Sunday, May 26, 2013

Newbies to A-Frames...

We have tried a few setups that would give us some transport when we are parked in one place for a while.

Cycles, then a scooter and rack (which was great) but we then acquired our lovely dog and the scooter became rarely used. I wasn't keen to be towing a trailer around with us although I have no problem with towing having had quite a bit of previous experience with lots of different trailers but the storage of it would always be an issue for us whether based at home or visiting friends and family as we do in our motorhome. We also use Aires for most of our European travelling and parking space could sometimes be an issue for motorhome, car and trailer.

The most practical solution for our usage was to use an A-frame. It means that we have a car to use for exploring and other general use - the car can also provide extra useful storage space when travelling as a bonus!

We (I) came up with the bright idea of all this when we were in Spain before returning to the UK for the summer. We had already committed to a start date for our job as campsite wardens and the ferry was booked for a couple of days beforehand so time was a bit tight for actually getting a car and the A-frame.

Firstly, I sourced the car I wanted over the internet - sadly it was in Gateshead and we were going to be working in Cornwall! A deal was done over the phone to buy it (I know, I know, but you have to take the odd chance here and there!) and the dealer agreed to deliver it to a location that I would advise later.
Car bought, a 2003 Suzuki Jimny which I had read was a good car to tow (post 2004 models are not however). It is a perfect size for the two of us and Digger, plus as a very light 'proper' 4x4 its great for getting off the beaten track when required.

I then started to research a supplier for the A-frame itself. After much reading about possible regulation changes looming from 2014 I contacted several suppliers via email to enquire about costings and suitability etc. Surprisingly, not all of the companies even answered and others either said the car was too old for them to adapt or, another wanted to sell an A-frame + car package and wasn't interested otherwise!

The company that was the most helpful was They offered 2 options, a traditional overrun braked A-frame which apparently should still comply with the regs as long as bought and fitted prior to the changes, and a newer electrically operated setup that is the best on the market (their words). Just under £1000 for the overrun and around £1500 for the superior RVi2 package.

Towtal needed the car for a day to make all the fittings prior to it being towed away and they kindly agreed to take delivery of my Suzuki the day before I could get to collect the finished item. A call was then made to the car dealer in Gateshead and arrangements made to have the car delivered on a specific day to Towtals's premises in Stoke-on-Trent. A plan had come together!

The due day arrived and we pulled into Towtal's yard and there sat our new (to us) car with its A-frame brackets poking out through its front bumper - the work had been done! The car wasn't quite as tidy as I had hoped (not really unexpected though) but nothing that a little TLC won't put right. We were given a smooth demonstration of how the apparatus assembled and worked and how to alter the electronic setup as required and that was it, we were now A-framers!

There seemed to be quite a lot to remember but I was confident that it would all make sense with practice. Aprehensively we set off towards our destination for the summer - Cornwall. I think we pulled into services about 3 times to check all was well with the 'toad' - nothing to worry about as all was fine. We had a pre-arranged meeting in Somerset so overnighted at one of our pub stopovers which gave us the opportunity to uncouple and use our car for the first time.

Next morning I coupled up again checking, double checking and triple checking all the steps and I don't know how many more times I checked the steering lock was off, as was the handbrake and that the car was in neutral!

Everything worked exactly as it should and we carried on down to Cornwall. The car is now independant from the motorhome and won't need to go back on the A-frame until our return to Spain at the end of the season.

One week in......

Well, we've completed our first whole week of work!

Our normal weekly hours are around 16-20 but with all the extra preparations to areas on the site we've clocked up 80 between us - and we're pretty shattered!

Our new rotas have been issued now, so from now on we will will be working to a shift pattern shared with the other warden couple. There are 4 shifts in a day - each couple working 2 of them except for when a couple has their 2 days off a week when the other couple covers all 4.

We don't do our own shifts until later this afternoon so we have most of the day to ourselves and the weather is lovely!

The remodelled swimming pool opened yesterday, just in time for the mass influx of holiday makers and very popular its proving too :)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Busy, busy, busy

Our first work tasks have been to help get the seasonal parts of the site into top condition for the start of the main holiday period which starts this May bank holiday weekend. Preparations have included lots of extra cleaning of toilet, shower and kitchen facilities.

Today we've moved up a gear incorporating grass strimming and pool accessory cleaning - at this point we are well on schedule for the mass influx of campers at the weekend.

Cleaned, mown and strimmed

Recreation area - the quiet before the storm!

caromac cleaning the sun loungers

Well, we're ready! Smile

But its not just all work as we've had lots of free time to explore the local beaches and to find our local pub which is about a mile away - and a very nice (dog friendly) pub it is too The Barley Sheaf in Gorran Churchtown

So, three days in and it seems like we have been here for ages. The management and staff are very friendly and pretty laid back too considering the build up to the busy period.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Campsite Wardens

A slight change of direction for my blog....

This summer caromac and I have become..... campsite wardens!

We normally spend a lot of each year touring in our motorhome and a lot of the year is spent in Spain but there's always an annual trip to the UK for MOT and service etc (and to visit family and friends of course) which avoids the hottest times when in southern areas. Well this year we decided to spend the whole of the summer in the UK and thought we would try incorporating our motorhome interests into this plan.

I thought I would blog about our experience because we have found out by friends' reactions to our plans, that a lot of people seem to think it would be an ideal occupation for them too but not many actually progress to doing it - so I'll tell it how it is, to offer encouragement (or discouragement) to others .

A couple of months ago Caromac drafted a suitable CV for us as a couple and emailed it to all the campsite job vacancies that we could find - we ignored the ones that offered just a free pitch in return for work, we intended to actually earn a living while doing this!

We had a very encouraging response and shortlisted a couple of opportunities and, following a telephone interview we were offered jobs at a lovely campsite/holiday park in Cornwall. A start date was agreed and we arrived a few days in advance to settle in and get our bearings. We have been allocated a fully serviced hardstanding and we actually have a sea view across the park, so we're delighted!

With no previous campsite warden experience we are quite happy to be considered newbies and the other couple who share the wardens duties with us have been explaining and showing us the ropes as this is their 3rd year here.

Today was our first working day and we were shown our cleaning duties which form the mainstay of our jobs. With the site being so nice and the facilities modern the cleaning doesn't look like its going to be too difficult. Normal routines will involve around 16-20 hours of work each per week but there will always be other jobs available which are optional. There are 2 consecutive days off each week and we both have the same days so there should be plenty of free time to enjoy the facilities and explore the area. We're fortunate to have an all-year-round dog friendly beach within 10 minutes walk too.

So here we are, getting paid for work and living in a beautiful part of the countryside in our motorhome.

To be continued.....