Saturday, 22 September 2012

Mishaps, Scrapes, Stress & Smiles

Well I know I missed last weeks Fifty Shades, but in my defense it has been a mega busy week, full of mishaps, scrapes and stress with a few lovely bits thrown in.

The end of last week was spent trying to get Nigella ready for her first wedding, Dan & Rich worked very late on Friday night, the engine went in, the engine came out, the engine went you get the picture?  I'd like to say I was calm and collected but I was a bag of nerves, worn out and panicking as didn't want to let the wedding party down.  Saturday morning was an early start for them as they finished off the last few bits.  Dan drove back home in her at 9.15am just as we were due to set off for London.  I have never been so glad to see him.

After a thankfully uneventful trip along the M25 we pulled up at the collection address and were greeted by the loveliest family, who made us feel so welcome.  They loved both Nigella and Delia and we spent a lovely day driving them round the capital, first the wedding at Camden Town Hall

Then on to a restuarant in Chelsea,  Nigella got so much attention from passerby who kept stopping to take her photo...poor old Delia was feeling a little jealous I think!

It really was a great day, the sun shone, the bride looked gorgeous and the family were so nice and I got to spend the day with my husband, life felt good and made all the stress of the previous week worthwhile.

I went to collect Ramsey from his barn earlier in the week and was so busy watching the off side I didn't realise how close I was to the drivers side, duh!  I managed to wedge him against a metal reinforcement plate on the barn door....poor Ramsey.

He then went in for a new gear box as he had a 'six rib' one added but it kept popping out of first gear, which although didn't bother us, hirers don't like the kind of thing!  After some teething problems I'm happy to report his gearing is now back to stock, and working perfectly.

His bodywork will be sorted this week so he is ready to roll if fancy crusing in the coolest early bay on the hire circut shout Custard Campers now.

Sunday saw the male Custards set off to The Players Show at North Weald Airfield, they were in the T2Detectives air cooled hanger.

Our son loved this show and was particurlary impressed with the remote control cars showing off their drifting skills.....wasn't really for me but I think perhaps I'm the wrong sex and too old to enjoy looking at super shiny golfs and polos but each to their own!

Delia is currently touring the west country and seems to be behaving herself, a small issue with her points but this has swiftly been sorted and her hirer's were able to continue with their long holiday at the wheel.

Dan booked a day off work and we set off to the Volksworld's Birthday Bash at Brands Hatch on Thursday evening but I have so many photos of that I will blog them tomorrow.

Kerry x

Friday, 14 September 2012

Fifty Shades of Dub #5

A few days late, but I've not forgotten it's time to feature another of your lovely dubs.  Last week it was all about Freebird ii  and this week we have another very lovely latebay...

 Bessie, a Type 2, 2ltr, RHD, 1979 Viking Conversion

Owned by

Rowena, Tim, Matt & Ellie Selwood

Resting in the shade after a long drive to Genoa.  (Rowena, Matt, Tim & Ellie Selwood)
Tell me more about did she get her name?

She's now called Bessie as this is what the children started to call her when we first got her – she was formally called Florence!   

How long have you owned Bessie?

We bought Bessie in 2009 just at the start of the summer holidays.  We had been looking round for one for a while, as we had done years of camping in a tent and decided we would like to ‘upgrade’ to a van.  The trouble we had was, as soon as one came on the market, it would be sold before we had a chance to go and look at it.  Then this one came up for sale only ½ hour from where we lived so we went to see it straight away.  

So Bessie is a Viking, what appealed about this particular conversion?

I don’t think we had appreciated all the different types of conversions that you could get, but we are so glad we went for a Viking. Our children, Matt & Ellie were 11 and 13 when we bought it and as they’ve grown they can still sleep ‘up the top’!  Matt who is now 14, generally chooses to sleep out in the awning if it’s for more than one night, but can still fit in if necessary.

Have you done anything to Bessie since you've owned her?

We have not changed anything inside or out except for the curtains, since we got her.  She is in really good condition and all in all, I think we got a bargain!

