5 Berth Hymer Camp 59 on LHD Fiat Ducato chassis (1993) – SOLD

UPDATE 22/10/2013: Our trusted and much-travelled companion has left us and is now in her new home. The post below thus describes her as she was, before sale. Kira and I both hope that her new family will have a long and happy association with her, much as we have enjoyed.

5 berth motorhome with 6 travel seats (4 forward facing and belted).

Hymer Eriba Camp 59 Nearside Front Corner

Nearside front three-quarter view showing double gas locker, fresh water filling point, Truma gas heater exhaust outlet, shore power connection, Thetford toilet cassette access door etc.

The motorhome in its normal travel mode with satellite dish down etc.

Hymer Eriba Camp 59 Offside Rear Corner

It takes less than 2 minutes to raise the satellite dish and wind out the Omnistor awning. The Omnistor bike rack is shown extended, capable of carrying either 4 bikes or a back-box; when not in use it folds up in seconds to reduce overall length. Note too the Omnistor top-box mounted on the roof, and stable door enabling the lower half to be closed (to keep pets and children in) while the top half is fixed open for ventilation.

Much loved Hymer Camp 59 on left-hand-drive Fiat Ducato chassis (1993) for sale. This was marketed in UK as Talbot Express, although it’s worth noting that Fiat offered options that Talbot didn’t. Full high-end German specification, with legendary Hymer build quality, and beautiful early-mid 1990s German craftsmanship. Professionally maintained for last 3 years, 155,000km from new, MoT & tax to July 2014. Recent new exhaust system, starter and leisure batteries.

Hymer Eriba Camp 59 Offside Front Three Quarter

Security handle folds back for travel, out to facilitate access, and forwards (as here) to lock onto door for greater physical security when leaving motorhome unattended in dubious areas. You can also see the vents (cool air in, warm air out, exhaust out) for the 3-way Electrolux fridge, and (tucked up under the awning) the side-view camera that switches on automatically with the right indicator.

5.9m long (6.1m including raised bike rack), 2.9m high without top box (3.0m high with top box), 2.2m wide. Tow bar. Roof rack & ladder with checker-plate on roof. UK-spec headlights and tail light configuration.

Hymer Eriba Camp 59 Nearside Rear Three Quarter

Note the satellite dish erected and bike rack folded down (it takes seconds to fold up when not neded). You can also see the reversing camera, roof access ladder, factory-fitted roof-rack, towbar and external access door for the rear under-seat storage (small garage) which can also be accessed from inside.

Based on the heavy-duty chassis cab (unlike most similar UK vehicles) this Fiat Ducato benefits from a 2.5 litre Iveco turbo diesel engine, giving approx 95bhp with lots of torque (and is thus a joy to drive compared with the under-powered and thirsty UK-spec 2.0 litre petrol engine). 5 speed manual gearbox with column change. Commercial van specification Uniroyal Rain Max tyres with lots of tread remaining. Factory standard power assisted steering (PAS).

Looking over the driver's shoulder. Note battery charging voltage and rear view camera display, also well-placed cup holder (passenger has one too).

Average 25-30mpg (town/motorway). Cruises comfortably at 55-60mph all day, will do 70+ when needed.

View through passenger door. Arm rests can all be adjusted individually or folded up as required.

ISRI Captain’s seats in cab (both driver and passenger) with twin fold-up adjustable arm-rests. Two belted travel seats in habitation cabin, plus two unbelted travel seats in habitation cabin (i.e. 6 travel seats total, 4 with belts). A hand-held fire extinguisher is mounted just behind the driver’s seat and can be rapidly accessed from both front seats, or from the cabin, if required. There is a useful amount of easily accessible storage space under the driver’s seat.

Looking back from the cab into the cabin. The 4 passenger travel seats are shown, two have seat belts (so 4 belts total in vehicle). The table can be removed in seconds and stowed upright in slot in bathroom during travel if wished.

5 berths (1 double overcab with blown air heating under; 1 double in main dining area; 1 single in rear dining area), I’m 6′ tall and can easily stretch out in the overcab bed. 2 dining tables (4 seats & 2 seats). Extremely versatile and flexible layout with many possible configuration options (see photos for some ideas).

The view looking backwards from the overcab bed. Note control panel for blown air heating, water bolier, car/house battery voltage checks, fresh/grey water level checks, mains power point etc. Sorry about the clutter but we use this campervan frequently...

Large wardrobe, lots of overhead cupboards and under-seat storage. Rear under-seat storage also accessible from outside so great for ramps, cables, hoses etc. 3 sky-lights that can be opened on any side or fully, all fitted with fly screens. Habitation cabin Dometic Seitz S4 top-hinged windows are tinted and double-glazed throughout with fly screens and blinds on all windows (note DIY repair to kitchen blind – if wanted this could easily be replaced with Remis Take-n-Trim blind repair kit which didn’t exist when I did it 7 years ago). Security handrail both aids access and secures across cabin door when unattended. This motor-caravan is carpeted throughout but it is all easily removable to reveal an easy-clean green speckled lino below in as-new condition.

View looking down into bathroom. Carpet removed to show detail of shower tray. Normally we keep carpet in so that motorhome is fully carpeted throughout (nicer in bare feet, like at home).

Truma blown air heating with multiple closable outlets including blown air under the overcab bed and in bathroom (great for drying wet clothes overnight). Truma water heating with 10 litre hot water tank. 135 litre internal fresh water storage (prevents freezing) plus grey water tank. Electric flush Thetford cassette toilet, full height shower in bathroom (original carpet included though not shown in photo), mixer tap in kitchen. Manufacturer’s original instruction manuals included.

Looking into the batroom at eye level. Shower spray unit hooks into clip in bathroom ceiling when required.

Kathrein TRANSMARE MobiSat TV Satellite dish on roof, can be both elevated and aligned from inside wardrobe. Satellite tuner and pull-out shelf for TV (all unused for last 7 years as I removed the TV immediately after purchase). Stereo speakers for radio/CD/DVD etc. in rear cabin.

The kitchen. Note detail of stable door to left in picture.

