Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Messing about...

Kitchen decorating is still going backwards - the extent of work done is chunking out the plaster to run the electric cable and throwing some plaster on (which still needs a finish coat on)

However I managed to find time to pick up a couple of chairs off ebay. That was a saga in itself...I drove to a small cottage in the middle of nowhere on the way home from Watford. Sat outside for 40 mins, calling them every name under the sun. Went home in stinking mood. Checked the email and I had managed to scrawl the number 10 very much like a number 6.... Very nice person (not a complete arse as I had ranted to myself) arranged to meet me again the following week (they had moved house by now, probably to avoid ranting strange women in their street) and i picked them up

Funny thing is I had these same stools about 20 years ago when i got married. I remember the rabbit ate the legs..


Couple of coats of paint and a cath kidston paint job and here they are finished. Whether I actually sit on them in my finished kitchen is yet to be seen, but at least they look pretty


No updates on the VW camper situation yet due to a distinct lack of finances. Hopefully Mr Lloyds TSB hasn't sussed my additional mobile bedroom plans and will still relinquish his hard earned bonus fund to me.

Someone posted about crochet bunting last week, so I thought I'll give that a go...First a trip to hobbycraft to buy a crochet hook as I haven't actually crocheted again for about 25 years. And that was a one off when i did. Haven't a clue if crochet hooks work like knitting needles with regards to size so I just guessed. Crochet always looks holey anyway

Found a rough pattern to make a bunting triangle and started. Except I didn't know what a 'DC' was. Off to youtube and 10 mins later I am an expert in 'DC'

So here's the first few pendants, it may be a pretty short bunting run as I haven't done any since. (Instructions for making tassels here)


and another 5...

(well no they're not I have only managed to do 5 but thought i would scam it looking like 10 by posting 2 pictures)




As they were going so slow (not as slow as the kitchen decorations obviously) I had a flash of inspiration this afternoon...painted bunting!!!

I had just ordered a tarp (yes another, will explain in a minute) and thought I could paint a border of bunting on it! perfect! So had a bit of a trial paint about half hour ago on some canvas (which i can make into yet another drawstring bag. Probably to stuff all the other spare drawstring bags in) and here is the finished sample! Quite pleased with it, so project tarp is on the cards next (when i pay for it on ebay)



And just out of curiousity I did a google on images for 'painted bunting' to see if anyone else had any ideas I could rob. Don't bother, it brings up about 1,440,000 pictures of this same bird


So... why the tarp?...

Well I have had a bit of a clearout on the camping list. Selling on my obelink tarp, wood stove, spare 3m bell and spare pop up meant I built up my tent kitty enough to order the Toerag...So it is on order as stocks are out until end of April (very annoying!!!!) And the tarp will hopefully make a decent porch at the front with a couple of clingons.

Nothing much else to report, no camping now for weeks (well 2..!) By that time I'm pretty sure the kitchen progress will be as stagnant as it is now..

Thursday, 23 February 2012

In search of VW T2 Campervans now...

I have always liked the old VW type campervans and it has got a bit obsessive lately. I went to see the nice Bank Manager (nice at the moment, absolute knob if it doesn't go through) and requested an advance on the mortgage for a 'Home Improvement' loan.

I didn't go into details what the 'home improvements' were, but am seriously thinking that a spare room on wheels made of metal and capable of driving off in it whenever I fancied, could only add value to the house....

Hopefully I can kill 2 birds with 1 stone as I would need to make some sort of drive/pull in at the front of the house for it anyway (thats the home bit)

So Sunday afternoon bright and early (12pm) drove up to Staffordshire to Dubfreeze just to look obviously (just as well i haven't got the money yet). Did have visions of women in cotton indian skirts and hair dyed in dreadlocks and rainbow colours, but everyone looked pretty normal (actually there were some right porkers there, but i don't think it's van related (other than hot dog vans))

Wandered round the carpark for a while first, as most displays were there. As it was 12pm, I think the majority had managed to just complete the 40 mile journey in less than 6 hours

So a few of the sites...

A romantic one of the beetle looking wistfully over the hills (was probably parked there so it could be bump started)


Now I didn't realise that the paint finish on these is actually a 'finish' as opposed to a work in progress....these are completed...



Was even pretty taken with these VW Karmenn Ghia's...



Some nice beetles inside



(and yes did think 'arghhh! picnic hamper in the engine?!')


This converted ambulance was lovely, and interior was perfect! (not all out for retro, but tidy)



Looking down over the hall at a lot of rusty doors...


