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First Proper Holiday in Bertie

CaliAdventure

CaliAdventure

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82
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North Hampshire
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T5 SE 174
So we're just back from our first real, i.e. more than a weekend, holiday in Bertie the Bus. I can't really work out where to put a trip report on the forum so it's going here...hope that is ok Mods?

We went up to Northumberland via Yorkshire last week and it was such fun and also such a good lesson in what things we need to do differently, better, not bother doing at all and what still needs to be purchased.

Where we stayed?
We stayed at a mixture of Britstops and campsites. The two campsites were quite different - one was a very slick set up on the side of Kielder Water and one was a field at Hexham Racecourse, both served their purpose but overall we prefered to not be surrounded by lots of other campervans, tents and caravans. We loved using Britstops and we quite enjoyed the opportunity to sample local beers and some food but going forward we realise that we have to be strict otherwise we will spend a fortune on food. So offical Bertie guidelines for Britstops - beer is ok, food is not :D

What worked?
Having a Cube 335 porta potti - fab for night time use only. We covered it with a rug to use a footstool and stored it under the sink. Absolutely no smells at all, wouldn't even know it was a loo really (#1s only though).

Cali Cosy - went on, stayed on and will stay on for quite a while at least until summer.

Cali Topper - easily attached and removed but probably best used when parked up for longer than a day; this combined with the cosy made the nights that much warmer!

Really Useful 64L storage boxes - got two which fit perfectly under the parcel shelf; I kept them sitting on their lids, husband kept the lids on. My way was better as it drove me nuts having to pull them right out to get the lid off (thanks HC for that bit of advice).

Bergan dog harness - our doggy has always travelled in a crate so we were concerned but he was mega chilled lying on the bench wearing the harness.

Packing cubes - we got these from Amazon, there seems to be a plethora of types so we picked a mixed bunch in two colours. One for me and one for him. Such a great way to keep your clothes neat and tidy, and most importantly accessible. I did think I should put little tags on indicating what is in each bag though.

The heater - fabulous bit of kit although we barely had it higher than level 2, mostly level 1 and sometimes level 3 for a quick boost. Wasn't bothered by the noise but we did find once that the exhaust was drifting back into bertie - perhaps we were parked the wrong way but there wasn't much option for any other position :eek:

This forum - it has been brilliant for ideas, suggestions and also I just love seeing other Calis and what people do. Looking forward to the June meet.

What we will change for next time?
As I found that I was using the parcel shelf as a 'go to' area I would replace one of the larger boxes with a couple of smaller ones to give us a bit more flexibility. We kept all our cycling and walking gear in an IKEA bag but if we can use the second large box then that will go under the shelf.

I really could do with another working space whilst cooking so I have seen a shelf option so may look into that again....

Take less clothes - I certainly did pack much but I realised that I really don't need that much.

Whilst we both found the mattress upstairs comfortable enough I found that I was getting dead arms a lot so I think we will invest in possibly Duvalays with a decent thickness of mattress. I will investigate the alternatives though before the purchase.

I need a light in the wardrobe - it is like a black hole in there so my husband has promised to look into a battery-operated LED light for me.

Taking bikes is great however it is a real bind getting into the boot when they are on the VW rack - they make the tailgate really heavy; this was probably my biggest bugbear for the week and it often meant I couldn't get easy access to things so we didn't use the back cupboard as we should have done. Not much we can do about this but we need to consider this when packing.

I think the drawer under the bed is like the Tardis so will plan to utilise this more particularly for cooking - having the PP under the sink takes away a lot of useful kitchen space so I will have to use the drawer more and ditch things from there into the back.

I would like to invest in some Brandrup storage but it is so expensive however there are a couple of items which really would serve us well as go-to storage...to be investigated more.

I'd like some solar lights for the awning - think they will be nice particularly in the warmer weather.

I'm going to get myself a collapsable kettle, a splatter guard and a collapsable colander.

Overall thoughts
We thoroughly enjoyed our first trip....and only came home because the Easter weather was so rubbish. The freedom that having a Cali gives you is incredible, apart from when we hunkered down at Kielder for a few days we didn't really know where we were going to end up - such a fab feeling :thumb. I love a fancy hotel or B&B but you just don't get that feeling, or at least we don't, when holidaying in that way. I found that our approach to what to do that day was so different - we would go where Bertie took us instead of meticulously planning on what to do that day. Odd why this is as we could approach a day out like that if based in a cottage or hotel but we just don't o_O

We loved getting up early and arriving somewhere new before everyone else and seeing a place just as it is waking up and leaving when it gets busy e.g. Whitby but we also loved being able to stay snug in bed and then chill out in a warm Bertie on a wet, soggy day just reading the paper and drinking tea.

