Getting Wild…

Yesterday we took advantage of the sunny day, and took a walk to a nearby park for a picnic and George’s first go on a swing (he loved it)…


Since getting back from our holiday (more about that soon) we’ve not gotten out and about much, which makes me very sad. It was lovely to get outside, do some walking (and some sweating!…I wasn’t prepared for how warm it was), eat some food (very high up my list of interests), and have some fun as a family.

It was also the start of 30 Days Wild for us (a few days late, but that’s pretty usual for me). We’ll be doing something “wild” every day of June…just to clarify, that’s something outdoorsy and fresh airy, not dancing on tables in a bar at 3am.

I’m not sure what we’ll be doing today, but at the moment it seems fun (for George) just to blow raspberries on my leg and test out newly emerged teeth…so we’re not in any rush!

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Posted by on June 4, 2016 in Baby, Days Out, Life


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In lieu of a proper post (I have several drafted…as usual) we’d like to wish you a happy Star Wars day!


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Posted by on May 4, 2016 in Random


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Bath Day…


Last week, before we changed his tailgate struts, we gave Old Red a bath. It had been a very long time since we’d had the chance to get him clean and he was looking rather green and very sorry for himself.

Not any more though!…thanks to…

…a handy husband (armed with a jet wash)…


…a telescopic brush from Maplin (and a bucket of hot soapy water) note: this brush is cheap and *sort of* does the job. I don’t know if I’m just not strong enough to tighten it properly, but the brush head comes loose very easily. This is pretty annoying as it can cause you to give the paintwork a bit of a clunk, and you have to keep stopping to tighten it . It extends to 2m, which is great for reaching the top of the hi-top, and the brush handle plugs into a hose but Luke was already using our hose for the jet wash, so I made do with a bucket


…and a helpful little sister (who had her first go at babywearing)…


…we now have a shiny clean van who looks like someone loves him.

BeFunky Collage

Our wash and fix-up day also gave us the chance to give Old Red’s bodywork the once over, and we’ve been able to make a list of things that need to be looked at next. Things aren’t half as bad as I’ve been imagining they were, and despite the fact that Red has barely moved in so long (*cough* years *cough*) nothing seems to be drastically wrong (she wrote with crossed fingers).

The fact that Red has stood needing work for so long has been a constant weight on my mind, and seeing him looking more and more neglected as each day went by was a pretty depressing thing. In the past few days we’ve paid the old boy a lot of attention and not only is he looking better (happier, almost), but we’re feeling a lot better too.


…it rained soon after we washed him…just our luck!…

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Posted by on April 20, 2016 in Van Maintenance


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Tailgating…aka: Praise Be to VW Heritage…


For as long as he has lived with us, Old Red’s tailgate struts (the bits that keep the boot hatch open) have been defunct and we have had to use brooms, planks, step-ladders and people to keep it open. This isn’t ideal as it makes access to the engine bay a little tricky, and also because the bike rack tends to drip cold water on whoever drew the “holding the boot open” short straw. So when I was asked to write a review for VW Heritage it really wasn’t difficult to think of a part that we needed.

Their website is organised by vehicle type, which makes finding parts for your bus or car a lot simpler…especially for people like me who don’t have as much experience with this kind of thing. There are also handy diagrams with a key so you can be doubly sure that you’re buying the right part. My lack of expertise made it hard for me to be certain of what I wanted (I mean, how can you search successfully for a tailgate strut if you think its real name is “boot propper-opener”?!) but all it took was a quick email to VW Heritage and I had all the help I needed.

There is also a ‘Live Chat’ feature on the website so, if you would rather open a speedy dialogue than draft an email, you have that option too.

Our parts – a pair of Meyle gas struts – arrived within days of ordering them.

It may have taken us six months to find a good day to get them fitted (I had overestimated just how much time I’d have to do van stuff once Velcro baby extraordinaire was here)…but get them fitted we did!



Removing the old struts…

This is obviously an excellent place to start.

Neither of us had much of an idea on how to do this job, so Luke had a look at the van while I had a look on Google. To say it’s an easy job would be a bit of an understatement, …he’d figured out what we needed to do (and started to do it) before the first page had even begun to load on my phone.

The struts are attached to the body of the van by a pin and a horseshoe clip (and two washers in the case of Old Red), and onto the tailgate by a ball joint with a pincer locking collar.


…horseshoe clip and pin holding the strut to the body… (this is the cleaned clip and the new strut)

With the door propped up on a step-ladder (I don’t recommend using this method yourself as it wasn’t the safest…especially seeing as we kept walking into the ladder and dislodging it), we started by removing the struts from the body of the van.

To do this we used a flat screwdriver to push/slide/lever the horseshoe clip off the pin, freeing the end of the strut. Old Red’s clips had rusted into place but a few squirts of WD40 and some gentle taps with a hammer and screwdriver got them moving.


The other end of the strut was even easier. You just slip your screwdriver into the back of the collar and lever it outwards to release the pincer hold around the ball stud so that you can pull it away.


Et voila!…your strut is free.

…And on with the new…

Installing the new parts was just as simple.

Starting with the tailgate/ball joint end…you use your screwdriver to lever the collar open and hook the strut onto the ball stud.


The collar locks securely around the ball, but we gave ours a good wiggle, just to be sure we’d done it correctly.

The other end slides back over the pin on the body…


…and then you can replace the washers and clips (Luke cleaned ours before putting them back on) before standing back to admire your  handiwork.


