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[Travel] Making a Car First Aid Kit

20160419_222832 Having a first aid kit in the car is a legal requirement for some European countries and it’s just a good idea in general. You can purchase pre-made kits (and we have a cheap one of those too just so we can fulfil the legal requirements) in Halfords that will comply with the applicable laws, but I have kept a personal first aid kit in the car since 2010 with things that we specifically need or use. Also, some countries have a weird rule that the first aid kit needs to be sealed, so this was just easier for us. And having it has come in handy on multiple occasions! I decided to get our current kit out of the car in preparation for our road trip to Austria to check the expiration dates and give it an update before we go again. No surprise, a lot of it had expired as it was put together in 2010! So now it’s updated, and here’s a video about putting together a first aid kit:

The nice thing about making your own first aid kit instead of buying a pre-made one is you can create it around your needs and your likes/dislikes. If you have products you like better than other for first aid, if there’s a pain relief product you like better than another (or tummy remedy!), or if there’s a product you know you’ll need based on your own medical needs…it can go in your own personalised first aid kit. The type of box you use doesn’t matter, but it should be sturdy and waterproof. Alternatively, you could keep everything in a zippered bag (and it would probably squish better). I took a cardboard box we had waiting for the recycle bin and I covered it with clear contact paper. You also could use clear packing tape if you don’t have any contact paper and I added a red cross to the front to make it easily recognisable as a first aid kit. We also always keep it under the front passenger seat so it’s always in the same location and can easily be grabbed or we can tell someone else exactly where it is.

The total cost for putting this together was probably around £20. I bought all the value range first aid items from shops like Tesco, Wilkinson’s, and Asda…and they work. You don’t NEED fancy brands for first aid. Or if you’re really attached to having a certain brand, you always have the option of buying those. Probably the priciest item was the 4head stick!

When I first went to make the kit, I solicited advice from my friends who are first aiders, EMTs, and nurses on what they felt were important things to have on hand in a first aid kit, so this list is medical professionals approved!

Our first aid kit contents in no particular order:

-Box of plasters/band-aids
-Blister plasters
-strapping tape
-micro-porous tape
-gauze pads
-elastic band
-paracetamol
-ibuprofen
-diarrhoea medication
-soap box for above medicine to keep it dry
-gaviscon
-antiseptic wipes
-antiseptic ointment
-sudocream
-medical scissors
-tweezers
-antibacterial gel
-rubber gloves
-burn ointment
-spray on plaster
-4head headache gel
-duct tape (I fold over a piece several times to have a small bit, not a whole roll!)
-nit comb
-sanitary towel

And don’t forget to check with Halfords or the RAC or AA what other requirements are needed in each European country you will be driving through, as they can vary. You also should sign up for temporary European breakdown coverage (we got the highest level of coverage that not only will bring your car back to the UK for you, but give you a rental car to finish out your holiday and provide a way to get you back home at the end. Pricey, but worth the peace of mind) as well as additional coverage through your car insurance. For example, our insurance only automatically covers a few days abroad, and adding coverage for the three weeks only cost £42. Also make sure you have signed up for your EHIC card as well before you go (this is subject to change depending on the terms of Brexit). If you are not a UK or EU resident, make sure you get travel insurance before you go, because you never know! We have a multi trip world plan that costs us around £100/yr, but you can get single trip plans for as low as £8. You can read more about other requirements for driving abroad in my previous post from 2011.

I also always try to carry a mini first aid kit in my backpack when we aren’t in the car just with a few plasters and some antiseptic wipes to clean and cover a cut until you get back to the car.

Obviously, this first aid kit isn’t going to fix all medical problems that arise, but it should cover enough basics until you can get somewhere else to get proper medical attention. And I think the Halford’s ones even include a thermal blanket, but you also could pick one up at the pound shop if you wanted to include one of those for emergencies too.

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This post has not been endorsed by any of the products mentioned in this post and I have not received compensation for writing this post or making any videos.

The contents of this post, including personal images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

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[Slimming World] Let’s go Camping!

This post is here because I posted this on my local Slimming World group, and one of the members asked if they could share it elsewhere. Since you can’t share posts made on closed groups, I’m sticking it here. So there aren’t any pics to go with it (yet), but I might edit it tomorrow when I get more time.

Tips for staying on Slimming World while camping!

