Collection of the new van went pretty much to plan, apart from the minor hiccup of a throttle cable fault on my friend's car as he took me through to Billingham - thankfully it hadn't snapped, just become disconnected at the carburettor - a couple of turns of insulating tape sorted that and we were on the road again.
I was agreeably surprised by the extent of the inventory that the previous owner gave me with the van - cutlery, pans, water containers, folding chairs, electric kettle, toaster, fan heater, cleaning materials - in fact absolutely everything needed except food, booze and bedding for our first trip. Somewhat surprising as he says he intends to purchase another van - I'm all for a fresh start but quite apart from the cost he will have the not inconsiderable hassle of re-equipping - maybe something he enjoys doing? Anyway, it saved us a lot of time on Friday as we were able to concentrate on familiarising ourselves with the "workings", at least to the point where I was happy we'd cope on our own.
So - up reasonably early on the Saturday, dogs walked, van loaded and we set off with happy hearts on our first venture. No need even to fuel up - more than enough in the tank to get us the 30 odd miles to our destination, a site at Rosedale Abbey on the North Yorks Moors. Jill is a keen walker and has an amateur interest in industrial archeology - Rosedale is the site of one of the earliest ironstone mines locally, with lots of fascinating history, and is a favourite of hers. From my point of view there is a pub immediately opposite the site gates!
We had an uneventful journey - I was a bit wary of the sheep which wander onto the unfenced road, I didn't fancy slamming on the brakes so was a bit edgy at times - I wonder if natural selection will eventually result in sheep with a modicum of road sense? We arrived safely and were given a friendly welcome and a nice pitch close to the dog walk - a considerate touch.
We had a slight problem getting the van level - the previous owner had supplied a pair of superb welded aluminium chequer plate ramps he'd made himself, which I positioned carefully behind the front wheels and attempted to reverse onto. This is when I learnt that slipping the clutch for better control isn't a good idea with a vehicle weighing some 3.5 tonnes. Nasty smells ensued from the clutch, which took some time to disperse. Mental note - should have put the ramps in front of the wheels and let the slope help us onto them!
30 minutes or so saw us all connected up, water heater on, fridge on 240v, awning deployed, and our first coffee. There were a few clouds around but for the time being it was sunny and warm, so we walked the dogs out to the pub by the site gates - The Coach & Horses. Dogs not allowed inside but not a problem to sit outside with the weather we had. A couple of pints of Black Sheep and all was well with the world!
Back to the van, an hour sat relaxing and reading then Jill set to preparing our first meal - bangers and mash with some wonderful pork and black pudding sausages - food for the inner man.
After all was cleared away we had a wrestle with the TV aerial - our only real failure of the trip. There are a couple of clamps on the side of the van at high level just to the rear of the driver's door which hold the aerial post - unfortunately I am I guess some 2" shorter than the previous owner and couldn't quite reach the top clamp from the driver's door step. Holding up the aerial demonstrated that reception was pretty lousy anyway (later confirmed by others) so nothing lost. I plan to fit a permanent roof mounted aerial in time (more advice to be sought from the forum!)
With no TV there was nothing for it but to repair to the pub for another pint. Heigh Ho.
A bite of supper (biscuits and Ardennes pate) then we set up the bed. As yet we are unsure what the best sleeping arrangement will be, there are a number of options. The over cab bed was full of gear, so for simplicity we chose to try our first night on the lounge bed.
The seating arrangement is "L" shaped - the rear bench has a slide out giving a double bed widthwise but not lengthwise as we'd hoped. The side bench however is long enough as a single - we elected to sleep with Jill on the side bench and me on the double at right angles to her - feet cosily together in the rear corner. This worked pretty well, but I think we could have deployed the cushions better. That plus our noisy neighbours who chatted until around 2:00 am meant I didn't sleep well - they weren't excessively noisy or in any way raucous, just close, talkative and late to bed!
Up reasonably early (for a Sunday!) and bacon sandwiches sat outside the van - perfect. Enough sustenance to tackle a part assembly of the safari room, which went reasonably well - it's a bit of a faff though, and I can't see us using it unless we are staying somewhere a few days.
Another stroll to the village and a nice coffee - again sat outside with the dogs. Molly and Lewis are King Charles Cavalier spaniels, and their behaviour this weekend was exemplary, enjoying themselves thoroughly and being not one bit of bother.
A proper Sunday dinner with all the trimmings (OK, we cheated on the Yorkshire puddings - Aunt Bessie's) and then we reluctantly packed up and made our way home.
A highly successful and enjoyable two days, which reinforced our belief that we have made a good choice of van, and will enjoy many more outings.
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