Tag Archives: ducato campervan awning

First trip a resounding success, more planned!

We christened our ‘van last weekend with two-night stay at Tattershall Lakes Country Park.

The weather forecast was good, and LOOK what arrived 2 days before we left!

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I know, right?

That pesky 5th sofa cushion finally turned up and made our seating area complete!

Please excuse the dried doggie pawprints on the black here!
Please excuse the dried doggie pawprints on the black here!
The clean version - just you can't quite see the cushion we'd been missing from this angle.
The clean version – just you can’t quite see the cushion we’d been missing from this angle.

After carting numerous crates of “stuff” out to fill the ‘van on Friday morning, Jake got home from work after lunch (because, yes, he came too!) and we arrived at Tattershall around 2pm.

Less than 30 minutes later, and we were all set up, awning, chairs ‘n’ all.

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I’m not sure why this photo looks so dark but I think perhaps it’s actually because the sky is rather bright!

We had a great weekend. We BBQ-ed twice (we’d planned to) and ate out at the resort restaurant on the Saturday evening. Nice food, if pricey, but that’s to be expected on a site like that, I think.

Sunday morning BBQ breakfast
Sunday morning BBQ breakfast at about 7.30/8am!

We weathered some rain on Friday night without incident. The awning held up fine, nothing broke down and we even trialled out the air con unit on the Saturday night because it was so hot overnight (even with the ‘van door half open)

Zac behaved impeccably the entire weekend. He wasn’t stressed out about being tethered (sometimes between van and awning, sometimes between awning and outdoors depending on what we were doing) and he was good as gold around the site on his lead.

"Is that my breakfast, Daddy?" (It was)
“Is that my breakfast, Daddy?”
(It was)

We had no idea how he’d be either on site or amongst the crowds (and, BOY, it was busy!) but we needn’t have worried. He was the best behaved a little doggie can be. Bless him.

The one thing that was noted as a problem was how uncomfortable the rear bunk mattresses are. They’re cheap sprung jobbies from eBay and they really are sloppy and horrid. Eliot found it so bad that he actually slept the second night on the floor of the van with the dog (who slept under the extended section of the sofa bed)

So this week I ordered some 6ft x 2ft sheets of medium density foam to replace the awful mattresses. The top one needs cutting down a few inches and perhaps across the corners to accommodate the angles at the outer side (the bottom bunk didn’t need these trimming, we just squashed it in, so it might not need it up top either) and then both will be wrapped in stockinette to protect the foam before the mattress protectors are put back on.

The 6ft length is a few inches too long for the top bunk
The 6ft length is a few inches too long for the top bunk
Cheap 5m of stockinette, often sold for cleaning cloths, is perfect for wrapping and protecting the foam of the two mattresses
Cheap 5m of stockinette, often sold for cleaning cloths, is perfect for wrapping and protecting the foam of the two mattresses
New mattress all covered and ready to roll.
New mattress all covered and ready to roll.

Eliot was so much happier with this so that’s good. More space for the dog on the floor for the next trip then, hopefully!

Speaking of next trips, Jake isn’t coming with us now so  there’s just 3 of us and the dog for the Lincoln Steam and Vintage Rally next weekend (an experiment in non-EHU trip which will test the 12v system and the solar charge more thoroughly) and then we’re away, again as 3 plus dog, for the bank holiday weekend at Wolverley Club Site. No idea what it’ll be like but reviews are good and it’s supposed to be great for dogs too, so we’ll see.

Jake, meanwhile, will be having wild parties (AKA sleeping in and playing Xbox all day).

Lucky him!

Or, he’ll be tinkering with his new toy.

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He’s not old enough to drive it on the road yet (not under December when he turns 17) but it needs work anyway right now (it was bought damaged to repair) and maybe that’ll give him something to do.

Or maybe it’ll just be sleep and the Xbox. (more likely!)

A few other things we noted while on our first trip:

