September 2013

A bit belated but here goes.
September started with an attempt to ditch Windows by purchasing a ChromeBook that came with a great offer on it. The now old laptop has seen better days and now cuts out at times due to overheating.

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The above is the offcuts of a recent carpet that I had edged by the carpet shop by the roundabout by Wallasey village. Really knocked out by the speed and quality for a remarkable price. All done in less than 20 minutes . Link to follow.

Went back to a few more spinning classes at the Oval, with the downstairs showers in a worse state when I last moaned about them. Wirral Council now fine you for not turning up for any classes, perhaps the should spend some of the cash here. Missing ceiling tiles to void space, mould in grouting, door catches broken, with a look that it hasn’t been cleaned for a month.

Close it down rather than operate it in that state.

Took the bike out on a few Wirral Coastal path runs with the magicshine lights getting a charge as the nights are drawing in really fast.

Missed the TOB at Loggerheads as I had an early dental appointment which result in the possibility of an emergency appointment that afternoon. Headed out to an empty Eureka Cafe and headed home only to get the dreaded call.

Tried to fit the twin reversing camera to the van only to give up after a couple of hours with a few cuts as the rear moulding would not come off, it has to come off as the old camera is bolted to it. Now need a plan B. Van got booked in for a habitation service at Flintshire.

The whole motorhome dealer/warranty scene has left a sour taste in the mouth. I know who I WON’T be going to for a new van. It’s bad enough trying to get anything done let alone warranty work.

Off out for 3 days in a few hours. I will update things over the next few days. Next up is whether to pull the ads and change the theme for some thing I can customise.

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Aug 2013

Had a few things to sort out  Post Tour the main one was finding a new storage location. Well here it is at Dandy Caravan Storage

http://www.dandyscaravanstorage.co.uk/

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After seeing the Reclamation Centre go up in Wolverhampton this was my main priority. I’ve since learnt another 2 have gone up in smoke. Very pleased with Dandy, place is spotless along with all the Truckstop facilities on site, including a weighbridge.

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At trip to the Eureka had me meeting up with Sean and Barry, must have been nearly 2 months since I last set foot through the door. Had a great laugh, this Barry,s bike for his 12 hour attempt. Probably clearer on the seat stay than the top tube.

My next stop was a trip to the van to pick my Garmin up and sort out a niggling fault on the an control panel.

The vehicle battery voltage was in alarm at 5.5V when clearly it wasnt. Stripping the relay panel down behind the passenger seat revealed all the voltages were correct. Removing J9 header which is water level indication cured the fault so then it was on to the next job, the reversing camera.

This is proving to be a bit of a problem as the cable is well sealed and the camera needs to be removed with the upper cowling. A bit of a work in progress.

My trip back across to Burton Point had me calling in a the fisheries cafe.

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A night a Wirral Country Park site had me take a ride out with Val to Hoylake where the Pirate Ship has resurfaced after getting burnt out at Seacombe.

After all running around trying to get a 27mm clip on fitting for my Butagaz Cube  (including a 58 km downhill cycle to Grenoble, aborted by a thunderstorm) I picked up the correct fitting and tail from Flintshire Caravans.

Another thing on the list is a new satnav. The current Nuvi is not up to the job and downright dangerous at times.

Booked in at a spinning class at Europa Pools, the first for a long time. Waiting outside not much had changed with Louise battering the class with 8 sets of 8. Actually finished the class and it proved not as bad as I was expecting.  Starting to get back into the swing of things again.

Next up is the Wild Wales at the end of the month.

Managed to get on the car pafk at the start in Bala which surprised me. There was a motor home similar to mine overnighting there. No pictures this time as the phone was playing up in the sunlight.

It was a cool start with mist rolling off the lake. 8 miles in I’m wondering what I’d let myself in for with a lot of miles to go. Stop on one of the turns with the Sunlight coming past en masse  and Gary saying “Whats happened to your alpine experience” ” It’s still on Alpe d’Huez” was the retort.

Truth to say it was a really long day glad to have finished, lots happened, saw lots of familiar faces.

Tour de France 2013

The Tour is nearly upon us again with the van having had it final trial last weekend. The Chunnel is booked for the 1st July with no firm plans in place at the moment .

The Trek got its pedals put back on today having ridden the Sabbath since last years Wild Wales.
I’m booked in at Bourg d’Oisans for 13 days and plan a leisurely drive down avoiding the toll roads as as a Class 3 vehicle I get charged the same as a coach or a truck. Paris to Grenoble is 137 euro. More in due course.20120901_143851Now a year old with just 3,600 miles on the clock it takes a lot to keep it in that condition. This will be its first Continental trip.

