Old Buckenham Air Show Review

For the last five years we've had to endure driving past signs for the Old Buckenham Airshow knowing we were unable to go because of other diary commitments or us taking our holidays too early. This year however our diary was full of local commitments so for the last 6 weeks or so we've been quietly looking forward to this event.

Old Buckenham airbase was built for the USAAF 453rd Bombardment Group during the war and was home to the legendary James Stewart for a time. It's just off the A11 in between Thetford and Norwich.

Showday soon came around and we'd spent all week planning what to take in our picnic hamper. Yes, that's right- Old Buckenham Air Show is one of the few events we've attended recently that still allows a good old fashioned picnic – despite the fact that there was a very enticing local food (and drink) village as part of the show at reasonable prices.

We bundled Jazz the pampered pooch into the van along with enough food to feed the five thousand, and set off nice and early to secure a good spot! As well as being family friendly (apparently the kids changing areas were very good this year) Dogs are also welcome and catered for with a great big Doggie Watering station.

Car parking was easy and free- all the local air cadets were doing a fabulous job guiding cars in and before we knew it we were setting our stall out in prime position (with lots of others I hasten to add- definitely worth arriving around 10am as gates open).

We left our picnic with our chairs and went for a wander around the show. First up for us was the large display of WW2 vehicles- Keith was in his element, he's a huge history buff and the vehicles were in great condition. He had to drag me past the queue for tank rides! It looked so much fun so maybe next time for that!

There was also a large collection of classic cars to look at including a couple of beautiful split screen VWs 😍. May favourite was the one painted in the colour of my favourite wine 🍷.

Further round the site was a small funfair for the kiddies, a collection of stalls selling camping bits, aviation and wartime souvenirs.

After an hour or so of mooching I couldn't wait any longer to get picnicking- this was timed well as the commentators announced the bar opened at 12:00. Keith went to get some beer whilst I set our food out. He really enjoyed all four of the local ales on offer but his favourite was the Shark.


After a lovely leisurely lunch it was almost time for the main feature and boy what an exciting program it was!

First up was some airplane aerobics and some impressive loop de loops!
This was followed by local pilots The Wildcats doing some amazing synchronised formation work.
A favourite act was next- O'Brien's Flying Circus- where Brendan attempted successfully to land his plane on a moving landing area being towed at 60mph by a car! Which was gripping! He managed a touch down despite fairly strong winds

Next up was our show highlight- star of the film "Memphis Belle" – the last flying B17 in Europe, SallyB. Absolutely sensational seeing her in the air. And when she put her smoke on for her final salute and they played We'll meet again through the speakers- well, Keith and I were blubbing like babies!

How do you follow this?! Well, with the P51 Mustang "the Shark" of course. Listen to the sound of the wind rushing through the gun placements. AMAZING

The Hurricane that was scheduled to fly was sadly unable to fly due to technical problems so instead the Messerschmitt took to the skies.

Next up and another treat- the Spitfire- this particular one is used in all the films. Again- just listen to that sound.👇isn't it fabulous.

After such an indulgence of history and beauty it was onto the lighter fun acts, including Otto the helicopter from O'Brien's flying circus doing all sorts of crazy things that you wouldn't normally see helicopters do!
There were a couple more local pilots doing light aircraft manoeuvres before the finale – a real plane shadowed by a remote controlled 41% sized model aircraft- doing a simultaneous routine. Fantastic. The flying went on for over 1.5hours and was fantastic. We absolutely LOVED the whole show (as you can probably gather by this post!)

Tickets cost £18 (advance online rate) or £20 on the door for Sunday. Saturday is a reduced rate but there were less acts flying. Would highly recommend this for next year.

Campsites close by include Old Buckenham Country Park. Or you can pre book camping at the airfield.

Keep an eye on twitter @OldBuckAirshow for details of next years show and if you want to see more pics of the day search #oldbuckairshow

All pics above were taken on my Sony Cybershop Superzoom //ws-eu.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=GB&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=advinamot-21&marketplace=amazon&region=GB&placement=B00IFEWK56&asins=B00IFEWK56&linkId=e233801f00ef97f4ad64e2f77d62eab1&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff.

Until next time
Lx

“Pimping” our Ride

As ecstatic as we were when we found Ruby the Campervan after our rather short- yet full on (in the grand scheme of things) search; there were a few “adjustments” we wanted to make to her to enable us to carry on as we had been in our beloved Bluebell the motorhome. From the day that we realised that we had to say Bye to Bluebell, we said there would more than likely have to be compromises made here and there, but we would concentrate on getting a decent (we hope!) base vehicle- anything extra can be added on.

First thing on the shopping list when we brought Ruby was a bike rack. Because she has a tailgate back rather than Barn Doors, it meant that we couldn’t get the standard Fiamma bike rack. On top of this, Ruby’s previous owner had taken “Pimping” up to an extra level by adding a rear spoiler. I still am not really sure what this adds to Ruby, other than the difficulty of adding a normal tailgate bike rack, so therefore a rather large hole in the wallet! Because we have this rear spoiler, we are unable to attach a normal tailgate bike rack, so investigations soon led us to getting quotes for a tow bar to be added, allowing us to go for a tow bar mounted bike rack instead.

