Caravan Adventures Mon, 30 Oct 2017 11:32:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Caravan Adventures 32 32 Caravan Withdrawal Mon, 30 Oct 2017 11:32:35 +0000 More]]> Yep I’m convinced I’m suffering withdrawal. Not because we decided to put the van to bed for the winter, we conciously decided not to do that. We will use the van all year! Well it seems that my have been a little optimistic.

I have been so busy for the last couple of months and there is no let up until Christmas this year! It’s not usually like this. Lots of my friends and brass playing colegues always stay busy right to Christmas, what with playing carols at shopping centres etc…. with brass bands, but I don’t do brass bands. I am a big band musician playing swing and jazz and each year since school I have managed to avoid the Christmas rush. Well this year I have been playing as a guest for a couple of other bands and that seems to have caught up with me and messed with my caravanning plans!

I have to admit I do love playing my trumpet but I equally love my time away with the management.

The only weekend I have or had free in December I stupidly booked something thinking I could take the van…… NO the local site is fully booked! So I have got to drive their and back the same day. No mulled wine for me that day!

We can go between Christmas and New Year! Well no. New Year’s Eve is our wedding anniversary (good thinking eh? Someone always throws a party for us and I never forget) well this year it’s us that’s having the party so I’ve been told we have too much to do.

So it’s looking like January! Well maybe not.

We have only made one trip to France this year, our two week summer vacation, and we usually go 3 or 4 times a year. You may remember, we LOVE Paris! And we are also having withdrawal symptoms from lack of visits to the fair city. Not to mention a distinct lack of vin rouge in the cellar at home. You can’t go to France without returning with a full boot can you? So I’d really like to fit in a cheeky weekend booze cruise at least even if we don’t get as far as Paris.

It’s time for some serious planning for 2018’s trips! Summer is sorted 2&1/2 weeks on the Med! So we need a booze cruise, and at least 11 weekends in the van.

Watch this space!

Broomedge Farm CL Sun, 15 Oct 2017 08:25:41 +0000 More]]> This is our first Caravan & Motorhome Club site and it’s ok. It’s a CL same as the C&CC’s CS sites. A 5 van member only site usually not much more that a farmer’s field with a Chemical toilet emptying point. They are however usually in some nice little locations and this one is no exception.

5 minuets from the M56 on the edge of the village of Lymm, close to 2 statley homes, Tatting Park and Dunham Massey. If you have a National Trust membership you can certainly get your money’s worth with a short stay at Broomedge Farm.

I arrived solo as the management has not been able to finish work early. Met by Nigel and the formalities taken care of £14 a night with EHU I noticed some nice looking bacon and fresh eggs for sale.

At this time of year the site is reduced to just 4 units on hardstanding as the grassed area is closed. The hardstanding is level enough and firm. There is a portaloo and recycling bins and that’s about it but it is a CL and we were not expecting any more.

There is a cupboard containing some leaflets for local attractions and a book and magazine exchange, nice idea!

There are 2 pubs within easy walk Both serve food and if you mention that you are staying at Broomedge there is a 10% discount on the food bill, nice. A local shop selling more than just essentials, even horse food and hardware is at the main junction just outside the farm entrance.

Our intention for our stay at this site was to meet up with some friends in their motorhome but due to a family crisis they were unable to make it so we came anyway enjoyed the peace and quiet of some time alone, and took the opportunity to do some early Christmas shopping at Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet a few miles down the M56

Yes that is a Gin Advent Calendar.

Date of Visit: 13-15 October 2017

Broomedge Farm

Burford Lane


WA13 0SE

01925 752830

Smithills Open Farm Day Out Fri, 22 Sep 2017 12:55:13 +0000 More]]> It’s a Farm. A bit like Old McDonald’s Farm but with Meerkats! Smithills Open Farm is or was on a large estate in Bolton dominated by Smithills Hall. A well known hotel Smithills Coaching House was part of the estate but sadly this seems to be a housing estate now. The management has visited with a class from the school where she works and found it enjoyable and so persuaded me we should go. We arrived to a pretty full carpark but found a spot and joined the que of families with excited youngsters. £8 for adults. Bag of food extra and tractor rides £1.00. we didn’t buy any food as I’d just paid £8 to keep the animals fed, don’t cows and sheep eat grass? We did buy a tractor ride. In we went and the first thing we saw were a couple of ferrits who warned that they may bite. Then cows, surprise! The management loves cows but unless it’s a nice fillet minion or a rump, sirloin or rib eye I’m not over enammered. Why do they always look like they have a snotty nose?

