going out West…

Sometimes you just have to ‘strike whilst the iron is hot’ – this is especially true with the weather in early spring in the UK. If the opportunity arises to make the most of a great looking day, make the most of it! I had been thinking during the week it would be fun to head out West and go to the small town of Pevensey and have a walk along its shingle beach, so with a mixture of sunshine and overcast clouds, it was great to take the camper out for a trip west along the East Sussex coast.

On the way over I noticed a few really nice vintage cars heading in the opposite direction, a nice old Austin, a period ice cream van and a tasty looking Aston Martin. I assumed that maybe there must be a vintage car show on somewhere, and sure enough, as I pulled into the small town of Pevensey, I saw that the vintage car show was going on that afternoon right there in the beach car park!

Unfortunately I had arrived a bit too late, as when I pulled up, the show was closing down and all the cars had left and were heading home, all except a nice Saab 96 that was left like Billy no mates in the middle of the car park

a lone Saab 96 was the last vintage car left when I arrived

a lone Saab 96 was the last vintage car left when I arrived

So my sense of timing might be out, but I’ll have to remember the show for next year instead! On the plus side, the I was still let into the car park for free and had a choice of pretty much anywhere to park!

a day trip to Pevensey beach

a day trip to Pevensey beach

So as the weather began to brighten up, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to go for a walk along Pevensey beach before coming back for some local fish and chips and then sitting back to enjoy the view and a freshly brewed mug of tea in the camper!

a tea room with a view

a tea room with a view

Roll on summer!

the sun goes down on a brilliant time at Freddy Files 2014 in Ninove

So before it was time to head back, it was hard to not just have one more look around at the vast variety of vintage vehicles on display in the streets of Ninove, but this time these are some of the ones that were caught by my friend Ollie’s camera this time as we walked around, always nice to get a different perspective on things…

Take for example, the evolution and development of the different noses on these two beautiful Karmann Ghia’s – one a stunning convertible, the other a ‘Razor Edge’ Karmann Ghia

the nose profiles of different VW Karmann Ghia's

the nose profiles of different VW Karmann Ghia’s

The subtly of the satin paint finish, red pin stripe and minimal detailing on this pressed bumper VW Ambulance really made it stand out.

satin paint and minimal detailing look great on this ambulance

satin paint and minimal detailing look great on this ambulance

It was great to see a wide spectrum of the vintage VW colour palette on display on the various Beetles that lined the streets of Ninove, rubbing shoulders (or should that be wheel arches!?) with more custom colour schemes

beautiful vintage colour palette of Beetles lined the streets

beautiful vintage colour palette of Beetles lined the streets

I’ve always had a soft spot for ragtop Beetles, and this ragtop Oval Beetle with its rear pop out windows was very cool indeed!

cool oval ragtop beetle with rear pop out windows

cool oval ragtop beetle with rear pop out windows

However Ollie was rather smitten with this very sleek Porsche 356 Outlaw, the excuse being it would make a perfect daily driver to work!

smooth detailed Porsche 356 Outlaw gleaming in the sun

smooth detailed Porsche 356 Outlaw gleaming in the sun

I think if I were looking for a real ‘work’ vehicle, then in my opinion, this tough looking, original paint Crew Cab would be the perfect solution! Plenty of people carrying room upfront, yet a load bed at the back for any gear or equipment you might need, and then check out the hard-core, off-road rubber on the wheels, perfect!

check out the off-road rubber on this tough looking cool crew cab

check out the off-road rubber on this tough looking cool crew cab

The beautiful sunny weather of the afternoon in Ninove made it very hard to tear yourself away from the Freddy Files show, but unfortunately it was time to begin our journey back home after a fantastic time in the town.

With the perfect driving weather all set, it was now time to fill the tanks and head back to the Le Shuttle and the Channel tunnel in France. As this time on our return journey we were not part of a larger cruise or convoy, and with the roads back to the coast being pretty clear, we made it back to the Channel Tunnel in good time without needing to stop.

