Tag Archives: campervan bathroom

Busy, busy, busy. Work,, school and play!

Summer, huh?It was summer, right? Because right now it’s easy to forget we actually had one. Stupid autumnal weather and its precipitation!

But anyway, we did. I know we did because I have blue sky photos and memories of van trips away to prove it.

14390761_10153749222691126_8832411640229056150_n

We’ve been away twice, in fact, since I last blogged.

Firstly, we did the Lincolnshire Steam and Vintage Rally which was a great few days away and our first trip without electric, and we managed just fine. In fact, if anything we are much heavier users of our fresh water than we are mains hook up electric. We managed easily on our 12v system (even on a less-than-sunny weekend where our solar wasn’t getting as much as it could) but we had to refill our water tank by Saturday evening. How we’re using 66 litres of fresh water, I’ve no idea, but for our subsequent trip away, we took bottled for tea/boiling (which was so much nicer than tap/site water) and used a large bottle of site water for the dog. We managed better over a longer period then, so perhaps we have it sussed now.

The Steam Rally was good. Typically British weather (and particularly windy) but everything worked and held up and we got pitched (in the Caravan Club area) alongside friends which definitely gave the weekend something extra.

Sunset along the rows of caravans at the Steam Rally - August 2016
Sunset along the rows of caravans at the Steam Rally – August 2016

Only a week or so after the steam rally, we had a longer, 4-day break at Kidderminster. Jake, again, decided to stay home (being 16, he’d rather not “camp”!) so it was just the 3 of us and the dog. Weather was rain, sun, rain, sun (same old, same old!) but we had a great few days.

The first day was particularly warm and sunny and we made the 4 mile walk into Kidderminster along the tow path of the canal.

14035004_10153690500811126_7492660266730959036_n

We spent a good few hours in the town, with the dog who was absolutely no trouble whatsoever as we took turns to go into shops and he was good as gold while we ate lunch.

It was a good trip away, although we did find one van issue. Well, not a van issue but an issue we had at the site in particular: slope!

There’d been no mention of all sloping pitches in the booking details (and I’d already ruled out a different site because it DID mention it!) and we had real problems levelling. The fridge told us we were nowhere near level when it melted all our ice creams because it wasn’t working, and it took a good 45 minutes with 2 site staff and a lot of scaffold planks to get us somewhere near to level on day 2!

14141696_10153691136576126_5878793348532559685_n

We know now though: pack levelling planks as the ramps we had (visible above) were definitely NOT up to the job!

Since coming back from Kidderminster, the van went on hold for a while as we sorted Jake out for starting college. We did a few trial bus runs to check timing and walking routes (which, through Lincoln at the moment, are both a nightmare as the major roadworks of COURSE were scheduled to start right as the schools/colleges start back!)

All went fine though and, on the whole, his start at college has gone well. He’s even been nominated Class Representative. As long as he doesn’t have to actually do anything, I’m sure he’ll be fine!

Oh, and speaking of college, we had exam results, of course. Jake needed 2 C grade passes  (in Maths and English) for college and he exceeded these by getting a B in his English. Apparently though, college then made EVERYONE sit both a maths and English assessment anyway in case people had given false grades!

say-wha-logo

Beats me why they did that. Jake was more concerned that he’d only got a C in his English one though (although he did better than his GCSE result in his Maths!) but he’s fine. He’ll still be one of the brightest ones in the class, I have no doubt.

He’s eagerly awaiting being 17 in December so he can start using his 125cc motorcycle for college instead of the bus. He’s still working at Pyramid on the days he isn’t at college so he still has some income even during the school term which is currently funding a motorcycle jacket and then trousers and, after that, fuel and running costs to get him to and from college and work.

They grow up too fast!

