The Van

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Scuttle Panel.Part 2

Back in November 2012 I posted about the leaking scuttle panel.There was a gap between the panel and the windscreen,which allowed water to run down the screen and lay on top of the engine.This can be bad as the injectors will get very rusty.The van is parked up in the week and when there has been a lot of heavy rain,a big puddle formed on the top of the engine.
After a bit of research I came up with a fix.This didn't entirely go to plan though!After removing all the screws that hold the two piece scuttle panel in place,I was unable to shift the two large nuts that hold on the wiper arms.This would have allowed full removable of the scuttle panels.They were quite loose though,so I used a marker pen along the top to get a line where the panel should touch the windscreen.Next I ran a bead of blck sika EBT along the length of the screen,just under the line.Then pushed the panel back onto the screen and replaced the screws.Also ran a bead of sika where the two panels are joined.Smooth off sika and job done!

It's rained a few times since and the top of the engine has remained dry,so the fix seems to be successful!

Monday, 25 August 2014

Odds And Ends.

It's been a while since my last post and the holiday seems long gone! The van worked perfectly though,everything operating as it should.I did learn a few things along the way as it was our first time using aires as the main overnight camping.I would highly recomend buying a copy of all the Aires book,from Vicarous Books.this excellent book is full of infomation and pictures to aid one in choosing good places to overnight.

I need to add a small length of hose and some fittings ,as sometimes in the bigger busier aires you need to fill up with fresh water quite quickly and my 10L can takes quite a while! A French man noticed this and lent me his hose so that he didn't have to wait long!

Back to the van then,and the folding table that I made before we left.Turned out to be a bit unstable ,wobbled a bit tool much.Here's the new one that has now taken its place.

Another job that I had to do was sort out the cutlery drawer which decided to randomly fly out when the van when round sharp corners.This was quit annoying as the contents flew all over the van floor.
The remedy is a small catch from Screwfix.Worked a treat in France as long as I remembered to close it before setting off.

There are a few more jobs/ changes to be made ,I'll reveal some in the next post.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Le Havre

 The vans parked up at the aire in Le Havre while we wait for the evening ferry.The aire is in a nice position right on the side of the port.It has 19 spaces and is right near the town.

Daisy waiting for the ferry!

Thursday, 3 July 2014



We stayed at the aire here in Honfleur for half a day ,to eat lunch on our way to Le Havre.
Its a huge aire with 100 spaces ,and was really busy.
Saw a couple of nice vans that stood out from the normal bland coach builds .

This beast was levelled up on hydrologic jacks!

This one is my ideal van,with the extra hi top to make a drop down bed.

Also spotted this stretched limo boat!

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Pegasus Bridge.


We realised that the bridge was on our route back to Le Havre,so we had to pay a visit.its situated in a town called Benouville and we arrived and parked up at the cafe Gondree for breakfast.

This building was made famous as it was the first house in France to be liberated by the British Army on the 5/6 June 1944.The 6th Airbourne Division,which was commanded by Major John Howard,arrived in gliders and recaptured the bridge.The cafe is still run by the Gondree family.

The bridge itself is a bascule bridge ( a movable bridge ) which swings up from one end to enable boats to move up the Caen canal,which runs between Caen and Ouistreham.The origional bridge was built in 1934 and replaced with a new identical one in 1994. The origional bridge is in the grounds of the museum of liberation ,which is situated on the other side of the bridge and well worth a visit.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014


We have driven back up North today , ready to catch the ferry home from Le Harve .Staying the night on an Aire at 8€ a night.

It's quite busy here with a mixture of vans from different countries,this large beast on French plates has just pulled in and taken up two bays! I think it has room for a car in the rear end.

Quite noisy here ,as the ferry leaves late and a new one arrives early tomorrow morning.
Hoping to visit Pegasus Bridge tomorrow .

Vets In France.


We left it a bit late to take Daisy to the vets to get checked over etc.Its a minimum of 24h and a max of 120h before returning to the UK.After a quick look on line one wad located in Gemozac,so we swung by at 10am.There was a little wait as two people were waiting before us.The receptionist spoke English and disapeared with Daisy's passport.

