Category Archives: Camping

This Company Rents Out High-End Trailers For Camping and Corporate Events

This Company Rents Out High-End Trailers For Camping and Corporate Events

Tents are fine. RVs can be fun. But no transitory home launches as many dreams of running away from it all as an Airstream. That’s something Bill Ward counts on for his Denver-based business, Living Airstream, which rents out the gleaming aluminum trailers for events from camping to corporate. The instantly recognizable bullet-shape trailers are “an American icon like Harley-Davidson,” Ward says.

Recreational renters can call one of his Airstreams, which include new models and vintage ones with 1960s-era amenities, home for a day or for months on end. Prices start at $175 per day for a vintage trailer; a monthlong rental of a new model costs $2,600. Many customers fall in the 50- to 80-year-old range and have been Airstream enthusiasts for decades. “This has the most diverse demographic of anything I have ever been involved with,” Ward says.

He has sent Airstreams out for everything from camping trips and guest housing for weddings to hipsters looking for a backdrop for stylish selfies. They’ve also been used at Burning Man, the counterculture festival that takes place each summer in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.

Living Airstream

Playing on the power of Airstream’s iconic image and utility, Ward’s company rents out units for corporate customers, too. The Airstreams have served as vinyl-wrapped mobile billboards (one-month minimum rental) and temporary office spaces (average rental time: five months). The bulk of the consumer rental business comes during warm weather, but the corporate usage generates income year-round. Ward estimates that the corporate advertising business brings in 10 percent of total revenue.

And for those who really fall in love with the Airstream lifestyle, the company sells restored vintage trailers (outsourcing the renovations) for an average of $15,000. Living Airstream’s team of six part-time employees and independent contractors manages everything from deliveries to introductions to companies that make the vinyl wraps to finding folks who can do repairs and restoration.

Living Airstream has a constantly shifting inventory, with more in stock during warmer months. In the first quarter of 2014, the company expanded to San Francisco, where the proximity to outdoor recreation and the population’s affinity for retro styling are expected to help the venture triple its revenue this year. Living Airstream is also expanding to Arizona.

Eventually, Ward hopes to move to “an inventory-less model.” He is starting another business,, which he describes as Airbnb for Airstreams, ATVs, boats and other recreational vehicles. Customers will use the website to book the vehicle they want in the location they want; will take a cut, but won’t have to take possession of or deliver the vehicle.

The new model adds to the “idea of a community” upon which Airstream was founded in 1931, Ward says. “We have such a solid start on what’s next.”

Warwick Davis takes his family to Cornwall in a VW camper


In a brand new travelogue for ITV, legendary actor Warwick Davis and his family take their camper van around the country and extol the virtues of the Great British Holiday. Tonight’s opening instalment sees the Davis clan journey round Cornwall where they meet pirates, woodland creatures and a band of rogue knitters.

An enchanted wood in Launceston is the family’s first destination as they meet a group of locals dressed up as fairies, pixies and numerous other woodland creatures. These locals meet up regularly to keep the area’s legends and mystical stories alive and Warwick is excited to learn more about the magic and mystery of the county.

Warwick later organises for a gang of pirate reenactors to bring Cornwall’s history of smuggling and piracy to life. However the Pirates of St. Piran’s ambush on the family provokes a negative response from Warwick’s son Harrison who is genuinely terrified by the experience. Warwick later tells us that he thinks the stunt has backfired and is worried that he’s traumatised his son for life.

In Penzance, Warwick meets a group of graffiti artists with a difference as he gains an audience with the notorious ‘Yarn Bombers’. The women in question keep their identity a secret as they discuss their pop-up knitting displays which arrive randomly in Penzance every six weeks.

Finally, Warwick participates in a boat race involving only blind rowers. He shouts words of encouragement to the team and later helps out the cox by using ropes to control the rudder.

Join the Davis family as they begin their journey Fridays on ITV at 8:30pm

VW campervans in the UK – a guide to rentals

Festival-goers and nostalgia-hunters are fuelling a boom in the campervan rental market in the UK
  • UK campervan
A VW campervan on a campsite at Reedham on the Norfolk Broads.  Photograph: Richard Baker/Corbis

Campervans aren’t just for warmer climes. In the UK, the Kombi is very much alive and trucking. According to – a site that brings together van owners with potential hirers – the rental sector is going strong, bolstered by nostalgia and the growth of music festivals.

