roof patina perfection and keeping great gutters great for the long run

For me, you can’t really beat the look of a genuine age faded, battered, original paint ‘survivor’ bus! 🙂 Mine had the original paint combination of L472 (Beige Grey) over the bottom half of L53 (Sealing Wax Red) and I just loved its Californian aged look of authenticity, it makes me smile every time I see it! 🙂

roof top patina perfection, L53 (Sealing Wax Red) showing through the L472 (Beige Grey) top colour

roof top patina perfection, L53 (Sealing Wax Red) showing through the L472 (Beige Grey) top colour

It’s interesting seeing the faded and worn through paint patina on the roof, as it helps tell a story of its manufacturing process back in the VW factory in Germany. Originally when the bus was first painted at the factory, once primed, the outside would have first been sprayed in a base coat of L53 Sealing Wax Red, before the top half was then painted in its final L472 Beige Grey colour. Over time, the Beige Grey has thinned and faded to reveal the Sealing wax Red base coat beneath.

looking at the last few days of summer over the roof patina

looking at the last few days of summer over the roof patina

Whilst I love this look, along with the various ‘character marks’ from its time with a full lengthy roof rack use at various swap meets in California, there are some small areas of the roof that I wanted to ensure didn’t turn into bigger problems further down the road!

sporting a full length roof rack for working various swap meet shows

sporting a full length roof rack for working various swap meet shows

Although the roof gutters are super straight and solid all around, the paint had worn through and disappeared in places. Unfortunately, it’s also the place where rain water and organic debris/leaves etc. often sits, so its all too easy for this to turn into a hidden rust trap. Although initially making sure these areas were kept clean, washed and waxed, they really needed some longer term protection moving forward.

lovely straight roof top gutters, but in need of cleaning up and future protection

lovely straight roof top gutters, but in need of cleaning up and future protection

For my longer term peace of mind, whilst getting the underneath of the bus protected, I wanted to get this sorted at the same time as unfortunately, even though I’m still in shorts and tshirt right now, winter is on the way! Trouble is, this is how vintage VW projects start to grow! Good job I love the bus is all I can say – looks like my job list for the guys at Resto Classics is getting a bit longer…

lovely straight roof top gutters, but in need of cleaning up and future protection

lovely straight roof top gutters, but in need of cleaning up and future protection

The gutters will need to be cleaned out, bare metalled and treated with some Granville Rust Cure – Heavy Duty Rust Converter before getting repainted on top.

lovely straight roof top gutters, but in need of cleaning up and future protection

lovely straight roof top gutters, but in need of cleaning up and future protection

I guess whilst at it some of the character marks might get looked at as well if they look to be a possible future rust problem…

in need of cleaning back to bare metal, rust proofing and future proofing

in need of cleaning back to bare metal, rust proofing and future proofing

Also, just out of the eye line of most people (not me being over 6’2″+!), there is a hand sized area over the rear passenger side corner where a small dent had been skimmed over with a small amount of filler. I guess this had a small dent at some point which had been skimmed over? Unfortunately the filler had cracked and exposed the metal underneath which had subsequently developed surface rust.

the rear roof quarter wearing its battle scars, but time to get this cleaned up and future proofed

the rear roof quarter wearing its battle scars, but time to get this cleaned up and future proofed

Although the cliché meme that often circles vintage VW forums ‘rust is not a crime’ sounds great, I’m not particularly keen on letting rust take hold and cause longer term problems with my bus, so this needs to get treated! Really this needs to be taken back to bare metal and treated with some Granville Rust Cure as well before being painted to neutralise any the metal to help stop any further rust developing.

not all those who wander are lost…

not all those who wander are lost…

Not quite sure what to do about the paint aspect of the roof work at this stage. I don’t want the whole roof resprayed to look like new again, which in many ways is the easiest option. However you only get original once, so I’m not keen on going down that route! Initially the repaired areas could be put into primer and then clear coated to protect and seal the area whilst looking into options of trying to blend the repaired areas in? Got some thinking to do about this, or is light grey primer patches the new look for 2016!

original German quality stands the test of time

Underneath the key structure of the bus is amazingly clean and solid (one of the primary reasons I bought it in the first place!), so this will be the first thing I want to make sure is preserved and protected.

the original under structure of the bus is in great solid condition

the original under structure of the bus is in great solid condition

Living on the south coast of the UK is a pretty sunny location, but salt on the roads at winter and salt in the air from the sea is not the best environment for the original German steel in an unprotected state! It’s unusual to see a bus with its original metalwork

original metal in great solid condition

original metal in great solid condition

Whilst the structural components and underside of the cargo and cab floor are good and solid, there is the to be expected, small amount of surface rust. To ensure this develops no further, this will need to be cleaned back before the Epoxy Mastic 121 gets applied.

