Monday, 31 August 2020

But Where Else?

Overheard while walking in the Steart Peninsula wetland bird reserve.

Chairman: "That's Hinkley Point over there. If that power station went critical this whole area would be taken out."

Hay: "But what are the chances of that happening? Where has there ever been a nuclear incident at a power station?"

Chairman: "Three Mile Island."

Hay: "But where else besides Three Mile Island?"

Chairman: "Chernobyl."

Hay: "Yes, but where else besides Three Mile Island and Chernobyl?"

Chairman: "Fukushima."

Hay: "Yes, but where else besides Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima....."

Chairman: "Sellafield.

Hay: "Yes, but where else besides........."

Sunday, 30 August 2020


Went to Steart Point in Somerset in the van yesterday and met up with some friends. A nice walk in a nature reserve and a shared, American supper in our van, as we had the space to accommodate 6 people.

Moved the van a short distance for the night, as overnight stays were not permitted at our campsite, but were woken at 1.30am by kids playing music. Other than that, no incidents.

Might move to Sand Point today, or return home - no decision made yet.

Saturday, 29 August 2020

Rule Britannia

It never ceases to amaze me how little nationalists know about their own countries.I keep seeing them referring to Great Britain in a manner which shows that they believe the Great in Great Britain has something to do with greatness, rather than it being a geographical designation for the largest land mass of the British Isles, which excludes Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, the Isle of Wight, Anglesey, the Hebrides, the Orkneys and several hundred other islands.

They witter on about Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory, yet know not a single word of these songs beyond the eponymous, opening refrain. They're apoplectic about the erosion of their culture - a culture they're almost entirely, demonstrably and lamentably ignorant of.

None of them could Morris Dance to save their lives and invariably prefer a bottle of filthy, foreign lager to a nice, warm pint of British beer. They will steadfastly refuse to speak French in France, ignorant of the fact that every word in English that ends in 'able' is French.

For God's sake - their royal house is primarily German.

Britain's culture is a melange created by a number of waves of immigration by refugees and invaders from continental Europe - Celts, Romans, Saxons, Vikings, Normans, Heuguenots, Jews, etc. The place names themselves show settlements to have continental origins - any town or village ending with 'by', for example, was originally a Danish settlement; any ending in 'ton' was Saxon and any ending in 'caster', or one of its variants, was Roman. Our different words for animals and their cooked meat demonstrate the Norman-French influence at the high table. Many surnames bear the trace of continental origin.

Don't tell them though - they'll explode.

Yesterday I was listening the Radio 4's The Long View, where people come together to analyse past events from 1st hand experience. The subject under discussion was British Leyland and British volume car manufacturing. The final analysis showed that its demise was due to an unwillingness to change its culture in the face of changing times. Ironic for a culture that's a mix of other cultures.

The culture that doesn't evolve simply stultifies and dies.

Friday, 28 August 2020

Listen to the People?

Ed Davey has been elected the leader of the LibDems and in his speech said that the party had to listen to the people in developing its policies.

I disagree. Surely a party exists because it holds a philosophical position on the political spectrum and develops policies around that. Voters are then encouraged to vote for that position and consequent policies. 

If Davey wants the party to listen to the people, then which people does he mean, exactly? The people in general hold a variety of positions, from left to right, and you can't please all of them without logical inconsistency. Listening to the majority risks turning your party into a facsimile of either the Labour or Conservative parties. If all parties listened to the majority, there wouldn't be a fag paper's width between their policies, which was the case in the late 90s and early 00s, and the point of parties becomes solely an issue of personalities and power at any price.

Listen to the party members, certainly, but that's not what he said - he said he would listen to voters. Policy should be formulated at the party conference, not sacrificed at the altar of public opinion, else we might as well just have a single party state with polls on every issue.

Thursday, 27 August 2020


Slowly, but surely, we're gaining Railway Kitty's confidence. He appears outside the French doors every morning and evening and will even get right up to the glass and peer into the house to let us know he's there.

