a beautiful looking Porsche 356 shone out at the Witkap brewery in Ninove

One of the cars that stood out, and I mean really stood out was, was this stunningly shiny Porsche 356, even in the shade this car lit up the space! Whoever did the paint on it, clearly did a pretty amazing job on this baby!

even in the shade this Porsche 356 looked spectacular

even in the shade this Porsche 356 looked spectacular

I don’t always like taking pictures of the whole car, but this was an exception, it was jaw dropingly nice!

simple forms, beautiful detail on the Porsche 356

simple forms, beautiful detail on the Porsche 356

Clean simple lines and details gave it a real understated beauty.

loved the distressed original badge detail

loved the distressed original badge detail

Loved the mix of both shiny and distressed.

beautifully smooth and understated curvaceous lines on the Porsche 356

beautifully smooth and understated curvaceous lines on the Porsche 356

This Porsche 356 on the cruise over to Ninove ran and sounded as good as it looks – awesome!

some more pictures from Ninove 2015

I spent most of last night, writing a list for the insurance company of all the various items I had taken with me on my road trip, plus outlining all the work that I had done to the camper. Although I thought I had packed quite light, it’s amazing quite how things soon add up when you remember all the bits and pieces you take with you for three weeks on the road! Most can be replaced, some unfortunately are sentimentally and emotionally irreplaceable – they are the things that hurt the most!

But on a positive note, there were lots of great memories made up until the fire, so I’m focusing on those whilst getting all the information sorted. It helps looking at some of the Ninove pictures I have saved. As well as a great array of vintage air and water-cooled VW’s, Porsches etc. there is also a cool collection of bikes on display as well. Here are some that caught my eye this year…

don’t get to see many Triumph off road/trails bikes

don’t get to see many Triumph off-road/trails bikes

Nice to see some classic British motorbikes on display…

what’s not to like about a classic British Norton Café racer

what’s not to like about a classic British Norton Café racer

…but this old war-horse really captivated me. Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to get the details as it was being moved somewhere, but boy did it have some character and amazing details to it, maybe someone can help me id t from my two rather obscure shots of it, any guesses as to what it was?

this old war horse had tons of character

this old war-horse had tons of character

Amazing patina on this awesome looking speedo!

check out the patina on this amazing looking speedo

check out the patina on this amazing looking speedo

As always, there were a good few cool looking classic Karmann Ghia’s on display…

classic looks of a clean and tidy looking Karmann Ghia

classic looks of a clean and tidy looking Karmann Ghia

…as well as some tough looking rides hat were seriously low!

tough looking Karmann Ghia as low as you like!

tough looking Karmann Ghia as low as you like!

On the streets, this two-tone paint combo Karmann Ghia looked stunning!

loving the two tone paint combo on this stunning looking Karmann Ghia

loving the two-tone paint combo on this stunning looking Karmann Ghia

memories from Ninove 2015 – a mixture of both happiness and sadness…

After the dramatic ending of my European road trip couple of days ago when my camper caught fire, I now unexpectedly find myself back home again in the UK a couple of weeks earlier than planned. Unfortunately my Canon camera got destroyed in the fire (along with everything else), but fortunately I still had some picture that I had transferred or taken with my iPhone. So it’s with a mixture of both happiness and sadness that I’ve had a chance to look through some of the remaining images I still have from this years Freddy Files event at Ninove…

Lots of very cool bugs this year, here are a few of my faves, starting off with this rally inspired ragtop bug…

fantastic rally inspired ragtop bug – what’s not to like!

fantastic rally inspired ragtop bug – what’s not to like!

Lights a plenty to get you home in the dark!

cool lighting array upfront

cool lighting array upfront

You got to love the curvaceous lines of an early split window Beetle…

sharp looking air ride split window bug

sharp-looking air ride split window bug

…especially with the attention to detail with this custom air ride version!

great attention to detail on this super clean air ride split window bug

great attention to detail on this super clean air ride split window bug

Awesome colour and detailing on this ragtop bug, who says Porsche Fuchs are ‘played out’, still looking pretty neat on this baby!

highly detailed ragtop bug looks spot on!

highly detailed ragtop bug looks spot on!