Fair sized kitchen with 3 burner SMEV gas hob. 3-way Electrolux fridge with freezer compartment (230v, 12v, gas).

3 way Electrolux fridge/freezer is fully built in under 3 burner SMEV hob. Note detail of fly/privacy screen now hanging over access door.

Wire vegetable rack, cutlery tray, rubbish bin and generous storage for pans etc. under with cupboards and shelves above.

Looking forwards from near the bathroom door. Note how both cab and overcab bed can easily be screened off for privacy using curtains.

120Ah VRLA Leoch AGM leisure battery plus mains charger both mounted under front passenger seat, identical second battery included to fit under driver’s seat included if required (so 240Ah total). 230v 50Hz, 300 watt inverter (ideal for laptops, charging camera batteries etc.) fitted. This motorhome is happy running for days without electric hook-up (which saves hookup fees on campsites, as well as making the free European motorhome stopovers and wild-camping anywhere a breeze).

The original bonded lino remains in as-new condition under the genuine Hymer carpets (which are easily removed when needed)

Cabin is watertight with no known leaks or drips in any weather, but there is some residual damp in both a small wall area and cabin floor near door, caused prior to re-sealing 5+ years ago. Retractable step removed and floor area plated over for strength (see photo).

The floor strengthing patch clearly shown with all carpet removed.

Both original step with curved blanking plate and Fiamma caravan step that we use are included in sale. Both floor and wall can be fixed professionally or DIY (see Talbot Owners Club forum for many examples), or just live with it like us, as you prefer.

With the carpet replaced the patched floor is barely noticeable and access is easy using the Fiamma caravan step (included in sale). As a bonus, it's now impossible to accidentally drive off with the original retracting step extended...

The Hymer cabin is very well insulated and I have slept comfortably in the heated overcab bed when it has been -10C outside with the heater on tickover. I’ve spoken with people who have taken their Hymer’s skiing at -25C without problem. Standard Hymer gas system includes automatic switchover between bottles, with indicator light inside cabin when switched, plus selectable cold-weather heating of gas supply to prevent icing. There’s a stable door too, meaning you can open just the top half if you want ventilation without your children climbing in and out.

Main dining area as seen from overcab bed. These are also the 4 nominated travel seats. The two forward facing seats have belts (as obviously do the two in the cab).

Example extras fitted & included: 4m Omnistor awning (now c. £750 new), Omnistor roof box (now c. £300 new), Omnistor cycle rack (4 bikes – now c. £350 new) + cover, tow-bar & electrics (now over £500 new – I regularly used to tow a 9′ long x 7′ high x 6’6” wide box trailer made from an old caravan with racing kart, tools, fuel etc. inside it), etc.

Looking forwards at the dining area after it has been converted to a double bed. Note how the bed is now wider than the dining area by virtue of sliding out extensions, thus providing sufficient width for two adults to sleep in comfort. You can use the bed without the extension too if you only want one person sleeping there, thus keeping the passage wider.

Optionally available at negotiable extra cost: 2x Gaslow refillable 21 kg LPG cylinders (professional conversion, £550 fitted new); 2x Waeco reversing & side-view cameras with colour, infra-red night vision & sound to LCD monitor on dashboard (£750 fitted new); high-end Pioneer stereo (WMA/MP3/AAC/RDS/DAB/etc. 200w total + iPod adapter – £700 new); Omnistor Safari Room & curtains (now c. £950 new); Vango Sapera Tall driveaway inflatable AirBeam AirAway awning (£570 new).

There's space for two to dine in comfort (or 3 at a pinch) at the rear, or the table removes in seconds to provide a lounging area with backrests. The storage space under the back seat can also be accessed from outside.

Current owner (me) for last 7 years following private import from Germany. Growing family forces reluctant sale (had 1 child when bought in 2006, now have 3 children & 1 German Shepherd dog…).

The rear dining area quickly converts into a single bed. In this configuration there is also good storage space under the table. This is how we usually run.

Supremely reliable and easy to maintain, without complex electronics as on later models. We’ve taken this motor caravan all over UK & Europe (England, Wales, Scotland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Spain, Italy…) and it’s never let us down once.

The transversely mounted Fiat/Iveco 2.5 litre turbo diesel engine and big starter battery. Note the reassuring lack of complex electronics, this is an engine that anyone can fix anywhere if necessary. I found the 95bhp sufficient but there's room for a custom-built intercooler too if you want more power.

If you’re planning a trip to Eastern Europe (Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova etc.) this campervan probably offers the ideal combination of simplicity, reliability, economy and comfort for the perfect trip. If you have Morocco or further afield in mind you may wish to first refit the protective (heavy duty commercial) under-tray which is included in the price and currently removed for ease of servicing.

Hymer Eriba Camp 59 Tow Bar Towbar

Towbar is fitted and suitable for towing small trailers etc. I have often towed a box trailer built on an old caravan chassis, and we had originally intended to use this to tow an A-framed car.

For just £6,995 for a quick sale (soon to be advertised elsewhere at £7,700 – at which point I’ll return to edit this line) you can enjoy what is undoubtedly one of the finest designed and built small motorcaravans of its time – the Hymer Camp 59.

Some of the many labels Hymer were proud to attach to the body during manufacture, all features we have enjoyed over the years.

There’s a lot of equipment on this vehicle so if required I’ll happily talk a new owner through it all until they feel absolutely comfortable.

Full size overcab bed made up and ready for use. There's plenty of width for two adults side by side. As to length, I'm 6' tall and can stretch out without problem. There's blown air heating underneath the mattress too.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This is a private sale of our own personal family vehicle and is in no way connected to the business. For more details please contact Andrew direct. UPDATE 22/10/2013 This motorhome is now sold…

Double overcab bed with bunk safety net raised. This is useful if you want children to sleep up there, or simply to store things while travelling without risk of them falling down.

If you have any questions please contact me as above, or leave your question as a comment below. If you’d like to help us find a new home for our trusted companion, in which we have been so many places and had so much fun over the years, please pass this post on to your friends or Like it on Facebook etc.