He's still very wary of us, but I can now approach to within about 3 metres of him without him moving. The other cats, however, still hate him.

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Trigger Happy Testing

Another person has been shot by police in the USA. Seven times does seem rather excessive; however, it's even more surprising that the victim is still alive after having seven rounds of ammunition pumped into him, although it seems he's unlikely to ever walk again.

The facts have yet to be established, but this is bound to happen in a country where no-one can be certain whether anyone else is carrying a gun or would use it - it makes one a tad trigger-happy and apt to shoot first and ask questions later. Our own experience with knife crime in the UK bears this out and kids are carrying knives for no other reason than someone else may be doing so. It's an arms race.

The NRA makes much capital from the Swiss gun laws, which are among the most liberal in the world, but the Swiss keep their guns at home and don't wander around the streets with concealed weapons - that's illegal in most cases.

In another story, a German university is conducting a tightly controlled trial music event with 1,500 volunteers to see how different strategies can assist is halting the spread of C-19. How enlightened.

Meanwhile, KFC has paused its Finger Lickin' Good slogan as inappropriate during a pandemic where touch is a key vector....

Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Rig Hack

I've thought of a van hack after washing down the awning - rainwater collection from the awning. It is the most precious resource, after all.

The awning has a natural channel along the lower edge, to which it should be a relatively simple task to attach something to funnel the water into a container, or even direct into the water tank.

When Hay was in Devon last week and it was sheeting with rain, she lowered one leg of the awning and the water naturally ran off the lower end. Some form of guttering is what's needed and, I dare say, there are products on the market already that perform this very function. It only requires a short length of plastic guttering for the lower end, along with a filter and some hose to direct it to the tank.

Before searching for something ready made, I'll try to come up with a cheap bodge.

Monday, 24 August 2020

NYPD Touring

Spotted this the other day down the road in Olveston.

Talking of vans, a friend of mine who owns a paint shop has recently bought a very fast, top of the range, VW T6 - automatic with leather seats and a very powerful engine. He paid £21.5k for it 2nd hand and he's about to spend another £15k converting it into a camper. Seems rather a lot of money for a small kitchen on wheels.

I finished weeding our top car park with the flamethrower yesterday - it's the first time in years that it has been completely weed free. A brilliant little piece of equipment.

I'm going to store the new flamethrower weed wand in the van, as it is extremely useful for lighting logs. The farm we stayed at in the Brecons supplied logs and a fire pit for those who wanted it, and I'm seeing this more and more people offering this facility on campsite adverts. Mucking about with firelighters and kindling is a pain and a propane flamethrower would be much more efficient. The AutoGas propane is cheap as chips anyway.

Any suggestions for my next mod for the van? I'm waiting for a local motor electrical outfit to give me a quote on the diesel heater, so it has to be a solar PV array, don't you think, although a cheaper mod would be more welcome to the bank balance.

Sunday, 23 August 2020

A Frustrating Day

I tackled the installation of the new tap for the van yesterday. I expected the job to take no more than about an hour, if that. After removing the old tap, I started off by screwing the feed tails into the new monoblock, but the fact there's a recess meant there wasn't enough space to get a spanner in to nip up the nuts. It took me about half an hour of Google searching to discover that they're not meant to be nipped up and finger tight is enough.

Then it was a case of putting the whole lot together before realising the collar that holds the tap to the work surface was upside down. The whole lot had to be assembled and then dismantled about 3 times in total - there were no instructions with the tap. Even if there had been, they'd have been in Chinglish. 

Then I found out the hole in the work surface was about 1mm too small and I had to file it out to get the retaining collar to go through the hole.

