First night in the new van

Our shakedown trip is the easiest possible option, a night at Pinaroo Point. We didn’t invite friends to join us in the morning because we wanted to have this first experience on our own. Next time…

We are having a cool spell at the moment, with daytime temperatures below 30 degrees. Although we brought our bathers we weren’t expecting to feel like swimming.

We are feeling how small our living space is compared with the Winnie. Although we have everything we need it is in a much smaller space. The bed is comfortable enough, but I think it would be very hard without our IKEA topper. The topper does move a bit as we get out of the bed, but doesn’t slide as much as it did in the Winnie.

After sunset at the beach last night we walked along the path for a little while. The wind was cool and we needed our jumpers.

As in our smaller vans in the past it is best to only have one person moving at a time. We learned how to use the automatic locking (a button on the dash) to lock all of the doors at once whilst we are in the van, and that using a key to open any of the doors disables it.

As usual, we felt quite safe here overnight. There were some other vans here and we realised why they parked against the edge where there is vegetation. We now have a small car parked behind us, making it a bit tricky to get into the back to switch off our gas this morning.

There was enough light overnight that we didn’t need to use an internal light when we got up in the night. We had the windows slightly open, with insect screens in place as the wind died down later in the evening and we were getting a few bugs.

We had washes last night in our tiny bathroom, and this morning I had a kind of a shower, switching the water on and off a lot. It is quite lovely, even in such a tiny space. We have a small towel especially for drying off the walls and floor. The shower curtain covers the cupboards and I also covered the toilet. Quite easy really. With the window open the shower curtain dried off quickly afterwards.

This beach is a popular place for fishing. This morning there is also a big gathering of people meeting for a service, carols, picnic and games. They seem to be having a great time, going on the noise. Even though the maximum today is only in the high twenties the car park is very busy. We woke up to our 6.30 a.m. alarm, but would probably have been woken up by noise anyway.

We stayed at Pinaroo Point until lunchtime, which gave me time to blog. Then we went up to Mullaloo where there are a couple of cafes. We had a bacon and egg roll, shared, and milky drinks at the Dome. Back at the van we rested until tea time (3ish). About 4.00 pm I decided that the water looked enticing and went for a swim. The lifeguards were just packing up when I arrived at the beach, a pity since the waves were getting quite big. I took heart from seeing a mother with two young kids playing in the surf and stayed until there were just too many large waves one after another with any gaps.

We drove home feeling that our first trip in the new van was a big success and we are looking forward to more.

On the Monday before Christmas we went into town to see the lights and to go to a carols service at St George’s Cathedral. They were having it on three nights, the church was fairly packed, but they also had a hall set up with a camera on the ‘stage’ so that people could see inside the cathedral and join in. The cobbled together (from the Gospels) Christmas story provided the linkage between carols, some sung just by the choir, and some with the rest of us joining in. We noticed quite a lot of noise from outside and at the end found out that there were images being projected on the outside of the cathedral and lots of families were there enjoying the show. Across the road at Council House there are huge animals in lights.

Here are some images from before the service. We walked through town from Northbridge to the cathedral.

St George’s Cathedral

Blondie is finally at home, minus her name

Things did not go smoothly during the handover yesterday morning, of course. The person handling it was Simon, a much better person to talk us through the ins and outs of our van than Ali our salesman. We found that Ali had made a mistake, the hot water system was not the combi version with van heating. Not that this is a major issue for us. It was more a ‘nice to have’ item than a deal breaker. However, Ali had to give us some sweeteners to make up for his mistake. We would have liked a cash refund, but instead have $250 to spend at their expensive RV shop and will get our first vehicle warranty service, due at 25,000 kms, for free.

The vehicle was serviced before handover, but has over a year of new car warranty to run, something that actually is very important to us.

We had been watching YouTube videos about the operation of various aspects of the van, but seeing them in action was so much better. Simon was patient and thorough, but also said that he didn’t want to overwhelm us with too much information, there was a lot we could work out for ourselves as we use the van.

We ended up using some of our store credit on a waste water hose, which required an extra fitting. Stephen found a small flapping piece of something underneath the van which they also took care of. We bought some toilet liquid. But have some store credit left for later. Ali kept urging us to spend the money on things we didn’t need.

When we arrived home we were very tired and hungry.

I opened a few windows before we went into the house for lunch. It wa a cool day, but the sun was hot. When I went to close them later found that we were too close to the wall to actually get one of them shut again. It has to open fully to release and close. A bit of panic but moving the van slightly forward and away from the wall allowed us to close it.

