Solwise Home Plugs Review – and a Competition!

Ok, it’s taken a while – 2 months give or take – to get around to this, but I wanted time to fully evaluate these products. That’s my excuse anyway!

In case the title leaves you none the wiser – basically these devices transmit internet data along mains electric wires – allowing you to get the internet to far flung corners of a building without installing any existing wiring. I’ll explain our situation in a moment so you get more of an idea.

So what’s this got to do with caravanning? Well, admittedly not a lot. I doubt there is a caravan big enough that would necessitate the use of these – however I would think the majority of those of you reading this have a larger more permanent dwelling – and probably use the internet too. So this may just be of interest.

Our router – a BT Home Hub 4 sits in the lounge and is connected directly via the usual network cables to the YouView digibox and our networked hard drive which we use for backing up all our stuff – my collection of music – ‘archived’ versions of vinyl, cassette and CD recordings along with all our photos from our travels, films, TV series and now increasingly, video footage for our YouTube channel.

Thanks to the wonders of BT Infinity 2 we can get download speeds of anything up to 65Mbps while uploads top out at around 20Mbps. Speeds I’m perfectly happy with.

However in the ‘office’ also known as the spare room, dining room and caravan paraphernalia dumping ground it’s a different story. Downloads top out at around 7Mbps while uploads fare a little better at 11Mbps. Now I realise this wont garner much sympathy from those in more rural areas who are perhaps lucky to get half that and I do understand. Travelling around as we do we often come across areas where a 3G mobile signal is still a luxury and the lofty speeds of 4G are just a pipe dream. And it’s frustrating.

Fortunately, the good folk at Solwise – who’ve provided us with some great WiFi kit for the caravan – came to my rescue and sent me these:pl-1200av2-piggy-4

First up is the bit that connects to your router – I think of this as the transmitter – it simply plugs into a mains socket and is connected to one of the network ports on the router with the supplied cable. It doesn't take up a mains socket – just as well considering the jumble behind our AV stand - as it has a socket at the front. The socket is ‘filtered’ which helps prevent anything connected through it from creating interference on your mains wiring and affecting the signal.

Set up was easy – you plug it in, then plug in the cable to the router – and that's it. The CD shown contains a copy of the easy start guide, a user manual and utility software – but for basic set ups you won’t need it – I’m no techie but I’ve not looked at it yet!

pl-1200av2-pew-4This is the other part – the receiver if you like – this was plugged in to a socket under the desk. You can connect directly to your computer with the supplied network cable – and that’s it – good to go. That’s generally how I connect my laptop. However the device does transmit a WiFi signal too. Setting this up is only the same as connecting wirelessly to a router – the network ID and password is printed on the device. Indicator lights on the front show the status of the device and we were up and running within minutes.

So, how did it perform? Over WiFi download speeds shot up to over 29Mbps – four times what I was getting before. A remarkable performance in my view. Upload speeds were a little less impressive with only a marginal increase to 12Mbps.  Wired download speeds were a little better at 30Mbps but uploads were much more impressive at around 18Mbps – and this was perhaps the most important to us – it’s from the laptop that I back up our files and upload videos so this really made a difference.

In addition my pad – an old Hudl 2 - can pick up the WiFi signal from the Solwise device in that most important of locations, the smallest room in the flat. Something it couldn’t do with the router. So I can browse whilst erm, well you get the idea!

There was a time in the early days of these devices that in order to work they had to be on the same Ring Main circuit but that no longer applies. As long as they’re on the same phase – not an issue for the vast majority of households - they should work just fine. The wiring in our flat is all over the place – and probably due a re-wire too. There is a ring main but a number of other sockets are on radial circuits once used for storage heaters. I would suspect that with newer more standardised wiring results would be even better.

For more information and full specifications head over to the Solwise website where you can also purchase if you decide they suit your requirements. The first device  - the ‘transmitter’ - is HERE and the second – the ‘receiver’ HERE. It’s worth pointing out that these are the faster of the two types available and that's worth bearing in mind when comparing pricing. I think they are great – and whilst hardly life changing – they have made negotiating the perilous path that is the 21st century just a little easier!

Competition Time!

Like the sound of them? Like the idea of getting them for nothing? Well, stay put because the lovely people at Solwise have a pair to give away! Entry is simple – all you need to do is answer this question correctly: what female name do we give to our caravan? Pop the answer along with your name on an email and send it to: legsdown@outlook.com by 9th December. The winner will be drawn at random and will be announced on the evening of Sunday 10th December. Good Luck!

There’s something I have to tell you…..