Genuine Hymer, can be traced back to factory. Traditional German build quality.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Ping.fm
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • Add to favorites
  • LinkedIn
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Vango Sapera Tall – Ex-Display – Save £75

We have one ex-display Vango Sapera Tall awning to sell, and because it’s ex-display we’re offering you a massive £75 discount off RRP, thus reducing the selling price from £570 to just £495 including both carriage and VAT (i.e. delivered to your door anywhere in UK, no hidden extras).

Vango Sapera Tall Driveaway Awning for Motorhome & Campervan

Vango Sapera Tall Inflatable Driveaway Awning

You can see full details of the product itself here:

In brief though, this Sapera Tall is the biggest of Vango’s innovative quick-erect inflatable “AirAway” driveaway awnings. Dimensions are therefore:

  • Attaches to vehicle height =240cm – 290cm
  • Footprint on ground =310cm x 465cm
  • Internal headroom =195cm

This ex-display Vango Sapera Tall is complete with interior divider for sleeping two adults, all pegs (still in bag), all fitting options etc. and is in perfect condition except for one minor piece of damage to a pump clip. To be absolutely open and up-front, that damage is shown in the photo below (it still clips together and works with no air leaks when pumping, and disconnects when not in use, it’s just not exactly as it left the factory):

Vango AirBeam AirAway Broken Pump Adaptor

The Broken Pump Adaptor on this ex-display Vango AirBeam AirAway

In summary then what we’re offering here is an unused and as-new Vango Sapera Tall, complete with all options that it had when it left the factory (some still in their bags), in perfect condition except for one broken clip, with some transit packaging (i.e. plastic bags) not original (though still in original box).

And because it’s been put up in field for people to look at you’re getting it at a massive £75 off the RRP. Instead of paying the usual £570 you pay just £495 all-in to get it delivered to your front door anywhere in UK.

Be quick though, because we’ve only got the one at this massively discounted £75 off price, and when it’s gone it’s gone!

To make it yours, simply buy a Vango Sapera Tall as normal via this link our website

http://campingequipmentshop.co.uk/index.php/vango-airbeam-tent-airaway-sapera-freestanding-awning-tall-vango-tehaasapree27tdc-tall/p_1358.html

and quote code VSTXD13 at checkout and it’ll be on its way to you.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Ping.fm
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • Add to favorites
  • LinkedIn
Posted in Special Offers | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Getting my Cat C (Rigid) Driving Licence for our Big Campervan

In a previous blog post I covered everything necessary for me to pass the DSA’s driving theory tests for a big motorhome, and having done this I’ll now share with you my experiences of actually learning to drive a rigid truck. To me at least, who wants the licence to drive a big motorhome rather than earn a living, and then to take that big overland campervan to explore far-flung places for months at a time, with family aboard, it’s very important that I learn to drive something of this size and weight safely in as many different situations as possible.

some of the scania driver training vehicle fleet

I'll be learning on one of these 18 tonne trucks before I can drive our new motorhome.

Following a considerable wait for a spare slot, I was booked in to spend a full week (Monday to Friday) with the Scania Driver Training School in Avonmouth for my practical driver training and test. However, on Friday afternoon the guy who had done my assessment and was due to be my instructor phoned in sick, with a problem that was going to keep him off for at least a week. This meant that my 2-1 training (2 pupils in cab with instructor, one driving one watching) with him could no longer take place. I was offered an alternative instructor, who I’d not met before, on a 1-1 basis. Regardless of any reservations I may have had I had no real choice but to accept, either that or wait another month or two for my training.

So on Monday I drove down to Avonmouth, arriving at midday, to meet my instructor: Senior Driver Trainer Mike Child who you can see in the rare photo below (and read all about him on page 74 of this magazine) who would be training me in the afternoons.

mike child senior driver trainer lecturing in the classroom

Mike Child, who trained me for a licence to drive our new campervan, caught in a rare photo (not taken by me which is why he's talking about a bus).

We started off with an introduction to the truck, where Mike showed me around the main features, and explained how the main controls worked. Mike then took me out for a demonstration drive, before putting me behind the wheel. We drove out into the countryside and around various towns and villages, with Mike providing a superb and almost non-stop commentary on what was happening ahead. I later learned that he’s been nicknamed “Professor Parrot” because of his superb knowledge of all matters relating to road traffic law & planning, and because of his uncanny ability to provide a commentary that his pupils can “replay” (parrot style) while taking their test.

As the week went on I learned that Mike also holds an ADI certificate, has driven trucks for a living, and had been a driving instructor in various vehicles for 20 years. This is his vocation, and it shows, because he’s very good at it. At least, that’s my perception as a pupil of his. And in an industry that’s completely unregulated, that’s important (and assured if you get training from a reputable organisation such as Scania). As an aside, the only requirement to become a “professional” truck driving instructor is to have held a licence for the class of vehicle you wish to teach in for at least 3 years: meaning that having passed my test in October 2012 I can go nowhere near a truck until October 2015 and then promptly start teaching people to drive them! Compare that ease of “qualifying” to teach someone to drive a 32 tonne vehicle with the requirements to become an instructor in a 1 tonne car! It’s ludicrous, and something that urgently needs to be addressed by legislation.

For those who’re interested, here’s the technical specification of the truck I was learning on. It’s not what we’ll be using as the basis of our new motorhome because we need 4×4 drive-train, but it would certainly make a great basis for a 4×2 race truck (or horse box) as it’s a surprisingly pleasant vehicle to drive and sensibly priced on the second-hand market:

  • Make: Scania
  • Model: P230 4×2
  • Engine: 230hp Euro 4 Diesel
  • Gearbox: 8 speed manual (4 over 4)
  • Wheelbase: 6,300mm (6.3m)
  • Width: 2,500mm (2.5m)
  • Length: 10,500mm (10.5m)
  • Suspension: Steel front; Air rear
  • Tyres: 315/80R22.5
  • Gross Vehicle Weight: 18 tonnes
anywhere we could take a big motorhome we go training

Mike's all-encompassing training ensures we go anywhere and everywhere that most normal motor caravans are ever likely to.