Tell us about your first trip away in Bessie?

As we already had a holiday planned that year in Yorkshire and the Lake District, we decided to drive  the van instead of the car, although we would not be sleeping in it.  We only had one slight problem – a fuel pipe split and we were being followed by a trail of fuel around Ambleside by the time we realised why we had such a strong smell of petrol!

The friendly local garage had us on the move again within an hour and for only £10!  Can’t complain at that!! 

Phew, that sounds like you had a very lucky escape, as fuel leaks are a major cause of fires in the engine bay!!

What have used Bessie for since then?

My husband, Tim, was using the van for travelling to and from work, but we have since cut down on the small local journeys to avoid too much wear and tear!  We have a great local garage that has a VW expert that has always managed to repair it so far. 

So in 2010, we decided to embark on a ‘European Tour’, taking in 9 countries – France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland & Lichtenstein!  Tim planned the route and we booked the campsites ahead before we went.  There was a worrying moment when the clutch went the Friday before we were leaving on the Monday – but our lovely garage friends came to the rescue and had it fixed and ready to go.

We took several spare parts and a tool kit to cover all eventuality of breakdown,  packed up and off we went for almost 4 weeks.  It was brilliant fun.  We don’t have a satnav – Tim won’t have one of them – being a true Cub Scout Leader, we do it all by maps….which is fine when he is navigating, not quite so fine when I am.  The Prague Ring Road was definitely my undoing – we must have travelled out and back along every possible road (in torrential rain), which reduced me to tears at one point before we found the campsite – ironically called ‘Sunny Camp’!!!  The only 2 places we got lost were Poland and the Czech Republic – OK, so I may have been navigating both times – but it was their signposting honest!!  It was also to Tim’s utmost glee, that the only time we were stopped by the police was when I was driving.  They do a lot of ‘spot checks’ in Europe which can be quite comical with the language differences.  The German police wanted to see the ‘Papers of the Woman’!!!!

Tucked away in the campsite at Potsdam near Berlin.
We had one ‘mechanical failure’ after we had stopped at Calais on the way home.  When we came to start up again – nothing happened.  After several minutes of stunned silence, deep thought and rising panic, Tim was inspired to whack the starter motor with a hammer, which did the trick!
2011 saw us camping at Treveague Farm in Cornwall – a lovely campsite where you can walk to the beach (a good 20 minutes!) and in the evening they have a hide where you can watch a badger set.

This year, as we failed to get Olympic tickets, we decided to do another ‘European Tour’, this time going to Belgium, Germany, Luxemburg, Switzerland, Italy, and France.  We booked most of the campsites ahead this time, but not all of them as this allowed us to be more flexible.  We could probably have got into most of them by just turning up without a booking.  The exception was Florence, as there only seemed to be one campsite within walking distance of the city and we are definitely glad we had booked as it was really full.  We try and pick campsites that are either within walking distance of the places we are visiting, or have easy access to public transport links.  It just saves having to keep packing everything away & the hassle of trying to find a car park without a height restriction!
We spent the majority of the time in Italy, driving as far south as Rome.  We were meant to go to Sorrento too, but it was so hot (high 30s and up into the 40s at times), we decided to stay put and visit Pompeii by train from Rome.  This worked well even though it was a long day.  The electrics on the van also started behaving strangely – no headlights, only side lights and the wipers only worked if you held it on main beam and neither the horn or the hazzard lights worked.  But, we had no mechanical problems despite the heat and driving 2590 miles!   Not bad for an old girl!

Thank you very much for sharing Bessie with us, she is very lovely.  I'm incredibly impressed by the amount of travelling you've done in her, our campers all get a bit homesick if they leave Blighty but you never know, one day!

You can follow Rowena on twitter, @rowenaselwood 

If you'd like to appear with your dub just shout  Custard Campers, vw campervan hire Essex.  We'd love to hear from you.

