Packers and Crammers

Site packing up starts at about 7 am as most sites insist you leave by about 11 am. The packers and crammers are in full flight. In addition, the field takes on the appearance of military manoeuvres.

The first thing to notice is the mass dropping of tents and awnings. Children and dogs are tethered to bumpers to stop them from wandering off while the adults go into a packing frenzy around them. Anything not nailed down is consequently blown all over the field and the keys to the car have mysteriously disappeared.

However, let’s look at the difference between the packers and crammers.


Firstly, crammers are very easy to spot. There is a lot of yelling and disorganisation. Crammers gather everything up, open the boot and cram it all willy nilly. The tent is refusing to fit back into the bag that it came in, and clothing items are being shoved into bin bags. Meanwhile, a mild domestic breaks out and follows on the line of “why did we have to bring all this crap in the first place”. Husband opens the boot to find all the kit has spilled over onto the back seat leaving no space for the kids or dog. As a result, he stomps off yelling over his shoulder “if you can do it better, then do it yourself.”

Roof boxes are refusing to close and the car has taken on an alarming list to one side. It is at this point the youngest child kicks off as you have packed “Bunny” and she can’t travel without “Bunny”. The contents of the car and boot are dumped unceremoniously on the ground until “Bunny” is found and the cramming session repeats itself.


Meanwhile, there are the packers. These are the family Krypton factor participants. In fact, they are very calm and very organised. The Tent is folded with the skill of an Origami expert and slips effortlessly into the bag. Tent poles that have already been color-coded are packed into their own bag along with the cleaned pegs and guylines tied neatly with elastic bands. Clothing is rolled into packing cubes separating dirty laundry from unworn clean apparel and everything else is being meticulously placed into colour-coded plastic crates. Husband packs everything away in the boot like a big jigsaw. Every amount of space is utilised. Therefore, as the old saying goes, a space for everything and everything in its place.


Meanwhile, we leisurely get our breakfast and have a shower. Everything is put back into the cupboards it came out of. The electric cable is unplugged and placed in the onboard garage. We plug in the iPod for some serious driving music and ….drive away.

Mickey Mouse and Minions

Mickey Mouse and Minions. What on earth do they have to do with owning a motorhome I hear you ask.

Well…….. Let me explain.

Most Motorhomes/Caravans have some sort of bathroom. Admittedly, they are the size of a telephone box with a shower pressure of a dribbly tap. However, if you are under canvas or a “Tenter” then you have to use the shower block on the site.

This means nosey MH people like me get to see the fashion parade to and froing from the showers. Therefore a spot of campsite people watching early in the morning is not be missed. Mickey Mouse and Minions refer to the sleepwear of certain campers.

PJ’s and Wellies

PJ’s and wellies are the de rigour wear of early morning campers. My idea of a good set of Pj’s is that they are cosy and a slouchy fit . I am not into fluffy bunny logos and silly slogans. My wellies are bog-standard green Hunters. I am so boring. So imagine my intrigue with what wanders past my deckchair observation point in the morning.

  • The first is a middle-aged lady of Rubenesque shape and size, for that read size of a house. She is wearing red fleece Mickey Mouse pyjamas. On the front is Mickey’s face with mouse ears that flap in the breeze. The back is embroidered with “Disneyland Paris 2015” in gold thread. The PJ’s are accessorised with matching red Mickey Mouse Wellies complete with ears protruding from the top.

  • Next, a young lady emerges from her tent in a cerise pink negligee. It appears so sheer that it would not disgrace an Anne Summers brochure or an Amsterdam Window. Worn with bright yellow unlaced Doc Martins and fingerless gloves bringing a little spot of “Je ne sais qoit” to the whole affair.

  • My favourite of the morning though is a young lad of about 3 who tears past wearing nothing but a huge grin and a beanie hat. Not a stitch on, not a care in the world with his little winkie flapping in the breeze. Oh, the joys of childhood.

But my education is finally completed on the evening shift when a lady and her young son wander by. Both dressed in identical fleecy minions onesies with the one-eye logo on the hoods.