I’m not going to recount the week blow by blow but suffice it to say that it was a very structured approach, with reversing practice and city driving being introduced on Tuesday, independent driving (where you’re given a destination and expected to spot and follow signs) and some test routes on Wednesday, and more reversing and test routes on Thursday. On Friday we had a very useful practice of a few tricky spots, followed by the test itself.

I sat in the waiting room until a DSA examiner came out and called my name. On the way out to the truck he introduced himself as “Bob” and asked me some questions about the truck, daily safety checks, and how to operate some of its equipment. He then called me forward onto the reversing area and explained the exercise to me. This was naturally the same as I’d practised several times with Mike, but I couldn’t help thinking that the gaps between the cones seemed smaller than when I’d practised on Scania’s land! No matter though, I successfully reversed around two corners and stopped the back of the truck (some 10+ metres behind me) within the foot wide area that was marked out for the purpose, without stopping, going forwards, getting out, or hitting any cones, and had thus passed that aspect of the test.

Bob climbed in the cab and told me that we were about to head out on the road, and that we’d be starting with the independent driving part of the test. He picked a major destination that was clearly visible on the sign, and told me to head towards it.

While I was driving he started chatting with me, asking me such things as why I want a Cat C licence (my answer was somewhat different from the norm, involving an all-road motorhome rather than commercial use…), and then started telling me about his brother-in-law’s large motorhome (an American RV it transpired), and his own aspirations for a somewhat more modest VW campervan. I’d been warned by Mike that DSA examiners have been told to “be more customer friendly” and it seemed I was to be the beneficiary of this new approach. Bob then started asking me about my own motorhome plans, and what my family and I will do with it once built. This was of course my downfall because if you’re a regular reader you’ll be familiar with my enthusiasm for all things camping, and as I started to evangelise so I also managed to take the wrong exit from a roundabout and get us lost.

Once I had realised my error, and assumed that I’d pretty-much blown my test in the process, Bob calmly reassured me that this was not a test of navigation and that what mattered far more was how I handled my error. Luckily I got this bit right and, after an hour or so, we returned to the test centre somewhat later than expected.

Andrew with DSA pass certificate for class 2 (rigid) truck/campervan/motorhome over 7.5 tonnes

Success: This is what I had been working so hard to get, my pass certificate. Now I can legally drive a motorhome weighing from 7.5 up to 32 tonnes.

Once back at the test centre I parked where instructed and was delighted to hear the magic words from Bob: “I’m pleased to say you’ve passed.” I saw I had a couple of minor faults (15 are allowed so I had plenty of room to spare) and asked my examiner to explain these, to help me improve. He explained that on a couple of occasions he didn’t feel I was making adequate city-centre progress in the face of oncoming traffic, and was consequently inconveniencing those vehicles following me. I explained that to an extent this was because, being on test, I was very nervous of causing anybody whatsoever to “stop, swerve or swear” (all pretty-much guaranteed instant fails) and was thus being very careful not to. He confirmed that he had suspected this may be the case, but left the minor faults recorded as he was unable to delete them.

As Bob left the cab, so Mike congratulated me and took the wheel to drive us back to Scania’s depot.

An interesting quirk of the law is that while my car driving licence for my 2.5 tonne Land Rover allows me to tow a 4 tonne trailer behind it, and my 2.5 tonne motorhome can tow a 1.8 tonne trailer behind it, my 32 tonne truck licence only allows me to tow a 750kg trailer behind it. I understand the commercial reasons for this, but in our case it means I can tow a small car behind a 2.5 tonne campervan but not behind a 25 tonne motorhome. It’s utterly perverse, but it’s also the law, and it means we’ll no longer have any way to get out and about when on a campsite because even if a Ducato-based vehicle is suitable for day trips out a commercial truck is somewhat less so.

The solution then is for me to take more training, followed by a C+E driving test. This will allow me to drive a 44 tonne articulated lorry, and thus (theoretically) to tow a 30 tonne trailer behind our new 14 tonne motorhome. Obviously this isn’t something I’ll be wanting to do, but it’s certainly better to have surplus capacity rather than none at all.

In my next blog post I’ll share my plans to get some relevant driving practice in before my forthcoming [C+E (Class 1 HGV – i.e. articulated lorry) training and driving test], and of course tell you about the training and test itself. In the meantime if you’d like to leave a comment please do so below, and if you’re enjoying this occasional series please say thank you by sharing this blog post with others.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Ping.fm
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • Add to favorites
  • LinkedIn
Posted in Self Build Motorhome | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Chocolate & Chilli Porridge

Porridge is a traditional Scottish breakfast, made with oats, salt and water. In this recipe Andrew, whose grandmother came from the Scottish highlands, shares his spin on this popular staple. It’s a little unconventional, but an ideal way to start the day whether you’re headed off on a horrible public-transport commute into the City, or for a fun family day out using your motorhome as the base. And of course it’s quick and easy to make, just like all our campervan recipies.

Overview

  • Servings: 2-4 bowls (depends on size of bowl)
  • Preparation Time: 2 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 5 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy (even Andrew can do this)

Photo of a bowl of chocolate & chilli porridge in a campervan

A bowl of chocolate & chilli porridge, garnished with tinned strawberries

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Porridge oats
  • 3 Cups Milk (anywhere from skimmed to gold top, as you prefer)
  • Chilli sauce (Tabasco or Dave’s Ghost Pepper) work well
  • Chocolate (dark)
  • Honey

