Ducal Palace of Vila Viçosa

We arrive late afternoon at Vila Viçosa. We have two possible stopovers – one is at the fire station for a couple of euros a night, but there are no other campers here and we generally like safety in numbers so we move further into town to a large car-park where there are two or three other campers and our app tells us that we can stop for free – perfect.

We are here to see the Ducal Palace of Vila Viçosa (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ducal_Palace_of_Vila_Vicosa) and a quick wander into town informs us that it’s shut until the Tuesday PM.  The rest of Monday we do a lap of the town including a lap of the castle walls. Like other walled towns and castles, the Portuguese basically say here are the walls – help yourself.  Don’t fall off! The walls are sheer on the inside, about 4 feet wide and drop in some places thirty feet. These walls seem to be trodden rarely (which is odd because they are wonderful) because they are also mossy.  We make our way around the castle walls which includes a lap of the cemetery.

The next day we visit the Palace but it’s a boring blog post because we are not allowed to take photos inside the Palace!  The tour is guided and it’s a nice small group.

After the Palace, it’s towards Elvas, which is the last planned stop in Portugal…


This is ‘Prewind’ – the few days build up of excitement before Rewind, the 80’s festival. This week our wonderful Dethleffs dealers, Pullingers, sorted all our outstanding niggles, so we are happy campers.

So we now have a 2KVA Inverter fitted and the laptop runs just fine – very low current draw through the inverter. It also means we can run the silly things that you end up needing, an iron, hair clippers, coffee machine etc!

Also the solar panels are now pumping out 15 amps in bright sunlight – thanks to a new solar controller. Thanks to Barrie and the team, we are all set for off grid adventures! (https://pullingers.co.uk/).

While Pullingers sorted the inverter and solar panels we took a quick visit to the Colne Valley Railway who had steam running. They only have a mile of track, but it’s a great couple of hours. http://www.colnevalleyrailway.co.uk/

Travel Map

Just in case you do want to know where we are, here is a link to a handy map that shows roughly where we are and where we’ve been:https://www.turbotas.co.uk/webapps/Locator/map.php

This is pretty rough and ready at the moment, but we might improve if it’s useful! You can’t really use this to steal the beast because it only shows locations that we decide to publish. We built this by reverse engineering the anti theft/tracking device data. 

It’ll be interesting to see how accurate this is as we head overseas. We don’t want to tell you what brand of device is fitted as they were spectacularly unhelpful and would not even give us a manual for the dealer fitted option.  The only interaction we have had is a bill for the tracking and a phone number if the vehicle is stolen – that’s it basically!

Feel free to post a comment if you think it’s great/awful or with feature suggestions!

National Trust Hinton Ampner

Monday 9th August and the post festival blues kick in. We didn’t want to come straight home – that seems like a waste of a day, so we visited the closest National Trust property – Hinton Ampner. A great couple of hours strolling around, scoffing delicious ice cream and eating expensive sandwiches. Interesting Country house.

We got off to a shaky start though: Campervan drivers beware, the gate is really narrow and not very tall! We couldn’t fit so had to phone up and get the alternative parking arrangements that coaches use. We ended up parked right in front of the house. A reminder that for much of our european travels, we need to research our day trips and make sure we can park! https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hinton-ampner

Parley Glade & Studland Bay

We started a multi day adventure on Sunday 29th July, beginning with a nice trip down to the south coast and three nights at Parley Glade – a C&C Certificated Site near Bournemouth (https://www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk/campsites/uk/dorset/ferndown/parleyglade) .

T was able to work Monday and Tuesday, so it was a good test that all the tech worked as it should. The site was nice and quiet and had great cell phone coverage! It feels odd sitting in a campervan, but still being part of the rat-race.

We met the site wardens and had a great chat with them about the good old days! The only thing to watch for at Parley Glade is the Bournemouth Airport flight line. Didn’t bother us – we’ve lived near Gatwick for a long time!

On Monday, dropped Charlie at Studland Bay for his volunteering week on Brownsea Island.

Bournemouth Aviation Museum & Fort Nelson

Wednesday August 1st and it’s Festival time! Leaving Parley Glade, It’s two quick stops, one at Bournemouth Aviation Museum and another high up on the hills overlooking the Solent at Fort Nelson – and then it’s off to Wickham. 

The Aviation museum is great. It was saved from closure a few years ago when it looked like redeveloping the airport would put an end to it, but a small parcel of land was found over the road and the museum was saved. 

There are a few whole aircraft and a few fuselage sections – probably 20 aircraft in all. What is pretty awesome about Bournemouth is that most of the aircraft can be clambered into, so it’s a hands on experience. It was a great day to visit as it was not at all busy and a couple of hours was blissfully spent clambering in and out of aircraft like the Avro Vulcan and flicking various levers and switches and just generally appreciating what a bugger warbirds must be to fly. (https://www.aviation-museum.co.uk/)

Multi-vanning into a festival is much easier if you meet up a few KM away and arrive together. 

So it was a quick slog over to Fort Nelson for the meetup for Wickham. Fort Nelson is a Victorian fort set in 19 acres of fortifications and secret underground tunnels and on top of a big hill overlooking the Solent (https://royalarmouries.org/venue/fort-nelson/). Parking is £3 and it’s free to get into the fort – yes, free! There is a good selection of modern and ancient artillery pieces including a couple of sections of Saddams supergun.


Wednesday 1st August and both campervans head to Wickham from Fort Nelson. We did Wickham two years ago and we were instant fans. It is a relatively small festival with two main tented stages and a couple of smaller stages. Less than 10,000 people.

Highlights for us were Steve Harley, Squeeze, Richard Thompson, Black Kat Boppers and of course our favorite Gerry Colvin. The Undertones were also great but reminded us that we don’t know many of their songs.

