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Barefoot – Looking Back…Right Back…

***FROM THE ARCHIVE OF DRAFTS***

Despite having Old Red for over a year (*ahem* almost three), I’m still a bit of a newbie when it comes to packing for outings. In some ways I am brilliantly organised, sometimes usually to the point of having way too much stuff, but I’m still learning what we need and what we don’t need, and our trip to Barefoot Festival was yet another education.

What Worked…

  • Our gazebo!…last year (*ahem*…YEARS AGO) for Beat-Herder I bought a gazebo on a whim. This gazebo was NOT waterproof. Pie and I discovered this when we saw torrents of rain pouring through it and onto all our neatly stored stuff. The new gazebo has a woven plastic roof so it was much better at keeping rain out (when it wasn’t falling diagonally that is).
  • Once again, Poundland was a brilliant source of camping supplies…we got some tiny waterproof picnic rugs (just big enough for two people to put their bottoms on, or for one person to stretch their legs out) that were really light and folded up very small so they fitted in my festival bag. The main tent didn’t have any flooring so they were really useful to keep our bums dry.
  • Also from Poundland…a pack of three rain ponchos for a quid. The hoods on them were rubbish but they were easier than a coat to put on for a brisk run to the toilet, and you don’t mind leaving them outside in the rain as much as your favourite mac (we tucked ours into the roof of the gazebo).
  • Big fleecy blankets from Primark…they not only made excellent blankets (as you might expect), but they also worked really well hung from the gazebo as sunshades. We kept them up with pieces of rope (from Poundland of course) and LOTS of gaffa tape. They made our camp feel like a very cosy little den.
  • Instruments!…we took Luke’s guitar, my ukulele and an ocarina, along with quite a few music books. We had many lovely hours sitting in the sunshine and singing our hearts out.
  • Cooking for ourselves…we had a meal plan (of sorts) for the weekend, and took a BBQ along with us. We factored in a few meals out so we got to try wood-fired pizza and an amazing french-toast croissant, but ultimately we spent very little on food and ate really well. Admittedly, the fact that Luke is a chef didn’t hurt either…

Next Time We Will…

  • Remember that it’s never too early to start packing…especially if it’s camping stuff and things you don’t use on a daily basis. On the other hand, there is definitely a point when it’s too late to pack, and that point is about half an hour after you planned to leave. Next time I will try not to blur this line again…
  • Stick to the list…the list is there for a reason. If you don’t give the list the respect it deserves and put it in a pile of paper on the coffee table you are bound to have to go home for pillows and coffee presses, and you’ll end up spending the entire weekend buying tea at £1.50 a cup and having to barter for tiny sachets of sugar…

And We Will Take…

  • MORE BEER!!…we didn’t bring enough so we ended up buying 6 pint bottles of cider from the beer tent on our last night. That set us back twenty-four quid. TWENTY FOUR QUID!
  • More tarpaulins and blankets to make rain/wind/sun shields for the gazebo…and more rope! We took a small bundle but nowhere near enough to make an adequate ‘den’. Our den kept falling apart.
  • Pegs!…both of the clothes and tent variety. These would also have been very useful in the construction of sun/rain shields.
  • More instruments…like drums and a tambourine and maracas. Guitars and ukuleles are ace, but it would have been nice if everyone (kids included) could have joined in an made some noise!

……………………………………………….

The majority of this post was written not long after Barefoot Festival, some time in the summer of 2013. Now it’s March 2015, I’m three months pregnant and I’m very aware that the next time we go to a festival we will probably have our little one in tow (unless, by some miracle, we manage to make it to a festival this summer…when I’m six months pregnant) so we’ll have a whole new set of things to take into consideration.

On one hand I’m very excited at the thought of the adventures and fun the three of us will have together.

On the other hand, I’m already wondering what essential stuff we’ll forget this time…

 

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To Do…

We don’t need to do much to get Red back on the road…

  • Charge the battery and get it back in the van!
  • Replace fuel lines (after RAC man clipped through them…idiot)
  • Revive breakdown insurance
  • MOT…and whatever else that entails
  • Tax
  • Get someone to pass a verdict on the gearstick…and then maybe get it replaced.

