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Monthly Archives: November 2012

The Joy of Poundland…

Refering back to my previous post, you need a lot of things to make your camping trip an easy one, and although most of those things are relatively small and cheap, when you add it all up you can spend an inordinate amount on gear when you start out.

I knew that Poundland stocked things like cutlery, kitchenware and a few bits of camping gear, so I figured that it’d be a good place to start when buying all my stuff. In the end, I was very glad that I did because I got a lot of things that I didn’t expect to find and saved myself quite a bit of money.

The best find by far was a collapsible water carrier. It’s not all that sturdy and the tap isn’t as leak-proof as it could be, but it cost a pound (as you would expect from Poundland) and considering that a similar one from ebay would cost about £5 I could afford to buy two in case one splits unexpectedly.

As well as that I bought:

  • a rope
  • tent pegs (£5 from Millets or Blacks)
  • a rubber mallet (around £4 with p&p from Amazon)
  • a wind up torch
  • two tripod-style folding stools
  • some jam jar lanterns to hold tea lights
  • citronella candles
  • salad bowl
  • 4 forks
  • 4 knives
  • 4 teaspoons
  • 4 dessert spoons
  • dust pan and brush set
  • kitchen wipes
  • baby wipes
  • batteries
  • lighters

So, including the water carrier, I spent £22 on stuff that could have cost me around £45-£55 if I’d have bought it all elsewhere…and there’s so much more they sell that I didn’t buy.

They have ground-sheets but they’re only 1×2 metres big. On their own they have some practical uses (they would be very useful for lining the floor of the van/covering the bench seat if it was really muddy, or as a narrow place to take your boots off outside the van/tent) but I think you’d need to patch a few of them together to cover a decent area of ground, and if you’re going to do that then you may as well buy a bigger, slightly more expensive groundsheet and not have to worry about your patchwork floor coming to pieces or leaking at the seams.

Their plastic-backed picnic rugs are also quite small but would be useful for kneeling at the BBQ or as a portable dry seat for a single bum (or two that didn’t mind squishing together)…or you could buy a few and sew them together if you wanted to save some money. Large plastic-backed picnic rugs can be pretty expensive, but I got a decent sized one from a petrol station for about £8 on a half price offer. I bought a similar one a few years ago but that sadly drowned in beer and mud at a festival last year (it would have been salvageable  but I packed it into a plastic bag and forgot about it for a few weeks. It wasn’t pretty…). It was incredibly useful before I ruined it, so I’m very glad I could replace it without spending over £15 or having to sew a whole bunch of rugs from Poundland together!

As well as the things I’ve mentioned, you can also buy:

  • plastic and enamel tableware
  • emergency shelters
  • spare guy ropes
  • lanterns
  • storage containers
  • kitchen and BBQ utensils
  • disposable BBQs
  • table cloths
  • pegs
  • food
  • books
  • CDs
  • stationery
  • art supplies

…and loads of other things that you could probably invent a use for while you’re camping.

After you’ve done some window shopping online and gauged the prices of the stuff you need, it’s definitely the best place to start the real-life shopping, and it’s a fraction of the price of most ‘proper’ camping shops. Some of the stuff may only survive a few uses (I don’t have much faith in the tripod stools) but in some situations, like festivals, you may only want to take cheap things that you won’t miss if they get lost, broken, or irretrievably covered in mud.

 

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What’s in Old Red?…

I started amassing camping gear (etc,) before I’d even paid the balance off on Old Red, and as I was doing it I began to wonder where it was all going to go. As it turns out, the amount of storage in the T25 is AMAZING, and Red has even more than most because of his wickedace roof conversion. It might mean that we pay more on the ferry and can’t get into most car parks, but it does mean a whole extra ‘floor’ of space that you don’t get in ‘single storey’ or pop-top vans.

