A couple of months ago my sister-in-law invited us to join them on their camper holiday to Devon in August. The idea of spending a week with them sounded awesome, as we all get along really well, but I wasn’t sure about spending 7 days in a tiny camper van. Especially in England where the weather, is well… just so English and unpredictable!! In my mind, I saw us sitting on our hired camping chairs under the damp awning, shoulders sunk and teeth chattering, with the children nagging us that they’re ‘just SO bored’!! Not to mention our 4 month old rather large Golden Doodle.
Queue images of him barking the campsite down and being so uncontrollable I saw myself standing in the middle of the camping ground with arms wide apart yelling at the heavens. ‘Whyyyyyyy?’ Ok, that’s a bit over dramatised. Still, I just wasn’t sure what to expect. We set up a Facebook site where the two families – Overstatement. Truth: the wives! – shared lists and ideas for the holiday. It was all getting a bit exciting! I even got a fab new book I planned on reading from cover to cover over the week ← never happened! Too busy having proper fun!
The kids couldn’t wait to go and play with their cousins and my husband and I loved the prospect of catching up properly with my sister-in-law and spend more time with her husband who can make us giggle like nothing else! So the day came and we made our way down to Devon from Herefordshire to meet ‘Rosie’ our camper and home away from home for the week. Well, talk about cuteness! Our little green caterpillar looked super cosy and retro inside. Red curtains and cushions with white polka dots, black and white tile affect linoleum on the floor, bench seat in the back, back to basics mechanics. Right up my street. The cooker looked challengingly small and the fridge, like it belonged to a tiny oompa loompa but it was all clean and tidy and totally looked the part. The previous people who rented her had her customised with stickers and a quote, which read “Not all those who wander are lost”. I love smart quotes. So this was pretty cool too.
Now going on a weeklong holiday with two children, two adults and a massive puppy requires a lot of gear. Not just for the seven days but all eventualities. The expected cold. The possible warmth. Not to mention the probable wet, which besides wellies and waterproofs for us all, entailed a bagful of board games, card games, crayons and homework for the kids. Yep, I said homework. Don’t judge. They only did one afternoon of it at the end.
Needless to say our bags were aplenty. Upon first inspection the boot of the van looked like a Mini’s especially with the awning and the camping chairs already waiting for us in there. But where there’s a will there’s a way! We fit absolutely everything in, with plenty of space for the dog to lie in the ‘kitchen/master bedroom’! Looks can be deceiving.
Due to the inevitable queues around Stonehenge – why oh why don’t they just screen those stones off from the view of the over-curious A303 public?! – our partners in crime arrived a little late to our first camping ground in Mr Orange. A 6 berth to accommodate 2 adults, 3 children and a dog. Again, total cuteness.
It turns our my initial doubts about the trip were rubbish. We all had a fantastic time! I actually slept well on our little ‘bed’ and the kids absolutely adored sleeping in the hammocks and the bunk bed. Cooking for 9 people was interesting on the tiny cooker, but not impossible. In fact the challenge of making something delicious in such confined space was fun.
We convoyed between Okehampton-Bude-Salcombe-Hope Cove and saw so much more than we would have in ordinary cars. Reason: we left our second gear at O’Connor’s before we left. A bit of frustration there for our driver, but the novelty of it all and the superb views made up for it.
Waving to other VW campers on our route made us feel like we were part of a little community and all the stares we got from pedestrians made us feel cool as!: ‘Aw look at that orange camper, so cute’ ‘OMG, there’s another green one! Awesome!’ Go the convoy I say! The whole holiday in our little campers in the gorgeous county of Devon was such success, we’re already talking about doing it again next year.
By Veronika Lavey