of the best VW festivals I have been too, not too hectic, good company as always and lots of interesting vehicles to look at, we had a lovely little spot in the corner of the site…

On the way out I grabbed a picture of the van by Penshurst place which we finally got to go and have a walk around, been meaning to do that for years!

Most recently we returned to Weymouth staying at Shortlake farm which is only open for the month of August for tents and small camper vans, it’s a great spot with no defined pitches, you find a spot and park up, toilets and showers are excellent as is the onsite shop, especially if you like local beers, fires are also encouraged, we took the fire pit.

We had a lovely view until a group arrived with two bell tents who happily told me they were going to ruin our view which they did, nice. I can’t recommend Shortlake enough and if you have kids, Eweleaze is a short walk away along a coastal path and there are all sorts of animals you can hold or touch…

There are also massive hay bales the kids can play and ponder on..

You can also reach the beach which is shingle but with a couple of lay bags it can be quite comfortable…

So far so good, we’ve had a lot of fun and Stella absolutely loves it…

Our next trip is 3 weeks around France which I hope to document a bit better than I have done our other trips.

Sadly, at the end of the trip to France Bumblebee will be up for sale simply because we need something bigger.

As you can see through this blog, we’ve had THE best time and adventures in our camper van and seen and done things we would never have without it, we hope he goes to a home that will take him to as many places as we have cause there’s plenty of life left in the old boy yet!

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Diesel heater update

After spending a miserable day in the snow and rain installing the heater I’ve since used it on a couple of occasions, it’s a wonderful thing having heat in your van!

As you will have read, on the day I installed the heater I picked possibly the worst day of the year to do it and as such, didn’t do as good a job as I could have. I hadn’t secured the pump as well as it could have been and with the lack of space to get to the combustion pipe work I wasn’t happy that was secure either.

My father in law is an amazing engineer, he also knows his way around cars and has everything you need to remove an engine and gearbox on your driveway, something he has done many times! He very kindly agreed to let me do the work on his drive and also jack up the van to such a degree I had sufficient room to work and it wasn’t going to drop on me, very important that last bit!

Here is a shot of the van jacked up just before work began.

What you can’t see under the van are 2 pairs of axle stands and the jack keeping the van secure.

What you can see is clear skies and sunshine, much better experience!

First job was to drop the fuel tank which is achieved by removing 5 bolts from the straps that hold it in, top tip, do this with a nearly empty fuel tank. Once that was down I could secure all of the combustion pipe work and reroute the fuel lines properly.

One thing you’ll notice with any of these heaters is when they are running you can hear the fuel pump ticking, this happens on the expensive heaters as well as the Chinese ones. The sound is caused by the solenoid in the pump actuating and then vibrating through either the nylon fuel line and / or what the pump is mounted to. You can look on google and there are many discussions in the motor home and boating world on various ways to eradicate the noise.

Webasto recommend installing 2 x 90 degree fuel line connectors either side of the fuel pump as mentioned in this article so I purchased a set. I set about disconnecting the fuel filter and pump, then reassembled using the 90 degree connectors and in the process shorten and secure the fuel lines to the chassis. I also made the install of the pump more secure in the hope that it now won’t fall off and should move around less thus reducing the noise it makes!

That’s what it all now looks like, you can see the fuel connectors in place and the pump secured to the chassis. You can also see the combustion exhaust and muffler. I highly recommend buying some extra pipe work to allow the exhaust gases to vent somewhere near the back of the van. It’s about 4 quid for a 60cm length from eBay, ships from China.

After I had reconnected the fuel lines and pump I had to prime the fuel again, when the heater fired up there was white smoke everywhere which on this occasion is a result of fuel overdosing from priming, however, I also noticed plenty of that white smoke coming into the van despite all the doors and windows being closed.

This presents a serious carbon monoxide risk (death basically) which is why you must vent the exhaust gases away from the underside of your vehicle. I’ve also invested in a carbon monoxide alarm.

Here is a better shot of how much exhaust you have to play with using the supplied exhaust and muffler before I extended the pipe work.

