I constantly pinch myself, unable to believe that it is really true … do we really own our very own campervan? Owning a campervan was my dream from the age of 13 until I was 45 years old, when we bought our first ever ‘van and the joy of being part of the campervan community still hasn’t diminished and I hope it never will.
We have owned our Devon Tempest on a medium wheelbase Renault Master for just over twelve months now and driven over 9,000 miles. This is our second Devon conversion [and third ‘van] as for us Devon offer just what we need; good solid vans at a reasonable price and being a small converter they are able to include some modifications to the standard specification when buying from new.
Having owned firstly a short wheelbase Volkswagen and then a long wheelbase VW Devon Sundowner, at 5.5m long the Renault is as big as we want to go. The extra length gave us a sofa, a [small] bathroom and means we no longer have to swivel the front seats to have somewhere comfy to sit. Having lived for twelve months in our Sundowner we know we can live happily together in a small space and we enjoy having a ‘van that can [mostly] fit in a standard car park space.
We learnt a lot from owning our Sundowner and we specified the following modifications to our Tempest, which Devon Conversions were able to incorporate:
- The ‘van has good lighting with spotlights and roof lights but we added a strip LED in the kitchen which has proved very useful for being able to see what we are cooking.
- We have two 240v sockets in the kitchen [for kettle and hotplate] and two in the lounge [for charging phone, camera, laptop, tablet, MP3 player] both very useful when we are on hook-up and a 12v socket in the wine cupboard for when we are off grid [see below].
- We have a re-fillable LPG canister which allows us to cook and heat the van and hot water when we don’t have a hook-up.
- We don’t have a TV [we watch downloaded programmes on the laptop in the ‘van] but the TV cupboard makes a great wine cupboard with the addition of a couple of shelves that are great for jars and tins.
- We didn’t want the open shelf for cups and plates and Devon were able to change this to a more useful cupboard.
- We had shelves put in the wardrobe as these give more flexibility, provide more space and [being exceptionally scruffy] we never have a need to hang clothes up.
Modifications we have added ourselves:
- Hooks for coats on the back wall and for jackets behind the driver’s seat
- Hooks on the bathroom door for towels
- Nets inside the ‘wardrobe’ door for the campsite log book and the ‘van quiz book
The Renault has not given us any bother [I can’t help touching wood as I type this] after the traumatic day when we collected the ‘van. Because it had only travelled seven miles and all of these miles had been shunting around the factory and the dealer’s forecourt, we got a warning light relating to the diesel particulate filter within a mile or two of setting off. We spoke to the Renault garage and then had to call roadside assistance out. The RAC thought it was amusing that our ‘van was the lowest mileage they had ever had called in but as we waited by the M61 in the February gloom and rush-hour traffic looking at our gleaming van we just wanted to cry. Fortunately, the story has a happy ending and once the RAC had arrived and revved the engine aggressively for some time the particles burnt off and all has been well since.
I can’t pretend that owning a campervan is a frugal choice but it is much more than that and does allow us to travel widely and cheaply. How I tend to look at it is this; living in our urban flat and owning the ‘van go hand-in-hand and only make sense to us together and the cost of these two places we choose to live in is equivalent to the average house price in Greater Manchester.