It was eight and a half years ago when I started writing a blog – although back then it was really just an email with a few pictures attached, typed on my little netbook and sent out to a dozen people.

I then created a blog called “A Load of Nonsense” and continued to document all our trips away, be they cruises to far flung places or weekends in Margate.

Then five and and half years ago we started caravanning and with our jobs at the school giving us plenty of time off, the caravan trips came thick and fast – and the blog really flourished.

A few years ago we decided to change the name to something more caravan focused – and (Get Your) Legs Down was born. Every caravan trip we’ve taken is on here.

Whilst the blog has brought with it some freebies – mainly in the form of products for review – it has always been a hobby. And I’ve always thought A Load Of Nonsense was still the perfect name for it! Some will doubtless agree….

However, Legs Down is entering a new phase -  I am delighted – and really proud - to announce that we will be providing exclusive content for the website of Caravan insurance specialist Cover4Caravans in the form of written Site Reviews. They will be impartial and comprehensive reviews of not only the site but the surrounding area too based on our experiences, from access to the site to local attractions and yes, pubs too. Obviously!

Director Richard Burgess is a passionate supporter of caravanning and you may remember already sponsors our Twittercamp meets and we’re delighted to be working with him on this.

I’ve always been somewhat envious of those who make money doing something that they enjoy – ok I enjoy driving and earn a living from it, but writing about our travels has always been a hobby, so this means a lot - it really does. The blog will continue in the same format and I’ll be providing links to the Site Reviews that will be on the Cover4Caravans website. You can check the first one out HERE

So, that was our little announcement – and we are looking forward to announcing another collaboration in the coming weeks too. Exciting times ahead!

Cheers for now

Rich & Trev

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Beers, Trains, Boats & Planes – Part 2

Thursday brought with it a lunch appointment in ‘the smoke’ and the journey was easy thanks to Denham station being only twenty-five minutes walk – or in our case a five minute drive – away. The trundle into London’s Marylebone station took around twenty-five minutes passing Wembley Stadium on the way. Worth noting if you’re attending an event. Our destination was Finsbury Avenue, just behind Liverpool Street station and easily reached on the 205 bus. The underground would certainly have been quicker, in fact riding on the back of a snail would have been quicker, but we weren't in a rush and took in  a few of the sights along the way. I am continually amazed at the amount of building and redevelopment work going on.

Our lunch  was with Cover4Caravans director Richard and his internet expert Jason. Over some of the best steak I’ve ever tasted we had a good chat and catch up. Richard also very generously agreed to sponsor Twittercamp again for another year and we discussed some mutually beneficial projects too.

Friday gave us the chance to explore more of the local area and first up was Northmoor Hill Wood – a nature reserve right next door to the site. A 1.5km walk is indicated on the information board – not far but there are some inclines and at the time of our visit it was a bit slippery under foot in places. Not recommended for those with reduced mobility or wearing entirely unsuitable winkle pickers. Ahem. Nevertheless it’s a great place to wander and to give your four legged friends a run out particularly as there’s no dog walking area on site.

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A little further from the site  back on the A412 is the village of Harefield and we’d spotted a sign for a pub called the The Old Orchard the other evening and decided further investigation – in the interests of research obviously – was called for.

Wow, what a find – and for once I’m not talking about the beer. It’s appeal, as soon as you enter the car park is apparent - what a view! The lake you see is Broadwater Lake and along the bottom of it, hidden from view runs the Grand Union Canal. To the other side is the A412 and roughly in the middle on the far side too is the caravan site and Northmoor Hill wood. This area is full of very pleasant surprises.

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Now, this is where you might need to sit down. They had eight – yes eight – hand pumps on the bar, seven of which had real ale. And we had tea. Yes tea. As sorely tempted as I was – and what better views to sup a nice real ale to – we abstained. It is most definitely on the list for a return visit though.

Walkers will be interested in a leaflet you can pick up at the pub which details a circular 4.5 mile walk traversing part of the Hillingdon Trail – a 20 mile path that begins in Cranford and ends here in Harefield.

We had the car but we were able to stop at a couple of places on the way, one being Black Jack’s Lock just a few hundred meters from the pub car park:

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Back on the road out of Harefield we soon crossed the canal again and it was an equally agreeable place to stop with the Coy Carp on one side of the bridge and the tow path and Copper Mill Lock a short walk on the other. Those little cottages look so idyllic, but I’m not sure having a pub that close would be a good idea!