Speaking of which, it seemed to be compulsory to buy doors...people everywhere had big smiles..and a door

another satisfied customer..


It took a bit of searching but I managed to find...the cushion stand! yay!


Some really nice makeovers..


Sooooo all in all a successful day and i was VERY restrained!! I bought a service guide for £3.95...just to see what actually would need to be done on a regular basis (apart from replacing most panels and the engine)

and one other little thing....err......

another cushion...


And IF the money comes through....and IF i decide to go searching for the elusive right one....

Now I'm not under any illusions that this is anything other than a foolhardy dumbass stupid money churning idea. I know there may be a few negatives (outlay, rusting body, petrol consumption, mechanics, interior conversion, storage, lack of knowledge) but I figure the advantages far outweigh these things (err....I want one cos they are nice)

I have no intention of ditching my tents though. The idea is to use the van as portable kitchen (dont like pitching and setting up this bit) and use the bells etc as a living/bedroom space

And thinking last night (obviously trying to convince self) also gives me the advantage that I secure the dogs somewhere comfortable while I am out

Not being an impulsive person (ARGH??!!) it may just be a pipe dream...

PS: The burgers were vile

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Nomad 37 Litre Cool Box

Just a quick camping related blog for a change...

Someone mentioned on the camping forum that the Nomad 37 Litre cool boxes were up for grabs at £49.99 on ebay, as opposed to the usual £195 (robbery). They are sold out now but the seller is expecting more stock evidently (not sure how they managed to acquire so many rejects)

They were sold with 'cosmetic flaws to the lids' but fully functioning

Not one to refuse a bargain, and as the camping fund was pretty healthy due to selling a few things (sob) I ordered one

Arrived this morning in a humungous box.


Moment of truth opened up to see grotesque disfigured lid....

err..nope looks fine...


Ha ha! Found a little plastic sticky out dimple. Disgusting quality!


Homer marvelling at the pint of milk test (shows amount of room)


In all it's glory


Homer requesting rights to the pint of milk if Mr Nomad has finished with it now?


Overall blummin great for the price paid, but can't say I would fork out nearly £200 for one

On a comparison to icey tek I would say the following:-

Icey tek seems more robust, is a much better solid shape (totally square). Prefer the inset handles on the iceytek, the metal handle of the Nomad takes up more room.
Also on the Nomad, the dimpled shaped sides of the box are also obtrusive. The rubber catch on the front isn't brilliant, just slides over a protruding lump.
No core plugs supplied in the bottom of the box for draining purposes

May do a frozen water bottle test with all of the boxes (have the 25 & 55l icey teks and now this 37l nomad) and see which performs the best

In summary for £50 absolute bargain, for £100 buy the iceytek. Wouldn't touch it for £200, bloody ridiculous price

I'm sure I should be collecting shoes and not ice boxes...

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Yay! Camping in the snow - mission accomplished!

Got back this afternoon after my tropical camp

Set off Thursday to Anita's Campsite at Banbury. Was a bit worried how busy it would be as other people had attempted to book for this weekend and had been told the site was full

A few pods


Full everywhere (?!)


There was no one there when I arrived so I found a pitch and started getting the tent up before the imminent snow that was forecast. There appeared to be 4 other caravans on the whole of the campsite and no vehicles or humans. Either I had entered the chain saw massacre, or there was no one stupid enough to want to camp on a Feb weekend where the forecast was 'severe weather warnings'

I cleverly pitched near the tap and in the empty top field so I had everything I needed around me (including dog run for them to poop to their hearts content in)

Struggled to find an empty pitch


The tent wasn't looking too inviting when i first pitched it - I did try and scrape up the remaining snow off the floor with a plastic step but it was futile so I gave up


Finally got everything pitched and went off to buy enough provisions to feed a small army in case I was stranded. First off I decided to fill the water bottles. Tried the tap next to me...frozen. And the next tap....frozen....and the next (guess?!) So the only one any good was in the main entrance to the site


Snuggled down and the snow started at 6pm. Went outside about 9pm to take a few pics of the lovely stuff


and was glad I did really. As after I took the shopping out of the car my dementia had kicked in and I had left the back door open when i took the shopping out


Back into my nice cosy tent (the Cabanon Latitude), fan heaters on full blast, dvd loaded, a few beers and settled for the night



Had to make a slight mod to the summer air vent. Somehow I figured it wasn't going to be that stifling hot that I would need a mesh outlet. So I stuffed my towel up there (and it stayed there for 3 days). Washing is highly overrated anyway


Up bright and early the next morning (about 10am), checked outside to see if tents were all ok


Bit saggy in places but pretty good

So undid the zip on the tent and let the kids out....