Although you really cannot beat the charm and character of simple originality of a beetle like this, understated, but stunning in its own way!

simple and stylish original bug looks the business

simple and stylish original bug looks the business

De-chromed and minimalist looking, this bug rocked!

clean looking de-chromed bug in a tasty looking colour!

clean-looking de-chromed bug in a tasty looking colour!

A little black number for summer cruising?

a very tidy looking little black number ready for summer cruising…

a very tidy looking little black number ready for summer cruising…

This black cabriolet looked fantastic with the contrasting white walls!

white walls on a black cabriolet bug – sweet!

white walls on a black cabriolet bug – sweet!

the Road Trip ends with the worst photo I’ve ever taken…

The last few days I have been having a great time on my European road trip, and had several blog posts about the adventures ready to post, but on Friday 20th March my dream road trip came to a very abrupt and devastating end!

I was on the last part of the southern France trip, on the way to Perpignan before heading into Spain, when I pulled over to stop and fill up with petrol for the day’s journey. Once I had paid for the petrol, I got back into the camper, started up to head off. Unfortunately there was a loud bang, and as I looked in my mirrors I could see smoke and fire at the back of my camper!

the worst photo I have ever taken

the worst photo I have ever taken

I quickly got out of the cab and rushed to the back to see what had happened, only to be greeted by smoke and flames at the back of my camper! The garage staff rushed over with fire extinguishers to try to extinguish the flames. I grabbed my extinguisher to assist, but the fire kept spreading regardless of our combined efforts. At this point the burning camper (with a now full tank of petrol!) was still right next to the petrol pumps and I was worried about the fire spreading and causing an explosion. So with one of the staff members help, we managed to push the burning camper off the forecourt and away from the petrol pumps where they continued to try to extinguish the flames. Unfortunately the fire had really begun to take hold and the extinguishers were now empty!

Fortunately someone had called the Police and French fire brigade, but by the time they arrived, the fire had quickly spread through the camper and there was little left of it. I was left watching it all go up in flames, utterly devastated!

the fire ravaged remains of my camper

the fire ravaged remains of my camper

The beautiful original vintage Canterbury Pitt interior and all of my possessions inside were totally destroyed!

the burnt out remains of my dream

the burnt out remains of my dream

Words cannot express how sad I felt as I watched the camper burn, but at least no-one had been hurt! One of the purposes of the road trip was to ‘Make memories’ and although this was not how I wanted the road trip to end, I had some great memories to hold onto from my experiences at Ninove and the various adventures I had as I travelled down through Belgium and France.

On my trip I got to fulfil a life long ambition of seeing Le Corbusier’s stunning architectural masterpiece that is La Ronchamp (Notre Dame du Haut) in the flesh…

life long ambition fulfilled seeing Le Corbusier's La Ronchamp (Notre Dame du Haut)

life long ambition fulfilled seeing Le Corbusier’s La Ronchamp (Notre Dame du Haut)

I also got to see and travel across the Millau viaduct. This holds the world record for the tallest bridge, culminating at 343 metres (higher than the Eiffel tower), 2460 metres long and touching the bottom of the Tarn valley in only 9 places.

Conceived by the French engineer Michel Virlogeux and designed by the English architect Lord Norman Foster, it fits perfectly into the naturally intact and grandiose landscape: a very thin slightly curved steel roadway supported by stays gives it the appearance of a huge yacht and the ensemble rests on 7 very slender pillars.

another ambition fulfilled, seeing and driving over the worlds tallest bridge, the stunning Millau viaduct

another ambition fulfilled, seeing and driving over the worlds tallest bridge, the stunning Millau viaduct

I also had the pleasure of simple roadside stops for a quick brew up and cup of tea in the peace and tranquility of the French countryside – happy times, and memories made!

happier times – tea break on the road trip

happier times – tea break on the road trip

Right now though I’m back in the UK left feeling utterly devastated and just can’t really take it all in…

taking the long road to nowhere (but I don’t mind!)

Having waved goodbye to Ollie last night at the EuroTunnel departure gates for his trip back to blighty, I found myself in the situation of being Billy no mates, camping in the Cite Europe camper zone area for the night once again. After the fun and walking around Ninove looking at all the great vintage cars and bikes, I was pretty shattered so a bite to eat and then bed for me!

