One Careful Owner
The only brand new vehicle we have ever bought. Crystal clear windows, and sparkling interior, free of dust, tissues, old bits of map, empty coffee cups, antifreeze and sun lotion. No sign of spare screws, lightbulbs and a half-eaten chocolate bar melted into an interesting shape over the dashboard. I had never seen a van that looked like this.
Good Service History
We did not mess about. If you get your hands on a van like this you pick an expensive garage, with a clean floor in the foyer and a receptionist who offers you coffee, just like a private dentist would. The sort of garage that charges £200 to change a light bulb, but it’s the right size bulb, and you know the van will last forever because every timing belt, clutch and brake pad goes in with gold standard service. That van was serviced senseless. Yep, whoever buys it will get an excellent service history.
Full of Happy Memories
The van was for touring a band or maybe saving a band. No more bickering about who’s turn it was to be squashed in the back of the car under the double bass. Musicians are much kinder to each other when they travel free of physical pain.
And instruments last longer. Even longer than the band members.
Happy days. That dear little van would carry us to the Eurostar, straight on with no queues because Brexit was just a worm in David Cameron’s brain, and over to delightful festivals in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. Filling up with empty cartons of frites and mayonnaise along the way.
Or it would wait patiently at airports, always happy to start straight up when we returned, greeting us with the smell of the sandwiches nobody ate on the way up because we were too excited.
And once a year it took us to Glastonbury.
If you have a van, you must apply Murphy’s law ‘Stuff will expand to fit every available space’ especially if you have teenagers. This picture features another, older van but the teenagers are the same.
We would load up the band, equipment and camping stuff and then the teenagers would squeeze in on top with their crates of beer. The beer was important because the only way many people can get through something like Glastonbury is to spend the first few days near unconscious and vomiting.
It was all very jolly when we set off, but the queue in was long and hilly. A hill start in an overloaded van will turn a young clutch into an old clutch in minutes. You know it has happened because of the telltale clouds of black smoke.
Teenagers have dual personalities so they are very nice while tricking you into taking all their friends and beer to Glastonbury but not quite as pleasant when you wake them up with screams of ‘Everybody wake up . Get out now and push’. We did not ask them to share the cost of a new clutch.
The teenagers knew a thing or two about business and making money though. To pay their way through the festival they smuggled in a large bag of disposable lighters. They knew what sells well at a festival like that, where everybody smoked and nobody ever had lighters. But when they arrived they forgot whatever they knew about selling lighters, borrowed our money and disappeared.
Meanwhile, the band members went to work.
And the lighters stayed in the van. Weeks later they were still there buried under their wet tents and muddy boots. What did we learn from this? If you bury 500 lighters under heavy stuff, they will crack and leak. So the van became a gas van. We are lucky to this day that we didn’t smoke when we got in it again to go to the expensive garage for the new clutch.
Only One Dent
If you take a brand new van along a small farm track in North Wales and through a gateway that is 1cm wider than the van you will get a disastrous dent and there will be shouting and despair. But it is just a lesson. Whatever makes you shout and cry today, probably won’t matter at all after fourteen years.
It Doubles up as a Camper Van
It takes four easy steps to convert a van into a camper van.
Step One. The mattress on the floor.
Open the door, put a mattress in and off you go. For added effect, you can sellotape some lace curtains to the window. It is exciting until you wake up at 3 am freezing, and again at 8 am too hot, and surrounded by carrier bags of food and clothes but no actual way of making tea.
Step Two. Insulation
Line the floor with carpet, fill the walls with insulation and panel over them. Hang scarves everywhere to make it look nice, sleep all night and still wake up without tea.
Step Three. Kitchen
Don’t put in an old cooker that somebody gave you from their caravan. The first time you pull over excitedly at the side of the road to fry an egg sandwich it will spout yellow flames, so you need to turn it off quickly and eat the egg raw. Go buy something smart and build it in by the panelling.
Step Four. Toilet
To be completely free you need a toilet. It is a wonder of the modern world that campervan shops sell clean, easy to use portable toilets and tents to put them in.
Be discreet with your toilet.
Don’t do a Facebook boast showing the one time you got to a nice place, with the toilet at the front of the picture. People will spot it and laugh. Toilets are always funny.
Hardly Used for the Last Two Years
2020 arrived and we had our half done campervan. As the pandemic raged we talked a lot about how much it was worth, because everybody wanted to escape in a van that year. But we decided to keep it and go travelling.
We managed a couple of outings but the cats couldn’t come, so they probably missed us, and there was no TV, and the bedding, shoes, food and books spread out everywhere because there was no storage. So we made plans for storage and spent more time making plans for storage than actually going out in the van.
The plans were superb with endless velvet lining, cupboards and gleaming bodywork to replace the mouldy sections. But it was not to be. We started it up on a cold day in February, ready to go off and buy stuff for the plans and were engulfed in fat black smoke.
The Engine may Need Attention
It was a head gasket. In the olden days or Morris Minors, you could take the head off, put in a new gasket, and go off. But ‘NO’ said the expensive garage, ‘This will cost thousands.’ ‘OK,’ we said ‘take all the thousands we can borrow’. ‘No’ said the garage ‘we don’t have time.’ We tried a couple more garages and gave up.
Useful as a Spare Room
If you have outside space, you could fix it up as a spare room. The bits for the bed are in there. Put some nice throws in, vacuum it until the carpet turns up, run a power lead from your house, and add a bunch of flowers. Maybe ‘LetitoutonAirB&B’.
This van is a gold mine just waiting to show its true potential.
Great for Storage Space
If it goes wrong with AirB&B, because some customers will complain about the slightest thing, or if it turns out your friends stop visiting because they are annoyed about being shoved into a van, consider the space. All 8 cubic metres of it. How much would that cost if you needed to rent them from storage solutions.? Think about all the stuff you won’t have to clear out if you can keep it in the van. It can live there for years.
It is Good for the Environment
As time goes by the van is rewilding. Creatures and plants are moving in.
Moss is flourishing.
The spider on the wing mirror, who would hang in there on multiple trips, has moved her friends and relations right across the dashboard.
In a year or two, this van will be a centre of scientific interest and might even qualify for a preservation order.
So. Does anybody want a van?
It is so full of potential. We should have sold it in 2020. But then we think about the poor imaginary person who might have bought it, for a stupid price and would now have a broken van and feel happy for them in a self-righteous way.
Meanwhile. Chicken Food has gone up by £2 a Bag
And suddenly the chickens are getting through twice as much food. Not Good. I started lurking near the feeder to see what was going on and found this.
They did a deal with a pigeon. Not sure what was in it for them, but if you have chickens, watch out for pigeon theives.