And here is a shot of the extended pipe work in place exiting the drivers side of the van, no more combustion fumes under the chassis…

You also need a joining pipe and a couple of jubilee clips, the joiner i used is from Webasto, about 8 quid from ebay.

I also bought a sticker to put above where the exhaust exits the van as it is quite hot..

When I got home I ran the heater for half an hour to clear any excess fuel and then switched it off. Once the carbon monoxide alarm arrived, I put it in the van, ran the heater for 30 mins or so again with all doors and windows closed and was relieved to find no carbon monoxide present.

The pump is quieter but I would be lying if I said you couldn’t hear it, you can, just not as much.

Lastly I took out the butchered seat base and replaced it with a standard T4 one that hadn’t been butchered, fits over the heater a treat….

My experience with the heater so far has been great, it does what it says on the tin and when it’s cold, which it is frequently in the UK, it’s nice to have a toasty van 🙂

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The Chinese Diesel Heater

Ever since we’be had the van I’ve thought about getting a diesel heater. The ones most people have are either an Eberspacher or Webasto. If you buy one new they generally come in at about the £800.00 mark which is why we don’t have one..

Recently a lot of heaters have been popping up on eBay that look to do the same thing but for a fraction of the price. Some are pretending to be a make they are not and others aren’t pretending to be anything other than a 2000w diesel heater with everything you need to install it. There is also a forum on facebook called the Chinese diesel heater fitting advice UK and it is a great resource for anyone that is thinking of buying one or has bought one and isn’t sure how it works,

After a bit of research I decided to take the plunge and bought a kit one of the group members recommended, it’s this one. If you take a look at this one or similar ones for sale on eBay you’ll notice they all appear to be in Manchester. They’re not, they all ship direct from China, they take a couple of weeks to arrive and when mine did, it had everything it said was included.

I ordered a few other things, some extra pipe work for the exhaust so I can run it to the back of the van where the engine exhaust is and an Eberspacher stand pipe. This goes in the top of the fuel sender and connects to the fuel pump that comes with the heater to take diesel directly from the van fuel tank. The kit comes with a 10 litre tank you can use but I’m limited on space so better to just the fuel tank I already have. Once the kit arrived I booked myself a day off to fit it.

I couldn’t have picked a worse day…

Whilst it doesn’t look too terrible it was cold and the ground was wet..

Things got off to an OK start, I got the drivers seat out and had a couple of observers visit to see what I was up to..

My first job was to relocate the amp that was under the seat, once that was done I then placed the heater where I thought it should go..

What followed from here was a lot of drilling and eventually sufficient holes were drilled for the heater to sit with the combustion’s ports, fuel inlet and securing bolts poking somewhere through the bottom of the van.

I had intended to take pictures of each stage of the installation as I thought it might be helpful to others, however shortly after the drilling marathon it started to snow and then rain, I had the front of the van jacked up so i could squeeze underneath it to run the combustion pipe work in, problem was that where they came through was just above the fuel tank with very little room to manoeuvre, especially in the the snow, rain and cold. At this point, I was covered in mud, freezing and not entirely sure if starting this was such a good idea. I couldn’t do anything with the combustion pipe work so abandoned it and set about getting the fuel line in and electrics wired up.

This all went OK but I didn’t take any pictures because I couldn’t feel my hands, at this point I stopped and went for a shower, this is what my face looked like…

I cannot tell you how much of the underside of my van ended up in my eyes, nose and mouth. I called a mate of mine and asked if I could bring the van to his garage to make use of either his ramp or the pit, the pit was free so I headed off to use the pit and all of my mates epic snap on tool collection, eventually I managed to get all the pipe work in and it was a lot nicer being dry and not lying on my back.

If I could give anyone any advice about fitting one of these heaters I’d say either get someone else to fit it, fit the heater in a box under the van and if you can, do it on a ramp. Oh, and if you are feeling brave, drop the fuel tank (on a T4), it will make your life so much easier if you have decided to fit the heater in the same location as I have.

I’d say this goes for any heater, not just the Chinese ones, the whole install was a right pain in the…..

