Category Archives: Stories

Tales from the driving seat – Wonderful Wales Part 3

Continuing our 2020 Social Distance Summer
Road Trip, we left Wales and headed north to
Scotland, but we had to reach the border first
and decided to spend a night in the Lake District
on our way north to break up the journey.
The journey from Wales to the Lake District was
long and uneventful. 200 miles in a VW Camper
at 55mph is quite a slog, but we are used to
long durations on the road and somehow in
the camper it never seems as bad as being in a
car. Maybe that’s because the camper feels like
being at home? At least you can pull over pretty
much whenever you like and make a cuppa!
On arrival at the Lake District, we hit
Windermere. We aren’t staying here, but it’s the
starting point for a road through the mountains
that I have wanted to drive ever since coming
to this location by accident four years ago; the
Kirkstone Pass!
For those who know the Lake District well
enough, you may know there are two places
called Troutbeck.
One of them is close to Penrith and has a
campsite, the other is near to Windermere and
doesn’t! Four years ago I drove to the wrong
Troutbeck and haven’t been able to live it down.
The Kirkstone pass pretty much runs between
the two, but we weren’t brave enough to take
on the pass last time we visited (first time towing
the camping trailer and didn’t know if we would
make it!… bearing in mind one of the roads on
the pass is called “The Struggle!” and so we took
the long way round instead.
From the Windermere side of the pass in
the south, it’s a long uphill jaunt along harsh
mountain roads with tall, threatening, exposed
rock faces, narrow sections and tight bends.
After what seems like a lifetime with my foot
flat on the throttle (I don’t dare back off incase
we can’t get going again!) we make it up to the
summit of the road, which is surrounded by
even taller mountain peaks and rocky landscape

The area is partly submerged in cloud, but there
is a cafe at the top and there are bikers gathered
(cars too) who have been enjoying the twisty
black stuff.
The road back down the other side towards the
North is very similar; steep, twisty and narrow!
One main difference now is the pedal choice.
Instead of the right one being hard to the floor,
I am covering and pumping the middle one in
the hope that we don’t get brake fade! (That’s
a story for another day!) The route down treats
you to magnificent views over Ullswater in the
distance and when you do eventually reach it,
the road follows the undulating contours of the
shoreline, providing a few places along the way
where you can stop and enjoy the views over
the water, maybe even have a paddle.
We don’t stop as we are keen to get a decent
pitch secured for the night and head to our
campsite at Troutbeck Head. To get to the site
from Ullswater you have to climb the hill at Aira
Force waterfall, which is understated at steep.
Don’t forget to look in your mirrors to appreciate
the stunning views!
We have visited Aira Force waterfall in the past.
It’s a very popular National Trust attraction and
has a sizeable car park, but on a day with decent
weather it gets extremely busy.
Here’s a top tip: Visit the waterfall on a really rainy
day. It will be virtually empty and the falls will be
even more spectacular! Just make sure you pack
your waterproofs as you will get wet!
After checking into the site and enjoying a
cuppa, we head back out down to Ullswater and
see if we can find a spot to stop on the shoreline
to let Ruby (our springer spaniel) have a paddle.
It’s rammed. It’s summer, it’s the school holidays
and people have been in a covid lockdown for
4 months!
We follow the road around Ullswater and
up to Penrith to get some supplies. If you’re in
the area, this is a great spot to pick up essentials
before heading off into the wilderness for a few
nights. Within 5 minutes of each other, there
is a Morrisons, an Aldi and a Booths! There’s
also a Pets At Home and a Go Outdoors. So
everyone, including travelling pets, should be
well catered for.
With stocks of essential supplies and the fridge
filled with dog food (should really be cold
alcoholic beverages in there), we head back
down to Ullswater again and Bingo!.. The crowds
and families have now left as it’s tea time, so we
park up and head down to the shore. I pack a
towel and my swim shorts… just in case.