Tip 1 – If you are going to be without electricity to keep food cold, a day or two before you go cook up a batch of something like pasta sauce and then freeze it in either a plastic container or in a zipper top bag (double bag it!) and use this as a cold pack in your cooler. After it thaws out, you can cook some pasta and heat up the sauce, but it will keep your food cool for a bit longer.
Tip 2 – UHT milk cartons. For Tim and I, we go through 1 500ml carton of semi-skim UHT milk per day of our camping trip, so it’s not left out for very long, but this way you can have milk for coffee, tea, and cereal. You also can freeze them and use them as ice packs in your cooler.

Breakfast:

1 – you can make up your own instant porridge packs in plastic baggies. 2 tsp of dried powdered skim milk is 1 Syn. Measure out 35g of porridge and 2tsp of dried skim milk into your bags and in the mornings pour into a bowl and add boiling water. You can add some frozen berries (use them as an ice pack as they thaw!) for some added S foods.

2 – Make hash browns/fried potatoes. Get a tin of new potatoes (it’s only around 20p!), slice them or cut them into chunks, and fry with some fry light. Super easy, and they go great with some fried eggs, tinned tomatoes, and baked beans.

3 – cold cereal with UHT milk in a pinch.4 – French toast. Dip wholemeal bread into a mixture of UHT milk and an egg and fry with fry light. You can make these sweet or savory by either sprinkling with cinnamon and sweetener and serving with thawing berries, or savory and serve it with fried eggs or scrambled eggs.

Main meals:

Tip 1 – Boil in bag rice is FREE and it’s easier to cook when camping as it won’t be as hard to clean and you can reuse the pot right away

Tip 2 – Find a metal colander that fits inside your large pot when you make pasta so you just have to lift out the colander when the pasta is done and dump the water instead of finding a place to pour the pasta pot into the colander.

Tip 3 – Another option for pasta is cooking it at home ahead of time and putting it into a zipper top bag and immersing the bag in boiling water to heat up the pasta

Meal 1 – Vegetable Soup: This is super easy. All you need is a tin of mixed vegetables, a tin of tomatoes, 2 vegetable stock pots, and a handful of pearl barley (optional, but bulks it up). Pour the tins into a pot, add the stock pots, add the barley, and top up with water. The barley takes about 20 minutes to cook (although the longer you leave it, the softer the barley). A larger family might need 2 tins of each and 4 stock pots. You also could open a bag of boil in bag rice and toss it in instead of pearl barley.

Meal 2 – Poor Man’s Ramen: 1 Egg noodle nest or block per person, soy sauce, an OXO veg cube per person, tinned peas, carrots, and tinned corn. Toss it all in a pot, crumble the OXO cube on top, and bring to a boil. Takes about 10 minutes. You can drain it OR have it soupy and use soy sauce to taste.

Meal 3 – Stir Fry: serve with either boil in bag rice or egg noodles.

Meal 4 – If you premade/froze pasta sauce, pop it in a pot and cook some pasta. If your sauce is in a plastic bag, you could even cook it in the pot with the pasta in the bag, or stir it into the pasta after you drain the pasta to heat it through. . (My recipe for camping is really simple – quorn quorn mince, passata, tinned tomatoes, italian spices, worcester sauce, and cinnamon)

Meal 5 – if you have leftover sauce, dump a tin of kidney beans and some chili powder to make chilli and serve over rice.

Meal 6 – Pasta N Sauce with some added tinned vegetables, or make poor man’s mac n cheese with pasta and tinned veg and while the pasta is still hot, stir in laughing cow wedges. Make it cajun style with some cajun or jamaican jerk seasonings and you could add quorn chicken pieces. We like this especially with the laughing cow blue cheese.

I also like to make up some SW barbecue sauce before we go and I use one of those lock n lock tube shaped containers for it. The balsamic vinegar preserves it (Tim just used some I had in the fridge for 2 months and it was fine). If you are taking a grill or can get one of those disposable grills, you could have a barbecue with quorn burgers, or you could even make the burgers on the camping stove in a frying pan. If I was doing a barbecue, I would cook corn on the cob (it’s probably very American! lol), heat up some beans (baked beans is also a big barbecue thing in the US), and fry some potatoes (or if you have a campfire or charcoal grill – stab potatoes and wrap them in foil, then bury them in the coals)

Another good grill option for camping is veggie skewers with rice.

That’s all I have for now, if I think of more I’ll add it!

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DISCLAIMER: I do not work for Slimming World, I am not affiliated with Slimming World beyond being a paying customer/member, I get no personal benefit from writing this post other than the joy of sharing.

Please note: Syn values are based on my exact ingredients using the online calculator. Your Syn value may vary based on your ingredients and the size of your baking containers and portions, so use this number as a guide only. Syn values also frequently change, but these values are correct at the time of publication.

