It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright) Sun-Shiny day

Sun-Shiny day

Today was forecast as a brilliant day, and so it was.  The sun shone into the van at an early hour, but we were awake, the peacock had seen to that.  We left early picking up the bread and pain au chocolat as we left the campsite for the 9.11 bus into St Peter Port.  This arrived on time and we were whisked to our destination via the hospital.  Today we were catching the 10.30 ferry to Herm.  It should be a lovely day there.  Seems many others thought the same, as the ferry filled up.

The tide was low and we arrived at the steps and not the harbour.  More steps and we were on our counter clockwise walk around the island.  The first part is on the cliffs where bracken grows rather too profusely, smothering most other vegetation.  Various flowers were spotted and photographed as we walked around, although I did not photo the brromrape.

We stopped for tea at a Kiosk on a small beach where we had seen people swimming in late October. Today despite the warm sun, there was only one intrepid elderly couple dipping their toes into the sea.  Umbrellas and sun worshippers were in evidence. 

We continued to Shell Beach where we ate lunch.  Rosemary started her shell hunt.  As one couple said, the shells and sand urchins were small.  I ventured out onto the rocks and took a few photographs around the area.  A few other photographers were in evidence, one keen woman with a professional Canon lens.  It was always interesting to try and see what she had been photographing.   Many times, I was mystified.

We walked the rest of Shell Beach to the furthest point from the landing steps, when Rosemary announced we were to catch the 3.35 home, and we had 35 minutes to walk back.  We did make it in plenty of time, and thankfully our hurry meant we did not have to spend time in the shop.

Back to the camp site on the 81 bus.  I said we were going to Candie Road, was perplexed when the driver said, that’s just up the hill. He was soon stopping and telling us we had arrived.  No I said, the other Candie Road, just before the Little Chapple.  OK the road was named Rue du Candie, so technically I was wrong.

More cider was drunk at the campsite, and then we discovered someone new had arrived and they were parked in their VW next to us.☹

Some good photo opportunities as the sun set on the campsite, missed most of those.

 

I’m a honeybee, breaking your heart, broke mine enough to kill me

Cobo Bay, Guernsey

Cobo Bay, Guernsey

We had planned to go to Herm Island today.  The weather, though dry, was not sunny.  Thursday according to the weather gurus was likely to be better.  So, instead we lounged around the campsite reading books, drinking tea and making lunch. We went for a short walk around the campsite looking at the sheep, chickens, turkeys, pigs and ducks.  The turkeys had chicks, the very protective mother was most concerned as we stood by.  They were protected in a cage on the field because if they weren’t, the gulls would come in for a quick meal.  The pigs were all rare breeds with a couple of Old Spot (and others I have no idea of now).  We missed two piglets but we saw them later when we came back from our afternoon walk.

Enough lounging about was enough, so off we went for a walk to Cobo Bay trying to keep to green lanes and the ruettes tranquilles.  We arrived and had tea at one of the famous Guernsey Kiosks, the Cobo Bay one, with me further treating myself to a Classic Magnum as we left. 

The walk back took us a different, slightly shorter route which passed two Island fortifications we have never seen before.  Both were not marked on our Guernsey maps.  Maybe we should update to a newer version. They are obviously proud of these fortifications with the new signs and historical notes.

Guernsey Honeybees

Guernsey Honey Bees

Guernsey Honeybee keeper

Guernsey Honeybee keeper

Arrived back at the campsite to what looked like a swarm of midges which must have been awakened by the warmth and sunshine appearing during our walk.  We decided on a bottle of cold, local cider (6%) brewed not more than a few hundred yards from away.   Nope they were not midges, they were  Guernsey Honeybees doing their swarming bit. (Perhaps from the apple orchard making our cider?)  The owner of the orchard was contacted and arrived, donned his kit and captured the honeybees, placing them in a box.  Quite exciting.  One of the campsite’s two young Border Collies managed to get a bee entangled in her tail and was quite subdued & anxious until the insect was found and removed.

