The Camper Vans New Upholstery

This time last year we had finished getting the camper van road worthy and were enjoying our first ever camping trip in it at Glastonbury 2013!

Wow, how time flies eh! Do you remember how excited and proud I was watching Rob learning to weld, designing and fitting the interior and sewing the curtains (made from a duvet cover that I bought in TK Maxx) with his own fair hand?

Fast forward one year later and as anyone who owns an older vehicle knows, the work is never done. There is always ongoing maintenance work and things that need improving on your to do list etc.

One of the top things on our list was to upholster the seating, and this weekend we managed to cross it off! When we ‘finished’ the van last year, we hastily drove off to Glasto with tatty, torn (original) front seats and bare foam on the buddy seat and back seat/bed covered up with various blankets. It was fine and a good temporary solution that served us well until Rob made the rest of the upholstery using my Nan’s old sewing machine.instavanIn the end Rob and I decided that it was best to get someone else to do the upholstery!

Last year we bought some brown vinyl material and foam from Dunelm and Rob had a go at making a cover for the buddy seat, but he threw it away because he was not happy with it.PicMonkey CollageI thought that he did a fine job and he would have managed to make the covers himself. But Rob is a busy, self employed man and a perfectionist.

Yes, we could have saved money doing it ourselves, but sometimes it is best to leave things to the professionals! In the long run it saves time and a lot of aggro. And now Rob can enjoy the van without looking at the upholstery thinking that he should have done X, Y and Z better (perfectionists eh!)

Tah-dah! Here is the new updated seating in our van! 1528650_760032127352678_6720388660924255227_nseating 2buddy seatrock n roll bedback

All photos of the new interior are from Vworks Upholstery Facebook page. I did ask Rob to take some proper ‘before’ photos of the interior BTW. If he did I will upload them on here later.

Right, next on the to do list is to get out there and do some camping* in the van and enjoy the summer! Can you believe that I have not camped in it this year! (Rob has at a few VW shows on his own, hence the dirty muddy floor that needs cleaning in some of the photos). I have been working six day weeks doing lots of overtime in my jobs. Hopefully I will have some weekends off again soon and we can get away! Whoop!

*Plus seat belts in the back, a new gearbox and redo all the suspension.

Ruddy Rain!

Oh dear. The camper van has a leak.

It seems the back of the van is not water tight. It looks like either the window or back door’s rubber seal is faulty. While we were away in Cyprus it peed down constantly (so we were told), plus it has been pretty wet and grim weather-wise since we have got back, so consequently the leak has caused quite a lot of damage. Please see the pictures below (all were taken by Rob with his iPhone). rain dam 1rain dam 2van dam 3van dam 4 van dam 5

It looks bad, but its fixable. Its just a case of a little time and effort. We need to wash some blankets, dry some foam and replace some MDF on the bed frame, which according to Rob, is not too expensive. Thankfully the carpet seems dry and mould free.

This is not a post fishing for sympathy etc, I just like to keep things real on here and show that owning an almost 30 year old vintage vehicle involves constant maintenance and repairs. Its not all festivals, cider and crochet blankets. Unfortunately.

But we would not change things for the world, we love our vintage vehicles (we also own a 1972 Beetle). Over the years we have had so many people tell us to get rid of the bug and buy a sensible modern car.

What? A modern car with electric windows, air conditioning, seatbelts in the back and a working radio? Nah, its more fun being driven around in a noisy car, being thrown about going over speed bumps (we sing this song when we go over the bumps!) and having small children point, smile and wave at you when you drive past!

We have driven 1000’s of miles in the bug with out any problems and plan to do the same in the camper van. I would not change our vehicles for the world, they might not be perfect (or 100% reliable) but for whatever modcons they lack, they make up in spirit. These are vintage vehicles with character and history, kept away from the scrapheap with love and dedication by their owners. You can keep your high purchase, expensive to service, boring brand new cars, I like my cars noisy, rattly and with added rust thank you!

