Monday, 30 May 2016


We thought we should spread our wings since it was a bank holiday weekend and the weather was suppose to be nice. I know.. on a bank holiday, surely not! So we booked onto Salterford Dam, a Caravan Clubs certified location.

For those that don't know and have yet to be adorned with their middle aged anorak I will bestow upon you a nugget of my middle aged wisdom. 

A Certified Location (CL) is a location endorsed by the Caravan Club but is only allowed up to five pitches. Unlike some of the the big sites, they are normally rural, out the way, quiet and won't necessarily have a shower block or electric hookups. They are also cheaper than a site. If you want a quiet spot with not many, if any folk around you a CL is just the tonic.

Right, back to the drivel... It was bank holiday weekend. The weekend we all fear to travel as the roads grind to a snails pace with all the dawdling caravans and motorhomes. Me being gamekeeper turned poacher with our recent purchase didn't worry about being on the road with my new brethren. Bring it on!

We did decide to keep close to home though as the traffic would be bad and we still weren't sure how to work the thing properly. Salterford dam was about five miles from home, perfect.

Mand was going to meet me at the CL after-work so I went to fetch Bernie and decided she needed a clean. With my fancy new brush and curly hose I embarked on the task. Basically it went wrong as expected and again folk looked on in pity, a look I've grown to expect recently. 

The head kept falling off my not-so-gucci brush and the hose ( when stretched to its full extent ) would detach from the spraying handle resulting in the curly hose recoiling like an angry serpent spitting it's watery venom at me in a Catherine wheel type motion.  I tried to  to stop it with my foot as it retracted back to the tap. Results... three detachment incidents and a wet, pitiful Baz.

Anyway we got to Salterford dam and it was lovely. Very quiet, clean and had a lovely route to walk around. We were met by Brain who owns it and his son Steve who were very friendly and informative.  We also caught Jo, Brian's daughter who told us  about the place. It's been in the family for nearly 40 years. A 16 acre site with various large ponds all stocked with fish. The woodland walks are stunning with little streams,  wild flowers and birds galore. The sound of the birds chattering is lovely. 

We also met a cracking couple called Billy and Lyne from Wakefield. I never got round to having a go on Billy's electric bike even though he constantly offered. 

Here's a few pics from our three days in tranquility.

Entry to Salterford  Dam

Another new toy

My first attempt with the shitakes!


More visitors



Tinks new friend

Lazy dog walks

Sunday, 22 May 2016


With the first night of adventures behind us we woke up in the morning with a fresh air of anticipation and excitement.

We had both slept like a log, the bedroom so dark, warm and comfortable. We opened the blinds and were greeted by glorious sunshine and utter silence. Apart from a smoke alarm emanating from one of the nearby vans. I was off duty and thought, without a fire engine and four other blokes who actually knew what they were doing, I was of little use. So I convinced myself it was a little birdy chirping.

We left the sleepy campsite early before anyone else was awake and restocked our fresh water on the way out. This proved slightly easier than the previous night's attempt but still resulted in an awful lot of unnecessary spraying and dashing about. As we drove off we felt we had earned our rite of passage to be a level one, day two camper connoisseurs... just!

I knew a nice little spot by the river Trent, just south of Hoveringham. We headed off in Bernie, everything rattling and clanking about as we had yet to master the art of packing up correctly before  driving. We parked up, with the side if the van facing the early morning sunshine and got the kettle on. Tea and crumpets, birds singing, Cows mooing, fresh breeze blowing, a perfect place to be.

We took a nice walk north following the river, heading towards a little village called Fiskerton. I knew there was a nice little pub there right next to the water. Anyway I underestimated how far we would have to walk. The route was lovely but our old dog Tink soon started panting and looked like she had already spent a few hours in the pub... on the vino! With encouragement she pushed on.

We came across a WW2 war memorial at the edge of a field near the river. Two stone monuments with inscriptions. Apparently in January 1945 a Lancaster bomber crashed while flying in low cloud. All the crew were lost. Another Lancaster crashed in the same area in May of the same year.

We eventually got The Bramley at Fiskerton and had some lovely grub. I would thoroughly recommend it.

We then headed back to the van and realised it really was too far for an old whippet. 9 miles in total. Back at the van Tink need some loving. She was broke and really unsure what had just happened.


Saturday, 21 May 2016


Can you imagine the mayhem that would ensue if you gave a kitten a Swiss army knife and a bottle of champagne?

This is what happened on our first night spent out with Bernie. It was a cross between a bad Benny Hill sketch and a Channel 4 black comedy.

