Hello to all you fellow motorhomers and welcome.
I hope you get as much fun reading this as I do writing it.

Friday, 23 November 2012

In Good Company

What a surprise! The Queen herself was looking at motorhomes in Bristol this week.(For pictures of this event go to http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/pictures/Queen-visits-Bailey-Caravans-factory-Ashton-Vale/pictures-17393336-detail/pictures.html ) So the motorhoming faternity are now in the very best company.

I wonder if she was tempted to buy one!!!
Probably not enough room for all her dogs!!!

Mind you with the weather we have been having just recently trips away in a motorhome are rather wet affairs.  Yet again I was planning on a few days away during the latter part of this week. I was all set until Wednesday. I had to leave the village to collect some provisions.
BIG problem
This was impossible.
ALL the roads out of the village were flooded.
I was reluctant to propel my way through the water.
Firstly I might flood the engine. Secondly I might get through ok but I might not be able to get back. Given the choice I would rather get stuck at home.

On reflection I would not like to drive my wonderful motorhome through deep water. What would happen if it seeped into the van? Not a happening that I wish to contemplate.

So my Wednesday proceedings had to be completed on Thursday which scuppered plans to go away. Listening to the news that evening I was convinced I had made the right decision. There were floods everywhere and heavy rain was predicted over the next couple of days.
My imagination went into over-drive. Going away could just be a VERY wet occurrence. But I could so easily get bogged down in the soft wet ground and in the worst case scenario my precious van could get swept away with the floods.

So with “discretion being the better part of valour” I decided to stay home. One day soon I will get away.

Another surprise this week was a hire reservation for my van next June. (I have my van registered for hire with a company.) .Last year I did not have a single booking. I had rather assumed that my van was no longer favour of the month. Seems not. At least now I will have some money to pay for the minor repairs that need doing.
I wrote an article about hiring out your precious motorhome. It was published in MMM summer 2012 edition. I will put it on my website www.motohomemeanderings.co.uk.

Dog Tired
As I did not go away I have spent the time sorting out my photographs. (As ever this takes longer that expected.) I came across this photograph which I thought was entertaining. Hope you like it.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

To Have or Not to Have

Having electric hook up is essential for me. I do not need it for a TV because when I am out and about in my motorhome watching television is not on the agenda. I prefer to read and listen to the radio or listening books. I did eventually get a TV for my daughter as she was studying film and media. I have found that setting up an aerial is not always successful and is very time consuming, however I have to admit that the TV is very useful for DVD’s.

Huge technological advances in recent years have only increased the need for electric hook up. All of the items, such as laptops, cameras, phones etc. that are deemed indispensable, require charging. Generally this can only be done via electric hook up. And of course now the ipod has replaced the radio and CD player. The podcasts that can be downloaded are especially useful but, a computer with internet as well as a means of charging the ipod, necessitates access to electricity.  So, nowadays, electric hook has become an essential requirement.

This can create a problem if wild camping or the campsite is in an especially rural area. So what to do?
Finally I decided to get a solar panel.

 It took me so long to take the plunge partly due to the cost but also because I found it VERY difficult to find out what system would suit MY requirements. Now don’t get me wrong there is a lot of information about solar panels but I did not understand the interaction between watts and volts. No matter how much I read about the subject I just did not feel able to make a viable decision. So I put it off.

Fortunately Mike Smart of “mobile leisure vehicle services who services my motorhome is very knowledgeable.  I asked his advice. Now I have a solar panel and inverter. It works brilliantly. Wherever I am I can take photos, view them on my laptop and listen to my ipod.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Ruby's TV Debut

