Sitting in SOK waiting for the morning sea mist to clear and the first day of racing at the Isle of Man TT to begin, we got talking about the things we carry around in SOK that we don’t tend to see on motorhome packing lists but that we really wouldn’t want to be without.
We’ve come up with a brief list. In no particular order:
Dyson V6 Car & Boat Extra
Our latest purchase, and we’re really really happy with it. Keeping a motorhome dust-free is always a challenge if all you’ve got is a brush; you do feel that a high proportion of it is just flying up in the air to settle again later right back where it started. We’ve tried Black and Decker Dustbuster – type appliances in the past but decided that they were really not up to the task (not that we’re particularly mucky buggers, you understand!).
We’ve found that the soft brush attachment with the extension hose (pictured) is great for the dashboard and seating, and the traditional vacuum cleaner foot attachment has been pulling a shocking amount of fluff out of SOK’s carpets. Thankfully, the Dyson comes with a 12V charger; we just plug it in when the sun is shining and it takes it a couple of hours to fully recharge.
The Dyson isn’t cheap in the shops (it’s currently £219.99 at Currys) but we picked up a brand new one in a sealed box for £125 including postage on Ebay. Registering the guarantee with Dyson was no problem at all.
Waeco Sinepower Inverter
SOK can go for weeks on end without a sniff of an electric hookup, so we need a way of keeping all of our electrical appliances charged from a 12 Volt supply. Most things will charge quite happily on 12V from SOK’s leisure batteries, but we do have a few items that need 240 Volts: laptops, electric toothbrushes, batteries for Mark’s small digital radio, and very occasional charging of the printer and the cordless blender.
We’ve had this inverter for a few years now. We’ve found 150W to be perfectly sufficient for our needs (and if you go for higher capacity inverters, you do have to be very careful where you plug them in or have them permanently connected direct to the battery; you don’t want to start melting your van’s wiring!)
The small USB charger pictured above with the inverter is another quite recent purchase (from Amazon) and is much much better than the one it replaced. It does feel quite solid (unlike a lot of the small electrical junk that gets shipped in from China these days) but the best thing about it is that it has an On/Off switch, so we can leave it plugged in, and even a handy voltage read-out:
HP Officejet Mobile Printer
Even Dossers have a need to print things out from time to time. We both have properties which are rented out (Mark has his old house and I have two flats). It’s nice to be able to sit down every now and then and print out any invoices that have come in by email and any other financial records that we need a hard copy of. That way we can keep our tax records fully up to date as we travel.
Having a printer with us is also handy for printing off bookings for ferries, tourist attractions where you get a discount for booking online in advance, and so on.
Our HP Officejet 100 mobile printer is very compact (so slots nicely under one of the seats) and will run on 240 Volts or battery (which we then charge up occasionally using the inverter). The latest model (Officejet 250 mobile printer) will scan as well as print, though I don’t see that as a major deal; I can always take a photo of a document and then print it. They’re not cheap; the current model seems to be about £220 new and ours was selling at about that price when we got it – but as with the Dyson, we got a much better deal (£90) by buying a brand new, unopened one on Ebay.
Storage: Normann Copenhagen Pocket Organisers
Oooooh, we’ve come over all Designer!
Storage is really important in a motorhome. Everything has to have its place (it’s amazing how easy it is to lose things in a van measuring 6 metres by 2.3 metres!), and everything does have to be easy to access; rummaging at the back of cupboards and under seats does get very frustrating very quickly!
We had Fiamma pockets fastened to the bathroom wall in Kampington (our old van), but when we got SOK at the end of last year, we decided to go a bit more upmarket. These are “pocket organisers” by Normann Copenhagen in sizes 1 (the largest), 3, and 4.
Apart from looking more swish, these have the advantage that (unlike the Fiamma pockets) they slide onto a bracket that fastens to the wall, so we can take them off from time to time for a good clean.
We don’t like to compromise on our food when we’re away in SOK; we eat just as we would at home. The only thing that I subconsciously shy away from in the van is sticking something in the oven for a couple of hours. I really don’t know why; perhaps it’s something to do with knowing that we’re running from a gas tank rather than a (for practical cookery purposes) limitless household gas supply? The pressure cooker soon solved that little problem.
This is another thing that we’ve had for several years now. Before that, I found that we were eating a lot of chicken and fish (for me at least; Mark isn’t keen on fish so tends to use those meals as an opportunity to indulge his love of pies and sausages). I found that the subconscious gas issue meant that I was steering away from buying meats that might be a bit tough and/or need a lot more cooking.
Then one day I stumbled across our pressure cooker in a cookshop closing down sale. The owner (who was winding down for a well-earned retirement) was most apologetic that she’d sold the full-sized one and only had the baby version left. Little did she know that I’d have had no interest at all in a full-sized pressure cooker!
Ours is a Fissler Vitavit. I’m not sure what the capacity is in litres, but I’ve included a mug in the photo above to give an idea of scale. It tucks away nicely at the top of an under-seat locker.
Other Kitchen Bits & Bobs
This stuff isn’t mission critical, but it is useful. The Bosch cordless blender is handy for my pre- big shop tidying speciality: “contents of the fridge soup”!
We haven’t had a single shop-bought burger since we got the burger press three or four years ago; it’s much easier to get really good-quality mince on your travels than it is to get a really good-quality burger – and you can add your own choice of herbs and spices.
Finally, the Zyliss manual food processor. Yes, I have an attachment for the Bosch blender that would do the job just as well, but Mark saw the Hairy Bikers using one of these on TV and he had to have one. It does put a great big grin on his face whenever he gets to play with it (he’s easily pleased!) so we’ve left the Bosch attachment at home and are carrying the Zyliss around instead.
I’m sure we’ve forgotten a few things; I’ll add them to our list as I think of them. In the meantime, if anyone has any great motorhome gear that they’d recommend, please do leave us a comment and let us know!