Tag Archives: holiday

Summer starts…apparently

Well, we’re into the school summer holidays now, and we’re on countdown to the big “Back to School”. We have uniform and everything (purchase in Tesco when I noticed they’d got it in, because, if you leave it too late into the summer, places sell out of the big teenager sizes!)

El is quite looking forwards to it. I think he’s ready to be back in the hustle and bustle of his peers, and learning. He ended up needing to choose a 4th subject after all so, in addition to music, drama and construction, he’s now also doing catering (all subjects that he’s happy with. Music and drama are made for El, and he’s looking forwards to learning useful skills in the other two, even if he doesn’t pursue them further post-16.
Obviously this is in addition to maths, English and science so hopefully he makes the most of the 2 years in school and makes friend and learns something useful.
When El is back to school, the house is going to be so quiet during the day. It’ll be very strange having a full working day with no teenager appearing requesting food or drinks or just general attention.

Mind you, business has been very patchy lately. Overall, it’s still doing OK, but some  days lately have been soooooo quiet. It’s not just us. Our suppliers have been reporting the same, but, when it’s your full-time income, it’s scary when it’s quiet, because you never know for certain when (or, indeed, IF) it’ll pick up again.
We’ve had a ‘van trip too. We (re-)visited Tattershall Lakes last weekend and had a good few days away. I think it might be one of Eliot’s last trips actually. He’s old enough to leave for weekends with Jake (who stays home anyway) and they’re quite capable of looking after themselves. It does them good and it does us good too.
We have a few short trips planned over the summer (and I use the word “summer” loosely!) including the Lincoln Steam Rally and hopefully a few weekends away, weather permitting. We had a bank holiday break booked at the Haven site at Lakeland, but they kindly cancelled that when I missed paying my final balance by 2 days. I’d completely forgotten and was not aware that they don’t give any sort of reminder. Customer “service” on the phone was unhelpful. I’m sure they love the fact that they don’t send out (I mean, honestly, an automated reminder email wouldn’t take any time of effort. It’s 2017, Haven!!) a payment reminder and then get to keep everybody’s £25 deposits. It’s criminal really, but I now won’t book with them again. Anywhere.

It’s done us a favour in a way (albeit one that’s cost us £25!) as the August bank holiday is notorious for poor weather. Also, El didn’t really want to come AND it coincides with the British MotoGP weekend. So now we’ll play it by ear. If the forecast is good, we’ll late book somewhere for just the Friday and Saturday and come home Sunday to watch the GP and enjoy Monday off.
That’s the plan anyway.

We’ve been spending a bit of time this week researching DIY ‘van canopies. We decided it’d be nice to have a simple canopy for trips when we don’t need a full awning but need a little bit of weather protection when parked up with the sliding door open.
After some interweb searching about, I bought some 6mm beading and sewed it onto a decent quality waterproof tarp from Halfords.
A pack of guy ropes and adjusters (reduced to £3.99 in Mountain Warehouse, for 3 x 8m guy ropes, a pack of sliding adjusters, some dodgy pegs, and a terrible plastic peg hammer) later and a re-using of the rear pad poles from our main awning and we’ve got a usable canopy.

The sewing machine had a rare outing to fix the beading onto the awning

It didn’t turn out too bad

We have made a few little changes inside the van. A bit of storage modification (some smaller storage boxes to tidy an overhead locker) and we made the important decision to ditch our double sleeping bag.
Now, I LOVE the sleeping bag. It’s cosy warm in winter and you can unzip (it zips along both edges) the side and sling a leg out, if need be, in summer, but Nik hates it, so I sourced a 4ft x 6ft fitted sheet (which I’m hoping will fit our made up bed area. It should!) and we’ve bought a double bed set which we’ll use with the double duvet we already have vacuum-stored in the loft in the hope that it works for us. It should do. El had already moved on from using sleeping bag on his bunk to taking his own duvet each time so, as long as the bottom sheet fits and the double duvet isn’t too big (or too small – we’re used to a king size!) , then we should be set. Time will tell.

What else? What else? The boys are out at airsoft today, which is why I am able to blog. They’re out pretty much alternate weekends (leaving us the other alternate to go away in the van – MotoGP permitting!) and they all still love it. It’s good for them, and it’s GREAT for me! I can potter about, catch up on TV, blog, clean the oven. I have all the fun.

Eliot, having much more fun than oven-cleaning!

Think that’s us updated for now. Next one might be “Back to School” proper!


















Busy, busy, busy. Van stuff, work stuff, school stuff, MotoGP stuff

I don’t even know where to begin!

Firstly, the campervan blog has broken ALL my images (thanks, Facebook, for making your links non-permanent!) so I’ve taken it down for now. I have neither the time nor the inclination to re-do every broken image. Maybe someday, but not now.
I’ve also posted a notice on our Portugal blog to say I’ll no longer be posting there. It contains a few home education updates which are probably more relevant to here than there, but hey ho. Maybe I’ll merge the two someday. Or maybe I won’t!

So this blog will now contain campervan build updates, as well as life updates, school update and work updates.

Because, you know, we’re everything all in one place round here!

And boy, did we have a work update recently!

For the past 6 years or so, a third-party has handled the incoming goods and dispatch for our business. It worked particularly well while we were in Portugal (obviously, we couldn’t do it then!) and we’d continued to use it after moving back because it freed up considerable time for us to concentrate on other work issues.

However, time came that we felt it was time to reclaim this part of the business and it’s most definitely been “all change” since then. In the past 2 weeks, we’ve had to find space in our huge, but cluttered garage to store and handle the stock until we decide what to do next. We have the opportunity to take up a business unit at a very good price, but we’ve decided to find our feet first before committing to something like that.