“As soon as the sun comes out, we’re inundated with people wanting to hire vans,” says founder Bud Atapattu, a music agent turned web developer. He started the site in 2010 to make money from his own van, which was lying unused for much of the year. “Unfortunately, you can’t go on holiday all the time, so you end up with an expensive asset just sitting in your driveway.”

Relying heavily on social networks, Atapattu built an online community of van owners wanting to tap into the rentals market. He now has 550 vans on his books, all over the UK, plus some in Spain and France (prices from £410 a week). “The advantage is that there is no long-term commitment,” he says. “Owners can dip in and dip out when it suits them.”, based in Hampshire, is another VW specialist and opened for business just months before the last Kombi was produced at the VW factory in Brazil last year (the old design was deemed incompatible with modern requirements for airbags and antilock brakes).

The family-run company owns nine vans and specialises in the restoration and maintenance of older models. It proudly includes two 1960s “spiltscreen” Kombis in its fleet (from £740 a week). Like Camperbug, it sees festivalgoers as a key market, especially group of people in their 30s and 40s who have grown tired of sleeping under canvas.

Camperbug sent 50 vans to Glastonbury last year, while both companies started taking bookings for this year’s festival season last autumn.

The key to a successful campervan trip, says Atapattu, is to travel slowly. He advises first-timers not to make ambitious plans: “Older campervans tend to have top speeds of 55mph, so opt for one of the newer models if you want to buzz down to Italy or the south of France. And don’t be too rigid with your itinerary – the journey is, after all, the best bit.”

• For alternative campervan rentals, not just retro VWs, see also, and

Derek and Christie’s Summer Solstice Rally – 21st – 28th June 2014

Racing at Fakenham racecourse
Racing at Fakenham racecourse

This year’s annual SUMMER SOLSTICE rally is hosted as usual by Derek and Christie Leary. It will be held in the beautiful county of Norfolk at Fakenham Racecourse. It will be held in the week commencing 21st June 2014 for the whole week.

To book a place please call Derek or Christie  – 01491 873 990 or 07971 737 983

Trip advisor information around Fakenham

Fakenham Racecourse website

Many of you have voiced an interest in playing the guitar or ukulele, so there will be a couple of beginners workshops held during this camp. String along with us folks!!



The Racecourse Caravan & Camping site

Fakenham Racecourse runs its own high quality and independent caravan and camping site. The site is open to guests every day of the year making it the ideal location for relaxing summer hoilidays and winter breaks.

There are a number of features which make Fakenham Racecourse the prime site for a caravanning or camping holiday in Norfolk. For many it’s the location. Just 10 miles from the stunning North Norfolk coast. It is a short 10 minute walk into the market town of Fakenham which is at the heart of the County and surrounded by Norfolk’s finest attractions. The site itself makes the perfect base. Our 125 pitches are set in beautiful countryside, some of which are sheltered by tall conifers and mature trees. The grounds and modern facilities are excellently maintained.

Fakenham campsite pitches

Caravan Club accredited


We are proud to be associated with the Caravan Club as an ‘Affiliated Site’. The Tourist Board has also awarded us 3*. The Racecourse is situated 25 miles north of the beautiful historic city of Norwich, and 20 miles to the west is the Georgian town of King’s Lynn. In close proximity are some of the country’s finest stately homes, coastal resorts and diverse countryside. The nearest seaside resort is Wells-next-the-Sea, situated on a magnificent stretch of coast noted for its sandy beaches and salt marshes. Part of the area is National Trust owned and forms the largest coastal nature reserve in the country. It is a major venue for bird watches.

Whether you are looking for a lazy holiday, or an active one, Fakenham Racecourse is the ideal choice for your stay in Norfolk.


Tourist Board 4* Rating for Caravan/Camping Site Tourist Board 3* Rating for Hostel Accommodation AA 3 Pennant Rating


The layout of Fakenham Racecourse campsite
The layout of Fakenham Racecourse campsite


125 pitches with 15amp electric TV hook ups. Some hard standing area. Limited ‘Long Stay’ pitches subject to availability.

Arrival Time

You can occupy your pitch from 2pm on the day of your arrival.

The Caravan site has a Late Arrival facility (on Pitch 87)  and operate a drop box outside reception.

Departure Time

Please leave your pitch by 11am on the day of your departure.

Amenity Blocks

Three centrally heated amenity blocks with showers, wash basins, disabled facilities, hair dryers, shaver points, laundry facilities, mother care units and washing up areas.

Parental care unit

Baby changing facilities available on site.

Disabled persons facilities

Facilities suitable for disabled persons are located on site.


