Outdoor leisure

Amdro's part-time campervan

The Amdro Boot Jump is the brainchild of Iwan Roberts, an outdoor enthusiast who recognised the need for the kind of practical, tough and long-lasting campervan conversions for those engaged in outdoor pursuits such as hill-walking, angling or even family camping. His design is simple, efficient and elegant, but most importantly, the Boot Jump is easily removable

The Boot Jump evolved from separate customer requests: one was for modular storage units, one wanted a collapsible bed for his Berlingo; another simply wanted to sit and cook, so Iwan split the bed base to form a seating area and a pull-out cooker.

With these elements combined into a single unit, Iwan received ten orders for the prototype shown on Facebook before even committing himself to the project. He eventually decided that it was far more cost and time-efficient to outsource the cutting and machining of the parts to his Latvian plywood supplier, then assemble them on their premises. As a result, they now have stocks ready for immediate delivery.

The unit is easily carried and lifted into the rear of the vehicle by two people, then held firmly into place by two screw clamps. The Boot Jump can be used either with rear seats fully removed or folded flat and creates a double bed measuring 1880mm x 1150mm (6'2" long x 3'9"wide). All the necessary cushions are provided.

The bed base can be reconfigured to create a rear facing settee, forming a U-shaped lounge with a pillar table (also provided). For night time, you also get specially shaped blackout pads for all windows.

On the nearside, a slide-out kitchen unit enables you to cook safely outside under the cover of the tailgate. A removable, twin-burner, alcohol-fuelled cooker is provided as it is safer in a confined space and also avoids complications with gas regulations. A water container with a pump lid is also provided.

Retailing at £1,550 the Boot Jump also fits the Renault Kangoo, Fiat Doblo and Vauxhall Combo van - also many other commercial vans with only a minor modification. An extra £360 buys you the very high quality Boot Tent – a tailgate awning designed by Amdro and made in the UK. A drive-away awning made by Vaude is also available at a similar price.

Amdro Limited
A5 Peblig Mill,
LL55 2SE
Tel: 01286 650612
Visit the Amdro website


Odds and ends

An otter meets its end

Several weeks ago, an otter was swimming past the rear of the Anchor Inn on Eastgate. It seems fairly likely that this is the same one, which seemingly met its fate to or from a hunting trip at the Quayside ponds at Elsea Park. Sad to say, but times have moved on considerably since otters were last present in great numbers, at a time when the countryside was far more open and less urbanised than it is today. When they were last here all the local rivers were crawling with eels, but now that their favourite food is all but extinct, they have to turn their attentions instead to ornamental fish ponds and their resident swans, ducks, coots, moorhens and above all, stocked fish, especially carp. Although most of the public don't seem to give two hoots about the fish, many carp in excess of forty years old have been dragged up onto the bank and left to rot, with the otter usually taking no more than a single bite.

Robin red & black breast

This unusual visitor turned up on the bird table a few weeks ago and now seems to have found itself a more conventionally attired mate. I'm used to seeing birds around here with spots of white in their plumage but I've never seen anything like this before. In the umlikely event that any of its brood makes it past the marauding cats, it will be interesting to see if this unusual trait is passed on.

Willow Tree Fen Nature Reserve

Willow Tree Fen Nature Reserve was set up in 2009 and comprises 282 acres of land between the River Glen and the Counter Drain, almost mid-way between Tongue End and Pode Hole, with the entrance opposite Bank House Farm. The main body of the reserve lies to the east of the former railway line and also includes borrow pits beside the banks of the river.

The former agricultural land has been allowed to flood, recreating the freshwater marshes that were lost to land drainage in the Middle Ages. Prior to flooding, an archaeological dig was carried out, to investigate crop marks seen from the air, revealing old creek lines feeding into a saltern, one of many such industrial sites known to be in the area.

