Fancy an awesome camper van ?

The time has come for a new van, as a family of three soon to be four we’ve kind of outgrown Bumblebee. It’s a bit of a pain finding places to put things while all the beds are out and we end up losing things for days at a time as we can’t put them back where they are supposed to go.

Also, the days of just rocking up and throwing a few couple of chairs out and enjoying our surroundings are long gone, it’s a massive effort setting up a camp everytime we stop, we need to simplify our setup.

We’re sad to be saying goodbye to BumblEbee, we’ve seen and slept in a lot of places in the UK and Europe, we’ve upgraded and mended various things that need attention along the way, our daughter has absolutely loved our home on wheels, Bumlebee will be missed..

If you are reading this then maybe you are interested in buying him. If you read further down this blog you’ll see we’ve just got back from a 1700 mile trip round France and Bumblebee didn’t miss a beat mechanically, we did get a puncture, you can’t prepare for that. After a full reset of the solar controllers the solar panels are now doing what they are supposed to do, I also gave the leisure battery a good charge using a 7 stage charger, just something I always do when I get back from a long trip.

I’ve also changed the oil, oil filter and air filter ready for his new owner, the van comes with a set of roof bars a black and yellow VW duvet set. Below are some recent photos of the van, if you are interested you can find the eBay advert here

Two adults, one camper van and baby!

In preperation for Bugjam we though it would be a good idea to have a bit of a trial run camping with Stella. Before she was born we’ve been preparing a list of things we think she and we will need to take care of her, doing a trial run means we can test everything and make sure we haven’t forgotten anything either..

We booked one nights camp at Cobbs Hill farm in Bexhill, it was £20.00 for all three of us, electricity and enough room to put up an awning, Lolly mum and dad came too in their palace on wheels and the campsite ensured we were parked right next to each other.

The staff at the site were friendly, polite and helpful,  the facilities and site well maintained and the field we were camping on nice and level, all in all I would recommend this site.

Anyway, on to the business of camping with a baby. Prior to our arrival I had instructed Lolly not to help with any of the setting up, I need to be able to do it on my own while she takes care of Stella. First things first was to get the awning up. My long time friend and excellent glass fitter Rob had already installed and awning J rail for me so all I had to do was get the awning up and connected to the van, that process took about 20 minutes to get the awning up, connected, pegged down and groundsheet laid out. The awning I bought second hand, it’s a Kyham motordome tourer and once up you can easily disconnect it from the van and drive off somewhere. I’d also emptied the contents of the roof box before I put the awning up so I could then chuck it all in the awning and not need to access the roof box.

The awning is great for the simple reason that you can keep the bazillion things you need for a small child and two adults in it without cluttering up the van.

Next job, Stella’s bed. 

Before she was born I bought a cab bunk, this consists of 4 metal poles, 2 end poles and some grey canvas, once you put it all together it is wider at one end than it is at the other, the thing end goes by the steering wheel, you rest each end of the bunk on the sills of the front door cards and hey presto, the van now sleeps three. Stella is only 5 weeks so too young to sleep on the bunk alone. While I was on paternity leave a few people at work signed a card and gave some money to buy us a gift, I asked for a thing called a sleepy head deluxe. We put a blanket on top of the bunk canvas to insulate any cold air coming upwards and then the sleepy head on top of that.

At the moment Stella is finding breastfeeding a bit tricky as she is tongue tied, Lolly is expressing so we feed her from a bottle which means you need to sterilise stuff, we used the Milton cold water steriliser and sterilising tablets, worked like a charm and you can get loads in it plus all you need is cold water and a sterilising tablet. You could use any container however the proper Milton one has marks on the side to tell you the volume of water in and the top locks shut so you can drive about with it and not spill sterilising water everywhere.

To heat up bottles we just used the old fashioned hot water and bowl method which worked perfectly fine, we didn’t bring any special changing stuff either, just the changing bag with enough supplies for a night away.

Once all that was done we got the Cobb BBQ on, drank some beer and had a lovely evening with the in laws and a couple of their friends who came to visit. Before long it was time to turn in, we put Stella in her sleepy head and crashed for the night.

Normally, Stella wakes up for food at least a couple of times a night for food, we thought she might be a bit freaked out by the environment but she slept, well, like a baby only waking up the once, here she is still asleep at about 9 the following morning…

The sleepy head and cab bunk combo worked really well, Stella got a great nights sleep which meant Lolly did too (i sleep through everything), Stella was easy to access when need to and Lolly could sit at the end of the bed without her feet sat in a travel cot on the floor. If still remains a tiny baby then the sleepy head will be good for a couple of years at least and the bunk a good few more.

The morning was a very lazy affair, Lindi made us a lovely breakfast, Lolly didn’t look so zombie like and Stella was a happy baby, winner!

Before we checked out we got a few pictures of us with Stella and our mobile camping rig, one with Daddy.

And one with Mummy

We also put Stella’s festival hat on her…

For the rest of the day we headed to the beach which was blowing a gale, ate some lunch, visited friends and then headed home.

In conclusion, everything we brought worked, we didn’t miss anything out and the most valuable asset was grandparents!

Below is what I usually take when I go away for a night in the van..

This is what we took for one night away with Stella…

Roll on bugjam, we’re ready !!!

Hello Baby!

We have a new member of the team!

Say hello to Stella..

Stella is our first child, she was born at home in a birthing pool using the hypnobirthing method, if you’ve never heard of it look it up, I cannot praise hypnobirthing and home birth enough, if you invest the time it pays dividends, Lolly did an amazing job and brought our baby into the world without the aid of any pain relief in a familiar, calm and safe environment.

With the arrival of Stella the blog will most likely take a slightly different twist, how to travel in a camper van with a baby I suspect but Stella will very much be a part of our continued adventures, which might need to just plan a little better!

And we’re off!

So the time of year has come for one of our two yearly birthday trips, usually this trip in March to celebrate my birthday will involve a drive far north of the M25 in search of mountains to climb, trails to ride and paths to walk in generally the worst of the British weather.

This year however we’re heading south, Lolly is 32 weeks pregnant and wasn’t massively up for mountains or mountain bikes so we’ve jumped on a ferry to the Isle of Wight to stay at a campsite right by the beach and enjoy some easy going walks around the countryside, as I write there are patches of blue sky and the sun is doing it’s very best to shine.

Unlike all our previous trips there is an air of calm prior to our departure even though we are running 20 mins late, I think I’ve finally realised that getting annoyed isn’t going to change the fact that we are late, if anything it’s a hindrance and just makes things misearable all round.

Whilst I was fairly confident we would miss the ferry we made it by the skin of our teeth and are now on our way across the channel to the island, just before we boarded a ferry I got a quick snap of the bus. 

Once on the ferry a quick selfie to mark the start of our trip!

Being a naval port there are lots of ships about that can blow stuff up like this one. 

Once we land we’ll be off to check into Grange Farm and then head out for a walk, might have a cup of tea too. 

Long time no see

So as you can see there hasn’t been much on the update front since 2016

As far as adventures go we haven’t been on any substantial ones and we haven’t done any work to Bumblebee either.

We do have some news to share though, at some point in May we’ll be introducing a new member to the family, at this stage affectionately know as Jeff though we don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl yet.


We are both very excited and have already planned a couple of adventures for Jeff not long after he joins us, a weekend at BugJam and a trip to France with Lolly’s parents.

We are also heading to the Isle of Wight at the end of March, one last adventure in Bumblebee before everything changes, I’ll let you all know how a 7 months pregnant woman gets on with sleeping in the back of a van 😳

Day 1

Our trip to France started with a 21st birthday party in Hertfordshire and camping in a bloke called Bob’s back garden. He has a lovely house in a little village called Furneux Pelham and had offered to host Billies 21st. Billie is Lauren’s cousin. When we arrived there was a good sprinkling of family chatting away and some of Billies guests in the pool, they’re quite a sensible lot, if someone had let me borrow their house and pool for a 21st birthday it would have been proper carnage!

As the evening progressed the only people that seemed to get smashed was us oldies, either the 21 year old massive didn’t drink or they held it down well, I was probably too smashed to notice. 

Bob’s garden is massive as demonstrated by the small band of travellers that stayed the night in their wagons taking up no room at all. 

Our alarm went off at 05.00, nothing like getting up at stupid o’clock to go on holiday, we made a brew and then lolly went for a dip. 

We had a chat with Lollys mum and dad who are also travelling to France, made a fairly loose arrangement with them and then headed off for the ferry. 

The roads were deserted apart from the odd tool driving in the middle lane forever, rather that then traffic. 

In no time at all we could see the sea which meant Dover wasn’t too far away. 

The crossing was relatively uneventful tho I did buy a new Bluetooth speaker, haven’t tested it yet but am sure it will sound way better than the one I have at the moment which is average at best and a blatant rip off of something that should be way more expensive. 

We left Calais and made straight for a little village called Chemin du cal serin, it’s about 2 or so hours drive heading in the direction of Marseilles. We’re stopping in this village as a couple we met last year recommend the Aire, for 5 euros a night you get water, electricity, WC and a nice view of an old castle. 

When we arrived all the spots were taken so in true Mark Ashley / Croydonia style we made our own space. 

We hadn’t eaten since we arrived in Dover so we set about getting some food cooking, chicken on the trusty Cobb and Lolly knocked up a lovely salad, rice and coleslaw.

After cooking the chicken the Cobb was still roasting hot so we cooked up all our sausages before they went off and chucked a couple of corns on and left them to cook while we went for a wander up to Coucy-le-chateau-auffrique. 

What’s surprising about this place is there is a whole little village built around the ruin and there is a community of friendly goats roaming about the place too, they are really friendly if you have food. 

Much to Lollys dismay we’d arrived just as the local boot fair was packing up so no wandering about looking at people’s stuff they’re trying to get rid of, we did however have a good look about the town and unfortunately just missed the tour of the castle. After about 30 minutes we came across the track we’d come so decided to head back down to the van, do all the washing up from earlier, have a little wander and then crash for the night. 

We took a walk down a lane not far from the van which will be forever remembered as mosquito alley, bastard things everywhere, I’d already been bitten once and now have a temporarily inflated foot. I’ve been bitten a few more times since that walk, we retreated to van and watched the final two episodes of Wayward Pines, ate a considerable amount of chocolate and then went to bed. 

All in all a successful first day, no fuel issues either which is a bonus, the only downside to living like this is not much in the way of showers, we do have a camping shower but I’d set that up a bit late so it hadn’t heated up very much by the time we got back to use it. 

The combination of solar panels and split charge system is keeping the battery charged and fridge powered up which means our food keeps and if I ever get any beers they will be cold. 

We’re off to the mountains tomorrow, I’ve always wanted to see a ski resort in summer so that’s what we’re doing, with any luck we’ll have a shower too! 


Great stone beach, Dungeness and more wild camping!

When the sun comes out there is nothing Lolly and I like better than heading to the beach. If you live in London or Greater London as we do, the beach usually means Brighton. We like Brighton, we got married there but the beach itself isn’t all that, it’s made of pebbles, if the suns out it’s rammed, getting into town is a slow process and it’s easier to solve a rubiks cube on acid than it is to find somewhere to park. You can however go by train, it’s very well connected and the town is a cool place to be, we didn’t want to be in the town, we wanted a beach.

I can’t quite remember when it was we discovered “our” beach as we like to call it, I suspect it was Lolly’s doing as I never bother looking these things up but it’s our go to spot for sand, a few drinks and a bbq, the beach itself is called Greatstone and it’s not far from Dymchurch in Kent, I like to call Dymchurch grim church because in my eyes it’s pretty grim.

There are many nice things about Greatstone beach, parking is easy and not massively expensive, it’s never that busy and it’s a proper sand beach with dunes which is where we usually head to as the beach itself is always a little bit windy, the dunes give you a bit of shelter, there is also well maintained toilets and an off-licence / general store that sells all sorts, we bought beer, biscuits and a mallet. Generally when we are there the sea is about a mile out so we often ditch paddling and just eat, drink and people watch, with that in mind, we cracked open some booze and got the Cobb BBQ on the go.


Believe it or not that is actually on the go, the cobb doesn’t look like it’s doing anything but the reality is there is some lovely harrisa chicken cooking there and it’s a good job the cobb has a lid, it was windy and near enough everything we took to the beach got covered in sand except the chicken.

While we were cooking I took a quick panorama with my phone so you can get an idea of what the beach looks like and how busy it isn’t.


The chicken was lovely as was the bean salad Lauren made, we munched, we drank and once i’d reached my limit of what I could have and be within the legal limits to drive, I convinced Lauren we should stay the night wild camping style so I could drink more booze, I love my wife, she agreed and said drink as much as you like!

We’d brought our bikes along as we’d discussed earlier about maybe going for a bike ride. I’d had a good few beers and thought riding on the road probably wasn’t the best idea so I championed the idea of riding across the compact sand, Lauren wasn’t convinced especially as she would have to carry her bike across the loose sand to get to the compacted bit, I think she agreed in the end just to shut me up, we took everything back to the van, grabbed the bike and headed off along the sand.

I’ll be the first to admit it wasn’t quite as easy as i’d thought but it wasn’t too hard either, it was really nice riding on the beach and the further away we got from the van the closer the tide came in, as the beach turned to shingle which made riding almost impossible and the sea was right beside us we got off and went for a paddle.

We had agreed that we would ride to the headland, as this was now not possible via the beach we carried the bikes up on to the road and continued to follow the coast road eventually arriving at a nice pub called The Pilot Inn. The pub was heaving with diners and drinkers, we had now left Greatstone and were in Dungeness, we stopped for a drink and surveyed our surroundings, we spotted a light house and decided to take a look, a helpful sign said it was one mile away.

This is were we discovered our new favourite place, Dungeness Nature Reserve, it’s not your typical nature reserve on the basis that it’s made mostly of shingle but it’s a truly remarkable place. The maddest thing of all is there is a nuclear power station and dotted all around the area are little plaques with details of what to do should the plant go tits up. There are also the most quirky and unique properties, some made out of old train carriages, some that look like run down fishing huts and others that wouldn’t look out of place on George Clarkes amazing spaces, there are also a couple of lighthouses, one of which drew us there in the first place.


That one doesn’t emit a light but there is one round the corner that does, the first one was built in 1904 and was replaced by the second one in 1961 becasue when they built the power station it obstructed the original lighthouse beacon, I learnt that from another blog written by a T4 owner wild camping in Dungeness!

As I mentioned earlier, i’d had too much drink to drive home and we had planned to stay in the car park by the beach, the nature reserve however looked like a much better option, there were a few motorhomes parked up so we rode back, grabbed the van and parked up for the night next to another T4 and watched the sun go down.


It should also be noted that we were parked quite near the power station which looked really nice when the sun went down and it was all lit up although the picture below doesn’t really demonstrate this!


I drank the last of my beers, Lauren had a decaf tea and we got our heads down for the night, more wild camping!

We didn’t bother putting the thermal blinds up so we were woken when the sun came up as our van was flooded with daylight, Lauren did her best to rouse me so I could observe the beautiful sunrise but I wasn’t really up for opening my eyes for a little while yet.

I eventually got up about 7, we made some tea, put the bed away and headed off back to Croydon, i’d really like to go back there again, it was a cool place to stay and there is a load more to explore and photograph, i’ll bring my DSLR next time!


Over the last couple of weeks i’ve been adding some content to the site, mainly things that we have done to fix up Bumblebee and a write up of some of our travels.

In the not too distant future I will be migrating the site to a hosted solution so I can add, amongst other things gallery functionality to our posts.

I hope you enjoy reading as I enjoy writing about our exploits and we’re looking forward to great year ahead of camping, adventures, photography and blogging !