We hadn’t been to Anglesey for more than 20 years, at a time when our marriage was new and our son Jamie was still a youngster. We remembered the small deserted bays, the empty beaches and the quiet narrow roads. The island even gave birth to a standing joke about our adventures in Europe off the beaten track in that if we were driving and came across a road with grass in the middle then we must be in Anglesey.
This has been the longest of our shakedown trips before we venture into Europe with our pre-loved 54 plate Tribby. I’m still trying to sort out a very noisy pump (and have the expansion chamber on order from Fiamma) but this was also an opportunity to try out our new drive-away awning.
We had inherited with the camper a Fiamma Zip ‘Privacy Room’ which looked as if it had never been erected – and we quickly learned why. The previous owner had arranged for shock absorbers to be fitted to strengthen the sun shade but they had been fitted right at the ends of the housing leaving no space to fit the rafters that are the integral part of the ‘Privacy Room’. So if anyone wants a Fiamma awning it is going cheap.
We dug into our funds and bought a Outdoor Revolution Movelite Quattro – very smart looking dome awning with two sleeping compartments (for when we have guests that want to stay over) and the Fiamma fixing kit to attach it to the sun shade. Erection was straightforward although we chose the windiest day on the windiest site in the UK to try it out (more about that later).
The problem with the Quattro; and I suspect with any other drive-away awning, is that the Fiamma Zip, the fixing kit and the awning ‘c’ channel are all different lengths and capable of sliding backwards and forwards at will. The wind continued over the week and we quickly found this to be a problem as the awning tried to part company with the camper so I’m going to find a way of putting some removeable end-stops into the fixing to cure it. I’ll let you know when this is done.
So, we settled down to a week of walking drinking and sightseeing, not necessarily in that order. As a modification to the Tribby I have taken out the small table and its ‘L’ shaped leg and sticking out brackets on the assumption that this is a two berth and a second table is a bit unnecessary. Obviously I replaced the table (used as part of the bed base) with a piece of marine ply the same size which stows away quite happily above the water pump and water boiler and takes up much less space and weighs half what the table did.
Our water systems have continued to make us scratch our heads in a mixture of confusion and disbelief. I’ve mentioned the noisy pump and the obscure control panel elsewhere so let’s move on to the grey water tank.
When we picked up the camper we got the ten minute run-through which told us that, to empty our grey water tank, we simply drove over a disposal drain and pulled the lever under the van – the nice dealer man showed us how to pull the lever (as if such a demonstration was needed) and everything seemed simple. I supplemented these instructions with the excellent guidance provided by http://www.maccinfo.com/nothtml/650-Instructions.pdf but there was no additional info there.
We are quite careful over our water use so our first couple of trips didn’t generate much waste and after each trip I parked over the suitable drain and pulled the lever. It was halfway through our week in Anglesey that I realised that something was not quite right. The realisation dawned on me when grey and distinctly smelly water started backing up in the shower as I emptied the sink. The tank was obviously full but nothing on the control panel warned me of this and I didn’t think we had used anything like a tankful. I drove over a disposal point and pulled the lever. Nothing happened. I pulled it again more forcefully. A tiny dribble. It was then that I noticed water cascading over the omni-step and saw that a black pipe had been jury-rigged from the bottom of the tank to above the step. Pulling this out, I found that someone had gaffer-taped this pipe on to the bottom of the tank – presumably to make it easier to empty at home – but the dealer clearly hadn’t noticed this, servicing had missed it and the water in there must have been months, if not years old. Phew!
Now a quick review of the site. We had stayed on Anglesey before at Trearddur Bay and wanted something nearby. My wife found Blackthorn Farm (http://www.blackthornleisure.co.uk) and we were extremely impressed. The site is on a hillside overlooking the sea and from our camper we can see the peaks of Snowdonia out of the back and Holy Mountain through the windscreen.
The site also runs a B&B with a restaurant offering dinner or breakfast by prior arrangement and the shop offers a good selection of necessities from 08:00 to 20:00. Each pitch has its own electricity and water supply and the on-site toilet facilities are immaculate – especially if you enjoy Radio 2 Wales. What is most surprising is the provision of free wifi – very uncommon – but the welcome is warm and friendly. A word of warning, the site can experience quite strong winds so be advised.