If you check my bio on any of the social media platforms I use, you’ll see two words repeated over and over – writing and travel.
You may think this means I’m the next Bill Bryson or Sara Wheeler, but sadly no. My travel adventures aren’t quite as epic as Antarctica. No, they’re more likely to include Aberystwyth!
Travelling is something I had always loved, even before I stepped on a plane for the first time in the mid-80s. Reading the Sweet Dream Series took me all over America from the comfort of my teenage bedroom. My life-long love of all things US of A began then. I dabbled with a spot of travel writing when I visited Florida and Arkansas a few years ago. You can read those posts HERE, HERE, and HERE, and then again when I took my children to Lake Garda, which you can read HERE.
There’s something magical about bringing a place to life using the written word, and I know many of my author friends will agree that setting is vital in any story. Would Dracula be so hauntingly fabulous if his boat had run aground in Margate instead of Whitby? We all love to read about places we’ve been, or dream about visiting places we’ve read about.
Do I aspire to be a travel writer one day? I would love to have the opportunity to visit incredible places and write about the local independent stores, fine eateries, quaint museums and galleries, festivals, and unearth the fascinating stories of the locals – who wouldn’t! I may never hit the best seller list with my ‘magical mystery tour’ adventures, but perhaps a travel blog where I can indulge my passion for new places and share the gazillion photographs I take on every trip.
So, what’s this got to do with making one of my travel writing goals come true during lockdown?
Stay with me!
Gotta love a VDub
Before my eldest son was born, I bought a 1975 orange and white bay window VW camper van. It was gorgeous, but a total nail! You could see the tarmac through the holes in the cab floor. I bought it for £1500 and sold it three years later for £1700. Today, it would be worth about £24,000!
Despite the clunky gearbox, holes in the floor, and a never-ending list of mechanical to-dos, it was my pride and joy. I’ve been obsessed with VW campers for as long as I can remember, so finally owning one was wonderful. Once my son was born, we introduced him to the delights of camping. In the photograph below, you’ll see him patiently waiting in his buggy (aged 18 months) for a night out in Brean – we knew how to live!
After selling that van (for practical reasons and going on to have another two kids), my love of all things VDub never waned. I would visit VW shows all over the UK and drool over the show vans, and buy the funky camper merchandise. I took my three kids to the Isle of Wight about twelve years ago, and we hired a 1969 VW camper for a week. They loved sleeping in the tiny bunk beds that pulled down from the roof, cooking on the camping stove, and running feral across the beaches and play parks. There’s nothing better than the great outdoors, and the UK is a spectacular place to explore.
A couple of years ago I drove to Bristol with my friend to look at one of the newer VW campers at Danbury, the last of the retro look to come off the production line. The van in question sold before I arrived, which is a common occurrence as they are so popular. So it was back to pasting campers on my vision board and daydreaming about trips to Scotland, the Lakes, and touring Europe.
Welcome to lockdown
Then we arrived in 2020, and a global pandemic struck. We were all forced indoors to wait it out and hope for the best. Having the kids together again under one roof was lovely. A more relaxed way of life unfolded, which was a welcome break from the craziness I’d begun to feel as my business grew. Arts and crafts were undertaken, LEGO was built (you are NEVER too old for LEGO!), words were written, and plans were made for the future – if we ever got out of this mess!
The more I sat in my house looking at the same four walls, the more I realised I was letting life slip me by. My kids are all over 18 now and starting their own adult adventures. I spend 90% of my time on my own (when the world is normal), and what do I do with it? I write, read, watch re-runs of my favourite shows, have coffee with friends, and a family holiday once a year. It was during lockdown that I realised how short and precious life is and that I was existing instead of living.
I’m incredibly fortunate that my copywriting business exploded during lockdown as many of the companies I work with used the time to review their website content and blogging strategy. I was inundated with work requests and was only too happy to get stuck into building the business.
However, it was always at the back of my mind that the work I do; writing website copy, blogging for women in business, and producing ad-hoc written content, can all be done from my laptop anywhere in the world. So, I began to look online for camper vans. I did my sums and was glad I hadn’t had to dip into the ‘camper fund’ I’d been saving for years.
On the 6 July, I visited Camper King in Banbury and at a social distance put a deposit down on a new VW T6 camper van!
I picked Snoopy up one month later on 6 August, and it’s safe to say I’m truly smitten! So far I’ve only made day trips with picnics, but my first camping trip is booked for September when I’ll be heading to Whitby on a research trip for my current work in progress.
My goal of owning another camper has taken me twenty years to manifest, but it was worth the wait. Snoopy sits on my drive as a reminder to grab my laptop and write on the go. No more weekends staring at the same four walls, no more dreaming, no more ‘one day’ because that one day is now day one of my next adventures.
If you want to follow my travel and writing journey, then take a look at my new Instagram page HERE. I plan to share some more travel posts here on the blog, and I’ve added a ‘Campervan Writer’ tab to the menu at the top of my site so you can easily find all the posts. Who knows that travel book might end up on the bookshelves one day!!