Our Second Camping Trip In The Van

After owning and restoring our camper van for nearly three years, the first time we camped in it was at Glastonbury at the end of June.

We are going to another festival next weekend, yey! In the mean time Rob has treated Ernie to a brand new matching orange awning, and we wanted to have a practice assembling it before we go away.

We decided to go somewhere local to camp for just one night. This summer we are all about short getaways, and we have to grab them when we can. Now that I have three jobs, I now work more weekends. Plus I have already booked nearly all of my allocated four weeks paid holiday – boo! So plans to go away for a week (or weeks) exploring the UK will have to wait until next summer.

Rob suggested a campsite near Canterbury, but me being me, I suggested going somewhere with a sea view instead. I like to think that its my way of turning the ordinary into extraordinary and my sense of adventure when I make better suggestions. Rob will tell you its just me being a pain in the arse and ruining plans!

I found this lovely looking campsite near Folkstone after a quick Google search that ticked all the boxes, and we both got our hearts set on going there. Unfortunately it was fully booked, so we booked into a campsite on the Isle of Sheppey instead.

Now anyone who lives in Kent will tell you that Sheppey is a dump and there has been a photo of a pair of webbed feet doing the rounds on Facebook, claiming that the people who live on the island suffer from this terrible infliction.

I cannot claim to have seen any webbed feet during my short visit. But I did see a slightly plump kid who could not have been any more than thirteen years old, with a tattoo on his arm in Leysdown on Sea. Im pretty certain that it was not a temporary one! I also saw more prison tattoos and tattooed knuckles than I wanted to in one day. And that was just on the women.

What the island does have to offer is nice beaches and picturesque countryside. We had a pretty decent time. Its always fun to use the van. We camped near Sheerness in a park area called Barton’s point.

Check out my Instagram account for some blurry snaps with filters over of our night away. Plus I want to share some pictures of the new awning.

First lets show a picture of the old awning. We used this at Glastonbury and it was given to us by a friend who had it given to them by a friend. The reason that it was given away was that it had some holes in it and a couple of broken poles, all repaired by gaffer tape. But it did us proud at Glastonbury, and we decided that we would definitely like to have a drive away awning to use on our future camping excursions.

Now we have invested in the new one, we have found another friend of a friend to pass the slightly broken awning on to BTW! Share the awning love!

I blocked out any identifiable people and plates. I hope you can still see the awning!

I blocked out any identifiable people and plates. I hope you can still see the old awning!

I think Ernie looks a lot smarter with his new matching orange awning and I love the retro shape to it.

Happy camping!

Happy camping!

The door attached to the van

The door inside attached to the van. Mind the mess.

the viewNot a bad view from our spot eh? Shame about the slight problem with the water!

More Van Pictures!

Just a quickie post to show some more updates to the camper van before we head off to Glastonbury.

Its nail bitingly close as to if we can make it there! Yesterday Rob took the van to his mechanic friends workshop, so he could give the engine a final once over, and they found a water leak (I think? – I know nothing about engines!)

It was touch and go weather Rob would be able to drive home from Ashford, so there was no way we would ever be able to drive all the way to Somerset. Luckily Rob and his friend managed to do a temporary patch up, and Rob phoned around and found the engine part he needs (which Volkswagen don’t make anymore) in a local breakers yard.

So we are currently, as we speak (1pm) waiting in for a delivery, so Rob can replace the broken part on our driveway today.

In the mean time here are some pictures from Rob’s iPhone of how things are looking now inside the van, and how things came together.

Rob made new door cards and covered them himself

Rob made new door cards and covered them himself

A cover for the buddy seats foam cushion

A cover for the buddy seats foam cushion

Rob fortunatly/unfortnately is a perfectionist. He wants to redo it. Fussy old fart I say.

Rob is a perfectionist. He wants to redo this. He is a right fussy old fart, I think he did a great job!

A blurry picture of the new door cards and new carpets in the front!

