VW California Beach – My Opinion and Some Useful Addons

I finally bought a VW California Beach after much procrastination. Having waited for years for VW to bring out a new version of the surf bus, I finally gave up on it when I had a good look at the VW Beach. It is a wonderfull compromise between a camper van and a car for daily use. My wife and teenage kids love it and having used it in anger on a number of road trips and for camping, it is really fantastic. My wife prefers driving it to the Beemer 535d we had before. I loved that car, but the change from fast low to slow high has been inspiring 🙂

Out with the old and in with the new. 2004 BMW 535d replaced with 2015 VW California Beach.

There are a number of blogs out there reviewing the Beach (e.g. http://campfiremag.co.uk/vw-california/ ) and I thought I’d add my penny’s worth.

I have added a number of accessories to the kit-bag. But here I thought I’d address some of the camper-van gaps that having a VW Beach means compared to having a full on VW SE California.

– Water Canister – a hard-shell 5 gallon container with a stop cock – it works brilliantly and I just stick it on a collapsible aluminium table to give a good working height.

– Cooking – a couple of instant cookers for quick brews/ cooks, but I way prefer my little bar-b-q with charcoal or wood – makes for wonderful cooking. I can even use the same paella dish I use in the garden set-up. For the cookers, I again put these on a  collapsible table which I can site anywhere safe – even under the awning or under the open tailgate for impromtu brews

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Costco storage box – vast clothes storage. Size 10 Crocs for sizing purposes!

– Storage – soft travel bags are best if taking clothes in and out of the bus. But if your clothes are basically going to stay in the bus, then another cheap and very useful accessory is a bog-standard car organiser. I got two of these from Costco and they swallow up your clothes in a very organised and accessible way.

The Halfords coolbox fits in well under the rear parcel shelf and plugs into the rear offside power supply.
Halfords cool box with tow handle and wheels!

– Fridge – This Halford’s special works very well. We kick it off using some freezer blocks and it stays very cool. I switch the unit off for long periods and I’m going to add a switched plug to make this a bit easier.

– Sleeping up-top – Use a duvet or a double sleeping bag. It’s much easier to get in and out of compared to using a mummy-bag.

I have had a few issues getting used to the shear height of the vehicle though. I wouldn’t underestimate the difference between handling things on and around a roof at head height (for me) versus chest height.

Drying Off Yer Tent Groundsheet

I recently came across a very simple and effective way to dry-off a tent with integrated groundsheet and flexi-poles. The idea came from a canoe-camping video where they needed to dry the tent off quickly. I can confirm it works – ready for the boys weekend. Me, Benji and 5 of his mates – should be fun!!! This is the back-up tent – call me cautious 🙂


Buzzy Bees

The bees have been very buzzy today. They seem to love the blue flowers on sage bushes and the wonderfully perfumed mini flowers on the currently flowering palm. Very tricky to get in focus though!

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Urban Grill – Heat Control and Trivet


I use an old paella dish as a large pan – this takes enough meat and veg for a family of four (at least) . The problem is turning the heat down. The way I did this was to use an old rack and hand it on the side of the drum. this allows the pan to be shifted off the heat as and when required. Works perfectly – but you need to be careful with balance !


P2030896 – as you can see here.

When the food is ready you can simply lift the pan off the heat and put it onto a home made trivet – which works perfectly :).

These racks came out of the inside of an old electric oven


Thinking like Da Vinci

How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day Genius

da vinci

If you haven’t come across this book yet – read it. In my view it gives a holistic view of life and all its facets. I initially read this around 15 years ago and it fundamentally changed my thinking. I drew up a life map and it’s pretty much been my blueprint ever since. Recommended it to my son and saw there was a new edition – so I’m now re-reading it!

Urban Craft

Why a Blog called Urban Craft?

This picture captures some the esssence or Urban Craft for me: On old tumbledrier tub, local wood, reclaimed grill = magic bar-b-q grill
This picture captures some the esssence of Urban Craft for me: An old tumble-drier tub, local wood, reclaimed grill = magic bar-b-q grill

I am involved in a lot of activities that are in many ways similar to Bush Craft but are more Urban than Bush so a better collective term for all that I am doing is Urban Craft. Many of my activities may appeal to others:

– Self Health Management: what are the best and most enjoyable ways of staying healthy, keeping fit, eating well and de-stressing aka mindfulnessTai Sabaki.

– Enjoying my Environment: making the best of where I am and what I can readily do: Canoeing, Camper-vaning, Camping, Cycling, Walking, Photography

– Portfolio Working: Working in a way that is fulfilling and helpful – using my skill base to assist others.

Urban Survival/ Self Sufficiency:  for me not what happens when (and if) disaster happens, but what can I pro-actively do to reduce my dependence on other organisations and reduce my footprint.

– Continual Learning: Looking at learning at every opportunity

– Great Toys: Enjoying technology, quality toys and tools



Hello Urban world!

This blog is all about Urban Craft cf. Bush Craft. How to reuse things and how to make better use of and enjoy your environment.