February Half Term ~ Fun and Frolics in Norfolk, Part 1

Bluebell the motorhome is parked up on her lonesome on the Caravan Club CL Deodara, a small 5 van site near to Burgh Castle on the outskirts of Great Yarmouth. Despite being close to the arcades and amusements of Great Yarmouth, we’ve gotten ourselves a slice of peace and tranquilly all to ourselves- it’s a large field with pleasant and quiet (kind of- more on this later!) outlook within walking distance of The Angles Way, Burgh Castle and Breydon Water.

Facilities here are basic, but that’s what we like and at £9 a night (electric hookup is on a metre, so far we’ve used about £3 amd had heater on lots!) it’s well priced. We arrived lunchtime on Saturday after an easy and short journey from home, with a stop at Norwich Camping and Leisure shop where we picked up a new couple of outdoor chairs (not that we will need them this time of year…brr!) and some sausages and eggs.

The weather was dull but dry so after a quick lunch we set off to find Burgh Castle Roman Fort, about 40 mins walk off road away from us, some of the route is on The Angles Way and follows the waters edge.

Burgh Castle Roman Fort is one of the best preserved Roman monuments in the country, and has 3 of its 4 walls still in tact.

 It was pretty chilly but luckily despite forgetting my gloves, we’d remembered the hip flasks! Priorities! 😉 A quick walk back and we settled in in front of the television for the night!

❤️ St Valentines Day dawned an unusual one… We were woken abruptly to gun fire sounds, which was a bit frightening!

Turns out (after 2hrs of intermittent shots, then a full blown war zone type sounds I rang the owner of the site!) that we are 200 yards from a clay pigeon shooting range. Naughty of him to not pre warn us when we booked as they shoot every two weeks. Luckily Jazz wasn’t too freaked out with the noise from the guns, but I expect some dogs would be as it was similar to having our own firework display behind us.

Anyway, after a quick fill of water we headed for another walk up to Burgh Castle and beyond. I took my new drone with me yesterday but managed to switch the video off instead coming out with some fisheye shots, so I wanted another go today – plus the sky was a nicer colour! 

Yesterday’s fisheye shots \/

  

Sunday Angles Way

 

 

 

 

We had a nice walk further up Breyton Water and a picnic sat at the view point.

 

 

Before returning back to Bluebell the motorhome in time for an afternoon nap! Having lots of luck with our motorhome wifi aerial here we have picked up a good BT Fon spot, so currently have some Spotify on and are about to cook a valentines steak and chatuneuf du pape dinner before watching the movie “Valentines Day”

Hope you are having a good day!

Until next time

Lx

Edited with BlogPad Pro

1 day to go :-)

Bluebell the motorhome is all packed, plugged in and ready for the big off tomorrow evening!

It’s been a staged prep, as we’ve had a busy old week or two what with concerts, exams and general end of term ness

Last Friday Keefy had a day of tinkering inside the van, washing curtains, cushions and fixing little bots and bobs here any there.

On Monday we sorted out all out clothes so they were ready to pack in. Then we took Bluebell out to get diesel and do the food shop which we loaded straight into the cupboards (apart from the fridge stuff)

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Today (Wednesday) I loaded the clothes into the wardrobes and cupboards, Keith plugged Bluebell in so her fridge gets nice and cold and I loaded the fridge stuff in.

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I also got busy in the kitchen making loads of sweet treats for the road 🙂

Everything gadget wise is on charge, so I think we are ready for the off now! Just got teaching this afternoon, a school concert tonight, and a full days teaching tomorrow to get through then we will be on the road and heading for the border crossing at Carter Bar!