…but there’s a lot of things that we need to do, and that we’d like to do, and this is just some of them…

– Door and Window Seals

This is actually quite an important job, and although the current seals are holding up enough to keep water out, they look terrible and really need replacing. Most of them are cracked and broken, and they make the van look very shabby and uncared for. It wouldn’t be an expensive fix, it’s just the time it’ll take to get all the windows out and back in again. Luke is really keen to do it, and we have friends and family who can lend advice and help, but I’m reticent.

– Interior Finishings

There’s quite a few places on Red’s interior where little bits of trim have come away from the van and need to be tacked back down. This includes (but is not limited to) several pieces of plastic that cover the exposed chipboard on the edges of cupboard openings, and the carpet that covers the edge of the top bunk (the bit you pull on to slide it out). You can see the overhanging carpety bit in the second picture down. This is incredibly minor and very easy to fix…so it’s way up on the list.

– Foam and Upholstery

As I’ve said before, Old Red spent part of his life as a rental van, and so has been slept in by lots of people. Consequently, the upper mattress and the back seat/rock’n’roll bed are both looking pretty tired and have become threadbare in places (to the point of now being a tear).

Threadbare "upstairs" mattress...

Threadbare “upstairs” mattress…

Despite this tear, and the thinness of the mattress, the top bed is REALLY comfortable. I’ve slept in it a few times and had a great night’s sleep (admittedly, I was very drunk), which is more than I can say for the rock’n’roll bed, which is much thicker, but no where near as comfy. The foam can’t be as dense and so you (well, I) end up with sore spots if you stay in the same position for too long.

The back part of the bottom bed that covers the engine compartment has become broken too. It has a tiny wooden over hang that goes down the very back of the van inside the tail gate. I’m not sure why it’s there, and it was attached very precariously…

How the over-hanging part is supposed to look...

How the over-hanging part is supposed to look…

How it looks now its broken...

How it looks now its broken…

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Close-up of where the part that over-hangs the boot has snapped away from the base of the bed…

When I take the bed out to open the engine hatch I always make sure I put this part down carefully so that I don’t break the over-hang away from the base of the bed, so I can only assume that this was the handiwork of our RAC man from last year! Nevertheless, it’ll have to be fixed as it prevents the tailgate from closing properly, and when we do it we might as well get new foam and fabric, and have a brand new seat/bed made.

– Curtains

When I first got Old Red, I hated the curtains and wanted to change them. Two years on and he still has the same coral coloured velvety curtains that he had when I bought him and I still hate them.

Clingy curtains of doom...

Clingy curtains of doom…

Most of the curtain hooks have disintegrated in the sun and so they look really untidy when they’re pulled back, and have worrying gaps when they’re meant to be closed. The ones on the back windows are supposed to tuck into a curtain wire so that they don’t hang in your face and let people look in on your sleeping head, but they don’t tuck in properly, and the ones on the side (pictured above) have mostly come undone from all their little rings (pictured below) so they hang loose and cause you to accidentally flash your bum to passers by…

Renegade rings, running free from their curtains...

Renegade rings, running free from their curtains…

…and if all this wasn’t bad enough, the fabric is like velcro on clothes, so one wrong turn in your pyjamas can leave your entire van exposed to the outside world. Not good when your cabin-mate is making tea in the semi-nude!

I’m not sure what we’ll do to replace them yet, whether it’ll be new curtains, blinds, or some other creative alternative that I’m still trying to work out (more on that later), but it’ll be soon!

– Engine

At the moment Red is rocking a 1.7 diesel engine that drinks an AWFUL lot of oil. I spoke to the garage I bought it from and they didn’t seem to think it was a problem. At first I was worried it might be leaking through the turbo seal, but they assured me that this wasn’t possible if your engine didn’t have a turbo. Silly me!

Just to be sure I had a local garage check it out, and they agreed that it wasn’t a problem unless you didn’t like buying oil and topping it up every 200 miles. Some engines use a lot of oil, and Red’s engine happens to be on of them.

As he’s such a big and heavy beast with such a bijou engine, he doesn’t go very fast and he really struggles up hills. It’d be nice to replace his engine with one that went a bit faster and didn’t consume quite so much of the golden black stuff. Our friend has a spare BMW engine that we could use (as you do), but it’s a case of being committed enough to do it. That’ll be a massive project, and one that could end up creating more problems than it solves!