The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

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Happy Campers

Happiness is travel*

Tour our caravan here:

(just in case it hasn’t embedded, you can watch it here: http://youtu.be/cgqVuxAFtrg. I can’t see the video when I preview my blog post, so I have no idea if it’s me or wordpress or youtube that’s having the problem….)

My husband and I are about to be the proud owners of a 1995 touring caravan! Last Summer, we borrowed a caravan from Tim’s parents and over the weekend they offered to sell it to us as they don’t feel they will use it again, and they know we really liked using it. So as soon as we can find storage for it and take possession of it (and erm, pay them!) it’s ours!! This isn’t to say that we don’t like tent camping….I LOVED our holiday in Austria in our tent. Our two weeks in Wales in a tent? Not so much thanks to the rain. But last year having the caravan was fantastic. It was so nice to have a place that was dry to sit in/eat in/read in/sleep in, and a place where you could turn on HEAT when you were soaked through! It was also nice to have dedicated electricity for things like a kettle and fridge and oh yeah, we had a stove. The caravan even has a toilet with a shower, but neither one of us needed to use it (we were pitched up close enough to the toilet blocks we just walked over to those even in the middle of the night).

So, now that we have a caravan, I thought I would start looking at photos of caravans online to get some ideas for better ways to organize things (permanently) as well as give it a little personalization. Pinterest is full of great ideas and woah are there some amazing caravans out there! Check out this one**:

purplefuzzymittensonflickr

Now, that’s a little too busy for me. I also liked this one***:

cornbread-and-beans-blog-0271

But that one is probably a little too pink for Tim!

I think it will take awhile to actually do anything to the caravan, but if I can organize myself and get it done, it could become quite nice. A few things I think we need to consider for the future include painting the interior walls, making or getting new curtains made, and re-covering the cushions. I don’t have any ideas on what colours we’ll use yet, but I’m sure we will pick something we both like. I’m sort of leaning towards red, but the kitchen area is green and I wouldn’t want it to look like Christmas year-round! I can’t see us doing any of it until it’s absolutely needed, but there’s no reason we can’t do a little decorating in it now.

One thing I learned from all my browsing, is that a caravan needs cushions:

myvintagecaravan^

cathinspiredcaravan^^

Doesn’t that one look like it belongs in a Cath Kidston catalogue?

Cushions, I can do. We already (of course) have our pillows in the caravan, but it might be nice to be able to put the pillows away in the wardrobe during the day and have a few throw cushions on the two sofas. I know how to sew, so I could make my own out of fabric scraps, or I could buy pre-made covers or even whole cushions. I’m going to have to think about this and pick something neutral for now and then jazz things up later. Maybe I’ll buy some cheap cushions for now that can be recovered later.

I did, however, get some great ideas for what to do with the (very small) amount of wall space. Most of the caravan is made up of windows or cabinets, but there’s bits of wall here and there.

7d30412ff4d5935fb05f418cd458cfd1^^^

I think maybe a few framed postcards from where we travel would look cute on the wall. I read on an RV site that you can use sticky backed velcro to keep things attached to the walls while travelling, so I’ll have to do that with the pictures.

I also want to take a cookie sheet and make a backsplash for the wall between the cabinet and fridge, and then paint it with chalkboard paint. We collected a few magnets while we were away last year and I kept sticking them to the tea tin so we wouldn’t lose them. And having a little board where we could stick up important things (like tickets) or make notes on would be helpful.

I plan on purchasing a bunch of command hooks as well and will have a play to see where the hooks can go. I already purchased some over the caravan door hooks (ages ago!) so we can at least have some hooks on the inside of the bathroom door instead of tossing the towels on the toilet and the bathrobes in the bottom of the wardrobe.

And the outside! Some people go all out on the exteriors as well!

dotty+

purple++

But something tells me Tim would not let me paint our caravan purple OR polka dots. So I’d settle for some decals. We could get a train, or some tracks, or even some music notes. But we need to do something to personalize it.

We have lots to do before we start thinking about that. We have to take possession of the caravan and clean out anything Tim’s parents want back/we don’t want and add in some of our own camping gear that will live in the caravan, plus make a list of things it needs. We need to practice hooking it up to the car, too. We’ve only hooked it up a handful of times, and we had help from Tim’s dad a few of those times! There’s loads of instructions for what to do when we get to a site from setting the brake, hooking up the electrics, getting the water pump working, hooking up the waste water receptacle, turning on the gas…..

Ah, I can’t wait. Time to research local storage facilities….and try to plan a weekend away!