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Next up – and our last stop of the day – apart from the evening’s excursion - was to the 41 hectares that makes up the Rickmansworth Aquadrome Local Nature Reserve on the outskirts of the town. It was not surprisingly busy given it was half-term and the large – and free – car park was approaching capacity. Two lakes are the main features of the park and was being enjoyed by both kids and model yacht enthusiasts alike.

There was plenty enjoying the café too and we paused for a forgettable cuppa and an only slightly more memorable scone – or scon if you prefer. The café had a designated ‘Quiet Room’ occupied mostly by the grey (and white) army – those that weren't on duty with the grand kids in the main area anyway. And yes, I’m mostly grey now and would have much preferred the quieter room had there been any space!

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The evening saw us in Denham village a short drive from the site and blessed with three pubs – and VERY limited parking. We gambled – along with many others, correctly – that there would be no parking wardens about and enjoyed a nice meal in The Green Man. It’s worth noting that there is a footpath to Denham railway station some 650m away where parking is plentiful and we may not push our luck next time!

There is a bus service – right from the site to Uxbridge that runs 2-3 times a day, six days a week and it was this that we decided to utilise on the Saturday morning.

Whilst Uxbridge might not be top of the list for sightseeing it’s just a twenty minute bus ride and handy for shopping with many of the usual high street names represented. Yours truly even parted with some cash for a new pair of gloves – I’ll leave you to guess the material and colour…

It’s also worth noting that Uxbridge is on both the London Underground network and several London bus routes so it’s easy to travel further afield, although do be mindful of the return times of the local bus or you may have rather a long walk. There’s also a Saturday service from the site to Windsor but again, times are limited.

On the way to the caravan site you would have passed Denham Aerodrome – and most probably heard some of the coming and goings from the site. There’s a little café there too called the Crew Room which a fellow camper on site made us aware of. The usual fayre is supplemented by great views from the terrace of the comings and going on the airfield whether it be little Cessnas being flown solo or helicopters taking punters up on pleasure flights. We paused for some sustenance and I have to report that the fish finger sandwich was yum – proper fish fingers like I remember as a kid in plain white bread – not some  pretentious interpretation of one. The tea was also served properly - in a teapot.

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And that was our time up at Wyatts Covert. A lovely little site in area that has so much more to offer than is first apparent. Another one on the ‘must do again’ list. Check out our Site Arrival Video to see how easy the site is to get to.

Right. Christmas next and four site booked for the school holidays. It all starts again in just over five weeks – and I can’t wait!

Until then, thanks – as always – for reading. It’s really appreciated.

Cheers

Rich & Trev.


Beer, Planes, Boats & Trains

Another oblique title but be assured all will appear in this two part blog at some point – some more than others, you can probably guess which. Anyway, here goes:

So finally! After the longest half-term of the school year it was time to get Patsy’s legs up again and drag her out of the storage yard after a well earned break. Here’s what happened:

Our first stop was west – just outside Devizes at the Camping & Caravan Club site – for our ninth Twittercamp meet up with fellow caravanners and were just a little apprehensive about the journey. You see Rosie has had a warning light showing intermittently for the past week or so. The manual suggests taking it to a dealer (kerching!) but not what the issue might be. We were none the wise after a search on Google whose results indicated that anything from a bad earth connection to brexit might be the cause. We needn’t have worried though. Despite the light remaining on throughout the journey, Rosie performed admirably evening managing close on 30mpg – a figure we could only dream of in the summer when we thought the mounting miles and workload might be taking it’s toll. On restarting to head to the pitch once checked in, the light was conspicuous by its absence.

Attentive Legs Downers might recall that we’d been to this site before – back in February 2014 on both our current car and caravan’s first trip. The weather that week was awful – in fact had we not wanted to try out or new combo we wouldn’t have travelled. Apt then that Storm Brian was predicted to do his worst over the weekend of our meet – but handy having The Three Magpies just a few minutes walk from the site entrance – a great dog friendly pub that served us up some terrific food over the weekend.20171023_192732[6]

The meet itself went well and you can read a more detailed review HERE. As is usual with these gatherings we didn’t get out and about much other than to the supermarket or the pub but having been before we weren't too bothered. Site wise the wardens were friendly and helpful. A mixture of grass and hardstanding pitches it was hardly surprising that the grassed areas were out of action but even some of the 20171022_095901hardstanding pitches were a little waterlogged and it was muddy in places where vehicles had cut up the grass. Facilities though were clean and tidy if a little dated. The push button showers were great – water was hot and plentiful - particularly after the little awning peg/ladder combo had been suitably deployed. Site WiFi was poor – we used my mobile’s hotspot facility and had no problems.

