An aborted field trip, a lifelong friendship and a bequest changed the life of Michael Bajcar who shares his unusual, heart-warming route to ’van ownership

Our Chausson Welcome 76 has changed our lives; it’s perfect for our needs.

We started our travels using the Campaign for Real Ale Good Beer Guide, staying at pubs, some with campsites, but often in their car parks; buying food and drink in these important, but declining, national amenities.

We have also toured the Netherlands, northern France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany.

However, what makes our story unusual, is as much about the motorhome as taking up the pastime.

The spirit of adventure

In August 1972, my school-friend Spyke and I – two long-haired hippies – planned to join a butterfly and moth field trip from Nottingham to Derbyshire.

It was a bank holiday weekend, the weather was mediocre and no-one else showed, so we decided to hitch-hike and see where we ended up.

We got a lift and a few hours later found ourselves in a small village in the Black Mountains in Wales.

We looked for insects, had a few beers and hitch-hiked back. It took most of the remaining weekend!

Spyke was with me when I met my wife, Amanda, and became a dear family friend.

Forty years on and those ageing hippies, now bald, looked so alike that we were often taken for brothers, and Spyke always quipped that we were only related by girth. Still close friends, we retired, and I held his hand as he died after a short illness.

Making dreams real

Amanda and I had often dreamed of buying a motorhome. And once the children had left home we began to discuss it as a possibility.

I love travel and photography, and because Amanda is now disabled we felt it would suit us.

While visiting Spyke in hospital we had chatted about motorhomes and he had said that we should get one – unknown to us he had bequeathed us some money.

We had little idea of what we needed in a ’van other than a fixed bed, but a few weeks after his death, on a whim, we decided to have a look around a local dealership, though with no plans to buy.

The perfect ending

The two-year-old Chausson, with very low mileage, had arrived at the dealership that day. It somehow felt right, so we took it for a test drive and, despite that lack of research, paid a deposit and bought it!

When the registration document arrived I opened the envelope and was proud to see my name as the registered keeper.

I read down and the tears flowed freely as I saw the address of the previous keeper – in the same small village in the Black Mountains that Spyke and I had visited all those years ago.

Amanda said it was typical of him to find a way to send his blessings; I simply feel that it is a strange and spooky coincidence.

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