One of the great things about Epoxy Mastic 121 is that it can be applied successfully over the components once thy have been cleaned up with a wire brush, rather than having to have the entire underneath of the bus media blasted! It still offers the same performance as coatings that are applied over blast cleaned steel. Its finish is as hard as iron but flexes with the steel! Apparently it will not flake, peel or blister – even under water. It resists oils, salt water and mechanical damage. It has six times the penetration and adhesion of single pack products. That’s the kind of hard ass protection I want on the structure and metalwork under the bus to help ensure it continues to last!

solid, original and deserving of some future proofing

solid, original and deserving of some future proofing

The tech spec details of Epoxy Mastic; it is a two component Epoxy paint composed of nano scale corrosion protective pigments in short chain molecules with very low surface tension. This allows the paint to flow into all of the pits and troughs on the steel’s surface, ensuring a tough penetrating primary bond. This is the best kind of bond you can get with a paint finish.The high build epoxy forms a super strong protective barrier over the corrosion inhibiting pigments that hug the steels surface Excellent penetration and adhesion within a high build coating equals exceptional mechanical strength.

Yep, that sounds like the kind of finish and protection I want under there! 🙂

these historical freeloaders homes will need to go

these historical freeloaders homes will need to go

However, the coupe of dry, long ago abandoned ‘homes’ nestled underneath the cargo floor will need to go, along with the surface rust before any protective treatment gets applied!

front wheel arch – original paint, original seam sealer, amazing condition!

front wheel arch – original paint, original seam sealer, amazing condition!

I love the fact that underneath in the wheel arches, the bus not only retains its original L53 Sealing wax red paint, but the remains of the factory seam sealer can still be seen, amazing! Testament to the original manufacturing quality and durability back in 1964!

rear wheel arch – original paint, original seam sealer, amazing condition!

rear wheel arch – original paint, original seam sealer, amazing condition!

I’m hoping that the two coat, two different colour (aluminium colour first coat, finished with the final top coat a red oxide colour) strategy of treating the underneath should work well with the existing original faded L472 Beige Grey over L53 Sealing Wax Red colour scheme of the bus. Looking forward to seeing the results…

dif-tor heh smusma – time for the bus to boldly go and get some Star Trek treatment

Having spent some more fun time away in the bus recently, it’s made me even more determined than ever to ensure that the camper is looked after and protected for the long-term, or as Star Trek character Spock might say in his native Vulcan, ‘Dif-tor heh smusma’ (live long and prosper).

at Jupiter Artlands in Scotland

at Jupiter Artlands in Scotland

One of the things I love about my bus the most, is that for the most part, it’s pretty original. It’s not totally 100% as it left the factory in Germany back in 1964, after all, it’s not a museum piece! However over its lifetime of use and adventure, it’s not been hacked about or messed with too much. It’s skipped most of the automotive ‘fashions’ and remained fairly stock, and stock rocks!

stock rocks, available in a range of colours…

stock rocks, available in a range of colours…

I’ve no great plans to change this, but having moved its abode from California to its new life here by the sea in the UK, where roads get gritted and salted in the winter, I want to make sure I preserve it as best I can.

Having done a bit of research on different protective systems available, I came across the Practical Classics review who had carried out an interesting 3 year test on a range of different products. Really helpful to have some longer term assessment on a products performance over a period of time rather than just some marketing blurb to go on!

Classics Monthly (June 2013) Anti-rust treatments comparison tests/results

I really liked the sound of the Epoxy Mastic 121 product, so this is what I’ve decided to get the underneath of the bus treated with. So I contacted the people at Rustbusters who were really helpful in terms of advice and on what kind of quantities would be required. A single coat would give good long-term protection, but two coats would be even better, so this is what I went for.

It we gave the best anti-corrosion results with no visible signs of rusting along the panel or the score mark – tough enough for a stand alone chassis coating” – On Test Verdict in Practical Classics March 2.

Their 2.25 lire chassis pack should be enough to do the entire underside of the bus, but to give the best long-term protection, I decide to go for 2 x 2.25 litre Chassis packs so that the underside could get a full two coats!

