Dry Run With Friends

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A weekend of dry weather and friends wanting to wild camp in their converted camper locally meant we jumped in, with our nowhere near ready set up, for a single night test run.

It differed from the planned adventure in July in several ways:

  • Our car is far from ready
  • We are far from having everything we need
  • We have a foster dog at the moment, as well as our dog
  • The weather is nowhere near as warm as we hope it will be
  • It was only one night, and was very local
  • So we had a lot less gubbins than we will have – but that’s fine because the storage isn’t quite sorted yet

Despite these differences there was much value in doing it. It helped to spot things that were or were not needed as well as any pitfalls from what we already had – for example the carabiners for the bags were not big enough to go on the handles above the doors as planned.

The dogs loved the space, the training leads were ideal for hooking them up to the load D rings in the car (neither has great recall at the moment!). We took the foster dog (Gilda) in the car overnight, and our friends took our dog (Indy) in their van. Gilda slept fine in the bed on the front passenger seat, and Indy slept fine in the bed in the living area of the van.

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The beds fit in beautifully, and both of us found them comfortable and spacious.

There is lots of space under my bed for storage, and I have ordered a couple of Really Useful Boxes to slide underneath. One for kitchen bits and food, and one for dog bits and food.

There should also be enough space on top the the boxes to slide our camping chairs and the ‘bog in a bag’.

 

 

There is a fair bit of space in all the footwells, apart from the driver’s seat, and I have also ordered Really Useful Boxes for each of them – one each for mine and my son’s clothes and the third for ‘bits and pieces’ such as wipes, towels, bog refills etc. There will be space on top of these for other things too.

The cubby holes along the roof will be used for underwear, toothbrushes, toiletries and tablets etc. The door pockets will hold the curtains, sunshades and anything else not already housed.

All in all it was a resounding success, and very reassuring in terms of feasibility. We really had loads of storage space. We’re hoping the weather will be kind, and allow us another test run before our friends set off on the road early next month.

 

En Route to…

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This summer, I am ‘planning’ a road trip in France with youngest boy (biggest boy has asked to be excused, and will instead spend the time with his Grandad). I use the term ‘planning’ loosely, as, for the first time, this trip will not be minutely ordered with check points or an itinery. We know we will cross Plymouth to Roscoff, and we know we will spend just a couple of nights in each location, beyond that we will go where the wind, beauty and urge take us.

We are taking our family car, a Ford Galaxy, and a tent. The tent won’t be used for single night stops, we will just sleep in the car. The car has a glass roof (to see the stars) so there will be no roofbox, and also no trailer. We will have to pack light… Very light! We might also take the family dog, if she can get over her travel sickness before June!

I have pre ordered a new Outwell Polycotton Air Tent (for cool in the hot (!) sun, and ease of erecting/striking over and over on my own), and today we spent much time outside two camping shops trying out combinations of camp beds and Self Inflating Mats (SIMs) to see what the best configuration was that would fit in the car.  We eventually went for a Outwell Posidas single camp bed, with lots of space underneath for storing essential gubbins, and a double layer of 3cm Outwell SIMs for littlest boy.

It’s starting to become a little scary when I think about how little space we will have for gubbins. We have large door pockets, cubby holes all over the place, and a central bank of boxes in the roof of the car (with glass windows either side). There will also be the footwells, and under the Posidas. That is it. Everything we take will need to fit in that. EVERYTHING.

There’s a dog crate, if the dog comes, which will go on the front passenger seat when we’re sleeping in the car. The tent, which will have to go in a footwell, under the bed, or on the driver’s seat. Clothes/towels etc. Toiletries (I predict these will end up in the boxes in the roof). Road maps and campsite directories. Cooking stuff, including the Cobb BBQ which I will make space for, somewhere – I expect we’ll take a Really Useful Box, at least one, to store cooking equipment and food in, this can be left outside if needs be.

Once the tent arrives in mid March, I can have a go at cramming everything in, with the beds in situ. I don’t do packing light. Fitting everything in is going to be the biggest challenge for this trip!

Almost time for T-Day

So it’s just another 10 days until we head off on our Italian adventure. I have rapidly gone from feeling really organised to totally panicked about not having everything ready in time. How does that happen?!

Our three cases lay open in the spare bedroom so we can throw stuff in as it’s bought or we think of it. Our rucksacks felt incredibly heavy, so packing choices have been reviewed. We have three cases (all with wheels): Hand luggage size, Medium size and Large size; for the 9 year old, 14 year old and me to drag across Europe. I have decided to shove, I mean pack, all the heavy ‘on the train’ stuff in the little case, guide books, activities, snacks etc. This will, hopefully, mean lighter rucksacks while still avoiding the need to rummage in the bigger cases en route.

Much discussion has gone on already with the boys about what they may wish to do, we will all look at the guide books on our journey to select some sites to see and the boys have a notebook and pencil case each to make lists, take notes and write a journal if they wish. We have a challenge for the whole break, that is to try at least one food each day that is specific to that country or region. The challenge reaches a head in Paris, on our way home, where we will all try snails and frogs’ legs, we will each put in 2 Euros and whoever eats the most snails (or most of one snail) wins the lot. This was the idea of O, 14, who ordinarily resists trying any new foods!

I doubt I will blog again until we are on our way and, as this is a laptop free break, all blogging wil be via my smartphone from then on. I fully suspect panic will further set in from now on, so blogging will totally be bottom of the list!

A month until T-Day (train day)

So we have just over 4 weeks to go, a mere month until the longest leg of our journey commences.

I have been busy collecting (hoarding) ‘things that might be useful’ in a pile in the spare bedroom. I have ordered an assortment of things to accompany us as well: plug adapters, phrase books, maps to name just a few. I have also been contemplating what the weather may bring whilst we’re away, and thus what might be appropriate to pack, we’re traveling light so this is actually quite an important point to consider, footwear and outerwear have cropped up. I am conscious that we will have to lug our things across Europe in our suitcases (with wheels), so keeping it down to a minimum is essential.

Food is another thing I have been mulling over, or more specifically snacks for the trains and in our room…

There are a couple of things in the family diary before we go, once they are out the way I can really get stuck into my lists and packing, and realise what I have overlooked…

An Italian Adventure – After the Stress and Complication ;)

So, I’m heading to Italy with my children. We are going to stay in Naples and Rome, mainly to see the Roman sights. But there’s a catch. We are doing the entire journey, from Cornwall to Naples (and back), by train.

It has taken much planning and hair pulling (my own hair 😉 ) to sort out trains for each leg and accommodation in both Naples and Rome (plus a night in Paris on the way back), but it’s finally all booked…

Now we just have the other things to sort out, like travel insurance (which is done), EHIC cards (which are ordered), suitcases, packing, activities for the train and some sort of neat tidy portable filing system for the reams of paper tickets and booking confirmations I now have sat in a pile under the passports.

My intention is to keep this blog updated with our adventures, both en route and whilst there… I will try, I promise, there may even be the odd picture 😉

Train is definitely the more expensive way to get there, but I’m hoping it will make the journey into an adventure!