This winter, we are preparing to say a last goodbye to our much-loved 26-year-old Bedford Rascal camper van – bought on impulse, on eBay, from a pick-up location 500 miles away, just under half a decade ago.
This is, just to be clear, absolutely not the kind of thing it would ever have occurred to me to do, once upon a time – but is very much the kind of thing that was first introduced to my life (and repeated with what seems to have been increasing regularity over time) ten years ago when I first got together with my husband; for whom concepts like buying vehicles older than us from Brighton (and taking possession of them and driving them home in one long, Red Bull-fuelled day) have always seemed entirely feasible and achievable.
The Rascal wasn’t by any means the first – two 1980s Fiat Pandas had preceded it as his surprisingly reliable runarounds, one of which was also his partner in crime in a 10-country rally across Europe; and more recently we got three years worth of day-to-day life out of a bright turquoise ’96 Toyota Starlet he picked up very cheap one night in 2014 as a second car to see us through a couple of months of winter – going on to outlive everyone’s expectations until just this summer (when we finally gave it up for a “safe and reliable family car” which has, as it happens, caused us more trouble than all our older cars combined in the six months since… such is life!).
The van was, however, unique in that it was the first vehicle we could full-on holiday in – and suddenly the world (or, maybe more fairly, the parts of Scotland closest to us mainly, with the odd longer trip thrown in!) was our oyster; a night away requiring no more planning than slinging a bag in the back, beginning the (admittedly not always challenge-free) process of getting the engine started (tending to take slightly longer in the cold or when the choke was playing up!) and heading off.
Our first camp is one I’ll always remember – setting off on a beautiful sunny February day in 2013, we pitched up in Auchterarder at a lovely little campsite overnight, thankfully bringing plenty of layers and keeping every one of them on all night, as we woke the next morning to -10 degrees and a thick layer of ice on the windows inside and out. Our coffee that morning, brewed on the tiny two-ring hob, might have been the most warming I’ve ever tasted!
From those frosty beginnings on, we’ve had years of chugging up hills and waking up to the stillness of the world around us as we’ve got the van out and about and made so many memories I’ll hang onto forever.
The summer we got engaged, the autumn we got married, New Years being seen in on a cold, deserted but beautiful beach… They are all with us now wherever we go, moving on to all the next phases of our life together, and I’ll always be so very grateful for them. ♥️