Monthly Archives: April 2012

Pimp my Caravan

As you may already know, we’re kind of gadget freaks.  We like toys.  Sometimes our taste in toys can be a bit questionable….. there’s a really fine line between “amusingly ironic” and “tragically sad” – and sometimes, it gets a bit blurred in our house.

We’ve had a little bit of an issue with Evil in terms of lighting.  The built-in lights are not all that bright and the reading lights that the Vicar fitted are so bright that they give you involuntary laser surgery!

However, since our DIY skills are a little…..questionable….we were reluctant to do anything on the caravan that might involve making holes in it.  So although we would have liked to fit LED lights, we decided that it was probably safer not to!

But then Maplin came to the rescue with their LED lighting strips that stick on!  Stick on LED light strips – perfect.  What could possibly go wrong?

Well initially, nothing.  White LED lights with a remote control that allows you to adjust the brightness.  On a strip which is the perfect length to go under the overhead bins on both sides of Evil – each with an individual control so that if one of you wants lights out, the other can still keep theirs on – and not even have to get up to turn them off.

Ideal.

However, things started to get a little silly when we discovered that you could also buy colour changing ones.  Well come on – you didn’t think I’d be able to resist *that* did you?

They were on sale, so Grant made a run to Maplin to get the last ones in stock.  As the website said that the local store only had one set left in stock, he also ordered 2 sets online – 1 for each side of the caravan and one spare.

However, the store had TWO sets left in stock – so he got them!  They do come with an expansion kit, so you can join them all together so why not.

Of course, as soon as we got them home, they had to be tested.

Grant: White lights?
Me: Yep
Grant: Adjustable brightness?
Me: Yep
Grant: What does this button do?
Me:    ARRRRRGGGHHHH TURNITOFFTURNITOFFTURNITOFF
Grant:    I’M TRYING
Me:    I’M HAVING A SEIZURE
Grant:    SO ARE THE CATS
Me:    SO ARE THE NEIGHBOURS – TURN IT OOOOOFFFFFFFFFFFFF

Ok.  Important safety tip folks.  Never ever EVER use the strobe button on the remote control.  Just trust me on this.  Don’t.

Even the crew of the International Space Station emailed to complain that it was giving them a headache.  I confidently expect that the first message we receive from extraterrestrial life will consist of “TURN IT OFF”.

Yeah.  Stay away from the strobe button.  Seriously.

Once that lesson was learned and Grant had been threatened with broccoli for dinner until the end of time if he ever touched the button again, we investigated the colour options.  Cool.  Very cool.

Not only does it have the usual primary colours, but it allows you to blend them, so you can get cyans and pinks, purples and oranges, etc. etc.  I’m not 100% clear on whether that crosses the line into tragically sad, but I don’t really care – they’re pretty! 🙂

So, while on our shakedown tour, Grant decided to fit them.  Which went pretty well, actually.  Of course, he fitted them during the day which meant that I was really desperate for it to get dark so I could see what they looked like.

Finally, darkness fell and we discovered a whole new way to annoy your caravan neighbours.

First we tested the white lights.  They were perfect for the job and could be nicely adjusted for reading without being blinding and also brighter for those times when you need to try and find whatever it is you just dropped on the floor!

Then it was time for the pretty colours.  And of course, they had to be tested from outside for best effect.

Blue       
Makes your caravan look like a closed butcher shop

Closed Butcher Shop

Green
Makes your caravan look like something that belongs on a Doctor Who set

Dr Who Green

Orange
Makes your caravan look like it’s on fire

Help We're on Fire Orange

Red
 Makes your caravan look like the world’s cheapest brothel

Brothel on Wheels

Purple
Makes your caravan look like a boutique caravan

Boutique Purple

Strobe Effect
Makes your caravan look like it’s about to go back in time and gives your neighbours seizures

Censored for your ocular protection!

Of course, there had to be a glitch though.  It’s us.  There’s *always* a glitch.  We only discovered the glitch when we decided to call it a night and watch telly in bed.

Beds were made up, comfort was achieved and Robot Chicken DVD was in.

Grant pressed play – and the lights went red.
We looked at each other in puzzlement.
We both checked to make sure we weren’t sitting on our respective remotes.
We weren’t.
Grant pressed rewind – and the lights went blue.

Yes.  Apparently the DVD remote for the TV is on the same frequency as the light remotes.  So every time you do something on the TV, the lights change colour.