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated below and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

*Credit unknown, found it on Pinterest. If this is yours, let me know so I can credit you!
**Photo credit: PurpleFuzzyMittens
***Photo credit: Cornbread and Beans Quilting Co
^Photo credit: My Vintage Caravan
^^Credit unknown, found it on Pinterest. If this is yours, let me know so I can credit you!
^^^Credit unknown, found it on Pinterest. If this is yours, let me know so I can credit you!
+Photo credit: Shannon Christensen
++Credit unknown, found it on Pinterest. If this is yours, let me know so I can credit you!

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Wet, Wonderful, Wales

Wow, what a holiday! Tim and I have been in Wales for the past three weeks with his parents caravan (thankfully!) and what an amazing time!!

I meant to write up blog posts on Tim’s laptop while we were there, but of course, I never seemed to find time, so here’s what you will get glimpses of in the coming weeks…

~Multiple visits to the Talyllyn Railway and Llechfan Garden Railway….including Have-A-Go where I drove a steam train!

~Massive walks…Dolgoch Falls. Nant Gwenol and Dolgellau to Barmouth

~Vale of Rheidol (still too wet to do Devil’s Bridge!)

~The Welsh Highland and Ffestiniog Railway….NINE HOURS of travel by steam!!

~Welsh place names with no vowels

~Machynlleth Market, Aberystwyth, Portmeirion, Harlech Castle

~LLangolen Railway, Bala Lake Railway, Llanberis Lake Railway, Fairbourne Railway

~Snowdon Mountain Railway

and much, much more!!

I personally have over 2500 photos to go through, who knows how many videos, and whatever Tim has that he wants me to publish…

This could take a while!!!

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

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Welcome to Wales. Our vowels are A,E,I,O,U,Y, and sometimes W

And, we’re back! I have loads of photos to sort through (over 1000 of my own, not counting Tim’s or the video) before I can really start posting, but I thought I’d post quickly to say that we’re back and mention a few things.

Welsh Language
You would think that with all the time I spend in Wales, I’d be picking up Welsh, but no. Though I can tell you that a microwave is called a Popty Ping (a word Tim and I want to start using at home). And some of the place names looked like they had no vowels due to Y and W. Even the town we were staying in, Caersws, isn’t pronounced anything like how it looks. For one thing, the second R is silent. And the WS makes an “oo” sound.

Camping
Camping was great. We stayed at Maesmawr Farms, a small family-run camping site in Caersws. We used our large Halford’s tent again this year, but we’re wondering how many more years it will be good for as it started to fade a lot in colour this week. But I think I can get some spray to re-waterproof it and re-sunproof it. The campsite was great, and I’ll write a full review of it later.

Railways
We visited a lot more railways than we probably should have. We actually re-visited three of the railways twice because of bad weather the first time we rode them or because we had plans to do them with different people, but it all worked out. I had more fun on the trains than I would have walking around castles getting soaked.

Weather
It’s Wales. It rained. A lot. Apparently I slept through a really bad thunderstorm on our last night, too. Most of the rain during the day was all light drizzle, but we did have a major downpour on the one day which left us soaked from the hip down, including squelching trainers (US: Sneakers). Most of the rain kept to night time, which made me need the loo about 5 times each night. The nights it didn’t rain were a lot colder than the nights it did.

Friends and Family
We spent part of our holiday with friends and family. For the first three days, Tim’s brother and his girlfriend were camping with us in the in-laws caravan. We had the rest of the week to ourselves, and then met up with Helen and Mark on the first Saturday.

Unfortunately, while we were away, Tim’s best mate’s dad passed away and we got a call asking if we could come to the service. So we did. 11 hours of travel in a single day because we first had to take the train up to Lincoln to pick up appropriate clothing (we debated buying new things for the funeral, but in the end it would have been expensive). We were home for 2 hours and then got back on the train down to Brighton. On Wednesday after the service we took the train from Brighton back to Wales, where we kept our tent and car sitting while we were away. In the end, while it took two days away from our holiday, we were glad we went.

Welsh Wildlife
…and farm life. Our campsite was on a working farm, so there were sheep grazing in the next field over. We never saw them, but we could hear them at night. We also had to stop in the middle of the road for a few sheep that had escaped and were trying to cross the road! From the various trains, I also saw sheep being herded by sheepdogs and shepherd’s riding quad-bikes. Pretty interesting things. In other wildlife, Tim saw a badger for the first time ever, we watched loads of Red Kites hunting for food (even have brief video), and on our last night, we were treated to a dance by two bats swopping just inches away from our heads!