When we get down there, the views are
simply stunning. There are some beautiful and
picturesque places in the UK, but this has got
to be up there. It is hard to believe that we are
still in England, this could easily be the Italian
lakes! The sun is shining on the mountains on
the other side of Ullswater, which is flat calm and
quiet. Ruby needs no persuasion and is straight
in the water. I follow in my flip flops… wow! That
is seriously cold!!
Feeling brave, or possibly just delirious from
driving all day, I don my swim shorts and head
in. After 5 mins of walking up and down up to
my waist with excuses about how it’s too cold
and how I will develop hypothermia, I go for the
dunk. I’m in. It’s freezing! As I paddle I start to
loosen up and feel the refreshing water washing
over me. After 5 minutes or so I realise that the
water is so cold it is making my skin tingle and
I feel bits of me going numb. I carry on a while
before making the decision to get out whilst I
am not shivering with teeth chattering together
like one of those wind up toys!
I dried myself off and we headed back to the
camper. Ruby got to have her favourite towel
dry and we head back to base at the campsite
for dinner. We have a short walk in some nearby
footpaths before the sun goes down and head
to bed in preparation of another long day that
will take us further north and across the border
into Scotland!
Phil Aldridge
“Tales From The Driving Seat” is on Instagram
@talesfromthedrivingseat and blogspot
www.talesfromthedrivingseat.blogspot.com

Eric the Viking – a restoration in many parts – October 2021

Spend since last report: £427. Total hours labour since last report: 52

Last time I had finished the offside suspension and the brakes were in progress. This time I’ve managed to do rather a lot!

In order: The front suspension and front brake is back together on the offside, the gearbox is out, the underside of the fuel tank was then accessible to get its rust removed.


The steering box has mostly been cleaned up, so has the gearbox and Eric is back on his wheels.

A large chunk of the current work was the cab floor. The driver’s side was pretty ropey and the outer half needed replacing. I chose to remove more good metal than was really necessary to give a straight line of seam weld to reduce the visible change. I was also able to rust proof the tops of the chassis rails at the same time. The passenger side was less rotten and was a smaller patch plus a final rectangle in the middle just behind the handbrake and we have good strong metal all welded in.

Then primer time but my spray gun had a fault and it looked rubbish and will need smoothing before top coat. Nonetheless rather improved!

The next part of the project is going to be interesting! The offside middle panel opposite the sliding door is a fixed panel. Several years ago I replaced the lower part of that panel and the outer sill with a cheat panel that is all joined together. It looks ok but the top of the original panel had been damaged in an accident many years ago and there was a lot of filler. I also cut the edge off the lower replacement panel as it was slightly too large but welding that cut in looked rubbish.

I had bought a replacement lower sliding door panel which is the same on both sides and I picked up a new outer sill at Busfest because otherwise it was £17 for the sill and £7 postage!

Outer sill joins the middle sill which is new metal, so it was quite a quick win. More on this next time as I have a plan so cunning that it could be a fox who has just been made Professor of Cunning at Cambridge University.

Finally, I was on Facebook one evening and someone that I did not know called Jon was asking for more information about this picture. He and I got chatting, and that’s Eric in the picture with Jon’s Grandad at some point in the 80s. That roof was changed to the Paris roof that arrived with Eric, the paintwork had mostly been replaced with primer and rust, and the front grill was missing. The louvre windows I have and the rust hole from the aerial on the roof was quite extensive! I am not currently looking to sell Eric as I want to finish him and then use him, but Jon has first dibs if that day should ever arrive. Talk about a small world – only 15 more owners to find and I will know the whole history.

Members motor – Mel Gulliford – Platybus

For this edition of Member’s Motor, we look
at Mel’s Bay, called “Platybus”. This is what she
had to say about it.
Back in 2010, my husband Mark announced
one day that he’d always fancied getting an old
camper van. This was news to me, but I figured
it was just a passing fancy and that he’d soon get
over it! Anyway, to cut a long story short, he did
some research and after a couple of false starts,
eventually found a van that someone in North
Wales was selling.

The van had originally been imported from
Australia and had eventually ended up in sunny
Wales. She’d been converted to run on both
petrol and LPG. Bearing in mind that Mark had
never driven a camper van before, he persuaded
a mate to drive him to Wales and then Mark
would drive the van back! As you can imagine,
my main concern was that the van would break
down on the way back and I would have to go
and fetch him from goodness knows where.
Fortunately, the van behaved itself and he got
safely home, after an epic 5 hour journey.
Over the next 3 or 4 years, our family had a
couple of trips in it down to Wales and 2 trips to
Devon. Despite a couple of hiccups, we got there
and back in one piece. Then about 5 years ago,
we went to an open day at Just Kampers down in
Hampshire. We’d already discussed having a full
restoration on the van and we met a chap from
a company called Voodoo VW. We duly agreed to
take the van down to his workshop in Newbury
so we could talk about what we wanted done on
the van. We felt totally reassured that they would
carry out the work we wanted done and basically
left them to get on with it. You know the saying
“be careful what you wish for?”.

