Renovations - the Early Years

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Re: Renovations - the Early Years

Post by LizG » 16 Oct 2016, 06:56

Tizer wrote:You must have been eating three Weetabix for breakfast to have all that stamina!
This made me laugh; my son used to eat 9 for breakfast when he was 12!!
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Re: Renovations - the Early Years

Post by Wendyf » 16 Oct 2016, 07:17

I have been searching out the caravan and Ardnamurchan photos but when I tried to scan them yesterday the scanner & my laptop weren't speaking to each other, I will try again this morning!

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Re: Renovations - the Early Years

Post by Wendyf » 16 Oct 2016, 09:38

The scanner is speaking to me again. :grin:

We formed a Caravan Group consisting of 8 adults and 4 young boys and our first task was to visit the site before it closed for the winter. Late September 1982 we set off en masse for a weekend at Ardnamurchan Point
The drive up was magical then and remained magical for all the years we went. Even now if I can't sleep I sometimes try and follow the route in my head. Up the M9 towards Stirling, then left on the A84 through Callander (a favourite stopping point, there and back, to feast on delicious fish & chips) through Lochearnhead and A85/82 to Crainlarich, Tyndrum, Bridge of Orchy and up onto Rannoch Moor and Glen Coe. Reaching the bridge at Ballachulish you began to think that it wasn't too far now....but it was! We always filled up with petrol at Onich, hoping that we weren't going to miss the last ferry. Once you had made it across Loch Linnhe on the Corran Ferry the final 15 miles or so out to the Point on single track roads took another 2 hours...

This is the view that greeted us when we arrived that first time...its not a good photo, but it gives a general idea.

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We set up camp..

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...and quickly decided to get a rental agreement signed with the site owner! The bay was privately owned, and we would have access to three glorious beaches, rock pools galore and that glorious bay, all dominated by the presence of the lighthouse. There would eventually be a about a dozen caravans dotted around, but we hardly ever saw anyone else on the site, except in mid summer. There wasn't a car ferry from Kilchoan to Tobermory back then, just a small passenger boat so there were very few tourists who made it as far as the lighthouse.
All we needed now was the caravan...

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Re: Renovations - the Early Years

Post by PanBiker » 16 Oct 2016, 10:06

LizG wrote:
Tizer wrote:You must have been eating three Weetabix for breakfast to have all that stamina!
This made me laugh; my son used to eat 9 for breakfast when he was 12!!
That's very good going Liz.

When Sally was expecting our Dan she used to do nearly a full box every day. She had them dry as well as with milk. At the time they were running the advert with Ian Botham who proclaimed that "no one could eat four". She wrote and told them that he was a wimp as even a pregnant Yorkshire lass could do better than that! They sent us vouchers for the equivalent of a gross of Weetabix, kept her going for a couple of weeks. :grin:
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Re: Renovations - the Early Years

Post by Tizer » 16 Oct 2016, 10:35

If she was eating them dry too she must have been consuming a lot of extra liquid or she would have been badly constipated. Dietary fibre works by absorbing a lot of water to create bulk and give soft stools. Without the water it causes constipation.

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Re: Renovations - the Early Years

Post by Wendyf » 16 Oct 2016, 10:38

I don't know, I'm in the middle of a story about the joys of Ardnamurchan and you all start chatting about Weetabix and constipation!! :laugh5:

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Re: Renovations - the Early Years

Post by PanBiker » 16 Oct 2016, 10:55

Didn't do her any harm Tiz, our Dan was 9lb 12oz when he decided to come out to the sound of the floral dance. :grin:

Sorry Wendy, I'll get you back on topic. A few years later when we camped up in the area Carla and Dan were quite young they noted very well how long the journey was, about every 5 minutes, "are we there yet dad", "not far now kids, have a little sleep". :wink: It's a long way but fabulous scenery.
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Re: Renovations - the Early Years

Post by Wendyf » 16 Oct 2016, 11:12

We got to know children's story tapes exceptionally well!
A caravan site near Musselborough was advertising some end of season caravans for sale so we went to see them. The oldest and cheapest looked good to us, it was sturdy and, best of all, it had a tiny little solid fuel stove. I can't remember how much we paid, probably a couple of hundred pounds, perhaps they should have paid us to take it away!
It spent the winter half tucked underneath Alan & Jennie's barn and we all spent weekends working on it. Colin was in an experimental stage of developing his own b&w photos around this time, and so the quality varies!

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Everything inside was stripped out ready for a rebuild.