And that about sums things up for now. I will be writing more detailed posts later, as time permits and after I sort through my photos. You might catch photos on facebook and video on youtube before I get to the posts about things!

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, or the RSS feed(s), please notify me.

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Annual Camping Trip

So we’re off soon for our annual camping trip — this time, it’s two weeks in Wales. I’m working on Tim to see if we can book in a day trip to Dublin, too. Maybe. I found that as foot passengers on Stena, it would only be £58 for the two of us, but it involves a really late ferry back to Holyhead and then an even later time getting back to the campsite which would potentially shatter us for the following day and we might lose a day, so it’s still in the air. If the ferry back were earlier, it’d be no problem. So we’ll see.

We really wanted to go back to Austria or Germany, but with my visa in December due, we felt it was more affordable to stay in the UK. A bit disappointing, but we’ll still have fun. Hopefully next Summer we can plan for camping in Austria or Germany, when we don’t have visa fees dangling over my head (only citizenship fees, but I can apply for citizenship anytime after three years of residency, so if I can’t do it right away in January 2013 it doesn’t affect anything as my permanent residency is valid forever…technically, I don’t need citizenship if I don’t want. (but I do want!)).

Not a thing is packed. I feel like this holiday has completely creeped up on us unaware, even though that isn’t the case. It’s been on the calendar since January and we have had our plans in place since about March….we’ve just both been really busy lately and so now it’s all of a sudden “we leave soon!”. eek.

Fortunately, I still have plenty of time, but I hate when I’m not prepared!

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, or the RSS feed(s), please notify me.

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European Road Trip, Day 6 Part II – Camping Gruber

For the second leg of our trip, we really only knew we wanted to be close enough to both Salzburg and Vienna to go on day trips. The railways Tim wanted to visit would have taken us too far away from the cities, so we looked on a map to pick an area within reasonable driving distance of railways and the cities and picked the Salzkammergut lakes. We spotted many tent symbols on the map, so we were confident we could find a place just by showing up. We started by circling the Attersee. The first town we came upon was called, I kid you not, Attersee am Attersee. I spotted a tourist information centre, so we decided to stop. Unfortunately, the centre was closed, but outside the building there was a tourist information computer and brochures for the region. The internet terminal pointed directly at the area’s tourism website, and we were able view several campsites and printed out several locations that looked good.

We headed around the lake. Some of the campsites were hard to find, but we finally spotted the sign for Camping Gruber in the town of Nußdorf*. Unlike Camping Hofer, Camping Gruber had controlled access, making it a little safer at night – which was a good thing, as the campsite was nearly deserted!

Camping Gruber has a lot of static caravans – people who park their caravan there year-round and come up on weekends and holidays. We saw a few people around on Sunday while we were setting up, but after the weekend, most people had left. Out of the sites that were still occupied, we were once again the only tent.

Camping Gruber has sanitation buildings at both ends, though the ones closer to the lake were nicer and newer. According to their website, they are remodelling their sanitation building for the 2011 season, and I can only assume they will be upgrading the older building. The older ones were dark and operated with automatic lights. Fine when the camp is busy, but not so great when you need the loo in the middle of the night. Twice I had the light go out on me while I was using it, and we never showered in the older facility. Both buildings had washing machines and dryers, though I did not check on the price. Both also had sinks for washing your dishes. The new building even had hobs (US: stove tops) you could use at the rate of 1 Euro for 20 minutes. We didn’t use it since we had a gas stove, but it’s nice to know if you run out of gas, you could still cook!

The newer building is also located on the waterfront, and at the pool and there is a small snack shop/cafe attached, too.

Both buildings have keyed access. When you check-in, you are given a waterproof wrist band that has a chip in it to operate the bathroom doors and the main gate. We nearly had a panic on our hands when we thought we had lost one, and then again a day later when we asked to extend our stay but hadn’t gotten our wrist bands updated. We had to park outside the campsite and walk in, and fortunately, the older bathrooms weren’t locked!

Like I said above, we were one of the few occupied pitches while we were there. It was a bit odd for it to be so quiet, but I suppose with it being near to the end of September, it made sense. The campsite was gorgeous though, and they even had their own boat launching dock right on the Attersee, as well as a diving board partway out into the lake. I was daring and waded into the water up to my ankles, but the water was quite cold and definitely not warm enough to swim in! Apparently the Attersee is so large that even with freezing temperatures, the lake hasn’t frozen over since the 1940s!

