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Longleat 2019

Category: Caravanning
12 Jun 2020
Written by Andy Hits: 3610

Our summer holiday in 2019 was to Longleat.  However, we started with a trip to Coventry for weekend.

We stayed at Gate Farm CL. It is right under the flight path to Birmingham Airport.  Great for plane spotters, including 18 month old ones!  I should add that the noise doesn't seem to disruptive, and doesn't carry on late into the night or too early in the morning

It wasn't the greatest of journeys.  Traffic bad in places along the way.  Some of this was due to roadworks for major improvements, however there was also "normal" Friday afternoon rush hour, not helped also by a partial shed load of rubbish too. But once we arrived and got on site I think I spent more time talking to our neighbours for the weekend rather than fully directing the reversing onto the pitch.  However, practice and rear view cameras ensured that it was an uneventful process.

Once pitched up and the dogs made comfortable, we popped out for our dinner with my brother an his family.

Saturday was a damp day, but we made ourselves useful, providing Uncle and Auntie childminding services while appointments were kept.  The dogs got taken for a good walk, and came back very damp, but happy

On Sunday afternoon everyone came over to our camp site to see our caravan, and to join us for a dog walk.  My youngest nephew was confused / curious as to how we steered our "camping van" as he couldn't see a steering wheel!  He didn't immediately get that we tow it with our car, rather than sit in it to drive places.

There was a nice long length of solid track with a public footpath along it.  With the ground still being muddy, it made for an easy walk for the various little legs with us.

On the Monday it was time to move down to Longleat

Read more: Longleat 2019

Easter 2019

Category: Caravanning
19 Apr 2020
Written by Andy Hits: 3420

Carrying on the recap of last years tours. we were able to get away for a few days at Easter last year. With the current pandemic, this years Easter camping was held on our driveway!

This was another return to Slate Hall Farm CL, which we have stayed at a number of times now.

We had a day to ourselves, and met up with family at Hylands Estate park.  It was somewhere approximately in the middle for all of us, saving overly long drives for all, and with warm spring sunshine we were able to exercise the dogs, and enjoy the gardens and the play area with the family.

Over the rest of the weekend we spent time with friends from all over the country that were visiting for the weekend for an event at a near by church.  The weather was really warm, so our little one had her bath time in the awning rather than in the caravan! Certainly less damage could be done when things got splashy!

It really did feel like summer, and we were glad to enjoy walks across the fields.  However, we were mindful of the wildlife, as there are plenty of deer in the area, so did not wish to have the dogs chasing them!

 I took one of my favourite caravan pictures while there.  My daughter was looking out of the window at the next door 'van, and the dogs decided to join her.  I took a photo from inside, but before the moment passed, popped outside and opened the window wide to get a better angle:

On the Sunday we had lunch at a friends house in a nearby village.  A post lunch walk beside the village river was enjoyed by all, ensuring the dogs got some exercise and stimulation.

Out of Gas

Category: Caravanning
12 Mar 2020
Written by Andy Hits: 2195

2019 saw us with the caravan out on the road twice already before Easter. First in February to a CL near Cambridge.  This was a fairly standard one, with a reasonable sized area of hard standing, but unfortunately the grass being too soft to pitch up on.  But with electric hookups, this was a fairly normal experience for us.

Feeling a bit braver in March, we booked ourselves into a CL not far from Orford and Aldeburgh in Suffolk.  This was as close as we could easily get to the wild camping we had enjoyed in New Zealand with a certified fully self contained motorhome a couple of years back.  The site had fresh water, chemical toilet disposal, plenty of space, and no electric hookups.  Both our 6Kg gas bottles were stowed in the front locker, although one did start of being over half used.  Once we arrived, the fridge was switched over from 12v to battery, along with the heating.  We had a gloriously warm day, and soon had the caravan set up, and could take the dogs for a nice walk.

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SafeFill Experience

Category: Caravanning
19 Mar 2020
Written by Andy Hits: 3657

Our experiences with a refillable gas bottle

SafeFill 10kg lpg

We've had it nearly a year now, and I've got to say, we have had no problems.  Morrisons are a filling partner for SafeFill, and have a station with lpg which I can pass on my way to and from work.  What is also nice is that they have AdBlue on pump there too, primarily for HGVs, but our tow car has adblue, and seems to use a lot more when towing. I actually had someone on the checkout tell me to put the carton down, and take the car to the pump, as it was cheaper!
So the routine before going away is to collect the gas bottle, and take the tow car into work, and get it full to the brim of diesel, adblue and fill the gas bottle too.

