Tuesday, 20 October 2009

NEC Meltdown

Last week was the big Caravan Show at Birmingham's NEC.

Airstream Europe was there, as was Sam & Hazel's Vintage Airstreams.


The world and his wife have decided that Leisure Vehicles are the way forward.

By the end of the show everybody looked knackered and deleriously happy. One of the guys at Airstream was smiling so much that if he had two mouths his head would have fallen off.

Meanwhile Sam and Hazel have a veritable procession of interested parties arranging a visit.

One manufacturer alone generated £12million worth of sales.

This truly is a golden time for the caravan industry and it's great to be part of it!

Monday, 12 October 2009

Wales take 2!

After dropping off my Airstream, I overnighted in a press caravan before picking up my home for the following week. For a start, can you imagine exactly what planning has to go in to taking everything you need for a week (including bedding, crocks and cutlery) but not too much so it doesn't fit into the car? It's a headache to say the least.

Anyhow, soon I was at Nottingham picking up my next van, a Dethleffs Campy:

It's a fab little tourer! Only 12ft long yet packs in a fixed bed, dinette, wardrobe, garage space, washroom, kitchen and a wardrobe. It's a bit basic with no hot water or shower, but its low price and low weight reflect that. Best of all I had a 2.0 142bhp VW Golf - in red - to tow it with all week. Fabulous!

First stop was Shaftesbury to do a review. Then it was back to Wales to Aberaeron where I enjoyed doing the touristy stuff.

Leaving there, I headed to Nant-Yr-Arian forest to do some mountain biking on my favourite trail, the Pendam trail. It's only 10k and is challenging enough to be great fun without being too much or too long.

Next stop was a campsite called Tyllwyd in Cwmystwyth, inland from Aberystwyth and Devil's Bridge. I have to say that it is my favourite campsite ever. I went there with the Airstream in August and loved it then, apart from being eaten alive by midges. This time I had the whole site to myself and had AMAZING weather... and no midges.

That night I went out to the car just after midnight and noticed that the moonlight was illuminating the entire valley. I had to grab my camera and tripod...

Amazing. The next couple of days were spent doing research and photos before hooning back to Nottingham, dropping off the car and the Campy, then hooning up to Tebay to collect the Airstream.
It was bliss to be back in my trailer and have all my goods and chattels in one place. After overnighting at the depot, it was a LONG 11 hour trip (including breaks) for a brief weekend at home to de-summer the trailer (remove outdoor furniture, second battery etc) and change the clothing and bedding to winter stuff.
And now we're back on the road for the last working trip of the 'summer' season. But there will be plenty of trips over the winter too :-)

Wales, take 1!

Lucky me, I went to Wales not once but twice in September.

Trip number one took me to Snowdonia. Despite having charged through a few times, it was the first time I stayed there for a week and my head soon spun at just how much there is to do in the area.

It was nice to meet up with a prospective Airstreamer, Greg, who was renting a cottage nearby. He came over for dinner a few times and we did a daytrip or two.

One of our trips was to the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth. It makes for an interesting day out, and one of the nice things is that some of the ideas presented range from what you can implement that very evening at home to how you can completely replan your life. The nice PR lady explained that they are now suffering a bit of a dilemma. What was ground-breaking environmental technology 5 years ago is commonplace today. So some of the exhibits show what everyone now does rather than what we could be doing. It's good in a way, but of course renewing stuff for the sake of it isn't really green.

Next morning I headed to Coed-y-Brenin which is one of the premier Mountain Bike Centres in the UK. I had a great ride on one of the trails, and as I was there at 7am I had the place to myself.

I also had an interesting visit to a slate mine museum which provided a fascinating insight into the roots of modern Welsh culture. I would loved to have done some more trips like ride the steam railways, but I was 'working' and had to press on to my next site at Caernarfon.

I really liked Caernarfon. Of course, it's always a bonus when the town is a 10 minute stroll from the site. A beautiful little harbour guarded by a majestic castle that commanded fabulous views of Snowdon.

I wanted to climb that hill, but sadly the day after I snapped this pic the clouds rolled in and it didn't seem sensible to do the ascent on my own, and I didn't fancy the £25 on taking a diesel train up there just to stand in cloud. So 'Climbing Snowdon' is now on my to-do list.

From there it was a mad dash to Tebay to drop off the Airstream for its annual service. My next trip to Wales was going to have a different flavour...