After a while it was out turn and we were ushered into a room.The vet didn't speak any English ( he probably did ,but didn't let on ) ! Anyway he gave Daisy a good examination and all was good.After filling in the passport we parted with 32€ and were on our way, next door to Lidl to buy some pan chocolate for breakfast!

Here's a picture of the vets,small non descript building with a dirty sign.

Here's the details of the vets

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Big Dog!


A couple of days ago we spotted a man walking a massive dog round the port,so when I saw him last night I had to take his picture!

He's a giant Pyrenees and the picture doesn't really do him justice!! He was massive.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Lunch time!


We decided to eat at lunch time today and stopped off at a small roadside resturant that we have eaten at previously.Its situated on the main road through St Genis De Saintonge.Most people would just drive past and not notice it,but it's very popular with the locals!

We had a menu Formula,which consisted of 4 courses and wine.the main course was fish.

Now we are parked up in the port at St Seurin as there is a feu de la musicique this evening.



It's still warm here in the Charente, 29* today ! We're parked up on an aire in Jonzac tonight, ready for the marche tomorrow. 

The service point is a bit further along and takes tokens.The area where we are parked has very long bays for large vans.Theres also no restriction on staying here.
There's also a new toilet,which gets cleaned every morning by two ladies.

Jonzac is quite a nice town with a marche on three days a week , selling fresh produce and usual market things.Theres even a man who will sharpen your knives!.

The biggest building of interest is the fortified Hotel De Ville building at the top of town.This also had a partial moat round it at some point.

Here is a picture of the other side.

And the Hotel De Ville building

There was also a Brocante last Sunday.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Van Spotting.


Here's a couple of nice vans that I've seen in the last couple of days.Its quite difficult to spot different ones as most camping cars are coach built and all look the same!

This is a really nice T4 conversion,Inthink French and it has a really nice pop top .It looks really cool ! 
I didn't get to speak to the owner as he was in b&b when we arrived and not up when we left.

This one was in a hypermarket carpark,its a short wheelbase hightop conversion on a Fiat Ducatto,it looked to be well equipped and was driven off by an older lady,who gave us a wave.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Dog Shower!


Daisy had her first wash in the van! It was quite an easy job in the wet room with the shower head.She didn't seen to mind too much.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Croq Monsieur

Had my first Croq of the trip the other day, it was goood!

French Travel Vans.

Most camping cars look the same here,so its good to see some other selfbuilt one's! Here's a couple that I've seen in the carpark in Pons.



It's still very warm and sunny here.Its about 25*c with a breeze. We took a ride to  town called Pons,this has shops etc,but also a couple of interesting buildings that are worth checking out.

The first being a fortified keep which is perched at the top of a hill and has panoramic views over the Seugne valley.The first keep was completely destroyed in 1179 by a certain Richard the lion heart,who came to put down a revolt.It was rebuilt as it is today by Geoffrey 111,Lord of Pons ( great name ) ,and finished in 1187.Its an amazing tower with a museum at the bottom.

The second building is the hotel De Ville with its gardens that sits next to the tower.its rather a splendid building too.

When we go to Pons we usually go to our favourite resturant which is situated next to the tower.Unfortunatly is was closed for renovation!! So we had to use the one on the right( it's not as good though ).

Monday, 16 June 2014

Mortage Sur Gironde.


We have been staying at Camping Municiple Bell Air in Mortage Sur Gironde. There is an Aire down in the Port,but there are no restrictions on staying there,hence it's always full.I can't see the point of parking and leaving the van in the same spot for the whole holiday really !

Anyway back to the campsite,its a real gem.Perched at the top of a hill ,overlooking the Port.

That's the van hiding in its pitch.There are 22 pitches over two levels,all seperate by hedging.There is a service point at the end of the pitch,with EHU ,water and waste emptying ,including toilet.
At the front of the site is the service block with the office,showers,washing facilities ( washing machine 4€ and tumble dryer 4€ ). Also there's sinks with hot water to wash up ! 

The whole place is spotless and run by a lady who comes in at 7am for a couple of hours and the same in the evening.

There has never been anymore than 5 other vans /tent present while we have been staying,so it's very quiet.Free wifi also!! The mast is on the end of the block so it doesn't travel right to the other end of the site.