Friday: Email Campsite about extending stay from 3 July to 22 of July. Got a prompt acceptance back. The weekends promptly book up on most sites and we’d be dawdling down through France for 6 days. Not only that the Marmotte was penciled in for our arrival on 7 july. leaving on the 22nd means we can watch the final stageat the site before making our way home.

Contacted EuroTunnel about any height restrictions which shouldn’t affect me now as it’s 4.3 M.

Mailed Stu Boyd about the plan, he is thinking of taking a small tent up the Alpe, one thing I do know from the weather apps is that its down to 1 deg C at the moment.

A quick plug for Cycling the Alps

http://www.cyclingthealps.com/#tour-de-france-2013-stages

The loop around Alpe d’Huez is set to become the Worlds best Strava segment.

You’d want to use this site to plot where you want to park your motorhome on the Course.

Monday: Hit the road for 7.00 , last panic was where was the Nuvi satnav as I had only managed to upload the French Aires into it. Luckily it was in the passenger glove box. Gave the van another roof clean and we were on our way.
It turned out to be a 13 hour day.
Hit traffic at Birmingham after avoiding the toll road and the Garmin said I was running late, as I had set it to european time I was in fact up on time. It is not pleasant driving in truck traffic in the UK these days. Speeds are governed and the likes of Argos limit theirs to 54 mph.
Up to 65 mph the van drives great, it is subject to buffeting from coaches and trucks towing trailers. They have the aerodynamics of a brick.

Recycling Center Fire

I’ve an autobox with cruise control and it is an option that must be considered if you ever purchase a new van. There is enough to worry about without having to worry about changing gear.

I really liked Euro tunnel, gas checked, polite staff and 35 mins to France not that you would notice.

Calais Pretty clueless at this stage as we had not planned anything. Only one near miss, but did see my first crash. Parked up at Auchan for supplies. As I only had a vague itinerey the next stop was Reims.

Came off the peage too soon thinking it was an Aire. The good side was I only got charged as a class 2 instead of a class 3. Got to explore more of the French countryside before rejoining the same peage. Next stop was a big stop with most facilities, it was not for us and we headed of to Reims with the cruise control on and wondering about the scale of France. Val and I have been here before.

Checked out a few more Aires and most seemed to be full of trucks, as time was getting on and we were near Reims we called in at Mont de Nizy and stayed the night. Cost nothing and trucks were leaving at 4:30am.

Tuesday: Short trip into Rheims in rush hour, bit terrifying as it sent us up a tramway. Luckily the tram was stopped and it was all part of the traffic system. It did hilight how you need an up to date map in your garmin. A trip to an Ikea centre had a 3mtr height limit. I know where I am not wanted. programmed in Dijon as the next stop, avoiding toll roads, probably the best part of the journey so far. Rolling french landscape is unique but on a huge scale.

What did the Romans do for us

Some poor bastard got pulled by the gendamerie but we were warned :>)

Serious Van fright at Digon, riverside stop is not for me . 3m height limit!

On the plus side France is abound with fantastic places.

Mussy Sur Seine

Mussy sur Seine

Lunch Stop

Had a few issues with the garmin at times.

Low Bridge at Dijon

 

Took this after reversing out of a tricky situation. With the Dijon Aire now out of the picture we had to park up and work out what to do next. Things turned out best in the end as the next location in the app proved to be a good find.

Marssanay Marsannay La Cote Marsanay La Cote Town Hall

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New Dee Crossing.

The new cycle path between Burton and Deeside is open and word is spreading about it.

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Coming out at Zone3 it is best to stick to the signed route.

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There is no easy route out of the the Zones other than the signed route. I ended up at Tata Steelworks. I will post a gps link up when I download it.

Dee Cycle Path by frankkinlan at Garmin Connect – Details

Best viewed with the OSM overlay set. Cant post an embedded map as the blog can’t accept <iframe> commands.

There going to be some great routes out to Chester and Wales from now on.
One way or another you need to get over the River Dee if you are venturing into Wales.  Follow the signs for Chester to use the Dee Cycle Path.
If you have a  routable  OSM map in your Garmin you should be able to follow the cycle paths by Route number.

Thanks to DodgyD for the OSM mapping update.

April 2013

 

Summer is fast approaching although you wouldn’t think so judging by the weather.
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On the cycling front I’ve upgraded the 800 Garmin Edge mount. The forward mounting position proving to be better than having to glance down continually. Not cheap for what it is, essentially injection moulded plastic.
Work meant I missed the CTC Spring 50

 

 

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The above is part of the modifications to the van. The lower bunk has been removed and stored . It creates a large rear garage that will take a bike and the rest of the essential bits that you require to keep a van on the road.
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You can just see the “garage” in the corner of the picture.
The new dish has been fitted and cost a proverbial arm and a leg.