Chemical and waste water disposal points.

Reception facilities

The Reception stocks Basic Goods i.e. Milk , Tea, Coffee, sugar , Drinks, Biscuits and sweets.


Dogs are permitted, up to a maximum of 2 per pitch, but must be kept on leads around the site.

Hitting the road in a VW camper

Cruising somewhere under the speed limit, we rounded a curve to find nothing but a painted line on the road separating us from the rugged coast and crashing waves below. The Pacific Coast Highway is not a place to drive quickly with its steep turns, hills and sections with no guardrail. That made our vintage blue and white Volkswagen Westfalia, dubbed Ala Lani by the rental company, the perfect choice.

The chance to drive and live in a classic VW camper was the reason my girlfriend and I came to California. For years we’ve admired vintage Westfalias from afar and long fantasized about hitting the open road with the freedom to camp in comfort wherever we parked for the night. In our wildest dreams we own one, in reality we were very happy that we could rent one.

We picked up the VW in Costa Mesa and after a thorough explanation of the camper’s capabilities and many features, we were on our way. At home we have no-frills compacts; so we were a bit nervous about driving something that was considerably larger.

Westfalia was one of several companies outfitting Volkswagen buses with a camping interior in the 1970s. Our Westfalia was a deluxe model and came equipped with an elevating pop-top roof, a stove, sink, icebox, and room enough to sleep four.

The inside had a vintage decor but conveniently featured a modern radio with an auxiliary jack, making it possible to play the California-themed playlist on our iPod through the speakers. The camper is shaped like a loaf of bread with the driver situated at the absolute front. Turning around to check for obstacles reveals that the rear window is some 12 feet away.

Our camper was an automatic so putting it in motion was as easy as shifting into drive and hitting the gas. Pulling into traffic it became apparent that the large steering wheel, which resembles the type you see on a city bus, was not simply an aesthetic choice. The camper does not have power steering, so the robust wheel is a necessity when turning, especially at lower speeds. The VW was built in the 1970s and does not handle like a modern vehicle. Bouncing along in the bucket seats with a commanding view of the road, the thrill of driving was immediate and it did not take long to feel completely comfortable behind the wheel. The plan was to drive north on the PCH through Big Sur to Santa Cruz, staying in the VW at campsites along the way.

On the way back, we wanted to drive inland and visit Pinnacles National Park. Before leaving Costa Mesa, we stopped for tacos and after wrestling with the wheel in the parking lot I managed to pull the camper into a spot. We sat in the back of the VW, eating lunch and soaking in the beauty of the blue and white interior. In possession of the camper for only about 15 minutes, we were already in love. Going north toward the coast and PCH, drivers waved and smiled when they passed and we easily got the VW up to its advised top speed of 65 mph. The engine is in the rear and with the windows and vents closed, it’s surprisingly quiet in the front seats. Approaching Malibu, light seemed to reflect off the Pacific and fill the cabin of the camper with an orange glow. When the sun set, we were still driving and I found myself stealing glimpses over the ocean while keeping one eye on the road. It was after dark when we pulled up to a campsite at El Capitan State Beach. The pop-top, when open, is a triangular shaped tent that houses a bed for two and sits above a large opening in the ceiling of the camper. The deploying mechanism is spring loaded and activated by pushing on an overhead bar; the entire process can be completed in minutes. Accessing the loft involves stepping on part of the front seat, standing on a countertop and pulling yourself up. If you don’t feel like climbing each night, the camper also has a pullout rear bench seat that sleeps two. The rental company supplied pillows, sheets and several blankets.

The original plan was to lie on top of sleeping bags as a way to soften the mattress, but at the last minute we decided we had packed too much into the camper and left them behind. That was a mistake. The bed was too firm and we ended up buying a mattress pad midway through the trip. We woke early to a cold morning, but were able to warm up with coffee thanks to a French press that was stashed in one of the many cabinets. Cooking with the stovetop in the camper is no different than doing so at home. An onboard propane tank feeds two burners and once lit they supply an ample flame.

The VW came stocked with utensils, plates, cups, pans and other kitchen essentials. With the pop-top open I had more than enough room to flip pancakes and freely move about the middle area of the camper. This added airspace is limited to the VW’s midsection only, a concept that was difficult to grasp as evidenced by the staggering number of times we hit our heads while moving around. When the time came to leave camp, we were able to easily collapse the pop-top and quickly get back on the road. Somewhere north of San Simeon, the beautifully scenic coastal highway began to climb recklessly among the cliffs.