There is a pets corner where lambs are bottle fed by children and they are also introduced to some of the other younger animals on the farm.

Some animals on the farm are not traditionally associated with a UK farm. Skunks, wallabies and Meerkats to name a few but they do add a bit of interest.

The Meerkats are funny creatures and it would be quite easy to start giving them funny voices and quirky characters a la Johnny Morris on TV when I was a kid.

The Wallaby was a white version, I have no idea if it’s supposed to be white of if it was an albino. Either way it spent all it’s time (while I was watching anyway) doing precisely nothing! That’s the life eh?

The tractor ride was very bouncy and Joanne is apparently the fastest tractor driver on the farm. We kind of hit lucky with our tractor ride, the first one was full so we got on the back of a ride for a group that had their own guide with them so we got the commentary as well. The tractor ride takes you up the hill to meet the Donkeys who are apparently always hungry. A bucket of bread is handed around for you to feed them, and yes they are hungry!

The view from the top of the hill is also pretty good.

It was quite a pleasant afternoon really and quite enjoyable if a little expensive for what it is. You can see similar at local community farms in Manchester for free.

Squeezing in a cheeky weekend Tue, 12 Sep 2017 12:09:52 +0000 More]]> Some friends, Rose & Derek suggested we get together on a campsite soon. We agreed it was a great idea! And said we will make a plan and get back to them.

Well it was not looking hopeful! Upon consulting our diary it was looking very bleak for getting away in the van this side of Christmas, with my Trumpet playing commitments and kids moving out, and life in general. I identified the weekend of November 11th. Rememberance weekend. I’m usually busy playing the Last Post somewhere and it’s an honour to do it but I’ve not been booked yet so I could miss one year right? No the booking came it so that weekend is out.

We had a reshuffle and freed up a weekend in October, found a CL half way between us, we are both members of both clubs so finding a site was no issue. Rang up and booked 2 pitches.

Now for the history.

We met Rose & Derek along with Pam & Alan and Ian & ??? on a holiday to Santa Susanna near Barcelona. We had all arrived in the same flight not knowing each other and left good friends!

We stayed at a Fergus Hotel all inclusive adults only, very posh etc. The hotel has its own cocktail, a Fergus! It was purple and may even had smoke coming from it. Maybe not but it should have. It’s quite potent!

The management once arrived home to find myself and her dad absolutely streaming drunk after an evening of trying to recreate this Fergus cocktail. Yes we didn’t waste the ones that went wrong….lol

So our next camping trip is middle of October, look out for the site review as it’s a new to us site. Site arrival footage will of course be supplied to @legsdown and we may produce a bit of video ourselves….. There’s a scary thought for you! I may even share the recepie for the deadly Fergus, it involves Vodka, Blue Curacao and Passion Fruit Liquor it’s very nice!

Review: Lane End Farm Certified Site Tue, 29 Aug 2017 20:14:10 +0000 More]]> Lane End Farm, Lane End, Hopwood,Heywood, Lancashire, OL10 2JE
Open: 01 Jan 2017 – 31 Dec 2017

Date of Visit: August 2017         Unit: Caravan

I booked over the phone on the Saturday before our Friday arrival on August Bank Holiday Weekend. I had been reading how hard people were finding it to get a pitch anywhere, so fingers crossed I rang.
£15 a night with electric. Hard Standing or Grass pitch available.

The site is a members only Camping & Caravan Club Certified Site.
A C.S. is a small site, a maximum of 5 caravans or motorhomes. Facilities are usually basic and you would normally expect to use your own toilet & shower. Waste Disposal and drinking water are always provided.

We arrived a bit later than anticipated due to daytime commitments and found the site with no problem, literally 2 minuets from Junction 19 of the M60.
On arrival we stopped and reported to reception to find a number of notes stuck to the door with names on. I removed the one with our name on and read.
“Dear Mr. Hickman. I hope you had a pleasant journey? I’m sorry there is nobody here to site you. Please pitch anywhere, grass or hard standing. Electric points are clearly visible. Please pay either of my sons or daughter in laws. Have a pleasant stay.”

Judging by the number of notes on the door I assumed the site was going to be busy.

There were already 2 vans pitched. We decided on a grass pitch overlooking the fields and motorway.

