Monday, January 16, 2012


Myself and Mr's SA are currently not speaking.

I consider myself a reasonable and patient man, but my patience was sorely tried on Sunday afternoon.  It started well enough; everything working in the van ok.  Pleasant walk with the dogs in the sunshine albeit a bit brass monkeys everywhere.

Decided to close the van down.  The only thing I couldn't 'suss' out was how to drain the on-board water-tank.  As I said yesterday; should've listened closer to the explanation when I left NE Caravans.

No, the thing that ripped us asunder was my decision to place a cover over the Caravan, or to put it more precisely, 'er indoors decision to help!  I suppose it's a bit like the female of the species inability to map-read.  They just don't have spatial awareness like the hunter gatherers we're descended from.  Why go left when it should be right, why pull when it should be push - after a period of pulling and pushing the cover, and a fair amount of swearing at each other, (Mr's SA is a former Convent School Girl, where did she learn such language), the cover was on.  However the zips that allow you to still access the Caravan were on the wrong side!  Mr's SA then stated that this was because I had purchased a left-hand Caravan,when most Caravans are right-handed.  You can see my point surely.

I then pulled the cover back off and started again, this time on my own - a task completed successfully the second-time around.

I'm not too worried about being on "Radio Silence" currently, she'll give in eventually and we'll carry on as normal.  I know that Mr's SA will have to come to me - how else is she going to get that jar open.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


Sunday morning.  Cup of tea in hand, listening to the radio in the van - albeit the thing is parked on the drive, but the thought is there.

An eventful couple of days.  Collecting the van on the Friday didn't present too many problems, the show-out was a bit of  blur, and later on I wished that I had listened a little closer to the vagaries of the water system, however I was soon driving North on the A1, heading home.

I'd had a slight niggle in the back of my mind the day before; could I actually get the van into the drive.  The closer I got to home, this became a clanging bell along with, "what's my fall-back plan".  However it fitted "just", and I breathed a sigh of relief.

The next problem was turning it through 180 degrees at the top of the drive.  I've done it once before, but that was a single axle.  I'd underestimated how much more difficult a double axle will be.  In a nutshell, it won't turn on a sixpence, which I needed it to do because of space.  Eventually I had to call on the services of the wife and the 22 year old, who grunted about the inconvenience of being torn away from "World of Skyrim V" or whatever the PC game is that he plays all day.  It's ok though, I hold the trump-card when it comes to things like that, the login to the Wireless Router; I can cut him off at anytime, and frequently do when he gets on my t*ts or we need to get his attention.   With their assistance, we got it turned the right way, levelled and parked.

I was keen to get everything plugged up and working only to find that there was no connector to plug the van into my garage mains, no leisure battery, no aqua-roll, no waste pipes.  Aqua-roll and waste pipes are no biggie, but no leisure battery!  As the chap at North-East Caravans stated, "you don't need one, you will always be on sites with mains hook-up", even my small brain thought that one wouldn't wash - what if there is a power-cut.  By now it was dark, so I left it, however I did research Caravan Accessory outlets and discovered that there was one almost on my doorstep, Ollies at Ord , Berwick-Upon-Tweed, which would be getting a visit from me on Saturday morning.

We do live in the middle of nowhere, on the Scottish Borders.  I'd resigned myself to either having to travel back to Newcastle or North to Edinburgh, however, not expecting too much I paid Ollies a visit and made a new best friend in Alan, the shop proprietor, together with his wife.  In a slightly disorganised warehouse type shop Alan had everything I needed at great prices.  We also discussed Motor-Movers, I've glanced at them now and again, and thought they must be for people who can't reverse their van, but Fridays experience proved that I probably needed one.  At the price he quoted me it would be rude not to, so it's being fitted next week.  If I say that the prices I have seen for a twin-axle are plus of £1100, Alan will fit one for considerably less.