They were obviously very stressed, and concerned for my well being in these blizzard conditions...

Bundled them in the car and had a drive through Banbury. Obviously had to take a picture of Banbury Cross


The history of it is:-

The Banbury Cross, which is located on a roundabout in the middle of the town, was erected in 1859 to celebrate the wedding of Prince Frederick of Prussia to his bride, the original cross having been pulled down some 250 years earlier.

Pretty crap pressie really as it's just stuck in the middle of the road. Perhaps the original was more impressive. But if anyone does attempt to 'ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross'...watch the traffic

However, I was impressed by the local takeaway (so much so I stopped on double yellow lines to take the picture)


Asked Homer what he fancied doing next?


Nooo! we have just been!

Moving on I decided I would go nosy at Broughton Castle. I had done my homework on this and although it was closed, thought it would be worth a visit. Background on it is that is owned by the 'Fiennes' family, distantly related to Ralph & Joesph Fiennes. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth I decided to pursue Ralph Fiennes as he is a bit of alright - I think it's the character traits he has that I tend to like in men. They reflect in his acting parts, which include..

Voldemort
(ok not the most flattering...)


Hannibal
(yes yes a mass murderer but look at the body...)


err ok then, he was in the Duchess! (no no he wasn't the nicest in that, I'm sure he was sleeping with someone else in that...)

OK, he might not play the nicest of blokes but his brother was pretty yum in Shakespeare in Love...


So off to Broughton Castle I go, to see if I can bag a Fiennes...

I had to drive down a small snow covered lane to get to the castle (another idiotic idea), I found clunking the brakes and driving diagonally (not by choice) and missing the junction by an inch was pretty hair raising, but a nice test of snow driving

Now this would be a lovely picture of the castle with the surrounding moat and water. Which unfortunately due to me visiting in February, is a picture of a snowy castle with a snow field and a snowy moat


Waiting at a decent distance with binoculars for Ralph to arrive


And the dogs tear arsing round the grounds as usual


Surveying the road back from the castle for my second performance of 'Dancing on Ice inside a Berlingo'


So I took a casual slide back to the campsite

Much the same as last night, beers, a film, large amounts of food and chocolate

Next day I decided I wasn't doing much and asked Homer what he fancied doing...


He's not the most imaginative

But I had been told there was a local walkway running alongside the campsite

Onto the internet to check it out (very good reception surprisingly at the campsite) and found it was the famous 'D'Arcy Dalton Way' (no I have never heard of it either).
It sounded quite romantic, visions of some great Bronte novel had obviously contributed to the name, and it had connotations of unrelinquished love and ghosts rambling over the fields.
Reality was it was named after some old fart in the rambling assocation



First we had to pass the field with horses in, curious little creatures! Homer detested them, but strangely they seemed quite taken with him (probably thought it was some rare vietnamese pot bellied labrador)

My vile dog trying to scare the horses and failing



(The pods in the background are on the campsite)


Was a lovely day for scrunching along





Back to the tent and a well deserved siesta. Much the same as the previous nights, beer, dvd, finish my book on the kindle (enjoyed it 'Dead Simple'. A man is buried in a coffin as a stag night joke, the rest of the stags get killed in a car crash and he is left in the coffin. I like a bit of light reading)
Temperatures dropped a lot tonight, resulting in both my water bottles freezing. This meant a trek to the main loos to try and fill them again. However the tap here was also locked solid. After 10 minutes of trying to catch hot water coming out of the shower head (blummin soaked my coat) I found a washing up facility (bit late but I know its there now)

Went back and second task was to try and get the frozen olive oil out of the bottle. I managed to scrape enough out with a skewer to cook the sausages.

Decided to leave the frozen dishcloth and towel on the table, they had gone rock solid and were like little clingons

Anything else I was trying not to freeze I put in the iceytek (reverse logic from any other time of year)

Next morning was packing up day. Had a visit from some of my camping buddies. Tea and cake and the latest gossip then they were off rambling up some mountain

Packed up within 10 mins of heavens opening and rain coming down

Now stuck in house until March...although I could ask Homer what he fancies doing.....


Sorry mate, not tonight..

REVIEW: 'Camping under the Stars' 5m Bell Tent

Camping Under The Stars 12 months ago, Tommy approached me and asked if I would like to review one of his bell tents. No problem.. ...