‘All roads lead to…’
There is something special about a VW camper. Is it the ageless charm each and every vehicle oozes, irrespective of condition? Or is it simply the feeling of freedom that allows the individual to ‘escape’? – Whatever the reason may be, it’s safe to say the famous ‘VW’ logo has touched many people the world over.
To the casual observer, all VW campers are the same; not true. There have been many generations, the most famous being the split screen (The famous 60’s icon) and the Bay Window, which was a common sight on roads until late in the 1970’s.
My own experience of the VW camper was in a somewhat newer form (in VW terms that is!) – I was lucky to have owned a 1982 T25 2 litre air-cooled Devon van for 2 years (Often referred to as the ‘Wedge’ by VW enthusiasts due to it’s square shape).
Charley ,as he became known, was a Devon conversion with side tilting pop-top (Technically being able to sleep 4 people) was bought on an evening when I only intended to fetch a Chinese takeaway! He came from a older couple who lived locally to us in the next street, and had been very much part of their world for many years (I think a tear may have been shed by his owner when I picked him up on Xmas Eve)
We lavished him with a new paint job, Empi 5 alloys and rear jail bars for the windows. He looked smart and I have to admit, was rather proud when he received admiring glances! Our dog Hollie also made herself comfortable riding ‘shotgun’ to me on the front seat!
Charley’s first trip out with us was a rather odd, last minute day trip to Woolacombe to get Sunday Lunch at The Red Barn! (Some may say that a 374 mile round trip is somewhat excessive…or indeed madness!) The truth is, I just wanted to drive him. This maiden voyage was both a test to his reliability and an excuse to visit Woolacombe; a place we both feel a special love for.
I remember it being a cold, crisp but sunny day as we parked up on the car park opposite the Red Barn. After making hot tea on the stove we walked on the beach with Hollie, who appeared to enjoy running free on the sand – I don’t recall another soul being on there which was strangely haunting (It was the middle of winter after all!) After Sunday lunch, we took the long road back to the M5, but it wouldn’t be long before Charley would return…
Over the next 2 years, we visited both Woolacome and Morthoe on various camping trips – My favourite being at North Morte campsite where we enjoyed evening sitting outside the van with a drink, watching the sun creep down over the hills. This beautiful memory will stay with me forever.
Ok – Charley wasn’t exactly what you could call perfect; his fridge didn’t ever seem to work, the wardrobe door had a habit of flying open whilst on the road, and his fuel consumption could be best described as horrendous. Strangely, none of this seemed to matter at the time; it was all about the surroundings and the ‘Dream’. The fact is, you either get camping – or you don’t! For us it was a reasonably cheap break with a sense of freedom attached to it. You could be packed up and on the road again with 30 minutes, only to seek out another view or attraction to visit – On the whole, it was a lovely experience, which I remember with fondness.
Sadly, due to financial circumstances (I already owned a classic VW Beetle which I could not bear to let go!) Charley was sold and now safe and sound with his new owner in Edgbaston, Birmingham.
For us though, this is not the end of the story. Although the van was sold, the journey is still the same. For us, the road is still the same. After all, once bitten….
All roads lead to Woolacombe!