Monthly Archives: March 2013

Trawsdir Barmouth – Score 4/5

We’ve just had 4 nights at Trawsdir near Barmouth. http://www.trawsdir.co.uk with a half price deal, at £9 a night! As a matter of fact for two nights we were the only guests on there! What’s it like? Really good at that price. Your well looked after by Keith and Lynne, the site managers, they work very hard to look after the guests. Whoever owns Trawsdir has invested a lot of money in making sure it’s fitted out to a high standard. Its located on the main route between Barmouth and Harlech, about a one and a half miles west of Barmouth, nestled between hills to the rear, with the extensive sea view as the frontage. I would imagine the site is very busy later in the season, so we personally would only visit Out of Season. But if your travelling with families its ideal, it’s very secure, full CCTV with a fob system for the entry/exit barriers and shower blocks.

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The M/H pitches are predominantly sea facing and not overlooked. All gravel hard standing with 16 amp EHU, fresh water and a grey waste drain on each pitch. They can also cater for RV’s, touring caravans and have a small selection of pods. There’s an excellent dog walking area, which is very large and secure, so the mutt can be off the lead. The toilet/shower blocks are immaculate, loads of hot water, piped radio 2, decent handryers ect. The only negative is the 30 sec timer on the showers!

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The beach is about 7-10 mins walk. If you know this part of wales you will know how deserted the beaches are, so its great for walking. Once on the beach you can easily walk to Barmouth in about 45mins(when the tides out!).

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Internet wise, I couldn’t get 3g on my “3” mobile, only GSM. Closer to Barmouth you will start to pick it up. There’s internet on site, its not brilliant though, emails and such like only. the other half has o2, she had the same problem.

Overall a very positive experience. We just chilled out for 4 days, following Snowmageddon, this was just what we needed. The next 50% reduction period is 1st June – 18 Jul(check with the site to confirm).

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Barmouth – Sea Views

After a 3 hr drive and one closed road(A5) we completed the 70 miles and arrived at the campsite http://www.trawsdir.co.uk just west of Barmouth. Internet is pretty poor, so is 3g coverage. Hovever this is a great site(review to follow) and because of the weather elsewhere, pretty much deserted. Anyway, really enjoying our stay here, so is the mutt

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Weekend Fun – Snowmageddon

So, what fun the weekend was. It all started off with little bit of snow on Friday, no problem we thought!. Saturday morning 0530, the sound of breaking metal wakes us from our slumber. Looking out of the back bedroom we discovered that a large amount of wet packed snow, about 4ft in height had slid down the house roof onto the conservatory flat roof below. This was pretty serious, as it was very possible the roof would collapse. Going back to bed wasn’t an option, although by god I did consider it. My morale was lower than a low thing. The picture below shows the snow through the bedroom window, gripping stuff eh!

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Anyway, the Motorhomedreamer Emergency Response Team(MERT) swung into action, well she got the shovel, I grabbed the step ladder, and up I went. Took about an hour and a half to clear, time consuming because I was gingerly moving around the outside of the roof (My Ninja days are well behind me). Anyway that task completed, the other half displayed her full Irish roots and shovelled a couple of tons of snow off the decking onto the garden below!Image…Begorrah!

After that a retreat to the kitchen for tea and medals. Then out to the front to clear the path. This was a bloody long job, eventually hitting my side of the sofa at round 3pm. A full day….I hate snow.

This morning (Sun) I was up like a spring gazelle. MERT had several very important tasks. Firstly dig out the car. 2hrs later task 1 completed. Then onto task 2, dig out “Bertha”. We are heading off in the van on Monday for 4 nights away. Firstly off to the seaside, Barmouth to be exact at: http://www.trawsdir.co.uk  The site is located a mile or so west of Barmouth on the Harlech road. Close to the beach, so Muttley will get some exercise and a few dunks in the sea for good measure. Then on Wed, we trundle back towards home, stopping for two nights at Bala on a campsite called: http://www.tyncornel.co.uk

More walking and exploring around Bala lake and of course the obligatory dunk for the mutt, finally returning to home base on Good Friday……..Well thats the plan!

Anyway, task 2 completed. The Van’s ready to roll. Updates to follow.

Finally to finish on a positive note. In the last 48hrs, I’ve spoken to many of my neighbours for the first time in 12 odd years, some I didn’t even know existed. I’ve also discovered my near neighbour is getting married at Gretna Green… Tomorrow! So although I still hate snow, it has its place.