Top tip was to use different colours to make it easier to see what has been covered. So I opted for a first coat in aluminium colour, with the final top coat being a red oxide colour. This should blend in pretty well with the existing, faded original paint colour L53 (Sealing Wax Red) of the buses lower half as is. It could almost look a bit like a factory colour coded option!? It will defiantly make the underside of the bus stand out if you were to ever look underneath that’s for sure! Most importantly it will help preserve and prolong the buses life, and that’s what it’s all about at the end of the day. Looks like I’ll be paying a visit to the guys at Retsto Classics pretty soon…

Epoxy Mastic 121 is supplied as a two component mix complete with thinners

Epoxy Mastic 121 is supplied as a two component mix complete with thinners

Epoxy Mastic is a high build, high solids two pack (has a base and hardener) Epoxy paint coating for the renovation and protection of rusting and pitted steel exposed to severe environments. Epoxy Mastic can be applied successfully over wire brush cleaned steel and still offers the same exceptional performance as coatings applied over blast cleaned steel. Its finish is as hard as iron but flexes with the steel.

Epoxy Mastic will not flake, peel or blister – even under water. Resists oils, salt water and mechanical damage. Tough penetrating coating that is more flexible than the steel itself. Has six times the Epoxy Masticpenetration and adhesion of single pack products. Does not contain any harmful isocyanates.

it’s been a fun 1,200+ mile road trip, Scotland and England, it’s been a blast!

On our journey back home, we managed to pick up a bit of a convoy with a couple of Early Bay window campers out and about on their travels! Always heartening to see other vintage VW’s on the road! 🙂

looks like we’ve got a little vintage VW convoy for company…

looks like we’ve got a little vintage VW convoy for company…

Glad we pushed on the extra hour last night, as the weather was indeed turning for the worse the further south we headed. Not normally how things work weather wise in the UK, and to compound it, the only element of the windscreen wiper mechanism that I didn’t get around to replacing or upgrading, decided to play up! There’s a lesson to be learned right there! Fortunately the wonders of RainX came to our rescue, amazing stuff!

As we had gained a bit of extra time, it was nice to be able to do another small surprise visit on a friend of mine who I hadn’t seen for quite a few years on our way home which was great, always nice to catch up in person!

1,200+ miles of fun and adventure on the road, the bus did good!

1,200+ miles of fun and adventure on the road, the bus did good!

Time to make the final push on home and head back to Hastings. All in all we’ve had a fantastic 1,200+ mile road trip which we’ve loved!

a pair of happy campers after a 1,200+ mile road trip to Scotland

a pair of happy campers after a 1,200+ mile road trip to Scotland

Roll on the next one…

meeting interesting characters and the rarest of buses on our road trip

Well after a good nights sleep, it was an early-ish start as we had to push on and get back home in the next couple of days. Fortunately our route home would take us near the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks, so not the worst scenery ahead for the first part of the drive! 🙂

beautiful early morning start at the Metal bridge Inn

beautiful early morning start at the Metal bridge Inn

So time to take off the campers BusEyes and get the night mode of the bus transformed into day travelling mode once again as we get set for today’s journey south. Always a good idea to check the oil in the morning before setting off. The engine had thus far done us proud and barely used any oil and ran like a proverbial sewing machine! 🙂 Big credit must go to the guys at Resto Classics for the way they help keep things ticking over on the bus so sweetly! Since their top end refresh and set-up, the engine has been running really smoothly and not missed a beat!

just checking the oil before setting off, all good to go!

just checking the oil before setting off, all good to go!

On the way down we decided to pull in at a services for a toilet break. Parked to the side of us was a cool and rather unusual looking bus with ‘Happy 40th Birthday’ banners on it. Always the curious types, we popped our heads in to congratulate the owners on their birthday celebrations, but we had a little surprise when we introduced ourselves…

unique 1976 Bedford JJL bus, the only one left in the world!

unique 1976 Bedford JJL bus, the only one left in the world!