I’m waitin’, waitin’ on a sunny day, Gonna chase the clouds away

The predicted cloudy day started off with sunshine, soon descending into cloud.  We had already made the decision not to go to Herm, but instead go for lunch at The Auberge.  The French children had already packed to go, one night at the campsite, what were they here for?

We caught the bus into town, making the mandatory pass through the hospital.  We changed to a second bus to Jerbourg where the restaurant is.  Again, making a trip through the hospital.  Yes, we went past the hospital four times today.   Most bus routes appear to go through the hospital now.  The car park at the hospital, and the connections to the rest of the island must make it one of the best places to park when commuting on Guernsey.  (Well, if you could find somewhere to park.)

At Jerbourg I started my mandatory run down the steps and path to the point, only to be stopped by path closed signs and a dug-up bridge leading to the lighthouse.  Back up the steps again to be greeted by Rosemary shaking her head (as to why I hadn’t made it all the way down), and a tour bus from the Norwegian Jade who was anchored off the coast.  I did wonder how many of the 2,700 passengers took tours of the island.  I somehow doubt there is much extra transport capacity on the island.  Is it expected that most passengers will mooch around St Peter Port? Guernsey is said to be the last duty free stop before returning to the UK. Cruise liners are not able to anchor off Jersey.

Short walk down the road to The Auberge where we ate lunch.  Cocktails while we ordered and then a lovely meal from the lunch time menu, and a bottle of wine.  Back on the buses through the hospital twice more and then on home to sit outside to read (R), snooze (me) and shiver (both) in the refreshing weather. 

The sun is promised for tomorrow, and hopefully the Internet is better now that the French kids have gone elsewhere and I can post this with one photo of me standing next to a large plant.

Victor Hugo

This morning was lovely and warm for eating our breakfast outside.  The wind had died, and the sun was shining.  Even the night had been a lot warmer, and the fridge did not play up.

Victor Hugo Victor HugoToday we were off to see Victor Hugo’s house, where he lived for 15 years in exile from France.  This was our first visit.  We have been visiting Guernsey for 25 years and never visited his house; it was always closed.  This year our visit was in the early summer and it was open.  Next year (2018) it is closed for refurbishment, so we were lucky to find it open.  The house is owned by the City of Paris and run by the Parisian museums, it was gifted to them by Hugo’s granchildren in the 1920s.  The house is staffed by French staff who do guided tours.  Guided tours are the only way to visit the house.  Luckily the French staff don’t abide by French lunches and it is open continuously throughout the day.  We were also amazed by a group of French about to start on a tour at 1.30.  What has happened to the French lunch? If you are in Guernsey, try and visit the house.  It is quite remarkable with each room being decorated and furnished in different ways, from dark to light going up the storeys.

A pleasant lunch was spent eating our sandwiches on the quayside.  Unfortunately, we happened to sit where the Guernsey tourist road train set off from.

Bus over to Petit Bot Bay, where the Martello tower had been renovated and fairly newly opened to the public. The Petit Bot Bay café had been done up, though they advertised cream teas and Guernsey Gache, none were to be seen.  Tea now served in paper mugs.  Definitely gone down hill in the tea department, though lunches might have been good.

Long slog back up the hill to the Independent Grocery Shop for some replenishments for the rest of the week.  R asking me why I had bought Scottish Cheddar.

Back on the bus to the end of Candie Road.  As we set off in the bus, I looked at its route on the map and reckon we could have walked faster.  We took a very scenic route to Candie Road, passing the other side of the airport some 20 minutes after we set off from the south side.

Back at the campsite, having spotted the noisy peacock outside a local house, the peace has been further broken by a large group of French school children coming camping.  At least they are tented a long way from us. 

The wind is a little stronger this evening, so all dressed in fleeces while we drink our wine and prepare the beef stir fry purchased at the grocery.