20130412_123839[1]I wasn’t a happy bunny when I saw the state of the roof, spent nearly 2 hours cleaning it working off a ladder.
Another  thing I spotted was the solar panel still has the stickers on.

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Under seat storage is tidied up with a plastic box from Asda, £5 for two. On the right is the water heater and the bracing for the seat belt anchorage.

20130414_090448[1]Rainbow at Thurstaton.
Finally getting to use the van like it was intended with a late availability at Thurstaton Caravan Club site.
It got a bit breezy after this  with the caravan next to us taking a bit of a battering due to its large awning.

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Returned the van to storage and gave it a good clean. Used a trial pack of Dry Wash on it and was amazed how good it was. Really good on acrylic windows.

Cycling wise I’ve been doing the Wirral Coastal Route which is 50 miles if you take the road at the back of Vauxhalls , down Oil Sites Road and then cut through to Cheshire Oaks.

The Dee Crossing is now open and takes you from the bottom of Denhall Lane and brings you out at Zone 3 by Shotton Paper.  I will post a link from Garmin Connect in due course.
Thanks to Dave for showing us it at the Eureka the other Friday.

March 2013

First post for another month with a trip to London for a week to see Paul. We had booked into Crystal Palace Caravan Club site and this just about sums it up.

It was a steady trip down with the fun starting once you get within the M25. Traffic volumes and queues increase and not content with the height worries there was a new one with width restrictions. 7ft 6in into 7ft doesn’t go.

Took the bike down but it saw little use, cycle lanes are OK until they end and there is a massive pinch point with all the traffic.

 

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First port of call was to buy an Oyster Card for the buses , with a trip to the Science museum on Monday planned. The number 3 bus taking you to Picadilly Circus. Then the number 12 to South Kensington. It’s a scenic sight seeing route on public transport.

After taking a shortcut through the Victoria and Albert Museum  we arrived at the Science Museum to see what the Google Web Lab was all about, only to find it closed for a function. With security and PR people not letting us in.

The next morning watching the news on tv the function was a press conference by Will.I.am of Black Eyed Peas fame.

 

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When we finally got in you pick up a card which is read by the exhibit and stores a record of your visit to the web.

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This exhibit takes your picture and the robotic arm draws your face in the sand.
There are web enabled exhibits that are for the web based visitors.

http://www.chromeweblab.com

After that it was a vist to the Imax cinema to see the Space Hubble in 3D on what was the Space Shuttles last journey along with about 500 school kids. You could probably spend a couple of days here and still miss something.

Tuesday Was visit Paul at the Google office.  One amazing place, even has it’s own sushi chef and a london bus as a meeting room. If that wasn’t enough  just down the road was Buckingham Palace . A japanese honeymoon couple were getting photographed by the gates with a dresser, camera man and video too.
Strolling up Horseguards parade the Queens corgis were getting a walk.

In sharp contrast to Google Weblab  was a trip to Greenwich and the Observatory to see the John Harrison clocks. One took 20 years to make and this was his final one the H4

 

 

 

H4

We had to make two trips to Greenwich as we got lost after leaving the bus at Blackheath and walked down the hill towards the Millenium Dome which is nowhere near where we wanted to go.

The cable car across the river was closed due to high winds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Had to take a day out of sight seeing to get a pump and tyre pressure gauge  as I spotted a soft tyre on the van.

 

 

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This was the view from the train when I dropped the motorhome off for its upgrades.

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The newly surfaced Rest Hill

Trouble comes in Three,s

It’s been a while since I posted and with good reason. I had a major setback last November  in the form of a low bridge. Lost the will to ride and much else for that matter.

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You wouldn’t believe how sickening it is to hear it crunch into thebridge,reversing out to inspect the damage was just the start of things to come.


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Not too bad at first glance you might say but these toys are expensive and expensive to repair.

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Once we had got our bearings back at the storage, it was then time to take it to Flintshire Caravans to asses the damage, they kindly sealed it from the elements while I was there and took me around the workshop and spraybooth.
The insurance assessor was there within a day of the quote getting to them, which meant another trip.

I must give a mention to Malcolms Motorhomes , he was the the only one that  bothered to quote Flintshire Caravans for the parts needed for the repair. Parts have to be ordered from a franchised dealer. Most were unhelpful which doesn’t say much for the dealers. This was not to me but fellow traders, which is worse.

We took a trip down to Malcolms Motorhomes to see if anything could be done to speed things up, we couldn’t. Optomistic 2-3 week delivery times in reality turned out to be 5-6 weeks. This is just for the parts.

Nothing starts until all the parts are on site or the repair will just clog up the system, it was a hard pill to swallow.

