Category Archives: T4 Camper

New windows

Since Stella was born, Lolly likes to travel with her in the back of the van. The weather here in England has been unusually warm and it gets pretty warm in the back of the van too, below is the temp inside when the van has been left in the sun for the day.


Even when you drive along with the windows and sunroof open you don’t get much of a breeze in the back of the van. Also, when we park up we put up blinds to keep the sun and heat out, you can’t open the windows while they are up so your only option is to open the door, tailgate or sunroof, fine in the day but no so fine at night. I decided the solution for this was to replace the rear windows with sliders.

My good friend Robert is an auto glass fitter and he does a lot of conversion work with a company local to him, taking his advice (and discount) I ordered a set of windows which I believe he sourced from Just Kampers.

I would like to say I fitted them myself but I didn’t, especially as one of my best mates does this for a living, Rob came over in and no time at all the first window was out.


And then a new one in


30 minutes later the other side was out and new one in too


They look awesome and will help keep us all cool when we’re in the back of the van, the old windows came out in one piece and I’m putting them up for someone to collect for free if they want them on the T4 forum


As we are mates all Robert asked for was a burger and a beer, i put the BBQ on and Rob had a squeeze with Stella who he has now finally met!

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A lovely weekend in Arundel

Our good friends Jez and Jo we’re throwing a moving in party even though they are now actually moving out, instead of just turning up on the day and heading home straight after, we decided to make a weekend of it, find somewhere to stay, head down on Friday night, go home Sunday.

Using the power of google I searched for campsites in Arundel, quite a few came up but the one that caught my eye was called Acorns. It caught my eye because every review was glowing and it’s set in a woodland which is the kind of thing Lolly and I like, the less commercial and more natural the better, whilst it might seem a bit pricier than other sites I checked there were no hidden extras, you pay your money and then forget about it, the price included electricity, permission to put up an awning and a generous sized pitch, if you added that all up on the other sites it’s about the same cost.

The drive down was really quite nice, we expected traffic heading to the coast but the roads were relatively clear and once we turned off the M23 the drive to Acorns was quiet to say the least, literally no cars on the road! The site is really easy to find, a turn off from the A27 and then a small signpost on the left leads you to a gate and a drive way with clear instructions of where to go and what to do on arrival. Don’t be put off that the A27 is a stones throw away, it’s not the busiest of roads and I can honestly say we never heard it once.

I’d mailed ahead and advised the owners we’d be arriving just after 20.00 and received a mail back to say that’s fine, we rocked up about 20.15, parked up, Lolly was having a panic about teething gel so we’d agreed to check in and then head off to the local supermarket and grab some. The site reception is the owners house, I rung the door bell and in no time at all was warmly greated by Albert, after signing in and being given codes for the loo’s Albert gave us the choice of two pitches, one in the shade and one in the sun, I also explained the teething gel situation and was given directions to the nearest supermarket that would be open. The reviews for the site are bang on, Albert is a very nice man and very helpful too.

As it turned out, Lolly had packed the teething gel after all so we proceeded to pitch up.


As you can see, the site wasn’t terribly busy, very well kept and each pitch is massive, another nice touch is each pitch comes with recycling and composting boxes, another tick for us 🙂

It was getting late and both Lolly and I were hungry, there is a pub a short walk from the site so we headed off there to grab some food. Unfortunately the kitchen closed at 21.00 and we got there about 21.15 so we settled for a couple of drinks and sat in the garden admiring the flowers, Stella woke up and demanded food, turns out we weren’t the only ones that were hungry. We headed back to the van and I knocked up some pesto pasta, good old Bumblebee, he always provides when we need something!

Next day was a fairly lazy affair, Stella sleeps really well in the van which means we do too. We got up and I made us breakfast, I decided that I wanted to make a breakfast hash, my ingredients were as follows:

Eggs, spinach, new potatos, chorizo, smoked bacon lardons, cherry tomatoes, salt and pepper.

