Happy Campers

New seats for Delia

Delia's seats in Elsie

We took out Delia‘s front seats today – just the front ones – so we can take them to be re-upholstered tomorrow. They’re sitting in the back of Elsie right now, waiting for transport to the garage tomorrow.

Original seats like the half-height ones she has are getting rarer all the time and new ones can attract a significant premium. A lot of people swap them out for the kind of high-backed seats we have in Elsie, but we want to keep both Delia and Floyd looking as true to their original design as we can, hence the revamp rather than a set of replacements. They’re still comfortable, but we want her to look her best for the start of the rental season next month. We also want her to be a smooth, soft ride for whoever takes her out, so as well as new upholstery we’ll be gifting them with new filling, too.

The question was, how did we get them out. We’d been expecting it to be a bit of a wrestle, but the the end, we’d removed each one in less than 10 seconds.

So how?

For the drivers seat, it’s a simple matter of pulling up the lever beneath the seat that’s more often used to reposition it, then sliding the whole seat (bottom and back) forwards until it runs completely off the rails. Obviously you can’t be sitting on it as you do this or you’ll crush yourself between the seat back and the steering wheel.

It’s slightly different for the passenger seat. That doesn’t have a lever for rolling the seat forwards and backwards, so you simply lift up the bottom part of the seat and allow the back to slide down from the rigid fixing behind it. Once freed from the bracket, it can be lifted straight out.

We can’t wait to get them back from the re-upholsterers. The bench seat on the rock and roll bed at the back looks great, so a matching set of black vinyl covers in the front will really finish her off.

In the meantime, the driving cab, sans seating, is rather roomer than normal.

Delia with no front seats

New Year Cheats

Cheating radiator

There’s surely no better way to see in the new year than to spend it in the back of a camper!

That’s what I did, throwing a few clothes in a bag and heading off for Dunwich on the Suffolk coast. Not a conventional manner in which to mark the passing of one year into the next, granted, but hard to beat nonetheless.

We took Elsie, for comfort more than anything else, as I wanted to just pull straight up and be done, without any fuss of popping the top. Plus, she’s got by far the best cooking arrangements, with a grill and oven to back up the hob and — crucial for the new year festivities — a fridge for the Buck’s Fizz, which we picked up in Ipswich on the way through.

We’d settled on Dunwich for two reasons: it’s not too far from home (we were only going for one night, after all) and it’s a pretty special place, out on the coast and surrounded by protected heathland.

What we didn’t know, and this was a bonus, was that the site we’d chosen — Cliff House Holiday Park — was putting on a generous buffet to celebrate the new year. So, we paid £14.50 for the pitch, and got not only somewhere to stay and some excellent showers, but two free meals in the bar, too. Comfy though it was, it wasn’t enough to keep us out of Elsie, and we were back in the van by eleven, listening to the radio and supping our Buck’s Fizz as we waited for 2015.

And this, I’m ashamed to admit, is where we cheated. Not only did we wrap up in blankets, but we’d also brought along an oil-filled radiator that we ran off the electric hook-up and which kept us as snug as the bug in its proverbial rug.

Well, it was a cold night…

We both got a great night’s sleep, bedding down not long after midnight and knowing nothing at all until almost nine the next morning. Best yet, we woke with clear heads, ready to explore.

Spending the night in a camper really is one of the best ways to see in the new year. Pick your site with care and you’ll not only enjoy the event itself: you’ll also be perfectly positioned to start the year off with a day of seeing and doing new things.

Neat camping stove tutorial

I love practical tips and advice — especially if they’re about self sufficiency or making something from pretty much nothing. This video is a perfect example.

It shows you how to make a very effective stove using an old drink can and a very small amount of fuel, which you can pack away in a little tub and carry around with you from place to place.

It’s primarily aimed at backpackers, and of course, if you’re heading off in a VW Camper it’s unlikely you’d need to do it yourself as any Camper kitted out for actual camping will have a gas burner (and sometimes a grill and oven, too).

Nonetheless, it’s a really neat technique, and one that’s worth bookmarking for more adventurous travel in the future.