Real world adventures 

Our Adventures

By Raymond Perry 10 Jan, 2017
The summer seems a long way off at the moment, especially with reports of snow storms hitting the UK soon. 
When it comes to preparing for trips and getting those jobs done, allowing a bit of extra time can take the pressure off.
We have our Iceland trip looming in July and I knew there were a few niggles with The Frankenwagen. 
The major problem being a nasty noise coming from the front of the van when in 4wd.
So we made the journey north to Brickwerks near Holmfirth, who are a garage well known for having OCD when it comes to getting stuff right. Also a good excuse to check out Michael's minty Golf Country and have a mooch around on the moors.
They did a service and detailed inspection, a few bits to sort on our return in a couple of months giving time to get some of the hard to find parts. 
The noise was quickly diagnosed as a worn CV joint. 
Not a game changer as we have a spare axle on the Danish border tucked away in Marlow's unit.
Another trip to plan then!

By Raymond Perry 12 Dec, 2016
Sitting in the van in a pub carpark in the dark with the windscreen wipers going isn't a good start to any camp, especially a hastily arranged xmas 'do' in the middle of the Surrey Hills.
The default spot we had in mind was off the cards and conversations along " yeah I'm sure you'll get through the green lane this way" were slightly worrying and "I have the tree saw in the back too" was hardly confidence inspiring!
We had met up with Dan and Jed with their families and opted for a quick pint in the pub at Coldharbour which miraculously saw all fears of ensuing fibre glass roof injuries disappear. 

After the pub, we followed Jed with his 1 million watt light bar through the green lane mud and eventually got to a small clearing in the forest.
Awnings were wound out and many beers opened. Despite the grim weather we remained outside, buoyed by the Gin and listening to Dan and Jed's adventure stories. These are great times to get together and share these stories and plan new trips.  

By Raymond Perry 27 Nov, 2016
We had planned to hike up to Pen y Fan and camp out in the snow as preparation for a christmas adventure. Having driven around the Tal y bont reservoir and seeing how beautiful it was, we decided to tuck into one of the car parks and camp in the van. 
We packed our rucksacks and hiked up the adjacent path up to Fan y Big, an amusingly named peak on the horseshoe ridge down from Pen y Fan. There was some snow left from a recent spell of bad weather and quite a bit of hill fog in some areas. The skies were fanatstic with the sun bursting through the fog and giving relief from the sub zero temperatures high up.
We had to use the compass in some areas as the visibility was poor, carefully picking our way through the peat bogs.
We decided to head back via the easy Byway  which proved to be a good move, as the heel from Jude's walking boot came away.
We had a  steady climb down the Taff trail down to a beautiful sunset to finish the day.

By Raymond Perry 28 Oct, 2016
Autumn is a great time of year to get out riding on the mountain bike.  The sunsets can be amazing and it's pretty easy to get a decent photo. This one by Chanctonbury Ring in Sussex was taken with an iPhone. One of the rare times Jude and I get out together on the bikes.  

By Raymond Perry 19 Oct, 2016
Since we had the van, the clutch was very juddery and it was difficult driving over even the smallest obstacle without stalling it. Upon inspection, it was soon obvious that the cause of this was broken springs in the clutch plate. The lining itself still had plenty of material left on it.  We installed a whole new clutch kit and spigot bearing too. The spigot bearing was a bit tricky to remove and used the proven grease and hammer method to eek it out.  A Mini clutch alignment tool fitted the hole perfectly.   
By Raymond Perry 18 Sep, 2016
After collecting the new Mefro wheels from Lee, Maisie and I headed into the Brecons for an adventure. We weren't disappointed.
The sky was beautiful and not a cloud visible, coffee and biscuits consumed then time to pack for the walk. I'd forgotten to pack a rucksack and tempting as it was to not take anything up the hill, I used a shopping bag we had in the van and Maisie's Cretan clarinet bag. Waterproof top and trousers, hat, gloves, food and flask were all wedged in. I felt  like all the other unprepared flip flop and sandal wearers- not having the correct kit.
Anyway, we trudged on and were soon playing in the snow that we'd seen on the top whilst driving up.  We sat down for lunch and I noticed in the distance that a large black cloud, snow falling clearly from it, was heading our way.
Within minutes the temperature plummeted and a whiteout ensued.
We were instantly reminded of the importance of being prepared and apart from carrying everything in a shopping bag, we were.
There were, unfortunately, many other people who were caught out. We'd spotted some girls only wearing lycra and several guys in just t shirts. After about 40 minutes, it cleared and the sun came back out. We built a snowman and returned to the van.