Well, unfortunately things didn’t pan out the
way we wanted them to; the company went
bust and we had to fetch the van from down
near Newbury and pay someone to fix the bits
that hadn’t been done properly. We eventually
got the van back and at present it’s sitting on
the forecourt of a friend’s garage, waiting for the
engine to be taken out to investigate an issue
with the hydraulics. We love the van, she’s been
brilliant when she works, but it’s like they say, it’s
been a labour of love.

She’s called the Platybus, because when we were
cleaning out the glove compartment, we found
an Australian coin with what we thought had
a platypus on it. It transpired that it’s actually a
Spiny Anteater, but we decided to stick with
Platybus.
I really hope that one day soon we can get to go
camping again in the bus and that we can iron
out all the little niggles we’ve discovered since
the van was “restored “. We’ve since discovered
that the chap who ran Voodoo VW is back
running a company restoring camper vans, after
declaring to us that he wanted nothing more to
do with the VW scene… ! Hey ho…”
Best wishes,
Mel

Another one in the bag! Club camp completed – Odiham

The Club on tour – Just Kampers, Odiham, Hampshire

June 10 to 12 2022

6 members were in the dedicated club field with more coming over to say Hello. 15 new members joined on the day, lots of money raised for charity for the Phyllis Tuckwell hospice. Live music from multiple bands, open air cinema on Friday (Breakdance) and Saturday (Karate kid), a big raffle with prizes worth up to £700 each.

Another great weekend at JK.

Tales from the driving seat – Wonderful Wales Part 2

We head into Aberystwyth to pick up some
essentials; dog food, milk and petrol! Not
wanting to waste the trip into town, we head
to the seafront and take a drive along the
promenade. We are pleasantly surprised by the
lovely Victorian buildings and a funicular cliff
railway too!
Stocked up with supplies and the tank full to
bursting with petrol, we head north and are
looking forward to today’s route which will take
us on a B road that follows the coast around the
southern part of Snowdonia rather than going
through it and then into the National Park to
camp for the night.
The start of the coastal road happens
immediately after crossing the river/estuary at
Machynlleth via an old stone bridge and then
turning left off the main A road and following
the river on your left. As roads go, this one is
beautiful. The surface is smooth, with a stone
wall on one side and a cliff face the other, it
undulates over and around the coastal features,
giving us amazing views over the river and sea.
As we get closer to the coast, the road becomes
lined with old oak trees, growing out of the cliff
and hanging over the edge.
Our first stop on this route is a small seaside
town called Aberdovey. There is a golf club, a
beach and beach related stuff. We drive through,
noticing people pointing and commenting at
the camper… this often happens and I sometimes
wonder if they are pointing at something falling
off! But you get used to it and you soon realise
that driving a bright blue camper van with an
exhaust that announces your arrival everywhere
you go is going to get you attention.
The road picks up as it comes out of Aberdovey,
but its only a short run before the next small
town called Tywyn. On our way in we notice
the large amount of static caravans surrounding
the area. The town is pleasant and has all the
makings of a seaside location, with a decent
looking Co-Op if you need supplies! The beach
is clean and there is also a narrow gauge steam
railway here too.

From Tywyn the road heads inland to avoid
another river estuary and make the crossing via
a bridge.