I cut the piping to the correct length to join it to the new tails, removing the existing Fastfix couplings, one of which had to be hacksawed off. Then I discovered that the tail pipe nuts weren't in fact the standard 1/2" BSP, but some Chinese standard. Went out to Screwfix to get some new tails, but they didn't have the exact ones I needed. Went to B"&"Q, where they did have the right tails, but there was a delay because there was no barcode on them.

On the way back to the van, the 1/2" female to 10mm coupling had dropped out of my pocket and it took me half an hour of frantic searching to finally find it on the path.

Tried to dismantle one of the old Fastfix couplings in order to reuse it, but managed to stab myself in the hand with a screwdriver in the process. Back to Screwfix for a bag of 10mm Fastfix couplings.

Finally had everything ready to assemble for the last time before finding out that the new tails weren't quite as long as the supplied Chinese ones, meaning there wasn't enough plastic pipe to complete the connection. Salvaged some copper piping from the old tap to make a couple of inserts a few inches long to bridge the gap, but was delayed while my brother-in-law found his copper pipe cutter.

Was then interrupted by No.1 Son, who wanted me to pick up the car he'd bought earlier in the day - a bit of a shed, but I'd negotiated the dealer down from £995 to £600, so I was quite pleased with myself. It needs another £500 - £800 spending on it to get it roadworthy (although it's MoTed till March), but it was the car No.1 Son wanted and he has the budget - it's a 2003 BMW 2.0 diesel with some interesting rust around the wheel arches; not something I would have purchased myself, but he was insistent, as only someone who knows nothing about cars can be. The insurance alone is going to cost him a couple of grand a year.

It never ceases to surprise me how little the younger generation knows about how cars work. That said, they were much simpler machines in my youth.

I then discovered that the plastic piping wouldn't fit into the 10mm Fastfix couplings, despite me having measured the pipe with a micrometer, meaning I had to salvage the old couplings, which took me another half hour of looking for the bits among all the detritus I'd managed to collect.

After having started at 9am, I finally had the tap installed and working by 4pm.

However, the water pressure wasn't enough to activate the aerator, which was one of the reasons for choosing that particular monoblock. Never mind - Hay was pleased with the result and expressed a desire to have a similar tap in the kitchen, but I certainly won't be buying one from China next time.

I then thought I'd tackle the pressure switch. Opened up the water tank compartment and inspected the piping, only to discover an item that looked suspiciously like the new pressure switch I was about to install. I obviously hadn't looked too closely previously and had made unwarranted assumptions.

Now, as it didn't work, it was either broken or hadn't been calibrated correctly. The latter was the case - the control had been screwed in completely. I unscrewed it about half a dozen times and it kicked into action by cutting out the power to the water pump. Job done, but I now had an extra, £29 Whale pressure sensor spare. I was all for keeping it as a spare, but Hay was insistent on me returning it - it's a foible of hers, just like having a spare of everything is a foible of mine.

Earlier in the day I'd taken delivery of my new, Chinese, propane weed burner and so I took out my frustrations on the weeds in our parking area - and very effective it was too. It's a veritable flamethrower. 

Saturday, 22 August 2020

Hacking the Hackers

I've always preached the emptying of your email service's contents each and every day, paying particular attention to the deleted folder. If hackers get into your mailbox, there's no end of personal, if not financial information, they can access.

I use Gmail to collect my inbound mail, using a local version of Outlook to download them to my computer and Aqua Mail Pro to download them to my smartphone. At the start of every day, I delete the entire contents of my on-line Gmail account - there's no point in having my emails there, as I already have local copies on my phone and laptop. In fact, I have all my emails going back to at least 2006 on my laptop.

I use my personal URL's mail server for outbound mail, which I cc to myself on Gmail, so there are never any sent emails in my Gmail account - they're all in my inbound folder so that outbound messages and replies are in the same place.

It struck me yesterday that a tasty form of retribution against hackers is to leave a single email in your on-line Gmail account in a folder called 'Passwords', attaching a pernicious virus or Trojan to that email, again called passwords. A hacker simply couldn't resist opening it and getting his or her comeupance.

