Tag Archives: english springer spaniel

Eeek, how long? A very overdue update!

I wonder how many of my blog posts, over the last 8 years of blogging, have the same title or similar? Actually, I don’t think I’ll go count them.
It’s a poor reflection of how shocking I am at updating blogs, I suppose, so let’s gloss over that one!
It’s been so long since I blogged now that I can barely recall what has even happened over the past 3/4 months.
<heads over to Facebook to remind self of notable events>
<comes back realising life is relatively mundane, uneventful and dull really>
That’s unfair actually. We’ve done several trips away in the van since then.
We’ve been to the end-of-season Motorhome show, and went away in October to Mablethorpe to take Zac on his first trip to the beach.
(Note to self: pick a warmer month than October next time!)
The Motorhome show was a bit of a treat because we went both child- AND dog-free! Much as we love our dog (and our children, of course!), it was relaxing not to have to think about letting him out and walking him, especially as he sleeps pretty poorly in the van (much preferring, I think, the warmth of our bed/sleeping bag to the floor!)
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It was a nice to have a wander in and out of vans without having to leave one of us outside with the dog too. Having said that, we did miss him, of course.
The other trip we did (and it was the last time we were away in the van) was Mablethorpe for a long weekend.
Exotic? No.
Fun? Actually, yes! (but cold!)
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Not exactly a busy beach. There’s a dog (Zac!) over there on the right somewhere!
He loved having all that space to run around in and, although he was initially reluctant, he was soon bounding about in the shallow waters.
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The boys (Nik and Eliot; Jake stayed home being a teenager) had some fun too. There was a large arcade on site as well as some novice activities such as target shooting and archery.
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Being fairly experienced at Archery and shooting, they both only really partially enjoyed them due to the basic nature and inaccuracy of the equipment, but it was something to do.
Eliot also had a go at the climbing wall (although soon got bored, as he does!).
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In all honesty, I think everyone (well, the men) in this house has decided that the only real pastime any of them enjoys (other than sleep (teenagers) and Xbox (all of them)) is airsoft.
Oh lordy, the airsoft.
It’s something Nik tried out as a way of keeping fit and, unfortunately, took the boys with him on his first trip.
Now, my house looks like this most Saturdays…
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And the pay-off is that, on Sundays, my house is empty (just me an’ the dog) and my boys look like this…
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They’re all loving it, and they’ve found several different places to play now, each with different game formats and site layouts. Barton on Humber seems to be a favourite although Lincoln, being closer, is visited equally often.
Now they’ve got all the kit, it’s cheaper for them to go as they don’t need to hire guns and vests etc, but they’re still having to pace themselves a bit as it’s a dear do to go every week when there’s 3 of you.
Ragtag crew of airsoft!
“Hang on a minute, ” I hear you say. “There are 4 in that photo!”
Well spotted. Nik is the one taking the photo and alongside Jake (left) and Eliot (right) are 2 other friends who have also become addicted thanks to my lot. There are even more of them now too. I think the Gainsborough tally is now up to 7!
They’ll have their own club at this rate.
A christmas tree is supposed to have PRESENTS under it!!
A christmas tree is supposed to have PRESENTS under it!!
So anyway, apart from airsoft and a few van trips, what else has been going on?
Well, big news (although, for us, old new now) is that Jake decided he wasn’t coping with college. Under normal circumstances, I think he’d have excelled academically, but unfortunately, he had difficulties handling both the travel and the environment and, in an effort to avoid the problems we had in school, we decided it would be better for him to leave college for the time being. He’s only 16, and it’s something he can most definitely re-visit in the future if health allows.
College uniform all packed away for now
College uniform all packed away for now
Additionally, he was laid off at work due to the winter period being quiet, so he’s been helping us at home/work until he finds himself another job.
Fortunately, we’ve been fairly busy so he’s helpful occasionally!
Unfortunately, by the time he’d found out he was losing his job, we were too late to apply to any Christmas posts (we ask about a LOT, everything was filled already) so he’s been applying for any suitable jobs he can find. Him and a thousand other people.
So far, no luck. One warehouse job he applied for had had 700 other applications already, and that was just online applications!
What hope does a 17 year old have?
Ah yes, Jake turned 17!
Not only is that terrifying because he’s getting older (I, of course, am not!), but also it is expensive as we insured him on our car as well as upgrading his motorbike now that he can ride a 125cc.
And how he loves that bike!
Even in mid December (when his birthday is) he went out on it. And several times since, including Christmas Day!
My boy togged up for proper biking
My boy togged up for proper biking
The machine (a Yamaha YZF R125, if anyone is interested)
The machine (a Yamaha YZF R125, if anyone is interested)

