My story with Dave, the kids, Cooper, VW's & rugby

The Big Extension

If you know me and Dave you’ll know that we always like to have a project on the go … and this time we have taken on a beast. We bought the house about 9 years ago and have done loads to it over the years altering rooms, decorating, replacing fixtures, knocking walls down etc, as our family needs change. I also love my “before & after” pictures as seen in a couple of my previous DIY posts.

Two and a half weeks ago we started a 16 week project to extend the back of the house, including a 2 story extension (which will include reconfiguring the kids bedrooms and their den, as well as extending the dining room and kitchen. Here’s a few pictures of the major stages.

The Before … You can see the markings on the wall where we took the conservatory down 2 years ago

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This was the start as the patio came up

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We’ve had a couple of issues so far with the build, one being access and neighbours, or you could say neighbours and access .. meaning that the builders had to use smaller machinery to dig the foundations. Then the next issue was the depth that the foundations needed to go down to, so we are a few days behind schedule and over budget at this stage but we’re hoping it can be caught up and money will be saved elsewhere.

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After all that digging, and because they had to dig so deep we were also getting the side walls collapsing, it was a welcome sight when the concrete truck arrived early in the morning. Here’s the lovely expensive concrete moat.

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This is the triumphant day we got out of the ground. Onwards and upwards!

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Then yesterday they took off the large bay and boarded it up inside so that they can then focus on brickwork for the next couple of weeks.

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Weekend at CamperJam 2014, Weston Park

This weekend while the Tour de France was set to hurtle around the roads of Yorkshire we set off heading south on the 150 mile journey to CamperJam in Shropshire. It was our first trip to CamperJam so we were really excited, but with slight trepidation about the journey.

Here is our merry convoy ready to depart

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On the route down we met up with some fellow vdubbers so we had a convoy and it was good to have some support vehicles travelling with you :) The roads were ok considering it was Friday night, but it was amazing how much traffic was heading North for the Tour de France. When we got to CamperJam the rain had started, and it carried on through most of the night. Needless to say we all went to bed earlier than usual as we were all a bit wet!

The next day the sun was out and thats how it stayed for the rest of the weekend which was perfect.

Here’s the Harrogate & District VW club camping patch

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Camperjam was huge, there were so many traders that we really just didn’t have enough time to look around properly, but it was also packed with day visitors as well as the campers. Great fun though and a fantastic atmosphere. At this festival, our 2 worlds merged as our friends from the rugby club, who have recently joined the VW club, came along too so it meant there were even more kids in camp entertaining each other.

Here’s a few of the pics from Saturday

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Sunday was Show n Shine day so we were up early (well sort of early) to give Mollie a bit of a rub down, and to get camp tidied up and packed up. We wouldn’t be heading off until later in the afternoon but it can take a good few hours to steadily pack everything back up, especially when you’re in a relaxed “go slow”.

Here’s Mollie in the Show n Shine

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In the VW show circuit there are certain shows that are tougher than others, and CamperJam has always been our ultimate one to test Mollie at. This is due to the calibre of the judges, one being David Eccles who we have probably all of his books under our coffee table. When we lined up there were just so many amazing looking buses of all styles, with immaculate interiors and exteriors, each deserving of a prize. The judges of the Show n Shine, when they came for a chat liked the fact that Mollie was still a microbus rather than one that had been converted to a camper so we felt a glimmer of hope.

After a nervous wait .. (its like one of kids needing to pass a test!)

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She’d done it .. a winner ..

Here is me collecting the trophy and having to explain to the crowd what work had been done to Mollie (embarrassing lol!) and strangely enough out of all the prize winners I was the only female owner (makes me even prouder :) )

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And here is Mollie’s trophy to add to the growing collection.

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The thing I love most though about showing Mollie is not all about the winning, but its the smiles that people have when they see her, and I love it when she is so admired that people want to take photos of her or wave at you when you are travelling up the motorway.

We certainly needed the waves and beeping of the horns that we got on the way back as it was a long drive when were were all worn out, but loved it all the same. This was our mini convoy when we stopped at Woodhall services. We were lucky that the Tour de France traffic was all going on the opposite direction again…and I’ve never seen so much, it was crazy.

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Amsterdam iGaming Conference

Last week Dave and I traveled over to Amsterdam for 2 nights as Dave was speaking and moderating the day of SEO sessions at the iGaming Supershow conference. For those who are not in the “industry” this conference is all based around the online gaming /gambling sector, so poker, bingo, casino etc and attracts attendees from the big merchants and operators, to the affiliates and marketeers who send traffic to these platforms.