We are tentatively back to school with Eliot too, currently doing a bit of a maths recap with a view to slowly starting to look at GCSE programs. Hopefully, he’ll also take at least Maths and English GCSE/IGCSE to keep his college options open, but he has no clue really what he wants to do yet. He’s only 13, he’s got ages to decide anyway. Meantime he can learn life things and continue his passion for all things Japanese. We are learning some of the language and El regularly practises his sushi-making.

Eliot making sushi. The hat is just a teenager thing!
Eliot making sushi. The hat is just a teenager thing!

And obviously, he gets to learn geography as we travel in our van!

We’ve modded the van a little bit since our last trip actually. The kitchen cupboard was a pain, with the left door opening into the aisle and making it impossible really to reach over or around it to take anything out from inside. So, I requested a bi-fold option.

14333221_10153749222696126_2135455891056148810_n
It now hinges in the middle…
...and opens well out of the way...
…and opens well out of the way…
...for super duper access!
…for super duper access!

It’s SOOOO much better and I can’t wait to trial it this weekend when we’re away at the Motorhome Show (child-free AND dog-free!!)

We also added a much-needed bathroom cabinet to the wetroom

Valuable storage in the bathroom
Valuable storage in the bathroom

And, although I don’t have a photo – shocking, I know – Nik fitted an external switch for the new water heater so we don’t need to reach under the seat to switch on the mains/240v supply for it. It’d have been in the original design except the original heater was gas only so we never planned to have a 240v supply needing a switch.

We’ve got another short break planned in mid October too. We’re taking the dog to the beach for his first “sand and sea” experience. In the two years we’ve had him, we’ve not taken him to the coast at all and now we can do easily, so we’ve booked 3 nights away. We contemplated going actually during half term but a) Eliot said he’d prefer to go when kids are at school and b) £60!

3 nights mid October was £30
3 nights two weeks later, during half term, £90!

We can spend that extra money on stuff to do, so it was an easy decision really. It’ll be fun.

Apart from that, nothing much else planned. I’d like to fit in another trip away this year, but I think we’ll wait and see how the van fares in the cooler weather in October first (although, if it’s anything like previous years, it’ll be nicer and milder than now!)

We’ll do a few winter trips anyway because that’s why we made the van: to use it all year round. It’s just hunting down those good sites that are walking distance to other places, rather than needing a car to get anywhere off-site, especially out of season.

We’d really love to do a longer trip, further away. Maybe a week or so. But that would mean partially closing the business for that period (and ensuring that the 16yo got himself to college from home alone) so it’s unlikely to happen.

We joked about closing down for November and driving down to Valencia for the final race of the MotoGP season. That WOULD be awesome, but it’s not too likely to happen.  It’s quiet season, admittedly, but still a scary idea!

Maybe next year…

 

It’s all coming together nicely

Yes, you do see right. This is the second post in a week!

Now you’ve got over the shock…

We have a new water heater. Yay!

240v and gas for quicker heating times on dual fuel
240v and gas for quicker heating times on dual fuel

And with a new water heater, comes a new flue/exhaust.

See how nice, clean and white it looks now!
See how nice, clean and white it looks now! So much nicer than the secondhand one.

The swap-over was fairly simple. Once the old flue and heater were off (removing the sealing silicon was probably the trickiest bit!), the new heater fitted in place without much trouble. We just needed to move the supporting platform back slightly as the new insulation jacket was a slightly different shape, but it’s all in and working hunky dory!

Yay!

The "utilities"!
The “utilities”!

One thing we did have a minor problem with was the new control panel. You can’t use the Carver Cascade control panel with the new design Henry water heater so we had to fit the new Henry controls. That meant routing a new cable through the van (behind wall panels etc!) because the plugs are all different! (Apparently, you COULD use the old cable, removing the plugs off it and using the wires individually, but we had no intention of attempting that and do not recommend it.)

The trickiest part of routing the new cable was getting the old one to feed through the narrow feed hole in the metal chassis part of the van. The duct itself is quite spacious but the access hole is small and difficult to get to and, as we were using the old cable to pull through the new, the feed was tight. Very tight, but we managed it.