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At that time my brother was working for Bessacar caravans in Conisbrough near Doncaster and he allowed us to raid their obsolete and damaged stock warehouse. :smile:
Colin & friend Alan returned from a trip south loaded up with goodies including a gas oven and sink unit, foot pump for the water, window catches, skylights etc etc. There was a also a bolt of Harris Tweed wool in garish yellow & green checks that was used to cover 12 foam mattresses, make 2 sets of full length curtains to divide up the sleeping quarters with yards still left over.

New internal panels..

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We put bunks in all 4 corners of the van, you could stack children 3 high with our ladder- rack bunk system.

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And a basic kitchen

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The outside was repaired and repainted...by spring 1983 we were ready to go.

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Re: Renovations - the Early Years

Post by Stanley » 17 Oct 2016, 03:00

That trick of driving a route in your head is one of my mind relaxing tricks as well. And you're right about the drive. When Mary and I were going to Eigg regularly we went up the west coast through Glasgow. Her great uncle worked for the firm who built the Ballachulish bridge so she was always glad to see that. My favourite was the rainbow bridge on the moor as you headed towards Glencoe. If the road was empty I would floor it and hit it as fast as possible..... (I know, but I liked it!) Roughly 350 miles and as good a drive for scenery overall as you'll find anywhere.

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Lovely spot......
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Re: Renovations - the Early Years

Post by LizG » 17 Oct 2016, 05:47

Wendy, you and Colin were obviously born to renovate. We don't do it very well so we just have to buy new!!
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Re: Renovations - the Early Years

Post by Wendyf » 17 Oct 2016, 07:53

I'm just a passenger Liz! Though I have enjoyed it all, especially when we are living in a complete mess...I cant cope with being neat and tidy! :laugh5: My Mum & Dad always used to say that if I had a choice between an easy way and a difficult one I would choose difficult every time...

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Re: Renovations - the Early Years

Post by Wendyf » 17 Oct 2016, 08:37

We all set off again, this time following the caravan on it's slow and perilous journey. It got a bit hairy on the single track road! There was one place in particular where it got a bit scary, on a blind bend where the road was cut out of the rock on the edge of Loch Sunart, do you remember Stanley?

Through Glen Coe in lousy weather!

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Arriving at Grigadale. Phew.

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Tucked into position behind a sheltering rock..not the prettiest site but that rock sheltered the van from westerly winds and provided a wonderful place to sit out with a glass of wine (or bottle, or even box...)

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This was the view from the front window.

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In this photo you can see that the hill behind us is the same one as in Stanley's shot from the lighthouse. A toilet tent to start with but we soon had a shed attached for the toilet and storage...it had a wonderful smell of creosote and Racasan that I'll remember forever!!

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And the sun came out...

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Re: Renovations - the Early Years

Post by Stanley » 18 Oct 2016, 04:10

You're right about that road being challenging..... I had one of the old 'Uncle' Ford Granada Ghias, a superb car but the coils springs were a bit tired so I fitted new ones. The front springs were a bit too stiff and until they settled in the nose cocked up a bit. No problem on normal roads, you soon got used to it but when we went on that road with its sharp humps I couldn't see the road so Mary had to stand like a tank commender with her upper body poking out of the sunshine roof to get a view of whether anything was coming in the opposite direction!
You're right about taking advantage of any shelter. When we called in with the camper we used the cottages as a wind break!

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Perfect shelter! It was November and we had a full gale that night. Wonderful seascapes but if we'd been in the open it would have been a bit hairy!
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Re: Renovations - the Early Years

Post by LizG » 18 Oct 2016, 05:47

My daughter is a renovator. When she bought her first 'renovator's delight' I went to the auction. It was the first time I'd seen it and I honestly felt like sobbing in a corner. We had to duck as the swallows flew around inside the house because a lot of the windows were missing. The bathroom was indescribable and the kitchen was even worse. It consisted of one tap and a metal sink. Not even a cupboard or benchtop.

It was beautiful when they sold it to buy the next place. She moved from that to a caravan on 140 acres and started again!!
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Re: Renovations - the Early Years

Post by Marilyn » 18 Oct 2016, 06:14

What a massive (massive!) and heavy looking van.
I am amazed it moved. We like "compact", "light" yet "robust". I'm sat here looking around our little van with it's "space for everything, but it relies on our combined neat streak to function efficiently". Even though I've been confined to it for a week now, I wouldn't change a thing. It all works...wonderfully.
But I love the locations you are showing. How beautiful.
( nicer than where we are now!)

Did you have your little lad by this point, Wendy?

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Re: Renovations - the Early Years

Post by Wendyf » 18 Oct 2016, 06:44

The van was the maximum length for towing Maz, but it wasn't a pleasant experience! It made a wonderful basic holiday home though, and lasted over ten years before it got beyond repair. We replaced it with an ordinary static van brought in on the back of a transporter...it had bedrooms and a shower and carpets etc and completely lacked the charm of our original van!
Craig hadn't arrived in our lives yet, though we were going through the adoption process. Col & I had one glorious week up there before our lives were changed forever!

