An ongoing ramble on my forthcoming adventures in Rosie.
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  1. The last weekend of the season, so we decided on two nights away at a fairly local site that looked to tick all the boxes - and we weren't disappointed.

    Picked up Rosie from storage on Friday morning - loading up a little delayed by putting in place the new memory foam mattress in the overcab bed - I put it on top of the existing 2" mattress, but may try it on its own in future, as the head room is a little restricted. Got away about 11:30. Nice weather for the short (40 minute) run to Osmotherly - nice to get Rosie out on a dual carriageway, she cruises wonderfully well at 60 mph.

    A nice welcome at Cote Ghyll, and a good pitch close to the shower block. Took advantage of the sunshine to get a few photos, then stretched our legs with a stroll into Osmotherley to check out the pubs.

    All were dog friendly - a quick pint of Timothy Taylor's "Landlord" in the Golden Lion, and a perusal of the menu - looked wonderful but pricey with main courses at around £18.00 or so. We then wandered over the road to the Queen Catherine, prices much more to our budget and a couple of pints of Bombardier saw us resolved to eat there Saturday night. Chatting with a couple of walkers, one originally from Osmotherley told us that the "Queen Catherine" was the only pub so named in the UK.

    Back to the MH for a nice dinner rustled up in no time by Jill, then an evening with a couple of episodes of "The Killing" on my laptop. We were going to watch the Da Vinci code, but on opening the DVD box found the disc missing!

    First night in the overcab bed was interesting, to say the least. I managed to sleep tolerably well, though it was very warm at first, having had the fan heater on to combat the chill of course the warm air had risen and it was like getting into an oven. Very comfy in all other respects though - Jill has threatened to take a photo of my rear clambering up the ladder - not a pretty sight I'll warrant. The dogs settled very well and left Jill alone on the rear bunk.

    After breakfast on Saturday (bacon sandwiches, of course!) we walked up to Cod Beck reservoir above the camp site - passing on the way a house that used to be the home of some good friends and near neighbours of ours. The scenery at the reservoir was very pretty, with the autumn colours, unfortunately I'd neglected to take my camera - isn't it always the way?

    Saturday afternoon was overcast and it turned quite chilly - we just sat around in the van reading and relaxing.

    Saturday evening and off to the Queen Catherine as planned - we both enjoyed beef rib and chips at £6.95, and a couple more pints of Bombardier of course. Back to a couple more episodes of the killing - very gripping despite the sub-titles - and an early night, after a slight panic which had me thinking we were flattening our batteries, all resolved by posting a desperate plea for help on the fun forum. It seems I was misreading the combined battery/water level meter - it was the tank which was nearly empty, not the batteries!

    A better night's sleep, then up on Sunday morning to the obligatory bacon sandwiches. I took the opportunity of being close to the shower block to empty the waste water drum and the toilet cassette - bloody heavy though when full, so something has to be done to make that easier - options to explore via the forums for the best solution.

    A quick and easy pack up, and we were back home by around 1300 having detoured up to the reservoir again with the plan of getting some photos - unfortunately not possible as there is nowhere handy to park until the stop at Sheep Wash, not too far past the reservoir but I was feeling lazy.

    All in all a most successful and enjoyable outing. Cote Ghyll is an excellent, clean and pretty site, Osmotherley offers some excellent pubs with a choice of really nice food to suit a range of budgets (we noticed a handy chippie near the Queen Catherine) and the walk to the reservoir was the highlight of a great weekend.
  2. Sunday October 2nd was the day of the "Colonial Breakfast" - a social event hosted by an ex-neighbour at his mobile home on a site near where Rosie is in storage.

    Rosie was pressed into service as additional seating/cooking facility for the event (which went very well) so on the afternoon we decided on a run out to a picnic area adjacent to Scaling Dam on the N Yorks moors - lunch and coffee in the van after a little walk with the dogs.

    Rosie has now had her cambelt and water pump changed. The mechanic noted an oil leak from a faulty rocker box cover gasket and replaced that too, so a good job done all round
    On the Monday previous I had continued my re-organisation of Rosie's inventory, repacking stuff in what I consider to be more appropriate locations, and removing the safari room to free up the over cab storage and make it useable as a bed for our next overnight outing - I had some doubts as to whether I was flexible enough nowadays to actually get into it, but a brief experiment showed I can - I'll need something like a memory foam mattress for it though - the existing mattress is a bit thin and too hard for my old bones.

    So - inside is now all sorted to my satisfaction, and we're booked at Cote Ghyll camp site near Osmotherley for two nights at the end of October. Rosie's back in storage until then, though I may take her out for a run next weekend.
  3. The weekend of my 65th went exceedingly well - far too much to drink on Saturday and took most of Sunday to recover, but now I'm working part time so had the Monday off - chance to have a good sort out in Rosie and do a few odd jobs.

    First task was to completely empty all the cupboards and see exactly what the previous owner has left us. It looks more and more as though he has completely given up on motorhoming - the van was clean and well looked after, but he clearly has taken an absolute approach and just sold her with everything still aboard except bedding. Far too many plates - 12 for heaven's sake! Four corkscrews, three gas lighters, a dozen toilet rolls - the list is endless and even includes two rolls of wrapping paper left in one of the overhead cupboards.

    So - I've had a good sort out and left onboard only what we'll need, and repacked and redistributed everything. Pots and pans were in the lowest cooker compartment, where they rattled dreadfully - transferred these to a cupboard, and rationalised the remainder of the storage. Hopefully, we now know where everything is.

