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Monday, 12 March 2012

A Restful Few Days !!

We have just returned from a rather eventful few of days at Hillside Park caravan site just north of Thirsk,a very pleasant location it has to be said. 

Our fun and games began upon leaving home.We had brought the Orion home for a night to see if it fitted in our garden in case there was a need to bring it home on the future.

SWMBO had checked the lights on the van before departure and all was OK.We had gone no more than a quarter of a mile when an alert flashed up on the cars dashboard display to say the caravan brake lights weren't working,upon inspection it was dead right,they weren't.A matrimonial argument ensued as I wasn't quite sure what to do.The car brake lights were fine so it had to be the van.I unplugged and replugged the 13-pin plug but to no avail,they still didn't work.

I then had the bright idea of ringing Mayday Green Flag,after all to tow without brake lights was presumably illegal so they would hopefully come and sort us out.SWMBO was happy at this and calmed down.

About twenty minutes or so later a Green Flag man rolled up,tested the bulbs,they were OK,scratched his head,took the two halves of the 13-pin plug apart,looked at it,put it back together and hey presto they worked,the power of Green Flag.

Anyway after this setback we were on our way and arrived at Hillside about an hour or so later.Set up camp,followed by erecting the awning.Now despite awnings being called a “divorce in a bag” we don't do too badly.The Magnum isn't that hard to erect,the problem came with the pegs.The pitch was a hardstanding with the emphasis being on “hard”.

We only had the standard Isabella plastic pegs,and the thin metal skewer ones and believe me they weren't very good.I was still buggering about as darkness descended and the awning looked as if it had been put up by someone who had had a hard night on heroin.

Of course during the night a stiff breeze sprang up when none had existed during the day and I could hear the awning flapping about and the poles creaking.I was sent to see if it was still there at one point but fortunately it survived.

Next day we sorted that little problem out with a visit to Ropers Caravan World in Catterick and purchased a quantity of rock pegs which worked admirably,the awning now did the designers of Isabella proud.

Incidentally there was also matrimonial disharmony when we disassembled the awning as we couldn't get it to fold properly

As an aside the strange thing about Catterick is that as we all know caravan dealers aren't exactly thick on the ground but in Catterick there are two not a quarter of a mile apart,Ropers and Catterick Caravans.

The next little caper,yes they kept coming,involved the water pump.I had checked it out the day prior to departure and it all worked fine but when we got sorted out I noticed that the pump was running all the time.Upon closer inspection the next day there was a leak where the Whale plug entered the caravan so presumably the pump was continuously trying to pressurise the system and failing resulting in the pump continuously running.I tried drying the socket and O rings but it still leaked.Whilst pondering this little conundrum a mobile caravan engineer turned up to service another van on the site so I asked him if he could have a look at it before he went,which he did and replaced the O rings,free of charge so many thanks to him.Why the O rings needed replacing on a six month old caravan on its third trip out remained a mystery,but there you go.

Well the leak stopped,but did the pump stop,not on your nelly.I had posted to Caravan Talk for some advice which mostly revolved around altering or replacing things which I was a bit hesitant to do in case it required a warranty repair.Someone suggested it may be frost damage and the dealers wouldn't want to know anyway,marvellous.There was also a suggestion somewhere on the net that after a lay-up the pump gets air in it which can be removed by shaking it,did it work,did it chuff.

We worked round this little problem by turning the pump off at the control panel after every use of the water whilst I e-mailed Whale and the Caravan Club for some advice.Of course about an hour after despatching the e-mails it suddenly started to work and was still working the next day so hopefully it is now fixed.

Having thought about it I suppose the leak allowed a fair amount of air to enter the system which presumably took a bit of shifting,hence it took a while to work properly again.

That's my diagnosis anyway.

Incidentally after talking to fellow vanners it turned out there were four people on the site with Whale water system problems of one sort or another,newish vans as well.

On Sunday morning we packed up and headed off home to our storage which is only about an hour away.Stowed the caravan safely,put my coat in the boot of the car,enquired of SWMBO as to the whereabouts of the car keys,and all other keys come to that.Where were they,all locked safely in the boot of course which had securely locked itself along with all the doors.

This time I rang VW Assistance as I thought they may be more used to the Jetta than Green Flag.In due course the RAC turned up and the RAC man was reluctant to break into the vehicle as damage may be caused if another way could be found.We remembered that our daughter has a key to our house where I have some spare keys,just in time as we are due to have the house locks changed,so Mr. RAC man,who turned to also be a caravanner,drove me to my daughters house,then to our house to collect the spare car keys then back to storage.

VOILA!! we were back in the car.

That little problem solved we headed home.

Whilst unpacking the car I enquired of SWMBO as to the whereabouts of one of the mirror clamps for the Milenco Grand Aeros.She swore it was there but it wasn't,so back to storage then to find it on the floor by the van.

Well we had hoped for a relaxing few days but I for one am knackered.



  1. Wouldn't it be a good idea if awning manufacturers or suppliers ran training courses on how to erect,dismantle and pack their products quickly and efficiently - even a DVD showing how the experts do it would be useful - I'm sure there would be a market for it. Alas I'm not the person to make it!

  2. John,

    I don't know which awning you have but Isabella have some videos on their site to help with putting up awnings.


    1. Thanks Ian - I'll have a look, one awning is pretty much like another in terms of putting up or down.
      My current awning is a Dorema porch awning from my old van - prior to the Orion. It fits Ok to a point but not too happy about it finishing half way across a window and not being able to fully open the door so will probably look for an easy to erect full awning this year.