It was a Saturday sometime in March 2014, I guess I should remember the exact date for something so momentous, but what I can remember is the excitement in the air and the promise of endless possibilities, as my family and I set off on our new adventure.
The decision to buy a campervan came during a road trip to Brittany, via a music festival in Cornwall, with three young children and far too much luggage all packed into a broken roof box and a Renualt Megane.
The long arduous hours spent packing and unpacking the car whilst the children entertained themselves with endless games of petanque are still etched in my mind. This, I might add, was all played out against the back drop of a lovely family in the van next to us who enjoyed (albeit in my opinion some-what smugly) a leisurely breakfast, followed by a very casual, stress free pack up and speedy departure. Back at our pitch, we were still trying to work out how we had so much more stuff than we’d started with and where the hell we were going to put it all. The decision to buy a camper was almost instant.
After many months of research our wish list consisted of;
- Crash tested Rock and Roll bed. (with the van being our everyday vehicle as well as our holiday home, this was a must).
- Pop-top. (for two out of three of our children to sleep in. What we’d do with the third was still an unknown).
That was about it really. Eventually we parted with a fair wedge of cash and off we went to Bristol to pick up the van.
The previous owner was emigrating, so not only did we get the bed and the pop-top, we also inherited a Waco fridge, drive-away-awning, sun canopy, reverse camera, swivel front seats, and a bike rack. Oh and a hammock for the cab – that was third child’s sleeping arrangements sorted.
There are a lot of things we’ve learnt and changed along the way that I like to think no amount of research could have taught us, either that or we didn’t do enough research in the first place. The most recent upgrade being a scissor pop-top, brilliantly fitted by Wildcampvanconversions. Turns out the original one was slightly claustrophobic for the kids. The condensation on a chilly night also made it quite damp up there too. The new one gives them extra height and remains dry, this has proved invaluable to a good nights sleep for everyone.
The electrics have been completely refitted as the old electrics were a major bodge job. Thanks to a very handy husband and the very helpful people at Xtremevan we were able to do this ourselves.
We’ve added glass to the back doors to let in more light and lose a bit of the white van look. Again we did this ourselves and again used Xtremevan.
Carpeting has been neatened up, it was a mess before, along with new curtains, cupboard fronts and flooring. Oh and we moved the position of the fridge – who wants to have to fold up the bed to access the milk for their morning cuppa.
Five people camping in a T5 is not without its challenges, and we’ve learnt a lot along the way. A Lidl Porta-loo remains one of my favorite purchases, the drive-away-awning not such a pleasant experience. Sounds easy doesn’t it? Just unzip and drive away. Well it’s nearly ended in a divorce on more than one occasion and we’re now on the look out for one that’s more user-friendly.
We’ve found ourselves constantly on the quest for the perfect camp set-up, next we want to change the hob from one burner to two. One burner to cook on for five people just isn’t enough.
Our adventures so far have taken us down through France to Northern Spain, as well as plenty of trips to the South Coast of England. It’s carried the support crew (my children) while my husband cycled – and I negotiated the narrow mountain paths – up the Col De Tourmalet in the Pyrenees and it’s been good for many day trips too. Who knows where we’ll end up next but as the winter nights draw in all thoughts turn to the next trip, oh and a five star all inclusive holiday in Mauritius – nah that would be too easy!