Basically you par boil the potatos, while they are doing fry the chorizo and bacon, when the potatoes are done cut them into smaller chunks and throw in the pan so they soak up some of the chorizo oil, halve the cherry tomatoes and throw them in too, put the spinach on top to steam it for a bit, then stir in and add the eggs, I’d whisked them up and seasoned a bit in a separate pan beforehand, when you’re happy everything is cooked to your liking, serve it up.


It tasted lovely and was cooked on one of those 10 quid stoves with gas in a can from Decathlon.

After breakfast we jumped in the van and made our way to Jez and Jo’s, we now have a drive away awning which means we can leave a load of stuff in it and then head out in the van, it attaches to a rail my mate Rob put on the van, we can also still put the roof rack on as you can see below, we left gaps..


When you drive away this is what you are left with


You can’t see it in the picture but before I moved the van off I used a spare tent peg to mark where the front wheel should be, the idea being it would make life a lot easier to get the van lined up correctly to reconnect the awning later when it was dark.

We went straights to Jez and Jo’s, I manned the BBQ and my good mate Appy Andz spun the platters that matter


It was also a good chance for some of our friends to meet Stella


We stayed at the party till the sun went down, Lolly drove us back as I drank loads of beer, when we got back it was my job to reattach the van to the awning, despite being a bit drunk I managed to get the van and awning connected without issue, as I was in a field and not on a public highway I don’t believe I broke any drink drive laws. The peg I put in before we left was very useful as was the second peg with an LED built in I put in beside it, I knew they would come in handy when I saw them in Aldi!

I had a great nights sleep, so did Stella, she slept from 23.30 till about 07.00, Lolly on the other hand didn’t sleep so well, as a parent or maybe more accurately a mother, you soon find out that when your baby doesn’t sleep, you wish it would so you can sleep and when it does sleep you think there is something wrong, the end result is either way, you don’t get much sleep!

I made breakfast again the following morning, I made the same thing but added an onion to the ingredients. As we approached midday (checkout time) i popped off to grab a quick shower. I should mention that the toilets / shower and washing up block are quite possibly the best kept I’ve come across in this country, spotlessly clean to the point that they look brand new.


On my way back I noticed that Albert was chatting to Lolly by the awning, we’d had a fairly laid back morning and had made no effort to pack down just yet planing to leave it all to the last minute and just chuck everything in the van and go. I apologised to Albert for not checking out on time and he very kindly said don’t worry, he had no-one checking in after us so to take our time which was really nice, we got to feed and settle Stella, Lolly had a shower and I got to pack down properly without feeling we were against the clock.

We drove back to Jez and Jo’s to pick up some things we left behind and ended up staying there for a few hours, Lolly sat in the sun and I sat with Stella in the shade, we then went for a little walk round Arundel.


We had planned to grab some food from the restaurant Jez works in but time was against us and after speaking to Jez on the phone we decided to do the same as them and grab fish and chips and eat them by the river, halfway through our meal we were joined by Jez, Jo and Raph which was a really nice surprise.

We had a great time in Arundel and I cannot recommend were we stayed enough, Acorns is a lovely, well kept site with a fantastic and friendly owner, we’ll definitely be going back 🙂

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Two adults, one camper van and baby!

In preperation for Bugjam we though it would be a good idea to have a bit of a trial run camping with Stella. Before she was born we’ve been preparing a list of things we think she and we will need to take care of her, doing a trial run means we can test everything and make sure we haven’t forgotten anything either..

We booked one nights camp at Cobbs Hill farm in Bexhill, it was £20.00 for all three of us, electricity and enough room to put up an awning, Lolly mum and dad came too in their palace on wheels and the campsite ensured we were parked right next to each other.


The staff at the site were friendly, polite and helpful,  the facilities and site well maintained and the field we were camping on nice and level, all in all I would recommend this site.