So! Contained within these burgundy walls you can find these things (I’ve put ‘essentials’ in bold…you may not class some of these things as essential, but I do!)…

  • a kettle
  • two saucepans
  • frying pan
  • three sharp kitchen knives (in plastic covers)
  • folding chopping board (the folding part isn’t essential, but it does make pouring food into small pans a little easier)
  • cutlery
  • two pairs of scissors (one big, one small)
  • spatula
  • slotted spoon
  • wooden spoon
  • kitchen tongs
  • 6 melaware plates (2 large, 2 medium, 2 small)
  • 4 melaware bowls
  • 2 melaware mugs
  • 2 melaware cups and saucers
  • melaware milk jug, sugar bowls and teaspoons
  • thermal teapot (best thing EVER)
  • caffetiere (probably not essential to most people, but it is to me…and I’ll be adding a stove-top espresso maker in the coming months)
  • plastic spoon rest
  • large salad bowl
  • litre jug
  • can/bottle opener
  • washing up brush and sponge
  • dish soap
  • tea towels
  • baby wipes
  • kitchen wipes (I forgot these on my first trip and ended up with a grease-spattered, tea-stained kitchen from hell. You can also use them to give the floor a quick scrub)
  • microfibre cloths
  • cork ‘trivets’
  • dust pan and brush (to sweep the van out every so often…I didn’t think this was essential until I actually took one away with me and discovered how satisfying it was to keep Red spic and span. I love stepping into him when all the surfaces are clean and the floor isn’t covered in bits of forest or field)
  • bucket BBQ (also not strictly an essential but very nice to have and it doesn’t take up a lot of room really. I have a yellow one, but now I’ve looked at that link I really want one in lime green)
  • bags of BBQ coal (they don’t fit well in the bucket but they’re easy to light)
  • BBQ tools (‘borrowed’ from my parents)
  • 2 folding tri-pod style camp stools (poundland wonders)
  • a plastic-backed picnic rug
  • collapsible water carrier (also from poundland…I anticipate leaks at some point)
  • road maps
  • rope
  • bungee cords
  • electric hook-up cable (and EU adapter, just in case I find myself randomly on the continent…well, I can dream can’t I?)
  • a ground sheet (which is actually just a big sheet of blue plastic…but still makes a good waterproof floor outside the side-door)
  • spare tent pegs (poundland!)
  • rubber mallet (poundland!)
  • tea lights (and jam jar holders)
  • citronella candles
  • sun cream
  • long-reach lighter (for stove and jam jars)
  • solar-powered fairy lights
  • wind up torch
  • head torch (useful for finding and using the loo in the dark!)
  • 12v USB adapter (for charging phones and MP3 players…just don’t forget the leads for each device)
  • big burgundy bucket (useful for all kinds of things like keeping beer cold, doing laundry, measuring rainfall…it’s keeping my oil funnel from covering everything in oil at the moment!)
  • a black plastic jerry can (just in case)
  • a socket set
  • tyre weld
  • spare bulbs
  • spare fuses
  • engine oil
  • oil funnel (seriously…getting oil into your sump without one of these is NOT a fun job…I had to fashion a funnel out of tin foil on my first outing!)
  • warning triangle
  • hi-vis vest (for France)
  • breathalysers (also for France)
  • fire extinguisher
  • first aid kit
  • two red fleece throws
  • lots of cushions
  • plastic bags (to use as rubbish bags)
  • cling film and foil
  • assorted random Tupperware
  • a tea tray
  • teabags (Ceylon)
  • micro-ground coffee (in case I forget the fresh stuff)
  • hundreds of packets of brown sugar
  • olive oil spray
  • cans of beans and tomatoes and fruit
  • a few cans of rum, ginger and lime (I bought too many for my first trip…they’re now my emergency ‘setting up camp’ drinkies)
  • toilet rolls
  • breakdown cover documents
  • British wildlife book (for bird and mushroom spotting)
  • notepad (to record our wonderful adventures!)
  • pens (always bic biros) and pencils
  • ribbons and string (to make and fix and prettify things)
  • a big straw hat
  • CDs
  • Books
  • a pack of cards
  • a couple of towels
  • a duvet (Primark…4.5tog and only about £4…possibly the warmest, lightest duvet I have ever encountered)
  • some sheets
  • two pillows
  • a couple of Ikea stacker boxes…one has all the dinnerware in and the other holds all the smaller camping accessories, toilet rolls and odds & sods.