Also, we couldn’t quite accommodate the new control panel properly where the old one had been on the control fascia. Now, we COULD have re-done the whole fascia… but decided just to mount it sideways instead.

12472505_10153617198626126_6754725531684040878_n

I mean, really, who cares anyway?!

(Note to self/husband: must make sure additional screws are put into light switches and new, un-mucky, labels are made up!)

Much of what we’ve been doing on the van has been finishing touches now. Labelling, storing, kitting out and preparing for our first trip away over the summer.

The entrance cupboard is stocked with "first needs" essentials, such as dog tether, step, hook-up cables etc
The entrance cupboard is stocked with “first needs” essentials, such as dog tether, step, hook-up cables etc
A basic first aid kit and fire extinguisher have been fitted within easy reach of both indoors and outdoors (no easy task finding the ideal spot, in fact!)
A basic first aid kit and fire extinguisher have been fitted within easy reach of both indoors and outdoors (no easy task finding the ideal spot, in fact!)
Storage boxes are gradually being stocked and labelled, because, you know...boys and finding stuff!
Storage boxes are gradually being stocked and labelled, because, you know…boys and finding stuff!
The kitchen cupboard is crated out to a degree to prevent too much movement in transit, and for ease pf getting stuff in and out.
The kitchen cupboard is crated out to a degree to prevent too much movement in transit, and for ease of getting stuff in and out (apologies for poor iPhone flash photo)
We have a switched charging station (switched so it isn't lit up like Blackpool all night!) for phones and suchlike.
We have a switched charging station (switched so it isn’t lit up like Blackpool Illuminations all night!) for phones and 12v items like our air conditioning unit.
Curtain tie-backs on the rear windows mean that the curtains don't get trapped in the rear doors when closing. It's a real problem, people!
Curtain tie-backs on the rear windows mean that the curtains don’t get trapped in the rear doors when closing. It’s a real problem, people!
Shower curtain fitted into bathroom/wetroom to keep bathroom door clean and dry.
Shower curtain fitted into bathroom/wetroom to keep bathroom door clean and dry.
Bathroom mirror fitted; acrylic for safety.
Bathroom mirror fitted; acrylic for safety.

Let’s just talk a bit about this bathroom mirror!

I hunted for ages for a decent mirror to fit in the bathroom. I didn’t want a glass one, just in case we had a problem with it falling and breaking, so I wanted an acrylic one, but finding a wall-mount acrylic mirror that we could fully fix to the wall (as opposed to just hanging) took some research and eBay searching.

The first one I found was no good. It had a plastic frame that we struggled to fit to the wall, and as we couldn’t really use a wooden frame in a wetroom, I eventually plumped for a plain acrylic sheet, paid a little extra for rounded corners and pre-drilled holes with screws and mirror caps.

The only problem is, the wall of the van isn’t entirely flat. This means that the mirror has a slight curve in it.

Think Hall of Mirrors.

Fortunately, the curve is inwards so it gives a rather flattering “skinnify” effect rather than a “fattify” effect, so I’m good with that.

Maybe I’ll fit one in the house too!

It’s all trimming and stocking up of the van now really. I’ve started adding in food and supplies for our trip away soon, and the next job is to drain down the water and waste water tanks so they’ve been flushed out. The fresh water tank particularly needs a flush through as the water it is currently running has been sat in the tank a while. We’ll drain it down and then part-fill it and drain it again (thank goodness we’re not on a water meter!)

Being nearly done in the van means that we have done stuff other than van lately too.

Shocking, eh?!

Eliot and I paid a visit to the Japanese Gardens at North Clifton on Tuesday and spent a few hours wandering about and taking (many) photos.

El is quite obsessed with Japan so he’d been nagging to go here since I let slip of its existence. The weather was good on Tuesday so we went. We had a great morning and a lovely lunch of Japanese Rice Salad, freshly cooked to order by Buddha Maitreya.

