I collected the camper from storage on Friday 28th February. It has been sitting in a Barn for the last 4 months with a CTEK MXS 5 attached to the main engine battery and another attached to the Leisure battery.
Why is this so important you may ask?
Well last year when I woke her from Hibernation as well as a bucket of dead flies I found the leisure battery had ‘fried’ and it cost me £120 to replace.
This was apparently my own fault as I had left the Old Girl connected to the mains for the winter, thinking this would keep both batteries topped up. Instead I over heated the leisure battery, which then dried out and the heat destroyed the plates in the cells. A costly lesson.
So this year, before putting her away I went to Hall’s Auto Electrician’s in Yate near Bristol and asked for advice. They recommended one of these CTEK Units and suggested they could hard wire it into the van for about £200. Sounded like a plan so I booked her in and on the agreed date, dropped her off and left .
Unfortunately, by the time I got home the phone was ringing and it was Hall’s advising that the job would now cost £500 as they didn’t realise there were two batteries on a camper.
Are they for real?
I declined their new quote and set off to collect the van, which didn’t go down too well as they had ordered two CTEK units expecting me to go ahead. Interestingly I purchased two units direct from CTEK for the price Hall’s wanted for one, so I was quids in.
When ever you leave a camper over winter the Gremlins find a way to work their magic. Last year the door to the freezer fell apart when we opened it and I had to refit new hinges and springs so i was expecting to have a few small jobs to attend to.
Unfortunately it has rained every day since I brought the Van home and when we started the Spring Clean today we found a frying pan full of rain water. This had come in through the seal on the analogue TV ariel that the last owner fitted himself.
When we bought the van he pretentiously regaled us with stories about the amount of love and care he had lavished on this camper. Over the year’s we’ve come to realise he was either deluded or a liar but either way, he was no mechanic and most of his ‘handiwork’ has been re-done, properly.
Luckily I found a card in the drawer for Mike Smart, Mobile Leisure Vehicle Services so I gave him a call and as luck would have it, he was in Cheltenham and agreed to drop in on his way home. When he arrived he set about removing the old aerial, sealed up the holes and fixed some caps over the drill holes inside the cupboard, so it looked a bit tidier. Hopefully that will keep it water tight as a camper with a leak is no camper at all.
We also needed to purchase a map so we chose Michelin Road Atlas for Spain and Portugal 1:400,000 which seemed the right size but now it’s arrived Jaki (who does all the navigating and route planning) feels its too detailed so we’ve ordered a Spanish Map and Caravan Europe – Guide to Sites and Touring in Spain and Portugal 2014: Over 3500 Sites in Spain and Portugal as Recommended by Caravan Club Members
Now we can start planning a route and find some where to stop over.
We sail from Plymouth to Santander on the 16th March (which is the first day Brittany Ferries sail this route this year) but as I’m a lousy sailor (I got sea sick stood on a pontoon in Bristol Dock once) Ive booked an appointment with the Doctor in the hope they will give me something to help with the 23 hour crossing.
We’ve also bough two Breathalysers for France as you must by law carry one. However, if you are stopped and asked to blow in to the bag, you will no longer have one so you will then be in breach. Sneaky eh? Therefore we have two.
We still need to get another ‘warning triangle’ as our’s was last seen (in the rear view mirror) bouncing along the Tarmac as we made our way to the Isle Of Wight. It had miraculously managed to vibrate through the gap in the locker door and made it’s escape.
We also had some fun with the Head Light Deflectors. These are required when you travel abroad. Last time, we fitted ours whilst waiting in the queue to board the Ferry but as we didn’t do any night driving we had no reason to suspect that the lights on my German Bus have always been set for Europe. It was only when we were returning from the Isle of Wight late at night we became aware that every oncoming vehicle was flashing It’s light’s at us.
So we have to fit the deflectors when we come back to England, not when we leave!
Despite all these impediments we are starting to get excited at the prospect of another 3 months away from the rain and drizzle, though it wont be Thailand it will at least be pastures new.
I for one cant wait.