…and I’m sure there must be something I’ve forgotten amongst all that lot…

It’s a veritable tardis!  Not only is there a cupboard for food/kitchen equipment, but there’s a huge amount of storage space under the bench seat and above the drivers cab, there’s a big cupboard (with hanging space!) at the back of the van, there’s a little drawer (dubbed the very useful drawer) sandwiched between the grill and the fridge, and there’s storage underneath the top bunk…aaaaand, you can pack all of your bedding up in the top bunk (or ‘upstairs’, as I like to call it) along with anything else that you want to be able to get to quickly (coats, hats, scarves, your overnight bag)…

The thing that surprised me the most was that you can cram so much stuff into each of the little cubby holes. In the space above the driver’s cab I’ve managed to stuff a 4 man tent, a wind break, a gazebo, two folding chairs, a folding table and general oddments like my handbag and hats and cushions.

The space under the bench seat is home to all the dinnerware, cutlery, BBQ, small camping accessories (rope, pegs, bungees etc.), the BBQ (tools and coals), toilet rolls, electric cable and spare shoes…and I can fit quite a bit of alcohol in too!

To be honest, I didn’t realise exactly how much stuff is hiding away in the Old Boy until I tried to compile this list. It may seem like a lot of it is non-essential, but the way I see it, if it’s all in there then I can head off on an adventure any time I want (once I’ve renewed my tax and gotten that oil thing sorted, of course) and all I’ll need to worry about is clothes and toiletries.

I love my two-storey travelling tent 🙂

 

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Ye Gourds!…

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These guys are looking a little worse for wear now…their faces are sunken and they’re starting to grow fur. I quite like them like this, but I think it might be time to send them to the big compost heap in the sky!

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2012 in Random

 

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Impending List Warning…

Last night I got it into my head that I’d write a ‘What’s in the Van’ list, so you can get an idea of…

a) what you might need for a trip in a camper van…

b) what extras you can take to make your trip even comfier…

c) the sheer amount of stuff you can hide away in these motorised tents…

I’ve started to compile this list (mostly from memory at the moment – I wasn’t keen on going out into the cold, dark night to do an inventory of what’s hiding under the rock’n’roll bed) but at the moment it is very VERY long and it’s only going to get longer…

In other news, I’ve bought my 2013 diary today and I’ve already started to fill in my days and weekends off.

I’m incredibly excited!

 

 

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Collapsible Camping Accessories…

I use Iwantoneofthose quite a lot for gifts/inspiration, and while doing a spot of Christmas shopping this afternoon I found these in their ‘Camping Gadgets’…

Collapsible Cooking Pot (click to see product in new tab)

They’re made of stainless steel and silicone, they hold 3.8 litres, an they fold down to about 55mm high. They’re not cheap (£39.99), but at the moment I have two small saucepans and am already struggling for space. I plan to do a LOT more cooking in the wild next year so one of these pots is definitely going onto my email to Santa this year!

As well as the cooking pot, you can also get…

Collapsible Washing Up Bowl (click to see product in new tab)

A washing up bowl for £24.99 that would be useful for all sorts of things besides washing up…I mean, it’s got a 7.5 litre capacity so you could probably make the mother of all vodka jellies in that thing.

Red has a little double sink, complete with tap and water pump, but neither of the sinks are very deep and it’s much more pleasant to wash up outside. This silicone bowl looks like it might be a bit sturdier to use than the foldable fabric kind, but it is a lot more expensive.

