The unnamed camper

One of my biggest considerations for my PGCE was “where am I going to live?“. I won’t be spending many weeks studying at university before I go to a school or residential for a placement then moving on to another etc… plus, I still am finishing off a loan and needing money to live on (I eat, a lot!) and short term let rents are very high…

Annnnnnd, I want to do something I’ve had in my bucket list for a while… live in a camper.

Sure, I could ‘live‘ a camper quite easily on holiday… but let’s go all out shall we?

First step was finding one, I searched auto trader, I browsed Facebook, I asked friends… I was browsing every hour and I knew what I wanted. It had to be a diesel, discreet (not 360* windows), insulated, CHEAP, double bed and a good runner. I didn’t want much… needless to say, other people’s definition of cheap differs greatly from mine!

With support from mother-dearest (mummy!) I set about searching for the impossible at the start of 2018. “Why look now? Why not wait till closer to the time?” Various people enquired. Well, prices rise when the warmer weather encourages people to purchase ‘tin tents’ for seaside vacations, plus I needed to test out the warmth rating of the van during winter in winter time (duh!). Also, it wouldn’t hurt to know the van’s issues months in advance and fix them ready (and whilst I still have money to spare).

I did find one I liked but it was £2000 in total, not ideal as that left no play money. I think, overall, it took about 4 weeks to find what I was looking for and I had to go to Sheffield to get it…

A Fiat Scudo 2002 plate 1.9D diesel panel van. I love oldish cars (I drive a Suzuki Vitara JX 2000 model which I am going to miss driving daily!) and this one was a beaut.

So, early Feb I took the train on a three hour journey to Sheffield (GREAT connections from Swindon via Bristol) to meet with a Scottish student who was selling her van cheaply as she had no use anymore for it; she was a caver with her boyfriend who used it for long weekends at Symonds Yat.

She met me with the van. It was bigger than imagined and it had recently developed a noisy exhaust. After checking over the vehicle, being shown the various maintenance things needed, how to use the THREE keys it has and negotiating the price down due to the exhaust I was well away driving down the motorway in this beaut. How exciting!

I didn’t have much time to show it off the next day due to an event that we had on (and yet to show my parents still…) but when I did… what a beaut!

One of the things I did want was the ability to be able to go from the back to the drivers seat for safety purposes and practical purposes when it is raining… tick! This two seater has that gap I wanted and black out curtains between driver and bedroom.

The back is simple. It has enough to be registered as a camper but apparently this increases the insurance so it remains as a van for now…

In the back it has fixed shelving and cooking surface, a removeable table and cushions.

The table and seat backing pulls out to become the structure for the bed with cushions rearranged on top.

The flooring is easy to clean and there is shelving at the side but this needs sorting.

I liked it, it has character but hasn’t been modified too much. The exhaust has been fixed (corroded brackets) and the heating, plus a door handle, needs to be looked at before Mot but as for the back… I plan on putting up netting to hold items, lighting is a must and a leisure battery. I’ve toyed with the idea of a roof rack but might avoid this. Some shelving needs repair, need to buy a fire extinguisher and the waste water bucket needs replacing as it’s manky. I’ve got books I’m finding time to read that offer hints and suggestions (no oil on the burner inside!).

People have shared their concerns with me- safety, toilet stuff, eating, sleeping, warmth and entertainment and over these next coming months I will blog about this stuff as and when I sort out the issue(s) and learn to be a happy camper!

For now, the van is mot’d, insured, drivable and taxed- it just needs a name!

Just Joanne

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