Campsite Manners & Etiquette

Campsite manners and etiquette can at times be subjective and flexible, but there are some hard and fast rules by which every MHer should abide. We’re sure you’ve been there, or perhaps you were one of the guilty ones: It’s late, you’re trying to relax or sleep after a long drive to your favourite site and someone pulls into the pitch next to you and cranks up their TV, shattering your tranquillity.

Manners and etiquette No-No’s to avoid

Noise Pollution

Everyone has to agree that noise pollution in a quiet setting upsets all. Not everyone is a Guns N Roses fan particularly at night and at a volume destined to make your ears bleed. Other highly annoying noises are letting Fido bark and whine and whinging screaming children. Similarly, if you do have to have a divorce inducing domestic, keep the language and volume down. However on the other hand, please also keep the “make up throes of passion bedroom session” noises down. MH’s tend to have very thin walls and sounds carry at night. In essence, No noise after quiet hours, please.

No squatting

First come, first served. If a pitch is marked and there are personal items around, it is already occupied. It is never OK to shift items aside and move in like squatters. Every MHer likes their site to face the river or sea and stay at a site with a great view or close proximity to the park’s amenities, but if one is not available and you end up by the shower block or waste disposal, it’s no excuse to steal an absentee MH’s enviable spot. “Possession is 9/10’s of the law” does not apply here.

No Tresspassing

Unless invited, never take a shortcut across another MHer’s site. it’s anti-social and possibly dangerous. You are not going to endear yourselves with your neighbours if five of you come traipsing across their site with a surly dog in tow. Nor are they going to love you if you go crashing into awning guidelines in the dark and ripping out tent pegs. Give each pitch a wide berth.

No Roaming Wildlife

Unless they are in designated pet areas, your animals should always be on a leash when on a campsite. Most MHers lash them to the bike rack at the back on long tethers. Another reason to observe the No trespassing rule. Tripping over Fidos long lead will lead to scraped knees and a close encounter of the hairy slobbery dog kind. The same rules that apply to pets apply to children. Screaming kids playing war games around the sites or using the place as a BMX rally course is considered really bad form. My advice is to follow the dog rule and lash them to the bike rack at the back.

No DIY………….

Nobody will fault you for cleaning the squished insects off your windscreen or checking tyre pressures in the morning, but please do not pull out the toolbox or cordless drill for some heavy DIY. Putting back loose screws is acceptable, arc welding the front axle is not. And if you must wash your pride and joy, (why, it’s only going to get dirty again on the way home), check with the park host to see if they have a space set aside for such excessive wetness. Nobody wants to camp in your mud. The missus won’t be too happy either if you traipse it in all over the carpets.

No Rubbish or Obstructions

We have all observed the pitch that takes on the attitude of the local council tip. Bikes strewn everywhere, electric cables trailing dangerously on the ground, washing lines designed to garrote the nearest passer-by. Do you leave rubbish on your front lawn at home? Of course not, and neither should you at your site. A neat and orderly site is a must for you and Mother Nature.

No Illuminations after Midnight

This seems that this is more a Tenter predilection. Tents drapped with enough fairy lights to rival Blackpool illuminations. Fine during the evening, but flashing lights while you are trying to sleep is like Chinese torture. And don’t forget the light from your motorhome’s porch. A low-wattage lamp for safety is one thing, But high powered LED strip lights are just plain rude!

No Dumping

Stop sniggering, this is not about lavatorial humour. Well yes, it is, in a literal sense. It seems like a no-brainer, but some people believe dumping grey water is good for the grass; however, your grey water can contain contaminants, detergents and food particles. Food particles will attract every flying beastie for miles not to mention Mr Fox and detergents are not good for Planet Earth. As for black water, for the love of God, it’s simple: only EVER in a dump station.

Dumping Waste
Don’t dump wate water

So Remember. Take nothing but photos and leave nothing but footprints

Spirit Levels and Ramps.

Spirit Levels and ramps are essential to happy motorhome life. Why I hear you ask. Regardless of how good your eyesight and judgement is, there is no such thing as a level pitch. Consequently, we were about to find this out. MH’ers use Spirit levels to discover how much slope there is and then place ramps under the wheels to counteract this phenomenon.