Stock arriving back at the house for stock-checking and sorting.
Stock arriving back at the house for stock-checking and sorting.
Then it all had to be karted down the garden to the garage.
Then it all had to be carted down the garden to the garage.

I love how Zac makes an appearance in both of those shots.

He’s a nosey little so-n-so.

It took an entire weekend to ready the garage for this stuff! Units were moved, kitchen units were dismantled, work benches were dragged half-way across the garage and racking was assembled! It was a lonnnnggggg week!

This is about a third of the garage stock (and about a 10th of the garage space, but you wouldn't know it to look at it!)
This is about a third of the garage stock (and about a 10th of the garage space, but you wouldn’t know it to look at it!)

The garage, of course, is chock full of not only general garage stuff but also most of the interior of a campervan! The van is currently empty because our next project is to remove the floor panels and fit the water, waste and gas tanks under the van floor.

The van has had a bit of time spent on it lately though, which is nice. A few nice weather days have meant we could get the roof panels lined as well as the two rear doors.

Full covered roof panels
Full covered roof panels. Actually, that’s a terrible shot of the full covered roof panels!


There’s about 2 inches of insulation between the outer van roof and the ceiling panels.
Layers and layers of the stuff! Both double-foiled bubble insulation and a layer of 10mm dense insulation foam.
Layers and layers of the stuff! Both double-foiled bubble insulation and a layer of 10mm dense insulation foam.

It’s quite a thing, and you can tell it’s there. It’s noticeably warmer in the van than out. And hopefully, it’ll be the reverse in the summer.

We’ve also covered the two back doors in the stretchy felty-type stuff that you use for such things. Horrid stuff. A nightmare to cut, but looks good when done.

One covered back door. Both are done now though and it looks pretty good, I reckon!
One covered back door. Both are done now though and it looks pretty good, I reckon!

As well as the roof and the back doors, we’ve finished feeding all the electric cables. It’s amazing just how many wires you end up using for lights and switches and suchlike. There’s not much on the mains (hook-up) circuit but there certainly is on the 12 volt system!

Pretty. huh? Don't worry, it's all hidden in a seat box!
Pretty. huh? Don’t worry, it’s all hidden in a seat box!

Anyways, van aside, work is super-busy and school has been getting that way. Jake is gearing up to finish his courses ready for exams in a couple of months. He had his college assessment day which he passed with ease, and he has an “experience day” coming up in a couple of weeks. He’ll be fine though and he doesn’t seem too worried about it. He’s more looking forwards to some days working at Pyramid Plastics again over the Easter break!

Money in his pocket! Or hopefully mine. We have quite a hefty IOU going on!

He had another driving experience day (which he’d got for a Christmas present but March 21st was the earlier date he could book) up at Blyton. He was expecting to drive the Ferrari 458 but, on the day, the Nissan GTR was there. The GTR is Jake’s DREAM car, so all thoughts of anything else went out of the window. He loved it!

There's actually a photo where Nik has edited out the co-driver, but using that seems a bit wrong!
There’s actually a photo where Nik has edited out the co-driver, but using that seems a bit wrong!

School-wise, Eliot has reached a bit of a point where he’s really had enough of Maths Whizz so we’re giving it a bit of a break in favour of maths workbooks instead. We’ve also been reading Minecraft story books which he enjoys. It’s good practise for both his reading and comprehension, and he wants to write his own now.

As well as doing some art sessions, he also decided he wanted to learn Japanese! (Thanks to Attack on Titan anime for that one!) We’ve done a bit online and he’s spent a fair bit of time working from apps and practising the writing and pronunciation. It might not be a terribly useful thing to learn but the discipline is what counts so I’m running with it for now… although I can only ever remember how to say hello!

What else, what else?

I finished my beginners sign language course. It went well, I thought. I learned far more than I expected to and I enjoyed it a lot. I’m fairly certain I’ll enrol for the improvers course in June, once I’m sure I can make all the sessions. I’d hate to miss one!

Thanks to the good Good Friday weather, the garden even had a bit of TLC. As well as getting the lawn cut and strimmed (a long overdue task) and some soil transplanted from the veggie patch to try to level the grass out a bit (it’s horribly uneven), the veggie plot itself was dug over and the first crop of potatoes and peas has gone in.

Two types of peas and two of potatoes.
Two types of peas and two of potatoes.

Last year, we grew loads of different things alongside peas and potatoes. We had carrots (which should grow well but always fail, so we’ve given up), beetroot, lettuces, broccoli, runner beans and probably some other stuff I’ve forgotten.

Nothing really did well apart from the peas and potatoes and you can NEVER have too many of those, so that’s what we’re doing this year. We’re easy us!

Starter rows of potatoes and peas. We'll sow a second crop in a month or so.
Starter rows of potatoes and peas. We’ll sow a second crop in a month or so.

Nik and Eliot are looking forwards to their Portugal trip in 3 weeks or so. I’ll be left holding the business (not sure if that’s better than worse than the proverbial baby!) while Nik and Eliot galavant off to sunnier climes (no doubt) and across to Jerez for the MotoGP.

Ahhhh, MotoGP.

How we missed you so over the winter break!
It’s a long 4-5 months between seasons and the opening round at Qatar did NOT disappoint.
I’m excited already for round 2 in Argentina next weekend!

In fact it’s two-in-a-row with Texas the following weekend (and we’ll gloss over the following one again because that’s Jerez and I’ll be stuck at home watching it on the TV!)

Actually, I don’t really mind. I didn’t want to go back to Portugal so, while the GP would have been nice, I’m fine watching it while milling about my house.

It’s a good job I like my house really. I do spend almost 24/7 here!