Tuesday saw us head back east along the M4 to Buckinghamshire and the Wyatts Covert Caravan & Motorhome Club site near Denham. Easy access to London is one of the selling points and that was the main reason we chose it. More on that later.

DSC_0099Access from the motorway was straightforward although it’s worth following the club’s directions as you avoid a large portion of the often narrow Tilehouse Lane. We didn’t and followed the SatNav. Having done both I can see why the clubs advice is worth taking. There’s no point makingDSC_0098 life any harder if you can help it. Welcome was once again friendly and we went off to choose our pitch which, given that there are only 50 pitches – all hardstanding – didn’t take long. After setting up and settling down for a kip we went out for a trundle to get our bearings and what became clear was that there was more to the area than just easy access to London. We were looking forward to seeing more but did note the location of a few pubs for the comings day’s research expeditions…..

Talking of which, that evening saw us at the Bear on the Barge in nearby Harefield about 6-7 minutes drive from the site. The house ale was a bit too fruity but the Directors was fine. Food wise we opted for burgers not least because of the 2-4-1 offer which made them good value although clearly they’d run out of plates and had to make do with chopping boards. Dogs were welcome in the garden but not in the bar or restaurant.

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Wednesday was a lazy day – I typed up our meet whilst Trev done some ‘house’ work. The afternoon saw us go for a wander around nearby Rickmansworth. Local beers were procured and tea and scones consumed on what was a very pleasant afternoon. Probably too warm to be poncing about in a long leather coat. But I did anyway!

With the cupboard still bare and  in order to stave off imminent starvation another research expedition was necessary. This time the proprietors of the Oaks were the no doubt ecstatic recipients of our custom. The food was fine and the opportunity to try a local beer brewed just a few miles away was welcome.

Right, that’s it for now. Stand by for more pubs, a rather nice lunch and at last, some sightseeing. Oh, and the trains, boats and planes too….


Guest Blog Post – My Mellow Mattress Review

Hi everyone, I am delighted to present a first for Legs Down – our first ever guest blogger. Here, friend and fellow caravanner David takes a look at a custom mattress designed for him by My Mellow – the same company that made our toppers, a review of which you can read HERE:

My Mellow Mattress by David BellIMG_6884

So I thought I’d go about finding our caravan (@ElvisTheElddis) a new mattress for the fixed bed… Having had “Elvis II” for over a year now, and over 10 trips away in him, I thought it was time to invest in a new mattress. The existing one was very badly dipped at one side, where the previous owners had used it and I was finding it felt a bit odd to sleep on. ‘Elvis’ is a 2003 Elddis 534 ‘Knightsbridge SE’ – and so the 13 year old mattress has seen better days.

Now I think I seem to be a bit of a “princess and the pea” when it comes to mattresses, and mine has to totally flat with no dips, bumps or lumps. I’m equally ‘quirky’, shall we say, about how level the caravan is, and have been known, just before bed, to dash out and re-adjust the jockey wheel and steadies if something doesn’t feel right… The other half, however, doesn’t seem to care and has the ability to sleep on a dime as they say, whereas I’m really fussy, and the so the dip at my side was starting to do my head in.

Now being a ‘frugal’ Yorkshireman, I tried my best to rectify the dip with various methods, and had even managed to get hold of a lovely, expensive memory foam mattress topper from a fellow caravanner, who gave it to us free of charge (what a star!) after it no longer fitted his new van. I cannot dispute how much comfier the mattress was with the new topper, but the dip was still there, I could still feel the dip, the topper just made it a comfier dip…. To try and rectify things I’d even resorted to placing ‘awning foam mats’ under my side of the bed, of various depths and in strategic locations in a vain attempt to try minimise the dip. It sort of worked, but was far from ideal…

So, the hunt began for a new mattress.

I searched various forums for reviews, had a nosey through my various caravan magazines for adverts (I get FOUR through the post every month!) I also had a nosey around Facebook groups and Twitter. There seemed to be plenty of people with toppers, raving about them, but not a lot out there with people having replaced their entire mattress.

I then stumbled upon a mattress topper review on the Legs Down blog (where this blog post is now being very kindly hosted) by a company called “MyMellow”. Now knowing Richard and Trevor, and seeing their previous frank reviews, I knew if they said they liked something, it ought to be pretty good. They’ve been caravanning for a good few years now, and both working at a college get decent chunk of holiday leave, of which they spend as much of that leave as they can caravanning, so compared to most they’ve spend hundreds of nights caravanning. They said they’d got these new toppers and they transformed their beds, and suggested I take a look at MyMellow for my mattress, as they knew they also made custom shaped mattresses too.

