Monday, 21 April 2014

Sending gifts whilst abroad

Need to send a gift to someone abroad but fed up with the high postage charges or the expensive gift websites on line?

Save money by using one of the regular supermarkets and stores that offer on line ordering and a delivery service.

This way you get everyday prices and just pay the standard delivery charge, usually between £3.50 and £6 (sometimes free if you can get an on line coupon) on top of the cost of the item.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

MOTORHOME NO 9 - Milly a Bedford "C" class in South Africa

Meet our one and only female named van (after Camilla) and what a bitch she was so males only from now on !

Milly was a 1988 Bedford Pioneer motorhome.  Dual real wheels and pretty sturdy although basic.  The layout was a "U" shaped lounge at the back which made a superb bed, fore of this a kitchen on one side then wardrobe and bathroom on the other.  The toilet was the very basic porta poti type.  Just behind the cab was a single dining area with seats on either side of the vehicle and this could make a single bed.  There was an overcab bed but the mattress was very thin so we didn't use it.

Sourcing a motorhome in South Africa was not easy as they are few and far between and relatively expensive.  By luck I found this for sale at a caravan dealer in Pietermaritzburg and as usual agreed to buy it unseen.

We paid Rand 64950 which at the time was about £4200.  The biggest problem seemed to be with the starter motor which twice had to be removed and reconditioned.  7 months into the trip we found out the fridge was wired in to the starter and draining it immediately, once rewired we had no further problems.  Other problems were all things that could be fixed cheaply and easily but just caused delays.  One good thing about an old basic van in Southern African countries is that they can botch just about anything. In Botswana the radiator hose burst and they inserted a metal pipe and connected it with jubilee clips.

We had Milly for 9 months and toured in South Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Botswana.  Absolutely loved having a motorhome over there.  Most of the time we stayed on campsites for safety but they were all reasonably priced and had great facilities.  Driving in the National Parks was amazing, in Kruger we stayed for about £10 a night in the same parks as the expensive lodges and we were able to use their swimming pool and eat at the same restaurant.

Nearing the end of the trip we went to a South African motorhome rally and were bombarded with people wanting to buy Milly.  It seems like these people had the slightly smaller version with single rear wheels and the instability had caused many accidents so they wanted our type.

Now here's the funny part of the story, whilst on the bus from Johannesburg to Pietermartizburg to collect the van we got chatting to Diana, a passenger, who invited us to visit them on their farm in the north of the country.  We did this and whilst there they fell in love with Milly and asked for first refusal when we sold her.  After being approached by people at the rally (and being offered amazing prices) we went back to  Diana and explained the situation and agreed to sell Milly to her for Rand 69500.  We came to that figure by working out roughly what it had cost us in terms of repairs and expenses to kit it out and buy new curtains and seat covers.   However the exchange rate had turned against us so in real terms we only just got the purchase price back but needless to say were happy with that as we expect to lose money on motorhomes.

Were it not for our health problems we would both have gone back in the future for another visit as we enjoyed it so much.

Motorhome number 8 in Australia

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Dental floss, a travellers best friend

Whilst I do use dental floss for general oral health and for removing bits of food that are stuck between teeth there are many other things it can be used for and is well worth taking on a trip.

First find a needle with an eye big enough to thread the dental floss through.  I keep this needle inside the dental floss dispenser.
Armed with the needle your dental floss becomes a sewing thread that is extremely strong and can be used for repairs on backpacks (including stitching through the teeth of a zip that were fraying from the zip itself), clothing, shoes, tents and more.  If you need a finer thread most floss can be untwisted to create three strands.
Make temporary shoe laces from it.
Fasten your hair back.
Use it to fasten the tops of bags.
If there is no lock on your room door you may be able to run a thread from the door handle to something in the room to secure it.
Tie baggage to something secure or yourself when on public transport.
Repair broken jewellery or even make your own jewellery with it.


Feel free to fill in comments if you know of any other really good uses.

This has to be one of the bargains of the year in terms of value, usability, size and weight - why travel without it?  

Saturday, 12 April 2014

MOTORHOME NUMBER 8 - Billy, A Hi Ace pop top in Australia

In September 2002 we were heading for Australia.  Without seeing it we agreed to buy a 1988 Toyota Hi Ace pop top campervan from some friends.  We didn't think it would really suit us but would give us a vehicle and accommodation whilst we found something bigger and better when we could use it as a trade in.

Continuing with our Royal theme we named this one "Billy" after Prince William.  Little did we know that we would grow to love "Billy" and keep him for 4 years.  We agreed a price of Aus $8000 which at the time equated to £3040.  It was in good condition, had done about 190,000km but the interior was somewhat dated.

The layout suited us well as you could have 2 sofas in the back with a dining table in between or make it up as a large bed 5' wide and 6' 6" long.  We left the bed made up most of the time as we found we

Monday, 7 April 2014



We always encourage people to do things sooner rather than later and this circular I received today is a good example of why -

A friend of mine opened his wife's underwear drawer and picked up a silk paper wrapped package:

'This, - he said - isn't any ordinary package.'

He unwrapped the box and stared at both the silk paper and the box.

'She got this the first time we went to New York, 8 or 9 years ago. She has never put it on , was saving it for
a special occasion.

Well, I guess this is it.

He got near the bed and placed the gift box next to the other clothing he was taking to the funeral house, his wife had just died.

He turned to me and said:

'Never save something for a special occasion.

Every day in your life is a special occasion'.

I still think those words changed my life.

Now I read more and clean less.