Campervan Culture

screengrab of

One website that keeps popping up on my radar is It’s mainly about T25/ T3/ Vanagon Syncros, but campervan owners (or aspiring campervan owners) of all persuasions will appreciate the stories and particularly the wonderful videos – someone give these guys their own TV show! I’ve particularly been enjoying the tales of wild camping – something we haven’t yet done in Rocky, but I did plenty of in my old panel van, as a single hippy in the late 90’s. As Jed and family show, it’s perfectly possible to find great places to wild camp, both in UK and Europe.

I’m also looking forward to reading about the planned Africa trip at the end of 2013.

Campervan culture Facebook page website

February in the Forest

camping at Christchurch campsite in Forest of Dean

(First guest post by Jo!)

I’ve never been camping in February before, but with the sun shining and an electric heater promising to blow warm air onto our cold tootsies in the evening, I could hardly say no. Plus, last year all we had to keep us from the elements was a pop up tent, and I’ve been camping in April in Devon on a warm day and been absolutely frozen at night. This time though we had our T25 – Rocky.

Not particularly planned, we booked an electric hook up site on Friday night and spent Saturday morning stressing and dashing around the house trying to work out what we needed to put in the camper (lots of bedding) and what we already had in there (not a lot). We took way too long, and got on the road at lunchtime, but being the first camping trip of the year, we were out of practice, out of petrol and quickly out of patience with each other. We’ll get this packing lark down to a fine art eventually. From house to van in half an hour would be good. A a flippin’ miracle, but good.

We opted for a forestry commission site in the Forest of Dean and despite not having a bike rack, we rammed in 3 bikes in as well, angled to still leave elbow room for putting the handbrake on. I’m still getting used to the freedom of camping with space to pack. After years of tent camping and fitting everything into the tiny boot of a VW beetle, it’s a novelty to be able to take board games, pillows, fairy lights and still have room for a nine year old in the back. The site was fine, no tents in site (unsurprisingly) but plenty of motorhomes scattered around and still space to choose from. We parked, threw up the pop up tent that was once our camping bedroom and plonked the bikes inside. We then set about doing the most important thing we do in our campervan – make a cup of tea.

We did a bit of cycling in the woods, played some baseball with a newly purchased foam bat and ball, but pretty much tucked ourselves into the van with the heater on. I’m not that hardy, I like being warm and well caffeinated. With the heater on, the thermal covers on the windows and a film on the laptop, we were totally cosy and warm. The hot water bottles remained unused, it was an unusually still night too which probably helped keep the cold out, and overall, we drove home to Bristol with a gorgeous sunset shining into the van and three very relaxed campers bopping along to some cool tunes. Roll on Spring!

Drive Nacho Drive!

Nacho T25 parked up on a riverbed near Uspallata

I found this travel blog about a couple from Freemantle, US travelling the world in their Vanagon (T3/T25 to us europeans):-

At the end of 2011 we quit our jobs and set off in our 1984 Volkswagen Vanagon, “Nacho”. Our plan? To circumnavigate the globe, slowly, while discovering culture, food, recreation, and emergency roadside Volkswagen maintenance. We are Brad and Sheena. Just wingin’ it.

It’s addictive reading – I read the whole thing in one evening, spanning back to the preparation of their westfalia camper – some amazing pictures of the custom interior they did:-

Nacho custom interior

There’s also plenty of mechanical posts – one story that made me laugh/cringe was the story of how after leaving their bus outside a garage in Susacon, Columbia, they came back to find the transmission removed and a confused mechanic with a pair of vice grips ready to dismantle anything else he could get his hands on. They had only asked to borrow a Jack!

Drive Nacho Drive

Follow them on twitter: @drivenachodrive

Out to lunch

lunch in cwncarn forest in out vw camper

Much as i’d like to be on an epic year-long road trip, or even just a weekend away, life often gets in the way. The British winter isn’t helping, and i’m counting down the wet, cold, dark, miserable days until we can head off on our next camping trip in Rocky. Owning a camper doesn’t have to be all about sleeping in one though – with a cooker, seating and even heating available it can become your private portable dining room in any weather.

At the start of December last year, desperate to use the van, even though we couldn’t get away for the night, we headed off to Cwmcarn forest in Wales, to give the van a run after having the coolant changed and bled. The first thing to note is that camper vans are classed as cars on the Severn Bridge toll – not sure if self-converted “stealth” camper vans would get away with that, unless they look sufficiently campervan-like? If you can get it through as a car it is virtually half the price of a van.

The Cwmcarn forest drive is a private road so you can park up anywhere convenient for a few hours and explore, before shutting yourself in the van, sticking some music on and having lunch or coffee in comfort. I’m not sure how busy it gets at other times of the year, but we hardly saw anyone except the odd mountain biker riding the trails, or the mountain bike truck and trailer whizzing past occasionally.