It’s unfortunate that his birthday is in the winter really, because riding opportunities are few, but he goes when he can. I’m sure he’ll go more for leisure when it’s warmer and drier, but it gives him a form of transport if and when he needs it for work.

And, as he keeps reminding us, it’s MUCH cooler than a scooter!

So, we’re about updated I think.

We had a good (busy) Christmas and New Year. I’d (crazily) decided to host for my side of the family for Christmas dinner (something I usually actively avoid doing!) for once and we had the more extended side of my family (I don’t see them often as they don’t live in town) up for an afternoon between Christmas and New Year so I’ve done my hosting duties for the next decade, I reckon.

Actually, it wasn’t so bad.

But, no, I’m not doing it again this year.

Maybe…

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Before I go, a cheer-you-up piccie of our groomed prettyboy!

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!

 

 

 

 

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?

 

 

 

Kitchens, worktop, beds, bikes, birthdays and doggie grooming!

Busy week!Of course, the Bank Holiday weekend meant that the week was already destined to be busier than usual, and the week was packed with “stuff” apart from work!

I had (clearly without realising it was a post-bank-holiday Tuesday) booked Zac in to be groomed on Tuesday afternoon so it was super-hectic what with work and orders and then having to fit in two additional trips to town to drop off and fetch back Zac from the groomers.

It was the first time he’d ever been done (apart from the odd times we trim around his docked tail and feathery back end!) so we had no idea how he’d look, but we took recommendation and got booked in to Tybellas and we are thrilled with the result.

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He looks even teenie tinier now (he’s actually nearly 2!) but he’s completely adorable and we found lots of yummy spots under all those feathers and fluff.

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We did also manage to find a bit of time to celebrate my birthday this week. I feel I ought to mention that because it was a great day and I thoroughly enjoyed my free meal out at Damon’s in Lincoln (Steak, please!)

Apart from work, of course, the rest of the time has been spent on, you guessed it, van!

We’ve been super busy though. We sneaked an hour or so earlier in the week to have a wee play with overhead locker doors. The overhead lockers, as I’ve mentioned before, have been one of those things (along with the upcoming “bathroom build”) that have been a dread, and even once the lockers were up and looking good, we still have the doors to decide on.

I ordered a variety of hinges from Magnum Motorhomes and we headed down the back to work out what we could use where and what worked best.

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We settled on 2 mini 90 degree snap hinges and a strut to hold it open. It works rather well.

We also had no real clue about what to actually use AS doors. We’d like black conti board but nowhere sells it locally (and buying it online means extortionate postage because, well, it’s BIG!) so we decided we’d use white and cover it with black vinyl.

Before covering
Before covering
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After rough covering. Red pencil for effect as we’d having red handles.

Obviously, the edges will be trimmed off and we have a couple of types of knock on edging to experiment with to finish off the look. It’s still a work in progress, of course. There’s so much else to do!

We also fitted another silver end panel and experimented with the silver bead trim which will also go along the front bottom edge of the overheads.

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Worktop is neither fitted or trimmed in this pic, obviously.

The bead edging works quite well so it’ll be handy stuff.

Also, randomly, we now have one mattress for the bunks. They’re an odd size and have corners cut off where the van back corners are, so I wasn’t sure what size to get. The top bunk is 2ft x 5ft9 and the bottom is 2ft x 6ft. I ordered one 5’9 mattress to see if we could either squash it into the top bunk (despite the corners) or, if not, use it on the bottom and pad out the narrower ends.

As it was, it fitted perfectly into the 5’9 top so I’ve ordered a 2×6 for the bottom now.

Eliot approved
Eliot approved.

Today, we’ve been super-busy doing a ton of stuff to mark off the to-do list.

Around watching the MotoGP practises and qualifying, the kitchen unit was fitted with a shelf in the far end and all the water pipes we routed where the sink will be.