Lazing on a Sunny Afternoon

Vazon Bay

Vazon Bay

Vazon Bay

Vazon Bay

Today was predicted to be a sunny day with less wind, and a little warmer.  Thankfully we could relax, the fridge had been giving us some cause for concern overnight and had been running incessantly.  Couple of interventions during the night only made it stop running all together.  I think maybe it was too cold at night for the fridge, operating temperature should be 16C, less than that and it can be inefficient!  The instruction book says that. Sounds counter intuitive to me.  Seems to be working fine now it’s warmer. (Us humans are also working fine in the warmth.) Added to the fridge waking us, there was the peacock, whose idea of dawn needs to be modified.  As far as I could see, there was not a glimmer of light in the sky.  The cockerels did have the decency to hold off until you could see the sky line.

Today was Sunday, so off to Vazon Bay and La Grande Mare for Sunday lunch.  We arrived at the shore around 11.45 and saw the stragglers of the Guernsey Ultra Marathon pass by.  This was an around the island race on the coastal paths.  These paths included all the steps up and down around the cliffs on the south coast.  The run is 36 miles long, with a best time of a little under 5 hours.  The stragglers we saw were half way around and 5 hours in.  They would be hard pressed to make the 10-hour closing time.

Mallards in the La Grand Mare hot tubMallards in the La Grand Mare hot tub

Mallards in the La Grand Mare hot tub

Twinkle the Cat

Twinkle the Cat

At La Grande Mare, we sat by the outdoor pool and consumed our prepranidal drinks, Rosemary had a G&T while I drank a pint of beer.  It was lovely and warm, while we watched a pair of Mallards take to the swimming pool and hot tub for a spruce up.  Lunch was ordered which we ate in the restaurant itself, then sat outside again for coffee.  Oh we saw Twinkle, the cat who used to visit us in the self-catering flat years ago.  She must be getting on in years now.

After lunch, we walked along the beach towards Fort Hommet Headland.  It was funny seeing the beach with people building sandcastles and going swimming.  Rather different to October!  After a pleasant walk along the beach we walked back to the campsite for a well-deserved beer on the sunset veranda. Now sitting outside Van the Van in the still warm sunshine sipping our drinks.  So much more pleasant when the wind is not blowing.  Forecast for the rest of the week is good.  (On several peoples’ authorities and not just Google’s.)

Guernsey – Little Chapel

Little Chapel

Little Chapel

Little Chapel

Always be prepared.  Today the forecast was sun and no rain.  So, casting aside jackets, we set off to the Little Chapel. We had not even left the campsite when were caught in a deluge. I quickly retreated to Van the Van and retrieved waterproofs.  Off we set in the rain which soon stopped for the rest of the day, although my hat was a tad soggy.

The Little Chapel was open having been closed for renovations since November 2015.  It had been cracking up as part of the chapel had been built on granite, while the other side had been built on earth.  The roof had also been repaired and looked greatly improved. There was a continuous arrival of tour buses, stopping for 20 minutes, disgorging their load, waiting and picking them up a few minutes later for the next stop on Guernsey.  Many nationalities. We soon discovered there were two very large cruise liners in at St Peter Port.

After eating our cheese rolls, we caught the number 71 bus to St Peter Port and disembarked on the quayside.  A walk around the High Street looking at what had changed.  The Apple store had moved and grown larger.  Managed to dissuade a sales person from speaking to me by showing him my Android phone, at which he backed off in horror.  The shop selling kitchen equipment had changed into an outdoor ware shop.  Amazingly HMV was still in existence.  Down on the docks, the slaughter house had turned into a bistro and bar called, highly originally, The Slaughter House.  We thought the same had happened to the fish shop.  But it now sells fish and meat, so is called the Surf and Turf.  Our confusion was justified.  Luckily some things don’t change. The same pubs selling the same beers.

Oriana boarding

Oriana boarding

Oriana and Trident Marine

Oriana and Trident Marine

Walked to the lighthouse near Castle Cornet, having checked out the yachts in the various harbours. We watched the two cruise liners (one was P&O’s Oriana) being loaded.  Huge queues of passengers at the port waiting to re-embark onto the cruise ship tenders.  Fascinating to watch.  Thankfully not us. Unfortunately, my Canon 100-400 telephoto lens began to play up and wouldn’t always focus. Rosemary was of course deeply suspicious of this and thought nervously of all the camera shops.