Kerry x

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

BusJam 2012

After spending the summer promising the kids a weekend away in one of the campers, we finally decided on a trip to BusJam, hopefully taking Nigella as we had yet to drive her or enjoy her.

Originally Ramsey & Delia were provisionally booked out on hire for the weekend but these ended up being cancelled so Friday evening was another mad rush around, taking Ramsey up to the barn and collecting Delia so she could come along on our camping trip as well.

Tesco shop was done on the way back and with enough food to feed a family of ten not the four of us, all was going well.  Sadly it later started to look as though Nigella may not be ready in time and Saturday morning confirmed it, as we had been supplied with the wrong part.  After a quick ring round a plan was made, I would dash to Cool Air and try to get a new part, we would then fit it and get going late in the day.

normal attire for a Saturday afternoon at Custard HQ

Meanwhile we received an urgent phonecall from the lovely Natalie at Buttercup Bus, she had a frantic usher on the phone trying to source a campervan for a wedding at Smithfields after the original one they'd booked had broken down,  Natalie was already on her way to another wedding so couldn't help but wondered if we'd be up for the challenge.  Well never let it be said the Custard's are afraid of a daring rescue.  Delia was duly festooned in rose garlands, a very quick brush out, and Dan set off for London with ice and bubbles on board, and I plus the mini custards heading off for the joys of the M25 and Erith.

For any regular users of the Dartford crossing will know, traffic can be fine and then along come the exorbitant rip off of the tolls and not only do you get fleeced you also get your journey held up while the tolls try to cope with the traffic.  Suffice to say we did not make it to Cool Air in time, and then to add insult to injury I didn't have enough cash to get back through the tunnel and spent a very miserable time searching for a cashpoint.

But it could of been worse.....poor Dan had got majorly held up in a traffic logged A12 with a petrol gauge reading empty, and then on finally finding a garage, he pulled up, put the key in the petrol flap only to have it snap clear in two.  After some major panic trying to find something to force it open, eventually someone went to find a screwdriver, on the other end of the phone I rang the usher to explain what had happened..not a good phonecall to make.

Finally petrol flap forced open (poor Delia) Dan was on his way again, to collect the bride and groom from the service, he was late but I think they were just relieved to see Delia arrive.

Delia did her stuff and wowed both the happy couple Dolcie & Billy and all their guests at the fabulous Eltham Palace.

Nigella finally had the right part (our mechanic sourced one from somewhere??) and she was ready to roll but sadly too late for our camping trip cue very disappointed small people.  We did try to make up to them by going out to dinner at Frankie & Bennys, which cheered them up while they were eating it, but once finished then proceeded to complain about the lack of camping!!

Sunday we were determined to have a better day, I even cooked them bacon rolls for breakfast, something being a long time vegetarian I never do!!  Picnic packed, both Delia and Nigella ready, we set off for a very sunny drive to Stoneham Barns.

We arrived, Dan driving Nigella and me in Delia, Dan asked if it was too late for the Show N Shine to be told no, you can go in and you've got a very nice bus but there's some pretty expensive buses in there....not quite sure how your meant to take that but we smiled and rolled on it.  We were surprised to see Peppa in the queue behind us, I was unsure about putting Delia in the Show N Shine as gorgeous as she is, she's not spotless shes is after all a working lady but you know what, I love her and people seem to like seeing her so I thought why not and followed Dan in to the arena.  Apparently Peppa had no intention of going in the show n shine but was just following me and Dan and found themselves parked up alongside Delia somewhat bemused as they'd been looking for the car park.  I did see a lot of people admiring her 'pinkness' though so I think they parked in the perfect spot.

Due to the lateness of Nigella being ready we hadn't had time to wash her etc so first job was giving both buses a bit of polish up

Can I just say neither Nigella or myself are as pale as we look in this photo!
It was a very chilled event, some very nice buses and beetles on display, a few stalls but not many as I think most were probably at BusFest.  Nigella looks pretty in the sun..

Drag Racing??!
It was good to catch up with some people and meet some new ones.  But most importantly to spend a day with the Custard Crew and just sit back and relax.