However, no one thought to impart this useful piece of information to us. We are used to marinas and boats and water is level in marinas consequently it never crossed our mind. After all, never in the history of time has there been a sloping sea!

On our very first trip out, we park in this lovely spot and get on with the joy of being in the great outdoors. The problems start that evening.

Pascals Theory

I cook a lovely dinner and hubby offers to do the washing up. A shout goes up from the kitchen. “The sink is not draining, do we have a plunger?”

“Well, it drained just fine at the handover” I replied. ” You must have put some food down there”. Lots of mutterings ensue. In the absence of a plunger, out comes the tool kit. The sink is laboriously emptied with a mug into a bucket, and a monkey wrench is employed to dismantle the gubbins under the sink. After a few minutes up goes a triumphant “All sorted. I have blown down the pipe, and it’s now draining” I had no reason to believe anything else.

Come bedtime the bathroom basin had the same problem. But it wasn’t until I got into bed and all the blood rushed to my head, that I realised exactly what was wrong.

The following morning we ramped up one of the back wheels and normality resumed.

And if you are wondering what `Pascals theory is: In more familiar terms, “water seeks its own level“.

But not necessarily where the drainage hole is!

Shake Rattle and Roll

Oh boy, do motorhomes shake rattle and roll.

We all know how irritating it is to have an unidentified rattle in the car, however, it’s four hundred times worse in a motorhome. We picked up our new baby for the drive home only for Roger to slam on the brakes within 5 minutes.

“I have got to find that bloody rattle” he snarls. Ten minutes later he has removed the glass plate and plastic thingy with the little wheels on from the microwave. Meanwhile, he has stuffed the shelves from the oven and grill under the mattresses and put the grill pan on the floor. Did it help? Did it heck! The glass sink and oven lids added their own shake rattle and roll cacophony of noise. By the time we got home the pair us were a bag of jangling nerves.

However, on our second trip, we are a bit more prepared. The oven, grill and microwave items were stuffed under bedding while the sink and oven lids were edged with yards of foam pipe lagging.

Any improvement? NOOOO….We had forgotten that we had packed the cupboards full of “stuff”. Roger, at this point, has a cunning plan

The first thing to remember is Do not try this at home and Hampshire Police, please forgive me.

We took off down the M27 at a steady 50mph. I unbuckle my seat belt and go down the back in the hunt of shakes, rattles and anything rolling. Hanging on for grim death and bouncing off the walls I identify a few culprits. Tea towels are stuffed under saucepans, socks put over tins and toilet roll used to stop the kettle lid rattling. Consequently, a slight improvement, I rock and roll back to my navigator seat, re-buckle up and we return home.


By the time of our third trip I had, in addition to above

  • Made a fleece “cosy” to cover the TV
  • Put cloth placemats in the drawers to stop cutlery rattling.
  • Put a towel under the loo seat
  • Wrapped bottles in bubble wrap sleeves

Did it help – did it feck! I think we are going to have to live with it and just turn the volume up on the radio

If all else fails, Amazon do a nice range in ear defenders.

Pimp the Bus!

Roger wants to pimp the bus! Before we go any further let me give you the dictionary definition of “Pimp” before you all get the wrong idea and think he is turning the MH into a knocking shop and putting me to work. (Dream on).

pimp | pɪmp 

 verb [[with object] informal make (something) more showy or impressive: he pimped up the car with spoilers and twin-spoke 18-inch alloys.

I ask him what exactly he has in mind, Pimp the bus can be so misconstruded.

Sheep Skin Seat Covers.

Now, I was quite happy with this idea, They would protect our lovely cloth seats, remember we have a large dog of the hairy muddy kind. They would be cool in the summer and warm in the winter. There were a few “no-no’s” though

  • leopard skin – No!
  • tiger skin – No!
  • cow print – Hmmm possible. OK No!

The cream sheepskin covers duly arrive from Amazon and look lovely now they are fitted. However, they moult! So if you are wearing anything dark you look like a Yeti from the back. As a result, the dog hair cartwheeling down the MH it is now joined by clouds of cream faux sheepskin.