So, I headed over to the MyMellow website to take a look around. The site allows you to choose the basic shape of the mattress you need (standard, curved, cut off etc.) and then you just need four measurements (for a cut off corner bed like mine) and your choice of mattress overall depth.

You then get to choose how firm you want the mattress to be (not seen this on many other sites). The best part is you can click calculate at this point, before having to enter a load of personal information - so you can get an idea of cost beforehand. Nice.

The site is really well designed and, key for me, it worked really well on my iPhone too. As a web designer for a living, I get really frustrated with websites that don’t load correctly on my phone!

Now my original mattress in Elvis had a seam that ran top to bottom, a sort of hinge, allowing the mattress to fold in to two halves, and fold up easily as the bed frame lifts up, giving easier access to the under bed storage area. Some may not see this as an issue, or may not need the split, but I have to dive head first under the bed on each trip like some gurning geriatric gymnast in order to; 1) flick the water drain switch on the water heater, and 2) get the Wastemaster out, as that’s where it lives.

The MyMellow website didn’t have a section where I could request this though, so I got in touch via Twitter to ask if it was possible for them to make a mattress in this layout. Thankfully I got a quick response to my questions from Martin, via a friendly Direct Message, saying yes it was possible to make the mattress in this way, with a zip and in two sections – and for a small extra fee of just £30!! A certain other manufacturer, who I’ll not mention, wanted an extra £100 more to put a split in their mattress! Martin then also said they have a section on their site where you can upload a drawing of your own mattress, so that they can quote based on very specific requirements. Good.

I like a company that’s quick to respond on social media, and as I tend to spend most of my waking hours on either Facebook or Twitter, and so a quick reply from MyMellow was another big tick for me!

So was this a decision made? The price was right, they could make the mattress in the shape I wanted, they’re quick to reply on social media, their toppers got good reviews…what else was there?

Do I click the green purchase button…!?

I’m one of these people that ends up searching and searching before committing to something, to ensure what I get is just right, and after much hunting, and various quotes from various manufacturers (varying WILDLY I have to say!) could I actually commit to buying from MyMellow?

My finger hovered over the button… I thought I’d best do some digging first.

I thought to myself “just who are MyMellow? They may not have the experience of one of the more established brands” and “why risk something from a company that seemed to me to be a relative newcomer in the caravan mattress industry…?”

Or so I thought…!

Well, that’s the thing, a quick delve into Google revealed that MyMellow are a new brand created by parent company ‘J and A Foam’, who have actually been making mattresses, toppers and truck mattresses for over 40 years! I’d say that’s enough experience for me… It seems the MyMellow brand is a new and exclusive brand of mattresses and toppers created especially for the leisure vehicle industry, but also available to buy for home too.

Right, that was it, the decision was made! A long running family company, based up north, made in England, many years’ experience, swift delivery, and a good warranty, the mattress order was placed, and in time for my next trip away to TwitterCamp

I sent over my mattress dimensions to MyMellow, showing exactly where the fold needed to be, the length/width and depth and the firmness I wanted. I just had to wait for it to be custom made and then sent out via tracked courier.

IMG_6891A few days later the mattress arrived, and all bundled in to a sort of huge body shaped cardboard tube! OK it was heavy, but I could just about lift it, and I even managed to get it in to my car (a convertible Audi!) to take it home from my parents’ house, where it had been delivered.

Knowing that mattresses such as this, when they’ve been compressed for transport, need time to expand, I thought it best I brought my caravan home so that the new mattress could be put in place, and exchanged for the old one, allowing it to fully form its final shape. I was itching to try it out, but thought it best I wait and allow it to expand properly. One thing I forgot to mention, was the two free pillows that also come with the mattress, these also popped up and started growing as I opened up the packaging.

Oh and one other added bonus, no odd smell, as I know some foam mattresses can whiff a bit when new.

So a day later, it was time. The low autumn sun was streaming in through the window, perfect mattress testing conditions! I grabbed one of the free pillows and sat on the edge of the bed… Ooo… I shuffled back, threw down the pillow and laid down. Oooooooooooooh comfy!!! If I’d have had the time I’d have happily taken a power nap there and then. But I couldn’t, I had to take Elvis back to storage again, but I couldn’t wait to spend the night on it.IMG_7142

Things were looking good, the mattress felt great – firm but not so much so that it was uncomfortable, I like a firm mattress, but this seemed to almost mould itself to my shape. I rolled over on to my front, and noticed that there’s an odd short time as the mattress seems to re-contour itself to your shape. I’m one of these odd people that most of the time sleeps on my front, don’t ask me why, but I tend to spend a good while shuffling about till I get to feel just right. Front, side, back, side, and back again to being on my front again. Arm under pillow, arms by my side, shuffle shuffle shuffle. Drives my other half potty! This sort of foam mattress reshaping is something new to me, as my mattress at home is a very expensive Dunlopillo latex one that doesn’t react in this same way. I’ll get used to it I’m sure…

So I took the caravan back to storage, taking note that there wasn’t much alteration in nose weight (something to bear in mind, as the replacement mattress could be heavier OR lighter than your previous one) ready for my first trip away and my first test of the new mattress. Exciting.