Having completed a campsite review on my recently established website www.motorhomemeanderings.co.uk   I was debating which one to do next.  As I had extensive notes on “Bush Hill Campsite” I thought that would be a good choice. I was mulling over my impressions of the campsite and why I choose to stay there when In a flash of inspiration I realized that my reasons for going to Bush Hill Campsite would make an interesting blog entry.
My youngest daughter is interested in film. As a consequence we all became keen viewers of the TV show “Over the Rainbow”. This was where Andrew Lloyd Weber was looking for a singer to play Dorothy in his new show.   The format is, as you probably all know, each week the contestants would sing and one would be eliminated.  In the middle of one of the programmes it was announced they were also looking for a Toto, (the dog that accompanies Dorothy on her journey through Oz.) My daughter thought that our 2 dogs Ruby and Amber would be good candidates for this, so she looked up the information.
The auditions were being held at the Kennel Club HQ in Warwickshire. We decided to go. Whatever the outcome it would be a unique experience. As Bush Hill Campsite was only a few miles from the Kennel Club HQ we decided to use it as a base.
The morning of the auditions we set off to the Kennel Club HQ. Fortunately the car park was huge which was just as well as the queue zigzagged along the front of the building. Because we were not as early as I had planned (I’m afraid a perennial problem I have), I joined the end of the long queue together with my daughter and Ruby and Amber.  All the humans and dogs were friendly. Despite the enormous number of dogs in such close proximity in the queue, they were, without exception calm and well-behaved. There was no snarling, barking or fighting.  Occasionally there was a muted growl when one dog invaded the neighbouring space of another.
Slowly, slowly slowly the queue inched forward.  When we got to the entrance, after giving our details, we were given a number to stick on our clothes.
We then found ourselves in a huge warehouse type room with row upon row of chairs snaking across the whole area.  We settled ourselves and then had a good nose around.
Facing us were other potential “Toto’s” and their owners. Even though the dogs were just a couple of feet apart they sat quietly by their owners. In addition there was much “coming and going” as dogs were taken out to the “dog park” for exercise and relief  Throughout all this the dogs remained composed and biddable. Model animals.
There were dogs of all kinds, shapes and sizes: some big enough to ride on others so small they were carried in handbags.  Irrespective of the type or size, everywhere the owners were interacting with their dogs. Often it was just a steady gentle pet but in some instances the exchange was more active and intense.
Roaming amongst all these humans and animals were several TV crews looking for interesting stories to film. When they did find something different or unusual they took the subject to a quieter area of the room to interview. One such crew were taken with Ruby’s mathematical prowess. Following a demonstration the TV were so impressed they asked her to repeat it so they could film her. Then came the unpleasant part, my commentary.  Nevertheless  during one of the reports on the search for Toto it was broadcast on the BBC. It is about 1minute 10 seconds on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsJUs8ph1CE . I hope you enjoy the whole video and realize just what a wonderful time we had.
We had to wait a considerable time for our group to be summons to the audition. We filed into an adjacent warehouse where there was a large show ring. We were asked to walk around this. In the middle were the 3 judges looking at everyone for all of 5 seconds it seemed. Some of the participants were approached and asked supplementary questions (Ruby was one of these). Then after a VERY short time they selected just ONE dog to go forward to the next stage – not Ruby or Amber.
How they could decide which of the 25+ dogs to select in such a short time astounded me.  But then when I considered how many dogs they must have looked at over the 2 days they had an impossible task.
I am glad that neither of my 2 dogs made it through as this would have entailed more travelling and probably more waiting around. Nevertheless I am glad that we went to the auditions.  It was a fantastic experience. For me, I found it incredible that so many dogs in such a confined space both in the queue and in the building behaved so well for so long.
NB Bush Hill Farm Campsite is no longer operational. The owners sold the farm and the new owners decided to close the campsite.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Up and Down the A39

Not being especially familiar with North Somerset I looked at a map and decided that the shortest and easiest route to Stowford Farm Meadows campsite was along the A39 even though the satnav suggested a different way. 
So off we set.
Well how wrong I was. When we left the motorway and started along the A39 all went well. The further west we went, the road became more tortuous and the inclines steeper. The van struggled to get up the hills. The hills seemed to go on and on.  In fact there were several occasions when I seriously wondered if we WOULD get to the top.
Much of the time I was inching up in FIRST gear. I would try second gear only to feel the van coming perilously close to stalling.  This I did not want to do as I was convinced that once the van stopped a hill start would be impossible and somehow I would have to turn it around and go down the hill. Not something I wished to do.
The relief at reaching the top was quickly replaced by concern about the brakes. Going down was just as difficult with the road twisting and turning precipitously.
Would my brakes hold” was a silent mantra. I went downhill almost as slowly as going up. I stayed in second gear to use them to reduce the speed of the van.  Upon reaching the bottom I breathed a huge sign of relief hoping that that was the last of the hills.
Little did I know that this scenario was to continue until we were just a couple of miles from our destination:  AND:   Little did I know that the road was going to get WORSE‼‼
 Some of the bends were so steep and sharp that I only JUST made it round them and it was extremely fortunate that I did not meet anyone coming down. Just thinking about this now brings me out in a cold sweat.  At the time my breathing was exceedingly rapid. I held my breath as we crept round the bends. My breathing was short and sharp as I coaxed the van up. I took big gulps when we reached the top. This was repeated going down the other side. My heart was racing non stop (a quick way to a heart attack) and my palms sweaty. When was this going to stop!
The miles crawled by slowly oh so slowly.  After an interminable time and countless hills we only had a few miles to go.  The road ahead looked quite flat.  We could see the buildings of a village.  The campsite was not far from the village. Had we done it?
Then oh no up ahead I could see that the road started to climb. It was only a small incline and at the top was the entrance to the campsite.
Yes we had done it and NEVER NEVER NEVER again will I go along the A39 even in a car. I am just so thankful that I had a motorhome and I was not towing a caravan. Anyone towing a caravan would not have made it.
In fact I now remember there being signs warning caravans not to proceed. At the time I was so intent on getting up and down the hills the significance of these signs escaped me.
Needless to say I did not go home via the A39. I followed the route indicated by the satnav.  Sometimes the satnav is right.