They gave out trophies for their favourite ten buses, I didn't manage to photograph them all but here's a few...

 and one for best in show (which was this Beryl Green Samba that also won at Whitenoise last month).  

The thing I found odd was they didn't give anything to the beetles and the explanation was that as it was BusJam they felt all should go to buses.  Very odd I think if people have taken the time to prepare their vehicle and participate and support an event then one trophy out of ten would not of been too much to ask for.

Nigella behaved herself impeccably, her gearing is not quite right yet, she's not keen on second gear but thats due to be sorted this week, so all good.  

Overall a fantastic day.

Kerry x

VW Campervan Hire In Essex

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Fifty Shades Of Dub #4

Last week it was Peppa's turn, but this week it's all about.....

Freebird ii

The day I collected Freebird ii
Owned by

Louie and of course Abbie & Jake.

Freebird ii is a rather lovely looking, tell us more about her

My Bay Freebird ii, is a T2, Westy.  2ltr Fuel Injection engine, automatic.  Left Hand Drive.  Was imported into Ireland by John Hickey of via Kieft en Klock in the Netherlands, and originally from sunny California.

How long have you owned Freebird ii?

I've owned Freebird ii since April 2007.  I bought my first VW Campervan the previous year, but it was one of those, first van I saw I had to have, but there was far too much work to be done on her so I had to let her go.  She came with the name Freebird, hence Freebird ii had to be the name for my new van!  

The colour is fading a bit now on Freebird ii and the rust patches are starting to show through, so before too long she's going to need a good coat of paint and, but for now, I'll just stick with the turning 'rat' look!   Interior is still as she came out of the factory in 1974. 

Where do you think your #dublove began?

We grew up with vintage cars in the family, my dad is a fanatic, so I suppose it was inevitable that the vintage bug would be passed on in the genes.  

What do you use Freebird ii for?

She's not my daily driver, but I do drive her very regularly, I'd have her out most weekends, and camp with my club most months.  My kids absolutely love driving around in Freebird.  Abbie is now 10 and Jake is 6, he has been camping since he was around nine months old, and neither of them can get enough of it!!!  

Abbie & Jake

My husband isn't too much of a fan of the camping life so my friend Fi generally comes around with us, and he's more than happy to have us disappear off for weekends! However I did manage to convince him that we should use Freebird ii as our wedding car in 2008.  I prayed she wouldn't let us down that day, and thankfully she drove like a dream! 

So Louie, tell us about some of the Irish VW events you go to?

I organise an annual charity run for vintage vw's called Eireball.  We travel around Ireland for a week fundraising for different charities.  This year was the 7th run, and over the past 6 years we have raised over €50,000 for charity.  I won't say too much about the run on this post as I'll be doing a guest blog on Eireball for Custard Campers shortly.

Aside from Eireball, one of my favourite VW event in Ireland is the music festival Vantastival .  This year was the 3rd year of Vantastival and makes the VW vans part of the show.  However, all campervans are welcome along with Tents of all shapes and sizes!!!  Freebird ii has also been over to the Isle of Man for their Circle Yer Wagons event, which is held annually in May.  The Isle of Man VW club are a great bunch and made us feel very welcome.  Hopefully I'll get over to this one again shortly.

me with Freebird ii at Vantastival 2012

Fi & I taking part in Vantastival Camper Cook off

And finally Louie, when your not busy playing with your dub,  what do you do?

When I'm not dubbin I work as an accounts manager at our family business, Barry Design and Print   I'm also the face behind their  facebook and twitter (@barrydesignweb) pages.  Why not like and follow the pages where you can read more adventures of Freebird ii.    

I also tweet and Facebook for the Eireball Run.   You can find out all about the Eireballing adventures by following along there too! 

Oops I'm sure all us van owners have a few pics like this!

Thanks very much Freebird ii (& Louie) for letting us feature you this week, if you'd like to appear with your dub just shout  Custard Campers vw campervan hire Essex.  We'd love to hear from you.

Kerry x