Our first day saw us getting settled in and setting up the tent. It was gaining on sunset time when we decided to walk down to the waterfront to take some photos and video.

[If you click on the photo once, it will take you to that photo’s page. If you click on the photo again, you will be able to view it full size. I have no idea why WordPress made it so complicated!]

[Photos taken by either myself or my husband, Tim and are all © Tim and Rebecca Lockley]

Day seven is our trip to the Styrtalbahn, but I might have to get Tim to help me with my post…all the railways start to blend together for me from this point on. Not because they weren’t interesting, I just get the four remaining lines we visited confused with each other for some reason.

*In German, a ß is used for a double S, so the town of Nußdorf is pronounced “Nussdorf”.

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European Road Trip Day 6, Part I – Moving Camp (Camping Hofer Review)

[Finally blogging about our trip to Germany and Austria we took in September 2010!]

We learned something on this trip. Trying to break up the camping into two different sites is not a good idea – we lost nearly three days of our holiday just from setting up and tearing down our campsites. Next time, we will probably pick a location that’s not so much near some of the things we want to do, but within a reasonable driving/railing distance from everything we want to do, although I would go back to both campsites we were at in September in a heartbeat!

The first site, where we spent the first 4 nights of our trip was at Camping Hofer in Zell am Ziller. I picked this campsite based on it’s location to the Zillertalbahn, and based on the photos on the website. I emailed them, and the woman who runs the campsite wrote back promptly and let me make a preliminary reservation the day before we left!

When we arrived, it was still fairly light out. We were given a map of the site with circles around the available pitches. Tim and I took a mini tour looking at the different spots, and finally picked one that was located close enough to the sanitation building for late-night bathroom trips, but far enough away that the noise of people going in and out of the building wouldn’t bother us.

Our set-up took us a lot longer than we thought, hindered slightly by the rocky ground. It seemed that everywhere Tim tried to peg in a tent stake he would hit rock, but we finally managed to get ourselves set up.

We did not use many of the available facilities, and I honestly couldn’t have even told you where the pool was located, though there was one on property. As it was late September, I really wasn’t interested in swimming, anyway! We weren’t really there to just camp, as we had plans for nearly every day. If we had just been there on a camping holiday, we might have taken advantage of some of the facilities. They also have a restaurant and bar, but we glanced at the menu and though the prices were a bit steep for campers. The facility also has a gasthaus and is open throughout the Winter season for skiiers, though I wouldn’t fancy staying in a tent in the middle of Winter!

The sanitation building looked fairly new. It had washrooms and shower rooms for both genders – the toilets were in a separate WC room with just a single sink to wash your hands in, and then the room next door had a long row of sinks at a mirror, about 6 individual stalls with sinks and stools for washing, and 4 shower cubicles. The showers operated on an on-demand type system. Instead of just turning on the shower, you had to push to get water. The shower stream lasted for about 10 seconds, and you could press it as many times as you wanted (showering was free). While it was a slight inconvenience, it did mean you could lather up your hair without the water turned on, and I’m sure that helps the site to conserve water. The water was nice and hot, but you did have to usually duck out of the way the first time you turned it on to avoid the spray of cold as it warmed up. Each shower stall had an outer area to change in as well as the common area, so if you didn’t feel comfortable getting undressed in front of other people, you didn’t have to.

The sanitation building also housed 2 rooms for washing dishes. Each room had long counters along each side and 2 sinks on each side (4 in each room/8 sinks total). Not all of the sinks had hot water, however, so you always had to check first. The sinks were standard, industrial size sinks. You needed to provide the soap and sponge. We packed along our dishpan, too, but I wound up using it more for carrying the dishes back and forth than washing.

The facility also had a laundry room with only 2 washers and 2 dryers, as well as a hanging rack to drip dry clothing. I found the room to be very crowded and wound up taking my line-dry items back to the tent to hang outside. The laundry services wasn’t cheap, either. 7 Euros per load, so a wash and dry cycle cost 14 Euros. Crazy, but I suppose they have you by the nose. Next time we go camping, I’m going to try to pack enough underwear to last the whole trip, and hope our clothing doesn’t get too stinky, because I do not want to pay that much for laundry again!

Tim and I appeared to be the only people with a tent – everyone around us had caravans. Even funnier, a lot of the caravans had little satellite dishes outside! Can’t go on holiday without your telly, I guess.

The site had loads of international visitors, too. Lots of license plates from Germany, the Netherlands, and Denmark. Fortunately, the family that runs the campsite speak English.

