Towing Willamina.

There are a few things I’ve notice when we’re towing Willamina…

Cars are faster than us. HGVs are faster than us. Most cars towing caravans are faster than us. Ernie the fastest milkman in the west is faster than us!

Everywhere we go it’s slow.  


Corners seem tighter, hills feel steeper and I’m suddenly aware of escape lanes! 


We politely pull over every third layby to let our traffic jam past and flash lorries to let them know it’s safe to pull in in front of us. 
At a leisurely pace of 50mph there is no rush! We simply have to make sure on our little bimbles through the Great British countryside is that the journey is just as much fun as the destination itself! 



Painting Willamina – Good from far, far from good

To say I was daunted when we first picked Willamina up would be the understatement of the century. One look at her crusty, flaky, peeling paint and I realised I’d bitten off more than I could chew. It was going to take a little bit more than some pretty curtains and some cushions to make this van beautiful once more. Closer inspection revealed several other attempts at new paint jobs and it was hard to decipher beneath the layers of paint and exposed fibreglass what colour she had been originally. Even the slugs and snails had left their mark in the algae and moss which now formed her topcoat.

paint before

The first task involved a hose and a stiff brush as Leon did his best to shift 20 years of vegetation growing on her roof – this didn’t help the damp issue inside one little bit – but more on that in another post! Then it was on with the mask and “Operation: Vibration Whitefinger”! Out came the electric sander and off came the layers of paint. After several days of sanding and umpteen sanding sheets I settled on a finish I was happy with – not perfect but a huge improvement on the previous state. If we had all the time in the world (and more stamina) we would’ve stripped it all down to the bare aluminium and fibreglass, but as our motto has become “we did the best we could with the time and resources available”. If we were ever to go away in Willamina there would have to be a compromise (at the minute that means that we’re only just adding the final coats and the top of the roof hasn’t been sanded at all yet!). 


My paints of choice came in the form of a tremendous bargain from The Yorkshire Trading Company. Three tins of Smart Slate Gloss 10 Year Garage Door Enamel by International Paints. I bought three tins reduced from £12.99 to £1.99 each – a grand saving of £33.00! Unfortunately we couldn’t get any white paint the same so we opted for Wilko Outside exterior gloss paint in brilliant white (less of a bargain at £18.75 for 2.5L). The grey enamel is runny and difficult to apply with a brush without drips appearing but dries nicely when applied with a high density gloss roller. The white paint was much easier and more satisfying to apply but is so glossy it shows up all of the imperfections in my sanding efforts. Needless to say they made a huge difference to the appearance of the caravan…as long as you don’t look too closely. 


It seems there isn’t a good day for painting a caravan outdoors – not in the north of England anyway. If it is cloudy it will rain and leave your paint with a lovely splodgy effect. If it is sunny there will appear (as if by magic as you open the tin) hoards of flies of various shapes and sizes, all ready to commit suicide in your immaculately applied paint. Finally if it is windy the flies will stay away and your paint will dry more quickly but with the added pebbledashing of whatever happens to be in the air that day – dust, pollen, blossom petals, grass and miscellaneous muck – you name it, I’ve sanded it out from freshly dried paint! 


As I begin to prepare, sand and apply (hopefully) the final coat of paint on Willamina I remind myself how far we’ve come and what a huge difference we’ve made to this little van. Maybe next year I’ll smooth out the rough bits and give her another lick of paint but for now I’m satisfied with my ‘good from far, far from good’ finish!