Category Archives: Wild Camping

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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A precarious road and the windiest night yet.

We decided not to stay at Croydon on sea as the stopover opportunities weren’t that great, either a car park near one of the hotels on the beach or a windy headland, the kind of wind the daily mail would advise nobody go out in and predict many wind related deaths, the met office might even issue a yellow warning but round these parts it’s mild wind, nothing for concern…

Our next destination was the mountain town of Betancuria which is the original capital of Fuerteventura. The fact that it’s a mountain town should have given us a clue that it was in the mountains…

Usually we travel by day as you can appreciate what’s around you on the journey and scout out stop over prospects with ease.

We set off at approx 20.00, the clocks had since gone forward and we had about 30 mins or so of daylight left, we were also at sea level. The Satnav indicated the journey should take about 35 minutes but it didn’t take into account that we where driving a whale. Had the road been straight then it would have taken the approximated 35 minutes but it wasn’t, it was a long and winding road into the mountains with sheer rock on one side of the road and certain death on the other, honestly, it doesn’t bother me, I’ve driven in worse but Lolly was not impressed and basically bricked it from the time we hit the mountain road until our final resting place. I really felt for her but there was nothing I could do except get us to where we needed to be in the shortest and safest amount of time possible.

We arrived in Betancuria and Lolly remembered some advice about parking just outside the village, we’d seen a parking sign on the way on so turned round and followed the road into what was indicated as a dead end. We found a flatish spot overlooking Betancuria and fairly tucked away from the main streets and settled in for the night.

The only person that slept that night was Stella, Lolly and I spent most of the night being woken up by gale force winds battering the van, it never let up and even when we got up in the morning we were still being battered, there was also a great deal of passing traffic for a dead end. We grabbed a shower each and walked down into the village which is much more sheltered that where we had parked, the wind subsided and it was shorts and t-shirt weather. As we descended into the village the air was filled with Spanish guitar which was being provided by an old dude with a fag permanently on the go which he never let get in the way of his excellent guitaring….

I didn’t take a picture of him as lots of other people were, I did take a picture of the entrance to a museum we didn’t visit.

There were lots of nice views to enjoy as well as no wind which on this island is a massive bonus.

In the middle of the town there is a nice spot for a drink and some tapas. It was midday so we figured we’d stop and have a beer, every one around us ordered coffee and tapas, only the English ordered beer.

Stella had a lovely time standing on a chair and then migrating to the floor and quickly realising she could see people below through the decking, easily pleased is Stella.

We left our spot and continued wandering around the village, we popped into the church which had an amazing altar dating back to the 1600’s.

There is a second room to the left which has an impressive display of ceremonial silver wear and robes dating back hundreds of years, there is also a magnificent ceiling that I lay on the floor to get a picture of.

We had a nice time in Betancuria but didn’t fancy a second night of howling wind so hit the road to a beach town called Ajuy. This involved another mountain road far precarious than the first mainly because it was quite narrow. Every now and again a car would approach us and I’d have to slow our whale to a halt while the other vehicle squeezed past us, as it was daylight Lolly bricked it far less. Along the way there a couple of places you can stop to admire the view and take a picture.

You can see the thin road to the left with the massive lumps of concrete to stop you tumbling off the edge. While I was taking this picture a quite magnificent crow stopped to say hello.

He was a very pretty bird and quite forward, we gave him some bread.

The journey down to Ajuy was uneventful, we found a spot to park and made a plan to grab some food, we walked passed the first food place which didn’t look all that, walked across the beach and saw the signs for the caves so thought we would take a look at them.

Any time we visit a Spanish island it seems the done thing is to make little piles of stones.

This does not go down well with the coastal cleaning society who turned up the next day and dismantled this lot..

The path to the cave is fairly tricky and accompanied by gale force winds, we decided to walk it in flip flops or thongs to any Aussies that might be reading this. At one point the wind was so strong it nearly blew us over so we did an about turn and retreated back to town, I did get a picture of the caves we were trying to reach.

Time for some food, there is a nice little place in the bottom of the village looking out to the sea, it doesn’t look like the rest of the restaurants who clearly cater for the coach brigade, unfortunately I only got a picture of it when it was closed.