    Fitted the new Carbon Monoxide monitor - it's at high level on the side of the tall clothes cupboard, not 150mm from the ceiling as recommended, but close to ideal position I feel. Refixed the wall clock - the adhesive hook had failed whilst in storage for the past two weeks, I replaced the hook with several double sided sticky pads - too late I've realised that at some stage we'll have to change the battery which will mean new pads.

    A job to be done is to replace the shelving in the high level cupboards - each has a shelf which is made from very thin plywood and is bending under very little load, and has a plastic front trim glued on which has come adrift. I'll remove the shelves when I lay up for winter and use them as templates for some in more substantial plywood.

    Still planning on at least one more trip out this season - current contenders are Kendal or Keilder Water - last weekend in October will be our first opportunity, due to other commitments. Mental note - question on the forums as to recommended sites at Keilder.

    Rosie is having her timing belt and water pump replaced today - peace of mind on that front anyway. I'll pick her up from storage either Friday or Saturday, for use on Sunday at the big colonial breakfast event if needed, and a continuation of the internal sort out. Below seat cupboards and driving cab need a clear out.
  4. Back from our holiday in Norfolk - not in Rosie, this was a cottage holiday booked before plan 'B' came into being!

    Despite not being in our new MH as we would have wished, we had a super week - great weather, except for high winds which prevented me getting the sailing I'd anticipated in the half-decker I hired from Hunter's Yard on the river Thurne. Had a great sail on the Saturday though when I collected the boat and sailed it to the cottage on the outskirts of Horning.

    Arrived home to find a mountain of mail on the mat - first time we've been away and left the house unattended, normally my daughter is around when we're away.

    Amongst the mail are two invites to social events we really can't miss - this scotches our plans for another weekend away in Rosie before the end of October. I hate the thought of her sat in storage with no use for all that time, so resolve to bring her home this coming weekend, which is the occasion of my 65th birthday. We're having "open house" on Saturday for relatives and friends, so I want to show off our new possession to all and sundry. Relatives from Sunderland are staying over, and despite having a large house we can't accommodate everyone, so the 11 year old twins (Thomas and Elliot) can sleep in Rosie, parked up on my son's driveway. There's a couple of little jobs to do - TV aerial to sort out, Carbon Monoxide detector to fit, Motorhomefun stickers to put in the windows - but no point in doing any winterisation yet as we are determined to have at least one more weekend away this year. It's possible she'll get used next weekend too, pressed into service as a mobile kitchen and overspill dining area for a social event - a colonial breakfast for friends and neighbours hosted by our ex-neighbour John who now is living in a static caravan, coincidentally not a stone's throw from where Rosie is in storage.

    After some questions and answers on the forums, I'm arranging to have the timing belt changed next week, and maybe also the water pump. Also I need a plan for winterisation - got my checklist downloaded from the Motorhomefun website - really good move joining that bunch of nutters!

    Hopefully next update will include details of our next proper trip - maybe Kendal.
  5. 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.
  6. We sold our Advantura shortly after my stint at Sizewell 'B' construction site ended, in 1995. It had fulfilled its intended purpose as a home away from home for the 3.5 years I was there, and now we really had to let it go, principally as we have a terraced house and the parking is very restricted - no drive, and the space at the rear some 2" wider than the van with the gate posts removed!

    Plan 'A' though was to purchase another van when I retire, and we downsize to a smaller property with a drive. However, the best laid plans, etc. - recently I decided to do another year part time rather than retire fully - we won't be moving house just yet but the storage fees don't look so daunting with salary and pension income for the next year - so the decision was taken to buy now, and get another year of enjoyment - plan 'B' was born.

    First step was to join a motorhome forum and get some advice - after a false start (no names, no pack drill, but a dreadful interface that ate my first carefully drafted post) I found - just what I needed.

    So - advice sought and received, vans viewed - we settled on a Compass Avantgarde 400RL bought privately and locally. After a few problems with finance ( the tax free lump sum hasn't landed yet) we are sorted and we collect the van tomorrow - we'll spend the day learning how everything works and equipping her with bedding, utensils, cutlery etc. - then Saturday night our first small venture - a camp site on the North Yorks moors some 40 minutes drive away, for one night only - can't wait!
  7. It was a typical North Yorks Moors day, cloudy, with some sunshine, but with the threat of real rain.

    We parked our Ford Transit Advantura up on the moor road by Rosedale, and set out with the dogs for a stroll round this enchanting, history packed dale. As the clouds darkened, we decided discretion to be the better part of valour, and headed back to the van. Some ten minutes away, Jill looked behind us to see a real monster of a black cloud rapidly overtaking. Putting on some speed, we reached the van just as the first heavy drops began to fall, and were inside as the storm burst and torrential rain lashed the windows.

    Kettle on, Sunday papers to hand, we relaxed in comfort and smugly inspected those other unfortunates caught in the downpour.

    We could have been sat in a car with a thermos - it wouldn't have been the same. We could have been sat in a caravan - it wouldn't have been the same. There is something about a motorhome that makes the experience special, and different.

    This memory for me crystallises my ongoing love of motorhomes - don't ask me to explain, I can't, but there was something about the experience that has stayed with me all these years, and has led to the recent purchase of our second motorhome, with the hope and expectation of many more such magic moments to come.