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Just back from first night away...what worked AND what didn't.

Discussion in 'VW California Beach Chat' started by Steve39, Sep 24, 2017.

  1. Steve39
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    Steve39 VIP Member

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    So just back from our first trip in the Beach. Bit of a learning experience to say the least. Will post some thoughts on what worked well and not so well later...

    ....but overall it was brilliant. We stayed at Stonehenge Campsite (after seeing it on the YouTube channel of some fellow members). Before I go further this was a great site for our first night. Everything we needed, helpful wardens, and some very very helpful neighbors in a big Fiat thing (but ex T4 owners so that makes them OK).

    Couple of Pics of our set up and happy family (so money well spent ).

    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
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  2. Sad
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    Sad '08 174 Auto VIP Member

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    Looking good :bananadance2

    Great site, we stayed there a couple of years ago when we hired a Cali before buying...
     
  3. hotel california
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    hotel california 18 'till i die.... Moderator Top Poster Lifetime VIP Member

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    Hope that pick-nick table folds up small or else there's no room left in the booth
    :D

    Good you enjoyed it , takes a few trips to get a routine and to know your "essentials" to take with.
     
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  4. Steve39
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    Steve39 VIP Member

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    We've spent the last weeks telling everyone how cool the California's little stowable table is and then the first campsite we go to and they provide one for FREE!!!
     
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  5. johntowers46
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    johntowers46 Top Poster VIP Member

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    SO what worked and what didn't?
     
  6. Steve39
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    Steve39 VIP Member

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    Ok, so let's get the bad stuff out of the way. The big one was storage.

    Our little kyham toilet tent was a godsend as we kept all the cooking gear in it. Just room for that and the foldable loo we bought (more on that later).

    Biggest problem was I felt like I was constantly in the boot rearranging, looking for and then putting stuff away.

    Second issue was storage when in bed mode...no where to put book, glasses, phone etc.

    We could see some of the advantages of the Ocean right away.

    Answer? Hopefully a pair of VanEssa window bags. Had held off buying them because of the price but think they could transform the van for us.

    Little niggles...a few but too few to mention. Except the lack of a reading light on my side of the bed (driver's side at the rear).
     
  7. flying banana
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    flying banana T6 Ocean 204ps manual VIP Member

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    get one or two of these from Halfords called transporter nets. them that usually go in the car boot. here's mine hung in the roof section. you can keep your night wear in it out the way. not much storage but hey I have a beach too and every little bit helps

    20170709_155218.jpg
     
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  8. Steve39
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    Steve39 VIP Member

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    Thanks FB, I was referring to bed mode downstairs but yep a net is also on the list. The kids soon filled the little ledges upstairs with...well I don't know what with but I was passing things up to them all the time. Can't find that one in the Halfords website but will be popping in to try and find it.
     
  9. Steve39
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    Steve39 VIP Member

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    Oh yeah, one last negative. How the hell are you meant to turn the drivers seat if you're on a slight slope?

    I've got DSG, so had it in P and it still rolled forward. Do I need levelling blocks? Should I've left the engine on? Should my wife have pressed the footbrake with her hand? We opted not to swivel.
     
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  10. flying banana
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    flying banana T6 Ocean 204ps manual VIP Member

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    that's tricky. even on levellers I find mine rolls off them when handbrake released. even in gear. you have to have it perfectly balanced or use chocks. or anything you can find like a brick or lump of wood
     
  11. WelshGas
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    WelshGas Retired after 42 yrs and enjoying Life. Top Poster VIP Member Lifetime VIP Member

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    I fnd if you stop with footbrake then put the DSG in P, then take footbrake off and then apply handbrake. When I come to swivel drivers seat I get no movement taking the handbrake off. The DSG locks in P, with a pin engaging in a hole, but obviously has to line up with the hole. In the USA many drivers with DSG don't even use the handbrake, just P.
     
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  12. Steve39
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    Steve39 VIP Member

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    So what worked well? Pretty much everything. Research done on here helped massively.