– Paint Job

Old Red, or Van Burgandy as he’s often known (we’re both massive Will Ferrell fans) is currently red all over, and is unfortunately peeling in a few places down to poor resprays and failure to use primer on certain parts. In today’s cleaning odyssey Luke managed to clean a large piece of paintwork to reveal black plastic wheel arches. Bad show paint person.

It’d be wonderful if we could have him completely resprayed, but I know what a huge task that’d be and so I try not to let myself think about it too much. It’s a distant dream, but a dream all the same. I just wonder if he’d still be the same van if he was a different colour?

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2014 in Lists, Van Maintenance

 

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Killing Mould…Again…

Last year I wrote a post about having to get rid of mould from some of the textiles in Old Red.

I promised myself last year that I would empty the van for winter, and make sure that it got aired out properly every week, but that plan never really came into being, and so everything that was in the roof conversion (and therefore, out of the sunlight) had gotten spotted in that horrible white dusty mould again. I felt awful that I hadn’t learnt my lesson last time, and that I’d neglected Old Red so badly…

Mould on the seatpad from the rock'n'roll bed, which I'd stored in the roof...

Mould on the seatpad from the rock’n’roll bed, which I’d stored in the roof…

...and mould on the mattress from the bed in the roof...

…and mould on the mattress from the bed in the roof…

Luckily, it wasn’t too bad (although the pictures don’t do it justice), and there wasn’t any mildew so there was no terrible staining.

Like last time, I made up a solution of water and vinegar in a spray bottle. I didn’t have any white/white wine vinegar this time, so I made do with cider vinegar, but this was a LOT more stinky. Last time, the smell faded, so I’m hoping that’ll happen again this time!

I used a stiff bristled brush to get rid of the visible mould, but this time I remembered to cover my face to avoid breathing in too much nasty stuff…

I'm coming to get you Spores!...

I’m coming to get you Spores!…

My sister and her boyfriend both offered me a dust mask, but I was far more amused by my tea-towel bandito look.

Once I’d scrubbed as much as I could I sprayed all the mouldy surfaces and let the mattresses sit and dry in the sun, turning and spraying as necessary.

The mattresses look much better now, but they’re still a bit stained and tired looking after many years of use (by many people) and could really do with a refresh. We don’t have plans for a journey out any time soon, so new foam and upholstery has been added to our to-do list.

 

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Going Barefoot…

Friday, July 26th was the first day of Barefoot Festival, and the start of our first adventure of 2013…

Putting the postcode into Google...

Putting the postcode into Google…

Despite being REALLY well organised in the supplies department (we bought far too many ‘necessities’ that ended up coming home unused), we spent the Friday morning doing even MORE shopping and then tried to get the van packed quickly. Needless to say we left home a lot later than we meant to, and as we were on the way to the petrol station I remembered that I’d forgotten the cafetiere. Although this seemed like major catastrophe (no coffee?!?!) I wasn’t about to turn around just for that. It was only when I realised that we’d left our pillows at home too (kind of essential) that we turned around and went back.

…and when we got to Barefoot that we realised the teabags and sugar were still at home too, along with the moisturiser that my skin can’t live without. Whoops.

barefootmap

Our route from Redditch to Preswold Hall, Loughborough

Clear skies over the open road!

Clear skies over the open road!

We were aiming to get there at 2.30pm when the gates opened, and the journey was set to take 1hr 15mins (about two hours in Old Red) but we didn’t leave until about 1pm…and then the M42 turned into a bit of a carpark for a while. In the end we got there at around 4.30pm, collected our wristbands, and set out to find Sarah and her friends.

Luckily they hadn’t been there long and (unluckily for them) they had a LOT of heavy stuff to ferry from the car to campsite so they’d been busy just moving stuff. Having a van is brilliant full stop, but the fact that you have all your stuff with you and you don’t have to worry about setting any tents up (especially if it’s raining) is bloody amazing. If only we’d had the forethought to put all the stuff from their car into the van, then Luke wouldn’t have had to carry a full (over-sized) cool box half a mile up and down a hill…

We said “Hi!” to Sarah and her son Isaac, met Lucy and her boys, Oscar and Hector, and Emma and her son, Conner, and then we set about finding a camp spot and setting up our various tents, gazebos, windbreaks etc,

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Gaffa tape…universal fix-all

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Our camp in one of it's many incarnations...we ended up moving the windbreak and turning the gazebo into a tent with big blankets and LOTS of gaffa tape...