By Raymond Perry 23 May, 2016
We hooked up with Andy Mallinson from www.mountainsummits.co.uk  to improve our navigation skills.
Like most people, we can work around a landranger map relatively easily and in years of mountain bike trail riding, have managed to get around ok(except on the Coliford Lake trip:-))

Upon opening an explorer map on Glen Etive on our recent Scottish road trip, we discovered that there are very few marked trails and due to their open access laws, you can pretty much go where you like.
This is all well and good, but all the mountains and burns look the same and it became evident fairly quickly that we needed to go back to basics.

We met Andy at a carpark near Pitlochry in the Cairngorms and were furnished with a map of our route. Along the way we practiced  finding  out where we were and learned how to use a compass properly.
We stopped off at Queen Victoria's lunch hut on the Cateran trail for some grub. This is essentially a Bothy erected at the site where the Queen stopped for lunch in 1865. 

At the end of day 2, we were able to navigate by using contour lines, Maisie was particularly good at this. 
By Raymond Perry 20 Sep, 2015
This was a local one for us, a well known sneaky hideaway only 6 miles down the road. It's a short byway to a dead end right by the shore with little room for manoeuvre and we had to reverse using 2 lamps to guide us in. It was a beautiful still evening and the sky was clear.  I don't know why, but for ages I'd dismissed this as a contender for an overnighter because it was just down the road, for some reason I used to think that we needed to get on the road for a few hours  to have a good camp out.  
Unusually, the prevailing SW wind was replaced with a slight Northerly and we were able to have a fire going on the beach without being blasted with ash.  Luckily we'd packed the Dutch oven and we knocked up a respectable chilli and nachos with cheese over the fire. So it ended up being a real gem of a spot.
The sunrise in the morning was beautiful too. That's when I noticed it had been sticker bombed by Campervan culture.com. 
I really like this photo because it shows how peaceful it was despite it's location.

By _dm_templates 06 Sep, 2015
A visit to the plains to test the newly rebuilt axle. We had the van back from Hardy engineering and needed to give it a proper trial in 4wd mode, we hadn't been offroad before so this was a baptism of fire. These large puddles looked tame enough, but we did get water in the cab steps.    
By Raymond Perry 25 Jul, 2014
This is the Frankenwagen, so named after the last 3 letters of the original numberplate and because it's made by VW.
It is an LT40 and is one of only approx 1200 ever made. 
We imported it from Austria with the help of Mike  from www.busman.be .  We saw it for sale on a German website and after looking at the photos,  it was exactly what we were after.
I spoke to the owner a few times and he had been inundated with enquiries to buy it. We got on well on the phone exchanging stories of camping and vans etc. His family had been touring in it full time for a year. They had travelled to Morocco, Algeria, Iran, Oman, all the Balkans, Turkey, Greece and numerous others.
After Mike gave us the thumbs up, we headed down by our own version of "by any means" to drive it back.
A quick kick to the tyres and without even bothering to check the oil, we hit the road home.....slowly.
It had everything we needed: solar power, shower, hot water, Loo, twin bunks, fold out double bed, auxiliary fuel tanks, roof rack, CB radio, diesel heater, 2x CD players, hob and sink etc. It even has an on board air compressor for tools and tyre inflating.     

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