Monthly Archives: June 2012

Our First Adventure!…


Tomorrow (well…today, technically) Sarah, Red and I are setting off to Beat-Herder for a few days of music and wine and British weather!

I’m very VERY excited…and scared.

We’ve got to be up in just a few hours but the van is all packed (well, apart from my clothes which are still either in piles on my bed or drying in the airing cupboard) and we’re ready to go…but I honestly don’t think I can sleep!

Google says it’ll take us about two and a half hours to get there, so I’m guessing that means anywhere up to four hours seeing as we’ll have to take it easy…maybe longer if we factor in breaks. I hope Red can take it! And us for that matter!

*bounces around*

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Posted by on June 29, 2012 in Camping, Festivals, Travel


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Well, it’s been a long time since I put down the deposit, but today I got a phone call to tell me that everything was ready for me to come and pick Old Red up! EXCITING!!

I had asked my Dad to give me a lift into Warwick, but it was gone 4pm by the time the guys at Bounce called me, and so he’d long since had to go off and do other things. I’d resigned myself to getting another £25 taxi but then as I was about to leave, my sister’s fiancé offered to drive me there and follow me back! Thank you, Mark!

So, after a quick run through of where everything was and how it all works (none of which I can remember now, of course) I set off in my new van! First I drove a mile down the road to visit Robin at his shop…and I’m REALLY glad I did that. It took us about 5 minutes and several BAD gear changes to get there, and when we arrived I drove up the wrong road and ended up in a cul-de-sac. So there I was having to perform a three point turn in a street lined with parked cars and with Mark looking at me in a bemused manner from behind the wheel of his car. My nerves and excitement completely got the better of me, and by the time I pulled up outside the shop I was shaking like the proverbial leaf.

I got myself a bottle of lucazade, stopped to chat for ten minutes, and then set off for home in a much better frame of mind. And steadier hands.

Old Red parked up in Leamington

The ride home was MUCH less traumatic. The five-speed gear box was quite difficult to get used to, what with the gears being in unusual places and, because I’m so little, I have to lean riiiiight over to get it into first and reverse. This worried me at first, but I started to get used to it on the way home and, as long as I concentrated, I generally got it in the right gear…most of the time.

After a while I decided to switch on the radio and test out the sound system. I had no idea what button did what and very little desire to take my eyes off the road, but it auto-tuned to Radio Two and the first thing I heard coming from Red’s speakers was “Riding along in my automobile…de dum de dum de dum de dum” and, although all that was beside me at the wheel was my handbag, it was absolute perfection.

One of the things I enjoyed most about the drive home, besides the awesome music, was the happy way that Red bounces around on his suspension…and as we bobbed along the country lanes I grinned like an idiot. We passed a T4 on the way back too and I got to wave like a maniac at a fellow vanner. That experience added about an inch to my silly grin 😀

The only real problem I had was the wind that was raging around the van as I drove. It was kind of like driving a massive sail, but the fact that I couldn’t go much above 50mph for the entire journey meant that I wasn’t blustered around too much.

RAAAAAAR!!! We’re hoooome!!!!

And so I got him home in one piece! Then my sister joined us on the driveway and we began our exploration of all the van’s features…we rolled out the bed, spun the captain’s chair round, set the table up and put it away again, nosied in the fridge and at the CD changer, poked around in all the cupboards…and then I climbed up into the roof…

I’m in the roof!! And I’m soooooooo HAPPY!!!!

It was quite difficult getting up, and it wasn’t too simple getting down either, but I quite like it up there! Even without the bed pulled out properly there’s enough room up there for me to lie down quite comfortably. I don’t think there’s quite enough room to make a proper nest up there but I’m going to give it a damn good go!

Steph and Mark…taken from the comfort of my roof bed!

I’m driving Red over to see Ste tomorrow, and then I’m going to spend the afternoon stowing all my new stuff away and getting ready so that I can head out camping at the first possible opportunity. There are a joyful amount of lists ahead of me…I will share some of them with you as soon as they come into being.

I ❤ my new van!!


Posted by on June 16, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Today was the day that Red was going to be ready. The plan was planned. But then at about 10.30pm last night I remembered that I hadn’t called the garage or heard from them either…and I started to worry…

Have I talked about Sod’s Law before? It hits me HARD all the time…it loves to wreck my plans. I knew that if I left for Warwick at 7am (the only time I could get a lift) and hung around til the garage opened then the likelihood would be that I’d end up disappointed and have to get a very expensive taxi home. On the other hand, if I’d have stayed at home and called the garage when it opened at 9.30am then the van would have been ready and then I’d not only have had to get a very expensive taxi, but I’d also be quite a bit behind schedule…what to do?

Well, I did head out at 7am to hang about in hope, and – just as predicted – the van is still awaiting parts.

Thanks, Universe!

But! I got to hang out with my friend Robin for a few hours, and I had a lovely taxi driver who chatted campervans with me all the way home, and my plans for camping with friends this weekend have been rained off anyway…so it’s not as bad as it could have been.

The new pick-up date is this weekend. Get your prayer mats out for me!