Here is a picture of the heater underneath my butchered drivers seat and the controller up on the side of the units…

Once it was all in it was time to fire it up, the LCD control unit is not massively intuitive and neither it turns out is the manual. There is however a fantastic video that tells you how to prime the pump when you first have everything hooked up, how to fire the heater up and how to turn it off, you can find it here and I highly recommend watching it.

Watching the video, there is a bit where you select the desired temperature by clicking the arrows on the control unit up and down, mine did not do this, it just gave me some figures in Hz. To remedy this, before you have fired the heater up, hold the settings button and the up arrow at the same time for no more than a couple of second, this changes the setting so now see the target temperature instead of Hz.

Once I made that change my system worked exactly how the video suggests, we now have heating in the van which means we can head out for the night when it’s proper cold. Despite the massive pain in the rear to get the thing installed I reckon it’s worth it, time will tell in terms of how long the Chinese heater lasts but so far so good and they seem to get lots of praise from those who own them, the more expensive brands however say they are awful and unsafe, not what I’ve seen so far….

We gave it a little test down at our favourite spot in Penshurst, the van was proper toasty and outside was bitter, we would have stayed over but at the time of writing, Stella has an infection in both her eyes and wasn’t feeling spending the night in the van.

We did however make a fire and cook some stew which was lovely…

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Happy 2019

A bit of a late post but happy new year to all our readers…

Our last trip was down to Penshurst in October just before the clocks changed and after that there hasn’t been much activity on the camping front, the weather in the UK was still pretty mild but the morning was definitely nippy and it never warmed up quite enough to brave our mobile shower!

We’d like to do more off grid stuff in the winter but keeping Stella warm is a concern so I’ve decided to look into a diesel heater. The Eberspacher ones seem to be the most popular but they are also properly expensive. Looking on eBay there is a brand called Planar who seem to do the same thing for a fraction of the price. Planar have a UK website, however their prices seem considerably more than the price on eBay.

I’ve mailed them to ask why this is before I venture into a purchase, I’ll update when I get a response…

Update: I’ve heard back from Planar UK who have advised the ones for sale on eBay are Chinese copies of the Russian heaters they sell hence the price difference.

A kit for our van is roughly £550.00 direct from Planar, the equivalent Eberspacher D2 kit is approx £750.00 so there is a considerable saving to be made.

Both kits are a fair chunk of cash and at the time of writing, cash I don’t have so time to start saving !

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Summer..

What an amazing summer we’ve had here in England, as a family we’ve made the most of getting out and about in Bumblebee for as many weekends away as possible. Our daughter Stella is now walking which has put a whole different slant on the camping experience!

This year we’ve made a few changes to our setup.

Firstly we have replaced the little life arc 2 with a sun essentials baby / toddler pop up UV sleep shade.

It’s about a third smaller than the little life arc 2 which means it’s a lot easier to get in the van once the cab bunk is in place, we’ve also padded out the camp bunk with two pillows and hard plastic sheets to create a flatter base. As its a bit smaller it leaves a good bit of space on the cab bunk we have some extra storage and Stella sleeps well in it, you can buy them new but I’d have a look on ebay, I won this one for £7.50 and they are £80.00 new!

Another small addition we have made to Stella’s sleeping arrangements has been a cab curtain, ordered from Van-X.

It was very easy to fit and means that when Stella goes to bed we can draw the curtain and she not’s visually disturbed by us should we need to get anything out of the van, like beer from the fridge for instance! We used to put a cover over the Arc2 a bit like you do a cover over a birdcage, the problem with that is it severely restricts airflow which isn’t a suffocation concern, more a heat concern, now with the curtain Stella benefits from all the air circulation in the cab, happy baby means happy parents!

Whenever we travelled we used to take a drive away awning with us to put all our stuff in, most of our summer weekends have been spent at a lovely little place we found in Penshurst, it’s not a well publicised site and has very little in way of facilities, there is one shower and toilet a short walk away, it’s easier to bring your own so more akin to off grid wild camping.