Anyway, on to the business of camping with a baby. Prior to our arrival I had instructed Lolly not to help with any of the setting up, I need to be able to do it on my own while she takes care of Stella. First things first was to get the awning up. My long time friend and excellent glass fitter Rob had already installed and awning J rail for me so all I had to do was get the awning up and connected to the van, that process took about 20 minutes to get the awning up, connected, pegged down and groundsheet laid out. The awning I bought second hand, it’s a Kyham motordome tourer and once up you can easily disconnect it from the van and drive off somewhere. I’d also emptied the contents of the roof box before I put the awning up so I could then chuck it all in the awning and not need to access the roof box.

The awning is great for the simple reason that you can keep the bazillion things you need for a small child and two adults in it without cluttering up the van.


Next job, Stella’s bed. 

Before she was born I bought a cab bunk, this consists of 4 metal poles, 2 end poles and some grey canvas, once you put it all together it is wider at one end than it is at the other, the thing end goes by the steering wheel, you rest each end of the bunk on the sills of the front door cards and hey presto, the van now sleeps three. Stella is only 5 weeks so too young to sleep on the bunk alone. While I was on paternity leave a few people at work signed a card and gave some money to buy us a gift, I asked for a thing called a sleepy head deluxe. We put a blanket on top of the bunk canvas to insulate any cold air coming upwards and then the sleepy head on top of that.


At the moment Stella is finding breastfeeding a bit tricky as she is tongue tied, Lolly is expressing so we feed her from a bottle which means you need to sterilise stuff, we used the Milton cold water steriliser and sterilising tablets, worked like a charm and you can get loads in it plus all you need is cold water and a sterilising tablet. You could use any container however the proper Milton one has marks on the side to tell you the volume of water in and the top locks shut so you can drive about with it and not spill sterilising water everywhere.

To heat up bottles we just used the old fashioned hot water and bowl method which worked perfectly fine, we didn’t bring any special changing stuff either, just the changing bag with enough supplies for a night away.

Once all that was done we got the Cobb BBQ on, drank some beer and had a lovely evening with the in laws and a couple of their friends who came to visit. Before long it was time to turn in, we put Stella in her sleepy head and crashed for the night.

Normally, Stella wakes up for food at least a couple of times a night for food, we thought she might be a bit freaked out by the environment but she slept, well, like a baby only waking up the once, here she is still asleep at about 9 the following morning…


The sleepy head and cab bunk combo worked really well, Stella got a great nights sleep which meant Lolly did too (i sleep through everything), Stella was easy to access when need to and Lolly could sit at the end of the bed without her feet sat in a travel cot on the floor. If still remains a tiny baby then the sleepy head will be good for a couple of years at least and the bunk a good few more.

The morning was a very lazy affair, Lindi made us a lovely breakfast, Lolly didn’t look so zombie like and Stella was a happy baby, winner!

Before we checked out we got a few pictures of us with Stella and our mobile camping rig, one with Daddy.


And one with Mummy


We also put Stella’s festival hat on her…


For the rest of the day we headed to the beach which was blowing a gale, ate some lunch, visited friends and then headed home.

In conclusion, everything we brought worked, we didn’t miss anything out and the most valuable asset was grandparents!

Below is what I usually take when I go away for a night in the van..


This is what we took for one night away with Stella…


Roll on bugjam, we’re ready !!!

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Hello Baby!

We have a new member of the team!

Say hello to Stella..


Stella is our first child, she was born at home in a birthing pool using the hypnobirthing method, if you’ve never heard of it look it up, I cannot praise hypnobirthing and home birth enough, if you invest the time it pays dividends, Lolly did an amazing job and brought our baby into the world without the aid of any pain relief in a familiar, calm and safe environment.

With the arrival of Stella the blog will most likely take a slightly different twist, how to travel in a camper van with a baby I suspect but Stella will very much be a part of our continued adventures, which might need to just plan a little better!