Well, today was the day for my adventures to begin. The plan for the day, in the broadest sense of the word, was to head south. This was for a 184 miles trip to see Le Corbusiers iconic modernist architectural masterpiece that is the Villa Savoye in Poissy in the north-western outskirts of Paris. Now if Audrey Hepburn thought that ‘Paris is always a good idea’, then surely visiting something near Paris equally

has to be a pretty good thing to do? Well it would have been if it had been open on the day I visited! Sacré bleu! As tantalising as the glimpses of the building were through a hedge, I would need to maybe reschedule this for another day, maybe on my way back home in a couple of weeks time? #StupidHippyPlanning

It seemed too early in the day to stop in Poissy, so I decided to push on whilst the going was good. It would add another 147 miles to the day heading around Paris and then heading south-west to get to an Aire in a small village called Piney just outsides of Troyes. A long days driving, but at least it would make the next part of the adventure a little easier to reach, and plenty of time to enjoy the expansive rural landscape en route!

time to get wonderfully lost in the French countryside

time to get wonderfully lost in the French countryside

All was going well, I was around 6 miles short of my intended stop over for the night when I heard a ticking sound and noticed the speedo had stopped working? Once I had finally found my place to park up for the night, it was time for some well earned rest. The speedo was something to be investigated in the morning…

Total travel; 331 miles

so Ninove was good, but the good is just going to get better – European road trip time!

My friend Ollie and I were really looking forward to Ninove 2015 after how much we enjoyed last years show, so this year we decided to take the rush out of the event and stop over a day early in France.

all aboard for the 30min crossing to Calais

all aboard for the 30min crossing to Calais

This meant we had a que free trip on EuroTunnel, plus we could have a nice lie in before meeting up with the rest of the UK Cruise to Ninove contingent at the first Bonjour services in Calais. So on the Friday night we found a nice free camper parking zone in the Cite Europe car park set aside just for campers, how handy is that!

Camp out at Cite Europe pre Ninove cruise…

Camp out at Cite Europe pre Ninove cruise…

The VW weekend show at Ninove was great, lots of great cars/bikes to see, a chance to catch up with friends from last years show, way too much to post up just now, it will have to come later, as post the Freddy Files event in Ninove, Belgium, I wanted to push on a bit further to do a bit of a European road trip.

our contrasting buses at the beginning of the Ninove street display

our contrasting buses at the beginning of the Ninove street display

Maybe a tad less touristy, I wanted a slight twist to the Road Trip in that there is a bit of an Architectural adventure theme to it… so far (and in no particular order!) places I want to visit if possible include…

  • Pont de Normandie
  • Notre Dame du Haut (La Ronchamp)
  • Millau Viaduct
  • Saint-Nazaire submarine base
  • Villa Savoye
  • Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
  • Sagrada Familia
  • and some of the modern architecture of Barcelona (e.g.; Gas Natural Headquarters)

So with no physical maps, some guy called ‘Tim’ from TomTom I’ve never met to give me directions, a distinct lack of overseas lingo, no knowledge of France or Spain, and some maple syrup instant porridge pots for breakfast, what could possibly go wrong? If you want to follow the adventures, make sure you sign up for notifications…

Right, time to go get lost en France then…

Canterbury Pitt table renovation, with a retro inspired, vintage 1950’s Americana twist

Well happy days, the Canterbury Pitt table renovation is almost ready to finally fit back into my VW camper once again! I have retained and refurbished the original mahogany table under frame and leg mechanism, but added a retro inspired, vintage 1950’s Americana twist to the final look of it.

Canterbury Pitt refurbished table (underside)

Canterbury Pitt refurbished table (underside)

Unfortunately, the original Canterbury Pitt formica covered chipboard table top was well beyond salvageable condition. It had holes, deep scratches and the chipboard base was in very poor condition!

The formica was scratched, chipped, split and had holes in it!

The formica was scratched, chipped, split and had holes in it!