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Snowmageddon – N/E Wales

SNOWMAGEDDON - N/E WALES

Where did all that come from? Thank goodness the other half has a stout pair of walking boots, otherwise I would have to go without my paper and coffee. Go Girl x

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March 22, 2013 · 12:42 pm

GPS Tracker – Product Review

I’ve just purchased a GPS Tracker. I wanted to ensure I would be the first to know if my motorhome was getting interfered with, giving us of piece of mind and some advanced warning to react.

My requirements were that I wanted a British supplied tracker, with long battery life, self monitored, software that was compatible with Mac OS and inexpensive to purchase/run.

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The tracker is from a British company called www.absolute-tracking.com based near Luton. They had a deal on ebay, offering a GPS tracking unit(Model SMS007) for £119. Its a self monitoring device, that has the ability to send an SMS message to your mobile phone if any movement on your vehicle is detected. You then log onto their server and track it via GPS. Access to the server is free for the first year, then £24.99 per annum there after. The device is factory fitted with a Lebara PAYG simcard, this costs 5p per text and works abroad(you can request other providers). The only other cost is for your Poll credits. The company provide 35 polls at the point of purchase. Overall if the device works it has the potential to be cost effective. The device is just smaller than a credit card, its waterproof and has 4 magnets for attaching. Its powered by a lithium battery.

The company claims that the device has a battery standby time of 15 days when set to “Setshock3” mode. This means the unit is effectively asleep, drawing minimal power and will only fire up when the vehicle moves. My thinking was I could recharge every 7 days. This way I can conceal it away from the obvious power sources, I would also have enough power to track it.

You send it commands to the device using SMS from your mobile. The unit sends you a reply SMS telling you that it has complied with your instruction. It also includes the battery power percentage in the message. You track the device using your PC/laptop/3g Phone.

I received the device by Royal Mail, some 20hrs after ordering. I did have a problem with the charging unit, so I phoned the company who promptly offered a replacement by post. Customer service at this stage seems ok

The set up procedure is fairly straight forward. The user interface and mapping appears to be clear and simple. I charged the device for 4hrs(mains/12v or laptop).

Then after setting it up, I popped it into the car. The other half then drove to Sainsburys, about 3 mile away. I clicked “Poll” and got a fix at the supermarket. Whilst she was in the store stocking up on my coffee, I sent a command to the device setting it to “Setshock3” It responded “Set Shock & Move Alarm OK Battery 100%.” When the other half got back into the vehicle and departed Sainsburys, I received an SMS stating “SHOCKALARM Battery 100%” This is the device basically telling me the vehicle has moved.

So it does work, I like what I see so far. Especially the SMS interaction. The next stage will be to get an idea of the battery life. Also I need to find a place on the van where I can conceal it, which allows it good GPS coverage and where I can easily remove to recharge. Update to follow.

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The Maiden Voyage – Bryn Bowlio Llanferres – Score 3/5

Day 1. Set sail in the good ship “Bertha” looking for new lands. 15 mins later arrived at the village of Llanferres and found our home for the next 48hrs. The site is called Bryn Bowlio, (http://www.brynbowliocaravanpark.co.uk) its located approximately 10 minutes drive from Mold at the foot of the Clwyd Forest and Moel Famau. Its a quiet location, nothing fancy, but provides EHU/TV/Water. The touring pitches are grassed, which isn’t good in bad weather, I would imagine its pretty nice in the summer months. However an ideal place for us with a dog in tow, tomorrow we would sample the delights of Clwyd Forest.

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So we set up camp, at this point my hunny bunny tried to destroy my lifelong dream of motorhome ownership by lighting the gas oven, which still contained the two kitchen rolls she’d put in there for safe keeping during the journey…..Keep calm, deep breaths! Oh how we laughed!!. Anyway after the smoke had cleared we got ourselves set up quite nicely on the site. We were on a grass pitch, which I noted was a little boggy(more on that later). Finally we chilled back with cooked meal and a glass of wine, I was zonked by 9.30pm and ready for my bed.

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The Battle of the Sleeping Bags: I (not we) own 2 x sleeping bags. A 3 seasons Softie 9, which is from my army days, its about 15 yrs old and not bad if your fully clothed and inside a bivvy bag….its also green. The other is a top bollock, state of the art 4 season bag, its as warm as toast and its blue!

Now I desperately wanted the 4 season, mainly because I knew I would be warmer, but I was to much of a gentleman to “baggsy” it. She needed to tell me which one she wanted(my evil mind). So at 9.30pm, i got the bags down and casually asked what bag she would like….”Oh no pet, you choose, their your bags!!” My brain was screaming “Take the best bag, take the best bag”….I just couldn’t do it, i’m just your average normal martyr, so I selected the colder and older Softie. She only wanted the 4 season bag because its blue(or did she?). But I also knew she was getting the extra warmth….damn that evil woman.