Now what we really need is a remote control toilet.  Then we can change channel, turn Evil blue and flush the bog with just one handy button!

Enter the ASBO……

We discovered last year that even though the Megane should have no problem pulling Evil (on paper) – in practice, it’s definitely a bit of a strain.

After some humming and hawing, we decided that rather than risking our day-to-day sensible car, it would make sense to buy something that was better designed for dragging sheds.  Preferably a 4×4 for those muddy field moments.  And if it looked butch and scary and drove like a demon, well that would definitely be a bonus! 😉

We’d been browsing the second hand car sites for months, looking for suitable units.  G, of course, wanted a Cherokee.  But I’ve never really gotten over our previous Cherokee – that fabulous moneypit that was only on the road for 3 months (NOT consecutively) for the 13 months we owned it……. and eventually ended up ruining our credit rating when we handed it back to the Hire Purchase company after they failed to live up to their contractual obligation to get it sorted out.

Not that I’m bitter or anything………..

I was leaning towards a commercial, as they’re quite cheap to tax, and let’s be honest, we don’t really have a requirement for back seats, but we DO have a requirement for masses of boot space.  However, since commercial vehicles also require a separate DOE test every year as well as an NCT, we decided it was just too much hassle.

After more browsing, we eventually settled on a funky looking Isuzu Trooper as the most likely option.  It was big, chunky, slightly menacing and they have a very good reliability reputation.  The price was also right.

So I went to the dealer website.  To discover it had been hijacked by a company that really wanted me to believe that I had a virus on my computer that only they could fix……

And I rang the dealer’s number.  To discover that the number had been disconnected.

And I rang the dealer’s mobile.  To discover that it rings out and doesn’t go to voicemail.

Oh well – so much for THAT idea then!

We were both quite grumpy as we’d rather liked the Trooper, but Grant went off to do some more searching.

I was away with work at the time and working off my Blackberry, which makes it difficult to look at any links I get sent (I’m only on GPRS, no 3G – it would be quicker to *paint* a picture than download one).  So when I got an email that said simply “Fire up the Quattro”, my response was a resounding NO!

I don’t know if you ever watched Ashes to Ashes (the sequel to Life on Mars), but the great Gene Hunt drove an Audi Quattro.

Trust the Gene Genie.........

 

A total hooliganmobile.  A terrifying hooliganmobile.  So my immediate response was “NO”!

Well, I thought he was kidding.

I then got a rather hurt email back wanting to know “what was wrong with it”,  which made me wonder what was going on.

Finally I got to a wifi connection so I could see exactly what it was he had in mind.

Oh my.

It’s a mean, green, scary machine.  Looks like a mom mobile – but it’s very deceptive.  2.7 petrol, Twin Turbo, Quattro, Audi A6 Allroad 4×4.  With a towbar!

Well that’s a no brainer right there! 🙂

ROOOOWWWWWWLLLLL!!!!!!

So off we went to visit the nice people at JOS Motors in Glasnevin.

It had leather seats.  Wooden inlays.  Two exhausts that looked like they could house a family of weasels on each side of the car……. oh – and a towbar.  Did I mention the towbar?

So a test drive was arranged.  One that nearly ended in death when Grant gently put the “Go” pedal down and the thing attempted to launch us into the stratosphere.  Well the Megane never does that….!!!!

I was quite keen and Grant was very obviously utterly and totally in love.  A deal was made, a deposit put down and a plan hatched to not pick it up until the following week so we didn’t get hit for car tax for the previous month!  Don’t ask about the car tax.  I really try not to think about the car tax.  Ever.

To break it down for you
Tax for this vehicle per year
UK    GBP£250
Ireland    €1350 (approx GBP£1150)

So nearly 5 times what it would cost to tax the same vehicle in the UK.  Explain to me again how we’re bankrupt when this level of rip-off is going on all the time?

If I thought the money actually went into the road infrastructure, I might be a bit less annoyed.  But one of the reasons we need a 4×4 is so that we get get into and out of the potholes that infest the roads of Ireland.  For some of them, you need stepladders.

Anyway, enough of that – I’ll go off on a major rant and it’s not good for my blood pressure!

After a poll of Facebook peeps, we decided that the new car was going to be named “Asmodeus the ASBO Audi”.  Ok I know, I know.  But we named the caravan – didn’t seem right to not give the poor car a name as well.  The Asmodeus bit has more or less been dropped, truth be told.  ASBO on the other hand, has definitely stuck!