They do a fantastic tapas of local meats and cheese, incidentally I declared the cheese here the best cheese I’ve ever eaten only to find out it was goats cheese which I cannot stand, they don’t do this goats cheese in the UK, if they did I would eat it, the waitress is great too, she’s like a female version of Manuel from Fawltey Towers but in a very lovely way, also there are no high chairs for little ones, but that wasn’t a problem for us, Stella is great at eating on a lap or in a high chair.

There is a small car park by the beach, as it emptied out we moved the van down to our spot for the night.

No wind bouncing the van about and a lovely spot to watch the sunset.

We were joined by another smaller van and a car two girls were staying in so it seems this is an OK spot to spend the night.

I was conscious the following morning that the car park would fill up and we’d be stuck in a corner so I moved the van to another location, if you go out of the village to the roundabout, turn back to the village but take the dirt round instead of the tarmac round (second exit if memory serves me right) follow it down and chuck a right to what looks like a dry riverbed, this is also a popular spot for overnighters.

We left the van here for the majority of the day while the three of us went to the beach.

There are. a few sheltered coves you can hang out in and there was very little wind so our beach brolly stayed with us.

This is a lovely black sand beach and didn’t come up in any of the guide books other than to visit the caves, the sea is pretty fierce, not suitable for little ones.

There are also pigeons on this beach, I’ve never seen pigeons on a beach.

In no time at all it was time to head out, one of the latches on the cupboard had broken so I needed to visit a hardware store to try and repair the latch, we also needed to do another round of emptying and filling, I’ll add all the spots we went to in my last post but this time round it didn’t take half as long and was kind of on the way to where we were going, Costa Calma.

We arrived and I stopped at a supermarket to grab some beer, we had a look on google maps and found a place to stop.

As you can see one of Bumblebee’s older relatives has stopped for the night here too. It’s a quiet spot with little to no wind, there are no shops so make sure you are well stocked, there is also an army of mosquitos so make sure you have repellant and don’t leave any doors or windows open for too long, Lolly and I have spent about an hour hunting them and must have killed at least 15, I hate mosquitos.

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El Cotillo

We set off on our way to El Cotillo but thought we’d have a drive through the valley to see what it was like.

There are a lot of these goats about the place, I haven’t investigated what they are about but we come across them a lot…

Shortly after passing the goat and no more than a quarter of a mile from where we spent the night it appeared we had left earth and landed on mars…

It’s quite incredible how the landscape can change so dramatically in such a short distance…

I took the opportunity to take an arty picture of the road ahead.

We followed the road to El Cotillo, parked up and put Stella in her stroller and walked over toward the sea, Stella started to drift off to sleep and at the same time the wind died down and the sun came out, time for a cocktail. We’d spotted a place that looks out to sea called La Ballena, it had a large sign that said cocktail which is what grabbed out attention most, in no time at all I had a beer and Lolly had a mojito.

As Stella decided to have a proper snooze we ordered lunch, Lolly had the John Dory special which was basically John Dory in a white parsley sauce with mussels, prawns and boiled potatoes and I had battered John Dory and chips, both meals were awesome, just as we were about to start Stella woke up…

We asked for a high chair and one arrived on no time at all, Lolly had brought some food for Stella so we all had lunch together. It was the first time we’d had lunch at a restaurant since we’d been away and it was bloody lovely, good food, no wind and sunshine, perfect. Once we’d finished up we moved on to the little bit of beach by the harbour.

It’s literally a splodge of sand amongst the rocks but it was a nice place to sit, soak up some late afternoon sun and there was a nice rock pool for Stella to play in…

We stayed down here till the tide came in and swallowed up most of the sand, we headed off for a walk around the village and was pleasantly surprised to find a little bay with some cute little dwellings, restaurants, bars and a dude playing solo guitar which you could hear right across the bay.

We explored some other stop over options and then went back to where we parked the van and moved to an overnight spot looking out to sea, it was right by where we had lunch. There were a few other vans parked up in the area so we thought it would be OK and as it turned out it was…

The wind was still pretty minimal and I tried to film a sunset time lapse but was foiled by a massive wall of cloud on the horizon that completely blocked the sun sinking in to the sea, I consoled myself with a beer, Lolly had some wine and we went to bed.