Our camp in one of it’s many incarnations…we ended up moving the windbreak and turning the gazebo into a tent with big blankets and LOTS of gaffa tape…

…and then the weekend really began! I started off with a (canned) Bellini as we set-up and quickly moved on to the cider…and I don’t really remember too much of our first evening! A lot of fun was had by all!

The boys (aged 2, 3 and 4) loved the van and wanted to spend a lot of time climbing in and out of it…

...and they all clamber in!...

…and they all clamber in!…

I noticed a few rivets sticking out of the sill where they were climbing in, and despite bashing them flat with a mallet, they still looked pretty dangerous to little legs…

Rivets of doom...

Rivets of doom…

…so I used the all-purpose fix-all to save the day…

Mended! Taa daaaa!

Mended! Taa daaaa!

Happy campers in the happy camper...

Happy campers in the happy camper…Conner, Isaac, Hector and Oscar.

And so…the weekend went a bit like this…

Entertainment…

I have to admit, we didn’t spend a whole lot of time down at the main arena, choosing to relax in our cosy little campsite, cook our own food, play music and sing and keep ourselves entertained. Sarah, Lucy, Emma and the boys went exploring a lot more than Luke and I did, although we did get to see some capoeira and a few of the bands (whose names I completely forgot) in a beautiful Indian wedding tent…

Inside the Main Tent

The programme included lots of folksy music, drumming, dancing, yoga…and we also heard quite a lot of ska and rock music travelling up the hill and the evenings set in. During the day there seemed to be mostly drumming going on, and occasionally I felt like I was on the set of Carry On Up The Jungle.

There was a big camp fire with a circle of straw bales set around it (at a reasonable distance) to sit and recline on, and ‘busk stops’ at points around the arena and campsite so festival-goers could show off their skills.

We did a bit of shopping at some of the stalls and got chatting to a lovely couple who sell all sorts of ornaments, clothes, candles, incense, handmade items, etc., and who spend every weekend of the summer at festivals. We picked up some top tips for solar powered leisure batteries from them, and advice on how to keep things cool without having to run the fridge (hide them under the van!).

We also splurged some of our emergency beer tokens and bought some festival souvenirs to decorate Old Red with.

The kids (and when I say kids, I really mean all of us) played with…

…body paints (just a few quid from New Look…don’t forget to pack extra baby wipes if you plan on bringing body paints out to a festival)…

Isaac is DARTH VADER!!!

Kids of all ages...

Ha ha ha haaaaa...

…moustaches (six for £1 from Poundland)…

Hola amigo!

Careful application is necessary...

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BEST photo EVER!

…bottle tops…

The boys spent aaaages throwing two bottle tops around the main tent then chasing them...I started it off by balancing them on Sarah's feet...

…and a tarpaulin that was being inflated by the wind…

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…and we had lots of fun playing music and singing…

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Concentration face...

Ha ha ha...

And we drank a little bit too…

Sarah and I...having a little giggle...

Sarah and I…having a little giggle…

…perhaps a little bit too much…

Beer zombies...

Beer zombies…

Food…

The Festival had an amazing array of food for such a small event. Sadly, we either forgot to take pictures of the stalls and food, or lost the business cards we picked up, so I’m going to have trouble crediting them properly at all…

I did manage to take pictures of one stall though…CHOCONANA!

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Choconana…chocolate (or yoghurt) coated frozen bananas, dipped in all sorts of amazing things. They also do other awesome food.

…and the food was so fabulous that when my phone battery died I almost cried over the fact I couldn’t photograph it. The stall owner was kind enough to take some photos and text them to me so that I could show the world the joy of…FRENCH TOAST CROISSANT WITH SYRUP, STRAWBERRIES, WHIPPED CREAM, CINNAMON SUGAR AND CHOCOLATE….