We caught the 61 bus back to Kings Mill (straight back, no dawdling around camera shops) and walked the hill back to the campsite, where I am drinking my JD & Coke in the sunshine.  Could do without the wind.

Guernsey in Van the Van

We had a 9.00 am Condor ferry booked from Poole harbour, so instead of rushing down in the morning, we decided to travel on the previous evening and park at the ferry port. The weather was appalling, raining most of the way to Poole.  We arrived and parked in the waiting lanes for the ferry, with about twenty other mobile homes waiting for the Cherbourg ferry. There are nice loos there, and a café, closed when I arrived, but open in the morning where we could buy coffee and bacon rolls.

We boarded the ferry in sunshine and were soon on are way to Guernsey.  The ferry crossing is three hours.  As we approached Guernsey the clouds came in.  We docked and were one of the first off the Condor. Drove to the bus kiosk and dropped Rosemary off to buy a Puffin card.  No parking near by, even for a Smart car.  Ten minutes later I picked Rosemary up and drove to the Waitrose in the centre of the island.  This shop has always been there in all the times we have visited,   This is its third re-incarnation, being a Safeway and some other supermarket in previous lives.  Provisioned we headed to Vazon Bay for lunch.  This used to be home to the “Biker Café”, but it has been smartened up into a Bistro and Bar.  It still sells snacks, tea in mugs and “Biker Coffee”, instant coffee with a slug of warm milk. 

After lunch, a walk to La Grande Mare to take a nosey around and to see if Twinkle the cat was still alive.  The staff reported the cat was still alive, though we were unable to see her.  Checked out the menus and decided we will be back for lunch one day.

Now to the campsite, checked in to a pretty empty place. One other motorhome and three tents.  Seems reasonable place, has beer and wine for sale, eggs, fresh bread and pain au chocolates for those who need food. 

Alas the evening was a bit chilly with an unwanted breeze adding to the cooling affect.  More wine was acquired to counteract the chill.

The forecast was for rain during the night and sun the next day.  Yes it rained, and the next day was a glorious day of sunshine.

So Friday arrived and off we walked to the orchid fields three miles away.  The walk was on roads all the way. Guernsey roads can be narrow and sunken, even more that the roads in the West country.   The flowers on the road sides were glorious. Rosemary spotted a spider’s nest with hundreds of spiderlings about to invade the country.

The orchid fields were found, Early-Purple, Common Spotted & Pyramidal, but there were hundreds of them, all in prime condition.  We had arrived at the correct time and we haven’t finished checking the photos yet.

We walked on down the coast to the Imperial Hotel for a pint and then on to Pleinmont where there were paragliders flying.  Never seen them there before.  Back to the Imperial to catch the bus which took us to Kings Mills, a water treatment and pumping station.  Then a short 20-min walk back up to the campsite for drinks and canapes

 

Updated the default character set on mysql server to utf8mb4 💩

I had to update the default character set  to utf8mb4 on my mysql server.  I was getting quite a few submissions on my tomcat hosted systems with emojies like the 💩 symbol being inserted.  These always failed with a database error.  Reading up about this it appears the utf8 support of mysql was for up to a 3 byte utf character.  Full support requires 4 bytes, and this was a late addition to mysql.

I dutifully converted the database, and tables to utf8mb4, running into issues with the referential integrity I use.  Database, tables and columns all converted, set the default client and mysql to utf8mb4 and problem solved.  I could now add the 💩 into the application.

