Category Archives: T4 Camper

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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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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