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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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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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