We flew out of Newcastle on Tuesday morning and got back to the UK on Thursday night. We had a good few days but it always wears you out as you spend most of the time chatting mainly about industry stuff, while stood up at a conference and generally staying out late. It’s our third or fourth time to Amsterdam for conferences over the years so we have “been there, seen it” so, No … we didn’t go to any cafes or venture back to the red light district!

Here we go then… probably the most photographed part of Amsterdam at the airport

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Once we’d arrived we headed to the Holiday Inn that we had been booked into. Great hotel, just over the road from the busy conference hotel so we managed to have a quiet lunch which was amazing.

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Once we’d collected our conference badges for the following day we took time to relax in the afternoon, while keeing up with emails and then we ended up going out for dinner together at a super Italian restaurant not far from the hotel called Bellini. Its a restaurant that if you walked past, you may not go in, as it doesn’t look much from the outside and is in a residential area, but the food was amazing. It happened to be the World Cup match between Italy and Uruguay, the one where Suarez bit again so that was a shame that Italy went out.

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It was a super cosy restaurant and the menu is just a guide as to what can be served. We went a bit off the menu with the starter and asked for some mozzerella and meats which arrived along with some fabulous hot prawns in garlic, and a plate of thinly sliced veal and tuna (an intriguing but delicious combination)

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The next day was conference day so up early to get the the venue for Dave to chair the day’s sessions. The conference was held at the RAI Amsterdam which is massive

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and this is where we spent most of the day

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Afterwards it was time to go for some food with friends. So we ended up at Rosarium which is close by to the hotels and a beautiful setting. It was warm so we sat outside and ate fine food and drank cold wine.

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amazing pudding rosarium

We didn’t have to get up early the next day so had a bit of a late night, which was good fun. The following day we headed to the airport in the afternoon for our exploration Schiphol airport (you can spend hours wandering around this place, its like a small town!)

There have been quite a few foodie pictures in this post, and doesn’t really represent Amsterdam, so here is one that is more in keeping…

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Until next time Holland!

Marbella 2014

I’m behind on my posting on my blog as there always seems to be something else that crops up with work, the house now that we are about to start a big extension, the kids, the rugby club, the VW club and family… but I have grabbed a few spare minutes to get some of the pictures from our annual holiday in Marbella onto my blog.

We didn’t do much while we were away, basically drove from the airport (in an awesome brand new VW Golf) to the Marriott resort, checked in and didn’t leave the resort except for a few hours in Marbella and a few times down the beach for dinner. It was really relaxing. The kids hooked up with some friends from previous years and met some new people so they were busy all day mainly in the pool which meant I could get on with my annual reading session with a few cocktails in between chapters.

Arrival drinks!
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Trip into Marbella for lunch
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The pool and the apartments
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Kids in the pool practicing for water polo
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Me & Dave after a lovely meal down the beach
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Until next year .. all booked already :)

Mighty DubFest 2014

This weekend we headed off to Northumberland to go to Mighty Dub Fest at Druridge Bay Country Park. We hadn’t been to this event before, and this was the first outing for us with PeggySue Puck, our latest addition.

We set off straight after the kids finished school and had got showered and changed, on Friday afternoon. We had arranged to meet up with our friends from the Harrogate and District VW club there, to camp with them, but we’d planned to make our own way there. All was going great until we hit traffic and it turned out that the A19 at Hartlepool was closed in both directions because of an accident. Sat in a slow moving traffic jam, in a 50 year old bus, in the rain isn’t the ideal start to a weekend. We headed off down some chocker block country lanes to try to get back on the A19 at a different junction but no joy so had a bit of a pitstop.

Here’s our mini convoy

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We got there eventually (after a 4 hour drive) and couldn’t get into the club camping where we were supposed to as it was full, but also in a very muddy field so we were actually pleased we could find our own spot which we did in the end and managed to track everyone else down too. This was our camp

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the camp at might dub fest

This was the first time away without a tent to sleep in, so the boys were in Bob in his new full width bed, and Dave, me and Cooper were in PeggySue. We loved it and next time it will be even better as we have learnt a few things this time round.

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Check out the amazing blue sky we were treated to on Saturday!

And this is the view across the lake from our campsite, pretty stunning!

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Everyone had a great weekend … Cooper got to chill out, go on the beach, swim in the lake and meet loads of new friends.

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The kids got into loombands .. and by the end of the weekend everyone was wearing loomband bracelets

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One thing that was a shame though was that Mollie was entered into the Show and Shine but the show field, after some more rain during the night on Saturday, was muddy and rutted and even though she would have got up the hill to the display we didn’t want her to have to be dragged off at the end of the day. She could have won too!

the show field

We had a good drive home in a convoy with no incidents or breakdowns so that was a perfect end to a fab weekend. Roll on Camperjam in a few weeks.