We had already arranged to meet with Eversley at City Beach for tea. This gave us a chance to go for a drive together. We did our usual two for three ordering at the restaurant which left us a bit hungry and needing deserts. Two for three again. We even shared a pot of tea for two between us. The food was expensive, but location on the beach is wonderful.

We took a walk along the beach path afterwards as the sun was setting. The beach was crowded, the sea quite rough, and it was very beautiful of course.

Having got used to thinking of the van as Blondie, we weren’t quite prepared for George Day Caravans to remove the name. We’re not sure what to do. Do we stick with that name, or come up with something different.

They put a very large sticker of their own on the back of the van, which we plan to remove. We don’t mind the discreet badge near the door, but the sign is too much.

We’ve begun watch a YouTube channel by an English couple who are planning to drive a van much like ours around the world. We are watching their preparation videos at the moment. They will set off early in January. The trip includes shipping the van to Australia from Vladivostok, some travel here, then shipping it to the USA. That’s pretty expensive, but they may get some sponsorships from businesses if their channel becomes very popular. They already have a sponsor for the ferry to Europe.

We don’t plan on doing anything quite that adventurous. It’s very expensive to ship a van to another country, cheaper if you can fit it into a container, but still expensive. But as we set up our van for travelling we are anticipating all the trips we can do in our own state and the rest of Australia.

Christmas Symphony Concert

It hasn’t been too bad for us during the heatwave conditions here in Perth. If we are out during the day it is usually for a fairly short time before getting back into air conditioning. On Friday and Saturday evening we didn’t get to the venue until around 6.30 p.m. when it was a pleasant temperature. I took a jacket both nights, but didn’t need it. Today is part of a ‘cool change’, only 36 degrees maximum, with an afternoon sea breeze. Cooler than 40 plus as it’s been for three days in a row. The forecast was for four days of 40 or over in a row, but the first one only peaked at 39.

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The dress rehearsal (which wasn’t really as the performers wore casual clothes), but was a run through of the concer was much better for listening to the music I found because on Saturday night the people around me hadn’t actually come to listen to the music, just to picnic and socialise. I was looking forward to being able to enjoy the concert, but actually found that Friday night was a better experience though we missed out on some of the pageantry.

On Saturday we had a Christmas Lunch at Matt’s house, starting at 1.30 p.m. I think it was to fit in with staff rosters, with overlap of morning and afternoon shifts, but it worked out well for us as we didn’t have to have an evening meal before heading into town. On both evenings Stephen was sitting behind another choir member, blocking most of his face. We saw him on camera once, but it was too quick for me to get a photo.

They had one camera flying through the air. At first I thought it was a drone, surprising because there are rules about flying over people. However, it became clear that it was on a wire, like a flying fox. The concert is filmed and appears on screens throughout the Langley Park area. We’ve sat quite a long way back from the stage in other years, still able to enjoy the music because of the large speakers and the screens.

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Yesterday we mostly just rested in our cool house, going out for a walk after sunset. We could feel the effects of the sea breeze even though the temperature was still about 30 degrees.

We are planning to step up our morning swims to two per week. First for the week was this morning, and we are feeling very refreshed.

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Santa dropped in, of course.

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The End

On the way home from the concert Saturday night the bus we caught had no air conditioning. We planned to change buses at the Causeway, but fortunately a passenger thought to ask the driver why we were sitting in the heat. We can’t open windows on our buses. It took only a few minutes for the air to become refreshingly cool once it was switched on. Funny sort of driver, but they sit in an enclosed area and he might not have realised that we weren’t getting cool air.


‘None will break ranks, though nations trek from progress…’

This is me feeling pretty depressed after the UK election has been thumpingly won by the conservatives. Despite the Democrats drawing up of the articles of impeachment on Trump there is little hope that he will actually be impeached, since the Republicans, including the ones that were totally scathing about him before he was elected, now appear to stand behind him totally. And we have our own conservative Prime Minister, a religious nutcase, with no apparent capacity to understand science, standing firm against  doing anything about human induced climate change despite the devastating drought and bushfires. He offers ‘thoughts and prayers’ as if they actually help.

Very depressing. The above quote is from Wilfred Owens Strange Meeting

I’ve just watched a video of someone driving in Scotland in a van like our new one, which reminds me of why driving in the UK is so terrifying. Mind you, our mountain roads a really scary as well. We are still waiting to pick up our new  van, Friday next week, and the time in that sense seems to be passing really slowly.

