Camper Van Surprise

Forward Thinking and Aging Campers

As you all know we love to camp and have pretty much camped in all conditions, at all times of the year. We also don’t mind much where we camp, be it on sites or off when we dabble in some wild camping. We’ve even been known to do some car camping if we are restricted on time on a weekend. But, we got a camper van surprise, out of the blue and it blew us away!

But, as we are getting older the winter camps are slowly reducing and instead, we are booking camping or glamping pods or booking other small accommodations to enable us to get away with a little more comfort during the colder months. We have talked often about the idea of saving for a small camper van for the colder months’ quick getaways.

Now up until now we have only spoken about this and haven’t even started saving towards one. The reality being is we thought we would have another few winters in us yet, albeit we didn’t get away once since winter set in due to one of our ailments playing up. Secondly, we are also trying to save for a bigger house, what will become our forever or last home as moving is such a stress and we are being fussy and looking for something and somewhere where we wouldn’t find the need to escape just as often as we age and I could hang in my hammock among the trees within the grounds.

Well anyway, we wanted a van that we could transform and convert to our own. Something fairly small but that would suit us and allow us to get away quickly if we wanted to on a weekend or mid-week break. Something we could call our own and be able to try traveling and parking up outwith campsites or caravan sites should we wish to. A van that we could transform into a camper but have a stealthy demeanor.

Now we thought this would be a few years off and haven’t really thought about how we would like our layout to look or considered the amount of work and time that would go into such a project. But, last week all that was knocked on the head when we got a rather large surprise!


An Unusual Visit

Last week saw my cousin visiting from down south. Normally we would just meet at my mum’s house as it was easier for my cousin as she has mobility issues. Anyway, she was adamant she was coming to our house first for a few hours visit and then going on to my mums before heading back home. I found this a little strange but assumed that she was maybe just want to come and see the animals and meet our new bearded dragon, Archie.

So on the day, they were visiting I nipped into town and picked up a few bits and pieces and some cakes to have along with lunch. I was a little longer than expected and had received a phone call on the way home to say that they had arrived and asked if I would be much longer. I explained that I was just driving home (I was on hands-free and not actually using my phone) and would be there in 5 mins.

When I pulled in to the parking area out front I didn’t notice their car, a little strange I thought but assumed her husband had maybe dropped her off and went visiting his family or friends. But as I walked up our path I could see a large blue van parked outside our back driveway gates so I thought they must have arrived in that. Her husband is a mechanic so it is not entirely unusual for then to arrive in a different car or van.

So I went into the house and greeted them exchanged a few pleasantries and then was asked by her husband if he could have a word in private when I agreed he started making his way out into the garden, I simply followed wondering what on earth was going on that he could just speak to me in another room in the house.

As we stepped into the garden he waved his hand towards the big blue van I had seen parked out back and asked “do you like it? It’s our new camper”.

Camper Van

The Van

I have to say I was a little taken aback as they hadn’t really spoken much of getting a camper van. But, like an excited schoolgirl my eyes pung wide, I asked if I could go and investigate it. So we walked out and he opened it up. It was an old minibus, that had originally been used by our council, that someone had bought and converted into a camper. it had been bought by someone over 100 miles away, in fact, another country, us being in Scotland and the minibus ending up in England.

He had only had it a few days and admitted it did need some work and the electrics were a bit dodgy, no leisure battery but it did have a 240v electric hook up connection installed. It was a good size van with plenty of room inside, it was just needing a little TLC, refurb and tidy up. It was great I thought, and within minutes my mind was doing overtime thinking what I would love to do with it and not really taking in what was being said to me.

He stopped talking and just looked at me. I had to apologize and ask what he had been saying again, a little embarrassed.

The Surprise

So he then turned to me again and said: “are you up for it?”.

“Up for what?” I asked, still slightly embarrassed that I had not been listening.

“Doing up the camper for us?” he asked again.

“Yeah”, I replied still uncertain of what he was asking and then how I would do this since we live a few hours apart.