The bus was a really rare Bedford JJL and it was the bus that was celebrating its 40th birthday, not the owners! Apparently they were just coming back from a show with it as it was the only remaining example from only four that were ever produced, and this being the first one that was ever made! The other 3 have long since gone to the great garage in the sky!

lovely couple showed us around their rare old bus

lovely couple showed us around their rare old bus

The owners were a lovely couple who took real pleasure in telling us all about the bus and its history. One of the fun things about our little road trip adventure is some of the unexpected people we have met on our travels – this was no exception 🙂

This prototype coach was built by Bedford Motor Company and fitted with Marshall B24F bodywork. Originally built (without running gear) for the 1976 London Motor Show and also later shown in the 1979 Glasgow Motor Show. The running gear was later added in November 1979. They were a lovely couple who clearly cherished the bus and enjoyed taking it to classic or vintage car shows. Great attention to detail, they even colour coordinated their attire to match the bus!

unique 1976 Bedford JJL bus, the only one left in the world!

unique 1976 Bedford JJL bus, the only one left in the world!

The Bedford JJL was an innovative (but ultimately unsuccessful) midibus model built by Bedford. The JJL could have been a success, but was ahead of its time in predicting the boom in the midibus market, as seen by the success of the Dennis Dart. HKX 553V was sold to Bournemouth Transport (trading as Yellow Buses) in 1983, and then onto The Goodman Group, where it saw service with Rambler and Goodman’s coaches. The ‘top trump’ facts for the bus are apparently…

  • 24’7″ long
  • 7″6′ wide
  • Carried 24 seated passengers, 5 standing
  • Transversely rear mounted Bedford 330 straight six diesel engine
  • Automatic gearbox Morse Hi Vo chain transfer box and spiral bevel angle box to inverted hypoid rear axle
  • Top speed, a heady 55mph (sounds familiar 😉 )
  • Cruising speed of 45/50mph

These little unexpected meetings can really make your day. Loved their enthusiasm and interest in keeping this bit of automotive heritage on the road, full credit and respect to them both!

the Peak District has a bleak wilderness type of beauty to it

the Peak District has a bleak wilderness type of beauty to it

Strangely as we headed further south, the weather began to change and became a bit overcast and rainy. Clearly we timed our trip to Scotland perfectly as we had great weather north of the border. Not sure about this dodgy English weather! Our route home took us back over the bleak beauty of the Peak District, clearly it’s not just us that appreciated the rugged beauty of the area!

our route home took us back over the bleak beauty of the Peak District

our route home took us back over the bleak beauty of the Peak District

As we were passing, seemed rude not to stop in on our new favourite Pub, the Snake Pass Inn and have our supper there! Initially we were planning on stopping over here again tonight after we had eaten, but having made good time on the roads today, we decided to push on a bit further and stop off a bit further south in a new to us Brit Stop location.

simple things are often the best – making dreams come true at Loch Lubnaig

After a fantastic day out at Jupiter Artland, we pushed on to find somewhere to stay for the night. We decided to head to the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park region for the evening as we wanted to spend some time taking in some of Scotland’s natural gallery, that is its scenery and landscape.

not a bad view to be waking up to

not a bad view to be waking up to

Not a bad little view to wake up to in the morning, one that makes you want to get up and crack on with the day! So once we had said our good mornings to the four-legged neighbours, it was time to push on and find a nice little spot for breakfast, fortunately finding beauty spots to stop at in Scotland is not exactly hard, you could go so far as saying there is an abundance of them!

our early morning neighbour at Trossachs Mill

our early morning neighbour at Trossachs Mill

Stopping at the nearby Loch Lubnaig was a great example of such a beauty spot. It was here I had a little revelation. It’s often seen by some that travelling around in a vintage VW Split screen bus is ‘living the dream’ (whatever that’s supposed to mean?). We often joke about it thinking if only people knew the reality of vintage bus ownership and what driving them is like! 🙂 Never the less, the iconic camper conjures up this romantic notion within people, we’ve had so many people expressing this to us through the numerous waves or words on this trip already! Hence the dream/myth continues to grow…

a simple dream come true, tea on the banks of Loch Lubnaig

a simple dream come true, tea on the banks of Loch Lubnaig

However I realised that for me at least, this trip had fulfilled a very simple, but long-held dream of mine. One where you can go to beautiful areas of the country and make a little something to eat and drink whilst taking in the beauty of the surroundings. Nothing flash, expensive or complicated, but setting up the Trangia for making the tea in this idyllic location, made me realise just how lucky I was just to experience this moment. Hard to explain exactly, but it was a small dream come true for me! It was a lovely to take a little walk around the loch and chat about this an’ that with Lorna, sometimes it really is just the simple things in life that are the most memorable and magical!

the serene beauty of Loch Lubnaig

the serene beauty of Loch Lubnaig

We thought we’d push on to Crianlarich and stop for brunch at the Ben More Lodge as this was near the top of Loch Lomond and would make an ideal stopping point before driving down the length of the loch. Unfortunately we were now beginning the homeward section of the road trip, so would now need to start making our way back down the length of the country home again! Having looked at the map Lorna realised we could make a small detour and ‘pop in’ to see one of her old friends who we hadn’t seen for nearly 25 years or so!

great sounding IPA beer, but a bit too early in the day to be trying it!

great sounding IPA beer, but a bit too early in the day to be trying it!

