Thursday, 19 April 2012

Progress, Plans and Opinions

Paul the guy doing the repairs to the motor-home shell has completed the roof leak works. We have ordered and had dispatched the replacement goods for the kitchen and wet-room. Without detailing all the items and their specifics model No’s we bought a new fridge, oven/grill and hob/sink, and a few other peripheral items. However there will still be plenty for me to do when I get the motor-home back (hopefully sometime in May). I’m doing the actual shower fitting when I run in all new water pipes. I will then re-seat the external shell seal, this runs round the entire edge of the habitation unit on both sides. Then I have fit the new awning, change the table, replace the waste water tank and various other practical and cosmetic jobs I’ll detail as I go.

We’ve bought the material for the new soft furnishings and this has been delivered, so Paul's wife can cut the foam and make the new cushions. We expect with a minor modification to the backrest of one of the seats to reduce the cushion count from fourteen pieces to six, and we grab back the over cab bed area for storage. The question is: do I do neat cargo netting or actual cupboards? My head says elastic cargo netting as this allows air flow, and then turns what was once the bed into a bedding store… it also gives a great deal of additional standing room from the driving and passenger positions, and allows the forward air vent to let its light in. I may be overruled on the netting... but I think diesel price may eventually swing the argument back my way.

This brings me back to having things to do myself, now the leak works are complete. Motor-homes are designed generically, which is fine if you're doing what they are usually intended to do; which is in essence to take you away for a week or two, maybe a month or so at most in relative home from home comfort. However when you plan to condense your entire life into a box 17ft long 9ft high and a little over 6ft wide, and live in it for up to two years, you have to think long and hard about storage and longer and harder about whether your relationship is strong enough to deal with the highs and inevitable lows (but I won’t dwell on that now… it would be inappropriate without Amanda’s input).

So with the re-build issues in mind and storage and space utilisation being critical to both comfort and practicality, the finishing works that I want to do are very important and tailor the unit closer to what we believe our needs will be. We have effectively taken a five berth motorhome and removed two berths, while at the same time making the remaining three berths into one very large berth of: 1.85m by 2.10m. This big berth is important, because I mangled my back some time ago and need a lot of space to sleep, and despite the manufacturer describing the motorhome as five berths; we have never found the double beds comfortable for two, and subsequently when we go away, we usually sleep in separate beds. There seems to be a lot of bullshit in the design of motorhomes generally, and when we were at the Motorhome, Caravan and Camping show at the Excel in February, we were staggered by the amount of ostentatious fuel hungry, heavy crap that seems to be built into motorhomes… I’ve whinged about this elsewhere, and I may whinge about it some more.

We have removed the carpets to be replaced with thick plastic based flooring. We have had the bathroom re-built with just the wet area and toilet, this avoids duplicating the sink function, and after all; all the shower and sink waste water ends up in the same tank for disposal (the toilet is entirely separate and self contained). The question you have to ask you though is: why in a space so confined would you want two sinks? And especially when, if like us you frequent good quality campsites where you have both washing and washing up facilities, and in between times CLS’s where your own facilities come into their own and space becomes the absolute premium for comfort? And I guess that’s where my earlier whinge about modern motorhomes comes home to roost. Modern motorhomes seem to have borrowed far too many ideas from luxury day boats. Granted they are at first luxurious looking and comforting. However if you're a shit kicker who yomps across muddy fields, a fisherman covered in damp salty clothes and fish slime, or a mountain biker with a skid marks from tailbone to the top of your skull, then your Moho is not going to look pristine for very long at all... and if you have kids, well from experience they don’t take shoes off when entering building, so what hope when they are getting into a big car with beds and seats. Far from encouraging a new younger generation of explorers and travellers, they perturb people of our age (mid forties) and younger by virtue of the plush impractical furnishings and outwardly fine looking veneers. Our unit is 21 years old and looked and felt bigger inside than even some of the larger coachbuilts available as this years models, and that was even before I started paring it down, but I digress.

We have reduced the overall size of the hob sink combination because you get two burners instead of three on the new hob. That may seem counter intuitive but one of the burners is double the size of any of the three we had on the old hob. This clearly gives you a bigger cooking pan footprint, it means you can put the hob into a worktop area with more space around it, and as someone who spends a lot of time in the kitchen I am happy to bang the drum for elbow room ... also with bigger burners you can do more with bigger pans than small ones, especially if you can mount a steamer, or cook separate items within one large pan. The critical issue being that ideally you want good quality heavy pans with removable handles, so that you can transfer from hob to oven or grill, without losing the ability to close the door. If you can’t cook as well in your Moho as you can in your own home… well you might as well just bugger off back home.

For a few weeks things have been slow, but now they seem to have started to come together. It’s funny how plans start like this, as ephemera, pipe dreams, wishful thinking; fragile and intangible and want to disappear in a puff of impracticality, or straight up fear of the unknown. And who knows there may still be insurmountable obstacles, but today, right now there is actual tangible evidence that three months of talk is bearing fruit. I’ll leave it there for now, but I’ll be having to update a lot more frequently from here on in.

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