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Goodbye Bongo, Hello Concorde!

Well, after 7 years of campervan ownership, it is with some regret that we are announcing here that we have sold the ’van. After a lot of consideration, taking into account several factors, we concluded that ultimately, the campervan didn’t work for us any longer and we needed a better solution. Contrary to what we originally thought, that solution is not a new ’van, but instead a trailer tent. So, the campervan may have gone, but the camping will continue, as will this site!

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The excitement of a new campervan… almost

My campervan has been off the road road and in pieces for the last few weeks,  but there’s been something “not quite right” with it for much longer than that (as you’ll know if you follow the ramblings of @campervanning on twitter). The problems started last summer at the start of our first big camping trip – 10 days in various spots around Cornwall. During the 400+ mile journey to Looe the water pump died. The water pump is essential for keeping the coolant flowing through the radiator to prevent the engine from overheating. Eventually over time the bearing in the pump wears out and as a result the water leaks out. Owners of classic VWs will be rubbing their hands with glee at this (I’m looking at you Sarah & Paul!) because their 30+ year old vans are air cooled so this is one problem that they can’t be afflicted with. We hoped that we’d stopped in time before the overheating did any damage to the engine. Once the repair was complete, everything was looking good: the van behaved perfectly for the rest of our holiday and did the 400+ mile journey home without missing a beat. Read the rest of this entry »

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Top mobile apps for campers

When you go camping, do you like to leave behind all the electronic accessories of the modern world, or do you like to make use of them to make your trip more interesting? If you are a smartphone user, there are lots of apps that really useful when spending time out in the countryside. Here’s a run down of my recommended apps for the Android range of phones. All of these apps are free (or have free versions as well as premium versions), and although I’ve tested only the Android version, many of them have iPhone equivalents so it’s worth searching the iTunes App Store.
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Top 5 must-have camping accessories

It’s important to travel light when camping (my van struggles to average 25MPG when empty and cruising at 55MPH, let alone when it’s fully laden with camping equiment!), but a few well chosen accessories can make life easier and more comfortable. Over the last year we’ve refined our list of essential accessories that we won’t leave home without, so here in no particular order, are our top 5 must-have camping accessories…
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Review of the 2010 camping year

It’s that time of year where we’re looking back over the year just gone and looking ahead to what the coming year may bring, so here are some thoughts from Happy Campervanning.

2010 was the first year that we did any serious campervanning. We’ve now spent over 20 nights in the Bongo, travelling all over the country and camping with various groups of friends. Highlights of the year include a glorious weekend in Rutland – our first trip of more than one night, ten days in Cornwall in sunny June – despite the breakdown on the way there, and a birthday celebration in East Sussex.

Our pitch

So what have we learnt?

We like a few home comforts – despite liking the idea of getting away from it all, hot showers and clean toilets are quite high up the wish list!

We feel more at home in the tent field than sandwiched between two caravans.

Cooking a curry is not a good idea in a campervan that you’re going to sleep in a few hours later – it’s also a good idea to invest in a stove that can be used outdoors to avoid mess and smell from cooking your fry up in the morning.

The electric hook-up is useful for the fridge, but not much else, and the fridge is only really useful if you’re not planning on driving anywhere (unless you’ve got a leisure battery). We have now purchased a electric kettle to make better use of the hook up – I’d forgotten how long my Grandma’s stove top kettle used to take to boil!

Awnings are good for getting some privacy and for providing somewhere to put your stuff when you go out for the day, but don’t forget that when you drive away, you will need to put in the extra guy ropes if you don’t want it to fall down.

Even if it looks like a campsite is near a pub, you may need to risk your life walking down the side of a dark country road to get there. Don’t forget a torch!

And our plans for 2011?

Well, having enjoyed our tour of Cornwall in 2010, we’d like to try something similar, maybe in Devon, Wales or Yorkshire. We’re also hoping to spend some sunny weekends with friends in campsites around the country. Keep an eye on the website to find out where we end up.

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