By the reception is an Elsan Disposal point and a toilet. It’s a bit of a hike from the camping pitches with a full cassette. It’s located on the front of the building on the left in the above picture.

There is also a shower room but this is located on the campsite in the garage, the building on the right of the above photo.

The shower is free and is a modern electric power shower. Very nice. Plenty of room. The sink has a mirror above and hot and cold water. There is a notice asking campers to please limit shower time to 5 minuets as water is from a storage tank and is limited. Not a problem for us. The shower was great.

The site is very close to the motorway and you can watch the trucks passing. True there is a noise but it is not intrusive at all and is really hardly noticeable. We spent a very pleasant afternoon sat outside and it didn’t bother us at all.

Would we go back? You bet! This site is only 16 miles away from home and is perfect for a quiet weekend. It has everything we need, price is good and close enough to nip home to sort out warring kids or Father in Law back at home.

Members Only – You can join on site
Phone number: 01706 365551
Phone number: 01706 846101
Managers: Mr & Mrs M Yates
Latitude: 53.584 Longitude: -2.1987
OS Map ref: 109/868097

Video: Exiting The Eurotunnel From The Caravan’s Eye View Tue, 29 Aug 2017 19:14:58 +0000 From The Caravan’s Eye View

Summer Eurotunnel Crossing Video Mon, 28 Aug 2017 21:46:14 +0000 Here is the video of our night time Eurotunnel Crossing

Easy. Follow us from the car park all the way to the French Autoroute.

Exiting the Eurotunnel From the Caravan’s View

Solving Air Locked Water System Mon, 28 Aug 2017 17:03:49 +0000 More]]> So this weekend we had terrible problems getting water running in the van.

I tried everything. Thought we had a leak.

The usual procedure when setting up is.
Close All Taps
Fill Aqua Roll
Turn Pump On
Wait until pump stops running.
Open Tap usually starting with shower and wait until smooth running water. Then do the same with sink and kitchen sink.

Well this worked fine until I opened up the hot tap. All I got was air!

I checked everything. The pump was working. I couldn’t find any leaks!

After the 4th or 5th time of draining and re priming the system I noticed the aqua roll sounding like it had run dry, but I knew there was water in it. I moved the siphon tube and hey presto!

It seems the tub was floating to the top and sucking air.
We needed to keep the tube at the bottom of the barrel. A weight or a rigid tube?

The solution a piece of 25mm electrical conduit cut to length and slid over the plastic siphon tube.










Cost £3
I did have to take apart the connector and remove the clip but it literally just pulled off, slid the  tube over and pushed the connector back together.
The length of the siphon pipe that goes inside the barrel is now rigid and reaches all the way to the bottom.

This solved our problem!

The Last Bank Holiday 2017 Fri, 25 Aug 2017 11:38:44 +0000 More]]> Apart from the 2 at Christmas of course.

We had an eventful trip to the south of France as I hope you have read, if not you can find it here. So with the last bank holiday I really wanted to make the most of it and get away.

I’ve been reading for weeks on social media of people being disappointed to not get a pitch as sites are full. With this in mind I turned to the C&CC website to find somewhere. It didn’t need to be far, it didn’t need to be glamorous or have lots of facilities, so after finding the local club sites full I started looking at CS sites.

A CS is a small site usually limited to 5 caravans or motorhomes and 10 tents. There are 2 quite close, one in Hyde and one in Heywood. The one in Hyde had some mixed reviews as it’s attached to a garden centre it seems there are some early morning deliveries that disturb a few visitors. However it is on the list for a quick weekend as it’s only a few miles from home.

The Heywood Site at Lane End Farm seemed a better option for a quiet weekend so I rang. Got a pitch no problem and for the bargain price of £15 a night with electric.

We arrived to find nobody home but a note stuck to the door of reception instructing us to pitch anywhere we like and to pay either one of the sons or daughter in laws. There were several more notes stuck to the door so I assumed that the site would get busy, It didn’t. We pitched so that our awning looked out over the fields and motorway.

This site is very close to the M60 but we really didn’t notice any noise.

We had chosen to pitch on the grass, we got the van level. Very level, I don’t think it’s ever been so level. Electric hook up closest to us would not work so we ran the lead across the grass to the next closest, didn’t need to use our second 25m lead. Awning up, water filled up, toilet set up. Time for a drink and something to eat. Mushroom & Bacon Omelette, yummy. Washing up, water playing up must have an airlock. Decided eventually to use kettle to heat some water and sort it tomorrow when it’s light.