A few days later it was time to go away on my first trip with the new mattress. I headed from Leeds down to Birmingham and with Elvis safely locked up and secure in the car park, I spent the day pounding the halls of the NEC Motorhome and Caravan show. In and out of caravans, awnings, motorhomes for six hours! Once back to the car park I then had to drive for half an hour before I pitched up at Kingsbury Water Park Camping and Caravan Club site. A quick pizza was scoffed before settling down with a bottled beer and the telly IN BED of course.

The mattress seemed equally as comfortable for early evening lounging as it did in my previous short test. It wasn’t long before it was time to retire. And after walking miles and a long 3 hour drive to Birmingham, I was ready for bed. As I’ve said previously I’m normally a shuffler in bed, before I get comfy, but this time I settled fairly swiftly into position and drifted off. No doubt dreaming of all those shiny new caravans that I couldn’t afford…

IMG_6916Now it’s not unusual for me to wake during the night when I’m away in the caravan, most often to use the loo, and this night was no exception. I did wake to the rain hammering on the roof of the ‘van. I was nice and cosy though, didn’t need the loo, and wasn’t too warm either (a concern of some foam mattresses, but wasn’t the case thankfully). So I quickly drifted back off to sleep again.

The next few days I spent down with friends at TwitterCamp in Devizes, and spent four more nights on the new mattress. I have to say I’m really pleased with it. I can often experience lower back pain when caravanning, usually associated with stretching wrongly, or when tightening jockey wheel clamp, and this trip was no exception, but I have to admit the mattress did seem to help and the pain seemed to get better quicker than it normally would. Not sure of the mattresses orthopaedic qualities but it’s certainly very comfy, the outer quilting is designed to dissipate heat too while providing a removable washable layer of protection too.

All in all, I’d give the new mattress a good 7 out of 10. Why not 10? Well the memory foam sort of re-shaping itself to your contours takes some getting used to, and if you sleep in the same position you may never notice this, but being a shuffle-bum like me, I did. I guess this may improve over time as the mattress is still very new and may still be relaxing a bit.

One final passing comment;

If I were to order again, knowing what I know and having slept on the new mattress, I may reconsider having the split / fold design. The seam is hidden, and if you go away as a couple you may never notice that the seam is there as you’d tend to stay on your own ‘section’ of the bed, however, as I holiday solo at times, and tend to end up laying diagonally in the bed at some stage during the night, I did notice a slight difference in feel underneath me. Not so much as it was uncomfortable, but I could tell the seam was there (did you read the bit about me being a bit princess and the pea…). So unless you absolutely have to have the seam/fold, or could live without it, then I’d order it as a single piece. Just my tip.IMG_E7172

SO, if you’re considering a new mattress, be it for home, or for your caravan, motorhome, barge, truck, whatever, you’d be daft not to consider the team at MyMellow. As a bonus, I’ve been given a 10% discount code for anyone wishing to buy, just order on their website and use “nut10” without the quote marks, and this will give you 10% off your order!

David Bell
AKA @CaravanNut and @ElvisTheElddis

TwitterCamp 9

The ninth! How did that happen? Anyway, our most recent meet took place from the 20th-24th October at the Camping & Caravan Club Devizes site, just a few miles from the town. We’d been to the site before – in fact it was our current caravan Patsy 2’s first outing back in February 2014. The weather that week was horrendous so it was perhaps apt that we were likely to suffer the wrath of Storm Brian over the weekend.

First on site and a day before the official meet started was my Cousin Andy & wife Janet, followed later in the day by yours truly and the Portly Partner. We’d had to endure an INSET session at the school but had escaped as soon as was feasible and with the caravan and car already loaded, were soon heading west.

20171022_095901The site has the advantage of a pub within a couple of minutes walk from the entrance – The Three Magpies -and given the time of year, somewhere to decamp to in the event of inclement weather was important. We felt it necessary as organisers to check out both  the quality of the food and ale before everyone’s arrival the next day. And check it out we did. Quite thoroughly.