Having checked she was in, we plotted a course to take us down the length of Loch Lomond and on to Kirkcudbright on the lower southwestern coast in the Dumfries and Galloway region of Scotland. It was a beautiful day, the scenery was stunning, why wouldn’t you want to go for a drive!

Tartan backed bar chairs at Ben More Lodge

Tartan backed bar chairs at Ben More Lodge

It was a beautiful drive down, and at some points we were literally chasing the end of the rainbow! It was great to catch up with Lornas friend Rachel again, and she very kindly treated us to some beautiful, locally caught fish and chips! With our bellies full, we decided to push on and cross the border before night fell, so as to reduce the driving over the next couple of days into manageable chunks.

chasing the end of the rainbow

chasing the end of the rainbow

On out way out over the border to England we passed through the last village in Scotland, Gretna Green, nationally famous for carrying out runaway weddings! Or in our families history, where my eldest brother ran away to get married so that the first thing my Mum and Dad knew about it was when they read about it in the local papers!

our Brit Stop for the night on the English side of the border

our Brit Stop for the night on the English side of the border

Well, after a long days driving, we arrived at out latest Brit Stop for the night on the English side of the border. Quite literally it will now be mostly down hill from here on in as we head home to the very lowest edge of England’s south coast as we make our way home…

the Scottish road trip goes full throttle to Jupiter and beyond!

Woke up to a beautiful sunny morning in Edinburgh, so far the Scottish weather has challenged the stereotype, it’s been great thus far for us! 🙂 One of the reasons we wanted to come to Scotland was to visit Jupiter Artland, a contemporary collection of artwork displayed in beautiful outdoor setting.

good morning from a sunny Edinburgh

good morning from a sunny Edinburgh

We wanted to spend a fair amount of time here, so decided to stay as near as possible rather than waste time travelling to it. As such, we grabbed a last-minute deal on booking.com and had a bit of hotel ‘luxury’ for our night in Edinburgh, well by luxury, I mean a toilet and shower!

always a sucker for a vintage ‘Clipper’ Airstream caravan

always a sucker for a vintage ‘Clipper’ Airstream caravan

It was worth making the early start and not spending time on the road to get here. We grabbed a coffee and a snack to keep us going (could not resist trying out the vintage Airstream Cafe out!) before the place got too busy!

nailed it – door sculpture at Jupiter Artland cafe

nailed it – door sculpture at Jupiter Artland cafe

Easy to see why this was shortlisted as museum of the year 2016, so much to see and all set in magnificent grounds and woodlands!

Life Mounds terraced earthworks by Charles Jencks

Life Mounds terraced earthworks by Charles Jencks

In fact some of the pieces such as ‘Life Mounds’ by Charles Jencks were the landscape!

Life Mounds terraced earthworks by Charles Jencks

Life Mounds terraced earthworks by Charles Jencks

Plenty of art inspired Architectural details to be seen on display…

cool design for the tin roof gallery

cool design for the tin roof gallery

…plus lots of hidden away art awaiting to be discovered, forget Pokémon GO, this is far more captivating searching out and finding hidden art treasures around the grounds!

a Forest – tessellated colourful reflective chrome panels by Jim Lambie

a Forest – tessellated colourful reflective chrome panels by Jim Lambie

Good job the tour comes with a map so you can explore at your own pace

‘only collect’ – Lorna on top of Ian Hamiltons Northumbrian limestone arched bridge

‘only collect’ – Lorna on top of Ian Hamilton’s Northumbrian limestone arched bridge

We both loved the five Weeping Girls by Laura Wood…

Weeping Girls by Laura Wood

Weeping Girls by Laura Wood

haunting…

Weeping Girls by Laura Wood

Weeping Girls by Laura Wood

provocative…

Weeping Girls by Laura Wood

Weeping Girls by Laura Wood

and utterly captivating – loved them!

