I had been writing this post whilst I was staying at Birs Lodge last week but unfortunately I lost the draft post in a server move so I’m now having to re-write it from memory a few days after I have left the site 🙁
This was the first of several short camping trips that I have planned for March. Just 2 days. I picked somewhere local as I didn’t want the time and expensive of a long drive just for 2 days.
It was pretty easy to find and I was greeted by the owner, Irene who gave me all the essential information I needed to know. The pitches had a lovely view over the countryside below.
My first task was to get the vehicle level. The site is at the top of a hill and the pitches actually slope down hill a little. You wouldn’t think that’s much of a problem but it is – I find it incredibly uncomfortable to sit and I get quite a bad backache. Apparently the fridge is also not as effective if not level.
So I got to use my leveling blocks for the first time. The idea is that you place them in front of your wheels and carefully drive up them. I downloaded a spirit level app for the phone to help me.
It was a slow process at first – drive up a tiny bit, go back inside and check the level, not enough, try and drive up a bit more without rolling back when I release the handbrake and repeat. I did this a few times and it still was not level and then heard a strange noise and the van dropped down. I had driven right over the blocks and had to start over!
So I drove up as high as I could without going over them. The van still wasn’t level but I figured it would be okay. It wasn’t.
By the following afternoon it was really getting to me. I could not get rid of the backache I had, sitting at the desk or just standing to cook or something was very uncomfortable. I got out and surveyed the area. It looked as though the gravel area at a right angle to the actual pitch might be better so I moved.
This meant putting everything away and locking up just to move about 12 feet away. So lesson learned – get level before getting settled! I re-positioned the van at a 90 degree angle and re-leveled it. It was not perfect but much better and was the best I could do on this site.
The Toilet Stuff
When you live in a vehicle you have to deal with your toilet waste! Well, for vehicles that have a bathroom that is, which mine does. I have a Thetford cassette toilet and the cassette is a tank that is accessed from the outside and just slides out.
You put in some special chemical in them before using and this breaks down any solid matter and should keep the inside clean. But here’s my problem – my van is 19 years old and it’s had 11 different owners! None of the owners from the last 10 years even bothered to get it serviced, so do you think they took care of the tanks?
Nope! It’s icky in there!! Even after emptying and rinsing I can see a nasty buildup of residue that is basically somebody else’s shit! So I bought myself some special cassette tank cleaner from the manufacturer, Thetford.
The way it works is quite simple. You first clean out the cassette as best you can and rinse very well and then put in 300ml of the fluid in the tank. You fill it with water, put the cassette back in the van and then let it sit for at least 16 hours. Ideally, you’d drive with it in that time to really slosh it about.
So just before I left the site I used the fluid and drove back home. On my next trip, I will empty it and see if it worked.
Here’s a video of clips that I took over my two days here: