1st Overnighter!

Glencoe 12th/13th March 2016

Well, the time had come to try our first overnighter as a family in the camper. The weather forecast wasn’t too great but we decided to go for it anyway. If the worst came to the worst we could always head home as it was only 90mins away, but as it turned out it wasn’t too bad. Our destination was the Invercoe Campsite in Glencoe. Great campsite in a great location, good facilities and pitches, no complaints.

Our new drive-away awning had recently arrived (we ended up going for the Vango Airaway Kela III – a different awning than we were originally going to get but it turned out for the best anyhow, more about that later). Once we had picked our spot we then set about getting the awning out of the bag for the first time. We should have checked the contents of the bag earlier. Turns out the awning doesn’t come with the ‘figure of 8’ strip for attaching the awning to the Bongo’s gutter rail. We continued to put it up anyway just to try it out and soon figured it comes with straps that can be slung over the roof of the van and pegged at the other side, thereby providing us with a quick fix until we got a ‘figure of 8’ strip. It worked quite well however we could have pitched the awning better…still, it lasted the night and provided great storage space.

Once were we were settled and fed it was time to get ready for bed. We were pretty good by now at getting the pop top up & down but this was pretty much our 1st time with the rock’n’roll bed, which turns out is really easy to set up. Me and my eldest daughter (K1) were in the pop top while my wife and youngest daughter (K2) had the bed. This was also our first time using my homemade thermal blinds, and they were a huge success I must say.

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Homemade thermal blinds, all for under £30 🙂

If anything it was too hot in the roof. I ended up opening the vents in the middle of the night. I also ended up out the sleeping bag trying to cool down! The only negative was that we didn’t have enough of a cushioned surface to sleep on in the roof. Ive heard the cushions off of ikea chairs make a good ‘make-do’ mattress…got one in the loft I will have to look out.  Other than that a decent enough sleep. Downstairs was comfy too, other than the dog jumping up and disturbing my wife sleep, will have to re-think dogs sleeping arrangement…

The next morning I was up bright and early as Eva (the dog) wanted out, and how lucky I was getting dragged out at stupid o’clock as the view down Loch Leven was breathtaking. After taking Eva a quick walk I quickly grabbed my camera and went back out for some photos. The mist was rolling in so quickly the scene was changing by the second. Here are a few of my pics (the don’t really do the scene justice tbh)

 

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Once we were all up and dressed, washed & fed, we decided just to get packed up and go for a walk around Glencoe Lochan, what a stunning wee Lochan, before heading home. Getting the awning back in the bag proved easier than we were expecting, and we were all packed up ready to go before long. All in all a successful 1st night away. Looking forward to more 🙂

A few pics from Glencoe Lochan, not at its best this day to be fair but usually a stunning place for a wee walk & photos.

Glencoe Road Trip

Saturday 20th February. Day trip to Glencoe in Nevis with my youngest daughter and my dad…3 generation road trip! 🙂

Weather wise it was a pretty miserable day, snowy, rainy, sleety, windy etc., but we had made our mind up to go so off we went. First stop was Tyndrum, I realised half way up Loch Lomond that we had forgot some deer snacks. A quick swing by The Green Welly Stop soon corrected that and we stocked up with some Rich Tea Biscuits. Sorted, they love them!

About 20 mins from Glencoe we stopped off at a lay-by as the wee yin was a bit peckish. Oh the flexibility you can have in a camper van, just pull into next lay-by and do what needs done no probs…get the wee yin a sandwich out the fridge, pop the kettle on for a coffee, nice and relaxed, no rush. Thirty minutes later we were driving through Rannoch Moor and then the majestic view of Buachaille Etive Mòr (the great herdsman of Etive) opens up before us. Even in this dreich weather its quite a site, as always. A quick pop into the Glencoe Mountain Resort for the wee yin to use the toilet then it was down to the Kings House Hotel to see if any deer were milling about the car park, and right on cue there was a herd of red deer hinds awaiting a wee snack. Unfortunately just as we got there the weather turned quite bad, blowing a gale and hailstones. My dad and daughter decided to wait in the car but I ran out and quickly fed some of the deer a handful of biscuits. In the space of a minute i was drenched and my face was stinging after getting blasted with hailstones, still, the deer were happy 🙂

The main port of call for today was a drive down the Glen Etive road. Its a stunning drive, one way in, one way out, all the way down to the head of Loch Etive. It was the first time my dad had been down this road and he really enjoyed it. There is quite a few famous wee spots down this road, one of them being from an image from a recent James Bond film trailer – Glen Etive in Skyfall

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I had to do it, ideally i wanted the wee yin next to me, she was to be M to my 007, but this pic does not relate just how windy it was, she was not for getting out the bongo!

Further on down the road is another famous spot for photographers, the bike shed. A very picturesque scene, a wee rundown shed with an old bike leaning against it. The bike had to be replaced a few years ago as the original, which was standing there for 40 odd years, was stolen. A local photographer stuck another old bike in its place to keep the tradition going.