I'm keen to try out wild camping as we saw plenty of spots particularly in the national parks but I think I need to have more of an idea of how that works...there are some good posts on the forum so will get reading.

Anyway that's it....we love our California. It's offical :happy

I can't wait for our trip to the Scottish Highlands in August for two weeks :cool:

CJ
 
T6 CFO

T6 CFO

Mike
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Thanks. As I'm waiting for mine I have to say I love reading these posts on first trips. Interesting to hear your comments on the bikes and storage issues. Our needs are very similar. Recently made a decision to cancel my bike rack and go with the towbar option. Got the 335 PP which is currently having a pad and cover made to turn into a stool to keep that cupboard free. Will probably wait on the storage boxes as sizes etc can be very personal. Thanks again.


Mike
 
H

Hotel California

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Glad it all fals in place for you.
You can put the table above the bench seat as a extra worktable while standing at the cooker. If you got that special strap deliverd with your new Cali.
It is a standard item but not always there.

Light in the wardrobe i also mounted a led-rechargeble light on top

Clothes indeed you need to pack just what needed...."less is more" ...as in more space for other things

The drawer under the seat is good but once table installed and all sitting in the Cali it can be a pain to open it reaching for things.
We always take our needed stuf out before starting to cook.

Next trip it al goes smoother!
 
GrannyJen

GrannyJen

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A lovely report. Thank you!

Tags for packing cubes: I use those cheap keyrings with the plastic tag that has a paper insert.

Collapsible kettles: I started of with a wacky practicals but have changed to an outwell one, the outwell having a larger base which I find more stable.

There is tons of stuff on wild camping in the forum section, happy reading!

Yes, agree, Britstops are invaluable, stopping on two in the next couple of days!
 
Dottie

Dottie

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And for Scotland in August, you'd better look up 'midges' for ideas for your protective must-have purchases! :Nailbiting
 
RedCali

RedCali

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Hi Cali adventure - a great read, thank you :thumb. Just a small thought, l noticed that you said you were going to leave your calicosy on until the summer - we put ours on last June and have just left it there as it's very good at blocking out light and keeping the roof cool in the sun. It also means we don't have to find anywhere to keep it!
 
Sp0_0k

Sp0_0k

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the VW rack - they make the tailgate really heavy; this was probably my biggest bugbear for the week and it often meant I couldn't get easy access to thingsCJ
Did you install reinforced springs for the tailgate? They are a must have with the rack from what I've read in catalogue.
 
CaliAdventure

CaliAdventure

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82
Location
North Hampshire
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T5 SE 174
Did you install reinforced springs for the tailgate? They are a must have with the rack from what I've read in catalogue.
Not sure, VW installed it before we collected Bert. I'd like to think so but will ask the dealership. Thanks for the info. :thumbCJ
 
Padders13

Padders13

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Dumfriesshire
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T5 Beach
What a great report! The highlands in August should be great, experience says the later the better for weather in August, and if the midges are biting, go east or go to windy Islands. You either need to keep the cali cosy zipped up or get proper midge net (Pennine Outdoors) to cover the pop up vents. And get midge hats...lifesavers! I think we are experts on the subject, having had a couple of ruined trips in cycle camping days. Not so easy to swap coasts on a bike...thats the beauty of a Cali, no fixed itinery.
The Linn of Dee road out of Braemar has the most delectable wild sites and don't forget the ever popular Cruden Bay harbour wall.
I'm sure our Blackberry beach will be up there somewhere last week in August, so keep an eye out!
 
Bellesca

Bellesca

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South Wales
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So glad your first proper trip went well...great report. You learn and adapt your packing/use of space with each trip. We've had our van a year and changed our system three times already. One thing stays the same though....my permanent smile when I'm anywhere near my California:)
 
Borris

Borris

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Lovely report. I am glad that you are enjoying Bertie bus.

From my very limited experience since purchasing Margot in October, personal stowage plans, well ours at least, seem to constantly evolve. We started off with larger Really Useful Boxes but have since changed them for several more smaller ones. Also we found that keeping anything to do with cooking, eating and drinking in the under seat drawer and under the sink made sense too. Stupidly we had been keeping some of it in the boot.

After last weekend at Tewksbury (Cali Club meet), we are going to have to review what we take with us, again! We may adopt the Thunderbirds approach, keeping much of our camping/Cali bits and bobs in the garage in pods (Really Useful Boxes). Then we can select only what we need for a particular trip.

Anyway, I loved your report and hope that you have many great adventures in Bertie the bus.
 
Skinnee D

Skinnee D

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Great report, glad your first trip went so well. Did you get to try out the Base Seconds pod that we learnt how to put away in Reading:) ?
 
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