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Chilling in the sun

Sunday morning was  another lazy start, the sun was out and we made a decision fairly quickly to not venture anywhere in the van and instead hang out, walk the other way along the coast and have a BBQ, for the best part of the morning we just sat about outside the van catching rays and then made breakfast, scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on toast. 

While I was making tea I took a shot from inside the van looking out,


As you can see Lolly is very pregnant, 31 weeks to be precise and still up for an adventure in the van, top wife!

After breakfast we walked to the village and got everything we needed for our BBQ later, mincemeat to make our own burgers, sausages, halloumi, salad and beer. We stashed our goodies, put our walking shoes on and set off along the coast.

This probably the least eventful walk we have been on, just walking along the coast path, sea to the left and the military road to the right with the occasional super bike or jap sports car hooning past. We walked for an hour, sat down for a bit and then made our way back which took about an hour.

Lolly made us 2 fat burger patties, and I got the cobb on the go, the great thing about the cobb is once you set fire to one of the cobblestones it takes about 5 mins to go off and then you’re ready to cook.


For most of what you cook on the Cobb it’s great that it doesn’t pass any of the fuels flavour to the food, however on this occasion I wish we had brought some charcoal so we could have used used the BBQ grill attachments, although we seasoned the burgers the meat tasted a bit bland, would have been better with a bit of BBQ taste, they looked the part though!


The sausages and halloumi however were amazing, the sausages were from a local farm and Lolly added oil and garlic to the halloumi which completely transformed it.

After we ate I took an arty pic of the van for my instagram account.


I also took one of Lolly by the van watching the beautiful sunset.


After a few drinks (me) the sun set, I did the washing up and we settled in for the night with a movie, Jackie with Natalie Portman. I lasted about 15 mins before I declared this was the worst film I had ever seen and Ms Portman voice was truly annoying, Lolly agreed, we switched it off, best thing for it.

While Lolly turned in I grabbed my camera and took some pictures of the van under the stars, at the time of writing I haven’t edited them but they don’t look too shabby raw, I’ll post them up when they are done.

This was our last night on the Island, home the following day at some point.

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A very lazy day

The morning after my birthday we woke up late, partly due to me not turning in till 2.30 am and also because the bed we were in was super comfy. 

We hung out for most of the day at Dans, I made brunch for all that wanted some and then helped Dan with some network stuff for the new flat.  The weather was drizzly so hanging about inside wasn’t the worst thing to do. Eventually the drizzle stopped and the sun poked its head out so we decided to make tracks, we thanked Dan and Bec for looking after us, jumped in the van and drove to St Catherine’s lighthouse in Niton. 

You can look around the lighthouse but it was closing just as we arrived which was a shame, there is a path to the right of the lighthouse that takes you along the coastline so we walked along for a bit admiring the view, in the distance we could see some surfers catching waves so we found a spot to sit down on and watched them for a bit. 


You can just about see the the surfers in the picture above, I didn’t realise you could surf on the island.

The sun continued to shine so we both agreed it would be a good idea to have a BBQ and watch the sunset, the last time we were here two years ago our sunset was hampered by cloud and rain, not this time! We stopped off at the village shop near to our campsite, bought some goodies and headed off to a car park that overlooks the sea for some car park dining, within no time at all our trusty cobb BBQ was on the go with sausages and halloumi sizzling away much to the admiration of others that came to watch the sun go down.


As we ate our food the sun began to fall into the sea and we were treated to a quite spectacular sunset.


After the sun went down we drove back to Grange Farm and settled down with a movie, Hacksaw Ridge, if you haven’t seen it watch it, an incredible true story of bravery and the power of faith.

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Grange Farm


Where we have been staying is a little campsite called Grange Farm which is on the west of the island in a village called Brighstone. It caters for tents, trailer tents, caravans and motor homes with a choice of non electric pitches to grass pitches with hook up and hard standing with hook up and water.

You can also rent an arc which comes with electricity.


It’s a proper farm with a host of resident animals including goats


Alpacas


There are also horses, sheep, ducks and chickens but I didn’t get a picture of those.

