Showing posts from August, 2010

Car Trouble. Not Again?

Oh goodness. I got a text today from the man who bought my van, Pootle. The news wasn't good. Having packed up on the motorway the next day after being sold, Pootle has been sitting in a garage in West London waiting for a full diagnosis. The text brought the bad news: a new engine at...wait for it...are you sitting down...a minimum of ....£3000.00. Cripes! Oh well. Whatever I decide to do next is up to me. But it got me thinking about car trouble. I've had such a lot of it that a blown up engine isn't really much to write home about now. And if you think it's a blase attitude, read on. My first car was a VW Beetle. Its windscreen wipers used to pop a circlip every so often which would stop them working. It meant getting out, finding where it had gone and popping it back on. One Christmas it popped and I couldn't find the clip. It was pissing with rain so I made my sister take the laces out of her shoes and tie them together. I then tied them to the wipers and passe

Dancing with Rick

The Camper Van Cookbook got knocked of the top spot in the Amazon Food and Travel books chart again today. Since its release on 27th of May my camper vanning opus has been consistently at or near the top of the chart. When I first saw this ranking I was so surpirsed and excited that I checked it every day. Days went by. Weeks went by. The Camper Van Cookbook stayed at the top spot. And then one day a couple of weeks ago I looked and I'd been pipped. I was devastated. Bereft even. How could this happen? How could this disaster befall my numbers? It was an outrage. I noticed who had pipped me and I felt a bit silly. The leader of the pack was Rick Stein's Far Eastern Odyssey. Then I got the whole thing into prespective. Rick is a legend. He's a giant among the chef's whites. He's a fish guru, a traveller, a chef. He's even got a town named after him. So why am I complaining? If you told me a year ago that my book (what book? have I written a book?) had held Rick S

The summer of camper van love. And why I'll always choose a camper over canvas.

(This blog post first appeared on a couple of weeks ago. ) It’s been a summer of camper van love for me. I drove 2500 miles around the UK for The Camper Van Cook in my 1979 VW Camper Van. Despite long filming days and rain, I’ve never been happier. My parents did their best to put me off camping by taking me on wet trips to Wales when I was little. Then the Sea Scouts had their go. I got that grubby end of weekend feeling down pat during summer camps. But nothing could deter me from seeking out canvas, big skies and flour and water on sticks as I hit my teens. And when I discovered surfing my fate was sealed. I didn’t live by the coast so the only thing to do was pack up and ship out. Camping was the way to go. I loved every moment. Even the night our tent was flattened in a gale or the day the money ran out and my last meal – a boiled egg – fell in the sand. I remained undeterred. I couldn’t get enough of the freedom and the excitement, the waking up next to the beach, th

Goodbye Poots. Thanks for the ride.

It was an emotional weekend for all of us. We said goodbye to our third VW T25 Camper Van, Pootle. This lovely white 2.0 litre air cooled Devon conversion from 1981 has seen us through some great times, a lot of miles and some wonderful meals. He's a little bit famous too, having appeared in The Mail on Sunday, The Independent, Coast Magazine and Devon life (more than once). Get him! And let's not forget that without Pootle The Camper Van Cookbook would still be on the driveway, waiting for the off. But as is often the way, the time had come to send him off to pastures new. We shall miss him. Don't panic though! He hasn't gone to the great camper van camp site in the sky. No! His number won't be up for a long time yet. With 95K on the clock there's life in the old block yet. 30 years is nothing for a Dub like Poots. He's gone to live with Blair, Liz and 6 month old Joseph. They have promised him a whole new lease of life - because they intend to use him for