Early AdVANtures

Bernie has been busy. Our newest addition has been running us around a lot over the last couple of weeks of our summer holidays. A smooth ride, and Sam loves riding in the middle of the three (well, two and a half) front seats, telling us where to go and looking out for birdies and sheep.

I bought Bernie with the intention of her becoming an adventure wagon, to take us out into the wilderness, give us a place to escape the weather and even sleep. There’s lots of conversion to do, but the upcoming return to school means we only have time for some simple sprucing. New clothes rather than a facelift. A tidy up rather than a spring clean. This was our starting point to stage one of the conversion.

Kirsty and I got our workie gear on. First job was a clean of the driving area. Then the bulkhead was removed. Which gives us a greater feeling of space and has removed a huge weight from the van.

Next up was the removal of the ply. We cleaned the van up in the back, sweeping out a forest of leaves and sticks and dust and wiping down the surfaces. We left Bernie looking naked. She didn’t seem to mind.

I’d been to B&Q earlier in the day to buy some paint to update the ply. Some new clothes for Bernie. The warm, sunny day made two coats a breeze.

The grey paint I bought to compliment the dark grey of the van was lighter than I imagined. But we think it looks good.

Before the painting I also added a lip to the back door end of the ply. There had been a gap left between the ply and the van floor, and I was worried that someone’s big arse (mine perhaps) would be heavy enough to break it. So I screwed on a lip of timber to strengthen it.

By the end of the day Bernie’s new clothes were impressive.

A good day’s work, and a lesson learnt about what can be achieved in a day. Not necessarily as much as you hope. But stage one is complete. She feels like our van now. And plans are already coming together for what stage two might look like. One part Van Morrison, a little Van Gogh maybe. Some Vanny De Vito sense of humour and she’ll be as tough as Van Helsing.

Carron Bothy

Last weekend, Neil, Gordon, James and I were supposed to be heading to Sandwood Bay.  But the weeks worth of torrential rain had put that plan on (pretty wet) ice.  We scoured the weather forecast for even a glimpse of sun, anywhere that the chance of rain was low-ish.  We settled for a trip to Argyll and Carron Bothy.

We arrived at the Auchindrain forest road end in sunshine and warmth, totally unexpected as other parts of the country were under yellow weather alerts. The forest road was great for walking, allowing us to travel fast, even with our heavy packs laden with waterproofs for the expected deluge.  The final 2km of path were wet underfoot.  And when I say wet, I mean tsunami wet, turned to small rivers by the weeks rain.

The bothy was clean and well maintained, despite James’ best efforts to blow it up with his exploding Jetboil.   We dropped our overnight gear, had lunch, found some deadwood for a fire and headed into the hills.  The views were superb and the breeze took away some of the heat from the sun.  The main phrase of the afternoon was “I can’t believe it’s not raining”.

The peaty brown burns did a great job of soothing the sore feet before teatime.

A peaceful nights sleep followed a peaceful evening of games and chat.  And the next day we headed back the way we came to the car, in the rain this time, but by then, it didn’t matter.

And the film…

Meet Bernie…

I’m pleased to introduce the newest member of the Johnston clan, this is Bernie, isn’t she lovely:

Gordie the Corsa has been traded for Bernie the Berlingo van. And Bernie is in charge of taking us on new adventures. At the moment she is empty in the back.

There will be some van conversion going on, with beds, shelves, etc being added. But I don’t expect any of this to happen quickly as:

a) The holidays are almost over, and

b) I need to learn how to convert it….

I’ll start simply and inside my comfort zone. Now where are those wet wipes.

The Sole Purpose of Your Feet is Toe-tal Fun

My feet are important to me.  We are a team.  On a daily basis they allow me to play “Chase Me” with my son and wife, run to the kitchen to grab a bag of crisps and do all the other important things a busy dad/teacher/outdoor type needs to do.  So it’s been pretty frustrating during this summer holiday that my feet have decided they need a rest and so have prevented me getting up into the hills and mountains, which is where I’d be found most summer holidays.  That exasperation has probably been pretty noticable to my wife, although she has made me smile and laugh and helped me mostly forget the annoyance of being laid up on the couch while my feet enjoy their holiday.

However, the summer has still given me opportunities to explore and spend time with Mrs Johnston and Young Johnston.  And I remind myself daily about how lucky I am to have my family and be able to do the things we do, so much of it outdoors.  For instance…

Young Johnston and I went off to find the Bunnet Stane.  And as well as admiring this rocky spectacle, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten as many hula hoops in one day before.

We’ve been to the capital to measure Young Johnston’s height.  He is now officially taller than the Scott Monument.

We’ve been teaching Young Johnston to drive cars and boats.

We’ve been looking for animals, at Blair Drummond Safari Park and closer to home.

And we spent an amazing week on Skye with Paul, Sas and Finn.

 

     

There are still three weeks of the holidays to go and loads more adventures to be had.  The photo above, Blaven, was the view from our cottage which was one of the reasons for taking the cottage in the first place.  Did I miss not getting to climb its slopes?  Yes, very much so.  But our week on Skye was one of the best wee holidays we’ve been on as a family and it reminds me how lucky I am to have what I have. After a week of the best the island had to offer, we were all…… dead on our feet.