Ranty comedian Jonathan Pye was something to behold. Selina bumped into an ex work colleague and Toby bumped into an old friend not seen for 20 years, so it was a great social weekend too! We only have one festival left and then we will get across la Manche as fast as we can!

Shakedown trip 2: Cornbury Festival and Blenheim Palace

Summary: Weekend was great, the van was *almost* great, the water tank leak is sorted, all our gear is now packed in the van. Sadly, the solar panels are still not working. 

Thursday saw us head up to Great Tew Park in Oxfordshire for the return of the awesome Cornbury Festival. Everything *except the solar panels* worked just great. We are still learning the personality of the new van, but getting there.

The weekend brought us great music from the likes of UB40 and Squeeze and then on Monday we decided to avoid the traffic by spending the day at Blenheim Palace which was just around the corner. We had passed loads of cops and demonstrators on the way up on Thursday and it took us a while to work out that it was all Trump related.

It’s been a decade since we visited Blenheim, so it was high time for the return trip. It felt a little more seedy than last time knowing the feckless chump had been there, but what made it an interesting day was that the palace was hired for a film shoot by a Bollywood film company, so we got to watch a few scenes being shot, which was pretty cool.

But it does look like Mothership will need a trip back to the dealer before we leave to get those panels sorted.

Selina has only a few days of work left and then the heat is on to get out of the country and hit the road!

Mothership II Shakedown trip #1

We took MS2 on a shakedown trip down to Horam in Sussex and had a delightful couple of days in Horam Manor Touring Park. We had a couple of niggles including a leak from the fresh water tank. It seems that the tank covers were not screwed down tight enough. There is also a little seepage from the drain hose and the overflow hose. The tank covers are now numbered and marked so we know if they come loose again. We’ll drain the tank properly and check the drain hose in the next couple of days. A leak in either of the water tanks is a big deal in a double floored van because the water leaks inside and not down onto the road as with underslung tanks. We probably lost a litre so there was half an hour of careful mopping out and it’s sorted now. We think no damage has been done. This is an important thing to fix as we do need to travel with the water tank full – we don’t have the budget to be on campsites all the time, so wild camping means carrying everything for a few days with us.

The acrylic mount for the sat nav works reasonably well – it seems to flex a little so some strengthening strips to glue on the back over the next few days. There’s a niggle or two with the captains table – it has a latching middle leaf that seems not to latch properly plus some magnets that hold it together that are not fitted properly. Again, on the snag list they go!

We’ve been fitting the obligatory tack matting to the cupboards and storage spaces to try and stop things sliding around and we still have to sort out the bathroom cabinets – they have only a tiny lip so almost everything falls out when you open the doors. I guess this luxury tourer is meant to travel from place to place without anything in the bathroom lockers!

The fridge needs another shelf – so we’ve emailed Dometic to see if we can buy a spare. The auto switchover for the fridge seems to be non-intuitive, so we’ve turned it off for now. 

The underfloor storage areas seem to be naturally morphing into beer, wine and soft drinks storage.

We decided not to test the power budget this weekend so we stayed on hookup. We have a music festival in a couple of weeks so that will be the first wild camping weekend. We don’t expect any issues, but we still want to make some changes to the solar setup before we go away.

It was a scorching weekend and the van was certainly warm, but we have found that the Alpa layout allows us to completely partition the cab off and that makes a big difference. The 7(!) skylights mean that we can get plenty of air in and the windows all open really wide too. The overcab bed was really comfortable and we hope to have proper bedding for it in a week or so.

All in all, we tested pretty much everything on the van this weekend and apart from the above niggles everything seemed to work just fine, although the snag list is longer now than it was on Friday! But we are moving onwards and upwards!

Seville, Spain

Seville has been on our list for years.

We arrive at our (un)intended stopover – we had been looking at a paid stopover location but sally satnav has an out of date ‘Points-Of-Interest’ database and took us somewhere else! So we ended up at  a free car park first where there are around ten other motorhomes. We wandered down the road to the formal stop and it’s in a horrible industrial estate so we decided to stay put – we didn’t need water or sewage emptying – we always try to travel full/empty respectively!

The decision to go free nearly bit us on the bum though: On the second night we were relaxing in the van early evening when we heard a thump and the van shakes.  It was part way through ‘Love Actually’ and we were onto the second bottle of wine. T went out of the van and two scrotes are hanging around the back of the van and they immediately wander off trying to be nonchalant.  They were trying to nick the push bikes off the back of the van and had not realised were were home, duh! Tuggers. It’s no mean feat they were attempting – The bikes are six feet off the ground and are locked to the rack. But we put the second lock on to be safe. We alerted the guy in the van next door and he says he has stayed in the same place for ages (He works in Seville and lives in his camper) and it’s the first issue he’s seen.  It’s probably our own fault TSE, the bikes are expensive and not bagged.

This puts a tiny downer on Seville – in three months it’s the first trouble of any kind that we have spotted despite many warnings about specific places we have been from various people we have met.  We plan to be out on the bikes the next day so we decide it’s fine to continue in the same car-park and we think the tuggers won’t come back having been caught in the act.  All the other vans will be on the lookout now too.

In the end, the next morning, we go for caution and move the campervan to a paid location where we can also water and charge up the battery.

In fact, although we will use hookups less, this site gives us a chance to try out our electric hob.  It was a 20€ purchase from the supermarket and should save some gas on those occasions when we have already paid for the hookup!

We cycle the length and breadth of the town taking in the many wonderful sights such as Plaza de España, Maria Luisa Park, Real Alcazar of Seville and Seville Cathedral.

Next we fancy some Sherry, so it’s south towards Jerez!