We’ve spent pretty much every other weekend there over the summer with our friends and we’ve had the best weather for it, very lazy days with food and fires at night

As we’ve been parked up for the weekend we’ve swapped the drive away awning for a Khyam sun canopy, we also invested in a Kampa commander field kitchen so we can have a kitchen setup under the awning which you can kind of see from this photo.

It’s nice to be able to stand up while making a cup of tea and it also means I can cook bacon without making the van smell like the local cafe! The setup works well in the drive away awning too, I’ve set it up beside a door I don’t use which I open while cooking to ventilate. Two clear Perspex curver boxes fit nicely on the shelf underneath the stove and if you don’t put the shelves up the 36ltr soft cool box from decathlon fits under there perfectly. I can’t recommend one of these cool boxes enough, has kept all our food cooler for longer that a traditional hard case box and when your down it folds down to a fifth of it’s size to store.

2018 also saw the formation of our very own VW / camping club know as the VeeDub McDubFace club. The main reason for this was to secure a club camping spot at bugjam as we had over 20 people in various vehicles coming away for the weekend. The weather was glorious compared to last years washout and i think it’s safe to say everyone had a great weekend, roll on next year!

Our final trip of summer was a visit to Cornwall and Devon, for the first part of the trip we rolled out the big awning as the weather was very changeable..

I also took an electric blow heater with me which came in handy on more than one occasion keeping as all warm in the awning. It’s a great awning but it’s also a mission to put up and take down, more accurately, pegging down is what takes the time. We had a great time in Bude catching up with friends, going out on a fishing boat and cooking fresh lobster and mackerel caught that day on the cobb BBQ ,thank you Stuart!

The weather in Devon got off to a cooler start but that didn’t stop us going to the beach

The weather improved considerably over the coming days and I even went in the sea, up to my knees at least!

It really has been a great summer and it’s been great being away with the family, if you have a small child or two and want to try camping in a tent or motorhome, do it, by far it’s the best part of our year and Stella absolutely loves being outside, she’s experienced so many things she wouldn’t have done being stuck by a pool or being indoors watching endless repeats of Duggee, I hope our adventures inspire you on to adventures of your own and if you have any questions about life in a campervan with a small child, drop me a line 🙂

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Useful motorhome information for Fuerteventura

Before embarking on this trip we both tried to find motorhome specific information about Fuerteventura and quickly realised there isn’t a great deal. This is possibly because it costs so much to get from Europe to the canaries that nobody really bothers.

Having spent 10 days motorhoming around the island I hope the following is useful to anyone considering it, I’d also recommend it, I’ve never been anywhere quite like it.

CHEMICAL TOILET DISPOSAL

Lets start with the thing everyone wants to know, how do I get rid of the chemical waste. Unfortunately this Island isn’t really geared up for this aspect of motorhoming. I should imagine the caravan club would be horrified at the few official facilities, we found 3 locations which I will list and describe below.

Corralejo – GPS Co-Ordinates N 28 degrees 42.728′ W013 degrees 52.465′

You can empty both chemical waste and grey water here, there is no water to fill up your tanks, the entrance had a barrier that always appears to be open, look for a painted blue concrete square, drive onto it, empty your grey water and pour your chemical down the obvious sewer inlet, there is room to empty 2 motorhomes at once, there was never a queue.

Improve the experience by bringing food to feed the squirrels.

Near the airport – N 28 degrees25.289′ W013 degrees51.917′

This is a Disa petrol station heading away from Peurto del Rosario, pull up opposite the car wash lanes in front of the small motorhome disposal sign, head into the garage and inform the attendant you want to empty your chemical toilet, this is the phrase in Spanish.

Me gustaria vaciar mi inodoro quimico (courtesy of google)

You will either be given the pole to lift the manhole cover yourself or the attendant will do it, it’s a direct link to the sewer, pretty grim and loads of opportunity to get splashed by your own waste, there is a toilet and hand washing facilities inside the garage, you’ll probably need them. If you decide to wash your van for 1 euro you can also empty your grey water (unofficially).