From lunchtime on Friday the Twitterati started arriving although we’d already received the sad news that Neil & Dave would be unable to make it as one of their dogs was seriously ill. Tilly has since undergone an operation and is beginning her recovery. We wish her and the boys the very best.20171020_183851

With all the Friday arrivals present we gathered for dinner at the pub. They managed to accommodate us despite it being a busy night. The food seemed to 20171020_185013go down well and everyone enjoyed the chance to catch up with fellow caravanning pals. A contribution to the meal bill from our sponsor Cover4Caravans was much appreciated by all.

Saturday saw the last of the arrivals and we were delighted to welcome TwitterCamp newbies Gavin & Kerry with their girls Ffion & Lois and young pup Frankie.

Activity wise there was the usual morning gatherings at our ‘van for breakfast – bacon rolls and tea and coffee – and on one day pastries -  again thanks thanks to our sponsor.

20171022_120243Sam & Andy very kindly put together a quiz – and having originally decided to hold this in the pub on the Saturday afternoon when Storm Brian was supposed to be doing it’s worst, we held it instead over breakfast. Teams were limited to pairs and the winners trophy and a bottle of fizz went to Gavin & Lois. Only just though – the Blogger in Black & Portly Partner were just half a point behind. For a change…20171021_153349

The summer saw two 60th birthdays  - my cousin Andy and Neil who had had to cancel. Sam had baked a delicious chocolate cake to celebrated and it was presented in the pub. We ensured Neil didn’t miss out, all wishing him happy birthday thanks to Facetime and promised to send him some cake in the post.

Sunday afternoon saw more gluttony as we gathered for the TwitterCamp beer and cider festival. Everyone was tasked with bringing some grog from their area and some gin from Wales and Dorset also made an appearance. Rain stopped play briefly and the buffet – an appropriately healthy selection of er, crisps, sausage rolls, pork pies and scotch eggs got a bit soggy. A good time was had by all it seemed though.

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There was plenty of free time to enjoy some of the nearby attractions – Lacock Village & Abbey, Bath, The Caen Locks and Stonehenge were all within easy reach and received the attentions of various members of the Twitterati.

There were some departures on Monday but most stayed and were able to once again enjoy a great meal in the pub thanks to our sponsor Cover4Caravans.  It’s worth pointing out that dogs are welcome in the bar area and there are gluten free and vegetarian options on the menu. Check out their website – The Three Magpies – for more information.

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No sooner had it all started then it was time to leave. We were the first of the departures and it was sad to wave good bye to our caravanning friends but we’d had a thoroughly good time and I think everyone else did too.

So, it’s thanks – in no particular order of course – to Alison, David, Andy B, Janet, Barry, Christine, Sam, Andy S, Rob, Helen, Gavin, Kerry, Ffion and Lois for making the meet so much fun. A particular thanks must go of course to Richard Burgess of Cover4Caravans for his second year of generous sponsorship. We really do appreciate it.

Right, TwitterCamp 10 beckons and we’ve already fixed the where and when. Saturday May 26th at the Tewksbury Caravan & Motorhome Club site. Bookings are made with the club or site and open early in December. I do hope we’ll see you there. Until then,

Thanks, and happy camping!

Rich & Trev.

Product Review – Nextbase 412GW Dashcam

Insurance - in whatever form - is something we hope we’ll never need to use. The same could be said of a dashcam. Recording - hopefully - nothing of note save perhaps for a memorable incident to be posted on social media!
Our dashcam however gets a little more use. Many who follow my blog and social media channels will come across our Site Arrival videos - dashcam footage of the last few miles or so to to a campsite overlaid with a bit of commentary from yours truly.
DSC_0002This summer the good folk at Nextbase kindly sent me one of their best selling models to review - the 412GW - so how did we get on and how did it compare to our previous device?DSC_0001
Installation was swift and straightforward - positioning and securing the suction mount then running the power lead back to the socket. In fact it was even easier than that as I used the power lead from the old dashcam after establishing that the connector and power supply output was the same.
The mount incorporates the GPS module and choosing whether to have the coordinates recorded on screen is one of many option available but the only thing you really need to do is insert a MicroSD card, set the time and date and you're good to go. An excellent quick start guide is included that covers the basics.
DSC_0010Operation was similar to our old device. It starts recording when you start the engine and stops when same. Recordings are made in 5 minute clips. Once the memory card is full, the dashcam overwrites starting from the oldest clip – this is why it’s important that the time and date it correct, particularly for how we will be using the footage.
Of course the hope is that in normal use you will never need to download the footage to pass on say to an insurance company, or even the police. However, we need regular access to the clips though to create our Site Arrival videos and that is where this product excels.DSC_0004
Transfer of files to your phone  is easy using the inbuilt WiFi feature together with the Cam Viewer app available for iOS and Android. Footage could then be easily emailed to say an insurance company without the bother of transferring to a computer. What it means to us is that we can transfer footage ready for editing without having to physically remove the dashcam – saving wear and tear on the mount or memory card.
Should you wish to transfer footage to a computer however, the Nextbase Replay 2 software is included. Files can be played back on most video playing software but with this not only can you view the footage but also a map of the route taken, speed, direction and any G sensor information too. All useful information in the event of an insurance claim.
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We’ve now had the dashcam a couple of months and it’s already proving to be a worthy replacement for our old dashcam. The picture quality is excellent – recording at 1440p – and the wireless transfer facility is particularly handy for us too. It seems well made and I’m sure it will give us many years of service. I’d have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone in the market for one.
For more information go to www.nextbase.co.uk
To buy from Amazon go HERE