Then ALL the gas pipework was measured and routed behind the kitchen unit and up for the 3-way fridge, the cooker and the hob.

3 gas lines for appliances.
3 gas lines for appliances.
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One full gas rail! (they’re only loosely run, not fitted yet)

We also fitted the heat shield barrier, behind where the cooker sits, to protect the van and wiring in the cavities.

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After this was fitted, it became apparent that we really needed to look at the drawer, which sits above the fridge, and the kitchen worktop itself.  We’d been saving drawer runners from the lots of furniture we’ve dismantled over the past 6 months or so, but when it came to it, we still didn’t have a full usable set! Quite how that happened, I’ve no idea. We had loads, but not a full useful set!

Anyway, a trip to B&Q later and we decided we’d probably have to buy a drawer pack which has runners, sides, bottom and base, and trim or extend to fit our oddly-sized cavity (which we couldn’t buy until we’d come home and actually measured said oddly-sized hole!)

As it happened, in conversation with our neighbour, it turned out he has several of these drawer packs just in his shed, unused and unneeded, so we didn’t even have to buy them, and it came out really well (pic will follow after I’ve waffled about the worktop!)

So, worktop: nightmare!

As we have second-hand appliances and fittings (hob and sink/drainer) we have no templates to cut anything out so we had to measure everything quite meticulously to avoid making an expensive mistake.

The sink itself is just a large oblong so no real challenge beyond ensuring the inner batons that make up the unit’s frame don’t interfere with the fit of the drainer, but the hob presented a whole other challenge. In the end, for the hob, we made an estimated template and worked with a piece of scrap 3mm ply as a demo/practice sheet (so we could then use THAT piece as a template)

The initial cut was OK and after a few tweaks to it, we laid it on the worktop and pencilled out the cut shape we needed.

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Scary. SCARY! And an expensive mistake if it went wrong!

It didn’t go wrong though, and despite the, quite honestly, horrific jigsaw blades we had (bought new and supposedly “for the job”!), the holes were cut.

Can we have a sigh of relief, please?
Can we have a sigh of relief, please?
Can we have an even bigger sigh of relief, please?!
Can we have an even bigger sigh of relief, please?!

Awesome!!

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And with the drawer in (front to be added when doors are done), it’s even MORE awesome!

It’s a huge step in the right direction and quite a weight off my mind. There’s still so much to do.

Wardrobe, bathroom (*shudder*), cupboard doors aplenty and the seat boxes to trim (and measure for seating/bed cushions!) as well as curtain rails to make, curtains to sort, the list goes on and on and on.

Here’s to another busy day tomorrow… around the Moto3, Moto2 and MotoGP races!

Meanwhile, I’ll just leave this here and a poignant reminder to the hazards that motorbike racers deal with on a daily basis. Such a tragic loss of someone so young and with so much to live for.

Ride free, Luis.

Luis Salom Moto2

 

Maybe this blog should be called “when van is everything”?!

I’m kidding, obviously, because we’re not spending every hour on the van (chance would be a fine thing) but it sure feels like it’s the only thing I post photos of. That, in fact, is due to the kids not wanting their photos taken and the van doesn’t object.Eliot used to feature in most of the photos on my phone. Sadly, those days are long gone.

Fortunately, there's one who doesn't mind posing!
Fortunately, there’s one who doesn’t mind posing!

Anyway, apart from the usual work and school, there’s not much occurring, but I did want to post a quick van update before it became too long and I lost the will to do it.

We’ve kind of reached a stage where stuff is going in and staying in, and it’s all getting a bit real now.

The overhead lockers were dug out of their storage place (where they have literally been for over half a year; they were done and stored by the beginning of November!) and the silver finishing board was cut and glued on and then the openings routed out.

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We had to remove a row of screws from the roof panels because these were along the line to which the top baton of the lockers fixes. We had to make sure everything was secure and solid and then screw back to the walls and up to the roof (no mean feat!)

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The white paper is just holding the silver board to the wood while the glue dries

We’ve tried not to use too much in the way of tacks/nails because they’re a bit visible (although inevitable) but they’ve actually come out pretty good.

The locker partitions are done and the bed end is on!
The locker partitions are done and the bed end is on!