A blurry picture of the new door cards and new carpets in the front!

New curtains and flooring!

New curtains and flooring!

We bought the vinyl flooring from EBay, and Rob cut it to size and stapled it to a piece of plywood. We bought some net curtain rails from Dunelm for cheaps, then cut them to size and hung the curtains, which are secured to the van with hooks, poppers and magnets so they don’t flap about and will hang properly as the walls are at a slight angle.

Another peek

Another peek. That’s the buddy seat BTW, behind the passenger seat.

We must be doing something right as Rob had a bloke approach him and offer to buy the van from him for £3.5K in a petrol station a few days ago. Cheeky sod!

The Campers Curtains

I want to show you some photos of Ernie’s curtains that Rob has made with his own fair hands.

We owned the van for a few years before we started work on it, so we had plenty of time to plan out how we wanted it to look. I would have loved to have gone to town with loads of Cath Kidston prints everywhere, but I think this look suits older vans best, particularly the bay window vans. Our van was built in 1984.

Now I love retro furnishings etc, but lets be honest the 80’s is the decade that style forgot. We toyed with the idea of using some vintage children’s bedding like Thunderbirds or Transformers to make the curtains with. Then we played around with the idea of using this Converse alike fabric on the headliner (fabric on the ceiling), or maybe that this tape bedding (which when I searched for the link has been discontinued! Here is a similar cushion) could figure somewhere in the scheme.

In the end we decided not to restore our van to look like its from the decade it was built. That would be to themey anyway for my taste! We just decided to use lots of elements we love, like bold colours (me), stickers (Rob), crochet blankets (me), plain simple furnishings (both of us) and bold patterned curtains (both of us again).

Now who does bold patterns better than Ms Orla Keily? Nobody in my opinion! We were lucky and found a single bed duvet cover in TK Maxx a while back for £35, which we cut up and Rob got to work sewing them himself.1025845_10151787831751719_1543076525_o 1048855_10151787830841719_1428181255_o-11063777_10151787831601719_643555917_oNext post coming soon…..Two in one day!

The Campervan Interior

On Monday Rob picked up our campervans interior. It was handmade by a friend to our own specifications.

First came the bed frame. Here is a link to Instagram pic of the van with the bed frame in, how the interior looked back on Saturday. Now for those not in the know (and that did include me until recently) these beds are called rock and roll beds, which double up as seating in the back of the van, and unfold (roll) down across the back engine to become a bed when you reach your destination (rock up somewhere).

I gotta learn all this VW dude/dudette language!

You can get the beds in 3/4 width or the full width of the van. We chose to sacrifice a cupboard or two for the extra comfort. Plus we are a pair of fatties and I like my space.

Here are some pictures of the new interior. We are getting there. Rob has bought some foam to cut and cover, which you can see in some of the snaps. Phew, we don’t have to sleep on metal wire! We still have lots to do, and I will try to blog as many changes as I can. Sorry, this blog is going to be a bit campervan for dummies centric for the next few posts!

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There is storage under the rock n roll bed

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more storage and a buddy seat with yet more storage

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It looks like a bit like an Aga does’nt it? I have always wanted an Aga!

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Yet more space to stash stuff under the bed

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blue naked foam

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Another peek

Glastonbury is less than a week away now! Its going to be our first time camping in the van. We did hope to have a trial run spending a night or two away at a local camp site, but time ran away with us as usual. Our main worry is not the lack of creature comforts, its will the van make the 170 odd miles there!*

Plus extra bonus points if you noticed the windows are tinted. I forgot to mention, Rob had a mobile window tinter stick some vinyl on the windows on Monday too!

*We don’t care if we don’t make it back. We have breakdown cover so they can tow us back home! Unfortunately if we break down on the way there, they will only tow us home. Boo!

Campervan Progress

Since I last talked about our campervan on here, things have been changing almost daily. We have a mad rush on preparing it to go to Glastonbury in. Its a bit hectic, but very exciting!