The next morning we planned to go and find the lagoons which weren’t far from where we were parked up. I took my drone out for a fly as I wanted to get some footage for a little holiday video, the weather was overcast, not ideal when you are trying to make a sunny holiday movie!

It was also pretty windy, the drone held up and didn’t get blown away. By the time we had put Stella down for a snooze and she had woken up again the sun had come out.

Annoyingly we had to do another round of emptying and filling which meant a 45 minute drive to Corralejo as that’s the only service point on this end of the island, we also needed to pick up supplies for the next few days and right next to the service point is a good sized supermarket so we dived in there and did a good shop.

If you like fish they have an excellent fresh fish counter.

You can buy a whole frozen Octopus too!

After grabbing everything we needed It didn’t take us too long to get back to El Cotillo and not only find the lagoons and but also a spot to park up for the nigh. It’s in a square with some apartments and a bar at one end and then a completely derelict patch of land in the middle of the square..

The view from the van however is quite different.

We went for a stroll on the beach and came across a number of rock made shelters you can sit in to keep you out of the wind, we decided to have a beach bbq so went back to the van, grabbed a bbq and some food and cracked on.

We had a lovely time and so did Stella too..

I filmed another time lapse sunset and was again foiled by cloud, more beer then and an early night, the sky did look very pretty…

WE started the next morning with some breakfast and a stroll along the beach to part of where we hadn’t been and also other vans were parked up, we took Stella for a dip in the sea.

We’d also noticed before we went for a stroll that we’d managed to run out of water again so made a plan to make our next destination near one of the other points the people we rented the van from said where service points. This was to mark the start of the crappiest day we’ve had, long story short we spent three hours looking of these service places to find that one didn’t exist at all and the other was massively un-obvious and I dismissed it as not existing. So if you are over here there is a DISA service station just past the airport heading toward Caleta de Fuste and next door to IKEA.

To the far right near the car wash area is this sign which is difficult to see when other vehicles are parked in front of it which is how I managed to miss it first time around.

Look up and write down the Spanish translation for “I need to empty my chemical toilet” and show it to whoever is behind the jump, they will then come and open a manhole you pour your cassette down, it stinks and beware of splash backs, you can’t empty grey water here but you can fill up with fresh water, again, 1 euro for decent amount.

At this point we’d been in the van for about three hours and all of us needed a break so we headed into a town called Calete de Fuste which is basically Croydon by the sea. It’s nearly as awful as Corralejo. There is an English doctors, mobility scooter hire, karaoke drifting through the air, an Aberdeen steakhouse, curry house and Chinese, if I’d have looked hard enough I’m sure there would have been a kebab shop too and there were a good amount of English bars, the dog and duck was one of them. The whole resort is designed for sun seeking brits who want the Spanglish experience without having to venture too far from their package doorstep, not my cup of tea at all, anyway…..

The beach front is pretty much owned by the Barcelo group and to be fair, a lot of the complex looked quite nice. Little self catering bungalows a stones throw form the beach, we walked past all that lot and onto the beach, there was a bar at the beach, we ordered a beer, Stella need some time out of the van too so we took her down to the sea..


At this point we turned our attention to some food, as I mentioned earlier there were some poor options available and we hadn’t set our expectations high. We did notice from the beach there was a marina amend what looked like possibly a restaurant so we took a wander in that direction. The marina is part of the Barcelo complex but you can eat there if you’re not a guest, if you do end up in this neck of the woods, visit the restaurant closest to the pirate shop, we had a lovely meal and they have high chairs for kids, we both had a starter ( I had fried octopus and a Lolly had fried goats cheese) and I had the biggest fillet steak I’ve ever had , Lolly had some really nice fresh fish, they brought a high chair for Stella and gave us hot water to warm her milk, the service and staff was excellent as was the view looking out to the marina, the meal came in at 60 euros which I thought was a bargain.

We had agreed we were going to stay the night but our options once investigated were poor, we decided to head up into the mountains to Betancuria for the night, I’ll let you know how that went next time…

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Friday Night @ Firle

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As i’ve mentioned before, there is something really quite nice about finishing a week at work, jumping in the van and buggering off away from the smoke for a night or two.