You can fill up with water here too, 1 euro a go…

Tarajalejo – N 28 degrees 11.535′ W014 degrees 07.079′

These co-ordinates will take you to some rough ground that looks to be being used as a car park right by the beach, park up, take out your cassette and walk back up the street you came down until you come to a number of bins on your left, look carefully just before where the first bin starts and you’ll see a square wooden cover, lift that and you have access to the sewer and this is the official disposal site, there are no hand washing facilities but less opportunity for splash backs, I’d still wear disposable gloves.

GREY WATER

The only official place we found is mentioned above in Corralejo. The owners of the motorhome we rented advised pulling onto waste ground and emptying the tank as it’s only dirty water, we did this a couple of times, didn’t feel great about it but there were no other options, the car wash is a good way to get rid if you’d rather the water went into a proper drain, there are lots of car washes and I didn’t figure this out till the last day.

FRESH WATER

Most garages you visit have fresh water for motorhomes, some charge, some don’t, the most we ever paid was 2 euros. If it’s not immediately obvious where the water hose is, ask. Sometimes the water hose is hidden away and attached to a meter so they can measure how much you have used and charge accordingly, others you need to buy a token, usually 1 euro. We found it useful to have a couple of extra water containers to fill up so you don’t use the onboard water supply for washing up or sterilising bottle, more water for showers 🙂

CAMPING

There are no campsites on the island so you are wild camping for your stay. There are various places you can stop, we stuck to either car parks on the beach or firm rough ground near the beach, we had no-one banging on our doors and made sure we left no trace of our visit. We also headed out before midday (most of the time) so we didn’t get blocked in or cursed for taking up loads of space. The worst place we parked was in a town called Gran Tarajal, it was the spar car park and at around 22.00 about 20 vehicles turned up revving engines and blaring out tunes, we moved to a quieter location on a dirt road just away from the car park, problem solved. As there are no campsites there is nowhere to plug in for electricity so you are relying on the leisure battery in your vehicle. If you hire a vehicle for your stay it will most likely have solar which works very well, there is also usually a 240v inverter installed. In stationary use this will drain the leisure battery but if you use it while driving the alternator keeps a charge going into the battery as well as the solar. You can charge phones, tablets and go pros off the 12v leisure battery without an issue, I used the inverter to charge my drone batteries.

HIRING A MOTORHOME

Lolly took care of this bit but it’s no different to hiring a villa or hotel room, there are a number of companies on the island that will rent you a classic v dub camper, a T4 or a full blown whale like we did rented through trip advisor. Check how much they charge you if you don’t return the vehicle cleaned, it varies, some charge you 40 euros, some charge you 100 euros. We paid a 300 euro deposit on arrival and spent the last morning of our trip frantically cleaning the van, we got all our deposit back but if we hadn’t of cleaned the motorhome it would have cost 100 euro. They usually insist all the grey a black water is emptied, you can do all of this at the DISA near the airport, if you don’t it’s another 50 euro charge, check the small print.

WIND

It really is windy, when finding a place to spend the night take into account what the wind is up to and if possible find somewhere sheltered, while it’s nice to open your door to the beach, for a good nights sleep it’s sometimes better to park with your windscreen facing the beach, trust me, the wind keeps you up. Also if you have a drone keep an eye on it, I have a DJI Spark and only took it out when it wasn’t “that” windy, I didn’t lose it, bonus….

SATNAV

If you have a satnav that covers the island make sure it is up to date, there are new major roads and these didn’t show up on my satnav which I last updated about 3 years ago.

All of the above is correct at the time of writing and based on our personal experience, we hope you find it useful.

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All good things must come to an end…

The end of this trip is on the horizon, there wasn’t much point leaving Costa Calma as there wasn’t anywhere nearby that we wanted to go to so we elected for a beach day, we had enough water and room in the waste tank for the remainder of the trip so it made sense to stay put and relax.

The beach here is massive and when the wind isn’t blowing really quite nice, we had an umbrella up for shade and it didn’t blow away which it might well have done in other locations.

Stella absolutely loves the beach and spent most of the day eating sand and tipping the water we got for her out of the bucket.

You can’t really see it in this picture but Stella s sitting in a giant fish tail made of sand.