One of my previous cars was an LPG hybrid, so filling it is nothing too new to me. 
It has an internal valve, which if no pigtail is connected, prevents gas flowing out, and as ever, when disconnecting the filler nozzle, there is a small amount of discharge

The bottle is nominal capacity of 10kg, with a tare of 5.57, meaning when full, it weighs about 15kg, and provides 10kg of gas.  For a traditional metal cylinder. for a similar total weight, you get only 6kg of gas, so almost twice as much!  This has been useful when the 240v internal fuse blew on our caravan heater while away for a couple of weeks, and also over the new year.  The dealer wasn't local to our campsite, and mobile caravan repairers were hesitant, as it was technically a warranty job.  So we just switched heating to gas, and got the fuse replaced at the next opportunity 

10kg of lpg equates to about 19L as measured by the pump.  With it being about 60p/l, fully filling it is only about £10, yet for 6kg of propane, it was more like £25, so I'm sure its cost effective

Size wise, the largest size they do, 10kg just about fits in the front gas locker of current caravan, which is made by Swift:

If there is a place near by that offers lpg, and you do use gas often, or camp throughout the year, then I would recommend them to you: SafeFill
I also hasten to add, that unlike some of the adaptors available on your favourite market place or auction site, these are safe and legal to refill, as they have a shut off valve that works like in a water cistern, that when by volume the LPG is about 80%, it prevents it from filling, and the lpg pump will shut off

Caravanning in February

Category: Caravanning
06 Jun 2019
Written by Andy Hits: 2438

It might take a while, but with the good heating and insulation in out caravan we seem to be working towards using the caravan at least once in every month of the year. 
Summer months, May, June, July, August aren't too difficult to cover, and I think we have already in the first couple of years of owning the caravan used it for at least one night on each of these months. 
Moving into late summer and autumn hasn't been too difficult either, having had our big family tour round Scotland last year in late September and early October covered that off. 
But getting out about in the propper winter months, November to February is where the challenge could lie.  

If we do get serious about it, all season tyres, or something with more of a mud / snow rating than the tyres supplied with the car may be a worthwhile investment, but I've looked at the caravan, and it appears to be on all season tyres as standard.  However, unlike 2018, the winter of 2019 was mild, and barely a dusting of snow in East Anglia.  So no special precautions were required for the little break we had in February.

Our destination was a CL site near Cambridge called Birds Farm.  In spite of the unseasonably warm weather, the ground was still too soft for the site to allow anything other than the hard standing to be used, which made pitching up a little difficult, and being closer than sometimes to the other visitors.  But with some creative manoeuvring using the motor mover, we were able to pull into the space at the very end of the hard standing, and fit our awning under the tree next to us.  We had our little porch awning, rather than our bigger inflatable one, but with our little one having her own wheels that need somewhere to go, we've found the space invaluable.  We ended up arriving after dark, but it didn't take too long to get the awning up once the rest of setup was done.

The next morning was chilly and crisp, but bright as I took the dogs out first thing, though as the sun rose, a little mist came up too.  About 10 minutes down the road from the camp site is the National Trust Wimpole Hall estate.  It has a large area of parkland, with some areas without live stock on that they are happy for dog walkers to exercise dogs off lead (if well trained), so we took the opportunity to try and wear the dogs out a little.  Seeing the Folly through the light mist as we walked through the park certainly added something to the experience.

Next on the agenda was a visit to Duxford Imperial War Museum.  It has a huge array of aircraft, from sections of the fabric wing of the Wright Flyer, through to Concorde and even a SR-71 Blackbird!  With the sunshine as warm and bright as it was, we sat down outside to enjoy our lunch.  We then headed inside to the main Airspace hanger with a huge variety of aircraft and exhibits.  Seeing Concorde again was quite something.  I recall visiting there what must be over 25 years before, when I was at primary school.  It was also impressive standing underneath the open bomb bay of the Lancaster Bomber.  A sobering thought that the contents of that space were dedicated to destruction.

After a good amount of time there, and with a little one needing a rest, we took the short drive back to the campsite, once again, it was only about 10 minutes to get back to the camp site.  With the weather still warm and sunny, we enjoyed a good few minutes rest sat out in the awning.

The next morning, after a nice chat with the site owner, we took the dogs for a walk from the camp site, around the fields, following the maps that the Countryside Restoration Trust Lark Rise Farm provides.  This included a section walking near the Cambridge Radio Telescope with all of its large dishes.

We then returned to Duxford to continue where we left off the previous day, this time visiting the American Air Museum hanger.  Walking through the door we were greeted by the cockpit of a B52 bomber.  An amazingly large aircraft, dwalving all the other aircraft in there.  Other interesting aircraft included SR-71 Blackbird and A10 Warthog

From there, we returned to Wimpole Estate, and visited the Farm.  It was touch and go whether we had a sleepy toddler once we got from the car park to the horses, but the smile on her face when she saw the shire horses getting washed and brushed down was worth the rush from the car park.  Having seen the animals, we then took a more leisurely walk to the walled gardens, before enjoying the sunset over the parkland, and heading back to get some tea.

Sunday morning came, and it was time to pack up and return home.  The awning was packed away, water drained down, items stowed in the caravan and the open road found once more.  A nice little break, and although some mornings there was a frost on the ground, no problems with water from the external barrel.  I've seen insulated covers that might be useful if it is properly cold.  But the other suggestion is to keep a full kettle, bring the pump pipe in, and if needed boil the kettle and add to water container if needed to melt it.

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