Shiny Wing Mirror Covers

This is obviously a “man” thing. Shiny wing mirrors have no purpose other than to look, well, shiny. In hindsight, I actually rather like them. They do have one drawback in as much as they magnify blood-splattered squished insects. We ended up with covers that looked like a prop from the Chainsaw Massacre.

Airhorns and Tarmac Burners.


To the uninitiated or those who are not living with a lorry driver, tarmac burners are the slang for the bank of very bright spotlights mounted on the roof above the windscreen. There is normally enough wattage to light up the O2 Arena and enough heat to melt the tarmac in front, hence the name. Airhorns that play “colonel Bogey” or “Dixie” are another lorry driver favourite.

Roger changes his mind when he realises just how much hard work they are going be wiring them in. I have never been so relieved.

Fluffy Mirror Dice

fluffy dice

NO , just plain NO.

No to dogs with nodding heads, No to those stupid dancing flower pot people.

In other words, which part of NO do you not understand?

Windscreen Banner Names

How in gods name did this conversation come up. I have no idea. Anyway, these are usually found on the local boy racer Ford Capri chavmobile. You know, the sun strips that clearly show their names such as Dave – Sharon in just in case they forget who they are. I suggest Smokey – Bandit. But the entire idea goes down like a lead balloon.

You know what, I just dont care. Moving on…..

Why a Motorhome?

The year is 2020, yes that 2020! The year the world and people’s lives changed. That includes us so why a motorhome?

To be honest the COVID pandemic didn’t give us the idea of swapping boat for a motorhome but just cemented an idea we have had for some time. I was adamant that I was not a caravan sort of person but could see the adventure to be had with a motorhome.

Luckily the boat sold very quickly despite the restrictions and so the great discussion of “what sort of motorhome” dominated our lockdown.

Roger, being an ex HGV driver fancied one of those humongous trailer and tractor monstrosities you see on film sets but that ruled me out being an extra driver. To be honest, I am not sure we would have got down some of the narrow dinky lanes in Cornwell either! We ruled out a Winnebago for the same reason. At least a trailer and tractor bend in the middle, a Winnebago doesn’t. At the other end of the scale was the VW camper. The one with the 2 stroke lawn mower engine, painted in pink or yellow, covered in stickers or flowers. Called some silly name by the hippy couple who own it. Just plain NO!

The Motorhome Bucket List

I compiled a bucket list of “must haves” and “no way”

  • Has to be new. No more “projects”
  • Has to have static beds. I cannot be bothered to make up a sofa every night
  • Has to have a garage for storage. The boat was like the Tardis and I need similar to survive.
  • Has to have built-in Bluetooth and SatNav – this is  Rogers only request
  • Has to have a microwave. I have spent too many years on boats with no microwave.
  • No way to beds above the cab. I am too old these days to do an Ogla Korbet impersonation in the middle of the night on a trip to the loo.

We must have looked a hundreds, a no mean feat considering we were in lockdown.

Finally, we came across exactly want we wanted. Large Garage, rear made-up beds, microwave, decent bathroom and an interior I could live with.

Meet “Madge”


About us and our boats

As you have got this far,  I thought I would tell you about us and the history of our boats.  Roger and I had never owned boats in our previous lives. We live close to the sailing mecca of the UK but it just didn’t cross our minds.

Every year the River Hamble hosts a regatta at Bursledon. Each year has a different theme and in 2005 it was the  bicentennial of the Battle of Trafalgar. The afternoon consists of a flotilla of small boats dressed to reflect the theme. We thought it would be fun to celebrate one of our finest Naval battles, so we set out to find a small boat.

Dijon Cuddy Cabin

We bought our first boat for £800 from eBay. A little Dijon cuddy cabin with an outboard. We lovingly repainted her and replaced the windows. I made some cushions for the cabin. we had a glorious summer pottering around the Solent. By this time we are both smitten and decide to upgrade the size so we can sleep overnight on her. We sold her for £2000

Shetland 570

history of our baots
Two Can

Our next purchase is a Shetland 570. She was also a bit of project but we had her looking smart in a season. At last we could sleep & cook onboard. We had 6 years of amazing fun sailing inland and coastal waters. But…. I was getting too old to keep cooking on my knees and I wanted hot water and more space.