So time for one last picture of our busses before we finally caught Le Shuttle home. It has to be said that both busses performed faultlessly, and were a real pleasure to drive, after all, this is what the are intended for!

So take a bow, Ollie’s very cool, original paint bus, with its work in progress Westfalia interior and upgraded running gear and engine…

about to board Le Shuttle for the channel crossing home

about to board Le Shuttle for the channel crossing home

…and my more stock VW camper with it’s Canterbury Pitt interior, both made it there and back without a hitch!

homeward bound after a great trip to Ninove

homeward bound after a great trip to Ninove

Roll on Freddy Files Ninove, 2015…

diggin’ the detail… it’s where it’s at – more Ninove Freddy Files show pics

One of the things I enjoy the most when walking around a vintage car show such as the Freddy Files event at Ninove in Belgium, is seeing all the various little details or contrasts in style that can be found, the juxtaposition of vintage versus modern, original versus restored or simply the subtle versus the in your face looks that are often on display. Although to be fair, if you look at my Instagram or Flickr feeds, you will see that more often than not, it is the detail to be found in everyday life that fascinates me and draws the attention of my lense most anytime!

Like on this original paint Split Screen bus, I loved the tiny attention to detail to blend in the Union Jack with the overall aged look of the bus…

UK flag, patina style

UK flag, patina style

…as opposed to the stand out simplicity and boldness of taking a vintage Volkswagen Split screen bus, and giving it a contemporary monochromatic grey paint scheme. The result is a very subtle, yet really stylish looking bus!

vintage VW given a contemporary monochromatic paint scheme

vintage VW given a contemporary monochromatic paint scheme

One of my favourite campers at the show was the beautifully battle-scarred, White over Mouse grey sub hatch Westfalia camper. I loved the way it wore its battle scars on its sleeve and carried its aged exterior with pride.

headlight detail from a beautiful battle scarred sub hatch Westfalia camper

headlight detail from a beautiful battle-scarred sub hatch Westfalia camper

Equally I loved the curved, sensuous lines of the T34 Karmann Ghia ‘Razor Edge’ headlight detail, such beautiful organic styling, barely a straight line in sight! Really loving the contrasting yellow headlight lenses too, fast becoming a trend I suspect!

the sensuous lines of the T34 Karmann Ghia ‘Razor Edge’ headlight detail

the sensuous lines of the T34 Karmann Ghia ‘Razor Edge’ headlight detail

Then look at the vast array of wheel size and design on display. Some serious effort and time went into getting these full polished Porsche Fuchs with their detailed centre cap ready to roll on…

beautifully polished Porsche Fuch with detailed centre cap

beautifully polished Porsche Fuch with detailed centre cap

…but equally I really liked to see the modern trend of almost luminous coloured wheels applied to these solid steels that this vintage VW Beetle was sporting, a nice little twist!

standard solid steel VW Beetle wheel with a modern colour style twist

standard solid steel VW Beetle wheel with a modern colour style twist

Seeing the clean and simple lines of this deluxe Beetle dash with its beautiful vintage radio reminded me of my much missed early Ragtop beetle…

the clean chrome lines of a deluxe beetle dash

the clean chrome lines of a deluxe beetle dash

…but if you like simplicity, then the Flandria moped speedo certainly epitomised it, but with an added dash of aged patina!

aged simplicity of a Flandria moped speedo

aged simplicity of a Flandria moped speedo

There were lots of various ‘hot’ engines on display, unfortunately way above my pay grade or understand to fully appreciate their complexity, however visually stunning they appeared. However, one engine that caught my eye was this fairly stock looking flat 4 air cooled unit in the back of a Beetle, I just liked the way it had been stripped back to bare metal and cleaned up to give a fairly urban industrial look with its satin/natural gun-metal grey appearance, simple but effective styling.