They also sell…

Collapsible Kettle (click to see product in new tab)

I’ve got a little whistling kettle that holds about the same amount of water as this collapsible kettle, and although it doesn’t take up a lot of room in the cupboards, the handle does make it difficult to get out of the cupboard (especially when the back seat is in bed-mode and the cupboard door doesn’t open fully) and it does have a habit of getting in the way when I’m trying to fish out saucepans or the chopping board. Again, this is another expensive product, and at £29.99 it’s three times what I paid for my kettle. I would be interested to see how sturdy it is, and if it folds as you’re trying to pour from it.

The last collapsible wonder from IWOOT is…

Collapsible Pet Bowl (click to see product in new tab)

For £12.99 you get a 1.6 litre pet bowl that folds down to 4cm high, and I’m fairly certain that it’d be lighter than the big ceramic bowls Fletch drinks out of at the moment. I’ve got a foldable fabric bowl for him that I take walking, but it’s quite small and he doesn’t really seem to like it. It’s also rather hard to clean and you can’t ever seem to rinse it out well enough. I’ll definitely be getting a couple of these ready for when I’m brave enough to take Fletch out in the van!

All in all, these four products come to over £100 if you want to buy the lot (and I do…) and there’s other products in the range that IWOOT don’t stock at the moment, like a collapsible bucket (VERY useful…I’m always moving my bucket around the van and cursing it when it leaves muddy rings) and funnel (also very useful), but there are other sites you can find these products on. For the most part, the cooking pot, kettle and bowls are very similar prices to IWOOT, but I’ve found a seller on Amazon who has the washing up bowl, kettle, bucket and a coffee filter contraption for a very reasonable price…

Collapsible Camp Set from The Friendly Lifestyle Store (click to see product in new tab)

Considering the kettle and washing up bowl come to around £55 together, this set is amazing value. I may not bother emailing Santa…I might just buy myself an early Christmas present before they’re all sold out!

 

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Camping Food – Chilli…

The awesome thing about something like chilli is that you can prepare it all while your camping and cook it (and rice) on your little two-burner stove, or you can cook it at home and take it with you for an instant meal. Even more awesome than that?…you can freeze it so it keeps your fridge/coolbox cold, and it’ll be defrosted after a day or so.

This is my recipe for chilli con carne. It’s pretty good…even if I do say so myself.

You will need…

– A pretty big cooking pot
– 500g minced beef/lamb
– 1 or 2 crushed and chopped garlic cloves
– 1 heaped tsp of cumin powder
– 1 heaped tsp of coriander powder
– 1 heaped tsp of paprika
– 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper
– 3 pickled green chillies, chopped (seeds and all)
– 1/2 teaspoon of chopped red chillies (I use Really Lazy Chilies)
– a chopped onion
– two chopped bell peppers (I use red and yellow, for colour as well as taste)
– a beef stock cube dissolved in about 200ml of boiling water
– 1 tbsp of tomato puree
– can of chopped tomatoes, drained
– can of beans (kidney, or haricot, or butterbeans, or bean salad…I use mixed)
– salt and pepper
– juice of half a lime (ish…we use the other half of the lime to do tequila shots while waiting for the chilli to cook. Waste not, want not!)
– coriander leaves to garnish

You’ll also need…something to serve it with, like rice, bread, tortilla chips, potatoes, BBQed hotdogs (chilli dogs…mmmmm), or anything else you can think of…and some sour cream…and guacamole if you want…

To cook…(it’s so easy…)

– fry the garlic, onions, peppers and chillies until they’re soft…
– add meat and spices then fry until the meat has browned…
– stir in stock,  tomatoes, beans and tomato puree…
– season with salt and pepper, and add lime juice to taste…
– simmer until the stock has reduced down…the longer the better!
– sprinkle with coriander leaves and plonk the pot on the table for everyone to help themselves.

You could serve salsa on the side too, but Pico de Gallo is also awesome…and very easy to make…

Deseed and finely chop three or four tomatoes, and mix with a chopped red onion and some finely chopped jalapenos (I use about three or four slices of the pickled kind). Add a handful of torn/chopped coriander leaves and season with salt, pepper and lime juice to taste…et voila!

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2012 in Camping, Food

 

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