Although the flooding is seasonal, heavy rainfall sees it heavily waterlogged at present, attracting wading birds such as the Heron and Little Egret, with the rae Spoonbill also reported. The perimeter dykes are also of interest, with there dense reed fringes populated by wrens, reed warblers, sedge warblers and buntings. Rarer species such as the Cuckoo and the Water Rail are often heard but rarely seen. Several bird hides have been constructed, giving patient visitors a better chance of seeing some of the more elusive residents.

As the bird, insect and mammal population increases, so does the range of predators, with the Kestrel and Barn Owl being regularly seen; the occasional Hobby and even a Marsh Harrier has also been spotted. Otters are known to be present, leaving evidence in the form of their causeways into the reeds.

The new reserve complements the existing reserves at Thurlby and Baston Fen, which on their own, were too small to attract many of the creatures that require a wider territory. Willow Tree Fen is owned by site is owned by the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust but visitors are welcome. Please note that livestock are present and dogs must be kept on leads throughout the reserve.

Websites for further information:
Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust
The Fenland Project
Willow Tree Fen


Pretending to go fishing

I wanted to get out of the house; I wanted to go fishing, but the conditions were the worst imagineable. I've always found that the days and nights around the full moon to be largely a waste of time and September's harvest moon had occurred only the day before. Hot weather, still conditions and high air pressure can also be detrimental to good catches, so this was the full whammy. Still – you never know...

The chosen venue was the North Bank of the Nene; not the most attractive of places in some respects, but somewhere conveniently local and one of the few places that still maintains an air of mystery. In almost every stillwater venue the weights of all the largest fish are known, but here, with several miles of river in which to roam, the upper weight ceoling is still open to debate. A forty pound carp is unlikely, but certainly not impossible. I confess – this one was caught several years ago in the very early hours of the morning, as you can probably tell by the coat and woolly hat.

The sun baked down, the fish lay dormant, somewhere unseen, yet with the Whittlesey Washes beyond the far bank there is always wildlife to be seen. This year has been an exceptional one for dragonflies and this one obligingly hovered in front of me for several seconds.

The huge numbers of dragonflies should ensure that the Hobbys linger on well into October and teh one here was seen circling the washes, probably waiting to grab something a littl bit more substantial. The exceptionally high summer water levels seem to have evicted the water voles from their usual homes, but on the positive side, the rats have also been flooded out.

The willow warblers could be heard from within the dense reed beds, but they are always so difficult to see. It took a lot of stalking even to get this brief glimpse.


Latest news from Bourne

Who stole our water?



Parents slam snooty do-gooders

Local parents, Sidney and Jolene Thugg, have attacked Bourne United Charities for fencing off the Abbey Lawn. Said life consultant Sidney, age 25,

"This is an outrage. Our family have been vandalising that football stand for generations – it is close and convenient. Bourne's young arsonists were quick to add their support".

One fourteen-year-old enthusiast told me:

“It’s not fair. Other extreme sports receive council funding, but vandals and arsonists are being discriminated against.

"This could force us to bike down the fen roads at night to set fire to haystacks. It’s time consuming and dangerous; somebody could get hurt”.



Turnips - no laughing matter

Abbey Road was brought to a standstill this week, as a turnip fell from the back of a trailer heading toward Bourne town centre. The tractor driver was seen to carry on regardless, seemingly unaware of the mounting chaos that he had left in his wake. The turnip was removed to a place of safety by a member of the public.

A spokesperson for the Highways Agency said:

"Root vegetables can form a serious traffic hazard and motorists need to remain alert. Broccoli can be particularly nasty and we urge drivers to report any incidents to our special, 24-hour brassica helpline "

The turnip image used here is a library photograph and is for illustration purposes only.


Red Hall rumpus

English Heritage has asked the DoE to call in a recently approved planning application affecting Bourne's Grade II-listed Red Hall. The consent gave the green light to Bourne United Charities to make modifications to the building, which currently serves as their offices and administration centre.

Changes approved include rendering and pebble-dashing the red-brick exterior, UPVC double-glazing and the erection of a radio mast and satellite dish.
A BUC spokesperson told us:

“I don't know what all the fuss is about. The changes will make the building far more energy-efficient and will make it far more in keeping with the nearby housing developments.