As for the camping itself – we both had a great time. The only time we didn’t like camping was the night it poured down rain – the sound of rain on the tent really makes you have to go! Since it was pouring, neither one of us wanted to make the walk to the sanitation building, especially as we left our waterproof jackets in the car. I wound up sacrificing one of my cooking pots to turn it into a chamber pot. Yeah, I know. That’s kind of gross. Sorry. But I promise I never intend on cooking in that vessel EVER again.

Camping also tends to get boring late at night. The light would finally fade around 10PM, and then Tim and I would try to read by the light of our torches, lanterns, and candles, but it never was enough light. The lack of light, paired with it getting cold without the sun meant we had a lot of early evenings….which meant that most mornings I was awake by 5 or 6!

All too soon our time at Camping Hofer was ending, and we had to take down the tent and pack everything back in the car to drive up to the Salzkammergut region. It took us several hours to get everything packed and into the car – mostly because we forgot how we had packed the car! Next time, we’ll be taking a photo of the car.

I only have one other picture to share from Camping Hofer – the telephone booth:

How funny to see a red phone booth in Austria!

Next up – either driving in Austria or setting up camp. I haven’t decided yet!

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Caravan Camping vs. Tent Camping

This past week in Wales, I stayed in a static caravan in Nebo with my friend Helen and her son, Mark. Our caravan was really nice – a lot nicer than I had expected! We had a large living room/dining room area with seating for at least 8-10 (though a small table that would struggle with more than 4!), and adequate walk-through kitchenette, a bathroom complete with a shower stall that was at least twice as big as the shower we have at home, and three bedrooms – a “master bedroom” that had a double bed, and two “kid’s rooms”. The kid’s rooms had single beds. One had two, and the other had two plus the capability of having a pull-down bunk bed up top. Each room had at least one small wardrobe and several drawers – the most being in the master bedroom, of course.

I slept in one of the kid’s rooms, and since I was alone was able to leave my suitcase and other belongings on the bed I wasn’t using, since there wasn’t really space to store my suitcase anywhere else. I even managed to unpack into the wardrobe and drawers, and had some of my toiletries lined up on the small shelf under the mirror. My room had one electric outlet, so I had to take turns charging the camera, phone, and ipod. The room was small – about as long as a single bed and then about a foot longer and really narrow. There was barely any room between the two single beds, but it was designed for kids, not adults.

The room next to mine was Mark’s, and his looked mostly the same except that at the foot of each bed overhanging it was a small wardrobe cabinet. I still think he and I should have changed rooms though, because he kept whacking his foot into the cabinet in his sleep and it woke everyone up!

Helen had the master bedroom. From what I could tell, it had plenty of storage and a small vanity, too.

Our living/dining area was nice and roomy. Three corners of the room were taken up by various sofas, and in one corner there was a dining table. The fourth corner held the entertainment section – a television, freebox, antennae, and DVD player. All running off of two outlets, so you had to constantly switch which item was plugged into the TV and outlet, but we managed. The people we rented from even leave a few DVDs in the caravan for perusal, though we had brought some of our own. The living room also had a gas operated fireplace, which was quite welcome on the chilly nights!

The kitchen was in the narrow hallway between the bedrooms and the outer wall, but adequate for a week. It had a small fridge/freezer, stove, microwave, kettle, and toaster. The owners stock the cabinets with dishes and cooking equipment as well as some dish soap and a dishtowel.

And boy, were those walls thin! Any noise in one of the rooms would carry into the others if it was loud enough. a few times I heard Mark’s CD player going at night. We had a bit of a fright on our second night there, though. We heard this loud knocking. I thought it was Helen knocking on my bedroom door, so I said “Yeah?” and then when no one opened the door, I got up with my torch (flashlight) and went to see what was going on. Helen was doing the same….and we had no idea where the noise was coming from!

The wind and the rain was pretty bad, too. The wind would shake the little caravan so much I really feared it tipping over and the rain was so noisy on the roof.

Were we camping? Technically, yes. Though, I don’t know many people who go camping with DVD players! In a few weeks, Tim and I will be tent camping (ie – REAL camping) in Austria and Germany. Since I’ve slept in the tent a few times, I know what to be prepared for…I just wish the tent had a kitchen! LOL

Here are some photos of the caravan:

And here’s a google earth shot of the 2 static cabins, the cottage the family lives in, and the surrounding area:

There were lots of public footpaths nearby, and we did go on a walk the first night (a post later with some pics). I’m hoping Tim and I can go back on our own and do some more walking!