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Re: Renovations - the Early Years

Post by Wendyf » 18 Oct 2016, 06:47

Stanley, I had the same problem with vision driving our friends Marina Estate up there once, loaded up with 4 boys and everything we needed for a few days. That had a huge bonnet sticking up in the air.

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Re: Renovations - the Early Years

Post by Tizer » 18 Oct 2016, 09:08

Marilyn wrote:What a massive (massive!) and heavy looking van. I am amazed it moved. We like "compact", "light" yet "robust".
Are these more like what you prefer, Maz? Caravans

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Re: Renovations - the Early Years

Post by Stanley » 19 Oct 2016, 04:09

Mary and I got into a routine, I would say "Up Periscope" and Mary would leap into action. Good job she was a tall lass and we had a big sunshine roof......

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Re: Renovations - the Early Years

Post by Marilyn » 20 Oct 2016, 02:26

They were probably the height of luxury in their day, Tizer.
We always do an evening walk around wherever we are staying to look at all the different vans/campers/tents and trailers folk have. Some are really rugged and built for rough terrain whilst others are quite luxurious. (Where we were the other night having "water wars", some had sides that opened with washing machines inside. Honestly...to me...what is the point of getting away for a while if you are going to take all that rubbish with you? We have a plastic tub with a well fitting lid. Throw your clothes in there with some water and suds...chuck it in the stairwell of the side door...and with the movement of travel the clothes wash themselves by the time you get to the next camp. Rinse when you get there. Done!)
We have a washing line that pulls out from thr van.
I cook and freeze meals before we go. Just have to thaw and throw in the oven. Easy! Camp grounds have kitchens and BBQ areas. This particular one has 4 big pizza ovens too.

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Re: Renovations - the Early Years

Post by Stanley » 20 Oct 2016, 02:56

That sounds like a sensible attitude to me Marilyn....
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Re: Renovations - the Early Years

Post by Tizer » 25 Oct 2016, 10:23

Having seen Wendy's photos of their early days of houses I think she'll like these pics of the people at Tinker's Bubble near Montacute in Somerset. I love the photo of all those pans on the `wall'... LINK

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Re: Renovations - the Early Years

Post by LizG » 25 Oct 2016, 21:01

Marilyn wrote: some had sides that opened with washing machines inside. Honestly...to me...what is the point of getting away for a while if you are going to take all that rubbish with you?
Don't knock it till you've tried it Maz. I was cynical too until we got our latest caravan. It came with a washing machine built into the bathroom and it's incredibly useful. We use it as a dirty washing basket and when it's full turn it on. When you're away for a few weeks at a time it saves a fortune on using the laundry in a caravan park.
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Re: Renovations - the Early Years

Post by Stanley » 26 Oct 2016, 03:16

Liz, that's how I use my washing machine all the time!
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Re: Renovations - the Early Years

Post by Wendyf » 26 Oct 2016, 08:18

Tizer wrote:Having seen Wendy's photos of their early days of houses I think she'll like these pics of the people at Tinker's Bubble near Montacute in Somerset. I love the photo of all those pans on the `wall'... LINK
Lovely stuff! Thanks for the link Tiz. We were very drawn to a simple lifestyle and I still keep a well stocked shelf of books on self sufficiency. The trouble was we weren't really "hippy" types at all....much too down to earth and sensible! Colin was getting increasingly involved with electronics & computers and that started to draw his attention away from thoughts of a simple life.

We always took an extra child up to the caravan as company for Craig, it made life a lot easier! I've put these photos up before, but it gives an idea of how well everything worked! No TV, radio or phones, here are Craig & his pal Mary playing clock patience.

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Waiting for the barbecue and washing pebbles...(I know, I look a bit ragged on this one...who cared?)

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A glorious bay to ourselves.

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The restored caravan lasted us for about 12 years before the floor finally rotted and no one had the time or energy to spend time repairing it. it was replaced by a "proper" static caravan with bedrooms, bathroom and other fancy stuff...it was no where near as much fun and the roof blew off after a couple of winters so it got replaced again...I think that one is still in place. After about 15 years of wonderful holidays and weekends up there in various family and friend combinations Col & I decided to withdraw from the arrangement. We found it increasingly hard to find time when the caravan was free from visitors once our friend's sons reached their late teens, early twenties and started going up by themselves. They weren't brilliant at leaving it clean & tidy either! Our lives had moved in other directions, so it was easy to back out without any unpleasantness. Shelagh & Vera, two unmarried sisters who were part of the original team dropped out at the same time as us.

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