Along came the boss, who now complained about all the capital As, with a hat on top, in this the blasdale.com blog.  Arrgh.  Yes in the blasdale database there were some latin1 tables from a really old install of wordpress.  So a conversion of this database and tables to utf8mb4 but still the capital A with a hat appeared.  More googling, yes I had UTF data stored into a latin1 column, so had to run some sql to convert the data. 

update wp_posts SET post_content=convert(cast(convert(post_content using  latin1) as binary) using utf8mb4);

In total I ran the following SQL statements on the server:

ALTER DATABASE blasdale_blog CHARACTER SET = utf8mb4 COLLATE = utf8mb4_unicode_ci;
ALTER TABLE wp_blc_filters CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_blc_links CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_blc_synch CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_commentmeta CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci;
ALTER TABLE wp_comments CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_email_list CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_email_list_config CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_email_list_future CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_hl_twitter_replies CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_hl_twitter_tweets CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_hl_twitter_users CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_links CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_ngg_album CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci;
ALTER TABLE wp_ngg_gallery CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_ngg_pictures CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci;
ALTER TABLE wp_options CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_postmeta CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_posts CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci;
ALTER TABLE wp_subscribe2 CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_term_relationships CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_term_taxonomy CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_termmeta CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_terms CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_usermeta CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_users CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_wfBadLeechers CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_wfBlockedIPLog CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_wfBlocks CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_wfBlocksAdv CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_wfConfig CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_wfCrawlers CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_wfFileMods CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_wfHits CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_wfHoover CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_wfIssues CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_wfKnownFileList CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_wfLeechers CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_wfLockedOut CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_wfLocs CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_wfLogins CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_wfNet404s CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_wfNotifications CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_wfReverseCache CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_wfSNIPCache CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_wfScanners CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_wfStatus CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_wfThrottleLog CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci; 
ALTER TABLE wp_wfVulnScanners CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci;

SELECT column_name,character_set_name FROM information_schema.`COLUMNS` 
WHERE table_schema = "blasdale_blog"
 AND table_name = "wp_hl_twitter_tweets";
 
create table wp_posts_bkp LIKE wp_posts; 
insert wp_posts_bkp select * from wp_posts;
 
update wp_posts SET post_content=convert(cast(convert(post_content using latin1) as binary) using utf8mb4);
update wp_posts SET post_title=convert(cast(convert(post_title using latin1) as binary) using utf8mb4);
update wp_posts SET post_content_filtered=convert(cast(convert(post_content_filtered using latin1) as binary) using utf8mb4);

I also updated the WordPress configuration to include utf8mb4 instead of utf8:

/** Database Charset to use in creating database tables. */
define('DB_CHARSET', 'utf8mb4');

 

The problem was not caused by the initial conversion, but by the statements I had placed in the my,cnf configuration file which caused WordPress to assume all connections are utf8mb4.

[mysqld]
local-infile=0
datadir=/var/lib/mysql
socket=/var/lib/mysql/mysql.sock
character-set-client-handshake = FALSE
character-set-server = utf8mb4
collation-server = utf8mb4_unicode_ci


[client]
default-character-set = utf8mb4

[mysql]
default-character-set = utf8mb4

I think it is all working now, tomcat is happy and so is my WordPress install.   I do though have many tables in other databases which are only utf8.  I expect they will function unless someone tries to insert the 💩 into a page or post.  I expect I will get around to converting those databases,  should be straightforward…..

 

VW T5 Campervan Conversion by CJ Van Designs

Our VW T5 campervan conversion  was completed earlier this year.  Rosemary and I decided we wanted to travel more, and not be tied to hotels or tents.  We decided on a small campervan which is as easy to drive as a car, and can be parked in most normal parking spaces.  We went with the VW  campervan dream, well OK a modern VW T5 Campervan  dream.  We bought a two year old VW T5 kombi van coloured blackberry.  It is the normal wheel base, highline model with tailgate, 2.0 litre 140PS engine.  Blackberry is a metallic paint which the DVLA calls purple.  In some lights it looks almost black, whereas in the sunshine it looks a sparkling dark purple colour, to sometimes a brown.  It’s a fabulous chameleon taking on the colours of its surroundings. 

Once we had the van, we needed it converted. Problem here was there was an unbelievable waiting list amongst all the workshops we contacted.  We chose CJ Van Designs in Wiltshire.  Colin the owner was thorough and took us through the many options we could have.  His designs for cupboards seemed to be what we wanted.  We booked the van in for conversion.  In between booking the van in for conversion, and conversion day, we took the van (& tent) for a long drive through France in September. Eventually the day for conversion arrived in January, we said goodbye to the T5, and a few weeks later we had our campervan.  It was glisteningly clean, complete with a bottle of Champagne in the fridge.