Friday, 21 August 2020


A good friend of mine is moving house in a couple if weeks and wondered whether we'd be interested in a potted plant he had outside his front door.

We decided to offer it a new home, so No.1 Son and I went to collect it. It's massive and required the trailer to shift it.

Thursday, 20 August 2020

Water, Water Everywhere

The place Hay is staying at Morwellham Quay has suffered some flooding from the River Tamar. Our friends had to move their van, but Hay was in an OK location - just. She's back today.

The final piece of the van's water supply jigsaw arrived yesterday - the in-line pressure switch for the pump.

Seems we've started a trend in the family. Hay's sister has also bought a motorhome. I spotted it over the road at Chipping Sodbury Caravans - a Peugeot Autosleeper that I could have got for £9k trade, else it was to be retailed at £14k.

If she hadn't bought it we were up for buying it, doing it up and selling it on to meet the growing demand for staycations. Very similar layout to ours, if a couple of feet shorter, 3 years younger (2004), a smaller 2.0 motor and in need of  nothing more than a good pressure wash and only minimal outlay. We'll all be going on holiday in convoy before much longer.

Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Tick Tock Tap

Just what exactly is the problem Trump has with Tick Tock?

I'm at a total loss as to the reason for his fixation with it.

The new monoblock tap for the van and the necessary connectors arrived yesterday, but I have to wait for Hay to get back from Devon.

Can't wait to fit it. All I need now is the in-line pressure switch for the pump.

I was toying with the idea of buying an electric heat gun for weeds that Lidl will be selling from tomorrow, but I decided in the end to get a propane one and use the very cheap AutoGas LPG I use for the van to fuel it. The weeds in our top car park are a nuisance, but we're not that keen on using commercial weedkillers. A heat gun will be perfect.

Tuesday, 18 August 2020

Railway Kitty

There's a feral cat living in the neighbourhood - he lives somewhere along the railway and so we've nicknamed him Railway Kitty. He's been in the area for about a year.

As you can see from his photo, he's a very scarred bruiser. He's very timid toward humans but doesn't hesitate to pick a fight with our and other local cats. For the last few weeks I've been trying to habituate him to me by feeding him whenever he turns up. 

He used to crouch under a neighbour's car while waiting for me to put food out for him but, of late, he's taken to sitting on the patio table outside our living room doors and staring at me. He still won't come near me, but the distance is slowly decreasing and I can approach to within 5 metres when he's eating before he scarpers.

Monday, 17 August 2020

The New Normal

No.1 Son, who is an IT programmer, was made redundant back in May. He has managed to find a new position with a company in Newport in Wales and starts today (and on a considerably higher salary) - but he's not going in. His on-boarding is being performed remotely over the internet.

Even when things get back to normal, he will only have to go into the office one day a week, as the company has taken the decision that it doesn't need all its employees in an office all at once. This will be the new normal for many IT companies. Those companies that don't move to remote working and saving on office space will find themselves with higher overheads and may lose business because of that.

Sunday, 16 August 2020

Plumbing the Depths

Hay decided yesterday that, if I'm going to play with the van's water supply, then she would like a new tap in the sink, so I investigated the lie of the land (or lay of the land if you're American). Removed the drawers to get access to the water pipes and discovered this.

The red, plastic pipe is the hot water supply, but it has been connected with two Speedfit connectors to two sections of copper pipe, showing evidence of a bodge. Why on earth would anyone use two separate sections of copper pipe, unless either the plastic pipe or the final stretch of copper pipe to the mixer tap had been cut too short? In any case, why not use flexi-hoses? 

There was also evidence of wiring for what used to be a microswitched tap. Someone had replaced what was there with a new tap at some time in the past, but badly.

Now I'm no expert on pipe sizes and connectors, but I managed to conclude that motorhome and caravan piping is 10mm - which is not the size used in houses (I knew that micromerter would come in useful one day). 