Lolly and I were new to the whole wild camping thing but once you get your head round it all then as Arthur Daley would say, “the world is you lobster”, especially if your life allows you the spontaneity to head out at a moments notice without having to worry about things that require your absolute care and attention, pets and children for example!

Our destination came about from a chat we’d had with a fella we met at a boot sale who complimented us on our van, a long conversation followed covering all sorts of van and boot sale related topics, one of which was about wild camping on the south downs and Firle, a favourite location for our new friend.

Neither of us had heard of Firle so Lolly did a little bit of investigation on the interweb and discovered a good spot for wild camping would be Firle Beacon, a Marylin (hill over 150ft) which is situated on the south downs between Newhaven and Eastbourne.

Soon as I got back from work, Lolly had the van packed and we made our way to the M23 and then on to the A27, traffic was average but we arrived in good time and parked up.

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From the picture above you can just about see the sea, you can also see a couple of of other vans, one of which referred to herself as a van dweller which for no explainable reason made me chuckle! At the very top of this post is a picture that says no overnight camping, this sign (amongst others) is located on the opposite side of the road to us with a couple more near the other vans and in the car park behind us that you can’t see from this photo. There are none on the side we parked on and I suspect (don’t qoute me) the odd night here and there is accepted and overlooked but any kind of semi permenant camp would attract the authorities. We did get a visit from the police, they came up, sat in their car for a bit probably checking registrations and then left, last we saw of them.

As with all our little excusrions, food and a few drinks were on the menu so we got our Cobb BBQ going and knocked up some Wagyu burgers Lauren picked up from Aldi, they’re massive and really quite nice. After some food  and lovely rocky road that Lolly made we went for a walk across the fields and took in the lovely view of the south downs, we also encountered Cockchafers.

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Mad as these things look they are in fact completely harmless and if you come across one you should feel privileged, they only come out of the ground every 4 years because thats how long it takes them to grow from a larvae and they have a lifespan of about 6 weeks, there are loads of them at firle and they really like vans !

After our walk we returned to the van, put up the thermal blinds, setup the bed, put a movie on and settled in for the night. Over the course of the evening a few cars passed us but we had no hassle and woke the next day to glorious sunshine!

The photo below is looking the opposite way to the coast and over the south downs.

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The field in front of us had also been besieged by cows.

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My funniest memory of this outing is Lauren telling me how calming cow watching was which she spent some time doing!

Alas time was against us and we had to leave at around 9 in the morning, other plans for Saturday meant we could only stay one night but we will definitely be coming back with the bikes so we can go on a proper explore!

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Great stone beach, Dungeness and more wild camping!

When the sun comes out there is nothing Lolly and I like better than heading to the beach. If you live in London or Greater London as we do, the beach usually means Brighton. We like Brighton, we got married there but the beach itself isn’t all that, it’s made of pebbles, if the suns out it’s rammed, getting into town is a slow process and it’s easier to solve a rubiks cube on acid than it is to find somewhere to park. You can however go by train, it’s very well connected and the town is a cool place to be, we didn’t want to be in the town, we wanted a beach.

I can’t quite remember when it was we discovered “our” beach as we like to call it, I suspect it was Lolly’s doing as I never bother looking these things up but it’s our go to spot for sand, a few drinks and a bbq, the beach itself is called Greatstone and it’s not far from Dymchurch in Kent, I like to call Dymchurch grim church because in my eyes it’s pretty grim.

There are many nice things about Greatstone beach, parking is easy and not massively expensive, it’s never that busy and it’s a proper sand beach with dunes which is where we usually head to as the beach itself is always a little bit windy, the dunes give you a bit of shelter, there is also well maintained toilets and an off-licence / general store that sells all sorts, we bought beer, biscuits and a mallet. Generally when we are there the sea is about a mile out so we often ditch paddling and just eat, drink and people watch, with that in mind, we cracked open some booze and got the Cobb BBQ on the go.

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Believe it or not that is actually on the go, the cobb doesn’t look like it’s doing anything but the reality is there is some lovely harrisa chicken cooking there and it’s a good job the cobb has a lid, it was windy and near enough everything we took to the beach got covered in sand except the chicken.