The router is terrifying! These locker holes were done on the work bench but the windows have to be done in situ!

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Window cavities were panelled out before the wall board finish is added

It was a complicated process because we then had to add a temporary further layer of board and sound roundy corners to make sure that the router followed a nice line just inside the window line (so we can run an edging strip around it)

Wallboard glued and lightly tacked to the wall
Wallboard glued and lightly tacked to the wall
Routering it out
Routing it out
Looks good!
Looks good!

We also bought the kitchen worktop this week. Previous converters have laminated a thick piece of ply but we decided that a piece of 28mm worktop would do the job. It’s only a 6ft run and once the hob and sink and drainer and cut out, there’ll not be much weight left!

I initially looked at the B&Q 28mm stuff but our store didn’t stock it and we couldn’t be bothered to drive to the nearest store that did, so we looked in Howdens, borrowed a friends trade discount (thank god we did! They’re EXPENSIVE in there!) and found the perfect worktop to match our wallboard. It’s cut to length and currently being used as a workbench!

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There’s so much more to do though.

Nik keeps saying that we’re nearly there but it honestly feels a mile away! Still, baby steps, I guess.

We did get some garden work done over the last week too (by “we” I mean “Nik”, of course)

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He hoed over the veggie plot so the weeds done go all crazy wild!
He hoed over the veggie plot so the weeds don’t go all crazy wild!

The peas are all staked and netted now so they should be good to go, and the potatoes have doubled in size already since I took that photo!

The nice weather has been great for the garden but it’s a bit of a pain having to take away from “van time” to get the grass cut or the garden hoed!

The garden always looks good when the grass is cut though!
The garden always looks good when the grass is cut though!

Apart from that, nothing much is doing. Jake’s approaching his first exam so he’s concentrating on making sure he’s as maths-crammed as is humanly possible, but he’ll be fine. He’s a bright kid. He’s come on so much in the last 6 months that he’s almost a different person now.

He’s independently getting himself to and from work on his scooter and he’s come out of his shell a lot.
I’m excited to see how he grows and learns over the next few years.

I’ve switched Eliot’s school from focussing on Maths to concentrating  a bit more on English. He did some writing and currently we’re reading his book and every so often I’ll read out a paragraph and he’ll type it. We’re using it to develop (and test!) his spelling, and I’ve been surprised actually at just how reasonable his spelling is.
Usually, the only things I see him type are social media posts, so the like and it’s reassuring to know that he actually CAN spell!

It’s a big weight off my mind.

So yeh, all updated, I think… until the next time!

 

 

Summer lasted an entire weekend! Did you enjoy it?