We have been very busy and look forward to having some quiet time after Christmas. Stephen is singing in the Christmas Symphony Concert at Langley Park tomorrow night and some of us are going to the dress rehearsal tonight. Of course, it’s ideal weather for it as it shouldn’t get cold, as it sometimes does after sunset. With more 40 degree days forecast the nights stay warm.

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moonrise from the Crawley Foreshore last night

The light was very pink because of the smoke from a bushfire north of the city. Not too dangerous at this stage, but the strong winds and continuing very hot weather makes all of us nervous, not just those who live in that area.

This is just after the tragedy on White Island in New Zealand. We tourists seem to think we are imune to dangers when we are travelling and take foolish risks – Stephen and I’ve been guilty of it as well sometimes. Of course, the tour company is at fault, but the more they get away with taking tourists to dangerious locations the more they must feel that it’s a minor risk.

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A busy week and an exciting, stressful day Saturday

Stephen sang in the Verdi Requiem on Friday and Saturday nights and had rehearsals on the four preceding nights. Pretty intense! Although this is my least favourite requiem if you think,of it as an opera it makes sense. Eversley and I went Saturday night and I noticed for the first time that there are sections that are voice only, with the orchestra standing by. Quite unusual.

As well as learning his music, etc. we also decided to put the Winnie on Gumtree to see if we could sell it. I took some interior shots with a wide angle lens and used exterior shots from our travels. The advert went up on Tuesday and we had a serious offer by the evening. Part of our reason for selling is the feeling that as we are getting older the van is just too big. So, of course, the people who were serious about actually buying the van are older than us, downsizing from a caravan. They wanted a van with two sleeping areas as they are not used to sleeping together.

After viewing the van on Wednesday, I think, they made an offer that evening. It was just above our bottom price, quite good in fact. After being told that we wouldn’t get much for it, this was a nice feeling.

The buyers came back on Saturday to have a test drive and pick up the van. They paid by bank cheque, which we take to be a secure method of payment. It was a long handover process, and we are left with not only a sense of relief, but feeling happy that other people will now be able to enjoy having such a comfortable van. We certainly wish them well.

Getting our bottom line price opened up possibilities for a replacement. We had a choice of going very small, no shower and a porta Potti for a toilet, or a short van with a combined shower/toilet. We have been considering our options since we came home from England and were still undecided. Our bed in the Winnie was small and fairly enclosed, something we enjoyed more than we thought we would. That opened up the,possibility of a van with a dinette in the front and an east/west bed in the rear. This would allow us to buy quite a short van that is not only easier to drive, but which we can park in our spare parking bay next to the house.

After a long discussion going into all of the pros and cons of a very small van, we came to the conclusion that a medium van would work best. Although we like to snuggle together at night, having two living spaces allows for a bit more separation when Stephen wants to read after I go to bed at night.

One of the options was to buy a fairly new van, hopefully still under warranty. On Saturday morning I saw one advertised and after our long handover, I suggested we go to the dealer to have a look at it. And after a thorough walk through and some haggling between Stephen and the salesman (I’m not sure who won, but I hadn’t expect a reduction of almost $4000 on their asking price). It feels like a win.

This morning we found out that we can’t pick it up until the 18th December. It has to have the licence plates changed to WA, a service and thorough clean, and a new flexible arm for the TV which presently blocks one of the overhead cupboards. Plus the handover typically takes at least an hour and needs to be booked well in advance.

It is an Adria 600 SP, and I’d be worried about the lighter build of this European campervan except that it has already done 19,000 kilometres of travel across Australia from Queensland. This suggests that it’s well built and can cope with Australian conditions. It still has a year of new car warranty. And, it will fit into the parking space next to our house.

We also need to arrange our finances, but could pick up the van by the end of the week. Still, it’s good to have a waiting period to adjust. I don’t have any regrets about selling the Winnie. From the time on our last long trip in the Winnie earlier this year I have feeling the responsibility of driving the large heavy van and wishing we had something smaller and lighter. Plus all the maintenance was getting me down.

Matt and I went to Floreat Beach for morning tea on Thursday. He takes photos with a steep slope, I guess we could call this his signature style. I don’t dare try to straighten it. Of course, my photos sometimes have a bit of a slope as well. If I notice, I do correct them.

Life continues to be very busy, with two Working Voices rehearsals this week, plus the WASO Chorus is now preparing for their Christmas Symphony concert. Matt starts regular surfing again on Saturday morning and has a one off racing car experience booked for Sunday. He’s only been once before and had a wonderful time.