She also took getting sand in your face to a whole new level, some kids hate sand, Stella absolutely loves it!

We stayed on the beach till about four and then made our way up to the van, we decided to stay another night and have a BBQ, the smallest BBQ in the world.

It was really nice to sit by the sea, eat some food, drink some booze and enjoy some family time.

I left the BBQ out for the night to go out so I could dispose of it the next day. About one in the morning Lolly was concerned that the washing we had put out on the line would bow away so she went outside to bring it in, on her return she said she saw a giant guinea pig eating off the BBQ, it was probably a rat, this is the one time I regretted not getting up to go and get the washing in….

The spot we stayed at for a couple of days is the car park that overlooks the Rene Egli surf school and equipment hire.

Next morning Stella got up about sevenish which meant we got to see a lovely sunrise

We’d agreed to spend the morning and early afternoon on the beach and then when Stella was ready for an afternoon snooze, out her in the car seat and head to the nearest toilet emptying point and then to our final destination, turns out my estimation of a couple of days worth of chemical toilet space was slightly out!

It was lovely to spend 2 days on the beach soaking up rays and watching Stella play in the sand, she’s a proper beach baby which I’m sure she gets from Lolly. In what seemed like the blink of an eye it was time to hit the road to Tarajalejo to empty the toilet and then to Gran Tarajal, our last stop for the trip.

It’s a bit of a strange place is Gran Tarajal, it has a black sand beach that isn’t particularly busy and the seafront looks pretty tired, along the front are a number of restaurants, all very average, we chose one that translates to “the green dog”, I had a super oily Pizza and Lolly had a much less oily pizza. It wasn’t very busy and the curry house next door wasn’t either, then the loveliest thing happened. At about 17.30 the restaurants (apart from the curry house) started to fill up, mainly with locals, the promenades were busy with kids and families strolling along. When we finished our meal we walked out the beach and passed a kids play area which was full of kids and a few parents here and there, it was amazing. The whole front was alive with laughter and chatter, it was like the whole town headed to the beachfront, it was a lovely thing to see and be amongst.

We took Stella for one last stroll on the beach to dip her toes in the sea…

There aren’t any great places to stop for the night, we spied a few motorhomes in a car park so gravitated to them, turns out it was the local supermarket car park, not scenic in the slightest!

We had an early start in the morning, we had to drop the van off at 8am so we’d agreed on packing after we put Stella to bed. I was dreading it but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Earlier in the night over we pizza we’d questioned what all the local kids do in a town like this, about 22.00 we found out, they all come to this car park in their cars, rev their engines and play really loud music. There were abut 20 or so cars that turned up and it really wasn’t our place to stick our heads out and ask if they wouldn’t mind keeping the noise down so we elected to move, we drove very slowly round to behind the car park onto a dirt track and stayed there for the night, we also continued the discussion as to whether we were going to clean the van or forfeit 100 euros of our deposit.

After a reasonably good nights sleep we woke up and Lolly had decided that yes, we were going to clean the van and so began a frenzied van cleaning, get everything else packed, sort Stella and get on the road effort, we still had to empty the tanks and clean the outside of the vehicle. En route was the DISA you can empty chemical waste at which also has car wash, we raced there as we were already late, I emptied the toilet (got splashed in the face, not pleasant) and washed the outside of the van, I also emptied the grey water while washing the van which I thought was a stroke of genius.

Lolly did an amazing job of cleaning the van with little help from me, we handed it back to the owners who gave us the full 300 euro deposit back in cash, sweet, well worth it.

Check in was nothing to write about as was the flight home, it all went very smoothly and Lolly did and excellent job of looking after Stella while I did the bare minimum as usual, when we landed it was chucking it down, welcome home…

So was it worth it?

It was a great way to see the island but not ver relaxing, the island isn’t geared up for motorhoming but hopefully will be in years to come. I’m not in a rush to go back but if I did I’d probably book an all inclusive so we could sit by the pool and get some sun without getting blown away, we could also have a shower without worrying how much water we’d used and use the toilet with impunity 🙂

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