Sun Canopy That Converts Into A Drive Away Awning

I have a large heavy drive-away awning that works very well and I use that when we travel with the boys and they sleep in that. But, when there are just the two of us … well, it’s a bit of a palaver. So I looked for something that I could use with our roll-out canopy and without it if I want to leave a standalone awning or if it is just too windy to risk £500 worth of aluminium and pvc canvas!

I looked at the quecha base seconds – but just couldn’t get my head around using it with my existing kit.

This arrangement gives me three configurations (numbers match picture numbers below):

  1. Sun canopy attached to side channel (on rollout awning)
  2. Sun room using sun canopy and attached as above (#1)
  3. Drive away awning using #2 above plus an attached tarp and a candor strip to de-couple the awning from the bus (the attachment clips are clip on grommets).
  4. Attach the sides and front of the sun-room to the roll-out awning using velcro tapes

I think I now have all the canopy combinations and permutations I need for travelling light – and at a price that is half the price of the specific, add-on sides and front for the roll-out awning.  I’ll report back after our next trip!


Reflective poem after a great two weeks camper-vanning – poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Idyllic setting in France – Ardenne/ Champagne Region near Lake Der. Right next to a lovely trout river with damselflies all around.

The holidays were fruitful, but must end;
One August evening had a cooler breath;
Into each mind intruding duties crept;
Under the cinders burned the fires of home;
Nay, letters found us in our paradise:
So in the gladness of the new event
We struck our camp and left the happy hills.
The fortunate star that rose on us sank not;
The prodigal sunshine rested on the land,
The rivers gambolled onward to the sea …

from Retracing Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Steps

Room with a view!

VW California Beach – My Opinion and Some Useful Addons

I finally bought a VW California Beach after much procrastination. Having waited for years for VW to bring out a new version of the surf bus, I finally gave up on it when I had a good look at the VW Beach. It is a wonderfull compromise between a camper van and a car for daily use. My wife and teenage kids love it and having used it in anger on a number of road trips and for camping, it is really fantastic. My wife prefers driving it to the Beemer 535d we had before. I loved that car, but the change from fast low to slow high has been inspiring 🙂

Out with the old and in with the new. 2004 BMW 535d replaced with 2015 VW California Beach.

There are a number of blogs out there reviewing the Beach (e.g. ) and I thought I’d add my penny’s worth.

I have added a number of accessories to the kit-bag. But here I thought I’d address some of the camper-van gaps that having a VW Beach means compared to having a full on VW SE California.

– Water Canister – a hard-shell 5 gallon container with a stop cock – it works brilliantly and I just stick it on a collapsible aluminium table to give a good working height.

– Cooking – a couple of instant cookers for quick brews/ cooks, but I way prefer my little bar-b-q with charcoal or wood – makes for wonderful cooking. I can even use the same paella dish I use in the garden set-up. For the cookers, I again put these on a  collapsible table which I can site anywhere safe – even under the awning or under the open tailgate for impromtu brews

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Costco storage box – vast clothes storage. Size 10 Crocs for sizing purposes!

– Storage – soft travel bags are best if taking clothes in and out of the bus. But if your clothes are basically going to stay in the bus, then another cheap and very useful accessory is a bog-standard car organiser. I got two of these from Costco and they swallow up your clothes in a very organised and accessible way.

The Halfords coolbox fits in well under the rear parcel shelf and plugs into the rear offside power supply.
Halfords cool box with tow handle and wheels!

– Fridge – This Halford’s special works very well. We kick it off using some freezer blocks and it stays very cool. I switch the unit off for long periods and I’m going to add a switched plug to make this a bit easier.

– Sleeping up-top – Use a duvet or a double sleeping bag. It’s much easier to get in and out of compared to using a mummy-bag.

I have had a few issues getting used to the shear height of the vehicle though. I wouldn’t underestimate the difference between handling things on and around a roof at head height (for me) versus chest height.