bare metal industrial look engine detail

bare metal industrial look engine detail

All in all, the Freddy Files event in Ninove was a great first introduction to European VW shows, that both my friend Ollie and I really enjoyed. I think it really benefitted from being in the urban context of Ninove itself as opposed to being in some remote location, and it was great to have such a warm welcome from the town itself who really seemed to embrace the event. Looks like I might need to book this event into the calendar as a regular show to go to! Roll on 2015!

show time in Ninove – Freddy Files style as the VW invasion takes over

Woke up early to a perfect clear blue sky, looks like it’s going to be great weather for the main Freddy Files show in the centre of Ninove today! So after a quick breakfast, it was time to follow some of our VW neighbours who had parked near us on the street, and head into the main town centre to get a prime location to park our campers in. As soon as you started getting closer to the centre of town, you became aware of the sheer number of vintage VW’s both ahead and behind you on the roads – up to this point, I had not realised just how popular the day’s event was going to be!

Fortunately we were fairly close to the front of the queues to get in, and were soon directed to our allocated parking area in the sun (the whole show was really well organised from start to finish!). So once parked up, it was time to grab some coffee and croissant to go and start exploring the streets of Ninove…

some really amazing beetles lined the streets of Ninove

some really amazing beetles lined the streets of Ninove

It was amazing to just walk around the main and back streets of Ninove and see all available spaces taken over by such a wide range of vintage cars and buses, there were quite literally thousands of different vintage vehicles that poured into the city centre for the show, and the town really seemed to embrace the vintage invasion, as it was packed with families and automotive fans alike!

this was a intense orange Karmann Ghia was not for the shy

this was an intense orange Karmann Ghia – definaitly not for the shy or retiring!

Plenty to grab your attention as you wandered around the streets, I particularly liked this very straight and solid Dove Blue Crew Cab with its cyclops light and stroker 1776cc engine, very nice indeed!

always loved crew cabs, and this one was very sweet

always loved crew cabs, and this one was very sweet

Then there was this battered but beautiful Mouse Grey and white Westfalia sub hatch camper which was an amazing looking camper in its original paint and battle scars…

battered but beautiful sub hatch westy camper

battered but beautiful sub hatch Westy camper

…and was complete with its Westfalia camping interior, very nice indeed!

original Westfalia camping interior was in great condition

original Westfalia camping interior was in great condition

Then as a contrast, there was this very nicely restored early, pressed bumper, semaphore Palm Green over Sand Green microbus still with its microbus interior looking like it had just rolled off the original VW production line!

stunning Palm Green/Sand Green colour combo on this early bus

stunning Palm Green/Sand Green colour combo on this early bus

The show was not just limited to Volkswagens (which was nice), and I came across this fantastic little Flandria motorbike!

this Flandria motorbike was cooler than ice cubes in an igloo

this Flandria motorbike was cooler than ice cubes in an igloo

There was also a fair amount of quality Porsche 356’s, 911’s and 912’s parked around the streets on Ninove as well.

there were some great looking Porsche 356’s on the streets

there were some great looking Porsche 356’s on the streets

The cars and bikes just kept on pouring into the town centre all morning, so when you thought you had done it all, a whole new selection of voltage vehicles rolled up and added to the mix on the streets!

Time for a Belgian waffle and a bit of a break I think!

Welcome to Witkap Brewery Slaghmuylder in Ninove

After a nice smooth trip through the EuroTunnel, a bite to eat at the services as the various vintage cars and buses gathered, we all set off for our initial destination, the Witkip Brewery Slaghmuylder in Ninove! The beautiful old cobbled courtyard of the brewery was a fantastic setting for the initial gathering of over a 100 plus various vintage Volkswagens, Porsches and even a Bedford Commer camper that had made it there!

the funky Brewery Slaghmuylder typographic signage

the funky Brewery Slaghmuylder typographic signage

The lovely people at the brewery had produced some great commemorative glasses for us so it seemed rude not to try a small sample of one of their classic Belgian beers whilst we were there!

the Brewery Slaghmuylder vintage bottle collection

the Brewery Slaghmuylder vintage bottle collection

We also got a chance to look around the mini museum of the breweries history and vintage memorabilia which was pretty cool. However, talking of cool, this was a great chance to see some of the great rides that had made it to Ninove as part of the cruise ready for the main Freddy Flies show in the town centre the following day.

