In my possibly child-like belief that I surely must be connected to electricity and water sometime soon, I’ve been thinking about what I need to do to prepare for moving my caravan back up to the top of my land. The main thing that I’ll need is a relatively flat area on which to place it and while I’m getting that ready I’ll also need to create a flat area of about 4.5 x 3.5 metres on which to position my garden tool store.
There was still some plastic left buried in the ground up there which I needed to dig out while at the same time shifting some earth down to make an area that is at least fairly level on which to place the caravan, hard work as I’d have to do it by hand. Even though most of the work would be under the trees, the past few days have been far to hot to undertake such tasks. But that wasn’t true of this morning as although we expected lots of sunshine later on (it’s scorching as I’m typing this) it was going to start off cool with a brisk easterly wind that would keep things fresh.
So I was out there before 9.00 am this morning getting stuck in and ended up with quite a good job, as the following pictures show.
There was a bit of plastic left at the lower level after my earlier efforts to remove it but the main task as far as that was concerned was getting rid of what was sticking out of the ground up closer to the road. That was quite hard work to get out, actually, as it appeared to have been buried together with quite a lot of pieces of rock which my pick kept hitting every time I swung it. But anyway, I got as much out as I needed to and here’s a shot of the pile that I finished up with.
I got to thinking while I was working about where I go from here. I’ll need to dig out the area where I want to place my garden tool store in order to lay a concrete base for it. I’ve had in my mind that it’ll only be temporary so won’t need much but I’m beginning to wonder about that.
My new house won’t have a garage cum workshop until I eventually get around to building one, and when might that be? My main tasks once the house is completed will be to put in a kitchen, lay laminate floors in the bedrooms and paint the whole of the inside and the shutters, all of which will take a few months. So if there’s a further year, or more possibly, before I can get around to putting up a garage/workshop after I’ve done something with the garden, what are we talking about, two years? Three?
So the 4.5 x 3.5 metre base that I’m talking about will have to last at least that long and will therefore have to be constructed properly to a reasonable thickness, and in this ground that will take quite a bit of effort if done manually. So I’m thinking about hiring a ‘mini-pelle’ (small mechanical excavator/shovel) to do the job and if I do that, I’d also be able to use that for doing a better job of levelling the area and also removing roots.
A small 1 tonne machine can be hired from Loxam via Leroy Merlin for 120€ a day (not sure if this includes tax at 20% though) and I have to enquire whether it also comes on a trailer so I can collect it myself, as otherwise delivery is about the same amount again. If not, a quick internet search has thrown up a hirer of a 1.5 tonne machine that does for 140€ a day including tax (see above). The only problem is that they are located in Marmande which is about 75 miles away. Anyway, I’ve not yet decided what I’ll be doing, but watch this space. A 2-day hire would be far cheaper I think than paying someone else to do the work.
I also ticked another little job off the list today. I will need a water heater in the caravan once Véolia actually gets around to connecting me up as I won’t be able to continue boiling kettles when I need them as I’m doing now. Before I left my old house I ordered a high power water heater that I figured would deliver enough hot water on demand for a shower. The big drawback was that it would have drawn about 6000 watts of power, equivalent to around 30 amps.
This is greatly in excess of what a normal domestic supply can deliver so it was a relief actually when the supplier failed to deliver and my money was refunded. But this still left me with the problem of sorting out hot water, which I think I’ve resolved today. I need hot water in two places – my sink and my wash basin in the toilet. The only problem is that it’s difficult to find a suitable location for a single water heater as the two locations are on opposite sides of the caravan, meaning that a connecting pipe would have to be outside and underneath the caravan itself.
I’ve been toying with the idea, therefore, of installing two heaters – one for the hand basin and one for the sink. There’s ample room for the former as the caravan’s original gas heater has been removed and I’ve fitted a face-mounted electric convector heater instead. It’s also likely that there’s room behind the little Beko fridge that I installed for a second heater for the sink, but if not there’s plenty of space in the cupboard below.
So today I ordered two of the little units shown in the image below. It only draws 2000 watts and keeps 12 litres of water at a temperature of 75 degrees C.
One unit will supply the wash basin and I’ll even experiment to see if it can provide enough for a modest warm shower through the mixer tap that I fitted. My idea is that I’ll fit an external switch so the heater can be turned on only when it’s needed, principally in the morning and evening, because if I need to wash my hands during the day, there should be enough warm water still held in its reservoir after it was last switched off. The other will serve the sink and my thinking is that that will be left on permanently as that’s where there is the greatest demand for hot water.
Want to know the catch? If the local supplier hadn’t been out of stock, I could have bought the two units for 66€ each including delivery. Instead I’ve had to order them through two different Aliexpress European warehouses – one in France that will take 2 days to arrive and the other from Germany which will take a week – at a cost of 77€ each. They were both on promotion down from 84€, so in that case I suppose I should be grateful for small mercies 😉
To finish off, I could have ordered a 30 litre water heater for only 90€ which I think would just be enough for a modest shower. There’s also enough space for it where it would have had to go to supply the hand basin. However, I calculated that when it’s full of water it would have a total weight of over 80 lbs and I decided that this would probably be a bit too much to be attached to an internal wall of the caravan, even if it was supported on the floor. Better to be safe than sorry, eh, for the relatively short time that I’m going to be in residence, even if I will be slightly inconvenienced…