Near Tenby, Pembrokeshire 2

The next day we went into Tenby.  We went past a car park with a large hand written sign saying no camper vans and found a much bigger one much which was closer to the beach.

South Beach TenbyThe beach was absolutely lovely and so was the weather.  We peeled ourselves away from the beach reluctantly to go and look around the town.  When we got there we saw lots of interesting little shops though unfortunately a lot of them were closing.  We then wandered around towards the harbour and found some more beaches.

Tenby3 Tenby4 Tenby5We left thinking there was a whole lot more to explore in Tenby and thinking we would come back tomorrow.

When we got back to the camp site the wind and rain picked up and I tried to pick up the weather app on my phone.  The bad signal meant I got it after quite a lot of refreshing and it informed me of winds at 35kph which would get worse until about 1 in the morning at which point they would be 47kph if I remember rightly.  I sat there listening to the wind and rain and of course I needed the toilet at about 12 o’clock.  I had woken my son up so then we  sat talking and decided to have a midnight feast.  My daughter was amazed that I was waking her up for a midnight feast, but I was excited that I would be in bad weather and the tent wouldn’t blow off.

I did wonder how the roof would manage with the wind as it got worse and the van rocked a bit.  In the end I pulled the roof down for about an hour.  I stuck it back up again once the wind died back a bit but I really didn’t need to.  I did wonder whether I should have moved Edna round a specific way but the wind seemed to be coming mostly from the side.  I was really pleased with how she coped and though I didn’t sleep well that night I now know I’ll sleep better next time.  Does that make sense?  I was the same with the tent.  Once you’ve been through a bit of bad weather you know what it’ll take.

How have the more experienced campers of you coped with the wind?

The next day looked cold, wet, windy and miserable so we headed home, glad that we’d got a couple of decent day’s weather.  Saturday was indeed full of the predicted bad weather though they seemed to have got Thursday and Friday wrong.  We will certainly be back to visit Tenby again though and we have got into a real routine with Edna.

 

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Edna’s First Camping Trip (day 2 and 3)

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So after our square sausages we set off to explore the woods which led off from the campsite.  We went for a bit of a walk and had a look at the Go Ape course, but then we decided to find the bike hire place in case we ended up walking where we were going to cycle later.  My daughter had been really looking forward to hiring bikes as she hasn’t had much practise riding and her bike is now too small for her.  We found the bike hire place and I found out I had to pay an adult price for my son as he is tall enough for an adult bike now.  We were fitted for bikes and helmets and shown our gears, thumb for easier and finger for harder.  Back brake, front brake, always use your back brake and never your front brake.

So, off we went.  My daughter was a bit wobbily at first and needed a lot of reassurance to keep going.  She gritted her teeth though and kept at it.  She’s very determined when she wants to be.  She struggled a bit with the hills though and had to get off and walk up a fairly big one.  I’ll be honest so did I.  The smaller slopes were okay , but this was a bit steeper.  Anyway, we got to the top and decided to go down the hill and look for a path a bit flatter.

We went in the order we had been in all morning, my son first, then my daughter and me at the rear, so I could see if my daughter was struggling.  I reminded my daughter as I had all morning, “back brake, back brake, use your back brake.”  So we came down the hill using our brakes, and my daughter panicked and used the front brake too and flew off her bike.  There’s that horrible moment when you see something like that happen but you can’t stop it or get there quick enough.  She landed with a right whack on her arm.  A lovely couple with their two small children were nearby and came to see if we were alright.  My little girl was really shaken up and we decided to return the bikes.  She held her arm in a funny way all the way back and the nice lady wheeled her bike for us.  They were staying at the same campsite as us.  She was very pale and still in a lot of pain.  I asked the other lady’s opinion and she said it was better to check it out and I agreed.  She asked the bike hire place if someone could give us a lift back to the campsite and they did.  I then went to reception at the campsite and confirmed the nearest A and E was at the hospital in Chester.

We spent three hours at A and E where they told us that fortunately her arm wasn’t broken and suggested Calpol or Nurofen for the next 24 hours.  Relieved, but hungry, she had hurt her arm at 12:00 and we were told not to let her eat or drink until she had been seen, so at nearly 4:00pm we raided Edna’s fridge in the car park and made our way back to the campsite.  The children were determined that we were going to carry on and not go home.

We got back to the campsite and went to pop Edna’s roof up but it wouldn’t go up.  The left side did but the right side wouldn’t unclick.  I tried several times and by this stage was feeling pretty exhausted and emotional.  I eventually made the decision that it wasn’t going to go up so we had two options, to go home or try to sleep without the bed in the roof.  Did I mention that my kids didn’t want to give up?  So my son cooked pasta for tea with chopped tomatoes and one of those big smoked sausage type things chopped up in it.  My daughter didn’t want to try and sleep across the front seats and I thought her arm might still be hurting her so my son offered to try and sleep across the front seats.  He managed it for a couple of hours and then joined us in the double bed.  It was fairly cosy, but we were all so exhausted that we slept soundly until morning and were pretty warm too.  There was a fair bit of condensation though.

Morning was bacon sandwiches time and after a lot slower morning than the previous day, we were all feeling refreshed after some much needed sleep and ready for a better day.  We left and headed for the Anderton Boat Lift.  http://canalrivertrust.org.uk/Anderton-boat-lift  We had a brilliant day out.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it said the boat trips weren’t running yet on the information leaflet, yet when we got there they were running them early, though we couldn’t go on the actual lift just up and down the River Weaver.  The gentleman who did the commentary was brilliant.  He lived and breathed the local area and was extremely knowledgeable.  The lift has an exhibition and it joins the River Weaver to the Trent and Mersey Canal.  It was originally built to help carry salt from the area and was a hydraulic lift but it became electric later.  It was falling apart and then a short while back they decided that instead of letting it fall apart they would restore it.  It’s a great bit of industrial engineering.  In the area is also a country park and the canal has a marina a short walk along.  There’s plenty to see another time so we have decided to return another day when the lift is open and explore the country park and canal a little bit more.  They also had a nice gift shop with a good assortment of books and gifts which didn’t all cost a small fortune.  We were home by 4:30pm ready to see their Dad and tell him about their weekend.