Landscape with gun and tree by Cornella Parker

Landscape with gun and tree by Cornella Parker

Artwork of various scales…

over here – 4m circular web knitted by Shane Waltener

over here – 4m circular web knitted by Shane Waltener

all with differing levels of intricate details!

over here – 4m circular web knitted by Shane Waltener

over here – 4m circular web knitted by Shane Waltener

We also really loved this piece called ‘Animitas’ by the renowned French artist Christian Boltanski. The work is comprised of hundreds of small Japanese bells attached to long stems planted in the ground. The bells chiming to the wind let out the ‘music of the souls’. Each bell will be placed on the island within the Duck Pond to reproduce the map of the stars on the night the artist was born, 6th September 1944.

There was loads more to see and do (more images are posted on my instagram or Lornas instagram accounts if you want to have a look or follow…), but all in all we had a fantastic time at Jupiter Artland – highly recommended place to visit!

old skool technology, heritage, cashmere wool and an awesome Mississippi mud pie!

Apparently this trip is not all about me! After last nights bar room sing along, much to Lornas delight, we found out that Hawick is famous for Cashmere wool and knitting! So after a full Scottish breakfast with some Haggis, we headed off to explore the town and find the knitting heritage museum and visitor centre of the world-famous family set-up business Johnstons of Elgin (since 1797).

hands up if you like Cashmere

hands up if you like Cashmere

Some amazing looking proper old skool technology on display, and I could not believe just how soft the Cashmere wool felt to the touch, amazing stuff! As Lorna is about to embark on an MA in Textiles this September at the Royal College of Art in London, she really enjoyed seeing the industrial history and production processes on display.

old skool technology – a 250 year old hand frame loom

old skool technology – a 250-year-old hand frame loom

Having spent time exploring the knitting heritage centres and museums, we grabbed a lovely lunch at the Damascus Drum Cafe in the centre of town. A great little independent cafe/bookshop tucked away off the high street serving good coffee/tea and fair trade/home produced food… plus an awesome Mississippi mud pie! 🙂

route planning with an awesome Mississippi mud pie at the Damascus Drum cafe

route planning with an awesome Mississippi mud pie at the Damascus Drum cafe

Nice to have a relaxing/non-driving time mooching around Hawick, taking in a bit of history, heritage and culture, but after a great lunch in the Damascus Drum Cafe, it was time to hit the road again as we wanted to push on and head on up to Edinburgh tonight as we had a special place we wanted to spend some time at tomorrow…

the Snake Pass to Scotland, todays going to be a driving day

Good nights sleep at our first Brit Stop, and in the mood for a full English breakfast at Snake Pass Inn to start the day off right! Before heading off on todays journey, there was a little niggle that needed sorting on the bus first…

Snake Pass Inn breakfast of champions to start the day off right!

Snake Pass Inn breakfast of champions to start the day off right!

The cigarette lighter socket was playing up, but fortunately I had a cunning plan and managed to rig up a ‘temporary’ workaround solution – happy days! Easy to forget the importance of the humble 12v cigarette lighter socket! At least I would be able to keep the iPhone charged as I use it with the TomTom app as my sat nav system!

good start to the day, driving over the Snake Pass…

good start to the day, driving over the Snake Pass…

Overcast start to the day, but nonetheless, great to continue the drive along the A57 Snake Pass as it winds across the Peak District and crosses the Pennines as we head onwards and upwards… today will mostly be a driving day as we head towards Scotland!

The map shows our approx. route as we tried to avoid motorways when possible so we could get to see as much of the country as possible, plus at a steady 55mph its a much better journey off the motorway. It’s amazing just how much the countryside and scenery changes as you travel around the UK, it’s easy to forget just how beautiful the country is! Today is pretty going to be a driving day as our plan is to make it across the border into Scotland and stay at Hawick tonight…

Well we finally arrived at Hawick (pronounced locally as ‘Hoick’ apparently?) and set the camper up at our latest Brit Stop of the Horse and Hound Country Inn in Bonchester Bridge. After grabbing something to eat, we heard singing coming from the hotel public bar. Curiosity got the better of us, so we wandered though and stumbled into a spontaneous folk/country music singing session with a local musician and a selection of guests and villagers joining in singing various Don McLean, Johnny Cash, Kenny Rogers and Simon and Garfunkel standards. We managed to take part in a unique version of the Boxer by Simon & Garfunkel like you’ve never heard it before… with kitchen trays for the impact on the chorus – you had to be there! Looks like our time in Scotland should be fun! 🙂

from the un-stately home to driving the Snake Pass, the vdubxs road trip adventure continues…

After a good nights sleep and a nice breakfast at my sisters in Clipston, she suggested we might like to visit the quirky National Trust property affectionately known as the ‘un-stately’ home and country estate of Calke Abbey in Derbyshire. Anything quirky gets our interest, so with a new destination to explore, we said our farewells and hit the road again.

