Friday, 11 May 2012

Day 170 - Pushing my luck?

My husband found this in the garage when he got back from his last 6 month tour of Afghanistan...

"SURPRISE!" I said. And he was.
You see my husband had never shown the slightest flicker of interest in owning a camper. But I'd managed to convince myself that he just didn't know he wanted one. And as he stood there, struggling for words, I knew it was going to be ok: the cards were stacked in my favour - I had just looked after the children for 6 months; he was hardly going to turn round and say, 'take it back'.
Anyway I couldn't, because I'd bought it on ebay.
All things considered, he took the news pretty well.

Looking back on it, it was a bit mad - but coming up to the end of a tour, you experience such an overwhelming mixture of relief, tiredness and elation: it's a giddy combination.....
So an absolutely perfect time to do something rash.
And in my head I had this lovely romantic picture of family camping trips, based I'm sure on childhood memories. We always had a camper. I'd learnt to drive in an orange and white VW.

I did check out the old VW's first, but they were very expensive, even in poor condition. When I saw our Toyota camper-to-be, she had a VW look without the price tag, AND she slept five. So I packed the kids into the car and we headed off to Mold in Cheshire to take a look.
It was a lot further away than I thought.
She did look lovely though, but as her owner ran through the essentials, I felt a wave of panic, because it suddenly struck me just how little I knew about campers (or anything with an engine) and I wasn't sure what to ask or what to look for.
Obviously this sensible moment of doubt had vanished by the time we got home, so based on some rather sketchy advice from my mum's partner ('She's a steal! Toyota's go forever!') I placed my bid, waited nervously, and won.

I did some tinkering before my husband saw her. New curtains - the first and only ones I've ever made, and I recovered the tatty old seats with A LOT of help from a friend.

We have been lucky with Betty, as she came to be called. It could have been a disaster. If I was ever to do anything like this again, I'd take someone with me who knew what they were talking about.

She is over thirty years old and needs to be handled with care. Flat, straight roads are fine - sometimes we reach heady speeds of around 50mph - but Betty hates hills.
Unfortunately we live at the top of a very steep one. She usually screeches up it in second gear with everyone shouting and willing her on (and praying there isn't anything coming the other way)
So it probably won't come as much of a surprise to hear we don't stray far in Betty. Having said that, we live right on the south Wales border, and there's no shortage of beautiful places to explore.

My husband has learnt to love her. I think. And we both like the way the pace of life seems to slow down as we trundle along. Sometimes you need to go slow to appreciate what you've got.

We have had a good laugh about the Betty-buying-episode over the last two years.
And now, here we are again.
Except this time he's gone away for TWELVE months....and I've got a few ideas....


  1. LOVE IT!! Hope you get her back on the road soon.

    1. Thanks Recipe - I've a man coming next week to take a look. He doesn't think it's serious, so fingers crossed!!

  2. You could make some nice bright scatter cushions for on those blue seats...

  3. I have some of the curtain material left and I've thought about it....just need to get the sewing machine out of the cupboard and dust off cobwebs. Love your animal party quilt btw x

  4. Absolutely love it! You've inspired me. I've always wanted a VW campervan but cannot afford... this one is a beauty though and sleeps 5! Amazing :) My husband is away for the week, should i? ;)

    1. Oh I'm so glad you like her! It's definitely worth looking into (I would say that!) Ebay is a good way to gauge prices and Betty is proof that you can pick up a beauty without spending too much. She isn't maybe the most practical camper, but I've always been more interested in campers with character!

  5. Very jealous, and I LOVE what you've done to the interior. My husband and I dream of owning a camper van one day, we alreday know all the places near by and far that we'd like to go in it.
    So funny you surprising your husband with it lol.
    Wow 12 months is a long time :-( well when you're own your own with children it is. On a more cheerful note though what ideas have you got this time ? :-)
    p.s Blogger won't verify me but its Jo from thoughtsfromthekitchensink blog. Am having to use an open ID (seeing if this works)

    1. So glad you like her! She is a bit of a temperamental old lady, but think I've got the measure of her now. We don't go far and we've found lots of great places nearby. Our neighbours have a campsite and the kids are desperate to go, but that's just way too close!
      Someone suggested putting a swedish sauna in the garden - you know, in a little pine house......I can just picture his face!! x

  6. Oh wow! I admire you hugely for doing this. What a lovely van Betty is x

  7. WOW SHE IS GORGEOUS!!!!!!!!! And I am SO impressed with your bright and beautiful interior work!
    It is true, Toyotas are SO reliable