We should at least be grateful it landed on a weekend though, eh? If it’d been, say, a Monday/Tuesday, we’d have been mightily peeved!
We did take the opportunity to get stuff done on the van though. If anything, it was TOO hot for such work, but we certainly weren’t going to let that stop us.
We’ve got several “main tasks” on the go at the moment. Firstly, the gas. We received our 4-way gas manifold so now we can get sorted with copper pipe and fittings and get the gas lines running through the van to the cooker, hob, water heater and fridge (yes, fridge. A 3-way fridge can run on 12v (leisure battery), 240v (hook up) or gas!)
4-way gas manifold
4-way gas manifold to isolate each gas line in the van
In the meantime, seeing as we didn’t have the manifold in time to make the gas our weekend project, we continued felt-lining, working on the bed end of the van. Unlike the main living area, kitchen area and bathroom, which all have finishing boards for the walls, the “bedroom” ends are going to be carpet/felt-lined for comfort. There are some big panels to cover, as well as around the already-covered back doors and, ultimately, the bed sides will be covered too.
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Doors, door surrounds and one side panel covered. The tops of the sides will also be done; the bottoms are in cupboards (why waste fabric?!)
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Of course, behind every panel, felted or not, lots of insulation is required. 
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The beds took a bit of getting back in! The bed ends will be rounded off before being felt-covered themselves (where visible) and the white area around the back doors is where the rubber door seal fits.
There’s quite a bit to cover with this grey stuff: the bed-side wardrobe wall, the main sliding door inner and the tops of the bed ends but hopefully we have enough carpet felt left!
We’ll probably be tackling the gas as the next project though. The fridge vents and flue are marked to cut out and we can get the kitchen built-in once the gas pipes are run.
That’s definitely a milestone!
Apart from that, we’ve not done much. Work is busy, business is picking up for the summer (which is both good for our business and good for Jake as it means there’s work for him at Pyramid too!)
Customers all want it yesterday though, of course. Despite our 28 day warnings!
Eliot has been practising his writing a bit. He learned how to use a dictionary in order to spell a word you don’t know, and he wrote a nice (and quite neat!) piece about Redstone (it’s a Minecraft thing!) which I was impressed with. He’s very talented with redstone and often takes hours and hours building contraptions that really require some thinking “outside the box”. It’s something I tend to encourage as it’s education without him realising it!
Shhhh, don’t tell him!
We’ve not renewed the Maths Whizz subscription.
I don’t think we have another 12 months use left in it, and Eliot does appear to have lost interest in the way it teaches. It was excellent while it lasted and I cannot imagine that I could have taught Eliot all that he has learned any other way. We’ve moved to workbooks but the improvement in 12 months is clear to see.
Yep, it’s really been 12 months since Eliot left school. In that time we’ve managed to rescue his “maths age” by 2 years. That’d never have happened in school. We also read quite regularly (Minecraft-related books – whatever piques his interest works for me) and that’s improving too. It can only help his spelling and vocabulary.
I had a discussion with him the other day about going back to school in September. He was sort of interested but didn’t want to and I think it would be a backwards step if he did (I didn’t tell him that, obviously!)
There’s so much that his peers will have been taught that he’d have missed that he’d quickly get behind again and unfortunately, once behind always behind in classes of 30+ kids in schools with targets to hit!
Anyway, we’re getting on OK. It’ll be all change again when Jake starts college in September so who knows where life will take us then!

Meet “The Hands” and a first post

Well, I posted an “About us” to the blog which pretty much covers the intro bit.

If you’ve read that, you’ll know that we’re a home-educating family of 4. Me (Tracey), Nik (the long-suffering hubby), Jake (16) and Eliot (12)…oh and not forgetting our slightly bonkers 18 month old Springer Spaniel, Zac.

Say “Hi”, Zac.

(As an aside, you would not BELIEVE the hassle it was to try to get that image in there! WordPress is seriously playing up today!)

So, that’s Zac. He makes us laugh on a very regular basis. He’s WAY more entertaining than telly!

So the boys have been coming on well. Jake is plodding on with his coursework. I’ve set him a kind of schedule so we can make sure he gets through his course materials in time to get some revision and mock exams in before the real ones (I might do a blog post about those sometime)

He recently did a week of work experience at a local business. One of our local suppliers (who just so happens to also be one of Nik’s ex-employers!) agreed to have him for a week and it was lovely to see him so social. He’d come home from work “buzzing” from being in a work environment and he was able to experience a whole range of business activities from inputting data (which he is good at but didn’t enjoy!) to visiting bike shops, packing stock and translating to and from Portuguese!

He seemed like a different person that week and it makes me excited for how he’ll be when he’s out and about living his own life.

Eliot is still an enigma. He swings from being enthusiastic and capable to stubborn and, well, more stubborn. Thank goodness nobody is having to teach him alongside 30 other kids, is all I can say! Every day I am reminded how much better he is here at home.

The improvement is visible to all of us

We have a new home ed group parkour session actually this week. Thursday afternoons in Lincoln, one of the fitness centres has a coach who will be starting home ed parkour. Eliot is super-excited about it. I only hope he isn’t disappointed! We shall see.

Work is busy. There’s always a quiet lull between October and December, but when January comes around business picks up again.

The campervan (which I haven’t mentioned previously) is on hold right now. We’ve been out once or twice since our last blog update** but weather is really putting it at the bottom of our to-do list. We’ve things to get finished in the house in the meantime. Things that don’t matter if it’s raining or freezing or dark!

I’ll try to keep updated fairly regularly as and when things crop up or occur to me.

Meantime, we’ll be plodding along. Learning, working and generally just being at home!

**Note, the campervan blog is currently offline after Facebook decided that its image links in my public album would not be permanent and broke ALL my images. I haven’t yet decided whether I can be bothered to fix them!