So he went on to explain that their plan, his and my cousin, (she was the one who had purchased the van) was, if he brought the van up to ours and left it with us I would be able to do the work on it as and when suited. He would put my name on the insurance so I could use it to collect larger parts and move it from the front to the back of the house while renovating it.

They were off to New Zealand for a month soon so that would give me time to do the work as they would not be using it during that time. As I love DIY and having little projects on the go I said that it would be great and give me something to do. A little trial run before we planned to do the same for ourselves I thought. Figure out what works, what doesn’t, learn on the go and be more confident and quicker when it came to transforming our own further down the line.

Camper Interior

Now I wasn’t thinking this in a bad way that I’d just throw something together for then take our time with our own rather than with it being such a huge learning curve and them being away for a month I could take my time and get it right, even if some mistakes were made along the way. I’d have the time to rectify them.

My head was in a spin and then he explained that in return for completing the work on the van we could have use of it whenever we wanted so long as they were not using it. It would be kept up here in Scotland and as they would be most likely heading up north when they take it away they would simply pick it up on route, leaving their car at ours while away.

I couldn’t believe it, we would be away somewhere in a camper this year!

I was in total shock and couldn’t believe they were offering us such an experience. Not only trusting us and allowing us to do up their camper van but also allowing to use it whenever we wanted once it was completed.

They said it was a thank you gesture after us visiting them the previous year and doing some decorating and DIY after they moved house. But, I am still blown away!

The Chaos

He arranged to drop the van off the following week before they went on their travels to the other side of the world visiting their son and fiance.

During that week he obviously had more time and had the chance to properly look the van over as he phones to let me know there had been no insulation installed. Some of you may be aware that insulation is a very important step when doing a van conversion as not only does it help you keep warm in the cooler and colder days it also helps to keep the van cool on those hot summer days we sometimes see.

So instead of the van need a little tidy and refurb it now needs to be fully stripped out and started from scratch. My cousin requires the van to have the same layout as it already had due to her mobility and her husband’s height. But, other than that we can do what we like decor and color-wise, although not green she said. lol

However, I am not one to shy away from a little hard work and knew this would mean probable treble the work and a great deal more money needing to be spent it but we both agreed that it would be for the best that all the work needs to be carried out.

So when the van arrived the first thing I had to do was completely strip it. Who knew how much stuff can come out something that size! We now have stuff from the camper stored in just about every available space in our house.

What’s Next

Now the van has been stripped back it’s time to get to the drawing board, plan and start learning about the electrics as that is the one thing I am not confident about.

So over the next month or two, I will be splitting my time between working on the blog and doing up the camper as well as work and house duties.

I will certainly be doing another blog about the van and letting you all know how we get on. I’ll be sure to take plenty of pictures as I carry out the work and include them in the next van blog post.

Do You Fancy a Van Life?

So, our camper van surprise has got us busily researching and learning and also dreaming or what adventures we may be going on in the not too distant future. I love the idea of being able to wake up somewhere different each day that we are away on our adventures. I can’t wait to throw open the van doors to a view that will make me smile while lying in bed with that early morning cuppa and contemplating what the day ahead will bring.

What about you? would you look at getting a camper van or doing a conversion? Either as you get older or to have a mix of both camping and vanning in your life? If so let us know and leave a comment below.

Maybe you already have experience with this and could give me some tips, again place them below, I’d be grateful for any advice or tips as this is all new to me.

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2 thoughts on “Camper Van Surprise”

  1. This is a dream for me and my wife i would love to be able to convert a van to our spec ( we have a dog that needs room lol) i would love to see the end result of your van and give me some confidance on doing one myself.

    • Hi Cat, Our van is currently in the garage but I am hoping to get an update posted shortly. Due to lockdown work on the van really slowed down last year. Have you joined any of the Facebook Groups for those converting vans? will let you see some others. Don’t be put off by those WOW vans. Your van needs to meet your needs and budget, something you are comfortable in and that works for you. I will come back and let you know once I get the post done and hopefully a video up.

      Thanks again for stopping by.


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