We were quite excited about picking up the ASBO and even got a day off work to go get it.  We had yet to discover some of the extras on the car that we didn’t even know were there………

The car guy told us that he’d had to recharge the battery as he’d accidentally run it down while cleaning the car.  He’d had the football on, on RTE.  Ok fair enough – you could understand why he’d want to listen to the radio while cleaning.  Erm….nope.  He wasn’t listening to the radio.  He was *watching* the football.  On the in-car television.

Yep.  The in-car television.

We knew it had a built in sat nav (woefully out of date).  We did NOT know that the satnav was also an analog television which picks up all the local stations!

So money exchanged hands and off we drive in our new ASBO.  Carefully.  There is a massive difference in acceleration response between a 1.4 Megane and a 2.7 Audi Allroad.  I’ve had to adjust the headrest just so I get bruised in a different place every time we take off from the traffic lights….!

First, we had to stop to *feed* the beast.  There was a bet on as to what it would come to.  I had €100, G had €115.  He was so determined to win that he filled it to almost overflowing just to get the €115 in there!  But even so!

Then we had to play with it.

Did I mention the heated seats?  Oh dear lord, how I love the heated seats.  If you have a sore back, this is the car for you.  And you can adjust the seats with little switches.  Lumbar support, extra leg bits, head rest, seat height…. the list is endless!

There’s all sorts of other nifty features as well.

So that’s the ASBO.  So now we have Evil and ASBO.  Or as one of our friends pointed out “A&E – which let’s face it, you’re eventually going to wind up in, with that thing” 🙂

Audi ASBO

Cleaning the Caravan…….

Well well well, hey hey hey, it’s 2012!!!!!!

A new season, a new tow car and Evil is out of hibernation!

We bought evil a nice weatherproof cover to protect it from the horrors of the terrible winter and snow we’d been promised was arriving as early as October 2011.  Well there was no snow in October.  Or November.  Or December……..

When February arrived, we decided it probably wasn’t going to arrive at all and decided it was time to take Evil out of hibernation and check her out for the new season.

Taking off the cover wasn’t quite as bad as we expected and we even managed to fold it up to fit back into its bag.  Take note, memory foam mattresses!

So then it was time to do the “big clean”.

We’d shut down the caravan as per the instructions from the great John Wickersham, and I was very happy to find that we didn’t seem to have had any problems at all.

We’d been given a tip from a taxi driver to put tubs of salt in the caravan to soak up condensation.  Well that was bloody good advice!  I’d used three big tubs of dishwasher salt and they were swimming in water – but Evil was nice and dry!  However, there was a faintly mouldy smell that had me worried.

Armed with cleaning fluid and cloths, I set about putting everything to rights.

The sitting area was fine – I just needed to put all the cushions back in place and wipe down the surfaces and all was fine.  No mould, no damp.

Maybe the toilet….?  Nope.  With the exception of a couple of mummified spiders and a rather confused looking moth, loo area was dry and just smelling faintly of loo cleaning fluid.

Kitchen area was clear as well.  Very faint mouldy smell in the wardrobe, but no damp found.

So where was it coming from?

Ok next step was to check all the cupboards.  I was intending to take out all the delph and cutlery and run them through the dishwasher anyway, so off I went.

  • Overhead lockers –  check
  • Drinks cabinet – check
  • Under sink area – check
  • Little flap where the BBQ stuff lives……… oh deary me.

After taking out all the BBQ tools and bits and bobs, the source of the smell became quickly apparent.

We had a BBQ at Anglesey back in July last year.  You may remember I wrote about it.  Turns out that at some point, I’d thrown a couple of bread rolls into the cupboard and they must have flipped over the back panel and landed at the back of the BBQ tool storage area.

Ever seen an 8 month old bread roll?  Would you like to?  Because I took pictures.

I used the BBQ tongs to pick up the packet……..

On the plus side, no mouldy smell!

After a thorough cleaning and opening all the windows, we had a clean, shiny caravan with no smell of mould.

I have to admit to being worried – even though we’d followed all the “close down” instructions, let’s be honest, we’re not the most practical of people and I had the horrors that we were going to open up to something that looked like a scene from the opening of Alien!

So….now we have a shiny caravan, ready to use….. we just needed something to pull it….!