In other news, I found out today that one of the places that we are heading- Loch Etive near Glen Coe is where Daniel Craig and Judi Dench filmed Skyfall so that’s very exciting as we will definitely be hunting that one out! >

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REVIEW- Folding Solar Panel

When we first got Bluebell, the thing that most excited us aside from the Rear lounge, was the good leisure battery set up, which was going to allow us to wild camp more (stay off campsites more) 

We started off by doing a campsite every other day to maintain a charge ready for our night of wild camping- but soon our adventurous sides wanted to stretch the days between campsites. This, and our plans for our 3 weeks Europe tour, where we REALLY didn’t want to stay at a €40 pn campsite when the Europeans cater well for Motorhomes away from sites, saw us looking into options for fitting a solar panel to Bluebell’s roof!! We were both a bit anxious about drilling into Bluebell’s outer skin to affix the solar panel, so started looking  at other options. Luckily for us, the leisure battery is under the drivers seat, therefore this folding solar panel kit was the ideal option for us:

40W 12V Photonic Universe folding solar panel kit 40 watt 12 volt battery charger for camping, caravan, motorhome, boat or any other 12V system

When in use, it sits neatly on the front dashboard and attaches to the leisure battery with crocodile clips. When not in use, it folds easily in half and goes behind the seat in a sturdy briefcase style case. It’s very quick and easy to get out and attach- we get it out when we’ve parked up for the day and it has an indicator on to show how the battery is doing. We managed three weeks in Italy without a single night of electric- therefore we are very happy with it! What is also nice, is that it still charges even if it’s not brilliantly sunny (like most British days….haha) 

For example- last week, we toured the Peak District (in Feb so not long days…) We managed 7 nights away, with only one night of electric on night 3. Not once did our 12v battery go and seeing as we only drove 5-10 miles per day, we put this down to the good ol solar panel! 

 

 

REVIEW- Films/Music/Speakers

When we are out and about our evenings are often spent chilling with a beer, g+t, wine etc listening to music and taking in the surroundings/view. During the winter months, when the nights have drawn in we will often settle in and watch a movie- Keith is a huge film fan, so one of his must have gadgets is something to watch films on.

Until only last month, our preferred set up for film nights was 20″ Ultra Slim LED Digital Freeview USB Record TV DVD. Caravan HGV Boat. 12 / 24 VOLT DC 12V + 240 along with Betron Bluetooth Pop Up Portable Mini Travel II Capsule Rechargeable 40mm Speaker For iPhone, iPod, iPad, Samsung, Nokia and MP3 Players for music on the move.

There was absolutely nothing wrong with this set up- we were very happy with the tv system, it plugged in to our 12v plug and we could watch films and tv when “wild camping” and away from electric hook up. The tv itself gave a great picture; the inbuilt DVD player made taking films with us easy; we could play CDs through the TV; we could pick up free view through our arial point whilst on 12v; it was light and easy to store; we could watch tv for a good 6-8 hrs whilst running other 12v appliances (lights, water pump etc) no problem at all- it ticked all our boxes and we were very happy with it.

The portable speaker was also a great item- it’s tiny; we could plug it into our phone or ipad and play music at a level that won’t intrude on anyone else’s peace and quiet; our music sounding good on it; it had a fab battery life; it was rechargeable through the 12v; it was ideal for motorhome travel, where we wanted music just slightly louder than what we could achieve through the inbuilt speakers.

So why look for something new?!

Well, we enjoyed a good 4 years using the above set up, but as we all know- technology moves fast, and we wanted an alternative option- less cables and less things to carry ultimately. Also, Keith’s DVD wallet was becoming as big as the TV itself, so finding something where we didn’t need to carry 100s of films with us would be good!

Since getting our 12v TV four years ago, we joined Sky TV at home, and one of the perks (for an extra fiver a month) was Sky Go. This, along with Keith’s Ipad mini Apple 7.9-Inch iPad Mini Retina (Space Grey) – (ARM 1.3 GHz, 1 GB RAM, 16 GB Storage, Wi-Fi, iOS 7.0.4) meant that we could download before we go episodes of series we may be watching, films etc ready to view offline on the road, with no need to carry the DVDs in the van.

Now (2015/2016) we are no longer with Sky, however the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 have all caught up and we download episodes on their iPad Apps.