  1. we need more rock pegs. We had just enough for the awning but not enough that we could have used the windbreak. Halfords had some decent ones reduced in price, of which we’d picked up a couple of packs before we went away, so we’ll see if they have any left.
  2. We ran out of water after 36 hours! An entire 66 litre tank! Probably because we weren’t policing it at all and we refilled water bottles and bowls and washed up from it regularly. We are going to purchase a large (10-15 litre) water bottle with pourer so we can decant from that for the dog’s bowl and, if required, use it to refill the underslung tank if we run out again.
  3. We need a splashguard of some sort between the sink and the beds. The water pressure is good and it did tend to splash up a little when turned up high. We’ve made a cover for the hob from the waterproof shower wall 3mm ply (to give more work space) which doubles as the splashguard for now.
  4. We have a slightly creaky sofa area. One specific half of one sofa. Typically the part my head and shoulders is on when I’m rolling from side to side at night so it’s annoying. For EVERYONE! Will find out what’s causing that and fix it.
  5. The seat velcro wasn’t quite positioned correctly and made pulling the bed out a bit tricky (although not impossible) so that needs relocating. Also, the smaller, infill cushion could do with some on it as it moved a bit when I got in and out of bed!
  6. More dog towels required! We took 2 large bath sheets for Zac which was just about OK for the tim we were there and the weather we had (scorchio!) but if it’d stayed wet overnight and still been so in the morning on Saturday, we’d have found ourselves lacking. Might need to pack 4 for bad weather!

I think that’s it!

Nothing major and certainly nothing that can’t be sorted out.

Counting down to the next one now!

 

 

 

 

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The longer you leave posting, the harder it is to get motivated to do it again!

It’s been far too long and every weekend that passes means so much more gets done on the van that the job of updating the blog becomes more and more of a mammoth task.

Enough excuses now though, I must update before I decide I hate blogging forever more!

It’s been a busy 3 weeks or so.

We’ve had a fair bit of weekend time spent on the van and some evenings while the weather has been reasonable.

And we’ve got LOTS done!

The bathroom/wet room is FINISHED!

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(trim wasn't added in this shot, and plughole not cut out, but floor was laid)
(trim wasn’t added in this shot, and plughole not fitted, but floor was laid)

The bathroom also now has a door! (and, actually, an internal shower curtain) Always nice to have a door on your bathroom, eh?

The back of the van, beneath the beds, has been lined, painted along the sill, and a drawer put in for access in the van

Storage for camping chairs, awning and other larger items
Storage for camping chairs, awning and other larger items
Drawer, above pull-out step storage, accessible from inside van.
Drawer, above pull-out step storage, accessible from inside van.

We fitted cab divider curtains for privacy and a bit more light cut-out during the evenings and nighttime.

Smooooooth
Smooooooth

We sorted out the table, fitting a siting hole in the floor and giving the table top and pole somewhere to store in the wardrobe.

In use...
In use…
...and in storage.
…and in storage.

And wait…what’s that? Are those SEAT CUSHIONS, you ask??

Why yes, yes they are!

Well, 4 out of 5 (long story, probably can’t explain without getting annoyed about it again!), but we have the important ones we need to make the main sofa and the bed!

Sofa!
Sofa!
Bed!!
Bed!!

Cool, huh?

Curtains have now been shortened too. More sewing for me. Not something I’m too fond of doing, but needs must.

Nearly half of the length needed cutting off!
Nearly half of the length needed cutting off!
But they do look much better (apart from I HATE my homemade tiebacks!)
But they do look much better (apart from I HATE my homemade tie-backs!)

Let me take a van-break for a moment to change the subject briefly (thank GOODness, you all say!)

Eliot turned 13 last week so we had a meal out to celebrate. El is currently obsessed (OBSESSED!!) with Japan and he’d asked if we could eat at the Japanese Steakhouse at Damon’s in Lincoln so, knowing nothing about what to expect, we braved it.

Well, it was fantastic! It was as much a show as a meal and, although expensive, we’d go again for a special occasion. Great food and great staff (just make sure you allow £25 a head!)

Yikes!

Anyway, back to the van!

With the arrival of the main seat cushions (again, let’s not mention that missing one, eh?), we were able to get the additional seatbelt in the rear sorted. It’s not actually illegal to carry rear passengers in a camper without seatbelts (CRAZY!), but we wanted to fit one for our (well, Eliot’s!) security and peace of mind. We’re not adding it to the logbook or anything so it doesn’t need inspecting, but we wanted, for ourselves, to make sure it was properly fitted so some careful planning was required.

Firstly, we worked out where we wanted to fit it and to what!

That meant the removal of the front bench seat for some welding!

It was proper disgusting down there! (For the record, it isn't any more!)
It was proper disgusting down there! (For the record, it isn’t any more!)
Weldy, weldy, weldy (not during this photo, obviously!)
Weldy, weldy, weldy (not during this photo, obviously!)
One of the 3 welded seatbelt points. The 4th point uses the existing mount between the 2 passenger seats in the front.
One of the 3 welded seatbelt points. The 4th point uses the existing mount between the 2 passenger seats in the front.
Seatbelt position in the rear. We'll also be adding an anchor point to which to secure the dog.
Seatbelt position in the rear. We’ll also be adding an anchor point to which to secure the dog.