Method

  1. Put the oats and milk in a large saucepan and heat gently. Keep stirring as the temperature rises and the mixture will start to thicken to a creamy consistency. If it starts to go solid, add more milk and keep stirring. Don’t stop stirring or overheat as you’ll burn the porridge and it’ll taste awful.
  2. When the mixture is hot and creamy add some dark chocolate. We find that a strip per person works well and gives a nice flavour but you can add more or less to taste. We have also experimented with mint chocolate (left over from an Easter egg) and that worked well too.
  3. If you have a sweet tooth but still care about your health then this is a good point at which to add some honey to the mix. We find that a desert spoon per person works well, and serves to nicely contrast the bitterness of the chocolate (which in itself cools down the heat of the chilli), but you can obviously add more or less to suit your taste.
  4. Stir well to ensure that everything is well mixed in and the flavours evenly distributed.
  5. This is a good point at which to serve up for children if you have any because, if ours are anything to go by, young ones tend not to like chilli at breakfast!
  6. Finally add chilli sauce to taste. We tend to use either a generous splash of Tabasco Sauce, or a few drips of Dave’s Ghost Pepper Sauce, but you can use whatever you prefer or have to hand. If you’re not going to be serving to children you may care to reverse the sequence here and add the chilli sauce first, before the chocolate and honey, because it makes it slightly easier to gauge the heat by taste earlier.
  7. Have a quick taste to check the flavours balance well to suit your palette and your diners, adjust any chilli/chocolate/honey ratios as you see fit, add a generous splash more milk if the dish isn’t creamy enough.
  8. Following a final stir, you’re ready to serve up. When available, we find that garnishing with a few sliced fresh (or even tinned) strawberries on the top works well, although you can use almost anything you fancy and at the right time of year may wish to take a wander around the campsite to forage for wild blackberries, and our eldest daughter is very partial to blueberries and sliced banana on her porridge.

If you have a favourite camping recipe you’d like to share, then we’ll give you a £10 voucher for every recipe we publish as our way of saying thank you for sharing with the community, just drop us an email through the contact details on our website. If you’d prefer to simply help others find this recipe, feel free to go ahead and share it using the various icons below. Either way, “watch this space” for more delicious ideas for tasty food and drink you can easily knock-up in your motorhome or campervan.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Ping.fm
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • Add to favorites
  • LinkedIn
Posted in Campervan Cooking | Leave a comment

Our First Trip In A Hired Motorhome

Occasionally we get customers writing in to us, not just to thank us for our top quality service and best-on-web prices for camping equipment, but also to share some of their camping and motorhome travel stories and experiences with us. Some of those stories are informative (for example with GPS locations and reviews/tips on foreign campsites), others are entertaining (often at the writer’s personal expense).

We enjoy reading all your stories, and hope you’ll keep them coming. From now on though, and with your permission of course, we’ll give you a £20 voucher for every travel story we publish that involves a motorhome, campervan or caravan as our way of saying thank you for sharing with the community.

I’ll start off by sharing a story from Daniel who not so long ago had never been in a motorhome but, following a very enjoyable family holiday 18 months ago, he’s now a regular customer and it’s now his family’s preferred method of getting away.

Daniel & family standing outside their hired motorhome

Daniel & family with their hired motorhome "somewhere in France" (not the aire - see text)

“2 years ago a lot of the stuff you sell such as leisure batteries, electric steps and top-end awnings, would have been very foreign to me.

“But in July 2011 I hired a brand new motor home from a lovely couple in Berkshire and spent three weeks travelling around Europe with the wife and kids. Having never driven anything bigger than my Passat before it was certainly an experience. And whilst it was one of the most stressful holidays of my life, it was probably the most enjoyable too.

“We had stopped in an aire on the border of France and Italy for dinner one night and on the way out I realised I hadn’t paid the ticket. So I started reversing. Before I had even bothered to glance at my rear view camera I’d knocked off the first of the two barriers, which I’d completely forgotten I’d driven through just seconds earlier.

“I’m not sure if you’ve come across this two barrier system. I’m sure you have. But basically, with one of them sitting on the floor of the car park, the other one just refused to let anyone out. Everyone on the site, most who had just stopped for a quick bite to eat and a replenishment of their water and battery levels, were stuck there until 9am the next morning, when some very angry looking Frenchman came out to fix it.

“Anyway, sorry to bore you with the story. I’m hoping that as long as you didn’t find yourself stuck for the night at an aire on the border of France and Italy last year, you might at least find it mildly entertaining.

“So, yes, all of the things you sell and that I keep buying from you are now fairly familiar to me, even if not so long ago they were generally preceded with expletives…”

So Daniel has got the first £20 voucher for helping to entertain us all here at Camping Equipment Shop, and he’s put it towards a Duvalay to keep his son warm at night.

If you have a favourite camping story you’d like to share, then we’ll give you a £20 voucher for every travel story we publish as our way of saying thank you for sharing with the community, just drop us an email through the contact details on our website with your story of around 400 words. If you’d prefer to simply help others find this entertaining anecdote, you can use the various icons below. Either way, “watch this space” for more camping-related travel stories involving motorhomes, campervans and caravans.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Ping.fm
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • Add to favorites
  • LinkedIn
Posted in Motorhome Travel Stories | 1 Comment

Hot & Frothy Camping Chocolate Drink

What, you may ask, has this got to do with either caravans or motorhomes? The answer is that this is the first of an occasional series in which we plan to share some of the favourite food recipes from our own motorhome with you, our loyal readers and customers.

We’re also hoping that, as time goes on, you’ll share some of your favourite campervan recipes with us too. And for those that do, we’ll give you a £10 voucher for every recipe we publish as our way of saying thank you for sharing with the community. Where possible we’ll show quantities and weights using the Imperial system (because we’re English), but also include the metric equivalent (so you can easily buy things while abroad).

The joy of frothy hot chocolate in your caravan

Enjoy a frothy mug of hot chocolate in your campervan

To get us started, I’ll share one of my winter-camping favourites with you. When we popped out in our beloved Hymer last weekend we were warm and cosy inside, but outside it was more than a little chilly. When we got back in our ‘van then we wanted to warn ourselves up a bit, so I set to making some delicious frothy hot chocolate. The recipe is something that I adapted for camping from Jamie Oliver.

