Friday, 24 January 2014

Alternative interiors: kitchen and picnic pods

I have on my desk two - as yet - unused chopping boards made with birch ply and Formica. I like them a lot as they fit my idea of good design. They are Functional, well made and nice to look at. They also match my van quite nicely, which is also a bonus (they come in a range of colours). Our interior was remade out of birch faced ply a couple of years ago so these boards fit right in.

Whilst we loved the old Moonraker interior that came with our van, it just didn't work that well for us as a family. There were certain aspects of it that I didn't feel right about, like not having two inertia reel belts in the back for the kids and not having head rests in the front. So we installed full height T25 seats, a full width bed (for more sleeping and relaxing space on rainy days), seat belts, captain's seat (to extend the interior space) and a buddy box for the porta potti (for staying on aires or going wild) and then had a shorter but deeper kitchen unit made by our friends at Individual Campers. It has a shallow sink/drainer and uses the original cooker and fridge.  It works really well as long as nobody brings too many clothes because we now have no wardrobe!

And..... what have the chopping boards got to do with it?

Good point. They were made by another Devon-based conversion company called Cambee who make VW interiors for all kinds of campers, but mainly the T5, out of the same materials. Even in the newer vans this Formica and birch ply finish is kind of retro groovy (excuse the expression) and looks fantastic. The company also make something they call a picnic pod, the little brother of their kitchen pod. These pods are a very simple way of getting out there without having to go the whole way and converting your vehicle completely. You put them in your van (or car) when the time comes to depart and away you go. Hey presto! You have a mini camping kitchen at your disposal with chopping surface, single burner and somewhere to store your bits. I like this idea very much. Recently we've been discussing the prospect of having a day van for every day stuff (bikes, boards etc), but with the capability to turn into a camper easily and quickly and without having the interior taken up with cupboards and what not.

This 'easy camping getaway' idea has a lot of resonance with us. A few years ago, when we were 'between vans', we had a camping box by the front door which had everything in it that we needed for a weekend away: tent, sleeping bags, cooker, plates etc. It made the getaway as pain-free as possible so all we had to do was stock up on food and depart. As we all know, sometimes it's easier to stay at home and not bother, so anything you can do to get out of the house more easily has to be a good thing! Like a fully stocked camper, our camping box made us ready to take off with nothing more than a good forecast to guide us.

The picnic pod does this too. Of course it is nothing new, but it's nice to see that other people think like us and are doing their own thing with it. Anything that makes getting out of the door easier is fine by me! And the finish is great too.

Check out Cambee here.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Oi! You lot. Don't get carried away. Be sensible.

The #2minutebeachclean is gathering pace.

It's turning into something. And I, for one, am very very pleased. I was thrilled to see beach litter in the bins at Crooklets beach today that wasn't put there by me. I was thrilled to see tweets with links to pictures of the hauls people had made in their very own #2minutebeachcleans and I was even more excited to talk to two people at the beach yesterday who promised to pick up a few bits and pieces on their way.
But okay, let's not get carried away.

I like the simplicity of the #2minutebeachclean because it's easy and manageable and can be fun. It's also up to the individual so there are no restrictions, insurances, risk assessments or paperwork. This is also where its power lies because the more individuals do it and make it habit, the more we'll get done and will continue to get done.

But....we do have to do the small print from time to time. Yes, so it's onerous and against the spontaneous spirit of a #2minutebeachclean but... I'm damn well going to do it, even though I am not your mother.

So ya boo sucks. Here it is.

Staying safe on your #2minutebeachclean

  1. If you can, wear protective gloves. If you can't, wash your hands afterwards.
  2. Supervise your children and make sure they don't pick up sharps or poo.
  3. DO NOT pick up needles or glass or any other sharps unless you have somewhere safe to put them. Old needles MUST be disposed of properly. Ask your local surgery.
  4. Do not pick up anything organic that is not beach litter. We're talking dead animals and poo here. Just don't. Better to let the dog roll in it.
  5. If you find ordnance (old shells or bullets) call the Coastguard on 999.
  6. If you find what you suspect to be dangerous chemicals or substances, leave them alone and call the Coastguard on 999.
  7. Dress properly for the weather and conditions.
  8. Be careful under overhanging cliffs or below unstable areas and be VERY wary of landslips and cliff falls, especially after heavy rain.
  9. Be careful over wet rocks. Walk on the barnacles as they give better grip.
  10. If you find anything of value that is technically salvage, you must report it to the Receiver of the Wreck (seriously).
  11. Please dispose of your finds properly. Plastic bottles that have not been in the sea for long can be recycled. Everything else, currently, must go to landfill, which means you can pop it in a litter bin or put it out with your rubbish. 

Finally, have you got your vest on? If you have then please go out there and do your #2minutebeachclean with my blessing and grateful thanks. Just take care and be sensible. Don't let HSE put you off doing something great for your local environment. Every bottle removed from the beach is a bottle that won't end up in the food chain, killing a marine animal or polluting the ocean.


What do you call yours? #mycampervaniscalled LOVE!

A few weeks ago I (with the help of my friends at the Caravan and Motorhome Club) asked the good people of Twitter and Instagram to...