While we were cooking I took a quick panorama with my phone so you can get an idea of what the beach looks like and how busy it isn’t.

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The chicken was lovely as was the bean salad Lauren made, we munched, we drank and once i’d reached my limit of what I could have and be within the legal limits to drive, I convinced Lauren we should stay the night wild camping style so I could drink more booze, I love my wife, she agreed and said drink as much as you like!

We’d brought our bikes along as we’d discussed earlier about maybe going for a bike ride. I’d had a good few beers and thought riding on the road probably wasn’t the best idea so I championed the idea of riding across the compact sand, Lauren wasn’t convinced especially as she would have to carry her bike across the loose sand to get to the compacted bit, I think she agreed in the end just to shut me up, we took everything back to the van, grabbed the bike and headed off along the sand.

I’ll be the first to admit it wasn’t quite as easy as i’d thought but it wasn’t too hard either, it was really nice riding on the beach and the further away we got from the van the closer the tide came in, as the beach turned to shingle which made riding almost impossible and the sea was right beside us we got off and went for a paddle.

We had agreed that we would ride to the headland, as this was now not possible via the beach we carried the bikes up on to the road and continued to follow the coast road eventually arriving at a nice pub called The Pilot Inn. The pub was heaving with diners and drinkers, we had now left Greatstone and were in Dungeness, we stopped for a drink and surveyed our surroundings, we spotted a light house and decided to take a look, a helpful sign said it was one mile away.

This is were we discovered our new favourite place, Dungeness Nature Reserve, it’s not your typical nature reserve on the basis that it’s made mostly of shingle but it’s a truly remarkable place. The maddest thing of all is there is a nuclear power station and dotted all around the area are little plaques with details of what to do should the plant go tits up. There are also the most quirky and unique properties, some made out of old train carriages, some that look like run down fishing huts and others that wouldn’t look out of place on George Clarkes amazing spaces, there are also a couple of lighthouses, one of which drew us there in the first place.

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That one doesn’t emit a light but there is one round the corner that does, the first one was built in 1904 and was replaced by the second one in 1961 becasue when they built the power station it obstructed the original lighthouse beacon, I learnt that from another blog written by a T4 owner wild camping in Dungeness!

As I mentioned earlier, i’d had too much drink to drive home and we had planned to stay in the car park by the beach, the nature reserve however looked like a much better option, there were a few motorhomes parked up so we rode back, grabbed the van and parked up for the night next to another T4 and watched the sun go down.

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It should also be noted that we were parked quite near the power station which looked really nice when the sun went down and it was all lit up although the picture below doesn’t really demonstrate this!

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I drank the last of my beers, Lauren had a decaf tea and we got our heads down for the night, more wild camping!

We didn’t bother putting the thermal blinds up so we were woken when the sun came up as our van was flooded with daylight, Lauren did her best to rouse me so I could observe the beautiful sunrise but I wasn’t really up for opening my eyes for a little while yet.

I eventually got up about 7, we made some tea, put the bed away and headed off back to Croydon, i’d really like to go back there again, it was a cool place to stay and there is a load more to explore and photograph, i’ll bring my DSLR next time!

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Hello summer 2015 !

Hello readers, hope life is treating you well!

So it seems the good old British summer has finally arrived, scant periods of sun and warmth enveloped by mainly cloud,rain and school holidays!

Things have been a bit quiet on the adventure front since our return from Scotland with only a handful of trips and a single one nighter!

I’ve spent a bit of time building up a new mountain bike and the majority of our trips have involved exploring the south downs, specifically Peaslake, Leith Hill and Devils Dyke.

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The next big trip for Bumblebee is the Le Mans 24 hour race, about 20 blokes, 2 confirmed camper vans, a convoy of cars and beer, shaping up to be a cracking stag do!

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The van has spent some time abroad with it’s previous owners but none with us, i’m really looking forward to making the trip, the only downside is that Lolly will miss out as it’s a stag do, not for girls!

I’ll post up a full report of how the van copes with the trip to le mans and in the mean time i’ve posted up our first wild camping experience which can be found in the travel section under Devils Dyke 2015

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