As we meandered along, with a line of cars behind us at times, the relaxed tempo of the VW created the perfect opportunity to admire the deep blue of the ocean and the endless rocky shore below. We pulled over whenever possible to let faster traffic pass, often while the driver held up a peace sign. We had been impressed with the sights on PCH thus far, but when we got to Burns State Park in Big Sur we were awestruck. As day began to fade and light poured through the towering redwoods, the coast we had grown so accustomed to seeing was now completely obscured at times.

Driving late one night, the road illuminated only by the lights of the VW, we felt as if a perfect balance had been struck between the challenge of the winding cliff-side road and the capabilities of our vintage camper. As if mesmerized by our slow approach, a great horned owl stared us down from its perch on a bridge before taking flight in the darkness. Throughout the trip, temperatures would often soar during the day and plummet after dark. Cooking in the VW at Pinnacles National Park, heat from the stove fogged the windows and kept some of the chill away as we sat bundled up on the back seat talking about how our time with the camper was coming to an end. We reminisced about the excitement of seeing the VW for the first time at the rental shop and soon found ourselves standing outside the camper admiring the glow of the interior lights under the clear night sky. The next day we drove south toward Refugio State Beach. Arriving after dark and settling in for the last night in the camper, the crackling open fire painted the VW with light. We’ve camped before and enjoyed it, but the experience we had driving and living in the Westfalia felt different.

It really is the ultimate vehicle for living on the road and it’s incredibly fun to drive. When we arrived late to a campsite we didn’t have to set up a tent in the dark, we simply popped the top and climbed up to our loft. While on the road as long as we could find a place to park we could rest in comfort or cook a meal. A modern camper could offer the same conveniences, but the vintage Westfalia provided something more. Symbolizing a spirit of adventure from a foregone era, and lacking any perceivable aerodynamic design, the VW’s lumbering pace was the perfect compliment to California’s natural beauty. Often on vacation we tend to overextend ourselves, racing around in an effort to see as much as we can in the short time we have. The VW demanded a more easygoing approach and we found ourselves happy to oblige

What others have to go through! – Camping Additions Transform MINI Cooper Into An RV

MINI has unveiled three overnight concepts great for camping and festivals to celebrate the summer months. This collection includes ‘the Clubvan Camper’, ‘the Countryman ALL4 Camp’ and ‘the Cowley’.

Designboom reports that the Clubvan Camper is a luxury camper van that includes a spacious sleeping area for one, an extendible kitchenette with a propane stove and fridge, as well as an integrated shower. There is also a storage rack, on-board satellite navigation, a TV and auxiliary heater.

Camping Additions Transform a MINI Cooper Into An RV [Pics]

The Countryman ALL4 Camp features a roof-top tent which folds out of a storage box to accomodate two people, and a specially fitted bicycle rack.

The Cowley Caravan compact touring attachment offers a comfortable sleeping arrangement, twin-burner gas stove and a water tank complete with pump and sink. A solar-panel charges the on-board battery in order to power the fridge, TV and audio equipment.

Camping Additions Transform a MINI Cooper Into An RV [Pics]

Camping Additions Transform a MINI Cooper Into An RV [Pics]


The Mini Clubvan Camper has been designed for a single person going away for the weekend and is based on the company’s van.

The compact camper van has a sleeping berth for one person and a small extendable kitchenette complete with stove and fridge.

The Mini Clubvan Camper is the world's smallest luxury camper vanThe Mini Clubvan Camper is the world’s smallest luxury camper van. The concept car is designed for a single person going away for the weekend


Based on the firm's van, the pint-sized camper has a small extendable kitchenette, TV, heater and a glass roof Based on the firm’s van, the pint-sized camper has a small extendable kitchenette, TV, heater and a glass roof

There is a TV, an auxiliary heater and a glass roof that can be opened ‘for ventilation or star-gazing’, but the individual does have to sleep next to the car’s steering wheel.

Described as a ‘versatile home on wheels,’ the concept model has a handhold shower, which would come in handy in such snug surroundings, but stops short of including a toilet.

The Mini Clubvan Camper has a sleeping berth for one person - but as you can see, you sleep next to the steering wheelThe Mini Clubvan Camper has a sleeping berth for one person – but as you can see, you sleep next to the steering wheel


The retro-style kitchenette is the focus of this image. Described as a 'versatile home on wheels,' the concept model also has a handhold shower but no toiletThe retro-style kitchenette is the focus of this image. Described as a ‘versatile home on wheels,’ the concept model also has a handhold shower but no toilet

Camping Trip Could Synch Your Internal Clock

camping internal clock

Is your internal clock all out of whack? Going on a camping trip could help reset it back to a more natural rhythm, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder found that going on a week-long camping trip seemed to synch the circadian clocks of eight people to sunrise and sunset.