Down in the Port there is a few restaurants and a couple of shops selling fresh produce.The village has a baker,tabac,La Poste ( only open in the morning ) tourist infomation and a pizza place.

I know you must be wondering how much does it cost to stay at this loverly place?
Well I can tell you its € 13.34 per night! That's for two adults in a camping car,with EHU and Daisy,she has to pay 1€ .

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Negative Polarity.

When I hooked up to the EHU at the aire in St Seurin and looked at the plug tester inside the van,only one light was on instead of the usual three.The plug was saying that neutral and live wires were wrong.I won't go into why or what happens as I don't really understand it or the consequences ,but you can google it and all will be explained.

I had read about it before without really understanding it,so I packed a small length of orange cable and two plugs in the van.After a quick read,one plug was wired in as normal and the other one was wired with the neutral and live reversed.I decided to use the end that plugs into the van for this.
After plugging in and switching on,all was well, three lights glowing.

That's the only aire that I've needed to use the reversed polarity lead so far.Those plug testers are a really useful thing to take along with you to France though and naked up a lead before you go.

Friday, 13 June 2014

We're In The Charante Maritime!


After leaving the Loire region we drove about 100 miles to get to our favourite region,the Charente Maritime! Its hot and sunny! 30*c to be precise !Happy Days.

A quick stop in the Super U in Gemozac,which has been massively extended since we were last here.And is now quite large with a big range of items.We then headed for our next nights stop St Seurine D'Uzet.This is one of our favourite places.The aire is along side a tidal creak ,which flows in from the Gironde Estuary.At the other side is a large grass area with picnic tables and a great view over the estuary .

For 7€ a night you get unlimited EHU ,potable water and waste emptying!The lady came over on a push bike to collect the money and recognised us from when we used to camp at the municiple site on the opposite side of the river.This was a large site with 50 pitches,but has been closed for three years now,probably due to the recession .There is a small shop across the road fom the port where baguettes ,wine and other goodies can be purchased.

There's also a loverly old church that's open all the time.Here is a quick picture ,I'll add some more later.

First Night.

After leaving the ferry in Cherbourg we drove down past mont St Michael ,round Rennes and into the Pays De Loire region.The roads were clear ,except for Rennes,where it was rush hour and made progress slow!
After consulting the All The Aires book ,we found a small camping car aire, in a small village called Chavagnes En Paillers.This was situated behind a small retail area,amongst some bungalows.There are only three bays and a service point.You can empty the toilet and grey waste for free.For a 2€ Jetton ( token ) you can have 55mins of electric and 10 mins worth of potable water!.I bought two tokens the next morning for future use.
The night was very quiet and peaceful.After showering and breakfast we headed off.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Goodbye England!

Travel van world will be blogging  from France for the next couple of weeks!!
I'll be posting about Aires stayed at and how things are working ( or not ) on the van and also how the mobile internet we have performs .

Here's a picture of Portsmouth harbour from the rear of a Brittany FerriesFast-craft. 3h fom Portsmouth to Cherbourg .


Saturday, 7 June 2014

The Last window.

Not long left till our holiday,so I decided to fit another window in the back door.Its a match of the size that is in the other back door and let's a bit more light into the rear of the van.
This was a very quick operation as I've already fitted four so know the routine! 

Fitting took about an hour and a half all in ,these windows are a joy to fit and look good too.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Sliding Door Finishing.

Hello there!

The sliding door is quite a large area to cover.Its bigger than one 8 x 4 sheet and quite a fiddle to fix.Especially if you've already built a kitchen unit, which covers most of it! Like me.

So, I've used two sheets of 3mm birch ply.The bottom panel ,which was black plastic was used as a template.Before fixing ,the void was filled with a sheet of space blanket that was left over from a job.This should give a bit of extra insulation.Then using an angled drill to fix some self drilling/tapping screws.

The top section was a little harder,as there was the window to cut out and a reveal to form.The top part of the door is insulated with some 25mm Kingspan,held in with expanding foam.the board is then fixed in the same way and edged round the reveal.

Both panels have been oiled and will need sanding and another couple of coats at a later date.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Drivers Seat Swivel.

I fitted the seat swivel to the drivers seat today.Its a CTA the same as the passenger seat.Just need some seat covers now to match the seats up.