Just before we went to sleep she suggested we turn off the in-van heating(we won’t need it pet!). At 0300am I awoke to Baltic conditions, even the dogs teeth were chattering, as he pawed at me for warmth. My feet were actually tingling and not in a good way. Meanwhile on the other side of the van, I could make out the mass of a huddled form soundly asleep, breathing softly in her “Tested To Arctic Conditions” sleeping bag. Grrrrrrrrr

Day 2. A Brand New Day: Up bright and early 8.00am. Mmmmm bit of rain last night, grounds a bit boggy, so I thought I might move the van back a metre or so….No Chance, well and truly stuck. So after the site owners Land Rover failed miserably to tow me out, the heavy stuff was brought in, using a dumper truck to pull me off the soft ground. Things nearly went pair shaped during this stage of operation as the van brakes struggled to bind in the mud. Only the handbrake prevented me careering into the dumper truck. Result = 1 x very muddy van and its owner with seriously raised blood pressure levels. Deep breaths and Reeeeeeeelax.

After all the mornings excitement, we got settled onto new pitch, then set off like the 3 Amigos to climb Moel Famau. The weather was perfect and from the top the views were stunning. Its some 27yrs since I’d been up this hill, a great place to look over North East Wales.

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After the blood raising walk, we arrived back at the site, a quick de-gunge of van and then we sat down in front of the TV to watch the rugby…another bad result. Finally my other half made steps to redeem herself  following the sleeping bag incident and prepped a much needed chilli meal….Very nice.

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So tonight the van heating WILL be staying on. Tomorrow we start the long(15mins) journey home. But overall, a great trip, very enjoyable and lots of lessons learnt, in particular don’t play mind games with Irish girls, they will always win.

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We Have A Van!

On Tuesday myself and “The Critter” travelled north to Edinburgh. The train journey went without a hitch and as planned we met the seller at Waverley Station. The process went very well (Thank you Graeme, a productive deal for both of us). After an extensive handover, we journeyed back to Wrexham, with a short stop on the M74, so the “The Crit” could take on emergency foodstuffs, she had a fatbusting burger and chips, whilst I was very sensible and chose the healthy option:  chicken burger, chips and a diet coke!!

The van handled very well on the return journey and we were safely back in Wrexham at 6pm and new holders of the land speed record 😉

So, since the trip, I’ve spent some time getting to understand how everything works and generally getting ready for our maiden voyage which is this weekend to a site near to Moel Famau in the Clwydian Range: http://www.brynbowliocaravanpark.co.uk (review to follow).

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The New Van – Update

The sale is progressing well. On Tuesday myself and daughter No 2, otherwise known as “The Critter” make the journey north to Edinburgh to seal the deal. The Critter has demanded many perks in order to give up her day off to accompany Dad. So its a First Class Seat(which was actually cheaper than the available 2nd Class). This means only one thing to her?  “Free Snacks”. Then it will be a 4hr plus ride back in the van to the sounds of “Dad’s tracks of his years”.  There may be critter tears I fear! and not of the joyful type.

We have also booked two nights on a small camp site near Moel Famau for next Fri. This will give us a chance to give the van a shake down, get to know how everything works and of course get a walk or two under the belts.

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The New Van – Auto Sleeper Symbol

Some pictures of the new van. We are hoping to collect it early next week. I’m quite excited. Its on a medium wheel base, but it includes the crucial toilet, shower and comfy seats, which is an absolute must for gentlemen of a certain age!

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MY LITTLE CHUM – MUTTLEY

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The joys of dog ownership ! Our mutt is now about 7 months old. A great dog, but will eat anything when out on his morning walk. This morning at 0700 we were woken up with a jolt, to hear him retching. Result =  1x small chewed stick and 1 x wet wipe.

I then took him out on his walk and the bugger picked up the cloth skin from a discarded tennis ball. He knows when he has something he shouldn’t….Could I catch him? NO. Eventually he swallowed it, then came over wagging his tale. I could have cheerfully killed him (deep  breaths aaaand relaaaax). So this situation is going to end in one of three ways.

Option 1. Rear End Deposit = Preferred

Option 2. Front End Deposit = Not so keen, never seems to make it outside.

Option 3. A visit to the vets for some cutting and expensive bills = Its not the cutting, its the cost!

The family is now on “Poohwatch”

The joys of dog ownership!

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