Day 2
Water is playing up still. It’s like the taps are sucking air. Checked everything! Pump, connections, water in barrel. Everything looked good so why?
I took to Twitter for help. Lots of suggestions most of which I had already tried one twitter friend messaged me a detailed procedure for removing airlocks which he was told about when he had a similar issue, thanks @davies581 it worked. For 5 minuets.

We called home to collect the Father in Law as he was supposed to be coming to spend the night but he decided that he couldn’t be bothered so we gave him some lunch and a cuppa and headed off to Costco for a mooch.

I had another stab at the water again but no luck.

Day 3
We had decided to have a ride over to Smithills Open Farm in Bolton.
Halys had been a few weeks ago with school.
Before we left I had another go at the water. I drained the whole system re-filled the water barrel, closed all the taps, turned on the pump and let the system fill. Then opened the shower tap until it ran. Then the vanity sink, then the kitchen. All good so far. Start again with the shower and open the hot tap. Water for a second then air and lots of it. Same from the cold tap…… BUM! The pump was running and the barrel sounded like it was empty. Can’t be. I went to check and plenty of water! I moved the siphon tube and it suddenly stopped making a noise and sounded normal. The system refilled and the pump stopped. Cracked it! The siphon tube was curling around and floating up to the top.
I needed a weight or something to keep it down!

On the way to the farm we stopped at B&Q and found the answer.

A Sleeve to keep the tube rigid

It’s a £3 piece of 25mm electrical conduit cut to length. I took the connection end apart and removed the tube. Slid over my new sleeve and put everything back together. Inseted pipe into the barrel and started with the new priming procedure from Martin. Hey we have water! only taken 3 days!

The farm was quite good. We saw cows, goats, chickens, horses, meerkats and donkeys. We had a tractor ride and fed the donkeys.

Back at the van we now had running hot and cold water! Woohoo!!!
We had a lovely evening meal and a few drinks after spending some time sat enjoying the sun.

Stuffed Mushroom Starter
Chicken, mushrooms & Mediterranean Veg









The site is a C.S. so facilities are not going to be flashy and has a toilet and elsan disposal point which is by the reception at the farm house.
There is also a shower which is free and right on the site

The site was £15 a night with electric and will make the perfect bolt hole for us being just 16 miles from home.

Westfield Cross Compact Chair – Review Sun, 20 Aug 2017 17:15:08 +0000 More]]> While on our summer holiday in the South of France one of our chairs broke. No problem at home, nip to Go Outdoors or any of the Mirryad of camping supply shops.
In France these shops are a little harder to find. Lots of camping equipment seems to come from Decathlon and we did try here first but they only had flimsy folding chairs.

Google to the rescue and a caravan dealer/accessory shop was found on the other side of Perpignan. They were stockists for Narbonne Accessories  who have 67 shops around France. They had a decent range of chairs to choose from.

They stocked Westfield Outdoor products, a company I had never heard of before.

We tried out all of the chairs and decided that the Cross Compact was the one but at €144.00 it was quite pricey!

Westfield Outdoor
Cross Compact

The real advantage with this chair is if you’re a bit on the heavy side like me there are no flimsy plastic components all of the folding mechanism is metal. The armrests are about the only plastic parts. The chair also comes with a 5 year guarantee.

The seat and back rest are both padded and the top of the backrest houses a luxurious pillow.

Metal Hinges
Metal Hinges





Small storage size
Crossover Folding System






Westfield Outdoor
Cross Compact





This chair is very comfortable and very sturdy.
The other advantage was when I got to the checkout the chair was actually only €110.00. Result!



5 Year warranty
Unique double folding frame
Extremely small folded size
Smallest folded size in class
Ergonomic back rest
Ergonomic arm rest
Fully padded
Adjustable recline
Extremely comfortable
Soft touch fabric
Very durable
Rot proof
UV Resistant
Solid Nylogore joints
Breathable and quick drying
Fully sewn seams
Double stitched
Can be extended with matching foot rest

Materials and
DimensionsColour:  Charcoal
Frame:    Aluminium
Fabric:    Padded Duragore
Size:        85 x 64 x 127 cm.
Seat Height:    45 cm.
Folded:     88 x 63 x 13 cm.
Weight:        5.6 kg.
Max Load:    140 kg

Distributed in UK by Quest Lesiure Products

Claybrock Drive / Hemming Road
B98 0DT Washford/Redditch/Worcs.
Great Britain