Plus, the synching of biological clocks occurred even in people who were clearly early birds or night owls.

“When people are living in the modern world — living in these constructed environments — we have the opportunity to have a lot of differences among individuals. Some people are morning types and others like to stay up later,” study researcher Kenneth Wright, an integrative physiology professor at the university, said in a statement. “What we found is that natural light-dark cycles provide a strong signal that reduces the differences that we see among people — night owls and early birds — dramatically.”

The study, published in the journal Current Biology, involved eight people who wore wrist monitors for one week that recorded their light exposure, the timing of that exposure, and their activity throughout the day (so researchers could get an idea of their sleep habits). The participants also underwent lab monitoring so that researchers could measure their melatonin levels, which helped to clue them in to the timing of their circadian clocks (our bodies release melatonin naturally when they sense that it’s nighttime and it’s time to go to sleep).

Then, all the study participants went on a week-long camping trip in the Eagles Nest Wilderness in Colorado. During this time, they had no access whatsoever to electric light (including light from flashlights and personal technology devices); the only light they had was from the sun and campfires.

The study participants underwent the same wrist monitor and melatonin testing after their camping trip. Researchers found that their biological nighttimes — dictated by melatonin levels — started two hours later before going on the trip, compared with after. Plus, they found that before the trip, the study participants tended to wake up before their biological nighttimes were technically over.

After the camping trip, researchers found that the study participants’ internal clocks were much more synched to sunrise and sunset. Their biological nighttimes started around the time of sunset, and they also tended to wake up right before the biological nighttime ended.

Electric light has been fingered in the past for playing a role in impaired sleep. A perspective piece published earlier this year in the journal Nature suggested that the advent of electric light has affected our natural sleep cycles, and may contribute to the rise of sleep problems.

“Technology has effectively decoupled us from the natural 24-hour day to which our bodies evolved, driving us to go to bed later,” the author of the article, Harvard professor Charles A. Czeisler, M.D., Ph.D., wrote. “And we use caffeine in the morning to rise as early as we ever did, putting the squeeze on sleep.”

Will we carry on camping? Despite the economic downturn, holidays under canvas are not booming



In these austere days, are cash-conscious Britons saving their money and taking refuge in tents on their holidays? With the advent of the staycation, surely, comes a willingness to embrace the hardy world of camping.

But a new study suggests the reverse. A report into the camping market last year found that the number of camping and caravanning trips made in the UK had fallen by 6.5 per cent, which wiped out all the growth seen during the previous four years. “You might have expected camping to do better than it did, given the economic context,” said John Worthington, a leisure analyst who conducted the research for Mintel. He blamed the wet weather, too: “It’s just so hard to weatherproof a camping holiday.”

Some campsite operators are ripping up their grass and replacing it with hard pitches, but even this can only go so far. He predicted that the market for domestic camping trips, which was worth £15.9m in 2012, will remain at around the same level for the next five years.

And even the upmarket version, “glamping”, which acquired a certain social cachet in the early noughties and might have been thought to be more recession-proof, has seen something of a setback. The “bunting and bedlinen” version, derided by purists for its lack of authenticity, has been enjoyed by just 3 per cent of the population in the past three years, a disappointment to an industry that was hoping to see growth fuelled by a burgeoning middle class.

The news will make glum reading for cash-strapped farmers who have opened “glampsites” in an attempt to make some easy cash. Others to have moved into glamping include attractions such as Leeds Castle and some National Trust properties.

The singer Pixie Lott has become the latest person to snub the trend, turning down an invitation to camp in style at next month’s V Festival in favour of roughing it with her boyfriend. Others have evidently been deterred by the cost of a night in a teepee, which can end up pricier than a B&B with a full English. The trappings of luxury in a field do not come cheap. Although Mick Jagger’s £3,000-a-night yurt at Glastonbury was at the extreme end of the scale, £370 for three nights under canvas at Hampshire’s Birch Place site is no bargain, even if you can squeeze in two children plus their parents.

“It’s just not a good economic climate for glamping,” Mr Worthington said. “People like the idea of it, but you could spend an equivalent amount and rent a cottage.”

