I'm not one of your grease monkey VW enthusiasts. I'm not the sort who can strip down a bus and put it back together again without any more than a few bits left over. Actually I'm not the sort who can strip a bus full stop. And I am certainly not the sort who knows how to tune up a flat four engine, knows which order the pistons fire in (the what?) and I am definitely not one of those under-the-van owners who could tell you exactly where the thermostat is on a type 4 engine. At least I never used to be.
However, today I am one of those VW owners who can do just a little more than kick tyres and chat about interior conversions. I can tell you what a condenser does and I can happily (with the greatest authority) explain what checks you should do if you break down at the side of the road BEFORE you call your old friends with the yellow truck. I am a new man. And it's all because I attended a Bus Boot Camp at the workshop of The Type 2 Detectives this weekend.
Bus Boot Camp is like school for camper van lovers. Paul and Mark and their enthusiastic team will explain to you what five things are most likely to let you down. They will show you how to change your oil, how to set your timing and how to adjust your valve clearances. They will also explain why it's important, what will happen if you don't and why you should always put your shims back on your flywheel when you adjust it (see I told you). And girls, don't worry. T2D run boot camps for ladies too.
For someone who has always regretted not paying attention to my dad as he was was fixing up his cars when I was little, the day offered moments of great clarity and revelation. I am sure it was the same for others on the course. At times it was like light bulbs were going off in people's head as the team explained, very clearly, just what goes on inside that lump of metal at the back of your camper.
You'd think that anyone would be daft to reveal their 'trade secrets' wouldn't you? But no, the team from T2D were more than happy to get you off the motorway without paying a small fortune or having to make yet another cuppa for Bob the RAC man. The principle is simple: share the knowledge, share the love and make a bunch of new friends along the way. At the same time they also get to set themselves up as the experts (which they are) and the 'go to' people for spares, restorations and all manner of fixes.
The day lasted from 9 until 6 and included breakfast cooked by the brilliant Brian, a lovely lunch (cooked by Brian and I) and some delicious cake. We were given a copy of their Bus Camp Bible to take home and as much tea and coffee as we could manage. And we got to drool over a few gorgeous vehicles at the same time. For me it was a great day doing stuff I love: cooking and messing about with campers. My only regret is that I was too busy cooking to see how they dropped the engine. Never mind, I am going back on the 26th January and hope to catch it then!
Bus Boot Camps are continuing after the new year. See here for more details.
Monday, 10 December 2012
Tuesday, 4 December 2012
CLIC Sargent, one of the country’s biggest childhood cancer charities.
CLIC Sargent are my charity. Recently they asked me to make a speech at a fundraising dinner held by Holborne Holiday Parks. I talked about my experiences camping, cooking and campervanning as well as my first-hand experiences of CLIC Sargent – because my family and I have first-hand experience of childhood cancer.