13686547_10153616701296126_8896756592887463679_n

13754645_10153614093991126_4097367425776275090_n

Along with the outdoor gardens, which were beautiful, there is also what is thought to be the world’s largest indoor crystal garden.

13769526_10153614872506126_6273386491743180096_n

This was only half of it, but photos absolutely do NOT do this place justice. It was breathtaking, and both Eliot and I “wow-ed” when we walked in.

Eliot loved the whole place, and it’s probably only a matter of time before he asks to go again. At £11 though (£7 adults, £4 children) it isn’t cheap and you need to ensure you’re going to “get” it before going, I think. I was a bit worried that it’d be anticlimactic for Eliot, but I was happy to be proved wrong and so didn’t mind paying the extra £6 a head for the rice salad (which was lovely also!)

Next time though, the £2 fresh scones and a pot of tea, I think. For the budget’s sake!

Right, I’d better get back to work now! Nik and Jake are off doing a job dismantling a spray bay in town so I’m womanning the fort today.

I’d better stop blogging procrastinating and get some work done!

But before I go, I’ll just leave this here: a little something Nik made to go in place of the Fiat badges on the van.

13707537_10153617197846126_412455700336748938_n

Get it?

Yeh, so it’s pretty much work, van, sleep, work, van, sleep, repeat!

It’s sooooo close now that even I can see it (and, unlike Nik, I’ve been in denial about the proximity of completion for months!)It’s starts to feel real when the carpet goes down.
That’s right: carpet!But let’s backtrack a bit.

Last weekend was spent mostly trying to construct a bathroom. We had side walls but no front (hallway) wall so that needed building and installing, as well as the waterproof shower board which needed fixing up.

13501772_10153541606836126_7660855721878628514_n

Plumbing was debated quite a lot and it was decided that our corner sink, small as it was,  was too big for our little wet room so we bit the bullet and ordered a tip-up sink unit. We’d contemplated it earlier in the project but they don’t come cheap.

In a campervan, however, NO additional space comes cheap!

We also then had to re-think how and where to fit the new sink and the taps, which were originally fitted into the worktop with the corner sink.

13495184_10153546397356126_3163124343835212353_n

So a box was made in which to locate the taps outside of the fold-up sink so it could be used both to fill the sink or, with the sink folded away, to shower.

As it stands, the bathroom now only really needs a shower tray building and then fully sealing.

That’ll be fun!

13510834_10153541607666126_878626614339565970_n

The front wall was added and silver boarded to match the rest of the van interior (silver for interior fittings/furniture, textured cream fleck for walls)

13509030_10153541608766126_673459469045229990_n 13532984_10153546397261126_1129733356097736505_n

Nik also built, from scratch, a very impressive unit to make up the last piece of additional furniture in the van. We had always planned to put storage here but didn’t make it or plan it at all until we’d been using the van entrance with the L-shaped seat/bed units in for a while. It helped because we then decided not to encroach on the entrance area at all and angle off the corner to open up the hallway area a bit.

He is clever my man!

There’s been a lot of trimming done this week too.

13516712_10153546397516126_6974376327970832740_n 13512231_10153546397436126_4474782158983990323_n

The sink and hob both got their seals ordered and fitted. They’d both come (second hand) with their original trims but I couldn’t clean them up satisfactorily. The originals are cream but I could only get black as replacements. Fortunately, black works for us!

A start was made on the section above the main sliding door too. It’s a tricky area to cover and there’s been much discussion over felt vs board or a combination of the two. Nik decided he’d prefer board (he’s the one making it so it’s his decision!) and it’s still a work in progress (many templates later!)

TV bracket for our 12V television.
TV bracket for our 12V television.
The start of the section above the sliding door
The start of the section above the sliding door

We’ve also been 3D printing bits and pieces. We have a few doors in the van which don’t have space to accommodate handles so we (aka Nik) improvised and printed some finger hole handles which glue in to a drilled hole and have caps on the inside.

