Operation Fix the Fridge

Now, where were we?  Ah yes, somewhere in Germany with a mind to fix the fridge.

We rocked up at the repair shop and eventually communicated that we were the van with the broken fridge and that they were expecting us.  We showed the guy the fridge.  We turned the fridge on.  We did our best to impersonate a broken fridge so he would know what to listen for.

The fridge cooled down.

The fridge ran quietly.

The fridge stayed cold.

We looked sheepish.

We sat and had our lunch while the fridge continued to work.  After an hour or so of the fridge being as cold as can be we gave in, said goodbye to the repair shop and drove off, deciding to start our journey north again, but first heading back to Bad Pyrmont because it was such a lovely place to be.  First stop though was a supermarket to restock the working fridge.

With a restocked fridge we headed for the countryside.  We’d seen pictures of a big monument that was perched on top of a hill, so went to try and find it.

Back at our idyllic campsite, we had dinner and sat outside the van enjoying the total peacefulness of our surroundings.

Life was good.

Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.

Fridge Status: Faking it.

Overland to Stratford

Reading through Betty’s Twitter feed on Tuesday, an unusual tweet jumped out.  We hadn’t seen the Adventure Overland Show advertised anywhere before, it sounded exciting and as we had nothing planned for the weekend and it wasn’t too far away we decided to visit.

We don’t consider Betty Bus to be an overland vehicle by any means, she once had to be towed out of a flat grass field and she certainly couldn’t outrun a lion, so when we  arrived at the campsite on Friday evening we were pleasantly surprised to see a great many campervans there as well as the more traditional kind of overland vehicles that we’d been expecting.  We ended up being surrounded by other VWs, maybe the marshals thought we’d want to be together?  Safety in numbers and all that.

Lots of interesting stuff at the show and we got ourselves a tripod to hang our Dutch oven from.  We dropped by the Campervan Culture stand to meet the people behind the videos and chatted with Jed about wild camping for a while, an interesting and helpful guy and we love his whole approach to camping.

One of the presentations that we wanted to attend was Simon Jaratt‘s session about his adventures in a van very much like Betty Bus and we spent quite some time chatting with him afterwards over a cup of tea, about his travels and about his van.  Simon happily shared his knowledge with us about living in a small van long term.  It’s useful to know what sort of punishment our little vans can take.  It’s also great to know that we’re not the  only ones who get stuck in flat grass fields!

While chatting with Simon, we were introduced to Joe, an inspirational young lad who’s driving his Mini to Nordkapp in January.  The plan seems like madness, but after talking with him you can tell he’s thought it through and knows his stuff.  Good luck Joe, we’ll be following your blog for sure.

Turn Right at the Kangaroos

Getting back to Germany…  It was time to try out our ACSI card.  So far we’d been using the Bord Atlas to find places to camp, but there was nothing that looked suitable near Bielefeld.  At €16 a night it was at the top end of the discount prices offered by the card, but we thought we’d try it anyway.  As we booked into the campsite, the chap on reception gave us directions to the touring pitches.

“Turn right at the kangaroos”.

The kangaroos.  Clearly this was some kind of children’s entertainment feature.

You don’t do you?  You don’t actually expect to go camping with real live marcupials leaping around the place, at least not unless you are in the antipodes anyway.

They had ducks and geese too.  And monkeys.  We really weren’t very sure where we were any more.

We’d come for the hills and the forest, but there was an important decision to be made.  The fridge was dead, should we do something about it?  Or just give up and accept that the cheese was a bit warm?

The campsite was supposed to have wireless networking, but it only appeared to be working in the campsite bar.  A hardship for sure but we decided it was a hardship worth enduring, so off we headed to do some serious research into where we might be able to get help with our fridge.  A local VW garage might know a thing or two about the modern California and it couldn’t be that different, could it?

So that became our plan.  The next day we would head off on our new quest, Operation Fix The Fridge.  With our future decided we ordered another round of drinks.