We got a few quotes from a some local tow bar fitters, then Keith found a company online with an all singing and dancing website, and a quote that was a few quid cheaper than the local fellas. TowBarExpress.com. We booked and paid for our appointment for the following Monday- and celebrated with a cuppa. Then the phone rang- “Sorry Mr O’G, we can’t do that date”. “Ok”, we reply, and book in for the Monday after that. A week later, we get another phone call. This time, there were no apologies, just a curt “We can’t get a fitter, we need to reschedule”. Hmph. The only free day we have is Monday, so we rescheduled for the following week. Again. During that day, we both had a grumble, and Keith decided to go back to one of the quotes he had received. He realised it was only about a tenner more, so cancelled TowBarExpress and booked the local fitter in for the Monday that had been cancelled.

We cancelled our booking with TBE and asked for an email confirmation of the refund. We never got this, despite ringing twice and emailing. Almost a week later, still no sign of a refund and no word from Tow Bar Express- and our booking still showing on the online system, I decided I would take matters into my own hands. I rang up and received THE WORST customer service I’ve ever received over the phone. I kept asking for written confirmation about our refund and kept being told, we don’t have to give you written confirmation. Excuse after excuse I was given, but I lost my cool in the end when I could clearly hear the staff in the office mimicking me. I confronted the advisor and she denied it. They refused to put me through to a manager. In the end I got someone pretending to be the manager – I know this as she was so unprofessional but also, I later heard from our towbar man that the manager is a male! Along with a few other horror stories.

We eventually got our refund – but I would warn anyone about using them in the future. Disgraceful customer service- and that doesn’t half get my blood boiling.

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On to the saga of finding a bike rack that would allow us to still open the tailgate door with the bikes on the rack. Did such a thing even exist? We were starting to think probably not! Keith must have ordered 10 different racks, of varying costs, and none of them worked! It was looking like we would not be able to open our boot with the bike rack on. Stress levels were rising, so I stepped in and asked on the VW Facebook page and also the overnight parking page. Keith, you see, is FAR too cool for Facebook (yeah right!!) but as I explained to him afterwards, he could have saved himself a week of stress if he were on Facebook as within 5 minutes I had over 10 replies, many of which saying the same thing. The http://www.roofbox.co.uk/scripts/rbvehsel4_tab.php?AR2603 . It was coming out a bit higher in price than we hoped, but- everyone was saying what a good job it does. So we ordered one. And, boy are we glad we did.

It’s very lightweight, yet doesn’t feel flimsy in anyway at all. It is so easy to use, it really is just a flick of lever to lower the bikes enabling the tailgate to open fully. Also, the attachment to the towbar is really slim, so you can walk in-between the tow bar and the van, really good when you’re trying to get something out that’s lodged its way further into the boot!

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Other enhancements that we have made include changing the factory fitted radio to a CD/Bluetooth radio. This was a simple and cheap upgrade thanks to our local Halfords Store. £60 radio / £30 to fit. It’s pretty decent in sound quality, and the bluetooth is fab. I’m loving having my spotify blasting out, plus it make in car phonecalls much easier/safer (and legal!)  We’ve just got our hands on Jamiroquai tickets so we’ve been blasting out quite a bit of JK- Keith now wants to fit a sub or something- I’ve told him he’s not allowed- unless he wants the world to know he’s having a mid life crisis!

Last but not least (I expect!) and we’ve bagged ourselves a //ws-eu.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=GB&source=ac&ref=qf_sp_asin_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=advinamot-21&marketplace=amazon&region=GB&placement=B00A4A07JA&asins=B00A4A07JA&linkId=&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true” target=”_blank”>portable 12v TV. Now I know its not everyone’s cup of tea, taking a TV away in the camper van. But we use our van all year round, including those ridiculously short winter days where by 4pm its pitch black outside. It’s then that we are most grateful for the TV. Especially when Strictly Come Dancing is on!

This portable TV is GREAT. It’s about the size of our iPad, picks up all the free view channels, has a handy little arial that is magnetic and reaches through the kitchen window onto the roof, and best of all- has a record button, so we stuck a large memory card in the side and suddenly we can record Saturday Night Takeaway, whilst away in the middle of nowhere *ahem, obviously I just stuck that TV programme in as a random one….* It has 2.5 hours charge without being plugged in, but comes with a 12v charger too. Perfect.

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So, theres a list of our new accessories for you. Ruby is now complete – although the new Cath Kidston catalogue has just arrived with some lovely melamine glasses, jugs and serving bowls in…. #justsaying

What are your must have camper van/motorhome accessories? Other than the obvious.. the corkscrew, that is!

Until Next Time

Lx

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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