We think this a great way to make the best hot chocolate, cappuccino (or indeed any frothy milk drinks) in your motorhome without having to carry any expensive machinery. All you need is a thermos flask, or a plastic jug with a screw-top lid. The method works brilliantly for Ovaltine too, and our young daughter adores it with Horlicks Light (and as she’s young, this is a great way to get her to drink milk). Better yet, it takes considerably less than 5 minutes to make:

Overview

  • Servings: 2-3 mugs (depends on size of mug)
  • Prepatation Time: 1 minute
  • Cooking Time: 4 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy (even Andrew can do this)

Ingredients

  • 1 pint (a bit more than 0.5 litre) milk
  • 2-4 tablespoons hot chocolate / Ovaltine / Horlicks powder
  • A handful of marshmallows (optional)
  • A few squares of chocolate (optional)

Method

  1. Put a pan of milk on to heat and bring to a simmer, not a boil. While it’s heating, put a tablespoon of chocolate/Ovaltine/Horlicks powder into each mug.
  2. Add a little warm milk from the pan to each mug (just enough to dissolve the chocolate powder) and stir.
  3. Drop a few marshmallows into each mug. For our daughter I add a couple of squares of chocolate too because, when she sees me doing this, it becomes a battle to try and stop her drinking her mug of milk…
  4. When the milk is at a simmer, carefully pour it into a plastic jug or flask. I normally do this over a sink as I always end up spilling a bit. You need a big enough jug or flask so the milk only half fills it as you need the extra space for shaking and frothing (if you only have a smallish flask or jug, just do this next bit in 2 or 3 stages).
  5. Screw the lid on tightly, place a cloth over the lid for safety, and shake hard for a minute.
    Remove the lid, being careful of the steam (that cloth over the lid comes in handy again), and pour into your mug(s).
  6. Give the contents a little stir, sprinkle a few grains of chocolate powder on the top, and top off with one last marshmallow to complete the decoration.
  7. Sit back, relax, and slurp your way to happiness as you warm up.

Now, that is what I call enjoying life in your caravan.

This recipe was based on one in Jamie Oliver’s The Naked Chef although for camping use his later book Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals may be of more general use in a campervan (and as he has a VW campervan himself, you never know your luck).

If you have a favourite camping recipe you’d like to share, then we’ll give you a £10 voucher for every recipe we publish as our way of saying thank you for sharing with the community, just drop us an email through the contact details on our website. If you’d prefer to simply help others find this recipe, you can use the various icons below. Either way, “watch this space” for more delicious ideas for tasty food and drink you can easily knock-up in your motorhome.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Ping.fm
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • Add to favorites
  • LinkedIn
Posted in Campervan Cooking | Leave a comment

Getting a Driving Licence for an Overland Campervan: Step 2 – DSA Theory & Hazard Perception Tests

DSA Test Centre Welcome Notice - The First Official Thing You Will See When Going For Your Self Build Campervan Licence

DSA Test Centre Welcome Notice

In the previous blog post in this series we looked at my experiences getting a provisional licence and trying to assess the various truck driving schools, as the first stepping stone towards being allowed to drive the motorhome of my dreams. Now we’ll take a look at what I must do before I’m allowed to take my practical test.

The DSA rule is that you must pass both hazard perception and multiple-choice theory tests before taking the practical test and, as the school required that I take my practical test at the end of my practical training, the reality was that I had to take and pass it all before even starting my practical training.

DSA Test Booths For Big Campervan Licence

Booths Inside DSA Test Centre

I bought a substantial number of books, and some training CDs, and worked my way through most of the multiple-choice questions and hazard perception videos. Many of the multiple-choice questions required learning something new (do you know the minimum height of an unmarked bridge, what the law requires you do when carrying a 3.6m wide load, the tyre tread requirements for a vehicle over 7.5 tonnes, or the finer points of EU legislation for drivers’ working hours?) but, in theory at least, for somebody with 30+ years of accident free driving, an international rally licence, and an IAM pass on fast motorbikes, the hazard perception should have been easy.

The reality couldn’t have been further removed from this ideal, and while I cheerfully soaked up the facts for the multiple-choice test (typically getting 99% correct in less than 25% of the allowed time when practising at home) the videos bore little resemblance to my experience of driving, what constitutes a real-world hazard, or when that hazard becomes visible. The so-called “hazard perception” part of my “learning” thus became a matter of trying to get inside the head of the programmers of a less-than-inspiring video game, with a view to predicting when precisely they wanted me to click to score 5 points. When I was consistently scoring upwards of 90% in practice (the pass mark is 67% for lorries, and thus what I needed for our new overland campervan to-be) I felt ready for the test, and duly visited one of DSA’s offices to take it.

On the day I passed the multiple-choice with confidence, and tackled the video-game in the same manner. However, while I passed the hazard-perception video game, it was more a case of scraping through rather than blitzing it as I had done at home. As a former computer programmer, I can only attribute this to having learned how to play a computer game where the scoring was based on one algorithm, and then taking a test where the scoring was based on another algorithm. Still, I passed. But that doesn’t change the fact that I consider the so-called “hazard perception” part of the DSA’s driving test to be fundamentally flawed, and utterly irrelevant to normal driving. I would add that the various professional truck driving instructors (many of them DSA accredited for cars too) I spoke to whilst choosing a driving school for my motorhome licence all warned me that they, and most other candidates, share a similar opinion of its relevance to an experienced driver.

DSA-Hazard-Perception-Test-For-Self-Build-Motorhome-Licence

An Overview of how the DSA's Hazard Perception Game is scored

On the basis of my experience though I’d recommend the following study materials to anybody planning to take the Category C (from 7.5 tonne up to 32 tonne rigid vehicles – i.e. what you need to drive a big motorhome) DSA multiple-choice theory and hazard perception tests:

The Goal - An Official DSA Theory & Hazard Game Pass Certificate For Your Big Motorhome Licence

The Goal - An Official DSA Pass Certificate

In particular note my recommendation of the official DSA CD for the hazard perception game, because based on my experience you will be learning to play a game rather than learning anything whatsoever about driving safety, so you may as well learn the exact-same game rather than somebody else’s interpretation of it. Tedious though the computer game is, it’s a necessary evil if you want to drive a really big motorhome.