…done! Many thanks to Auntie Stephie for keeping her nephew happy while we worked…

It was such an easy job, and I just can’t explain how satisfying it is to not only have a working boot on our van (so satisfying that we opened and closed the boot many MANY times to test it out), but to actually have done it ourselves. Camping is going to be a whole new experience now, and doing work in the engine bay is going to be SO much easier…not to mention safer.

I’d like to offer a massive thank you to the guys at VW Heritage for their help in getting our first repair done. The struts are excellent quality and not only were they easy to fit, but they work superbly too. Our rear door is heavier than most (because of the huge, clunky bike rack) but it now opens and closes really smoothly, and (most importantly) it stays open without human intervention!

Now we’ve got one job off the to-do list, we’re keen to get on with more.

VW Heritage have a handy Wishlist function on their website that account holders can use to save items they want for future purchase (or in case a kind soul should want to buy you presents) so I’m going to use that to keep track of all the parts we need and want. With summer just a few weeks away we don’t have long to get Old Red back on the road, but I’m feeling really positive about our ability to get it done.


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And I Would Walk 500 Miles…


I can hardly believe it, but we’re now in week eleven of 2016…that means there’s only 40 weeks of the year left.

With that in mind (and my previous post) I’ve signed myself up for ViewRanger‘s Walk 500 Miles in 2016 Challenge. If I had the whole year, it’d only be ten miles a week, but at this point I need to do twelve and a half miles a week to stay on target. It’s definitely doable, and I could possibly, maybe, even make it to the 1000 mile mark, but I’m trying to be realistic about what I will actually do. Twenty-five miles a week might be a little high-reaching…

I’ll (hopefully remember to) Tweet my progress!


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Posted by on March 18, 2016 in Life, Plans


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H-App-y Hiking…



We’re lucky enough to live right on the edge of the countryside but, other than taking the dogs around a couple of fields, we never really taken advantage of it. There’s loads of footpaths leading off our usual dog walk and we wanted to go exploring, so I started looking online for maps of local footpaths…and I stumbled across an app called ViewRanger GPS

To start out with we were only using the free maps on ViewRanger to plan our walks (hikes, rambles, slogs through the mud…call them what you will) on public footpaths and bridleways, but there’s a lot more to it than just maps (although I didn’t know this at first).

I wanted to track our route and see how far we were going, so I downloaded Map My Walk (an app I’ve used before to track my walk to and from work) to use alongside the maps…

It tracks you every step of the way and at the end of your “workout” it highlights your route on a map (predictably) and gives you a whole load of information once the “workout” is done…how far we’ve walked…how long it took us…where we went…approximately how many calories we’ve burnt (it doesn’t know we’re lumbering through mud, climbing over stiles, battling dogs and carrying babies on our chests)…how quickly we walked each kilometre…the elevation of the hills we’ve climbed up and down…and I’m sure it has loads of other features that I’m neglecting to use/mention.

It was only recently that I discovered you can do pretty much all that using ViewRanger itself…

It’s not a spectacularly easy app to use, but after taking a bit more time to look around it properly (i.e. when sat on my sofa, rather than being pulled through mud by an overly enthusiastic Cockapoo) I figured out that I can use it to record the route as we’re walking (and later look back at how far we’ve come, the speed we went at, and the hills that we have walked up and down), follow a previously recorded route, and even plot a route for future walking. This last feature is interesting as (with a bit of practice at using it) I’ll be able to properly plan a route and know how far we’ll be walking before we walk it.

You can also follow tracks that other users have recorded (some are free, others cost a nominal fee to access), which might be useful when we’re not so close to home.

Getting out in the fresh air and (sometimes) the sunshine has done wonders for my low mood, and I’ve found that just making this one change has helped me to make changes elsewhere. Not only do I feel like I’m achieving something, but I’m more motivated to do things around the house and I feel fitter, more capable…it’s amazing what some fresh air and beautiful views can do.


We’ve had some really lovely walks, even when they’ve been hard work…and some have been harder than others! Stiles are hard enough as it is when you’re:

  1. overweight
  2. carrying a baby in a carrier on your chest

…but when you are having to lift a 20 kilo Staffy and an 11 kilo Cockapoo over them too it starts getting a little bit silly. What’s even sillier is when someone (me) says “Don’t worry, they won’t ALL be like this…” and then six stiles later that same someone is apologising profusely to their fellow walkers and the poor confused dogs. I was very glad that my little sister was with us for that particular expedition. We won’t be walking that track again…

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Posted by on March 17, 2016 in Days Out, Life


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Tweet Tweet Tweet…

Forces are conspiring against me…

Although we’ve been up to some fun things, lack of time and lack of eloquence (“mummy brain” has robbed me of my words)  have stopped me from writing for weeks again.

In a bid to keep in touch with my blog, I’ve created new Twitter (@onefamandavan)  and Instagram (onefamandacampervan) accounts, and I’ve added a neat little Twitter widget to my menu bar (just over to your right there).

At this moment I have yet to tweet a tweet (twoot a tweet?) or post a picture to Instagram, but then again, I’ve not done anything very interesting since opening the accounts. Hopefully over the next few weeks I’ll not only find things to fill my Twitter feed with, but I’ll also find time to expand on those things in my blog*…


* This blog post took three days to write and was finished off to a cacophony of George’s screams (Luke was cuddling him but all he wanted was to shriek) so I’m having a few doubts about how much chance I’ll get to do anything other than be a butler to a moody, teething infant.

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Posted by on March 13, 2016 in Uncategorized

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