Domestic, monoblock mixer taps come with flexible hoses that screw into the bottom of the tap and end in a 1/2" nut, so the exercise was to find an adaptor with a brass, 1/2" male end and a 10mm Speedfit end. Not the easiest of things to find, but I did, at the exorbitant price of £14 for a pair.

Once Hay has been on her road trip next week, I'll effect the new mixer installation at the same time as installing the in-line pressure switch to automate the pump.


The monoblock we chose has an aerator in the flexible nozzle, which gives the impression of better flow while not using more water - it just uses the water more efficiently by bulking it out with air. A clever idea and very useful in a motorhome or caravan, where water is in short supply.

Saturday, 15 August 2020

A Badger Shower for Trump

I've moved the Banksy Bad Badger decal from the doors of the van to further aft, under the writing. Having them on the doors makes it look like it's a badger roadkill tally.

I've also taken delivery of the bespoke, branded hoodie to go with it....

Hay thinks I've reverted to being a teenager - she's right. She's taking the van on Monday for a 3 day jaunt to the south coast to meet up with some friends of ours, but unfortunately I have to stay home and work so I can't join her. I will, however, have to ensure she's familiar with all the checklist steps before she goes.

What with water being the key resource in a motorhome, I've been doing some experimentation over the last 3 days. I wanted to see how short I could make my morning shower and still be clean - we do seem to spend an inordinate amount of time wallowing in water unnecessarily. On day one I started a count as soon as the shower faucet was opened - 46 seconds. On day two I manged to reduce this to 39 seconds. Yesterday I set the record of 30 seconds.

The secret is to have your shower gel or shampoo mixed with water to thin it out, as most of the time under a shower is spent trying to wash off the soap. Water the soap down and it flows quicker, enabling a faster lathering, and also uses less water to get it off you. Thick shampoo isn't actually more concentrated - it's just loaded with thickening agents. The other secret is to get under the flow immediately, rather than waiting for the water to go warm - that saved about 3 or 4 seconds.

Kitchen taps have a flow rate of between 4 and 6 litres per minute. Thus my 30 second shower uses no more than 2 or 3 litres, but the flow rate of a domestic tap is far higher than the trickle the van's water pump generates. I'll have to repeat the experiment in the van itself and accurately measure the water used per minute.

One annoying thing about the van's water supply is that the water flow is not controlled by micro-switches in the taps, as it is in most caravans and motorhomes. You have to switch on the water pump manually and then open the tap. Nor does closing the taps doesn't switch off the pump. That's something I need to change, but will involve a lot of fiddling with wires if micro-switches on taps are used, so they won't. There's a simpler way to achieve the same result by merely having an in-line pressure sensor at the pump end, which switches on the pump when there's a drop in pressure as a tap is opened. A more powerful pump wouldn't go amiss either, but without the risk of blowing the water lines. Also, perhaps, a small, diaphragm  pressure tank to buffer the supply and ensure no lag in water delivery - something around the size of a rugby ball.

I note Trump is complaining about the limits set on American shower heads, which limit the flow so as to aid the conservation of water. He wants the current limit of 9.5 litres of water per minute increased to 9.5 litres per nozzle, rather than the entire fixture, so he can do his hair. The man is a total tosser.

I've also been rethinking the diesel heater. Self-installing it can apparently lead to the habitation certificate becoming invalid, with knock-on consequences for the insurance; getting it professionally installed by a certified installer is prohibitively expensive. So I'm considering installing it in a small, separate box that sits outside the van, with the insulated, heated air outlet being connected to the van through a vent that can be closed when not in use. The box would be stowed in the bathroom when not being used. The controller isn't thermostatically controlled, so that also would be in, or on, the external box.