We really are pretty much onto finishing touches now, and Nik hadn’t been happy with the decals on the van for a while. They were put on months ago, just to make it not look like a “white van” and they’re just started to look a bit dull.

The original van stickering, even before toilet hatch went in!
The original van stickering, even before toilet hatch went in!
And then when the toilet hatch did go in, the design vanished!
And then when the toilet hatch did go in, the design vanished!

So we fired up the sticker plotted and printed off miles (well, ok, maybe not miles exactly) of red pinstripe and some silver and black extra pieces, and Nik diligently applied to the entire design.

The toilet door now has the design on it and the addition of a pinstripe makes it look so much better
The toilet door now has the design on it and the addition of a pinstripe makes it look so much better
Side 2 BEFORE...
Side 2 BEFORE…
... and side 2 AFTER
… and side 2 AFTER

And we are so, so close to finishing that look!!!

even my kitchen cupboards are beginning to get stocked up.
even my kitchen cupboards are beginning to get stocked up.

My shopping list now consists of things like “tea towel holders” and “washing up liquid”. If that doesn’t say “we’re nearly done”, I don’t know what does!

Our last major decision and purchase has been an awning.

Oh lordy, what a minefield that has been.

Obviously, we considered the Fiamma/Truma wind-out awnings but they’re extortionately expensive and don’t really provide what we need from an awning without investing in sides and a front to make a room.

Really, we wanted some extra living space so we decided (while wandering around the showroom at Brownhills in Newark on a 3m drive-away awning. It was 3m x 3m so we figured plenty big enough for our van.

Got the C channel/awning rail fitted to the van and test fitted it, only to find that, while the tent part of the awning might be 3m, the “tunnel” part that fits to the van was only not much over 2m and didn’t cover the sliding door. This meant it was impossible to open the door without snagging it on the awning and, inevitably in time, causing damage.

Brownhills customer service, it has to be noted, was EXCELLENT and they took the awning back for full refund (even though we’d got rid of the main awning box – dur!) but they couldn’t recommend an awning that would work for us.

We ruled out any drive-aways (which we didn’t need anyway) because they pretty much all have a too-narrow tunnel fixing for a sliding door (unless the awning itself was eye-wateringly expensive – like £800+!!), and started looking at a porch-like awnings. After emailing Outdoor Revolution themselves and asking them, they confirmed that their 3m wide canopy awnings would be 3m wide at the van also so I began hunting for one in our price range.

It came down to the Tech Canopy 300

Outdoor Revolution Tech Canopy 300
Outdoor Revolution Tech Canopy 300

or the Techlite Pro XL, which we decided on due to being able to enclose it if need be (ie it the Great British weather decides to rain, we can keep the van open and the awning closed, rather than shutting ourselves in the van which is, let’s face it, “cosy”!

The awning arrived today and we LOVE LOVE LOVE it!

It only just covers the sliding door, but cover it it does and it’s perfectly workable, a MUCH better quality awning (in our opinion) than the previous, drive-away one we had tried, and I can’t wait to be able to use it when we go away.

Awning up with temporary groundsheet until ours arrives
Awning up with temporary groundsheet until ours arrives

I have to say that, having been in communication quite considerably with Brownhills, who deal in motorhomes, including vans, that clearly there’s a huge gap in the market for this type of awning that will fit on a sliding door. Most awnings (except the huge/expensive ones) won’t, and this one (and presumably the canopy also as it has the same dimensions) DOES and it doesn’t break the bank (ours even less so because it had nearly 40% off for having been tried on a van previously!)

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It’s not fully pegged out here, but you can see that it fully covers the sliding door, offering protection against the elements. Good news for anyone who has a LWB, high roof Fiat Ducato, Citroen Relay or Peugeot Boxer!!

Gosh, I think we may actually be caught up on van shenanigans. Phewy!

In other news, Jake is working hard at the minute trying to save up enough wages for a 125cc motorcycle (he fancies a YZF R125) that he can use for college and work when he turns 17 in December. He’s so super-excited about having a proper bike. These next 5 months really won’t pass nearly quick enough for him, I’m sure.

Zac turned 2 a week or so ago. TWO! It’s hard to imagine life without him, for sure. He brings joy to us every hour of every day (even at 6.50am when I got up this morning!)

Please do excuse that carpet! It's the office floor and horribly neglected (it was a playroom when our tenants were in and has suffered for it!)
Please do excuse that carpet! It’s the office floor and horribly neglected (it was a playroom when our tenants were in and has suffered for it!)

I think that pretty much covers everything though. Next post might actually be a FINISHED van!

That’d be a thing, eh?