The various buildings of the Abbey are set in the ancient and fragile habitats of Calke Park, a designated National Nature Reserve with a variety of wildlife roaming around as you drive through the grounds. Scattered around were some magnificent ancient trees, some of the oldest in Europe apparently, with one called ‘Old Man of Calke’ thought to be over 1,000 years old! That said, weirdly I loved the one behind where we parked that looked like it had been struck by lightning!

couldn’t wish for a better day to visit Calke Abbey, the un-stately home!

couldn’t wish for a better day to visit Calke Abbey, the un-stately home!

I’m not really into touristy type pictures, but if you like my take on some of the interesting little found details around the Calke Abbey. Lorna and I took a range of photos and videos that are used below and covering the road trip, so if you want to see more, then please check our social media feeds… feel free to like/follow and enjoy! 🙂

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waste not want not vintage kitchen signage

waste not want not vintage kitchen signage

The ethos of the National Trusts work at Calke Abbey has been to sensitively repair and not overly restore the house to ensure its unique character is kept. It makes it such an interesting and intriguing place to visit. The Palladian architecture and grand, opulent interiors sat juxtaposed with simple everyday objects of different eras, bringing a sense of a living experience of the house as it was.

mirror mirror on the wall…

mirror mirror on the wall…

Sparse corridors linking rooms together often increased the element of surprise when entering the different contrasting rooms of the main building.

un-stately home, sympathetically repaired, not over restored

un-stately home, sympathetically repaired, not over restored

Beautiful distressed detail to be found everywhere in the house.

beautiful patina, sympathetically repaired, not over restored

beautiful patina, sympathetically repaired, not over restored

Small side rooms contained simple utility items found within the building as part of its careful renovation and were left to help bring life and insight to the building’s history.

fantastic array of vintage oil lights

fantastic array of vintage oil lights

Loved this innovative shower design, it would make a change from ‘washing’ with baby wipes on the road!

love this shower design

love this shower design

Before the days of MP3’s, 6″ singles kids, try getting this on your streaming service!

before the days of mp3’s, the vintage 45 rpm 6" single

before the days of mp3’s, the vintage 45 rpm 6″ single

Lorna loves books so the collection of vintage books in the library was her idea of heaven!

beautiful vintage books in the Calke Abbey library

beautiful vintage books in the Calke Abbey library

We had a fantastic day at Calke Abbey, loads to see and do for all the family, but after a good wander round, it was time to push on further north and find a place to stay for the night. Having consulted our Brit Stops directory, I wanted to take Lorna for a drive through the beautiful Peak District National Park along the famous Snake Pass on the A57.

I knew the Snake Pass from our early days of living in Leicester, and numerous trips to Glossop to collect VW panels from Alan Schofields for various vintage VW buses over the years! It’s a beautiful mountain pass to drive at an elevation of 1,680 feet (510 m) above sea level, located between Manchester and Sheffield in the scenic Peak District National Park. The road was engineered by Thomas Telford and opened in 1821.

from river and forest pass to bleak moorland hills, the Snake Pass is a great drive

from river and forest pass to bleak moorland hills, the Snake Pass is a great drive

The road twists, turns, rises and falls through stunning scenery and ever-changing backdrops of the peak districts beauty. Passing the vast expanse of Ladybower Reservoir, the tall shaded forest pass or the bleak moorland landscape. We had a great drive out to our final destination for the day, the Snake Pass Inn.We planned to stop over here for the night after todays stage of our road trip.

Snake Pass Inn award winning steak and ale pie

Snake Pass Inn award-winning steak and ale pie

Once set up for the night, we finished the day off with an award-winning Steak and Ale Pie and Chilli, plus a pint of ‘Moonshine’ ale to wash things down – a perfect end to the day!

Snake Pass Inn chilli and salad

Snake Pass Inn chilli and salad

Looks like we should sleep well tonight! That said, there are a couple of little niggles I need to look at on the bus first thing in the morning…