There is a playground for kids with swings and a buried boat amongst other things.


At the time of our visit half the facilities were getting a makeover, the ones we used looked a little tired but all worked fine, I’m assuming they will be updated when the others are finished.


There is also a well stocked shop on site that sells most things you would need, a 15 min walk away is the little village of Brighstone that has a fantastic village shop that sells amongst other, things, locally produced ales and farm produce, the sausages are lovely!

At this time of year the campsite is fairly quiet, I’d expect in peak season the view you see below would be quite different.

 

Just past that awning on the left is a path down to a pebble beach where we saw surfers and paddleboarders, there is also a small collection of static caravans you can rent overlooking the sea.

It cost us 80 quid for us both for 4 nights with electric hook up, this is an off season price.

We both loved it here and I would recommend it for a couple or a family as a base on the island, the sunsets on this side are spectacular too.

For more information you can visit the sites website here

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Happy birthday me!

We awoke on Friday morning to a slightly overcast day, it was also my birthday so we made tea, opened cards and ate Star Wars biscuits that Lolly made me especially for my birthday.


She bought an amazing tin for them to go in, she’s the best wife 🙂


We had planned to make breakfast in the van but decided we’d go in search of a cafe instead, by the time we got ready to roll the clouds and cleared and the sun was shining.


We headed off in search of a place called Sevens but couldn’t find it, we then found out there was a cafe at the pearl centre so we made our way there. The pearl centre is basically a pearl showroom where you can buy all manner of jewellery so long as it has pearls on it, you can even pick your own pearl from a live oyster though I’m sure the oyster doesn’t see the appeal in this. As you can imagine, the clientele was of the older generation, Lolly and I had the least grey hair.

My expectations for breakfast were not high, this was no greasy spoon, more your department store kind of cafe / restaurant, I was pleasantly surprised to see croque monsieurs on the menu but then spotted what turned out to be the most spectacular surprise breakfast.


I can’t actually remember what this is called but I shall call it the Breakfast Ciabatta, basically most of the ciabatta has been scooped out and replaced by bacon lardons, chopped sausage, beans, chopped egg all mixed in a kind of bechemal sauce topped with melted cheese and a fried egg, it was awesome, we had one each, the chef even came out to ask us what we thought, thumbs up five stars smiley face, or words to that effect.

Our destination for the remainder of the day was the Needles which are the furthest West Point of the Island and just off the coast of Alum Bay. There is a kind of theme park thing which has lots for kids to do and you can buy a book of tickets that saves you money on each attraction, we were only interested in the chairlift to take us down to the beach, you can walk but for three quid you might as well experience the chairlift, I’ve only ever been up with a snowboard attached on a chairlift so going down was a new experience for me, it’s quite steep!


You hop off the bottom and there is a shingle beach you can walk along the coastline here is quite dramatic.


The cliffs are also all different colours, once upon a time you used to be able to scrape the different colours off the cliffs and take them home in a jar but you’re not allowed to anymore, they are really beautiful colours, especially on a bright sunny day.


We walked along the beach and then found an alternative route back up to the top, you can take the chairlift or walk up some steps but we decided to hike up a land slip instead, fair play to Lolly, she made up to the top despite being 32 weeks pregnant!


I’d like to add that on several occasions I did suggest we head back down but Lolly was having none of it. In the distance of the picture above you can see The Needles, three bits of rock sticking out of the sea that look like needles with a light house on the end. There is also an old military battery which is free to visit if you are a national trust member, we are so we made our way over. 

En route we stopped by a little house that has a quite incredible amount of ornaments on display in it’s garden.


The walk to the battery is along the cliff tops and takes about 20 mins, there are options if you are disabled to get you there quicker. For a pound you can buy a guide book that tells you all about the battery and the different rooms and every room has information on what it was used for and what life was like there.


There is also a really cool tunnel.


This leads to the old searchlight room.


Look where the search light was made!


