Thursday, 26 October 2017

For Sale

**SOLD **
Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Going off air

Hello. I know what you're thinking - he's here again with another post apologising for the lack of posts; not much happening, winter weather, etc, etc. I thought it best to put something up here as there's been quite a few things happening under the radar over the last few months.


There's a double-meaning in the post's headline; yes, I went off-air in terms of writing anything here - apologies for the two year gap, and secondly, the much discussed and documented air ride is no longer on the van.

I had all kinds of issues, mostly with Airrex and quality (or lack of) issues with their product. Both front struts failed, leaving me with no option other than to find a quick replacement - I need the van year-round after all. This is where the wrangling started; I had bought the struts through iKustoms who originally ordered them through an Airrex UK distributer. Unfortunately for me the UK distribution had changed hands and the new party wanted nothing to do with replacing my struts. I was well out of warranty and had nothing in my way of consumer-rights as time had passed since the purchase date.

To make matters worse I had sent the struts back to the new UK distributer who then 'lost' them. I had no front suspension, no replacement, no refund, no one taking responsibility, Airrex suddenly couldn't speak English... this went on for nearly a year.

Eventually they admitted fault and honored me with a fresh set of the latest version of their front struts. I was then able to bundle everything together and sell the kit on. I look back and kick myself for going down the airride route. Having said that, there's now much better products on the market, these were unavailable when I specified my setup.

But we should only look forward I suppose. We've still been using the van regularly; Cornwall and the southwest, city breaks, VW shows, days out, it's still being used. I've made a few little changes here and there, changed a few camping products - I'll go in to more details soon.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Super September...

...a month to remember!

When chatting to people about the van, one question that often crops up is 'do you use it much?'. Now at first this always seems fairly odd and I usually answer with an upbeat 'Yes, you've got to' - meaning that six years of sinking all my hard-earned in to a campervan, do you think I just look at it?

If possible I'd be away in it more but the usual commitments always get in the way. But this last month has been fantastic and, in no way intentional, we have managed to be in the van every weekend since the end of August.

Weekend one
We left work on Friday evening and made the trip to Strensham services - we overnighted here to be at Busfest for first-light the next day. Busfest was as busy as ever, as a regular visitor I don't think it would be wrong of me to say it's getting a bit same-y. Maybe the format needs shaking up a bit, maybe we'll give it a miss next year... It was nice to have a look over the new T6 van but I don't think I'll be facelifting my facelift any time soon.
By 4pm we were ready for the off. It was back to the M5 for a quick jaunt to Gloucester Services (simply the best services on the motorway network) for a shower and grab some provisions to eat further down the road. By 7pm, with the aid of a good playlist, we were parked up in our usual spot at Taunton Deane. We'd toyed with the idea of going further that evening but that would have meant stopping at an unknown location, both feeling tired we stopped, ate pies, drank a bottle of beer, watched a bit of TV and fell asleep.

Our regular spot at Taunton Deane services

We slept in on Sunday morning! It must have been all the walking around Busfest. We used our breakfast voucher (as part of the overnight parking fee) and quickly got on our way.
It's not often we have a deadline to keep but our destination was Chapel Porth near St. Agnes for the World Bellyboarding Championships - British eccentricity at it's best!

The bit between weekends one and two
The first campsite we arrived at on Sunday afternoon was Dove Meadows at Marazion - we'd stay here for just two nights before moving on.

Just two minutes walk from the campsite at Marazion

From Marazion it was a quick hop up to Falmouth and Menehay Farm Touring Park - again two more nights here before moving on.
Our final stop was a new one - there's always that element of trepidation when first arriving at a site never before visited - but three nights at Padstow Touring Park didn't disappoint. Excellent facilities, a great location, friendly staff, nice camping neighbours (plenty of VWs!) meant this is one site we will definately be heading back to.

Great sheltered pitch at Padstow Touring Park

Weekend two
This would be our last night at Padstow before the long Sunday haul home. So far there had only been one spot of rain, during the night, I guess we'd been lucky.

Weekend three
Regular readers will know that we've done our fair share of VW shows over the last few years. But a 'festival' is somewhere the van has rarely gone. Partly down to a different crowd that may not be as appreciating of my shiny paintwork and partly as neither Mrs. Stone174 or I have been the 'festival' type. Back in December last year we booked early-bird tickets for the Good Life Experience, a festival we'd heard of via Instagram friends that looked to be our kind of thing. I'll probably go in to more details in a future post but I'll say now - we're booking tickets for next year the day they are released!

Our generous pitch at the Good Life Experience (beer open!)

Weekend four
The weather forecast was good again. We'd had barely a drop of rain in Cornwall, or at the Good Life Experience, and with the van still half-packed we started hunting for a campsite that could have us for just one night, ideally within an hour's drive of home. With a yearning for some sea air we chose Red Bank Farm at Bolton-le-Sands on the west coast, just above Morecambe. Two fields, both gently sloping, one with a view of the village and railway line, the other with sea views across the bay to Grange and the south lake district beyond. We chose the latter, leveled-up, went for a beach walk, barbecued and slept well. All in perfect clear weather conditions.

