Sunday, 29 November 2015

Putting some Christmas!

It's very nearly three months since we left our former home.  At that stage we hadn't given much thought to Christmas.  We packed Vaughan's small fibre-optic tree and only a few other decorations, though didn't really expect to use them.

The Reject Shop had a family and friends sale this week and we took advantage of the extra discounts to buy some solar and battery lights as well as some window decals, tinsel and other bits.

Nick strung the solar lights along the side of the van yesterday.

Earlier in the day, I put two Christmas tree solar lights near the front door.

(Those solar tree lights were bought for our 2010 Yowah Christmas and are still working well).

The battery lights are strung inside many of the van windows - and a few loops are visible inside too.

One permanent resident across from us has a strand of tinsel in his front window. At this stage there isn't much other Christmas decorating and I expect our site looks a bit Griswald-ish by comparison!  It's pretty though and I do like spending some time at the end of the day admiring our efforts.

It may be that we are house-sitting for a week over Christmas but we'll probably be in the van the rest of the festive season.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Princess bed ...

In a few days we'll be moving from our current caravan park, so we've started to pack the van and prepare the tent for removal.

Raising the bed has greatly improved the storage potential.

There is a large clear area beneath - with 540mm clearance between the floor and the bed slats.

The stretchers were lower, only just clearing the plastic boxes and needed more space for their centre legs (not viewable in pics).

As well as the area under the bed, there is a narrow space at the end, between the wall and foot-board.

The two stretchers we were using are now in their storage bags.  They are at the end of the bed, together with a spare that was in the tent.

There's a spare chair on top of them and the tarp that used to cover our clothes-line.  In time it may become a van cover to prevent leaks.

My roller will sit on top of those items, ready to use each night.  What else?  A box of stuff that missed being packed into the shipping container and probably a spotted bag of spare linen.  There are two umbrellas and our tarp bed-cover!  The plan is to use the area under the bed for easier access to stuff that may be needed more regularly.

At this stage, there's a fair some space still available at the end of the bed and a heap more underneath - which is a good thing!

Friday, 13 November 2015

Boiling the billy at Burrumbeet!

We had a day out yesterday.  It was raining when we set off, so we headed in a westward direction and ended up past Ballarat.

After driving along Ballarat's impressive Avenue of Honour, we could see a huge lake ahead of us.

It seemed a good place for a picnic but we didn't see any signs to indicate how to get there, so continued on to Beaufort, where we spent several hours happily exploring Camp Hill Reserve.  It wasn't till much later in the afternoon (when heading home) that we found our way to Lake Burrumbeet.

There is a caravan park beside the lake but no picnic facilities.  We set our dual fuel stove beside a huge rock (which made a great windbreak).  Our new beverage case rested on top of the rock and we enjoyed a late afternoon tea watching pelicans and other water birds in the distance. Lovely!

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Making our bed - up!

We've been using a mattress on top of our camp stretchers in the caravan.  It works well enough but Nick has been scheming for an improved system.

For the past several weeks we've both been searching eBay and Gumtree for a double bed frame.  It needed to be wood, so Nick could raise the mattress height.

We had looked in some op-shops and our favourite tip shop.  No joy.

Of course there were beds available but not at the price we wanted to pay.  It seemed the plan may not go ahead.

Yesterday we made an impromptu visit to an op-shop.  Nick went in.  I waited in the car.

Nick was soon back to show me a bed that would work.  It had a few marks and needed minor repair but was pretty much what we wanted - and even better, was only $15.00!

On the way home, we collected two wood pieces from a local tip shop. They were free!

Nick worked on the bed during the afternoon.  He shortened the legs of the bed-end and lengthened those of the bed-head.

Later that evening, Nick removed the camp stretchers.  He re-assembled the bed in the space at the end of the van.

The mattress was put back in place and we made the "princess bed" ready to use last night.  It's a lot taller than previously (about level with my hip), so there is plenty of room for the plastic tubs beneath.  I'll start organising them over the next few days.  Aside from the increased storage potential, the bed is now a lot more comfortable than when the mattress was supported by the camp stretchers.  Hooray!

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Best yet!

While we were in Daylesford, Erin visited the tourist information centre and collected a map of the mineral springs in the area.

She directed us to the Hepburn Mineral Springs Reserve.

Once there we set up for a BBQ lunch, where we very much enjoyed the spotless hotplates and super-clean tables (though we still used a table-cloth)!

We went for a walk after lunch, to try a few of the springs in the area.  Erin was still not overly keen but Nick and I felt the Hepburn spring water was definitely better than the many others we'd tasted!

There were several large rocks featured in the grounds.  We read each of them.

They had been cut to create a flat top, then polished and lastly engraved - with quotes about the area.  Interesting!

The public area was quiet but there were quite a few cars in the carpark for the kiosk/bath-house.

Take a gander at Wombat Flat!

From Sailors Falls we made our way to Daylesford.  We stopped at Wombat Flat for a second spring water taste test.  As you can see, it was on a par with our first sampling!

There were many birds.  Some geese had goslings. We also saw two fluffy moorhen chicks.

Fall down, spring up?!

There was no real plan for today's outing.  As we left home Nick checked the weather - and we did our best to head out of the rain.