There were some great examples of some original paint survivor bugs and buses, some running stock, some with more high performance upgraded engines and running gear like this beautiful Oval Beetle which had apparently just completed the engine build and fitted the engine 20 minutes ago!

beautiful survivor oval bug with a new high performance engine still being run in

beautiful survivor oval bug with a new high performance engine still being run in

There was also a great selection of restored busses and bugs which had been done to a very high standard. I loved the subtle choice of colours used on this beautiful 13 window deluxe bus, period looking colours with a modern subtle twist!

beautifully finished 13 window deluxe split screen bus

beautifully finished 13 window deluxe split screen bus

Along with the vintage Volkswagens, there were also some very nice examples of classic Porsche 912’s and 911’s to add some family related variety to the automotive gathering.

sleek looking Porsche 912

sleek looking Porsche 912

Often it is the simplicity or detailing of classic cars that I love, such as the cool rear light cluster on this sharp-looking Type 34 Karmann ‘Razor Edge’ Ghia styled by Italian engineer Sergio Sartorelli – how cool is that?

sharp looking Type 34 Karmann ‘Razor Edge’ Ghia rear light cluster

sharp-looking Type 34 Karmann ‘Razor Edge’ Ghia rear light cluster

So Porsche Fuchs are played out in the VW scene? Still looking pretty spot on to me!

some nicely polished Porsche Fuchs on display

some nicely polished Porsche Fuchs on display

Then of course there were some great early bay window buses and campers as well, particularly loved this original paint example with its contrasting yellow headlight lenses and tough looking mesh grills, loving that look! Mental note: I think that would look great on my split screen camper as well…

vintage style mesh grilles and yellow headlight lenses looking great on a VW Early Bay Window

vintage style mesh grilles and yellow headlight lenses looking great on a VW Early Bay Window

If all of this however, was just the hors d’oeuvre, the main show in Ninove town centre tomorrow should be pretty special! So after a few hours of chatting and looking at the various vehicles on display in the courtyard of the brewery, it was time to head off into the town centre to park up and set-up camp in the streets before heading off for a meal and a few drinks, remembering that it was an early start for the main show in the town centre tomorrow morning…

finally on the road to Ninove for the Freddy Files VW show

Although I managed to sleep through my 5.15am alarm (I blame it on the high quality of the local beer served at the Drum Inn!), I was very thankful for the back-up of a second alarm call in the form of my friend Ollie banging on the window of my camper at 5.30am to wake me up so that we could get to the Euro Tunnel for our 6.00am booking! It was a case of quickly putting some clothes on, throwing some water on my face and a short drive down to junction 11A of the M20 to the EuroTunnel and get our VW buses loaded upon Le ShuttleNinove, here we come!

With our overnight stay at the Drum Inn being so close, we easily made it to the Euro Tunnel with time to spare and within no time at all, we were both aboard Le Shuttle with our Split screen campers safely parked inside the train. The journey is surprisingly quick (approx. 30 minutes) which I guess is not that surprising as the train travels at 140 km/h (nearly 90mph), but it gave us time to stretch our legs and grab some munchies for breakfast.

both VW campers safely aboard the Le Shuttle in the EuroTunnel on the way to Calais, France

both VW campers safely aboard the Le Shuttle in the EuroTunnel on the way to Calais, France

