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Archive for September, 2015

Setting up in our first day was a bit of work because we were so tired by the time we got to the campsite – Camping-Freizeitzentrum Sägmüle in Trippstadt, Germany.  We decided to have a meal in the campsite restaurant which would have been much less stressful if the provided a ramp rather than the steep steps!  No options to get inside, so if you are unable to climb a few steps this is not the campsite for you…unless you don’t ever need to go to the restaurant of course.   The bathrooms here are brilliant, and on a crisp morning brushing your teeth standing in a heated floor is rather special.

Waking up to a very chilly morning with the sun just creeping into the valley was a real treat.  This campsite set in the Palitinate forest is lovely and we were given a pitch on the lake…this is the breakfast view on a crisp, clear and quiet morning….IMG_4014IMG_4010

After a quick bite we headed out not knowing where we were going, but happy to simply explore. Happily this worked our really well because we stumbled across a wonderful town about 50km away – Bad Dürkheim – spa town with a rather unusual method of producing a seaside climate using a salination plant built in around 1860.  This enormous structure is what captured our attention….

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The salt water is fed by a pump to the top of the building where it trickles down through blackthorn twigs and the wind passing through creates what is believed to be a very healthy atmosphere. A truly fascinating place and one that is highly recommended if you’re ever in the area.

They also have the most imaginative water playground ever!  Here’s hubby having a lovely time testing the equipment…

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If this town wasn’t lovely enough already, it completely won us over because it is literally surrounded by and interwoven with vineyards – the winemaker in me was jumping for joy, and the wine drinker in hubby was ecstatic!

You are positively encouraged to walk around the paths through the vines and try out the ‘neue wein’ which is a speciality in the German wine lands….a partially fermented grape juice with sparkle.  We purchased a 3 litre jug of it and hubby has been savouring it ever since!

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IMG_4022…and their other claim to fame – the largest wine barrel in the world!  Take a closer look and you will see how many litres it can hold – although it was never used as a wine barrel, but rather as a restaurant from the outset.

 

 

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…and we’re off! 

Okay fellow Englishmen, you should all be thanking us for going to Europe for a few weeks to find some much needed, and scarce sun, because now that we have left it is going to be the most beautiful Autumn weather!  Typical!  We decided not to chance our first holiday in years to the flakey English weather and when we depart for Dover it is GLORIOUS outside. 

Enjoy it, and let’s hope for the same on the continent because we are now committed to our European adventure.

Happy travels and we’ll post again at our next wifi hotspot across the channel and on another continent.  

   

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This was me….

 At that moment when you’ve planned your first holiday for nearly 5 years,  and 2 days beforehand you go to fetch your passport out of the safe…..and the key gets stuck and won’t go in or out!!!! 

This is no ordinary safe according to the safe specialist and can withstand a bomb blast and can’t be opened without a key! 😱 

Half an hour of panic and jiggling, me and the key, and I had to ring the safe specialist and explain the dilemma….holiday in 2 days, need passport, safe stuck.  While I was waiting for him to connect, I said a prayer, and in that instant it moved and then opened – thank you! 

Safe man ‘s advice “whatever you do don’t lock it until I get there”. 

Oh well, the safe may be open, but I can go exchange money….and we are GOING ON HOLIDAY 😄☀️☀️☀️

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It has been too long….3 1/2 years too long in fact, since hubby and I have been on holiday. That is about to be rectified with a trip to Europe in search of rest, recuperation and hopefully a lot of sunshine. However, being a realist, and a British citizen, we understand well the vagaries of the weather so I am taking no chances that my Trekinetic K2 will get wet at some point on our route.

Having modified my mobility van into a camper, I didn’t want my wheelchair to take up precious space on the inside, so we purchased a Bak-Rak for it to go on the outside. A great plan for perennially sunny countries, but I was taking no chances with my mobility and therefore it needed a rain cover.

  
I was lucky enough to have found a bolt of ripstop fabric when I was last at Abakhan and brought it home with the intention of making an awning for the campervan, but it struck me that it was also the perfect material to make a cover for my wheelchair …. and that’s exactly what I did.

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It isn’t a tight fit because that would make it too difficult to get the cover closed, but it has the general shape. The cover is placed onto the Bak-Rak and my K2 is placed on top of it.  The wheels are clamped down to the base and then the zip is closed over the entire wheelchair.