One of the doors which doesn't have space for a handle
One of the doors which doesn’t have space for a handle
3D printed handle in place
3D printed handle in place

There are a couple more places where we’re using these handles too. In the storage space under the beds, we made a pull-out step storage so the boys can climb up to the bunks.

The box snugly under the bed and still space for a drawer above it
The box snugly under the bed and still space for a drawer above it

This is the point at which we realised we really needed to fit carpet!

This box slides in and out, and we couldn’t begin to put in the drawer without having definite heights which would be dictated by the carpet. So, we headed into town and picked up an offcut!

£20. Bargain!

To avoid messing up, a full floor template was made first.
To avoid messing up, a full floor template was made first.
Then the template was drawn on to the reverse of the carpet
Then the template was drawn on to the reverse of the carpet
Ta-da! Carpet!
Ta-da! Carpet!

13567207_10153553023026126_4381168312837598891_n

Carpet was also added to the top of the box step…

13529089_10153553022406126_863933587085932330_n

…which opens to reveal oodles of (probably) kitchen storage for larger items (cereals and suchlike)

So yeah. Apart from work and the van (and we most certainly will NOT talk about THAT referendum!), we’ve been kept pretty busy.

Even more so this Monday when not only did we have to take the car to the garage to fix a water leak (it was booked in for Wednesday but the problem had got significantly worse over the weekend) and then our main work laptop died. Fortunately, that’s under warranty still but it’s still a week without it (and using a backup laptop which is far from ideal) in the meantime.

The car however. That will be costly.

This year’s been a bit rubbish really.

But hey, there’s always the van…

And I did find 5p on the floor today so there’s that!

Quick trip away, new bike, no more exams and lots on the van!

Cor, busy, eh?

Since I last posted Jake has finished his GCSE exams. He thinks he did OK, and he seemed happy enough after each one, so fingers crossed he’ll have done what he needs to get the grades college are asking for. Time will tell, roll on August 25th!

Meantime, he’s hoping to get some extra hours in at work so he can start saving for his 125cc motorbike when he turns 17 in December.  He’ll be able to use a 125 to get to Lincoln at back (for college) and he much prefers this idea to the bus (personally, I’d rather he used the bus!)

Speaking of bikes, we’ve upgraded Jake’s! His original bike was great but a bit on the slow side to be riding on Lea Road (which is a 40 mph) so we upped it to a slightly nippier one which will allow him to ride WITH the traffic rather than holding it all up. It’s a nice looking thing now that Nik has done a custom sticker job on it!

13427917_10153529864406126_9123282616882581981_n

It’ll do him for work until he can up it to something suitable for his college run.
Nik, being Nik, managed to sell his old one within hours of listing it on eBay. Bonus!

I also had a quick weekend jolly to my sister’s last weekend. That was fun. She’s got herself a new job (after 6 months without one) so we had a bit of a celebration weekend. That and a belated birthday treat of afternoon tea in Folkingham which was lovely.

Yummy Yummy
Yummy Yummy (and yes, that’s my tea WITH milk!)

So, aside from afternoon teas, bikes and exams, about the only thing that’s been happening (aside from work being busy, but you really don’t want to read about that!) is, guess what? The van!

Nik got tons done while I was away last weekend. He made lots of lovely doors for overhead lockers and kitchen units; routing them with super curvy edges and knock-on trim.

Routing roundy corners
Routing roundy corners
Routing grooves for knock-on trim
Routing grooves for knock-on trim
Knocking in trim
Knocking in trim
Vinyl-covered door-y goodness
Vinyl-covered door-y goodness
The under-oven cupboard and the drawer above the fridge (as well as the fridge door itself) will all be covered/re-covered with silver. We're not liking the black vinyl here.
The under-oven cupboard and the drawer above the fridge (as well as the fridge door itself) will all be covered/re-covered with silver. We’re not liking the black vinyl here.