Being a typical male I was over confident with my limited skills. I turned down Richards kind invite of showing me how the Van worked. How hard can it be... I was so wrong.

It all started to go wrong when I try to exchange the empty gas cylinder for a full one at the local camping shop. It became apparent I didn't have the correct size spanner to undo the gas bottle so had to purchase one from the shop and then return to the van to uncouple it. I think I left my thumbs in the Shop as  getting the cylinder off was like watching a monkey with a typewriter. Only less entertaining.

Eventually I got the cylinder out the van, into the car, the car to the shop, the cylinder into the shop and lastly the quite heavy cylinder on to the desk in front of a queue of people. Puffing, panting, looking slightly red faced but feeling quite pleased with myself I ask the gentlemen if he could exchange my empty  cylinder for a shiny new full one.

"Indeed sir". So after dithering with my bank card I eventually managed to make payment and get a receipt. The gentleman grabbed my cylinder from the desk at which point he paused looked at me and said in a pitiful voice. "Your cylinders still full sir!".

Ahh lesson one learnt, don't try and exchange one full cylinder for another. It will get expensive and causes unnecessary embarrassment. So after another 10 minutes trying to issue a refund I shuffled off with my old, still full, gas cylinder to try and reconnect it to the van... still without my thumbs.

I'm happy to say we made full use of our "first time out, clangers" membership that day. I didn't realise membership included benefits such as :
  • Soaking a "seasoned" camper while trying to fill up with fresh water.
  • Not being able to get the cooker working
  • Or the heating
  • Or the fridge
  • 10 attempts getting up onto levelling blocks
  • The dog being sick, inside the van
  • Nearly detaching the habitation door handle
  • Have a cold shower
I thoroughly recommend being a member although I suspect membership comes free for anyone purchasing their first van. Thankfully membership only lasts for a day.. or two.

Tink recovered from all the excitement and adopted her usual position. Mand and I lost our membership to the "first timers" about 10pm when everything became clear. Probably with the help of a bottle of bubbles.

Here's to tomorrow.

Thursday, 19 May 2016


It sounded to good to be true. Today we drove down to Burton on Trent to view a van we wanted to buy and within minutes we had bought it.

My mate Vinny had spotted the van on EBay and knew it was virtually the same spec I was after. I emailed the chap and politely asked him what his best price would be. He appreciated my honesty and came back with a "walk away price" of 4K less than advertised! Richard was his name and we arranged to view the van two days later.

We drove south in anticipation of what we would or wouldn't find.

Was it going to be a wreck?
Was this Richard one of those underworld criminals that would take our hard earned money and leave us with no more than an embarrassing tale to tell?
Were we being rash spending two thirds  of all we owned on a van?

I shall digress as I feel the need to explain this two thirds malarkey. We recently sold our house and moved into a little rented place so we could take our time finding a new pad. The proceeds from the sale sat in the bank, quite sensibly waiting to be put down on another property. But as me and Mandy often fail to follow the well trodden path of normality, we decided it would be a great idea to blow the majority on a van and get a small place with what was left.

Anyway we met Richard who showed us his year old van and he explained his reluctance to sell it. We had a good look round and within three minutes we knew we would soon be living in that "very small house". We're having it! We were grinning from ear to ear, the van was lovely. Hardly used with only 750 miles on the clock and it smelled new. Did Richard have a new car scented air freshener that we had never heard of? Who knows but it won us over. We shook Richards hand and agreed to buy it. While driving back home we realised we hadn't done the one thing you should do when buying a used vehicle... Test drive it! Oh well, that would have been far too sensible and where's the fun in that.


Two days later my mate Howie gave me a lift to pick the van up. The logistics involved in getting a huge lump of a van like this home was mind boggling. The house were renting had a drive that was too small so we had to arrange some storage for it. Everywhere I phoned was full apart from the one place I originally looked to buy a van from. Lowdham caravans. Thank god for them otherwise we would have had to leave the van in Burton on Trent.

Anyway I drove the van back to Notts constantly fiddling with all the dials and buttons like a kid with a new toy.

New toy
A friend of mine called Pete and his lovely wife Nina have been travelling Europe for nearly four years now in their van. Living in it full time and loving it. See his blog here. Now apparently all vans have a name and Pete saw a pic of ours and based on the BNY in the registration suggested it be  called Benny. Mand liked this but insisted it was female and it has become Bernie. Great joint effort you two!

So Bernie was born, where we will travel ... who knows. One thing is for sure though, work aside, we will be spending as many weekends as we can at Bernie's. Well, we've not got our own house yet so.. why not!