It was a dark and stormy night. It was cold. It was Dover. Lucky me, I had been taken there to look at ships (my husband, Gary, is a maritime photographer – not a masochist).
We’d done that kind of thing before and always found accommodation. This time, though, there were no vacancies – not even at the B&B with the scary, many-contoured mattress and the shared bathroom downstairs. So we slept in the car, in a lay-by between two articulated lorries. I needed the toilet, but there wasn’t one. The lorry drivers were asleep in their overcab bunks. Did those things have windows? I hoped not.
I’d accepted that living with Gary involved ships, which was fine, and I like being by the sea, which was definitely a bonus. Sleeping in the car in lay-bys, though, wasn’t part of the deal and was not going to happen again! But we had to travel, often at short notice, and we usually stayed for a non-predetermined number of nights. And even then, we’d get up at silly o’clock to be in location for the best light. Surely there was only one sensible solution?
Yes, that’s right: a campervan would be ideal for us. It seemed an extravagance, though, until I pointed out to Gary that the savings on hotel bills and a divorce would recoup the purchase price. OK, I confess I hadn’t done the sums, but we weren’t married at the time so I had to factor in the cost of the wedding and honeymoon before I could yell for a lawyer.
As you may have gathered, I like a proper mattress and I require a washroom. I’m also quite partial to toasted cheese and hot buttered teacakes. These things, combined with travel down narrow lanes, meant a fixed-bed panel van was our best bet, so off we went, looking round many motorhomes for sale. We opted for a Fiat Ducato-based Tribute 665 and were fortunate enough to get an ex-demo one. We’ve called him Vannie. He’s nice. There’s a toilet, a shower, a fridge, a grill and the cupboard over the cab is perfect for tripods.
Since then, we’ve married and toured Ireland in Vannie for our honeymoon. We still photograph ships, but now we do it from French beaches, Welsh headlands, the Western Isles of Scotland…
We stay as long as we like so, as well as working, we are able to indulge our passion for history by visiting castles and ancient monuments. And being on location with a kettle, we always have time for tea in the morning without odd looks from lorry drivers.
The savings on hotel bills and a divorce would recoup the purchase price