Here is a little background knowledge on the history of our camper van for those who are new to my blog.

  • Our van is a 1984 T25 VW we named Ernie (we changed our minds again from Jasper at the very last minute!)
  • We purchased him from a friend of a friend in February 2011 for £750.
  • When we bought it, the van had been SORN off the road for 3.5 years and was being used as a garden shed (literally – it was full to the brim with kids toys!)
  • It then sat on our driveway immobile for two years, while we saved up the funds to work on the massive restoration project.
  • During that time Rob and I became a little frustrated with owning a campervan that we could not use. It just sat there getting rusty(er) on our driveway. It did not help that we have friends who also own campervans, that we saw using and enjoying theirs. We had a bad case of campervan envy! We were so near, yet so far! We got a little impatient and almost gave up on ours, and looked at other, quicker options. We decided it was best to invest our limited funds in fixing Ernie up, rather than buy a alternative overpriced van with a MOT. Plus ours will be exactly how we want it! If our camper van was a property, Sarah Beeny would be very proud of us!
  • In January 2013 the van passed its MOT on its second attempt, after lots of hard work from Rob, who learnt to weld for the project. He has driven and fixed up old VW’s for almost 20 years. Before I met him, he rebuilt his old Beetle’s engine from scratch. Said engine did catch fire, but lets not talk about that part.
  • So after 5 years, the van is back on the road again. It still has the original 1984 engine in it, and we have experienced a few small teething problems (mainly with electrical stuff and the gears). We have been trying to drive it as much as possible to iron out any kinks before we make our long journey down to Somerset.
  • We have repainted the exterior, cleaned up and repined the headliner (fabric stuff on the roof), cleaned the windows (it made such a difference), put sound proofing fabric on the panels inside, put some nice carpets around the front seats, put some new wheels on it with shiny alloy type things that boys seem to like.

    The wall lining stuff

    The wall lining

The rear end inside currently

The rear end inside currently, before the windows were cleaned up!

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Looking good! Lets hope its not a muddy year at Glastonbury

Interior lighting. Battery powered from The Range!

Interior lighting. Battery powered from The Range and fixed on the wall by a hook and magnets!

The exterior stickered up

The exterior stickered up

All made by Rob's fair hand. The crafty so and so.

All made by Rob’s fair hand. He is a crafty so and so.

Another photo, just indulge me here!

Yet another photo, just indulge me here!

Still to do –

  • The interior furnishings. Its currently being built by a chippie friend. In the mean time we have borrowed a futon to chuck in the back, just in case its not ready for Glasto (I don’t care about roughing it – I love camping! I will admit that I am going to miss using our tent!).
  • New front seats as the current ones are ripped and tatty.
  • Tint the windows (Rob wants to pimp it up).
  • Fit the tracker device thing Rob bought as VW vans are targeted by thieves.
  • Sort the gears out (this is technical stuff I let Rob worry about).
  • Sew and fit the curtains.
  • Buy a nice awning to eventually replace the damaged one that a friend kindly gave to us, but needs some repairs.
  • Repair the awning for Glasto.
  • Buy a potty thingy for me when I am being a princess about using the Glastonbury toilets for a number 2 (sorry that’s way TMI!!)
  • Buy a stereo.
  • Scavenge the local chazzas for vintage tat treasures to embelish the van.
  • And loads more things I have probably forgotten!

It has been a long journey to get to the point where we are with our van right now. I guess two years might not seem a long time in the big scheme of things, but we have been together for 11.5 years and we have been talking about owning a campervan for pretty much the duration of our relationship, so Ernie has been a very long time coming.

I cant wait to drive off into the sunset arguing about who’s music to listen too, who is to blame for us getting lost (Its Rob BTW. Always) and who forgot to pack the bottle opener etc!

Campervan Update

I am the bearer of very good news! The camper van passed its MOT on Saturday!!!!! Wheeee – how pleased are we! It only had 3 minor advisories – much better than the 18 fails it had last time!