We missed out on the showers, they’d broken at some point in the morning and the maintenance chap was busy trying to fix them.  So we started on our quest slightly grubbier than expected.

The local VW garage couldn’t help.  They gave us directions to a VW Commercial centre.  They couldn’t help either, but gave us directions to a motorhome dealer just down the road.  They couldn’t help us fix the fridge, but Marius who we spoke with went above and beyond to find someone who could help.  It’s been said before that you often meet the nicest people when you’re broken down.  He eventually tracked down a shop in Kassel who said they may be able to help.  It wasn’t exactly in the direction we’d been thinking of heading, but what the heck, our entire plan was based around not really having a plan wasn’t it?

With an afternoon free, we looked at the map, looked at where Kassel was and picked a random place to visit on the way.  We chose Detmold and what a charming place it turned out to be.  Lots of ye olde worlde buildings, riverside walks and importantly, really rather a lot of ice cream parlors.

With an appointment in Kassel the next day, we picked a campsite in that general direction, but that was full.   This was a bit of luck because our next choice in Bad Pyrmont was absolutely idyllic.  Nestled in the hills, surrounded by trees and full of birdlife.  €10 a night including electricity, water and some of the best campsite showers we’ve ever experienced.

We were happy.  We were clean.

Fridge Status: Cupboard.

The Forces of Nature

The book lay on the ground, half read.  It wasn’t a bad book by any means, it was quite good really.  But it had competition tonight and it had lost.  It couldn’t hold the concentration or the imagination tonight.  Something more primeval demanded complete attention.

Fire.

We are drawn to fire, aren’t we?  More so on an early autumn evening when the trees have started their transformation from vibrant green to warming reds and browns and when the evening air has started to cool.  A combination of heat, fuel and oxygen if we were to ask Professor Science about it.  But while that explains fire, it doesn’t really explain fire, or why it draws us in so.  That’s something different.  Warmth and light.  Safety.  We sat and watched the wood burn, watched the flames flicker.

We were camped at the Sustainability Centre in Hampshire.  We’d spent the day foraging for wild foods under the expert eye of course tutor Claire.  She’d also been impressing us with information about what was good to try and cultivate in our gardens too. The course had included lunch.  A foraged lunch.  We went prepared with filling snack bars in our bag.  We ate the foraged foods and hand made bread from the centre’s cafe until we were so completely full that the snack bars went uneaten.  The evening’s asado would go uneaten too, at least until it was reheated for tomorrow’s dinner.  Yes, lunch had been satisfying and filling.  Even the foraged apples that we’d planned on stuffing with wild berries and roasting in the fire sat in the van untouched.  We were full to bursting.

Sunday saw us at a Petworth House, a nearby deer park that we seen on one of CampervanCulture‘s videos earlier in the year.   We didn’t bother with the house itself, apart from the cafe and the second hand bookshop (where someone spent all of his pocket money), but the park is large and open, full of glorious old trees and herds of deer that are not at all shy, although not so bold that you can forage for venison…

Alfred Wainwright – Legend

Taking a break from the Germany updates for a moment…

Had it really been a year since we were last in the Lakes?  It had been too long by any standard of measurement.  We chucked the walking boots, rucksacks and the Wainwrights into the van and headed off into the evening.

They call the Wainwright guides the Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells, but that feels wrong, that is wrong.  They are so much more than that.  They are more akin to a set of love letters to the Lake District.  That one man put his time and energy into writing and drawing these walking guides, all we can say is thank you.

Excitement grew as we pootled up the M6 heading first to a campsite near Keswick, then for a few days in Wasdale Head.  After that, we’d see what the weather was doing and how our legs felt.

Unfortunately Rosana wasn’t feeling great, so we left the mountains behind and finished off the trip in the Lake District’s tourist capital Windermere, along with the ghosts of some different kind of legends altogether – Malcolm and Donald Campbell.  The Bluebird K7 shown in the film is a replica.  For information on the restoration of the original Bluebird K7, visit the Bluebird Project.

This is what we saw on the days we remembered to charge the camera.  Enjoy.