    With the van itself we were surprised how comfy the downstairs bed was with comfort mattress. Yes it's firm but not overly so (no need to buy an extra topper for us). The bed is also huge (3 seat bench). We had loads of space and the kids came.down and joined us in the morning. Something they haven't done.for a few years at home

    Kids reported upstairs was both warm and comfy, so glad I didn't spend money prematurely on a roof topper. We've got trips planned into mid Oct and then we'll stop until March, so we'll wait and see how we go.

    So glad we went for the parking heater, it's brilliant. I did forget to take the remote to bed though.

    Lighting was good apart from the lack of a light at the back of van on the drivers side (we slept heads to the rear). We did pay for the upgraded lights on the Beach but definitely worth it.

    Also glad we went for the extra sliding window. I think I'll get some wind deflectors for the front windows. I've already taken to driving with the windows down, and they'll be useful for ventilation at night.

    Windscreen was pretty misted up in the morning and there was some condensation upstairs around the metal parts on the hatch. Is this normal, will an external screen help?

    Overall the van did its job as a tent on wheels perfectly. It's roomy enough for four and surprisingly comfortable. We'd never have gone tenting this late into Sept, so job done.
     
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  13. hotel california
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    hotel california 18 'till i die.... Moderator Top Poster Lifetime VIP Member

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    A external screen partly helps to prevent inside front windscreen condens as the diffrence in themp. in/outside of the glas would be less with a outside thermal cover .
    But main thing is to ventilate , sure with 4 people in a Cali.
    There are treads on how to ventilate .
     
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  14. Steve39
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    Steve39 VIP Member

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    Some final thoughts on kit.

    I really wanted to get a compressor fridge but due to work commitments and other holiday preferences we are planning to use the van for day trips and odd nights. So I resisted and went for a marine coolbox. Highly recommended. We got the Dometic Cool Ice 22 (litre). Kept food very cold for the 30 hours we were away, compact in the boot, no battery drain if we stop somewhere off grid, can be used as a seat/table, can be used for general food storage if we upgrade to fridge later. I think we'll be OK with it and it cost £60. See pic of boot above.

    Also very happy with my stupidly expensive but lovely Primus Tupike stove. Best camping stove I've ever owned. Looks cool as well, with a stylish bit of oak on the lid.

    And lastly a word about my loo. My god the hours I spent on here reading about people's preferences and habits (foldable buckets?). Followed by hours having the sort of conversations with my wife that we'd managed to entirely avoid in our 20+ years together. It all came down to one killer question. Is it better to go in a bag, or face a chemical disposal point?

    We went with the bag and something I've not seen on here before. A PETT Toilet system. More comfy and toilet like than a Bog in a Bag. Quicker than a Popaloo as you just fold out the three legs. £90 but we got a free storage rucksack thrown in so not bad value. Can use bags from any system. And it has a proper seat that goes up and down with a lid. No actual pictures of ours...but link below. They sell mainly to relief and disaster agencies. It really is a brilliant bit of kit.

    http://www.eps-retail.com/epages/es787787.mobile/en_GB/?ObjectPath=/Shops

    And on that note, message ends.
     
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  15. Steve39
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    Steve39 VIP Member

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    Thanks WG. I'd never have thought of that. I think I'm putting handbrake on first (really paranoid about forgetting as my Golf has ebrake / auto hold. Much appreciated.
     
  16. Pineweasel
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    Pineweasel VIP Member

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    I can swivel the drivers seat while sitting in the forward facing passenger seat with my right foot on the brake. I find this quite manageable, although I am over 6 foot.
     
  17. Mr & Mrs B
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    Mr & Mrs B One Life, Live It VIP Member

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    Mr B usually stands outside and puts his foot on the brake whilst I turn the seat - seems to work okay for us.
     
  18. Sad
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    Sad '08 174 Auto VIP Member

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    I do it from outside the van, but yeah, 6'6"...
     
  19. Stuart
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    Stuart VIP Member

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    Surely you just put it in gear? Or P for DSG.
     
  20. Pineweasel
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    Pineweasel VIP Member

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    On a gentle slope, sure. But on levelling ramps it will move a bit, so I like to use the brake.
     

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