Seven days and three nights

Posted: November 23, 2014 in Blogs
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After weeks of possession purging, exactly one week ago, I challenged the equilibrium that parting with stuff, brought. Instead I parted with wads of cash, (truly, I’ve never seen so many fifties!) in exchange for my most coveted possession yet. To fund this venture I’ve said goodbye to a reliable, affordable, incredibly comfortable, notably small, car. So long Bluetooth, built in Sat Nav and cruise control. Adios central locking, automatic lights and rain sensors. When the Clio went, I wasn’t as fussed as I might have expected. In the past, saying goodbye to my old cars was at least noteworthy and at most, something akin to the parting from a good friend. Those cars though, were full of character, one so full of character only the scrap yard could entertain its complete merit of attributes. The Clio is still so new and clean – clinical in personality. When I got it I was paying for peace of mind and that’s what it gave me. How utterly dull and boring! Seven days ago, Vanda (the wonder van) entered my life.

As a family we’ve always commended our various animals and vehicles with suitably silly and unique names. I grew up with cats; Fuddles, Hattie and Disraeli (there was also a Bogey!) and a chicken rather grandly named Artemisia. The campervan belonging to my mum is called Vinnie and we bandy the name about like an everyday commodity, expecting everyone that hears it to know exactly whom we speak of. I can credit little (ha!) Vanda’s names to my mum, and when she first said it I remember saying, in the same sentence, how absolutely horrible it was and how much I loved it! If this was a play, I’d be cueing Vanda’s theme music for her enigmatic unveiling…think ‘The littlest Hobo’, “Maybe tomorrow I’ll wanna settle down…”

Vanda in reality is not so mysterious! A high-top, white van, she is seven metres long and two wide. I don’t actually know how tall she stands, but I really should measure before frequenting any height restricted places. She’s an absolute beast. So I can see why, when I said I was going to buy a campervan, people are surprised that I chose Vanda. An imposing sight in a large, open space – tucked alongside my house with another camper – I think my neighbours are having kittens. And to think I call her a stealth van! There’s a reason for the enormity though; inside I have a living space, with sofas and a TV, a small kitchen, a separate but compact bathroom with a toilet and sink, a huge fixed bed and a garage (yes, literally a built in shed!). I also have onboard hot and cold running water, a heater, fairground-esque lights, a gas hob and some storage.

In seven days we’ve already had quite an adventure. Having never driven anything larger than a standard sized campervan of about four metres long, getting in and simply turning the key in the ignition was daunting. I had to do a practice run to work, to make sure it was within my immediate capabilities and suss out the optimum parking space, i.e. one without reversing requirements. I reverse out of my drive but that’s it so far. That first day, I made a cup of tea and took it out and sat in the van, just on the drive, absorbing the wonderment that is Vanda. I couldn’t help myself and slept out in her that night and the next two!

My favourite memory so far is when I got relatively dressed up (for someone that wears uniform everyday and sports an underlying smell of dog), to venture out for a friend’s birthday. Dress and make-up clad, I had to clamber up into a huge van, not before hitching my pretty dress up! It made me chuckle out loud. I am now a white van woman. The same night, I even managed a three-point turn, what a hero. It’s amazing how quickly people can adjust. After one week, she doesn’t seem as big as I first thought and driving her is no big deal. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to imminently initiate parallel parking or anything, but day to day use is not an anxiety ridden process.

I can hardly begin to imagine the many more adventures I hope to have, maybe soon I will have a dog in there too! What I love most about Vanda is the feeling of absolute freedom and security she brings. I can go anywhere (except perhaps a multi storey car park) and have everything I need with me. If I’m tired I can sleep, If I’m hungry I can cook. While I have her, I can’t be homeless. Bring on the summer, for fully fledged van life.




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