Once we had disembarked on the French side of the EuroTunnel in Calais, we traveled a short distance on the A16/E40 to the Bonjour services and met up with some of the other people and their vintage VW’s and Porsches who were gathering for the UK cruise to Ninove. It soon became apparent that this was going to be quite some cruise as the number of different vintage vehicles began to take over the service station forecourt!

the UK cruise to Ninove, Belgium cruise begins to assemble at the Bonjour services in France…

the UK cruise to Ninove, Belgium cruise begins to assemble at the Bonjour services in France…

We waited here for an hour to allow people catching later bookings on the EuroTunnel to arrive, plus other people from France to arrive and become part of the cruise to Ninove. This provided good trade for the service stain with people filling up their tanks and taking the opportunity to grab some breakfast from the service station cafe, coffee and croissant, how very continental!

bus buddies arrive in France ready for a road trip to Ninove, Belgium

bus buddies arrive in France ready for a road trip to Ninove, Belgium

Then once everyone had arrived, some pictures had been taken, it was time to hit the road and head off to the Witkap Brewery in Ninove. I thought I would take the opportunity to capture the cruise to Ninove via a short time-lapse movie, hope you enjoy watch it…

no sleep till Ninove, and maybe not that much more on arrival!

OK, a final few bits to do before my friend Ollie and I were going to push-off and head to the VW show in Ninove in Belgium. I had managed to get most things on my ‘to do list’ done, but as it was going to be a fair old drive, I was keen to make the most of my newly installed leisure battery, and get a few bits of audio kit installed into the camper so I had some music to listen to on the journey

I had some old skool Rockford Fosgate and Alpine components that I had used over the years, and some bits that I had been saving for when I had a camper on the road again, so I was keen to get some kind of system put together for the trip, plus maybe a few mix CD’s to keep things rocking on the journey! I managed to get a working system installed in the end, although some elements are installed in a temporary manner and location initially, but hey, I now have music for the journey!

As always, a bit of a mad rush to get everything sorted, but finally I managed to get everything sorted and packed, ready to head off for an overnight stop near the Folkestone Euro Tunnel, this way it would make the 6am booking a bit easier to make! So time to fill the tanks and do the 45 mile first stage of the journey to our overnight stop near Folkestone…

packed and ready for the road trip to Ninove, Belgium

packed and ready for the road trip to Ninove, Belgium

I had done some previous research and found a great old pub just near the Euro Tunnel terminal that had facilities for camping, or just for a simple overnight stay for those catching early trains or ferries. So we had booked a stay and a meal there as it had a unisex shower and toilet room separate from the pub which were available 24/7. It also provides 7 electric hook-ups, 14 touring pitches plus tents pitches in the summer. The site is mainly designed for people looking for a stop over before or after going across the Channel as the tunnel is only 5 minutes away (perfect for us!) and the Dover ferries 20 minutes away if you were towing a caravan.

We had a great welcome, nice food and some great local beer, so the trip had already got off to a perfect start! Highly recommended!

Next time I head off to Europe via the Chunnel, I will definitely be staying there again!

The Drum Inn, Stone Street, Stanford North, Ashford, Kent, TN25 6DN

Now all we need to do is get up on time in the morning, start the campers and head to the Chunnel, Ninove, Belgium, here we come!

stopping things sliding around in the back

With the new cushions and cushion covers sorted, it was time to put and keep them in place! As the seat bases are made of smooth, varnished plywood, they can be a bit slippery, especially the rear facing buddy seat as this has no other cushions either side to help keep things in place. The last thing I wanted on the trip to Ninove was to find everything in the back had magically rearranged itself by the time I had arrived in Belgium!