There is a ferry that can take you across, but
we took the road to save time. Once you cross
over the river, the road heads back towards the
coast and is it does, starts to climb. As the road
meets the coast you are met with one of the
most beautiful coastal roads we have driven.
There are numerous lay by areas to pull over and
appreciate the view, which we did.
We followed the coastal road until reaching
the larger town of Fairbourne. To continue
from here there are a few options; a ferry direct
to Barmouth, a modern road bridge several
miles inland or an old rickety wooden bridge
that resembles a seaside pier… guess which
option we went for?! The old wooden bridge
at Penmaenpool is a toll bridge, costing 80p for
cars and £1 for motorhomes. We are technically
driving a Motorhome, despite being car sized,
but I don’t mind paying the extra 20p to keep
the bridge maintained. The crossing is bumpy as
the wooden sections are uneven, but we make
it across safely without encountering any trolls
who want to eat us for their supper!
After crossing the bridge we head into Barmouth.
Barmouth is a seaside resort with everything
you would expect; amusements, chip shops,
sandy beaches and a long promenade. It was
busy. Really busy. We stopped for a while on the
promenade and watched the crowds but didn’t
venture out of our own space inside the camper.
From Barmouth we follow the road all
the way to the end of the coastal route at
Penrhyndeudraeth and make our way up to the
campsite which is only 5 minutes up the road.
Nearby is the village of Portmeirion; a tourist
village, designed and built by Sir Clough
Williams-Ellis in the style of an Italian village,
which is now owned by a charitable trust. We
didn’t visit as we didn’t have any time left in the
day, but it’s worth a look if you’re in the area!

In the evening we pop back into
Penrhyndeudraeth to look for some dinner
and find several takeaway options including
a Chinese, Indian, kebab and chippy. What a
fantastic selection. We opt for the Indian and
head back to the site to rest up in preparation
for the next day – Snowdonia!

We set off from our site the next morning
heading for Anglesey. It’s a shorter trip today,
taking in the sites that Snowdonia has to offer.
On the route we pass through Beddgelert,
which has an interesting story. The town is home
to a legendary site called Gelert’s Grave. In the
legend, Llywelyn The Great returns from hunting
to find his baby missing, the cradle overturned,
and his dog Gelert, with a blood-smeared
mouth. Believing the dog had savaged the child,
Llywelyn draws his sword and kills Gelert. After
the dog’s dying yelp Llywelyn hears the cries
of the baby, unharmed under the cradle, along
with a dead wolf which had attacked the child
and been killed by Gelert. Llywelyn is overcome
with remorse and buries the dog with great
ceremony, but can still hear its dying yelp. After
that day Llywelyn never smiles again.
You can park in the village and walk to the site,
however the morning has brought much rain
with it and so we decide to carry on with a
journey.

We follow a road that takes us past a beautiful
lake called Llyn Dinas, there are a few spots
along the side of the road to stop and if you’re
brave enough, take a paddle

The road starts to meander and climb slowly,
this becomes more apparent as you come past
Llyn Gwynant. There are some tight bends on
the climb and I notice views in my mirrors!
We eventually come to a small car park
which boasts a view of Snowdon. The Peak of
Snowdonia and the highest peak in England
and Wales at 1085m. We get a few snaps here
as the clouds break over the mountain and also
take advantage of the ice cream van parked here
too… it’s never too cold or wet for an ice cream!
We continue our journey through Snowdonia,
past Snowdon, and Pen y Pass, where there were
many cars being turned away as it was so busy.
We climb up and over the pass that flows in the
valley on what started as a miners track, down to
the village of Llanberis. You can walk Snowdon
from here as well and if your legs aren’t up to it,
take the train up too!
From Llanberis we make our way out of
Snowdonia, the landscape changes quickly
from Mountains to flat land and trees. We arrive
at Bangor, singing the famous song as we do
and then travel over to Anglesey on the Brittania
Bridge. We notice the large amount of farming
and gorgeous rolling countryside. We stop at
some beaches at Cemaes in the northern part of
the island and on our way to our campsite stop
off at a lovely harbour in Amlwch Port.
The next part of our journey will see us leaving
Wales and heading north towards the Scottish
border, stopping over in the Lake District
en route.
Phil Aldridge
“Tales From The Driving Seat” is on Instagram
@talesfromthedrivingseat and blogspot
www.talesfromthedrvingseat.blogspot.com

