Up The Frantics Daily dose of nonsensical pleasures


Get off the pavement

The town is full of idiots shuffling along with their little pea-brained heads bent firmly over their latest penis extension.

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Check Flash Player version

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NOT happy …

NOT happy ...
Originally uploaded by thescatteredimage

Seen this on flickr by thescatteredimage.
Absolutely brilliant, make sure to look through the whole set!

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Our new travel blog

B and I have started a new blog to cover our preparations and travels to come:



Red onion

Originally uploaded by Jon Kraft

I just love the 50mm 1.4 with Hoya macro lens attachment!


Parking permit

A dusty yellowed fan stands in the corner of the office. Overhead neon lamps cast a sickly light over the battered furniture and grubby carpet. I bend down to pick up a lucky penny as my name is called. Bagging the permit I leave for home.

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The winter sun barely penetrates the cloud cover. Although milder than in recent weeks waiting passengers are still wrapped in warm coats and scarves; not quite trusting the tender introduction of spring. Their chatter is interspersed with birdsong that tells a different story. A train stops and swallows the crowd. Quiet descends again on the little station.

A few latecomers arrive sleepy-eyed. Glances at the electronic announcement board paired with checks of watches. People slowly space out along the platform, stoically avoiding each other, as to stake their territory.

On the opposite platform my train arrives and I am accelerating towards my destination. 

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Clean bill of health

Phew. Vera has been given a clean bill of health after changing some bulbs and a fuse, and some welding along the sidepanels. The guy who did the welding also recommended a garage that specialises in car electrics. So I'll be off to them soon to get the leisure battery, cabling and lighting done (and maybe the eletrical hook up). After that I'll start the interior work - just waiting for some better (and milder) weather. First of all I'll sort the leaking roof fixings and then build an extension to the existing cupboard to house the gas bottle. Still need to purchase a fridge as well.

The Italian lessons B and I have taken up are going along nicely. Can't say that in Italian yet though. We've done our second week (2 x 1.5 hours a week), and finished our homework. Molto bene. Ma non parlo molto bene l'italiano.

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Vera is poorly

Right now Vera is patched up after having failed her MOT. Thankfully it's not too bad, just a few bulbs and 'some' welding. Dreading the phone call though - you never know what might turn up as she is examined more closely.

I also found the source of the leak in the roof, I think, the roof bar handle and other items are fixed to the roof by (I don't know what they are called) hollow aluminium 'bolts': on one side flat as a tack, and the othe, once fitted on place like a bolt, is then split open - I presume by driving something (a bigger bolt) into the hollow end. The tube wall splits and curls outwards until it touches the inside of the roof. The minute I saw this arrangement the first time I didn't like it. It does look unprofessional and I want to replace all of these (the air vent hinges are fastened in the same way) with proper bolts and watertight washers.

Still haven't heard from MOT garage and am hopeful. I need to find a reasonably local garage that can do all the required electrical work: leisure battery, cabling, lights, etc. B and I talked yesterday and decided to get a hook-up as well in case we'll be stationary for a while in low light conditions. We're definitely keeping the solar panels though.

We're also still debating where to put the spare wheel. B in the aesthetical corner (roof rack), and I in the practical (front panel). Ready to rumble. It transpires as the most likeliness that bikes will be of the folding sort (sorry, slipped into 'clot' mode there for a moment). The other challenge (and it was always going to be the biggest) is how and where to fit in all the books.

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Preparations for ‘the’ trip

B and I decided last year to drop out for half a year and travel Europe in Vera, our 1970 VW Dormobile. After visiting my mum in Germany and a detour via Prague to see my Uncle we'll cross the Alps into Italy. And then, who knows? ETD is mid April.

The reality of having to prepare for the trip 'fer real' is starting to weigh on us as we begin to panic about what little time is actually left (pretty much only 100 days). We are getting more excited by the minute. Lists are forming in our minds and it won't be long before we bring them down on paper. Yesterday the satnav arrived; a TomTom One v3 Europe. Will run a first test today.

Things still to do:

  • Build more storage into the van
  • Fix leak in skylight
  • Get spares and more tools
  • Install auxillary battery
  • Install interior lights
  • Install solar panels
  • Plan and install power points
  • Decide whether to install electric hook-up
  • Make new covers for cushions
  • Buy roof rack and cover
  • Check awning
  • Buy and install two-way fridge (gas and 12v)
  • Service van and get MOT
  • Put B on insurance
  • Extend insurance to Europe
  • Plan and prepare website
  • Find tenant for 6 months

We went for dinner to C yesterday who has a large map of Italy on her wall. Somehow during the evening we had the idea to divert our route through Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro to Albania, and then cross to Brindisi. I have the feeling the route will change again before soon, but we are happy to keep everything as open as possible.

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