The work we had done on the van included:

  • Reimo popup roof, colour coded to the van, which contains a bed
  • Riba rear seat which converts to a bed
  • Cupboards, under sink, under bed, over sink, over the bed & inside the tailgate
  • 12 volt power and lighting
  • 240 volt hookup
  • An extra power socket near the side door, for laptop & outdoor cooking with an electric frying pan
  • Refrigerator (240/12 volt)
  • Twin ring gas hob
  • Sink
  • Diesel space heater
  • Lighting, including lights for the popup roof
  • Insulation in van walls
  • Flooring & carpeting on the sides
  • Rail for connecting an awning
  • Rotating passenger seat
  • Safe 

We did not have to install extra windows as the Kombi van has windows on both sides to part way down the van.  The extra rear seats and original flooring in the van were sold off during the conversion.  New bench-seat/bed from Riba was then installed.

Much of this work is mandatory for the vehicle to be licensed by DVLA as a campervan aka “Motor Caravan”.  Without this complete work the van would not be able to be taken to music festivals like Reading festival where their requirements for a campervan mirror the DVLA requirements.

We took pictures  for the re-registration of the Volkswagen T5 Combi van to a Motor Caravan.  The photographs had to show the registration plate of the van, the fixtures, gas, water, sink, cupboards, table and bed.  These were sent to DVLA and a couple of weeks later we had the new registration certificate.

There are some of the extra items we want for the campervan: a bike rack and an awning.  Choosing the awning is difficult. Do we want a side-less awning to keep the sun off, where we can eat and cook in warm countries, or do we want a drive-away awning with sides where we can leave the tables and chairs under cover, and change our shoes and coats in cold and wet Britain?

 

Home Computer Problems

Last weekend the laptop, a many year old Dell E6520, decided it should update Windows 10 to the anniversary version (1607).  There was much churning of wheels.  The machine restarted and displayed a blue screen, with the wonderful words that an error had occurred.  There was an error message DPC WATCHDOG VIOLATION.  It  restarted again, then went into recovery mode. There was a successful recovery to the old windows.  Phew! I still had an operable machine.  Of course in a few hours the whole process repeated.  The update was downloaded again, and then applied, and the DPC WATCHDOG VIOLATION message appeared.  This went on time after time.  What was I to do?

Google suggested incompatible drivers and pointed to the screen drivers.  I removed the drivers and the update started. The drivers came back and the whole error appeared again.  Another suggestion  was the disk was failing, and I should run a CHKDSK /R /F.  CHKDSK was started. The progress steadily increased until it reached 14%.  At 14% it hung for several hours.  Again there was  someone on the interwebs who said if it hung there for a long time, it was because it was trying to recover bad disk segments and therefore you had a problem.

The Solution

Gambling time had come.  Buy a new disk drive, and while we were at it, buy a solid disk, a Samsung SSD 850 EVO.   Amazon delivered next day. I replaced the disk drive in minutes. I then downloaded Windows 10 onto a stick and booted the laptop from the stick.  Yes it recognised the new drive, and yes it also recognised the laptop so I had a licensed machine.   I also no longer had all the Dell crap bloatware anymore.

The installation media was pre 1607 version, so fingers crossed while Windows updated itself.  This time no problems and now we are all up to date, and a FAST running machine.

The machine now is rejuvenated.  The solid state disk, boots in seconds and is operable immediately after I login.  Previously the machine took 10 minutes to become usable, because there was so much disk I/O from Dropbox indexing the files to find out what was had changed. Startup time was unacceptable.

Now its back to reinstalling applications, and recovering the data from the cloud.  Thankfully, with my FTTP connection this was quite fast.