The fridge electrics were finished (12v and 240v) and the gas lines were fitted properly so we could, when we’re feeling brave enough, actually put some gas in the tank and try them all out.

Like I said, when we’re feeling brave enough!

Fridge connected to 12v, 240v and gas!
Fridge connected to 12v, 240v and gas!

There’s a slide out shelf, above the fridge, which can be removed (along with the drawer) for fridge maintenance.

Slidey outy shelfy thingie
Slidey outy shelfy thingie
Slidey outy drawer thingie
Slidey outy drawer thingie

While I was away (Nik gets a lot done when I’m not about because he has no one getting in his way. Apparently, at times it is like trying to “do plumbing with an orangutan”! His exact words which he is NOT allowed to forget he said!), Nik also sussed out fitting our kitchen taps which were proving to be a bit of a challenge because our worktop was deeper than the stem.

Oops. That's not gonna work!
Oops. That’s not gonna work!
Template time
Template time
More routing to make space underneath for the tightening nuts
More routing to make space underneath for the tightening nuts
Ta-da! Isn't he a clever sort?
Ta-da! Isn’t he a clever sort?

13435575_10153709936603526_1621095985584564556_n

Since coming back from my sister’s, we’ve not spent much time in the van until yesterday (Friday).

I did manage to paint the inside of the wardrobe walls though during the afternoons. We’ve just used a satin paint to take the wood edge off it and make it a bit lighter, brighter and more inviting for storage  – because, you know, storage needs to feel welcome!

First panel (the wardrobe/bathroom wall) was painted out of the van...
First panel (the wardrobe/bathroom wall) was painted out of the van…
... the second (wardrobe/bed) panel was done in the van. A much splatterier job!
… the second (wardrobe/bed) panel was done in the van. A much splatterier job!

While I was painting outside, Nik was tidying up electrics inside. It’s al much neater in the overhead locker “control panel” section now and, apart from the kitchen light which still has to be wired up to the switch, almost done and ready for trimming and fitting.

Additionally, he finished felt-lining the overhead lockers fully (I cut all the felts to size while Nik was in the van, and he glued it all in)

Felt-lined lockers and an almost-finished control panel
Felt-lined lockers and an almost-finished control panel

I also became re-acquainted with my sewing machine! We have 3 sets of curtains to hang and they all need modifying in some way or another.

Curtain cut in half and pinned ready for sewing
Curtain cut in half and pinned ready for sewing
Been a while since I've used this old girl
Been a while since I’ve used this old girl

Firstly, The ones for the rear doors. The 2 rear windows were going to use one pair of curtains: one curtain on each door, but we discovered that it wasn’t possible to open them fully to one side because a full curtain width took up too much space across the small window still. So, I halved each single curtain and hemmed the insides. The look pretty good now and will hopefully open better each side of the windows. We just have rails to make for the back doors first (we only have one “demo rail” at present)

Then, we figured out what sort of pole to use for the main living area window and test hung those. The length will be adjusted once the seating cushions are here because we’ll be better able to gauge how long we want them then.

Loving the colours though!
Loving the colours though!

Hanging a set on the sliding door is going to be more of a challenge and will probably involve 2 taut net curtain wires, one top and one bottom, to keep the curtain from flapping when the door is opened or closed.

Also, today, we’ve started on the dreaded bathroom! All walls have been built, including the passageway wall which we hadn’t previously constructed, at we’ve begun lining them with the waterproof shower/wet room wall finish. It’s a tricky process and everything will need silicon sealant around it to make it watertight enough to shower in, but it’s going OK so far.

The shower/wet room wall finish
The shower/wet room wall finish

Tomorrow will be a super-busy day, lining the rest of the walls as well as lining the hall/passageway side of the wardrobe and bathroom with the silver finish…and routing out door holes.

Full, person-size door holes.

That’ll be fun.

Any messy!

Yay!