Shetland 4+2

history of our boats
Two Can II

I now had my creature comforts. But Roger was unhappy as the heads were too small for him to comfortably use them. We had further cruising distance, more comfort, more space but still something was missing. we compiled a ‘bucket list’ of our our ideal boat.

  • under 30ft
  • heads that Roger could get in and use
  • diesel inboard engine (the last 3 boats had petrol outboards)
  • separate cabin so I didn’t have to pack away a V berth everyday

Hardy Seawings 277

history of our boats

Finally we get to play with the big boys.  Jessica ticks all the boxes.

Nelson – Salty Sea Dogs

Admiral Lord Nelson is still one of our most outstanding and brilliant Naval officers of all times. One of our greatest salty sea dogs.

Horatio Nelson
Horatio Nelson

Horatio Nelson

(29 September 1758 – 21 October 1805). A British flag officer in the Royal Navy,  Nelson is noted  for his inspirational leadership. His  superb grasp of strategy and unconventional tactics resulted in a number of decisive naval victories, particularly during the Napoleonic Wars.  Wounded several times in combat, losing one arm in the unsuccessful attempt to conquer Santa Cruz de Tenerife and the sight in one eye in Corsica. He was shot and killed during his final victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

“Salty Sea Dog” is nautical slang for experienced sailors who spend much of their life at sea.

The “Sea Dogs were English pirates at the time of Elizabeth I of England and were also known as Elizabethan Pirates.

Our Salty Sea Dog……

Admiral Nelson

(14th November 2014). Our  rescue labrador noted for his complete lack of any discipline and selective deafness. Chocolate labradors are renown for being as thick as a plank. He has an obsession for all things ball shaped, toilet rolls and odd socks. He possesses unconventional habits such as drinking from the toilet and howling at the moon.  This has resulted in total devastation wherever he goes. I will shoot him if he chews the TV remote again.



Being a labrador, he adores water. Any water. Be it muddy, stagnant , smelly or salty. He is not fussy.

salty dog
salty dog

 So  it is completely natural that he loves the boat. Being on it, trying to jump off it or just snoozing on it.


Our latest crew member and complete pirate

Repairs and Renovations

Repairs and renovations make up a big part of being a boat owner. Apart from the glaring obvious that cars don’t float, Boats are not like cars in the fact that they age much better than cars. A 20 year old boat is still very serviceable where as a 20 year old car is likely to be a rust bucket.

But like anything that gets old everything tends to date and show their age. We bought JESSICA a year ago and she is a 1998 build making her 18 years old. Like any teenager she was in need of a cosmetic make over.

Before I go any further you need to know an important fact. That is this……  BOAT stands for Break Out Another Thousand.

Marine retailers think we boaters are all minted  and they  have a nasty habit of adding an extra zero to all prices. Go to a caravan/motorhome retailer and the prices are not so eye wateringly obscene. Same products though.

Cabin Carpet

First to go was the cabin carpet. It was minging. Salty, sticky, smelly, just plain revolting.

We went and got quotes for marine carpeting. “How Much” we shrieked indignantly after picking ourselves up off the floor in horror

I’m thinking – It can’t be that  hard. So off we trot to the Carpet Warehouse. We find exactly what we want at a fraction of the price quoted. eBay produces the carpet binding. So far so good. We cut a patten from the old carpet, use paper clips to pin the binding in place and whip out the sewing machine.

Carpet Binding
Carpet Binding

I have to stress at this point that my sewing machine is from Tesco’s, not an industrial flat bed. We also see that the dinning room table is not big enough to swing large pieces of carpet through. So in the spirit of DIY  we move everything to the conservatory floor were Roger helps to feed the carpet around.

It was  a labour of love to say the least. a few domestic arguments later and we have a lovely new cabin carpet.

My thoughts move to the upholstery…..