A Buzzard in our Garden

A Buzzard visited our garden, sitting on the fence between the paddock and the garden.  As I approached, the bird flew off and sat on the fence further into the paddock.  It then flew into the next door field.  In the process the Buzzard was mobbed by the Red Kites.  A bit of a change, the Red Kites themselves are normally mobbed by the Jackdaws and Rooks.

 

Weekend In Leicester

We had a lovely weekend in Leicester staying with Valerie and Norman, along with Bill and Viv.   The visit started off with a chainsaw massacre  in the garden with a little bit of pruning.  After this hard work, our thirsts were quenched with a couple of pints at The Classroom Real Ale pub.  This is a real ale micro pub, twenty minutes walk away, serving some great ales straight from the cask.  I was very impressed with the quality of the beer and service.  Looking forward to a return visit.

Next day Bill, Norman and I went for a walk along the Grand Union Canal from the Navigation pub to Wistow Rural centre.  Lovely day, the canal had a thin layer of ice, and the outward walk was over frozen mud.  At Wistow Rural Centre we ate lunch and had a walk around the garden centre.  The pictures I have taken are of a model village, notice the campervan. The walk back was a little muddy as the mud had thawed.  On the way home we stopped off at a real ale pub called The Cow and Plough for a quick pint.

In the evening we took a taxi into Leicester centre for supper at the Ask Italian restaurant.

On Monday we had a walk at Bradgate Park. A large open deer park with a ruined house, some lovely oak trees.  We walked to the top of the hill where the Old John Tower is situated.  This 18th Century folly sits on the highest point of the Park and is one of Leicestershire’s most famous landmarks.   Lunch nearby in the Jade Tea Rooms.  Very reasonable and sizable portions.

 

 

 

 

David Bowie at the Proud Gallery

On Thursday I traveled to London to visit the Proud Gallery on King’s Road to see an exhibition of photographs of David Bowie.  The gallery is a small gallery and had a selection of photographs of Bowie priced from a couple of thousand to over sixty thousand pounds.  Needless to say I was not buying.

I also visited the V&A gallery to see their small free exhibition of Glastonbury.  The exhibition was not about the music, but the performing arts side of Glastonbury.  I took a look at other sections of the V&A and have promised myself another visit.

Ate a late breakfast at an Italian restaurant on King’s Road, seemingly used by builders, which serves a good English breakfast.  I ate poached eggs on toast, Eggs Benedict no less, and drank a good coffee.

New year 2017 at Richard and Andrea’s

We had an invitation to see the New Year in with Richard, Andrea, Norman and Valerie. R and I travelled over, stopping off at Hatfield Forest for a soup lunch.  The day was miserable, but still there were many out walking dogs and blowing  the Christmas cobwebs away.

Arrived mid-afternoon, played a frame of snooker against Richard, but unfortunately I did not uphold the Blasdale honour.  We had an excellent meal with lashings of wine and saw the New Year in with a spectacular firework and sparklers.

Next day we all went out for lunch at the Galvin Green Man.  A busy gastro pub with contemporary restaurant.  Part of the restaurant has a glass roof, which the torrential rain cascaded down.  There were some good beers on tap, I drank an Adnams Ghost Ship.  After lunch we said our goodbyes to Norman and Valerie, who left for home.  We stayed on for another night, and another frame of snooker.  This time the frame ended in a draw. 

The next day the sun shone and it was a beautiful sunny day. We went for a walk around Littley, saw the wedding venue Leez Priory with gorgeous leaning garden walls.  Lunch was at the Compasses which had some excellent beers.  Alas I was driving. The pub had masses of community notices, including one for a sewing group called Bitch and Stitch.

A very enjoyable two nights away.

Christmas for Red Kites

We treated ourselves to a Lidl Spanish Serrano Jamon for Christmas.  I had always wanted one!  The day came and I carved a thin slice.  It was disgusting.  So the Red Kites, Magpies, Crows & Jackdaws had an early Christmas present.  The leg tended to move around the field overnight, badgers or foxes would gnaw at it.  There now is a white bone in the field.  It has taken from before the 20th December to now (January 10th) to reach that state.

Some pictures of the Red Kite on the Jamon, and a few after the juvenile kite flew off.