In 10 days the van and I (in the company of Nico Chapman an up and coming photographer)covered 1600 miles around Wales, Ireland and Northern Ireland to visit a few beaches, lighthouses, RNLI stations and to drive some of the best coast roads. I drove from home in Devon to the most north westerly corner of Europe and back again. And it was absolutely brilliant. I paid nothing for accommodation and wild camped everywhere at some incredibly beautiful spots. No hassle. One night in Ireland a guy came by with a bag of home cut turf for our fire. How about that?
No matter how hard we pushed it, the van never failed to start, never complained and even made it round the horror that is the scenic drive around Farr Head on the Causeway Coast (it said no caravans or coaches but not campervans). If you have the clutch for it, go. The only problem we had was a broken hinge on the roof but it needed replacing anyway.
The best thing about the trip was that I had a chance to see and do some of the things I'd wanted to do for a long long time. It was mostly simple things, like jumping off stupidly high walls into clear blue pools, driving roads that make you gasp in breathless excitement that you made it there at all or cooking the world's best ever sausage sarnie overlooking a delightful beach. That's the kind of stuff I like. And it's all made possible by the humble camper. You drive, eat, sleep, play.
There's an awful lot more to the UK and Ireland than you might think. Did you know, for example, that the UK has one of the world's best driving roads? Or that there is only one lighthouse in the UK that's licenced for weddings? How about one of the world's most beautiful beaches? It's true, although I have a better one for you, with clearer water, better wildlife and a great pub. And it's not that far away.
Along the way we went to Ireland's newest VW festival where we met with the Eireball crew. They drive their campers around Ireland every summer to raise money for charity. They have raised over fifty thousand Euros so far. And they have fun along the way. One of them told me she was so intrigued by the convoy one year that she got in her car and followed it. The next year she bought a van and joined up. She said she had found her family. I love that. I can understand it.
So I'm a lucky man all over again. To set off in search of good things and call it work is a very nice position to be in. And it's all been made possible by my friend the humble camper van.