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Posted by on June 14, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Try Again…

Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched…and don’t count on annual leave before it’s booked! There I was feeling all adult for planning our France trip and starting to work out an itinery, and then I found out that I couldn’t have the day off work on Friday 27th…that’s the day before the wedding. The wedding in France

…cue a very un-adult few hours in which I huffed and puffed and attempted to find a way to finish work at 5.30pm and arrive in La Fontenelle just 18 hours later, having actually gotten some sleep somewhere along the way. The original plan of getting a Dover – Calais ferry and then driving the 300 miles to the venue was clearly not feasible in the time limit. I think we could have pulled it off, but the sleep deprivation might have made it hard to get through the wedding! I needed a new plan and so I started googling ferry crossings like a crazy person…

To cut a long (and boring) story short, after moaning and wailing and saying “Oh! It’s impossible!” and clutching my face like this, my beautiful and wonderful manager said that she’d lock up for me (on her day off) so that I could leave mid afternoon on Friday and give myself more time…and so we’ve gone for an adaptation of that sensible option that I discussed before…

Stratford-upon-Avon to La Fontenelle, via Portsmouth and Caen

It’s costing an absolute BOMB for a one way ticket, but the long crossing means that we can drive down to Portsmouth on Friday to catch a 22.45 ferry, then *fingers crossed* get some sleep in our little two-berth cabin (it seemed worth the extra money on an 8 hour crossing), before landing in Caen at 6.45 all ready for a continental breakfast and a two hour drive to the wedding! Well, that’s the plan for the moment anyway.

In the few hours when I didn’t have a plan for how we’d get there, my biggest panic was that I couldn’t book a return ticket home at all..not even in September…why?? For some reason none of the sites I was looking back offered a return crossing. I think it was my stress levels that stopped me realising that there were other ways to get back from France other than the way we’d gotten there, but once I realised that we could travel back from Calais to Dover (or, indeed, on any other crossing) I calmed down a whole lot. Now our outbound ferry is booked I feel almost Zen.

It actually might work better this way round, because we’ve got a whole 6 days to travel home after the wedding, so we can stay with our cousin a little longer and spend more time exploring Paris. We may have to sacrifice seeing Bayeux and the Normandy beaches, just because they’re going back along our route to La Fontenelle and will take hours out of our family and Paris time…but we’ll see about that…

In other news, I’ve managed to not only fill out my passport renewal form and find my old passport, but I also went as far as to get a new photo taken today (there was a horrible moment in the queue at the Post Office on Thursday, when I was patiently waiting to hand in my application and I suddenly realised that they’d probably need a picture too…whoops!…so home I went with my greasy hair) and it’s not a terrible picture either!…

16…and then 30 years old 🙂 I didn’t dare smile this time round in case it got returned to me and I missed the wedding!!

As you can see, I’ve discovered GHD hair straighteners in the time that’s elapsed between passports! Oh, and hello! Now you know I’m not just a faceless blogger 🙂

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Posted by on June 9, 2012 in Camping, Travel


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To Brittany…and Beyond!…

With any luck, I should be picking Old Red up this Thursday! This relies on him being ready, and on my boss allowing me time off…and both could be major stumbling blocks, but I remain hopeful! Planning our future trips might be a bit ambitious seeing as I don’t have him yet, but my cousin, Lesley, is getting married in France at the end of July and so that means the opportunity for a European road-trip with my little sister, Steph. How could I say no?!

We’re going to Brittany, so the most sensible ferry option is Portsmouth to Saint-Malo (or similar)…but that’s also the most expensive ferry option. Just my luck! Dover to Calais is less than half the price, but it does mean that, once I’ve factored in detours, our 6 day trip is going to be somewhere in the region of 1,200 miles! I’m more than a little nervous, but I never really was one for the sensible options…

Redditch to La Fontenelle via Calais

We’re going to leave Dover at lunchtime on Wednesday 25th, and then travel down the coast, arriving in La Fontenelle on Friday for the wedding on Saturday. Then we’ll start heading back on Sunday morning to catch a ferry on either Tuesday or Wednesday (annual leave permitting!).

We’ve got a three hundred mile drive between La Fontenelle and Calais so it seems silly to travel the same route twice. On the way there we’ll travel down the coast (ish) and stop off at Bayeux and the beaches, but what are we going to do on the way back if not go through the same places? Steph said she wanted to see Paris and I said no to begin with, thinking it’d add hundreds of miles onto our journey and not really be worth our while. It turns out that it’ll only be an extra hundred miles of driving and we could be there by Sunday afternoon, giving us a day or two to explore. It’d be rude not to, really…

Redditch to La Fontenelle and back again…via Paris…as you do!

It’s really exciting but I’m scared on several counts…

I’ve never driven so far in my life…the most I’ve done in a day is the three-hundred miles from Bradford to Exeter. And this will be in a fairly unfamiliar vehicle and on roads where the traffic is all on the wrong side!

Breaking down is a very real possibility…and that could mean either missing the wedding or missing our return ferry. Stressful on both counts. I need to find out about breakdown recovery on the continent as well as buy a whole bunch of tools and a Haines manual!

Puke is also a very real possibility…Steph suffers from really bad travel sickness and I’m not very good on choppy water. With over twelve-hundred miles to travel we could have a problem on our hands! Hopefully, the fact that I’ll be driving like a snail with a limp will help Steph feel better, and at least we can pull over and brew a cuppa whenever we want one!

All we need to do now is sort out a few camp sites along the routes I’ve chosen and figure out the places we’d like to see once we get to Paris itself. It’s a list-maker’s dream and I think I’m going to enjoy the planning more than I’m going to enjoy the trip itself!!

I’d have liked to take Fletch with us, but it’s not even an option. Besides the fact that we’re attending a wedding and he’d probably trash my van if we left him alone for long enough, he is also lacking a passport. I’ve never gotten him one before because there wasn’t the opportunity to take him and you need to meet different specifications for each country you want to visit so there’s been no point getting his vaccinations done without a destination in mind. He’s already chipped, but it takes a few months to get all the necessary jabs and there’s less than two months to the wedding.

Besides all that, it seems like a hazardous enterprise really. I wouldn’t like to run the risk of being turned away at the port (on the wrong side) or Fletch being stuck in quarantine for six months! He’ll have to stick to the UK for the time being…


Posted by on June 4, 2012 in Camping, Travel


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