So we’re Back to School!

Well, it’s a day we never thought would come, but we are now, officially, back to school! Who’d have thought?

It’s not been an easy start, but El is settling, gradually. He’s a sociable sort (although, being a teenager, he does forget that from time to time) and being surrounded by his peers, even in a school environment, is doing wonders for him already.

We’ve had some starting hiccups. First day anxiety, obviously, but beyond that, timetabling issues and general poor management, but we’re getting there.

It’ll be fine. I’m not going to dwell on it. It’ll all sort itself out.

We spent that last few weeks of August giving the van a bit of an external makeover.

The bumpers were a shocking state, rocking rather unfetching multiple shades of grey.
After trying several less orthodox ideas of refreshing the colour, we eventually decided that plain old black bumper spray paint was the way to go.

It’s done an AWESOME job, and it’s given the van a completely new lease of life.

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Before and after shots

Along with fixing the bumpers, Nik also decided to refresh the decals. He’d never been really happy with the original stickers on it (he always noticed the wavy lines; nobody else did), so we decided that, now the bumpers and trim could act as the “black strip”, we could swap out the existing vinyl black stripes for red.

The red took a while to grow on us, but now we LOVE it. It’s so much more vibrant, and it feels like we have a completely new van.

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We’ve had another trip away in the ‘van too.

Our broken August Bank Holiday plans meant that we were available for the AGM Summer Festival held by the Self Build Motor Caravanners Club (SBMCC)

We’ve been members of the SBMCC for over a year now (I wish we’d discovered them pre- and during our build!) and the member forums are a wealth of experience and information.

Every year, they hold an AGM meeting, combined with an organised long weekend of activities. As the bank holiday weekend drew close, and the weather forecast looked good (which, in itself, is shocking for a bank holiday!), we decided we’d make the trip to Stratford upon Avon (the event was held at the racecourse) for the festival, and spend the weekend getting to know fellow members and their builds.

It was THE best weekend! We had to come home on the Sunday (MotoGP!!), but we went Friday afternoon to Sunday lunchtime and had the most fantastic time. We met lots of new people, saw lots of cool van ideas, chatted, played bingo, ate, chatted some more, and generally had a great time.

The following photos are credit to Vanish9876 from the SBMCC forums.

We were incredibly lucky with the weather too, and so decided to spend Saturday afternoon walking the dog from the racecourse into Stratford town itself. I can honestly say I have never seen so many people! Everywhere was bustling with families with picnics and dogs and just generally out enjoying the sunshine.

And Stratford upon Avon itself is beautiful (in the sunshine anyway!)

It was a lovely, riverside walk all the way, and we stopped several times to chat to fellow dog owners and children who wanted to fuss the dog.

The whole weekend was a treat. The location, weather and people were just perfect.

AND we were able to trial our “new bed”! Well, not new bed per se, but our “out with the sleeping bag, in with the duvet” bed.

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It worked well. Definitely a keeper!

Since coming back, we’ve had a few minor repairs to make in the van too. Our kitchen tap was weeping slightly from one of the joints underneath.

This turned out out to be due to the jubilee clip squashing the fins and crimping the joint on the underside of the tap.

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The original also snapped from the tap when Nik tried to remove it. New, replacement joint on right.

The new joint has also been padded out a bit with plumbing tap to cushion it and hopefully avoid a repeat of the problem.

It was one occasion when we were really thankful for having built our own van to exactly the right spec and with all the access that was required should such a job ever need doing.

It was a “sink out” job, and this had been made possible by ensuring, when we built, that the sink COULD be removed by removing the cutlery draw to access the other sink fixings.

If it hadn’t been planned carefully, it might have been nearly impossible to do!

In addition to fixing the kitchen tap, we’ve also replaced the ugly, and now rather broken, cigarette lighter and USB socket that we have in the van.

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Original plug and charge point.

We have occasional use for a cigarette lighter plug when we use our air cooler, so we needed a replacement one, rather than just the USB plugs, which we use when we are living on our 12v system.

Even this job wasn’t a quick one. We bought a flush fit unit to replace it, so it was a panel off, drill down (and hope there was enough depth in the van wall) job, to fit the new one.

It certainly looks much better (and you can also see the previously-replaced mains plug too: double with 3 USB, for when we do have mains hook up.)

We are well set up for charging, that’s for sure.

Our next trip away is the Season Finale Motorhome Show at Lincolnshire Showground in a couple of weeks.

It’s a trip away with friends, which are always the best kind!

Can’t wait!!

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