Mintel’s report said that it was more likely that consumers would “consider trading down to glamping from, say, a cottage holiday, rather than trading up from a normal tent holiday”. It predicted: “Price is likely to be key to growing this niche segment.”

VW van bio tracks groovy rides to the far reaches –

Global Voices: VW van bio tracks groovy rides to the far reaches –

Copyright © 2013, Los Angeles Times

VW camper van spoke to generations

July 11, 2013, 5:00 a.m.

The call of the road, from County Cork to Katmandu, came to the tune-in, turn-on, drop-out generations from an internal combustion engine mounted at the rear of a rolling hotel room.

The Volkswagen camper van brought the idealistic and the adventurous to unexplored and little understood corners of the world, transforming world travel from an indulgence of affluent Ivy League graduates into journeys affordable for baby boomers in search of enlightenment and good karma.

In “The VW Camper Van: A Biography,” [c. 2013 Aurum Press Ltd.] British folklorist Mike Harding chronicles the history of the vehicle that put the “trip” into travel and lured millions out of their comfort zones to learn how the rest of the world lives.

Progeny of the Gypsy vardo, the pioneers’ covered wagons, the snake oil salesman’s steam-engine-drawn kiosk and the Airstream trailer, the camper van born of Adolf Hitler’s “People’s Car” and a British army major’s commitment to get the VW factory back up and running after World War II carried the curious to the far ends of the earth.

Harding cites the likes of John Muir, Henry David Thoreau, Ken Kesey and Jack Kerouac as inspiration for his biography and personifying of the vans that are usually named by their owners. Harding’s current ride is Molly, a 2001 Brazilian-made Type 2 Bay Window.

“I believe that the gentle but pervasive whiff of revolt and anarchy that I sense in the air along with the smell of camping gas and frying bacon at various Dubmeets and vanfests comes from the same spirit of rebellion and individualism that these writers celebrated,” Harding says of the humanity and nature-loving writers who came before him.

The lifelong nostalgia tour on which Harding takes readers begins with his first Vee Dub experience more than 50 years ago as a teenage traveling musician with the Manchester Rainmakers and moves on to friends’ months-long motorized treks to the Himalayas and Tierra del Fuego. The semiretired writer, who splits his time between the west of Ireland and the Yorkshire Dales, spoke with The Times about the camper van’s influence on how postwar generations see the world.

Q: Did the Volkswagen van change how young people toured the world?

Mike Harding: Yes. It was an accessible vehicle. The people I spoke to — and I didn’t get them all in the book — were mostly impoverished students and dropouts who clubbed together and bought one of these things and traveled to Marrakesh or Kabul. A lot of people who didn’t have rich parents to give them money to go to Switzerland for the summer were able to have this Ken Kesey or Jack Kerouac experience.

Q: Why did the camper van call so luringly to that sliver of the population that came of age in the ’60s and ’70s?

Harding: The original panel vans were fairly cheap to get hold of and convert into a caravan. It’s such a reliable vehicle, it didn’t cost much to run and if it did break down you could get it repaired anywhere in the world. And for the counterculture, it became a symbol of freedom, a symbol of anarchy, almost. It has also been quite popular with the surfer crowd, those who wanted to drop out of the rat race, the type who didn’t want to go back to working for The Man. It was also liked for functional reasons, that you could put your surfboard on the roof, even two or three, and you could sit at the ocean with the side doors open wide, looking out and ready straight on to catch the big ones.

Q: You mention in the book the cultural clash between the generation that embraced the camper van and vagabond travel as part of listening to a different beat and the coinciding segment of the postwar population that was more materialistic. Do you still see that divide in society today or did one side or the other prevail?

Harding: Unfortunately, we’ve gone back into the desolation of full-run capitalism, which is just destroying all that was simple and easy. After World War II, there was a feeling in the West that if you worked hard and educated your kids, that they would ultimately end up in a better social position than the parents. This country [Britain] was on its knees in 1945, yet it developed a free health system and other rights and protections. But it’s all being taken back in the name of capitalism. Consistently since 1945, there’s been a chipping away of the rights people managed to gather for themselves after the war.

Q: Don’t the Occupy movements we’ve seen in the past few years reflect a spirit similar to the Beat generation and the hippies of 40-50 years ago?