I then spent a fruitless Saturday afternoon, trying to get the electrics to work from the mains, but the power console showed it was drawing power from my car - no mean feat when it was parked 30 feet away.  Eventually I disconnected the 13 pin to 7 pin adaptor I'd needed to tow the van with and hey presto, everything worked.

So finally, Sunday morning, here I am, van working, heating on, cup of tea in hand, God is in his Heaven and everything is right with the World.  Now watch some Tw*t spoil it.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


We, by we I mean the family, (more in a moment), need to give up living in the conventional brick and mortars way, and take to the open road!

A bold statement, but their is a lot of thinking behind this.  Best to start at the beginning.

The family unit currently consists of myself, formerly a long-term career soldier now retired after 35 years.  My partner, Mr's SA, a former Nurse, Care-Home Manager and Cafe proprietor, (Flower Shop Owner, Sandwich Round Lady, the list is endless..).  Charlie, my 12 year old Step-Son.  George, Tricia's 22 year old son, who decided to come back home and live with us, with whom I have a rather strained relationship, but I'm working on him leaving home again..soon! The dogs, Bridie a 4 year old Labrador and Lulu a 5 year old Patterdale/Border Cross Terrier, 8 chickens and Mr's SA's Mum who suffers from Dementia.

Over a number of years, particularly when the children were young, we camped; a lot!  We worked ourselves up to a veritable Sheik's paradise in the way of tents, complete with internal carpets, lamps etc.  The children were never allowed into the tent with shoes on, and Mr's SA was constantly brushing the floor to keep it "shipshape".  Plans were halted however for the next big project I worked on, two large tents forming an 'L' shape, one for sleeping in, one for living in.  The whole thing loaded into a trailer, with generators etc to make the whole thing self-sufficient.  This plan only ever remained an aspiration on paper, and thankfully never saw the light of day.

4 years ago, for no particular reason than we could, I hired a four berth caravan from Tilshead Caravans, Salisbury and after a very short lesson in how to deploy the thing headed to the North of England for our first Caravanning Holiday.  We've always loved the coast around Bamburgh and Northumberland and had chosen Springhill Caravan Park, near Seahouses as our first, and as it would turn out, only destination.  The Caravan site was perfect for us; a short walk to the beach for the dogs, clean and family friendly without being too over the top.  I wasn't perturbed by towing, having towed often in my army career, (I also enjoyed travelling the highway at a sedate 50mph - 60mph)  Our biggest fear, truth be told, was leaving the Caravan unattended at Motorway Services, having seen a Police Programme where a family did exactly that, only to return to the car-park to find the Caravan gone.

Caravanning was a revelation - driving onto the site, "into action drills" over in seconds and the kettle on in short-order.  How could that compare to deploying tents etc, a task often completed on my own and taking quite literally hours - I made a vow, no more Camping; Caravanning was the only way ahead.  Sadly, that first trip was slightly short-lived; Mr's SA was rushed by blue-light to Cramlington Hospital, having fallen ill on the third night, however she did recover to make the journey home.  Returning the Caravan a couple of days later we were almost seduced into purchasing our own, a Swift Conqueror 645 with a fixed island bed and all mod-cons.  We bumped into this caravan a number of times and almost succumbed, but eventually wiser heads prevailed and we shelved the plan. However we have been hooked ever since, and my slightly earlier than planned exit from the Forces, meant the opportunity was there to buy our own.

After much shopping around, last Saturday we paid a visit to the North-East Caravan Centre, and after wandering around their second-hand stock, (we decided early on not to buy new), found tucked in one corner nothing less than the same Swift Conqueror we'd looked at some 3 or 4 years before. I'll swear it is exactly the same, down to the chassis number and it must be 'fate', but I've been told not to be so stupid. Anyway, paid for in full, it is currently being valeted and will be collected by me in the next couple of days.

Now the discussion begins; can we really ditch everything to do with bricks and mortar living and take to the open road? 'yes' from me, wife is suddenly hesitating. I've pointed her in the direction and started to follow "Our Life in A Caravan" by another Blogger with a very similiar mindset to myself, I think.