Rhino Ultratape rug gripper (48mm x 4.800mm)

Rhino Ultratape rug gripper (48mm x 4.800mm)

In the first instance I thought I would try out some Rhino Ultratape rug gripper to help keep the cushion in place. The double-sided mesh style tape was fairly easy to apply, although a little tricky sometimes to lift the edge and start to remove the second layer of protective backing tape off once the first side is removed and positioned.

strips of the Rhino Ultratape rug gripper in place with protective backing tape showing

strips of the Rhino Ultratape rug gripper in place with protective backing tape showing

The tape is easy to cut with household scissors and then position in place.

carefully remove protective backing tape

carefully remove protective backing tape

The protective backing tape is then removed and the cushion simply posited on top.

position cushion in place and the job is done!

position cushion in place and the job is done!

Another little job ticked off the list! Time will tell how good or long it lasts, but initially at least, it does seem to do the trick!

out with the old and in with the new… the VW Canterbury Pitt interior gets an update

The day has arrived where the Canterbury Pitt interior in the rear of the VW Split screen gets a well over due makeover, as at last the old, thin, faded and poorly fitted cushion covers get ditched in favour of a bit of an upgrade! As the existing door/seat panels, and  front seat covers were all in good condition, these would act as the basis for the colour palette to work with, so the theme for the choice interior fabric was coffee and cream…

coffee and cream colour palette for the seat fabric and detailing

coffee and cream colour palette for the seat fabric and detailing

To get the seat covers etc. done, I was recommended a local lady who ran a small specialist upholstery service. So along with getting the existing cushions recovered, I had an extra two cushions made up to replace two that the previous owner seemed to have ‘mislaid’ somewhere that are required to make up a 3/4 width double bed. I also had a custom cushion made up to create a full width rear seat when the cooler was not being used or taken on a journey.

Before…

3/4 Rear seating with storage under and 12v cooler

3/4 Rear seating with storage under and 12v cooler

after…

rear seats all covered with extra custom cushions also made

rear seats all covered with extra custom cushions also made

I am really pleased with both the quality of the fabric and the final result of the covers. They really transform the feeling and ‘lightness’ of the rear interior space, and colour wise, work well with the colour coordinated seat belts, the existing interior panels and the front seats.Stage 1 complete! So with the rear seats of the Canterbury Pitt interior all recovered and looking rather pleased with themselves, it was time to get some curtains sorted for the VW camper.

I had the curtains lined with a thermal blackout material to both limit heat loss at night through the window areas, but also to provide a light tight environment to sleep in, perfect for when I’ll be ‘camping’ in the streets of Ninove, Belgium soon!

matching thermal/blackout lined curtains fitted to complete the interior

matching thermal/blackout lined curtains fitted to complete the interior

The curtain fabric was also used for the piping detail on the edge of the removable seat covers, as a subtle visual way of tying the two interior fabric elements in together, to create a more unified interior space. To help reinforce this visual linkage, and create a subtle detail, a mixture of both the curtain and seat cover fabric was used to make curtain ties.

All in all the interior makeover has totally transformed the look and feel of the camper interior

such a neat idea, I’m surprised VW did not think of it originally!

Hidden away under the front drivers seat in a VW split screen camper, is the often overlooked, open compartment where I believe original tool kits were stored. Rather than leaving this storage space languishing in neglect, VW Jim came up with an ingenious solution to turn the space into a secure and lockable compartment with his simple Lockable tool chest lid, such a simple solution that I’m surprised that Volkswagen did not think of it originally as it really does look like a factory fit item!

the locker lid by VW Jim is a great little invention

the locker lid by VW Jim is a great little invention

It comes in different sizes to cater for both walk through campers (like mine) as well as those with a bench seat.

the locker lid when fitted looks like a factory fitted item

the locker lid when fitted looks like a factory fitted item

It simply slides into place via the guide runners underneath, and is secured via a simple user set combination lock. Perfect for creating an alternative to a lockable glove box where you can keep things safe and out of sight under your front seat.

simple but effective combination lock

simple but effective combination lock

I guess at some point in the future I could even get it sprayed up Blue White (Blauweiss) L289 to match the interior colour, or maybe as a contrast, do it in the lower half colour of  Velvet Green L512?