Harding: There’s a different edge to it now. We had the 1968 student riots in Paris and the sit-ins and the anti-nuclear stuff going on back then. They were specific issues being protested then. Now a whole mess of confusion has resulted from unbridled capitalism running riot for the last 30 years. We’re not really sure what direction this can take. The occupying events produce massive support but then get diffused, to some extent by Facebook and Twitter. We can shout all we want in postings, but I don’t think anything happens until people start smashing up cities. Only when the revolution starts getting close to the ruling classes and their safety zones does anything change. The same 1% is running the country now as in 1920.

Q: In the book, you follow a young man named Chris on a drive to Yugoslavia and the Mediterranean that cost a group of friends less than 100 pounds [$150] each for a four-week vacation. Was that part of the attraction, that the VW van exuded economy and efficiency that befit environmentally conscious wanderings?

Harding: This mode of transportation benefits travelers more than tourists, for the person who wants to go walking in the west of Ireland or climbing in the Himalayas. You have to make a distinction between the traveler and the tourist. A tourist wants to replicate what he has back home — the same food, a comfortable bed, to go out and see the sights but come back to the usual comforts. The traveler is more prepared to sleep on the floor, wait hours for a bus, eat local food and buy local clothes to wear on the road. Travelers took to the VW camper for those reasons.

Q: Restored VW camper vans are now all the rage among travelers into “retro” gear and experiences. How long can that last, given that cars don’t last forever, at least not in a state where they can be depended on to take you to Katmandu?

Harding: In this country, people are actually making panels and every other part you need for a VW to be like brand-new. It’s like the story of the knife — you replace the blade and then you replace the handle but it’s still the same knife. I talk in the book about the people who make their living driving around to camper jams and DubFests to sell their parts and services. And people keep discovering old VW vans hidden away in barns and garages.

Q: The book is a fun nostalgia tour, but is there a future for the VW camper van? Does Volkswagen still make them, and are they still affordable for budget-minded adventurers?

Harding: They’re still making them but they are very expensive, high-end touring camper vans now. Production has gone over to Brazil, but I think they’re coming to an end, too, which is very sad. There are stronger emissions control standards in the United States and Europe now and the engines can’t be modified to fit in. But they will be around for a while. People who have them tend to keep them around for 50 years. I just saw a Samba 23-window bus advertised in mint condition but for 99,000 pounds [$147,000]. All you could do with that is put it in the garage up on bricks and take it out for shows. I don’t see any point in that.

Camping in France: Beaching to the converted

Camping in France: Beaching to the converted

Fresnaye Beach
Fresnaye Beach

You haven’t really got a family until you’ve driven them across northern France in a VW Camper.

Each part of life has its rite of passage. Your first rusk, first communion wine, first double-digit Guinness when you fail your A-Levels. First pay packet, first redundancy threat, first flat, first house. First time you stage-dive and miss, first kiss with the person you’re going to marry.

But when it comes to kids, forget cutting the cord or wetting the head, it’s this… you only know you’ve arrived when you’ve departed at dawn with them packed in the back of a German icon, their little faces poking out from all the luggage you’ve ever owned.

Before the day is out you will have heard the following: “The map is wrong.”

“That’s our ferry, sailing away.” “I feel sick.” “I’ve done a wee.” And (all cliches are true) “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”

 We were sensible. We went with Eurocamp.

So what is Eurocamp? Well, it is a brand owned by the Holidaybreak group from Cheshire and operates with its sister firm Keycamp on a large network of sites across the continent with a range of prepitched tents and mobile homes. Each is different but they have many common characteristics -the three we saw were all clean, well run and safe, and had swimming pools, play parks and restaurants, take-aways and shops.

The village of Pont l’Eveque is tucked away in the tree-shaded Norman department of Calvados (tip for Newcomers to France: always stay in places named after booze or cheese. From now on we’ll call Newcomers to France N2F). We got there for dinner time and enjoyed our first swim in the pool.

Rubbed dry and in the play park, the infants went up and down a slide and we stood and chatted to other parents.

After self-catering ourselves a meal in our two-bed mobile home with decking, we walked the grounds, set impressively about a lake. The night was calm and warm. Down a quiet dell lined with orange and green tents, as wide-winged birds came to rest in the trees above our heads, we concluded the following: Eurocamp is all right. Eurocamp can carry on. Early next morning we SatNavved on. As on the day before, the roads were free and easy. Like Britain would be if nobody lived here. We passed First World War battle sites and Second World War landing beaches, and countless unchanged church-centred villages.

Stopping for lunch is easy. For the well-prepared, service stations have picnic benches and space not too pooed for kids to run around. For the ill-prepared and easily persuaded, they sell frites.