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Time and travel alone will tell whether this is a good design or not, but hopefully it keeps my wheelchair dry and therefore my bum dry for the duration of our holiday 😄

 

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It was a VERY busy couple of weeks and in our haste we didn’t manage to take many pictures of our progress, but here is what we did….

Boxes built by hubby…..

3 at the back of the van; 2 towards the front of the van and at the foot end of the bed, and another additional smaller box built because I realised the distance between the boxes on hubby’s side of the bed was far to wide and would collapse!

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Bed slats installed and held in place on top of the boxes using dowels and holes drilled through a few of the bed slats….

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The kitchen – my favourite part of the camper van – it holds all of the kitchen gear and a crate underneath contains all of the dry foods ….

mmmm, no picture, but I will add one while we are on holiday instead!

Roll up blinds custom-made to fit each window and held in place by hooks on some windows and magnets on others…..

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The mattresses were cut into various sizes and shapes to allow them to be used during the day as seating and then re-arranged to make a full mattress for sleeping.

I was very fortunate that a friend had given me a few rolls of upholstery fabric in exactly the right colour to go with the curtaining I had chosen from the stash in my sewing room.

Add in a matching tablecloth, table mats and flowers and you have a lovely English breakfast in the sun….

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Our first weekend test outing was a resounding success and apart from a couple of changes and additions we are very happy with the results.

Really looking forward to a proper holiday soon.

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We used to own a rather large motorhome, When we moved to our new home, it was the one thing that had to be sacrificed due to the enormous ongoing costs, but it is something that I have missed so much over the last four years.

I love to be out and about touring, but with my aching bones this is easier said than done and tenting has not proven to be an option with cold floors, hard surfaces, getting to the ground and back up, and rain…..nightmarish!  Something else had to done.

Being a constant thinker, it struck me a few months ago that when we had bought our Mercedes van for my wheelchair, I had mentioned to hubby that one day we should convert it into a camper van – after all we already owned it and the outlay could be minimal if we did the work ourselves.  Life happened and it wasn’t until more than a year later (and summer arriving) that I remembered my idea and began to seriously consider that this was the best and cheapest way for us to go camping but without completely roughing it.  Hubby was oddly reluctant at first, but with lots of planning on SketchUp he slowly warmed to the idea,

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Our aim was to not make any permanent changes to the van, but rather to create units that would fit into the van when we wanted to go camping and be easily removed on our return.  This is what I came up with….

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Not the best drawing, but it gave us the dimensions and a good idea of how it would all fit together.  The design was based on small wooden boxes – just like those we made for our wine racks in the cellar (but without the Illy tins for the bottles!); if you want to see these you can find a blog post about it here)

Each wooden box was sized so that it would fit an inner box or crate from Ikea – the DRÖNA, or similar.  These would form the base of the bed and hold all the camping gear.  In addition I wanted a free-standing kitchen which could stay inside the van or be removed and stored in the tent during longer camping trips.  The HINDÖ outdoor cabinet was just what I wanted and fit into the space behind the passenger seat, and would hold all of the kitchen paraphernalia.

Then came the bed.  It needed to be long enough for my 6’2″ hubby to lie full length and be comfortable for me to sit or lie down when I needed to rest.  Moving the boxes around allowed us to reconfigure the layout and insert a slatted mattress base which we already had at home.  Top this off with two mattresses which we had for guests (sorry guests, we will replace them), and you have a bed….one side 200cm long and my side 160cm long – each just the right length for hubby and I.

Lastly, curtains and cushions for the interior would be custom-made by myself; so hubby and I measured up the windows and made templates to get the shapes right.

The wheelchair would be transported on our newly purchased Base-Rak from Bak-Rak so that it didn’t take up any space inside the van.. a bit nerve-racking having my chair on the back of the van rather than on the inside, but I am sure I will be happier when we have done it once or twice!

All that was left to do was buy the supplies….

2 sheets of 18mm plywood, the inner boxes and the kitchen cupboard.  I already had the material for the curtains and the upholstery for the cushions.

We had a plan and now we needed to get stuck in because we only had 2 weeks until our planned test trip.

In the next episode we will show you what we built and hopefully a few holiday pictures….if it all goes well!

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