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Camping in Our Garden

A few weeks ago, Tim and I went camping in our garden. One of his co-workers alerted him to a great deal at Halford’sa 4-man tent, 4 sleeping bags, 2 air mattresses, & 2 lanterns for £90 online marked down from over £200. We also tacked on to the purchase a cooking kit which has a burner, 4 pots/pans, 4 plastic containers, utensils, and a carrying case for £25, and then we picked up a kettle at Tesco for £6. We thought we ought to try to put together the tent – a) to make sure we knew how it went together before we book a pitch somewhere, b) to make sure there aren’t any defects with the tent or gear, and c) because it’s been on the warm side and last week I told Tim I wanted to sleep outside.

It was….

-Chilly. We unzipped two of the sleeping bags and used one as a pad for the air mattress and the other as a cover. But unzipped it isn’t quite big enough to cover both of us if we aren’t cuddled up, so I wound up covering myself with the spare blanket I grabbed last night (my Penn State stadium blanket) But it was also…

-Hot. Tim and I always are warm at night because both of us are human furnaces. It was difficult trying to sleep in it because if our bodies were touching, I felt sticky from the combined body sweat. But then when we weren’t touching/cuddled up, it was chilly!

-Small. The mattress, despite claims of being a double, is smaller than our bed upstairs. I wound up moving practically off the mattress close to the “bedroom” wall in order to try to put some space between us, and Tim rolled (in his sleep) towards the other wall. Another word to use might be…

-Cozy. Even though we have a huge 4-man tent, the side “bedrooms” are only large enough to hold the air mattress. It was nice when Tim and I were cuddling before bed, but once I zipped shut the door to the “bedroom”, it felt really small.

-Hard. The air mattress lost air overnight, but I think that’s fairly typical when using an air mattress. I’m wondering if we should get a bedroll/mat type thing for underneath it, since my back started to get cold from feeling it seep through the mattress. I think Tim has one already, but it might just be for a single mattress. Alternatively, since we have 4 sleeping bags, we could always line the floor with a sleeping bag, then put the mattress on top or even just get a tarp to add a layer between the mattress and groundsheet. I’ll talk it over with Tim and see what he thinks. (also, how did I manage to sleep on an air mattress at Mom’s for years*?)

-Noisy. Lots of wind that kept waking me up. I know at least twice I woke Tim up, too. Actually, I’m awake now at 5:30AM because I needed the loo around 4 and figured I might as well stay in here until I’m tired enough to go back to sleep.

Fortunately, the tent is a “two bedroom” tent. Our plans are/were to use the second “bedroom” to store gear, but I might suggest we take along the second mattress and set it up for moments like this. If I’m going to be awake well before Tim, I’ll need somewhere to go/something to do. I could keep a book in there and just move my pillows and a blanket if I couldn’t sleep, that way I wouldn’t disturb Tim trying to read until I felt tired again.

We still need to get a folding table (for dining/food prep), and some kind of cooler and then we might have everything we need to go camping. Our first big trip is scheduled for this September, when we’ll be camping in Germany & Austria! I’m really excited. Originally, we were going to take the train the whole way and stay in B&Bs and things, but even with adding in the cost of petrol, camping will save us money. The average campsite cost is €6/night, and with making our own food, we’ll even have money leftover for a few nights out at nice restaurants or for some souvenirs!

I practised cooking with the gas stove, and while I completely trashed the pan (fortunately, I was able to clean it!), I still managed to cook breakfast 2 mornings – the first morning I did scrambled eggs and sausage, and the second bacon & fried eggs. Tim even bought a device for making toast on the stove that works pretty well!

The tent we purchased IS kind of big for just two people, but the hope is that this will be a long-term investment even after we have kids. If we can keep the tent in good condition, there’s no reason why we wouldn’t be able to use it in the years to come.

….now to find a place to store it! I’m hoping it will fit in the loft after we get the flooring laid in there, but for now I guess we’ll have to store it in one of the bedrooms, since the workshop and shed are a bit full of workshop/shed stuff!

There also is a video, but youtube is taking too long to upload it, so I will have to post it later, as I’ve had this window open for THREE weeks…..

*Long story short – when I moved to Michigan in 2006, I told Mom to sell my bedroom suite because it was a four-poster twin sized bed and I knew I wouldn’t want it in the future. I had an air mattress (with bedframe) to use in my house in MI. After I broke my foot and had to move back to PA, my old bed was gone, so I set up the air mattress. The plan was to eventually buy a new bed, but I just never had the money for it, so I lived on the air mattress until the bedframe finally broke and then I yanked the mattress off the sofabed and used that on the floor.

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