We had a really great time at the Battery, it’s well worth a visit.

Our next stop was over to an old school friends who owns a hotel on the island, Lyon Court in Shankhill.


If you are looking for somewhere to stay on the Island his place is excellent and I’m not just saying that because he’s a mate, he’s just renovated the ground floor flat which sleeps 8 people, it’s so nice I’d live there!

We went for food at a restaurant on Shankhill seafront called Steamers, we both had amazing burgers and Dan treated us which was really nice, thanks Dan.

The kids made me a lovely chocolate birthday cake, we lit candles, sang happy birthday and then carried on drinking till 2.30 in the morning, well, me and Dan did, the girls went to bed way earlier.

I had an excellent birthday and the sun shone all day which was most unusual!

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Home for the next few days

A short drive later we’ve arrived at Grange Farm in Brighstone, a lovely little campsite overlooking the sea which at this time of year is nice and quiet, just how we like it. Our pitch is level and we have electricity but best of all our door opens out to a view of the sea, I grabbed a quick shot of Lolly and Bumblebee with the sea in the background.


The facilities look fine, showers, toilets, laundry, waste disposal if you have one of those big motor homes and loads of safe places for kids to run about, there are also plenty of animals too including sheeps, pigs, horses, alpacas and wild rabbits, there are chooks and ducks too but at the time of writing there is an avian flu outbreak so anything with wings is being kept in a barn till the all clear is given.

There is a costal path that runs along the bottom of the site right were we are so every now and again a bunch of ramblers wander past, when we checked in we were told that might happen but we don’t mind.

Before setting out Lolly made us a cup of tea and we scoffed a scotch egg each, I had a cake too because why not, we’re on holiday!


We’ve downloaded about 20 or so walks you can do from the National Trust of which we are both members, we picked an easy one along the coastal path from our campsite, it starts by making your way from the campsite down to the beach, the waves crashing against the shore throw up a mist that makes the coastline look almost foggy.


We looked about the beach for a little bit and noticed there was loads of plastic waste that had washed in from the sea, sad times.

I did get a nice picture of Lolly though by an abandoned lobster pot.

From here there are signs for the costal path that take you up to the cliffs edge, we followed the steps up and walked for about an hour or so without seeing anyone or anything until we came across what looked like some fly tipping Isle of Wight style.


It seems this was a regular spot for burning stuff and is probably cheaper than paying to dump it responsibly. At this point we decided to head back and go to the pub, it took us about an hour to get back to the van and 15 minutes to walk to the pub, The 3 Bishops. 


The food here was really good, I had a double patty cheese and bacon burger and Lolly had a fish pasta that had more fish than pasta in it, if you are over this way pop in.

After we finished we headed off back to the van to chill, watch a movie and then bed. 

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And we’re off!

So the time of year has come for one of our two yearly birthday trips, usually this trip in March to celebrate my birthday will involve a drive far north of the M25 in search of mountains to climb, trails to ride and paths to walk in generally the worst of the British weather.

This year however we’re heading south, Lolly is 32 weeks pregnant and wasn’t massively up for mountains or mountain bikes so we’ve jumped on a ferry to the Isle of Wight to stay at a campsite right by the beach and enjoy some easy going walks around the countryside, as I write there are patches of blue sky and the sun is doing it’s very best to shine.

Unlike all our previous trips there is an air of calm prior to our departure even though we are running 20 mins late, I think I’ve finally realised that getting annoyed isn’t going to change the fact that we are late, if anything it’s a hindrance and just makes things misearable all round.

Whilst I was fairly confident we would miss the ferry we made it by the skin of our teeth and are now on our way across the channel to the island, just before we boarded a ferry I got a quick snap of the bus. 


Once on the ferry a quick selfie to mark the start of our trip!


Being a naval port there are lots of ships about that can blow stuff up like this one. 

Once we land we’ll be off to check into Grange Farm and then head out for a walk, might have a cup of tea too. 

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