Me with my breakfast of JOY

Me with my breakfast of JOY

I cannot begin to describe how amazing this feast was. The croissant was delicious and crispy, and even though the syrup soaked in and made it really sticky and gooey, it didn’t make the croissant soggy at all…it made it divine. It would have been amazing on its own with just a dusting of the cinnamon sugar, but there was no way I was going to miss out on strawberries, cream and chocolate. The strawberries were hulled and chopped fresh in front of me, and the entire thing was yum yum yuuuuum. I may have to follow this stall around the country…

Later on in the day I decided to try one of their frozen bananas. I was sceptical at first because I thought they’d be rock hard and make my teeth hurt, but the promise that they had “the texture of ice cream” lured me in…

Frozen banana, covered in milk chocolate and dipped in oreo pieces...*drools*

Frozen banana, covered in milk chocolate and dipped in oreo crumbs…*drools*

It does have the texture of ice-cream, and it doesn’t taste like a big manky bruise (which is what cooked banana tastes of)…so it’s win all round really! And it has a lot less calories and fat than the same amount of ice-cream (if you try not to think too hard about the chocolate and cookie pieces, that is) so you can feel all virtuous about your dessert. They also have yoghurt to cover the bananas in, as well as fruit pieces to dip them in, so you can feel properly virtuous if you really want to. I didn’t want to.

On the first night we tried some wood-fired pizza from a brilliant little stall near the main tent. The pizzas were only about £5 each, were freshly prepared in front of us, and took about 10 minutes to cook. They were pretty darn huge too, and I only managed to eat about half of mine, but it went down well as a snack later. We got a business card but have lost it somewhere along the way, and no amount of googling can find the right company. If anyone reading this knows their name, please please please remind me!

Other catering stalls included the Mashed Tea Tent, where you could get tea (of all varieties), coffee, cakes and an assortment of ‘necessities’. The only things we needed were the teabags and sugar (shame on me), neither of which they sold as a rule (they sell brewed tea so selling teabags would be a bit silly really, almost like saying “here!…don’t buy our tea!…just go and make your own!…for cheaper!”), but they were kind enough to sell us a few packets of sugar so we could make coffee back at the van (with the retrieved cafetiere).

There was also a Thai food stall that did noodles and curries, a vegetarian stall that sold loads of different dishes, and a crepe van that did sweet and savoury pancakes. We didn’t get to try them all but it all looked (and smelled) wonderful, and all seemed to be very reasonably priced. The bar charges were a bit steep, and we were surprised to pay £24 for six pint bottles of Bulmers, but that’s the price you pay for under-stocking your cooler with beers! Next time we’ll bring more with us…

We did a lot of cooking for ourselves…Sarah, Lucy and Emma enjoying veggie/vegan repasts, while Luke and I shamelessly barbecued meat just yards away. We had chicken wings, home (van) made burgers and tonnes of awesome salads using the camping-friendly spray olive oil I’d found. We took along a massive basket of spices that also proved very useful for making really simple dishes really interesting and tasty. I actually can’t take credit for the cooking…Luke is (most definitely) the head chef, and I just do as I’m told (sometimes).

Having the fridge (and plenty of gas) made life really easy for us, and when we discovered that the ice box actually works we could freeze ice packs to keep the coolers cold too. By ‘keep the coolers cold’ I obviously mean ‘keep the beers cold’, but it amounts to the same thing…

The Round-up

This year at Barefoot was a ‘fallow’ year, with about 350 tickets sold. We spent £30 each to get in and £5 for ‘parking’ (which is actually ‘camping’ in our case). Next year the festival is back to full capacity with around 1000 tickets going on sale for £70 each if you’re quick enough to get an earlybird ticket. We’d love to go again in 2014 but I think we’re going to wait until the new year begins before splashing out on tickets and van passes.

Suffice to say, the vibe of the whole festival was lovely and relaxed, and we were highly entertained wherever we chose to hang out. Late at night/very early in the morning we even made it down to the camp-fire to relax with other festival-goers who hadn’t made it to bed yet. Every day was a great day and every evening was brilliant. It was a shame that it had to end so soon, but we made the absolute most of it while it lasted.

Okay, so we didn’t spend much time in the arena itself and may as well just have gone camping for the weekend, but then we wouldn’t have had the company of the other revellers. The atmosphere was great and everyone seemed to be having a brilliant time. Apart from the odd torrential downpour we had beautiful weather and (I, for one) enjoyed lots of alcohol fuelled naps in the sunshine.

Two thumbs up to Barefoot Festival!

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The End?