As Bluetooth seems to be the new mode of connecting things – yay, no wires! – we were on the hunt for a new set of speakers that we could connect via Bluetooth. After extensive searching and researching Keith found Sumvision Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker Psyc Mako Bluetooth Speaker Stand with Built in Microphone for Smartphone Tablet which have been beyond marvellous! For a very reasonable £15 they are dinky, create a fantastic sound, and best of all, we can slot our ipad in the top so it’s like a mini tv. Nothing I write can emphasise how good the sound actually is- it’s truly awesome, and look how cool it looks with the iPad sat on top! The battery life is wonderful. During our week away we only charged once, and this was because we could, not because we needed to! When it comes to charging,you can charge the speakers via 12v or mains. Perfect.

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We will still carry the tv when touring the UK, in case we want to catch anything live on the tele, but we can finally banish the expanding DVD wallet to the loft!! Hurrah!

REVIEW- getting online on tour with Motorhome Wifi

As much as we try not to, we can’t help but want to get online when we are away in the van. First and foremost, being self employed musicians means we rely on email for gig enquiries and new student enquiries. Being unable to get online means we can’t keep tabs on our business, let alone keep an eye on our bank accounts, keep in touch with family on longer tours and back up our photos. So as much as we sometimes may crave being cut off from tinterweb, in reality it just cannot be.

After 4 years of touring Britain and Europe and relying on our iPhones, and dodgy 3G signal, not to mention an almighty large phone Bill following our last trip abroad (facebook addict alert!!) the time had come for us to invest In a better solution for our internet needs.

Enter Motorhome Wifi which I’d read extensively about in various magazines, blogs, forums etc.

Right from the onset, I knew we’d made the right choice- Keith spent a good half an hour discussing our requirements with Adam, who was friendly, knowledgeable and “user friendly” I.e didn’t bombard us with techno jargon!! As fellow motorhomers themselves, they understood our needs when off site- as we mainly tend to stay on BritStops these days, or aires/ France Passion sites abroad, we were interested in an antenna that would allow us to pick up pub wifi networks in the comfort of the motorhome, or Free wifi hotspots (more on that later)

After a lengthily discussion, it seemed that the directional iBoost antenna would best suit our needs, promising to pick up signals up to 1km away.

Having just left BT broadband, and signing up to Sky, we would no longer be able to use the BT hotspots (or so we thought) Adam told us about a system that allowed us to buy a Fon account for a one off payment of £34, and this would enable us to still use the BT hotspots. Perfect, and info that we would not have known otherwise, so thanks Adam.

We placed our order at 3pm on Monday with the also friendly Sophie, and at 8.30am Tuesday morning it arrived! Outstanding service!

Once unpacked, it was easy to assemble and set up (although I have to be honest, Keith has rang a couple of times with questions, both of which have been answered quickly and non patronisingly- thank you again!)

We enjoyed giving it a trial run on our weekend away last weekend, and even at a pub in the middle of nowhere we were able to pick up 4 or 5 BT Fon hotspots, not to mention both pub’s networks. It’s also worth mentioning that without the iBoost, we were unable to find these networks on our iPads, iPhone and Samsung Galaxy phones.

The other thing that is worth noting is that the antenna collects one signal and then allows you to connect numerous devices to that one signal- excellent for those of you, who like us, have more than one device. When we used to use BT hotspots we could only log on one at a time as we only had one username. This takes that problem away! Hurrah!

We were able to keep an eye on our business email (I know we were only away for 2 nights but…!) update the blog, back up photos, use spotify, Stream music, use facebook/ twitter, and my new favourite site walk4life which I’ve enjoyed looking on for walks local to where we are staying , and updating my miles walked (55miles since 10th Jan!)

So, without a shadow of a doubt, we would give this an almighty 10/10, excellent service, easy to use, and a great product and want to recommend it to anyone else who values the internet whilst on their travels!

Thanks for a great addition to our motorhome gadgets cupboard 🙂

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