Three things about me;
1. I love old things and salivate over patina, rust and layers of flaking paint. Nothing makes my heart beat faster or my pupils dilate quicker than the words “vintage” and “retro”.
2. I thrive on small space living, rising to the challenge to make one room work three ways.
3. I have no interest in speed and adopt a leisurely attitude to most things.
It was, therefore, inevitable that I would one day own a campervan.
The seeds of lust were sown many years ago while on holiday in Devon with Tall Man. We ended up chatting with a couple who pulled alongside us in their campervan on a cliff top carpark. Tall Man was all about the oily parts and I drooled over the interior. Mellow wooden cabinets with flip down this and pop up that. Vintage melamine picnic gear, chintzy curtains, piles of cushions and crocheted
blankets. Most intriguing of all was a dashboard vase stuffed with a bunch of herbs. “For cooking with” explained the lovely lady flipping down a two ring stove housed on the back of the door. I learnt there and then that campervan cooking is not baked beans and Cadburys Smash. For the rest of the holiday I could think of nothing but bud vases and cunningly concealed kitchen equipment.
Sometime later and fate intervened.
Tall Man was travelling back from a trip away and pulled into a service station somewhere in the midlands. There he met a young couple with a sunny yellow campervan. They were looking to sell it. Email addresses were exchanged and on his return Tall Man enquired after the van. Yes, came the reply, it’s yours if you want it. We took a train journey the length of England to Brighton to meet a 1965 right hand drive, primrose yellow and white VW Splitscreen campervan complete with cut glass bud vase. We both fell head over heels in love.
We drove the newly christened Sunny home; a terrifying 12 hour journey along the motorways at 45 miles an hour with the steering wheel slowly but inexorably tightening. And so it began…..
The steering box needed to be rebuilt with a full set of kingpins, drag links and more ball joints than you could shake an oily mechanic at. First big trip away and the engine over heated and the “little end” blew up so starting an on-going relationship with breakdown men.
And what is a campervan like to drive? At 5’ 2 my feet only just reach the peddles and the hand brake is such a stretch to release that I have to sieve my breasts through the steering wheel. Lack of power assisted steering results in well-toned biceps and there are only two gauges to worry about; petrol and speedometer.
Sunny lives and breathes. He chooses his own trajectory while you fight with the wheel to keep him in a straight line. He honks his horn when he feels like it, grinds to a halt for no apparent reason and when Imaginary Daughter suggested he was gay he flung open the passenger door while in motion scaring her witless.
But we wouldn’t part with him. Fellow campervan owner @ChalkyPilot puts it so well in his blog Off the Beaten Track; the world looks that little bit happier from behind the wheel of a campervan. People’s faces light up with glee as we tootle by, they point, wave and even cheer. When we park up, people amble over, take Sunny’s photo, peer inside and ask “what’s it like to own a campervan?”….. just like we did all those years ago.
Campervan living means; an unhurried life via the “B” roads, enjoying the journey, discovering hidden gems, meeting other campervanners, summer shows, wellies, rock n roll beds and two ring cooking.
If you get the chance to own a campervan go for it. There are so many to choose from, not just VW’s. Take a look at My Cool Campervan for inspiration. Oh, and don’t forget to fill your bud vase full of herbs.