In my next post we’ll look at my Cat C Practical Training and DSA Driving Test, but in the meantime if you have any questions please ask them in a comment and if you’ve found this post useful please use the various icons below to share it with others.

http://www.msauk.org/custom/asp/splash/competitors.asp
Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Ping.fm
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • Add to favorites
  • LinkedIn
Posted in Self Build Motorhome | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off

Raskelf Holds Prices for 2013

Raskelf Duvalay Memory Foam Sleeping Bags for Caravans & Motorhomes

Duvalay is the best Memory Foam Sleeping Bag for Your caravan, motorhome, campervan, truck or boat

This is good news indeed, not least because it’s currently very cold outside. Raskelf, first made famous on Dragons Den for their innovative Duvalay when they were snapped up by shrewd investor Hilary Devey, has just announced that it will be holding its prices through 2013. And, for a while at least, we’re celebrating this by giving free delivery (to the UK mainland) on all Raskelf products if you quote <sorry, limited time offer has now ended> at checkout.

http://campingequipmentshop.co.uk/index.php/sleeping-bags-mats/raskelf-duvalay/c_82.html

So let’s take a quick recap over the excellent range of products that fellow campers Alan & Liz Colleran produce in their Yorkshire factory:

The Raskelf Duvalay is undoubtedly their flagship product, providing all-important sleeping comfort when camping whilst being very easy to use. In simple terms it comprises two pockets sewn together along the side and bottom, with the bottom pocket containing memory foam to even out any bumps in your cushions, while the top pocket holds the duvet. There are various options of memory foam thickness and duvet TOG rating (or use your own), and 9 different colours to choose from. As you would expect, matching pillowcases are available too.

You can easily join two Duvalays together to make a double, and they work brilliantly whether you’re curled up in a campervan, tramping in a 44-tonne truck, or even just need something comfortable to use on the floor at home for an unexpected guest!

To buy your Raskelf Duvalay now with free UK-mainland delivery, just quote <sorry, limited time offer has now ended> at checkout, and rest assured of a good night’s sleep with no cold draughts down your back:

http://campingequipmentshop.co.uk/index.php/sleeping-bags-mats/raskelf-duvalay/c_82.html

If you don’t want the Duvalay for some reason, perhaps preferring to use your traditional bedding in your caravan, but still want to iron out the bumps where your cushions join so you wake up refreshed rather than with a stiff back, Raskelf’s range of Portable Memory-Foam Mattress Toppers can help you there. As with the Duvalay they provide a memory foam base of between 2.5cm-5cm thick, and with options of either regular polycotton or luxury percale (close-weave) covers.

If you choose the percale cover option you get a choice of 9 different colours to compliment your motorhome interior, and there are several different length and width options to be assured of the best possible fit in your space.

To buy your Raskelf Portable Mattress Topper now with free UK-mainland delivery, just quote <sorry, limited time offer has now ended> at checkout, and be prepared for a good night’s sleep:

http://campingequipmentshop.co.uk/index.php/sleeping-bags-mats/portable-mattress-topper/c_81.html

WARNING: Note that just because UK-based Raskelf have held their prices it doesn’t mean that some foreign manufacturers such as Fiamma and Omnistor will hold theirs too (and historically they haven’t), so if you’re planning to buy a new awning or similar ready for Easter you may well save yourself some money by doing so now rather than later.

If you’ve found this post useful and want to share its benefits with your friends, the social media icons below may help you.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: The discount code shown above was a New Year offer valid until the end of January only, and is no longer valid. I have therefore edited the post above to remove the offer code. With apologies to anybody hoping to get free carriage on a new Raskelf Topper

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Ping.fm
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • Add to favorites
  • LinkedIn
Posted in Camping News, Product Review | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off

Getting a Driving Licence for a BIG Motorhome: Step 1, Choosing a Driving School

If you’re keeping up with progress towards our new motorhome, you’ll recall that I last left you in August at a point where I needed to get a licence to drive something over 7.5 tonnes before being able to go shopping for a suitable chassis and cab. This post shares what’s happened since then.

Motorhome Driving Licence Medical Examination

Part of a Motorhome Driving Licence Medical Examination

I started off by going for a driving licence medical test, which is a legal requirement before even getting a Category C provisional licence. With that successfully passed (and, in all honesty, you’d need to be in pretty poor shape to fail) I posted my completed D4 (medical report) and D2 (licence application) forms off to the DVLA. When doing this, and following a number of discussions with my family, I ticked all the boxes to become an organ donor. This seems reasonable to me as it would be extraordinarily selfish to refuse to donate something which I’d be very grateful to receive if on the other end of the process.

In the fullness of weeks I was rewarded with my first-ever photocard driving licence, replete with new provisional Category C (rigid vehicles over 7.5 tonnes Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM)) entitlement. I personally can’t see the point of having both a sheet of paper, and a photocard, as separate (but entirely useless when separated!) documents, unless it’s some attempt at ID cards by stealth, but that’s another matter entirely.

Now I could prove my provisional entitlement, I could go for a driving assessment. The assessment would of course be done in a commercial truck, rather than a motorhome, because that’s the reason most people want the licence. The purpose of this assessment, at least in theory, is for the prospective driver training school to assess the prospective pupil’s skills and estimate how much training they will need to pass the test. I’m told by friends who have done this before that the normal is four days training, with the test on the fifth day, so it came as no great surprise to me that this was the result of my assessments too.

Beware HGV Training Brokers — Having seen on TV precisely how many dodgy so-called training schools abound I viewed the assessment as an opportunity to both establish that the school is genuine (I didn’t want to blow a chunk of my overland campervan budget on a con-artist) and to see if I liked the instructor’s style. To get some basis for comparison, I went for three assessments: two with local companies and one (on the basis of a friend’s recommendation) somewhat further afield.

The first place I went for an assessment was an independent local school that had an 18 tonne MAM Renault truck that, I thought, drove just like a car. Certainly it was no harder to drive than a smaller Iveco Eurocargo I’ve hired before on my car licence to move furniture. The assessor made a point of telling me that this truck was the easiest to pass a Category C driving test in because it’s wheelbase was the minimum the DSA would accept for a test, and the body had been specially shortened (with the rear overhang removed) to make it easier for learners to drive. Sure I wanted a Cat C licence, but even more than that I wanted to learn to drive a big truck (which is effectively what our new giant campervan will be), so this school was a non-starter for me. It didn’t help that the assessor wouldn’t have been my instructor, and I wanted to assess teaching styles too.