So as a contemporary twist on the original Canterbury Pitt table top, I opted to go for a plain wood (Oak style) finish for the new table top. OK, this may not be one for the purists, but it works for me!

new Canterbury Pitt table top

new Canterbury Pitt table top

To take my contemporary twist one stage further, to replace the broken and incomplete curved mahogany edging that would normally be found on the Canterbury Pitt table edge, I opted for a slightly different approach…

Canterbury Pitt table top with a touch of retro inspired Americana added

Canterbury Pitt table top with a touch of retro inspired Americana added

Instead of the curved mahogany edging, I went for a more retro inspired vintage 1950’s Americana look with some double feathered Aluminium edging. I like the contrast of the matt brushed look of the aluminium edging contrasted by the bright shiny chrome domed head fixings

Canterbury Pitt table top with a touch of retro inspired Americana added

Canterbury Pitt table top with a touch of retro inspired Americana added

Now all that was left to do was to fix the bed support legs to the underside of the table…

the bed supports/legs of the Canterbury Pitt table fitted

the bed supports/legs of the Canterbury Pitt table fitted

…and fit the Canterbury Pitt table side support location catches.

the Canterbury Pitt table side support location catches

the Canterbury Pitt table side support location catches

With the last few bits sorted, the Canterbury Pitt table renovation is at last finished! I can finally get the table set up back home in the camper where it belongs – happy days!

the Canterbury Pitt table finished and back home in the camper

the Canterbury Pitt table finished and back home in the camper

Something’s are worth waiting in for…

As part of the process of switching over to the original VW 15″ steel wheels, I took the opportunity of getting some new ‘stock’ size tyres for the freshly painted rims. Fortunately  North Hants Tyres not only had the right size, but they also had them in with a really cool vintage looking 35mm white band – too much temptation! 

195/80/R15 8 ply tyres with 34mm whitewall

195/80/R15 8 ply tyres with 34mm white wall

So with the über cool looking 35mm white bands clinching the deal, I ordered my 195/80/R15 Commercial Galaxy V2000 8 ply white wall tyres in the morning, and the next day they arrive ready to be fitted! So time to get the new hub cap clips fitted and get the new wheels fitted to the bus!

completing the Early Bay larger tank swap in my VW Split screen camper

With the Freddy Files VW show in Ninove nearly here, there are a few things I wanted to get finished on my VW Split screen camper before I headed off. At the top of the list of things to get finished, was the fitting of the larger capacity, one year only (Aug >71) Early Bay fuel tank. This tank offers a larger capacity (65 litres as opposed to 45 litres), which as I will be going on a road trip in France and Spain after Ninove, should come in handy and extend the range of the camper between fill ups!

engine out to get the original split screen tank removed…

engine out to get the original split screen tank removed…

So I got the camper booked in with the guys at Resto Classics to complete the swap over. First job is to remove the engine so that the original split screen tank can be removed…

interesting size comparison between the two tanks (45L to 65L)

interesting size comparison between the two tanks (45L to 65L)

When seen side by side, you can clearly see both the difference in size and design of the two tanks. Note the addition of a breather pipe system on the Early Bay tank, as well as a short connection spout for a removable filler neck.

extended filler neck and support prepped ready for paint

extended filler neck and support prepped ready for paint

An older neck from a Split screen tank is used to make a removable filler neck that can be connected to the new tank via some flexible hose.

the tank securing straps extended to go over the larger tank

the tank securing straps extended to go over the larger tank

Because the Early Bay tank is bigger in size, the original securing straps needed to be extended so that the new tank could be held safely in place.

new breather pipes system fitted

new breather pipes system fitted

The guys at Resto Classics then made a neat breather pipe system for the tank which could be connected to the existing system on the engine, many thanks guys, another great job sorted!

larger capacity tank fitted, engine back in place

larger capacity tank fitted, engine back in place

With the install of the new, larger capacity fuel tank completed, it was time to get the engine back in place – another job ticked off the list!

original VW 15″ steel wheel transformation, Part 3 – the end result

Thanks to the great service from North Hants Tyres, and the help of the guys at Resto Classics, it was great to finally get my stock sized 195/80R15 Commercial Galaxy V2000 8 ply 35mm white wall tyres and 15″ original VW steel wheel combo fitted to my vintage Canterbury Pitt camper!

looking sweet in the sun – just needs a wash!

looking sweet in the sun – just needs a wash!

Biased I know, but I have to say I love the ‘new’ look of the tyre/wheel combo, nicely fills out the arches and the ride comfort is great!

the 195/80/R15 white bands on the original VW 15" steels looking sweet

the 195/80/R15 white bands on the original VW 15″ steels looking sweet

Stock really does rock! http://www.vdubxs.com/tshirts

stock rocks, available in a range of colours…

stock rocks, available in a range of colours…