Power might be a problem - these things take 100W on the start cycle and then settle down to 22-90W, depending on setting. Let's say an average of 50W, then that means 4.16Ah, which would require a 100Ah battery for 24 hours of operation. I'm obviously going to have to fabricate an external, 12V  power socket on the van next to where the heater would be sited, or have a lead entering the cab to a cigar lighter type supply connected to the leisure batteries. Needs a bit of thinking so as to make it elegant and not a bodge.

Friday, 14 August 2020

QI Haircut

Overheard while Hay was cutting my hair yesterday:

Hay: "How can hairdressers justify the exorbitant prices they charge?"

Chairman: "I'll tell you once I have a look at your effort and decide whether I have to visit Franklin's on the High street and pay them £10 to sort out any mess."

That image isn't my bonce, by the way. Hay actually did a good job and I won't be going to the barber's anymore. I always say you can tell when someone is getting old - it's when they don't give a toss how their haircut looks, as long as it's functional.

When we were away last weekend I was using the UK TopoMaps app to track our progress while walking up Fan-y-Big and back. TopoMaps is very power hungry and so I took my power bank with me to ensue I could charge my phone on-the-go. I ended up with the power bank in my haversack and the charging lead snaked over my back to my pocket, where I kept the phone. Rather cumbersome to say the least.

It struck me that it would be a good idea to have a power bank, sufficient for a couple of complete charges (so nothing too hefty), that could simply be clipped to my phone and charge it wirelessly. All the power bank QI chargers that I can find rely on you putting your phone on the wireless charging pad of the power bank and leaving it there - there are none that physically clip to the phone so you can keep it in your pocket and effortlessly use it on-the-go. Doubtless someone has developed one, but I can't find it.

Thursday, 13 August 2020

Jockeying for Power

I discovered today that, within Europe (not the EU), the UK and Belarus (the last dictatorship in Europe) are the only countries to use First Past The Post to elect their government. All other countries use some form of proportional representation or, in the case of France, a second ballot for the top two candidates from the first round.

Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Refugee Badger Flies

Suitable embellishment, in the form of verbiage, has been made to The Bad Badger.

Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that those who just a couple of weeks ago were shouting loudest that All Lives Matter are the ones now screaming for the Royal Navy to send refugees from war torn Syria, who risk their lives to get here in flimsy boats, back to France post haste? Here are some facts about them and here are some more about what they receive from the state. However, facts are extraordinarily ineffective on people who have already made up their minds on the basis of prejudice and bigotry.

What with all our fruit trees, we're suffering from a plague of fruit flies. Apparently placing dry wine bottle corks in your fruit bowl deters them. I've noticed they particularly like scotch, and they're not too bothered about a fine, single malt, or fish and chips from Lidl - my evening tipple with my coffee always ends up with a few drowned fruit flies in it. It doesn't help that the veg recycling bin isn't too far from the house, resulting in a cloud of fruit flies every time I open the lid to add more recycling matter.

Monday, 10 August 2020

A Spark of Genius

What more needs to be said? One of my more brilliant ideas.

Saves on weight and leaves both hands free for shopping.

Talking of genius, the Schools Minister, Gavin Williamson, has said that there is little evidence of C-19 being transmitted in schools. Could that be because they've been closed since March 20th, except to the kids of front line workers who, incidentally, were the worst hit cohort.

He also says a study, which will be published later this year (and I suspect it will be like the Russia Report and the Priti Patel Report - a long time coming) will show schools are not a vector. Could that be like schools not being a vector in the transmission of measles, nits and other afflictions of closely packed children? If the opening of pubs has taught us anything, it's that places where humans congregate are hot spots for transmission.

If the government is no convinced of the result of this study, it must already have been done , conclusions have been drawn and it simply awaits publication. There's nothing to stop them publishing it in summary and this must be done within the next month, not later in the year - which we have come to realise from previous reports means next year.

I'm afraid I can't trust a word this government of incompetents says.