Next up was a local branch of a well-respected chain of schools, where a friend of mine (who until very recently drove as a tramper for Eddie Stobart’s) was trained. They had a Mercedes truck which was in such a poor state of repair that I had to wait several minutes after starting the engine for the air-suspended driving seat to rise to the correct height, because of an air leak in the system that was evidently overdue for repair. It also transpired that the truck was so old as to fail emissions regs and thus not be allowed into the nearest test centre any longer, meaning that we’d have been spending 2 (or more!) hours each day driving round the M25 to another area to practice in. This didn’t strike me as a good plan so, despite the instructor who was assessing me being very capable, I decided not to go with this school either. It didn’t help that the youth I was stuck with in the back-office was about as unhelpful, arrogant, and evasive, as you could ever wish to avoid.

Self-Build Motorhome Driver Training by Scania

Self-Build Motorhome & Truck Driver Training

So I booked myself in with the Scania Driver Training School in Avonmouth (near Bristol) to have an assessment there. The conclusion was the same as before (4 days training, test on 5th day) but I was impressed with both assessor/instructor (Roy Juggins) and back-office admin (Jayne Hamley) and therefore decided to book on there. As a bonus(!), the truck itself struck me as being the hardest of the three to drive, meaning there was the most potential to learn something that would be of use with our new motorhome.

In my next post I’ll tell you about my hazard perception and theory tests, both necessary before taking the practical test for our big motorhome. In the meantime if you’ve enjoyed this post please say thank you by sharing it with others and/or leaving a comment below.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Ping.fm
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • Add to favorites
  • LinkedIn
Posted in Self Build Motorhome | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

Our Next Motorhome: the legal position in UK

If you’re a regular reader of this blog you’ll know that we’ve outgrown our trusty Hymer motorhome, and have therefore been wondering what motorhome to buy next for a while now.

Or, perhaps more accurately following a lot of research, what motorhome to build next? Because it’s very apparent that there’s really nothing available on the market that meets our needs at present. We don’t need an off-road motorhome in the strictest sense of the phrase, but rather a motorhome that’s capable of keeping on going when the roads get bad, very bad; this big “overland campervan” (as I have heard it called elsewhere) will be headed way beyond the end of Europe, for months at a time, with our whole family on board.

There are some great 4×4 motorhomes with 4 fixed berths for sale on mobile.de but to be honest they’re either too old (30 years plus), too light duty to continuously withstand where we’ll be going (Sprinter 4×4 chassis), or (in the case of an otherwise stunning Woelcke MB 818D Vario Allrad) don’t have sufficient fixed berths. What we’re really looking for is something more like the very capable Unicat Terracross TC59 Family but (aside from being way too expensive) even that doesn’t have sufficient storage space for our long-term extended travel plans.

Photo of Unicat Terracross TC59 by river

A Unicat TC59 Family motorhome parked where other motorhomes fear to tread

The only solution then appears to be to design something ourselves, and then arrange for somebody to build it for us. Although in this case, given the numerous different skill-sets involved, “somebody” is likely to consist of multiple different companies. And therein lies quite a bit more research.

But the first thing is to choose a suitable base vehicle for it all to sit on, and as we want both left hand drive (LHD) and 4×4 it makes sense to look in EU rather than UK. The experts all tell me that either Mercedes Benz or MAN make the best 4×4 trucks if long-range travel is the plan, so the next thing is to look at 4×4 trucks up to 18 tonnes for sale on mobile.de and similar websites, before heading off out to Belgium/Germany/Poland/wherever to buy something.

Well, almost. That would in truth be jumping the gun a little because there’s little point buying something that I can’t legally drive…

The first thing in reality then is to go back to school, and get myself a suitable driving licence. Probably in common with most people reading this blog, my current license covers me to drive up to 7.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight (GVW), or maximum allowed mass (MAM) as it’s now called. That’s more than sufficient for pretty-much every EU-standard motorhome, and the majority of the US imports too, but this planned big beast motorhome of ours will likely weigh in about 10-12 tonnes when full of water and fuel (600 litres of each), gas (propane/butane/LPG), diesel generator, fridge, freezer, dish washer, washing machine, oven etc. So I’ll need a Category C driving licence, to let me drive heavy rigid goods vehicles (including a big motorhome), as DVLA’s website confirms. And if I want to tow a small car behind, so we can more easily pop out for the day, I’ll need Category C+E (the same as all the drivers of the articulated lorries, just so our big camper can tow a car one tenth its weight). There are numerous driver training schools locally offering this commercial driver training, but a good friend of mine did his truck driver training with Scania near Bristol and heavily recommends them, so the odds are high that I’ll find a campsite near Bristol and spend a pleasant week or two down there in our current motorhome, while I learn to drive again.

The bad news was that the road fund license (RFL – road tax) was going to be huge, and while the handy PDF comparison chart seems to have gone from DVLA’s website now, the replacement road fund licence calculator on DirectGov still shows it was destined to cost us a hefty £650/year for a vehicle plated at 18 tonnes, as our base vehicle may well be. The good news is that a phone call to DVLA revealed that there is a special tax class for Private HGVs (which are described as “over 3,500 kg revenue weight”), now also clearly visible on the new DirectGov website road fund licence calculator, which costs a far more reasonable £165/year.

Driving Standards Agency books & DVD

The 7 books & DVD, most of which I'll be reading and watching in my motorhome this summer holiday

My next task then is to buy copies of:

and spend many a happy hour reading up on their contents, before going to sit a theory test, after which I can start taking driving lessons again.

I’ve been a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) for many years, but it’s fast becoming apparent to me that the extra studying and training that I’m going to be undertaking for my Category C+E licence will make me a better driver still, and (regardless of a new vehicle necessitating it) I’m looking forward to it as that surely can’t be a bad thing for every day driving either…

If you found this article helpful, please say thank you by sharing it with others using your preferred choice of social media (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.), or by using the icons below. And if you disagree with anything I’ve said above, you’re welcome to leave a comment too.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Ping.fm
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • Add to favorites
  • LinkedIn
Posted in Self Build Motorhome | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments