In 1997 Colin and I bought Celestine our first VW Campervan. If you haven’t yet read, ‘The Celestine Prophecy’, I would highly recommend it. It isn’t a particularly well written book but it is an exciting adventure about coincidences and as it turned out Celestine was the perfect name for our camper. We had many adventures in Celestine and she really stood out in the crowd. Our best trip was a tour around Europe, visiting France, Belgium, Germany, Austria Italy and Switzerland. I do however think we were lucky to survive the trip, as we went up several hairy mountain tracks we noticed many crosses marking the unfortunate folks who didn’t make it. It wasn’t until we returned to England that we realised the steering column had been welded with four spot welds and three of them had come off! We really did love that van but she cost us a lot of money to run and maintain so sadly we were forced to sell her.
Ten years later and in slightly better financial position, we started to dream of getting another VW Camper. We both focused our and other people’s attention on camper vans as we constantly spoke about our dream of travelling again. Then something amazing happened, Kate popped round one rainy afternoon and said she thinks she saw Celestine in a field somewhere in Bedfordshire. A few days later we decided to have a drive around ourselves to see if we could spot it, although we thought it was a bit of a long shot. But there she was, it was pretty hard to see from the road but in the distance we caught sight of her bright yellow top. A couple of days later Colin went with his Dad to try and find her again and ended up knocking on the door of a farmhouse to whom the field seemed to belong. The farmer explained it had been abandoned there and he was due to have it picked up for scrap the following day. Colin offered him £500 to take it away and Celestine was brought home. She was in quite a poor state having been left there under a tree for several years, but we thought it would be a bit of fun doing her up and Kate and Will kindly lent us their barn to do so. What a coincidence it was to get her back and we even found some pictures the girls had drawn down the back of one of the seats. Colin meticulously took her apart photographing each part as he went along, until she was just an empty shell. He learnt so much in the process but the biggest lesson he learnt was the time and money it would take to put her back together again and meanwhile we were unable to realise our traveling desires. In the end we decided to sell Celestine’s shell and most of the bits we had bagged up. Surprisingly we even made a profit by selling her on ebay for £1000.
In 2010 we bought Lady Marmalade for £5000. We spotted her for sale sign at BugJam, a VW show. We offered £50 less then the asking price and shook hands leaving a deposit of £100. After all as the seller said nobody in their right minds would come along with that sort of cash, little did they know that we had taken money out of our mortgage the day before and Colin had it taped to his chest underneath his sweatshirt!
Lady Marmalade was beautiful and always made folk smile. I loved sitting in the passenger seat listening to Mr Blue Sky as we drove around the countryside. For our first camping experience we went along to one of the VW raves and parked up next to other campers ready to get out and visit the many swap shop. and hippy styled stalls. After about half an hour we decided to go back and have a little nap before the evenings entertainment which didn’t start until 10pm. We felt so cool and trendy, however the reality of our aged bodies soon sunk in. By 7pm we had already drunk our bottle of sparkling wine and felt too tired to join in with the festivities. Struggling to go for a wee in the toilet hidden in a box between the drivers and passengers seat had somehow lost it’s appeal. The weather wasn’t great and as the rain hammered down on our tin roof we decided to pack up and come home.
We sold Lady Marmalade for £10,000 making a good profit and bought Helga who may not look quite as trendy but provides us with much more space, and the luxury of a toilet and shower behind closed doors.
Last year we visited Belgium, Germany, Holland and France with our friends Sue and Angela who have their own rather upmarket motor home. It is great fun to know how easily we can pack up and go and if it wasn’t for my stupid Cancer getting in the way we would probably be abroad somewhere hot right now. Still we will go out together for the day today and probably visit a garden centre as the over 50’s do. So like I said yesterday if you see some odd folk in an even odder looking motor home give us a wave.
Have a good weekend.
PS I had that Friday feeling after all