Product Review - My Mellow Mattress Toppers

Ok, I know it's not the done thing to talk about a woman's age, but our Patsy is getting on a bit. And before we go any further I should explain to any newcomers to the blog that Patsy is our caravan, though to be fair in most respects she is wearing pretty well. One area that has seen better days though is the two front bench seats. Ok during the day as sofas but at night when their duties continue as beds they're definitely showing their age: spongy and generally less supportive than is ideal. Particularly when the human back they’re supporting is past it’s prime too…

More than once we've considered toppers of some sort but always put it off, not least because yours truly hates parting with cash for anything unless it's for something important. Like beer - sorry, materials for my 'research' project. Or another long leather coat....

Step forward then a company called My Mellow who contacted us through Twitter and sent us a pair of toppers to try out.

Last weekend, in a rare mid school term outing for Patsy we were able to try them out for the first time. So, how did it go? Well. Very well in fact. Although to be fair the first night didn’t provide the sternest test. If I say end of a long tiring week and pub you get the idea. I probably would have slept just as soundly on a slab of concrete, however lying there with an early morning cuppa it was noticeable how much more comfortable the bed was. Ditto Saturday and Sunday night, which being a ‘school night’ there was very little liquid, er influence. I’m very much looking forward to using them on one of our longer trips when I think their effectiveness will become even more apparent.

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So, they work although as I mentioned earlier we’ve not tried similar products from the other better known companies in the caravan and motorhome market so this review is not comparing like for like. I was very impressed though and once again wished we’d taken the plunge earlier.

Okay, a bit more about the toppers themselves and then a look at the company that makes them.

DSC_0001Our toppers were 190cm x 72cm each with a thickness of 5cm. They would sell at £105.06 each - all prices include delivery. From order to door was a couple of days in our case but delivery is usually within 5 working days. They were delivered vacuum packed and we followed the enclosed instructions to lay them out and let them ‘breathe’ and open fully. Inside is memory foam with a density of 120kg/cubic metre. The cover is zipped and removable for machine washing. The photo shows the topper secured with a ‘thingymebob’ - these are not included but you can find out more about how to make them with Dan Trudgian’s excellent video HERE.

My Mellow are a family run company based in Blackburn, Lancashire and have for many years supplied foam to the furniture and bedding industry but are now entering the caravan and motorhome market.

As well as toppers they make full mattresses too and offer a made to measure service through their easy to use website which shows a selection of popular shapes to aid selection, and if the toppers are anything to go by, mellow01they’ll be a worthwhile investment. The website will calculate the cost based on requirements there and then - you don’t have to wait for a quote - and the price you see is what you pay. As I mentioned before, delivery is included. All are made in house  from scratch, not by third parties and because of this they are able to offer keener pricing than more established competitors. I’m sure you will want to check for yourself but to look at just one example - the nearest equivalent to our toppers would cost around forty pounds each more - and there would still be a delivery fee on top. A free pillow is sent with every topper too.

The foam used is made in Manchester and fully compliant with British fire safety standards BS7177 and source 5 - a safety standard equivalent to that used by hotels etc.

There is a short video showing demonstrating our toppers on our YouTube channel which you can find HERE.

The good folk at My Mellow have also given us a discount code - use code legsdown at the checkout to get a further 10% off until the end of September.

To sum up - we’re VERY happy with our toppers and I really like the fact that they are made in Britain too and I think My Mellow will prove to be a serious competitor in their new market.

You can follow them and keep up to date on the usual social media platforms - Twitter & Facebook.

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