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Campervan thrifting and the inauguration of Betty

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We always owned a VW camper when I was a kid, we’d scamp off from school a bit early and spend the whole summer trekking around Europe, hitting up spots as distant and exotic as Hungry, the Czech Republic and Berlin just after the Wall came down.

Those were the days of seatbelt ambivalence so my sister and I would often stay in bed while my parents drove, or we’d sit around the table in the back threading friendship bracelets or brushing the bright neon locks of our Trolls.

It was also the early days of video cameras and one holiday we borrowed a friend’s and my parents spent every journey  filming straight out of the window in front of them, no speaking, or even people really, just endless scenery.  One memorable clip involves the cap being pushed onto the camera lens and one family member (let’s call him, for the sake of the story, “Dad”) calling out “You have turned that off, yeah?” and the one who put the lens cap on (again, just for the story’s sake, let’s go with “Mum”) saying “Of COURSE, darling!” in a tone that really meant I’m not a complete idiot. The rest of the film is total darkness, the muffled sounds of life happening around it.

Me in my snazzy early 90’s gear. We have either broken down or having a cheap night’s sleep in a European layby

Since arriving in London Tim and I have taken all our holidays by train, with our camping gear and bikes in tow. This got a little bit harder with Ramona but we still enjoyed it. The prospect of doing it with two kids though kind of freaked us out a bit, and we began dreaming of getting back on the camper bandwagon.

Fortunately my folks were up for it too and after several weeks of arduous hunting we found ourselves co-owners of a brilliant 1991 VW Vanagon Westfalia. Although we love the look of a classic bay or splitty, we know the blood, sweat and tears  you have to pour into them so went for a newer and undoubtedly more reliable option. We call her Betty.

Betty at Bognor Regis

We took Betty out for a spin the first weekend we owned her but only got as far as Eltham where we slept in my friend’s driveway on the A21 – it wasn’t exactly fulfilling her potential. This weekend we managed to get to West Sussex where we frolicked in the autumnal vibe. WHAT A DELIGHT! We roamed around Chichester cathedral, slept over on the South Downs, and our Betty even bought the best out of Bognor as we parked up for a spot of lunch. What an incongruous place, a breathtaking, windswept, almost wild beach, and then these humongous eye-sore bouncy castles plopped left right and centre.

Ramona checking out the beautiful view (or wishing she was bouncing on an eye-sore) with her mucky chops and mucky top *wishes I’d photoshopped*

I’m not gonna lie to you, the primary reason we hiked all the way down there for one night  was because of the notoriously amazing car boot sales. So you can only imagine our disappointment when, one after the other, the car boots failed to exist! I had even googled in advance! But we turned up to THREE only to find soggy, empty fields. *sob*

Fortunately we found an afternoon one that redeemed the trip. We managed to spend a tenner and pretty much fill Betty up.

We picked up this set of mustard teacups for £2.50 – I thought they’ be perfect to keep in Betty. We also got a pair of these dining chairs. (Despite already actually being an Official Dining Chair Hospice.) We have about a billion, more than any amount of visitors could ever sit on. And they have a way of finally carking it in crashingly big public moments, providing the unfortunate party-goer with a bit of shame and a sore bum. BUT they were only a POUND and helped us really feel that owning a van was a Good Thing, collaborating with us to get items like this back home.

We got lots of other little things, handy items we needed and bits of gorgeousness we really didn’t but the batch I had to show you was this, from the “Three for £1 table”. I kid you not. . .

Gorgeous china teacups, a vintage set of dominoes and a cut glass vase, 33.3p EACH!

The weekend totally heralded good thrifty times for us and the Betty bomb. Did you have a good one? Thrifted anything amazing lately?

Linking up with Missie Lizzie and those marvelous Magpie Mondays.

28 responses »

  1. Can you put a little warning note at the top please : “Don’t read this if you need a little wee, or it may end up in your pants.”

    Brilliant post!! Betty is a babe. x

  2. I am so envious.I keep telling my husband I want to sell our car and get a camper….. As for the thrifting, I need get my bum in gear and get back on it……pesky children make it quite difficult!

  3. singlemarriedmum

    Gorgeous post. I have a deep love of old campers and just happen to own one called Betty! How weird is that? She’s not a VW, but still a beauty in my eyes. If you’d like a peak, she’s in categories on the RHS of my blog. The ‘pushing my luck’ post is the story of how she came to be mine… x

  4. I would love a camper van, but the thought of sharing it with a snoring hubby, two smelly teenage boys and little miss wriggle pot. We settled on a static called Millie, who lives in the lakes. And she is very happy there!!! How on earth do you find those bargain buys me lady? I thought I did well for getting a utensil jar for 99p!!!

  5. How lovely, we have a dream of owning a campervan. The thought of just setting off and then staying overnight. Fab. And filling it up with charity shop finds along the way!

  6. Aw I love Betty. Me and the OH hanker after an old camper van, my parents had a knackered one when I was little and it was brilliant.

  7. Love this post. Really gets across the joy of a campervan and I am envious.
    Campervan and car booting combined equals bliss to me.

  8. May you have many more adventures in Betty! Lovely finds too 🙂

  9. Betty is a great find. When my hubby and i were honeymooning in Europe (26 years ago…) we got picked up by a Canadian couple who bought a WEstfalia van and were toodling around Europe for a year before shipping it home. we travelled a few kms with them around Greece, eating oranges they’d stolen from an unkind campground owner and which they stored in the Westalia’s loo (the only purpose for which the loo was ever used, they assured us. 🙂 it’s a great way to see the world. love the teacups too!

  10. Betty is lush! Goegeous. Love the mustard cups, really retro.

  11. a friend of mine’s dad is a carpenter and kitted out the inside of her VW camper van for her with a fold-out bed, mini wardrobe including a mirror, and mini kitchen. I was so jealous when I saw it!!! Now I’m jealous again 😉

    • WOW that is AMAZING! We were considering doing that, to try and get it all for cheaper but it would have been such serious botch jobness 🙂 My friend’s have a house bus kitted out by a carpenter using odd bits of wood, old sewing tables etc. Just stunning.

  12. Teehee I grew up in Bognor so I know the eyesore bouncy castles all too well. My bf and I are debating buying a camper- it’s on the Wish List for when we’ve finished decorating. I’m mostly excited about shopping for lots of kitsch things like flasks and tartan blankets to fill it with 🙂


    • Ahhhh yes. It is a tiny little bit of a shame that we have split it with my folks as I just know my Pa would not be into some bright vintage florals that I would ideally deck it out with!! Will have to stick to removable things!

  13. Trish @ Mum's Gone To

    Just in case you missed my tweet to you yesterday, just wanted to let you know that this post has been mentioned in the BritMums travel round-up this month.

  14. Pingback: Six steps to a thrifty Christmas « Lulastic and the Hippyshake

  15. Pingback: How to charity shop – six tips! « Lulastic and the Hippyshake

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