In the mean time it was a chance to decorate the living room. This meant a mad rush to wallpaper and then clear downstairs ready for the new carpet. In the process we (I) lost the new tax disc for the motorhome. After spending  about 3 days ripping everything to bits I went to the DVLA and got a replacement for £7. Another lesson learn’t the hard way.

Progress trips to Flintshire Caravans had a bit of a setback when we learn’t that we wouldn’t get the van back for Christmas. The only consolation was the house was looking good with new wallpaper and carpet. I had planned a trip to Crystal Palace for my Wedding Anniversary but it was not to be.

Finally we got the van back but were suffering other problems alongside it, like the central heating packing in, in a cold spell.

Our SECOND shake down run was to the Caravan Club site at Chirk.
Great site, but I had the most terrifying experience of crossing the River Dee bridge in a high wind. It’s not something I want to do again.

Other things of note: Lance Armstrong confesses to cheating and we have the wettest year end on record.

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Wonky photographs are what you get when using a smartphone.
The bike did get used but not for what I was expecting.

When I booked in to the Chirk Carravan Club site the last of the snow was just melting and on arrival it was blowing a gale. Parking up after deciding parking under swaying trees was not a good idea, we discovered a water leak on the sink waste. This had been sealed on an earlier trip but the root cause had not been sorted.
Walking down into Chirk we discovered a small hardware store  Korkys Cabin where a tube of  silicone sealant and caulking gun was purchased for the reasonable price of £7.20. It even has a tap on the nozzle to prevent the silicone hardening.

Tried to access the internet through the site WiFi to no avail that evening only to find out in the morning that it was down until Tuesday. Time to get the bike out and head up the A5 to Llangollen. Too narrow and too many double white lines for my liking even midweek. Quarry trucks pass ok but it’s nerve wracking at best.

Calling in at the Visitor Center/ Library for internet access only to find it closed on a Thursday. Probably the victim of Council cuts. I was directed to the internet Cafe across the road where tea and a nice scone is £1.90 but half an hour of internet access is £2. I was not in a position to argue. The google search I put in came up with Horizon Motorhomes of Chirk, finding them on an Edge 800  proved to be quite difficult.
My search of a couple of housing estates proved fruitless but did reveal the carved tree. I was about a mile off course and just missed them when I ventured past the Bridge Inn, deciding to head back via the canal towpath. 

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Interesting  how the Cadbury factory is at the centre of the carving. If the wind is in the right direction it is inobtrussive. If not the drone of the place carries along with the smell of Cadburys drinking chocolate. It may look out of place now but Chirk was part of the Industrial Revolution with the Aquaduct and later the rail bridge. 

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More later, managed to break the screen on my laptop, Central heating boiler packed up in the recent freeze. Took 2 attempts to repair the thing.
The repair to the above took months and wasn’t completed till January. More pictures to follow and more.

2012 in review (from wordpress)

I’ll update the blog  in due course, it’s been an eventful 3 months and not over yet.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 160,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 8 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Weekending 23 Sept 2012

Time flies at the moment with a lot of it directed to The Toy Mk2. The logistics of finding storage for it then arranging insurance which is based on the secure storage location meant things were cut quite fine on the run up to collection of The Toy Mk2.

Couldn’t fault Kingsmill Leisure on the handover who showed us where everything was and how it operated. Only thing I can’t seem to find is a jack for the fitting of the spare wheel. Printed out the Fiat Ducato manual as it doesn’t come with the van and at 260 odd pages I can see why. Talking of the handover, there is a lot to take in and a lot of it goes straight out of the window come your first trial run. The van did come with  a RollerTeam document bag full of all the manuals for the kit.

Things NOT to do with a new motorhome with an automatic gearbox are jumping on the brake thinking it is the clutch, this was before I’d even left the carpark. The trip home proved to be eventful with a Fiat 500 merging with motorway traffic at 50mph. This leaving me with nowhere to go but the middle lane.
It’s built on a van chassis and handles like a heavily laden one. I’d be lost without the rear view camera and it did prove to be a deal breaker on some of the other motorhomes I’ve been looking at.
I’ve had 2 shake down trips now to sort things out. One of the first problems was the wheel base and roundabouts, don’t cut it to short or the rear wheels will ride up on the curb.

Riding has taken a back seat at the moment but I did make it to the Tour of Britain Knowsley safari Park finish.

 

The point of the photo is the kid on the purple fleece guys shoulders with the Wiggo sideburns on. Good day but Cav got beat.

Made it into the Eureka cafe video. Link to come. Need to loose weight by the looks of things.

It’s been an eventful week or so, in terms of what I’m planning for the future it’s small change.