May 2014.

I've bought a campervan as a 60th birthday present to myself, made some curtains and a patchwork quilt, waved goodbye to my family, and set off. My aim is to explore the coastline of Britain, anti clockwise, starting in Kent. I have no idea what will happen.

Monday, 31 March 2014

A new venture – in a camper van

I have been thinking about buying a camper van for two years. I was watching Coast on TV with my mother and saw a film about The Wash. “I have never been to The Wash,” I said. “I had no idea it was so beautiful.” “Well you jolly well should have done,” she said, “Uncle Sidney had a potato farm close to there and as children we always went for Christmas.” She was talking about the 1930s. It made me realise quite how much of the British coast I haven't seen..
Forward now to October 2013. I met my friend Sylvia at the Devil's Punchbowl in Hindhead to walk. I was telling her about this idea to travel round the UK, and that I would like do it in a camper van. I didn't want to hire one, I wanted to buy one and make it lovely.
We walked through the car park and a van drew in with a middle-aged man at the wheel, smiling. “That would do,” I said, as we went in to the cafe. Sylvia is very pro anything to do with camping and camper vans. I was preaching to the converted.
When we came out, the smiling man had got his side door open and had a brew on – he was repairing his grand-daughter's bike. “Yes,” he said, “come and have a look round.” He and his wife sometimes went on little trips, but mostly he went from one of his children to the other, mending bikes, doing a few jobs. He'd just been helping his son-in-law put up a conservatory and was on his way home. He'd sold his car, just used the van.
His van was, I must say, rather more workshop than Toast catalogue, more oily rag than patchwork quilt. But the bed was there when he needed it – his elderly terrier was having a siesta – and he had everything he needed … he was as happy as a pig in muck.
We drove straight to Freeborn Motorhomes in Godalming and inspected three or four, not I must say with any great discernment, squealing with delight as we stretched out on the beds and opened all the cupboards and the ovens. Most, I soon realised, were too big for my purposes. The best prospect was a T-reg Swift Mondial which had nice blue striped upholstery (not the usual swirling plush), but that's not why it was good. I liked the size of it, and the side-opening door and the sitting area being behind the front seats – i.e. nice to sit at the table with the side door open.
I went home and wrote a list of essentials: power steering; I must be able to stand up; a loo; two separate berths; it couldn't be too old with engine etc problems as I am no mechanic; it didn't need to be fast, but it must be reasonably comfortable to drive.
Coming soon: The Search for a Camper Van, part II….

1 comment:

Sylvia said...

Hooray! Wheel life (see what I did there?) - on four, behind one. Can't wait to hear/read more about your adventures. The very best way to poke around the hidden corners and find places nobody else knows. And looking forward to joining you on various legs of your voyages - and I am not alone I know!