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Its always a great drive down this road no matter the weather, and on this day we seen more deer than i have ever seen before along this road. I already had my 300mm lens on my camera in preparation for plenty of deer shots 🙂

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Young stag
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That massive rich tea biscuit he’s standing on is lip licking good 🙂
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I don’t mind these kind of road blocks at all 🙂

At the end of the road we pulled in to the wee car park at the head of Loch Etive and had our lunch in the Bongo. Soup and a sandwich and a coffee / hot chocolate. Still blowing a gale outside but my dad went a wee wander while I cooked up lunch. Needless to say the wee yin stayed put, still happy and having fun but just not getting out in that weather. After lunch we headed back up the road to the A82, not many stops on the way back, just a few to admire the multitude of deer, then a final toilet stop at the mountain resort before heading home. Overall a great day out, the wee yin and the auld yin enjoyed it and Nevis done us proud again. As a new bongo driver I’m still a bit nervous on big drives, and kind of relieved to get home in one piece and with the temperature gauge staying firm in the 11 o’clock position 🙂  Will that ever change though?

The Homecoming

Well, the day finally came and we picked up Nevis on Saturday. All went super smooth and before we knew it we were sitting eating chips overlooking the Clyde. It was a really dreich day but that did not deter us. We were having chips in the bongo that night come rain, hail or shine…well, there was definitely no shine, plenty of rain though.  We even braved the elements and had the roof up for a short time.  It was a very cosy affair with all four of us round the wee table eating our chippy, however a very enjoyable one. Day 1 was a success.

The next day saw us visiting the The Scottish Caravan, Camping & Motorhome Show. This had all the makings of being a financial disaster but we managed to keep our sensible heads on and our only purchase was a wee electric heater for the bongo. 99% of the camper vans there were VW’s and if we needed any convincing that we had made the right decision to go down the bongo route then this was it. How the VW’s can justify their price tags is beyond me. The only thing I seen that I felt could benefit Nevis is swivel seats, they do look good. Is that an option in a bongo?…I will have to research. We had our lunch in the car park so this was our first attempt at cooking in the bongo. I say cooking, we had forgot the pots so it was a pot noodle & crisps all round. Followed by a coffee. Our wee fold up kettle we purchased a week ago was in its element.

Troon beach was our destination the following day. A slight improvement in the weather but still too windy to put the roof up. I was hoping to get some nice pics of Nevis at the beach with the roof up but sadly not to be. That said the weather did not deter us and the kids and dog had a great time on the gloomy, yet dramatic beach.

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No such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes.

We then headed further along the coast to Portencross where we cooked up some soup for the girls and some mince for me. Loving cooking in the bongo and surprised at how easy we managed in such a small space. Teamwork was key and the girls mucked in brilliantly. Having the roof up would have helped but still far too windy. It was also the first time we had cooked in Nevis with Eva the beagle on board…and again surprisingly hassle free, the space being so tight she has no option really other than to mooch from under the table. Another successful day.

Today the girls were still off on school holidays so we ventured up to Aberfoyle. It was a lovely day today so finally I would get some decent photos of Nevis.

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Nevis

After cooking up some hotdogs for lunch we took Eva a walk around the woodland trails and also stopped at the wildlife hide for some photos:

 

It was then back to Nevis for coffee and hot chocolates, happy days. The kids are really enjoying the bongo and even tidied up and cleaned without being asked before we headed home, daughter no.1 was especially industrious…if only the same diligence could be applied to the state of her bedroom!

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So far so good in Bongo Land!

 

The Journey Begins.

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Tomorrow, we pick up Nevis. Its been a long 2 weeks since we made the decision to become ‘Bongonauts’ but I’m sure it will be worth the wait. The internet has been scoured for Bongo data and many Facebook ‘Bongo’ pages have been joined. Are we being paranoid or does every other post on Bongo forums start with “Help! we have a problem with <insert cringy bongo name>”.  The occasional “Phew! Billy’s passed his M.O.T” is thrown in to balance the scales of optimism. On the flip side though, watching many a happy Bongo owners homemade adventures on Youtube has reminded us why we are starting this journey. The Bongo ‘youtubers’ who video themselves giving you a tour of their beloved vans are heartwarming, the pride oozing from them as they show you a roof raising at the push of a button. Its clear to see the pull these wee vans can have on you.

Nevis (yep we have a cringy bongo name too) is a 1997 model, 2.5td automatic with 4 wheel drive and fitted with a camper van side conversion. No auto roof, but it does have a manually raising roof which sleeps 2 (I was so looking forward to videoing myself pushing that button!). We have also opted for the Easycamp Sebring 200 drive away awning, also supplied by the dealer.  We have resisted rushing out and buying loads of stuff for Nevis’s homecoming, however that decision was probably driven by the fact that the day after tomorrow we are going to the Scottish Caravan, Motorhome and Holiday home show…timing could have been better!

So the journey begins tomorrow, we already have a few trips planned, the possibilities really do seem endless at the moment. Will that still be the case once the five of us (mum, dad, 2 daughters and a Beagle) have spent a night away together in Nevis?…time will tell.

To be continued…