We had such an awesome time that we didn’t want to leave once it was over. Emma and Conner had left early on Sunday morning, and when it came time to say goodbye to Sarah, Lucy and the boys on Monday we chose not to head home, but to the beach instead…but that’s another few stories…

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2013 in Camping, Festivals, Food, Travel

 

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Breaking the Mould…

***Note: this post is lacking in pictures because technology sucks***

So, after knowing that I wasn’t airing Old Red as much as I should, and after realising that these actions had resulted in mould growing on some of his textiles, I continued to leave him to fester for a few more months.

With a festival looming ahead of us, and a pretty urgent visit to the mechanics on the cards, I needed to get off my bottom and make sure that I wasn’t going to give/get any breathing complications! And so into the van I went…

Since my last investigation I imagined that the mould would have gotten a million times worse, and that it might even have crept into the wardrobe to eat the summer dresses that I’d left hanging in there. To be honest, I deserved for the entire van to be swathed in mould, but the reality was that it had gotten no worse than it was before…and in fact, it wasn’t anywhere as bad as I remembered it! Bonus!

Okay, so the “upstairs” mattress was pretty well speckled with white mould, and the seat cushion of the sofa/downstairs bed had gotten a bit mouldy where the sun wasn’t hitting it, but the clothes in the wardrobe were all perfectly fine, and only the Ikea cushions had given way to the white pufty spores. The Primark cushions were clean and still smelt fresh (well, as fresh as they ever had), and the stuffed toys were also unblemished. I can only assume that Ikea don’t mould-treat their fabrics, but that’s probably due to the fact that they don’t store fabrics in damp conditions (unlike Primark…).

Luckily, I didn’t have to deal with any mildew (which stains), so I asked my good friend, Google, for advice on removing white mould from fabrics. I found lots of different methods for killing spores – like sunshine and bleach – so it was hard to decide which to choose. In the end I went for the method that required the least amount of shopping and held the least amount of peril (bleach? On fabrics? With my track record of ruining things?!)…

To Clean Mould from Fabrics…

You will need: vinegar, water, a spray bottle, a stiff scrubbing brush, a face mask, and sunshine

First, decide what you need to clean, and what you can bear to throw away. I didn’t have the time or resources to buy and cover new mattresses, but I could afford to throw away the two Ikea cushions (that cost just £1.50 each…they weren’t that comfy anyway!).

I carried my mattresses through to the back garden where I laid them out on the patio (in direct sunlight). I used a stiff-bristled scrubbing brush to get the visible mould off, but failed to wear a face mask. Note…WEAR A FACE MASK! I had a tight chest for days and days and days afterwards…

Once they looked clean, I gave them a good spraying with my anti-mould solution of white vinegar (I used distilled, which smelled vinegary, but if you prefer a nice cidery/winey smell then you could just as easily use cider or white wine vinegar) mixed in a clean spray bottle with some water. I sprayed and I sprayed and I sprayed until the fabric was soaked and my palm was a little blistery…and then I sprayed some more. When they were as wet as I could get them I left them in the sunshine to dry. Once they were dry I soaked them again.

Spray, dry, repeat.

Et voilà!…Mould-free mattresses with only the faintest smell of vinegar (which faded after a day or two).

 

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The Good…The Bad…And The Ugly Mould That Blights My Textiles…

Disclaimer: When I thought of writing this blog and decided on the title I was far too proud of my play on words (if I can call it that) that now it’s not exactly *accurate* I am not willing to change it and will, instead, share the irony with you…

The Good…and the irony…

I recently needed to get oil out of Red to put in New Silver, and was rather impressed that the battery condition meter was still showing a green LED (good!), despite him not having been started in a good few months…

I was so impressed that I decided I’d take a picture of it to post on here, and as I lined up the camera for the shot, the green LED gave up and the red one came on instead. Oh irony, how you mock me!

The Bad…

Well, this was going to be me. I have been neglecting blogging terribly…and now I’m still ‘the bad’ because I’ve also neglected the van and now I may have a flatish battery :-/

The Ugly…

Neglecting the van has also meant that I didn’t notice my cushions getting damp, and then mouldy…oops. Luckily the seats etc are fine and it’s jut the throw cushions that are suffering. Unfortunately most of these are Ikea cushions and don’t have a removable cover, so I’m going to have to soak and disinfect the whole cushion and hope for the best! Way to go me…

Mmmmmmmmmmould...

Mmmmmmmmmmould…

 

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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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