After being ‘at home’ for a few weeks, tending to all those little jobs (like painting walls and laying laminate flooring) it was time to start thinking of setting off again. There are a few changes we need to make first, some simple and cheap, some not so. We’d come to the conclusion that Angie’s right knee will never be the same again (after Trolltunga), she struggles on some of the inclines on her bike, which is by the, way is 20+ years old and still going strong, but we decided to replace it with an electric version. After a week or two deciding which one and a test drive at Halfords, we bought a ‘Carrera Crosscity E’. Not light at 28kg’s, but it folds well and helps you get 25 miles or more on one charge. Unfortunately it doesn’t come with a 12 volt DC charger, so I had to get a 500 watt 12-240v inverter too, just to keep it charged. Costs, Bike £650, Sold secure gold ‘D Lock’ £50 (both less 10% British Cycling Club discount, £25 to join) £52 European insurance- BCC again. 500w Ring inverter £50. Total after deductions, £757, not cheap, but it goes like the clappers on top setting! The BCC insurance covers the rider too & was also the cheapest European cover I could find, others typically wanted just over £100 pa.
This now means I can ‘re-engineer’ the rear bike rack & reduce it’s length by 1 bike (as the new ‘E-bike’ folds up and fits in the boot), which now brings me just under 8m, (we were a very realistic 8.5m before), which could also reduce costs in future on ferries or trains. To be honest, it’s a bit of a struggle to get in and out of the boot, but with practice, It should get easier… and we’ve lost a bit of boot space too, so the Kayak will have to stay at home this time, you can’t have everything.
Another pleasing afternoon was spent removing all the stuff you haven’t used in the last 2 years. I do love these sessions of chopping stuff out, reducing the rear weight and gaining valuable beer-stashing space. After a bit of sorting, we lost about another 30kgs and about a 50 litre box full of ‘Stuff’ we don’t need/use. The spare wheel/tyre has been re-mounted on the back, as we are planning to visit Morocco again and I don’t want to get caught out in the middle of nowhere without a spare. I do have a puncture repair kit with us, it wouldn’t be much good against a side-wall hole and I’ve never used it myself, I’ve only seen it being used, but it did look easy enough. I’d still rather have a full spare wheel and tyre at the ready.
Inside Charlie, we’ve ditched the old cast iron skillet & upgraded to a new ‘Double pan’ skillet, recommended by lots of other MoHo pals (£50) , it should do everything the old (heavy) skillet did and it won’t break your foot if you drop it. We’ve also plumped for an electric frying pan to get full use out of our limited LPG gas in Morocco, about 30L. Angie had a go with our rellies electric frying pan in Australia & was very impressed, so we thought we try one. A few DIY jobs inside, door hinges and cupboard catches mostly, and we’ll be ready for the road. We’ve a niggling problem with the fridge freezer, it doesn’t seem to get cold enough somedays…but that’l have to wait, I’ve got all the spare parts for it with us.
For planning route stops we’re sticking with ‘Camperstop Europe 2016’, last time I updated from 2015 there were still mistakes being repeated in the 2016 copy, so I thought we’d update our copy next year, or maybe 2018, it’s a bit battered, but it’ll do. We now have an updated NKC camper contact app too, full off-line/on-line version. It’s a Dutch company app that highlights campsites and aires, paid and free, across Europe, just like ‘Camperstop Europe’ does, but I’ve found that very few are repeated between the two, so now we’ve loads of new options. Those, coupled with ‘Search-for-sites’, another great website that informs you of loads of campsites (some just tolerated MoHo parking) and free places to stop-over, should see us alright. I still rely on ‘Maps.me” to hunt out free car parks and places of interest, we also have Maps.me loaded on our phones to use as pedestrian GPS’s, always marking where we left Frankie/Charlie, it would be a bit embarrassing if we lost the moped, or couldn’t remember where we left the bus! (yes…it has happened hic…oops!). I’ve still got Microsoft Autoroute ( no longer available) with thousands of POI’s, campsites/Mc D’s/Aires/Wild spots/Bloggers stops etc. loaded onto ‘the old lappy’ should I need to fall back onto it.
So that’s it, time to give Charlie a good scrub, a good sweep out, check tyre pressures and the oil level…and GO! First stop as usual Canterbury and the very last pint of English real ale…
Next post, zooming through France towards Amsterdam. (I am catching up, slowly)