Anderton Boat Lift

So that was our first camping trip in Edna.  A suspected broken arm and the roof didn’t work.  As my Dad once said to me, “it’s not about the mess you get into, but how you handle it when you’re in it and how you get out of it.”  I think we managed quite well.  I’m glad we went to the hospital because otherwise I would have worried that she had broken her arm and we were a lot warmer without the roof popped up.  It was a memorable first outing.  The best view was of the boat lift.  Would I do it again?  Of course.  Just give me a bit of time to recover but I’m planning the next adventure already.

Horseshoe Pass

Horseshoe Pass

Horseshoe Pass

After a few more days of watching the weather on Sunday we ventured out in Edna again.  Unfortunately everyone else seemed to have the same idea.  We headed for Ty Mawr country park but the car park was full and overflowing and people were parking in the street outside.  The lower car park was closed.

So then I went for Plan B and headed for the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct which is near a place called Trevor.  The car park my side of the aqueduct  was full, so I went round and into Trevor but the main car park there was also full.

So, Plan C.  Well, I didn’t have a Plan C but the children were watching me expectantly so I drove towards Llangollen and headed for the Horseshoe Pass.  We pulled in before the cafe at the top and climbed the big hill.

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From the bottom it didn’t look like much.  We walked up to the rock at the top, but it was pretty steep after a couple of months of wet, miserable weather and not many good walks.  The rock at the top didn’t seem to get much closer for a bit, but then we made it.  I was lagging behind the children who seemed to be taking it in turns to run up the hill.

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I’m determined to come back in a couple of months and bounce up the hill with them.  It’s obvious we need to get out more.

So then we made drinks in Edna.  Tomato soup for my son, hot chocolate for my daughter and coffee for me along with one of those chocolate gingers from last time.  Yeah!  I remembered the water.

I was going to pop Edna’s roof up but I couldn’t do it.  I’ve since been back to Rolling Homes and he’s taken me through it step by step as I wasn’t doing it right.  A bit of a relief that it was me rather than the van.  Now let’s keep our fingers crossed for more nice weather.

Which Camper Van? Part 2

So, a second try at the pictures

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This is the rotating passenger seat for two which I think is very useful as it means you can have two passengers in the front and then turn it around to seat four around the table.  Brilliant idea.  It also means your van seats five people for travelling.

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A pop up roof.

  • Good for getting under car park barriers.
  • Good ventilation in the Summer.
  • Large adult double bed
  • Does it hold in the heat well enough????

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A high top van

  • Keeps the heat in efficiently.
  • Can’t be used in car parks with height restrictions
  • The bed in the roof is only supposed to be a child’s bed with a weight restriction on it.
  • Supposed to be cheaper on ferries etc? (Not actually sure if this is true or if it matters much as I’m not close to the coast.)
  • It’s also a long wheel base so it’s a bit bigger (car park spaces again might be a bit more of a problem).

high top van with opening window

Another high top.  I loved the opening window in the top on this one.  The other one has a fixed window which doesn’t open.

Another look with my husband awaits.

Which camper van?

So, I have been looking at camper vans and I’m very excited. I ran part of the way to school to pick up the little one, well I was a bit late too. I have sort of narrowed it down to 4 options. There are three camper vans for sale at different places which could fit our budget and needs and there is still the option to have a second hand van fitted out new, but I’m leaning away from that because of the wait and the fact that there are two very nice options recently converted. The third one is only hanging on by a thread.

I need to think things over and absorb everything and then I’m going to look at them again with my husband and once I’ve narrowed it down again I will take the children to look too (they have seen two of the short list the other week).

The main difference is that I had sort of decided that I wanted a high top because of the heat leaking out and the head height but I have been seduced by a very good pop up top which is reinforced and has a bed that can be used for two adults. Most roof beds seem to be just for children but as my teenage son is growing very fast whatever gives him the most space seems to be a good option. That van also has the option of a good heating system which can be used without hook up and is outside the van and piped in so it’s not really noisy. It also has a double bench seat  next to the driver’s seat that turns around. How cool?

Now at this point I was going to post a picture of the seat and some pictures of the various roofs but for some reason the pictures won’t load.  I have tried loading them one by one instead of all four at once but it still didn’t work.  I have managed to post pictures  before so I’m not sure what’s wrong.  Maybe it’s my internet.  I shall try again tomorrow.  I have taken pictures of the three vans I’ve narrowed it down to so I could show the rest of the family and remember what they were like as well as showing you of course.  Oh well, my intentions were good.

Does anyone else have any experience of pop up tops versus fixed roofs?  I suppose the main bonuses of pop up tops is that they drive as a car, don’t have to worry about height barriers and are a bit like a transformer changing from vehicle to house.  The fixed high roofs are obviously trickier for height barriers and they charge you more for ferries apparently?  But surely they must keep the heat in better?  The gentleman selling the pop top van showed me some pictures someone had just sent him of one of his vans in the snow.  Apparently they took it to the Alps.  I do like his heating system which seems effective but not noisy and the workmanship is top notch.  Can you see which way I’m leaning?  Right I better sleep on things and let the whizzing around in my head settle down a bit.