The van has been off the road for 5 years and has sat (SORN) on our driveway for the 2 odd years since we bought it.

Rob has been working really hard on it and has learnt how to weld and so far has done most of the work on it himself (he wanted to be a mechanic when he grew up, but instead became a web developer/graphic designer). The boy does love to tinker with a greasy engine!

He has also been bugging me to do a blog post about the work he has done so far. I will do my best to talk you through it. But please be warned I know nothing about cars. I leave that all stuff to Rob.

The van how we bought it.beforeThe passenger side step still needs some repairs, but it is legal to drive the vehicle like this (yey!) and it needs some deep cleaning as you can see below.passenger step

Rob has put some insulation on the inside.Inside

And done loads of repairs (technical term). See below.during

And painted and sealed the interior floor.shiny floor

On Tuesday (when the tax disc turned up in the post) we went for a drive! Unfortunately after Rob had dropped me off, he returned home and pranged the fence post at the end of our driveway. Whoops!

To be fair, we have a very tight entrance angle (another thing on our house to sort list) and he did not have me to stand behind and wave my hands about pretending (as usual) that I know what I am doing, when I am directing him into awkward parking spaces!

So here is a picture of the damage and a few more to follow to show how he repaired it (clever boy).whoopsy

He hammered the dent out. And then done a load of other stuff to it (technical term).hammertime

fillerwhat dentI bet you are probably at this point wondering why is the van blue/red/yellow? Just what colour is it? Well its from the rust protector and primer sprays. Eventually the van will be bright orange!

I am so excited! Even though I cannot drive and have no intention of learning anytime soon, I have always wanted a orange car. Its because you don’t see many vehicles in that colour and you cannot help but be happy driving (or being driven) in an orange car! Well, soon I can cross that off my almost impossible wish list, as we are going to paint it orange – whey hey!

We ordered some metal paint online and here is a snap of the colour. It is a lot brighter than it looked on the website, but, who cares! This is a fun car for day trips and holidays, so why not blind dazzle people when we drive by!badass orange

It should look something like this soon, just without the pop top. Although we could put one on if we wanted to…………

click on image for source.

click on image for source.

Introducing Our Campervan

Now lovely readers, I trust that you have all read my Link Love post from 11/08/12 and clicked on the link to see Emma and Nicks adventures in their T25 Colonel Mustard?…………Mum? Have you?

Well let me introduce our very own VW campervan which is as yet unnamed.

The bug and our van on the drive

Unfortunately we will not be driving off into the sunset for a while.

The interior through the window

Rusty wiper!

He was bought 18months ago from a member of the VW club we belong to (hey – please don’t snigger! This car club likes to socialise, camp together, drink together, BBQ together and sometimes talk about VW’s and help fix them up together!) for £750 and needs a little TLC to be worthy of sleeping in, or failing that to at least be able to pass its MOT.

All of the following images except the last are taken by Rob with his iPhone.

The main concern I had when we viewed it, was not the fact that it had no MOT, or that it was being used as a garden shed and had a few holes on the bodywork. It was the moldy green gangrene stuff I saw on it, which has now stained our yet-to-be tarmac-ed driveway.

Rob assures me it will go away once he has fixed it up and given it a good clean. He is currently learning how to weld and once a week he likes to rev it up and stink out the house with exhust fumes as he always leaves the front door open!

In the mean time we have a very nice tent.

Link Love

If you have a few spare hours and sometimes daydream of leaving the rat race, then have a butchers at this lovely blog called Home is where you park it.

This blog has been read from start to finish by Rob which is quite a rare thing, and myself (not rare!), and we both talked about posts over dinner and for a few days afterwards. It made me sort of come around to the idea of having a toilet in our van, maybe….

Warning – Do not read this blog before you have go to work like I did, as it will really make you think about jacking it in and driving off into the sunset in a rusty vw camper van.

Now we really must get those repairs/MOT sorted on our van!