The fantastic views at Red Bank Farm

So all-in, September has been great to us. We're planning the rest of the year with enough trips to break up the winter boredom and feeling of hibernation. Then there's 2016; Dubfreeze... Volksworld... Cornwall...

Monday, 10 August 2015

It's curtains for the old blinds

Here's a perfectly timed upgrade that we've been wanting to do for a while. The old internal window blinds have served us well but always felt a little 'temporary'. And since using the external cab blind more often, the internal ones were simply getting in the way... the solution; curtains.

We'd been aware of a curtain kit from Kiravans for quite a while but weren't in a position to justify the price. But thanks to a competition they were running we soon found ourselves with a nice voucher towards the purchase. As is usual in the land of Stone174, nothing is ever that simple - there's nothing in the Kiravans curtain range for the right hand sliding door on our twin slider... Time for a little Yorkshire ingenuity.

As we were keen to continue using the external cab blind, the kit ordered comprised of a curtain for the left hand sliding door, one for the tailgate, and another left hand sliding door kit (a right hand fixed window version would be too wide).

Pic: Kiravans

As you can see the curtains look nice and simple - they're always under tension so don't flap or move around - and the black-out option we went for certainly seems to work.

Fitting is relatively straightforward and the mounting kit is sufficient. Confidence with a drill is required! We started on the left hand sliding door first (all fine), then on to the tailgate (again, all fine with some very slight adjustment to the curve of the rail), and then on to the driver's side sliding door.

Here we simply 'flipped' the left hand version - the top rail is still the top rail but now mirrors the one at the other side, this fits fine without adjustment. Next we offered up the bottom rail - here it doesn't fit 'perfectly' at either end - the rear corner needed a tweak to fit and the front fouls against the door handle plastic cover.

At first I thought it would be case of 'out with the angle-grinder' and trim the rail... but on closer inspection (it's always wise to take a step back, have a brew, and mull things over for a bit) we decided to remove the door handle cover, trim it to the profile of the curtain rail, fit the rail, replace the cover - perfect!

Thanks Kiravans, not only for the curtains but for letting us be your competition winners!

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Cornwall in Three

'So did the three-part Cornish break work?' you ask. Well yes, pretty much. The only restricting factor (when trying to keep the mile-count down) was the weather.

Basing yourself in a particular location on a particular day meant that, unless you wanted to travel, you stick with the weather in that location. On previous breaks we have often moved from north coast to south coast (and vice versa) to chase the good weather. It wasn't too big a deal and in reality we had one cloudy morning and one with that wonderful Cornish mizzle that thankfully blew out by early afternoon to leave the usual crisp blue skies and light cloud.

One part of the break that we really enjoyed was having the bikes with us:

At our first stop, Dove Meadows at Marazion, we could leave the van on site and jump straight on the the coastal path that runs around Mount's Bay in to Penzance and on to Newlyn. With a pasty or two for the outbound journey and a beer or two on the way back, the bikes opened up another viewpoint of our favourite spots. Using the parts of the national cycle network that criss-cross quite a few of Cornwall's narrow, almost-traffic-free, lanes we could reach places previously unvisited such as the lovely Tremenherre Sculpture Gardens just outside Penzance.

Then on to Falmouth and the surprising Menehay Farm campsite. A first-time visit for us and we've already booked to go back for a few more nights in September. We were given a friendly welcome and a pitch number and then left to it, just how it should be. Great facilities, level pitches, free wi-fi, a wonderful location and transport links in to town, it was hard to find fault with Menehay. Vanlife really started to kick-in here as our pace relaxed:

As the weather was favourable we opted to walk in to Falmouth; a mile and a half of down hill, up hill and down again left us both ready for a beer on arrival. The following day we chose a more leisurely route around Swanpool and Ghyllyngvase beaches. There's a regular circular bus with a stop right outside the campsite should it be required.

Finally it was north to Trewan Hall, the site we can always trust to be consistently good.

Using the bikes more and the van less had been good on the wallet too - without the need for an extra tank of diesel meant we could spend a little more on eating out than usual, and here on the north coast are the perfect opportunities to do just that - the perfect way to end the break.

We'll be doing another three-part break again in September using two of the sites mentioned here and one totally new site to us - it's got to be a good way of finding new spots without relying on one particular site for the whole break.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Splitting a holiday in three

Hello there! Long-time-no-blog. Thought I'd put down a handy tip for touring around a holiday destination without racking up too many miles. You see, in previous years of visiting our beloved southwest, we've stayed in the one location (Trewan Hall campsite) and then dragged ourselves up and down the A30 and A39 visiting our favourite spots.
This year we're trying something a little different; a holiday of three parts, each location spaced far enough apart to give us a different part of Cornwall without the need to use the van quite as much.

Our first stop will be Dove Meadows at Marazion, ideal for St. Michael's Mount, Penzance, St. Ives, Sennen and all that the very tip of the county has to offer.
Then a short hop to Menehay Farm on the outskirts of Falmouth for a couple of nights where we're hoping to sample some of the pubs and restaurants in town.
Finally, after stocking up on some provisions in Truro, we'll head up to Trewan Hall for the classic North Cornwall beaches, Padstow, Newquay, Perranporth etc.

Seems a really simple idea and one we've discussed on previous breaks - now to put it in to practice!