Sunday, 9 August 2020

A Solution or Two

Spent a wonderful weekend in the van in the Brecons and went up the unfortunately named Fan-y-Big - 8 hour and 8 mile walk, interspersed with Hay diving into streams.

It was rounded off by a beautiful sunset,

Here's an idea that kills two birds with one stone - on retirement age, pensioners get the option of a free motorhome from the government, or being bunged into a care home. They also have to give up their homes, but would be compensated at 50% of the market value, either as a lump sum or as a pension. 

That way a load of housing stock is released into the market, making housing cheaper and more affordable for the young, and the elderly become fitter by going on walks and travelling around the country. Retirees would also have motorhome camping sites made available, exclusively to them, at all the national beauty spots.

A friend sent me this yesterday:

The strange thing is that it's exactly my model of ride-on-mower. I sense a project coming up...

Saturday, 8 August 2020

Stay Alert

It strikes me that the people who are currently frequenting pubs are, by definition, the least cautious cohort of the population and therefore present the greatest risk to the rest of us. As much as I love pubs, I value my life a tad more, and it seems to be pubs that are currently the hotspots for virus transmission for very obvious reasons.

This Eat Out to Help Out initiative is to be welcomed, but the catering industry is predominantly staffed by immigrant labour. I find it somewhat ironic that a government which is nationalistic and blatantly anti-immigrant is helping out immigrants with an initiative that saves their jobs and pays them some money.

Those dining out may feel they're getting a bargain, but the discount is coming from their taxes. More specifically, it's those who choose not to dine out during the initiative that are paying for it, as they get no benefit at all but still contributing to the taxes.

Friday, 7 August 2020

Classic Deon Tows

Spotted this on the road yesterday:

A motorhome towing a car. I know a lot of people do this so they can set up camp and use the car for shopping and sightseeing trips; however, wouldn't it be more sensible to reverse the tow and call the motorhome a caravan - and for it to actually be a caravan? A caravan is a fraction of the price of a motorhome and doesn't waste space for the cab. The result in accommodation would be larger and you wouldn't have to pay to keep two vehicles on the road.

I can understand a motorhome towing a small trailer with a motorbike, as a bike is hardly likely to be capable of towing a caravan, but towing a car? It doesn't make financial sense to me.

I had occasion to go to Bridport yesterday and got rather excited about a garage outside of the town that was displaying a number of classic cars on the front, so I took a video.

Do up that VW camper for a few thousand and it's worth £20k in anyone's money. Didn't look at how much the Dino was.

Actually, I just looked up the "Dino" on my VehicleSmart App and discovered it's not a Ferrari at all, but a fibreglass replica called a Deon Scoperta. Certainly looks convincing.

Later today we're off to a socially distance farmer's field in the Brecons for a weekend in the van. Apparently I'm meant to call it a rig, although that sounds rather pretentious. A rig, as far as I'm concerned, is the length of a bus or above 28 tonnes.

Thursday, 6 August 2020

Van Embellishments

Much to Hayley's delight, I've assembled the van diesel heater on the dining table to get a good butchers and a better idea of how it all fits together. It looks pretty simple on the table, but installing it will probably be a different matter, especially as the instructions are in Chinglish - fairly good Chinglish, but Chinglish nonetheless.

I can't, for the life of me, understand why the Chinese can't run the instructions for all their stuff past a reasonably proficient English speaker before publishing them.

Now for the decision on whether to mount the gubbins inside or outside the van. Inside means heat savings but noise and more holes, whereas outside means less noise and fewer holes, but lower efficiency.

I'm also likely to tap into the existing fuel line of the van for the diesel rather than use the supplied diesel tank, which is simpler and gives access to a much larger reservoir. Joints for tapping in are provided.

Managed to fit the reversing camera last night, but it was a nightmare, as the wireless antenna protruding from the back precluded most of the firmer fixing locations. It also has to be close to the wiring going to the reversing light.