(N2F: most main roads you’ll choose will be toll roads. On these, you roll up to a booth and they either give you a ticket, take a ticket or want money. Sometimes that money is much less than you’d think: about £1. Sometimes it’s £8. I never could predict what was coming next. They like to keep you guessing, the French).

Medieval fort at La Latte
Medieval fort at La Latte


Any fans of bridges (as if I’m the only one!) should make sure any route takes in the Pont de Normandie from Le Havre to Honfleur. A mile and more of cablestayed, four-laned, elevated class. Merci.

We didn’t (sadly) have time to stop. We had to get to where we were spending the main body of our holiday, St Cast. We got a two-bed, two-bath mobile, which was perfectly big enough for our purposes. Our purposes were these:

1. Breakfasting on croissants and baguettes bought a 10-minute toddle away at the shop by reception.

2. Preparing for a sunny day on the beach or a rainy day outing to one of the castles dotting the coast.

3. Returning from above. Drying towels or selves.

4. Having enough space for infants to run themselves tired even when confined to indoors by inclemency.

5. Space to enjoy the evening once les enfants have retired.

Our mobile home easily accommodated all of the above and was in a lovely spot, right up the back of the site, looking into some diverting woodland.

So, what would you do every day if you were in St Cast? If you were as lucky as we were with the weather, you’d spend most of your time exploring scoresyour time exploring scores of beaches. St Cast is the headland west from St Malo, and it introduces an oblong inlet that has some lovely, covey, hidden plages.

Nowhere in Cornwall or West Wales can I think of a stretch of land with better beaches. There are long, wide beauties like Pen-Guen; dramatic, swept ones like Quatre Vaux, and hidden-away, best beach you’ve ever been to, once you find it you’ll never go anywhere else-type places like La Pissotte. Seriously, it’s lovely. Tucked away in the hills above Saint-Cast-le-Guildo, you have to park up by a campsite.

It’s a bit of a leap of faith, because you can’t tell if it’s very good and it looks miles down a steep path. But, do bother. The water was pristine, there were cliffs to play in and you could swim round to the next deserted bay. It was the highlight for all of us. The sand was very good for castles, reported Gwen. And for eating, reported Catrin. The water was cold enough to make them both scream in delight. We had baguette picnics and stubby beers. We took goggles and I could draw a map of the rocks under the bay, we swam it so much.

For non-beach days, your options are plenty. We went to Fort La Latte, a 13th century castle rebuilt in the 50s. It’s fascinating, and you can run up and down the ramparts with a sword from the gift shop shouting “Aaaaagghhhh”. Apparently.

You can do a spectacular coast walk from the west to the old and new lighthouses at Cap Frehel, one from the 1600s, one from 1950. It is a windswept and remote outpost. And you look slightly silly if you run about with a sword from La Latte.

About an hour’s drive away is Mont Saint-Michel. A favourite of school trips, this religious monument-commune on its tidal island is a Unesco world heritage site and it feels like a proper, world-class attraction.

Pont de Normandie
Pont de Normandie


The intricate, secretive architecture could be right out of Harry Potter, and if you are going, prepare to spend all day… and to walk a very long way indeed.

All of which is very well. But for this family, the simpler pleasures resounded far more than any official attraction. Swimming in the sea. Eating fresh croissants. Stopping at farms to buy champagne-style bottles of cider, which exploded like a Fort La Latte cannon into the roof of our mobile home.

Oh, and is it wrong to list a supermarket as being more enjoyable than a Unesco world heritage site? Very probably, but it’s true.

N2Fs, hear me out. I am still drinking the coffee I bulkbought at the Hyper U. And I’ve still got a few of the pens left. I’m certainly still scribbling away on the notebooks. (Bridges and stationery. A man must have hobbies.) Sadly, the cheese is but a fading memory.

We stopped overnight on the way back in La Vallee in Houlgate, on the coast in Normandy. It was a pleasant, packed seaside resort, with plenty to do on the townside beach.

And then we’re off back to the ferry, laden down with pens and cider and the sword from the gift shop, officially at last an estatedriving, France-travelling family.

Get there

Eurocamp has 7nts s/c from Jul 18 at the Chateau de Galinee parc in a 2bed Horizon mobile home (sleeps 7) with decking from £710 for the family (saves £383). Multi-parc trips and stopovers also available., 0844 406 0552. Tourism: http://uk.franceguide. com/,,

Time zone: UK +1hr

Currency: Euro £1 = 1.15

Best time to go: N2Fs welcome this summer!