We made a quick stop at Sailors Falls, lured by the camera icon on the tourist information sign.

Sadly the path to the falls was closed indefinitely, so we retrieved a cup from Elmer Fudd and sampled the mineral spring water instead.  It wasn't the worst we'd tried but it certainly wasn't the best either!  Onward!

Monday, 9 November 2015

Picnic provisions ...

We do a lot of picnics and BBQs, so are well equipped for both.  As well as my newly-updated beverage case, we have a larger picnic case, fully stocked with melamine plates and cups as well as a cheery apple tablecloth. We even have two emergency picnic kits - one in each car  Yep, call us keen!

My family would probably argue that I am the keen one, dragging them out in all kinds of (wild) weather for al fresco dining!

As well as the usual plates etc, I nearly always pack a tablecloth to cover dirty and/or graffiti-ed tables.

More often than not public BBQs are left uncleaned.  We take a pack of BBQ wipes and a roll of paper towel with us.  Nick cleans the hotplate before use - and again afterwards.  I generally clean the bench surround as well.

We carry a few plastic grocery bags with us and use one for rubbish.  (Since relocating to Victoria, we've noticed many parks have a "take your rubbish home" policy). Dirty plates, cups, cutlery and utensils etc are brought home for washing - in another plastic bag.

You beauty, another beverage case!

Nick and I recently celebrated 12 years of togetherness. (Hooray for us)!

On one of our early outings, I collected an eBay win - a small vintage picnic suitcase, intended for two people.  It included a thermos, cutlery and mustard yellow plates, cups and saucers.

I sold the thermos as I preferred to use mine.  Over time, I added extra thermal cups and the case was used for our hot beverages.  It's seen a lot of action and been many places.

Sadly the case is deterioring.  The zip jams.  It's breaking away from the sides. The vinyl-covered cardboard is loose and becoming more difficult to clean.

A bit over two years ago I bought a beauty case from an op-shop.  It was a $10.00 bargain and is now getting a lot of use in the caravan park when I trek to (and from) the amenities block.

We visited our favourite tip shop today. I spotted another beauty case (with key!) and decided it might be a good replacement for my beverage case.  This make-up case was an even bigger bargain - only $5.00!  Like the first, it was in excellent condition and only required light cleaning.  The usual beverage case contents fit easily and I'll be able to include extra thermal cups for the times when we have more picnickers.

You can see our thermal cups very clearly here.  They were another fantastic bargain and were well worth our small investment!

Sunday, 8 November 2015

All white!

Elmer had a new extractor fitted yesterday. It's a more extensive thing than I first thought - so we got even better value for our money!

Nick put the new white wheels on the caravan, too.  They look pretty schmick!

He also checked the wheel bearings - all good there.  Great!

Friday, 6 November 2015

Two (or three) tyred ...

We are planning a long haul for our Fudd truck and the caravan, so there are various preparations taking place.  Elmer spent a couple of days at a local 4WD workshop the week before last.  He'll have a new extractor fitted tomorrow.

There is other work that Nick will do - including fitting some much better towing mirrors.

I've been organising the inside of the van, partly to increase our comfort while stationary but also to streamline our touring ability.

Nick checked the van tyres last week. They were well and truly past their use-by date.  We ordered two new wheels with new tyres - and had a new tyre put on one of the existing rims.  The tyre salesman offered a choice of colours for the rims.  I explained that it was an old caravan and we weren't all that fashion conscious.  Of course, once fitted the white wheels will be the newest part of the caravan and the contrast between them and the rest of the van will be stunning!

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Stretching the storage!

When we bought our caravan, it came with a double bed ensemble.  Nick and I used it for our first trips.  The mattress initially seemed OK but after some very uncomfortable nights, we replaced it with one that we had in storage.

As our Hamby Home(in)stead exit date approached, we packed our usual queen bed into our shipping container - and started to use the caravan mattress on top of our camping stretchers.  The make-do bed worked well enough and we decided to cull the wheeled base from the van and use the stretchers instead.

The benefit of the stretchers is that there is now quite a lot of storage area under the bed.  (You can see photos of the stretchers here).  In our last days at Hamby Home(in)stead I'd packed a number of our existing tubs quickly to stow beneath the bed.  I'm now starting to organise them better, to best utilise the available space - and free up the caravan floor area.  I can see some slow improvement - hooray!

Nick planned to build a bed-base in the caravan, where the mattress platform raises to allow access to the storage area beneath.  That plan is on hold but so far our interim system is working.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Drip-dry doona cover?!

After much research, Nick started to seal the caravan roof earlier this year.

He thoroughly prepped one roof edge before applying liquid rubber.

Nick wasn't entirely satisfied with the end result, so the project stalled - and then stopped when we received a Notice the Vacate our then home. All efforts were directed to culling, packing and preparing to move.  It was just as well we had the "garden tablecover" because the roof still leaked, though now the issue was more toward the pillow-end of our bed (the unsealed roof edge).

I threw the flimsy plastic cover out earlier this week.  It had split in numerous places and wasn't much use.  We've had some rain the past few days.  It doesn't always cause issues but did the other morning, so I bought a cheap tarp today.  It just covers the bed.  I'm not sure we'll always sleep under it but we'll definitely keep it handy for wet weather protection.