Not the ideal place in which to find a firm fixing point as it's mostly flimsy plastic skirting and I'm going to have to provide some additional fail-safe mechanism to catch it in the event the damned thing falls off due to vibrations.

I may have to create a modification with metal that can attach to the chassis and extend down to provide the correct clearance distance.

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

SUP Novices

When away last weekend, we saw a lot of people using stand-up paddle boards on the sea. Many were quite expert at using them, but a sizeable proportion were complete novices and said so. SUPs have become the latest waterborne fad.

When riding a SUP your body acts like a sail and, having only one paddle that you have to lift continuously from side to side, it's not the fastest of waterborne craft. It's also relatively easy to get toppled off as your centre of gravity is very high and the whole system is inherently unstable. The SUP itself is like a cork and very susceptible to wind.

If there's an onshore wind then, if you get into trouble, you're merely blown back toward the beach. If there's an offshore wind you can easily get blown miles.

My advice is to use SUPs only on lakes or rivers until such time as you're proficient and know how to stay away from trouble and, if you do get into trouble, how to rescue yourself from it - which is invariably to get off it and swim while pushing it. However, even that won't be enough if you get carried away by a strong riptide or wind.

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Seeing Data

Where we stayed for our short holiday has very little data - it's there, but you only catch the occasional wisp of it in odd places, and even then only fleetingly.

Wouldn't it be fantastic if someone could invent specs that enabled you to see where the data was - a bit like polarising sunglasses. 

Monday, 3 August 2020

Bad Badger Lessons

Returned from a 4 day jaunt in the van - aka The Bad Badger - yesterday and learned a lot:

  1. Water is the most precious resource. Luckily we had access to a tap a couple of minutes walk away and could refill the 60L water tank - I reckon we used about 80 litres over 4 days, and we were very sparing with it.
  2. A collapsible water bucket is very handy and cheap but, if you don't want to go to the expense of £5.99, the 5L, plastic water containers that Tesco do for their mineral water are perfect. Get a couple, plus a jug with which to fill them as they don't fit under a standard sink tap.
  3. The two 110Ah leisure batteries were more than enough and we hardly made a dent in the available power. Hardly needed to use the 1kW inverter.
  4. We use 3.55 litres of LPG which, when I refilled the refillable polycarbonate LPG tank with AutoGas, cost me £2.06 at Morrison's in Bridgewater on the return trip. We have enough in a full tank for a couple of weeks, although we didn't do much in the way of heating domestic water and I had only one shower (Hay washed in the sea). While certainly not powerful, the shower is adequate - but learn to shower in a very short time; not running the water while you soap up, for example.
  5. It's better to use a plastic washing up bowl than use the sink for washing up - the sink empties into the dirty water tank and just results in you carrying around extra weight, which will add to fuel consumption. A bowl of dirty washing up water can simply be thrown into a hedge and isn't toxic.
  6. Some biological washing powder in the cassette loo is better than that blue stuff, which stains everything it comes into contact with, is hideously toxic and can only be ditched in a proper facility. A friend gave me this advice, and it works perfectly.
  7. Downloading a few Nexflix films to your mobile is well worth doing before you leave, just in case you have no data where you're headed (as we did). 
  8. Mark laybys on Google Maps, so you know where you can stop off to make a drink on the return journey. It's a good idea anyway, as some of them will be eminently suitable for an overnight stay in emergencies, especially in more out-of-the-way places.
Things I've bought and are on order:

  1. A 3-5kW diesel heater (which has actually already arrived) - £85.
  2. A wireless reversing camera, which will be handy in tight spots - £59.
  3. A couple of collapsible water buckets - £12.
I'm still contemplating on the solar panels. A desalination plant would be better so we can convert seawater to potable water.

Can't wait for the next jaunt, which looks like it will be to Porlock this coming weekend, if the weather forecast holds. We found a great little campsite for £10 per person, per night, with free water. We checked it out yesterday and it's well spaced and very central.