Travel trinkets

We’re off on our travels again soon.

This trip has been planned and anticipated for months and months, and we’ve come to realise that in the future, we’ll want to do a lot more trips with Miz Lizzie the caravan. We needed to reconsider our towing vehicle. We have a very nice modern car we love, with lots of useful features, excellent fuel economy and a very enjoyable driving experience. But it’s not really up to the job of pulling the caravan very long distances. It gets the job done, but long term it will suffer excessive wear and tear. We’re sad to see it go, but we’re selling it. Instead of doing what most people in our position do, replacing it with a new and enormous ‘tank’ with a vast and thirsty engine and multiple gizmos, we have bought a 12 year old workhorse.

I like the idea of recycling a perfectly good older vehicle, which has several benefits: there are scratches, dings and fading paintwork, so I’ll never worry again about putting a scratch on its gleaming surface; it comes already fitted with a number of things we’d have wanted anyway; it’s affordable (and so are parts!), despite being a much more powerful and roomy vehicle than we’re used to, and finally, it feels cosy and safe despite its size, unlike many new cars which are sleek, complex and intimidating. It has been looked after, and we will continue to look after it, so I hope to enjoy driving it for many years. Oh, and I love being higher up, with greatly improved visibility and larger windows.

Meet Bill. He’s a Hyundai Terracan, a 2.9L CRDi, with 7 seats and already set up for caravan towing. He’s capable of hauling 2 tonnes. We’ll be taking out the rear 2 seats to give ourselves an enormous cargo space. He’s tall, with excellent visibility, proper 4WD and chunky tyres. But there are three important things he doesn’t have. The first is satnav, a very, very useful thing in this enormous country of vast distances and poor signage. The second is a reversing camera. The car is nearly 5 metres long, and the driving seat is a very long way from the towbar… And the third thing is Bluetooth hands-free for our phones.

Hence the trinkets. We’ve bought a Garmin satnav after days and days of research, and it seems pleasantly easy to use and intuitive, plus it has Bluetooth built-in so it enables us to use our mobile phones hands free, safely and legally. The other trinket is a replacement rear-view mirror with a built-in display for a reversing camera and a forward-facing dashcam on its back. We can reverse safely, and also record our front and back views in case of accident.  The mirror is enormous, about 25cm (10 inches), so we get an excellent view too.

Naturally, I’ve made a little pouch for the Garmin. Well, you didn’t really think I could resist, did you? The Garmin’s not built in so it’ll need to be removed from the car when we leave it.

I’ve put a sheet of tough vinyl between the layers on the front of the pouch to protect the screen from damage by sharp poky objects, and the whole pouch is padded and quilted to give it a better chance of survival when I inevitably drop it.

Because there may be times when we need to get at it with one hand, I’ve made a button and elastic loop closure; no fiddling with a zip or buttonholes. Don’t you love the way the button matches the fabric? And that ribbon is just perfect; I got it from the lovely Annett in Germany as part of a package of goodies – this is absolutely the right place to use it.

And the car’s name? The Husband is responsible for that. Terracan -> Billycan* -> Bill. It’s a very good name for the car, who’s definitely a bloke 🙂

*For non-Aussies, a billycan is an essential feature of Australian outback camping, used for making tea and cooking over a fire of gum leaves and wood. Perfect for our Bill and the life he’s going to lead.

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