Reader’s Road Trip – Linda and Stewart Shuttleworth – Driving with Dennis

It was a real treat to head north in Dennis the
Dormobile last month. We had three glorious
weeks in Scotland in July (despite the roadside
Yellow Storm Warnings on route!). We broke
journey in Crianlarich and travelled on to Skye the
next day. Probably busier than usual, the island
was far from overwhelmed and Dennis loved the
rolling single track roads. We did notice a huge
expansion of motorhome hiring since last year.
We were surprised by our 1978 T2 having become
a rarity and a conversation piece; several people
asked to take his photograph! All of which made
the campsites even more sociable than usual.
Set up in Glen Brittle, we hiked up onto the
rugged Cuillin Ridge and got our only soaking of
the trip on the way down. From Dunvegan, we
used our bikes to explore a landscape that is still
only a generation or two away from the crofting
life. There was a whole trail of makers and artists
on Skye and we dropped in on a weaving shed
and a print and glass gallery.

We had been keen to follow the last stages of Euro
2020 despite being away, which meant listening
to a crackly quarter-final radio commentary on
the road to Crianlarich (did they just score??) and
also the semi-final at Dunvegan (the only pub in
the village wasn’t open on a Wednesday…).
At the small site near Staffin, we asked about the
nearest pub for the Sunday night final and the
lovely owners told us that they had a couple of
spare TVs and they could lend us one to set up in
Dennis. So with a low tech but safe hook-up and
a bent wire aerial, we watched the match! A first
for us.
More hiking and cycling to explore the stunning
Trotternish ridge and the coastline, before
heading down to Loch Rannoch and a campsite
near a remnant of the ancient Caledonian forest
and some hot and sunny Munros. The evening
midges were repelled successfully with some Miss
Haversham-style headnets!
Three nights with friends and family around
Glasgow and north Ayrshire also gave us the
chance to do a washing load (!) before our final
week down in Galloway in Scotland’s overlooked
southwest. If you get the chance, see if you can
book a space at quirky North Rhinns campsite. It’s
not many miles from Stranraer, but it’s another
world; 12 or 15 pitches tucked among a small
wood, well looked after by the enthusiastic and
sociable owners, who would love to host a T2 rally
sometime!!
Linda and Stewart Shuttleworth

Another one in the bag! Club camp completed – Banbury

The Club on tour – Barnstones Caravan and Camping Park, Banbury, Oxon

May 12th to 16th 2022 saw the Club’s annual AGM, BBQ and Club Camp (ABC camp) in Great Bourton. Convenient for the M40 allowing many people to join us, we had nearly 30 vehicles after some late dropouts due to mechanical trouble. Over 60 people spent the weekend together with a lot of laughter, plenty of burgers and maybe the odd glass of something.

In addition to the AGM and BBQ, we also had the FA cup final televised in one gazebo, Eurovision later in the evening and some singing from our resident jazz singer Lorna.

On the plus side, 5 people joined the Committee. On the minus side, Derek Leary stepped down from the Committee after several decades shaping the Club into what it is today. We’ll miss you Derek (and Christie).

Another one in the bag! Club camp completed – Cheddar

The Club on tour – Petruth Paddocks, Cheddar, Somerset
April 22 to 25 2022

The first club camp of the season saw us down in the pretty down of Cheddar at Petruth Paddocks, hosted by the wonderful Jules.

What did you miss? Burgers, fire pit, marshmallows, bacon baps. Cheddar village, Cheddar gorge, the caves. Locally made cheese, 16 club member dogs, 33 adults, 2 children, live singer on Friday and Saturday and a lot of laughter.

Here is some feedback from a member:

“We have been VWT2OC members for a few years but had not previously got involved in meetings or attending camps. What have we been missing? The St George’s camp at Cheddar over the weekend was a fantastic event. The campsite was beautiful, clean and friendly; the club negotiated camping rates that could not be beaten; the Saturday evening social around the firepits, with burgers provided and lovely entertainment from Lorna was fantastic; and the coffee, tea and bacon rolls provided on Sunday morning was very welcome. I had nothing to do than enjoy myself. Big shout out to Lorna Williamson, Nick Gillott, Malcolm Marchbank and Val Lewis for all the hard work planning, organising and delivering the camp. You are stars. We were already booked in for the May BBQ & AGM, now we are looking forward to it more than ever.”

Here are some photos from the weekend:

Member’s Motor – Rachel – Skype

For this edition of Member’s Motor, we look
at Rachel’s Bay, called “Skye”. This is what she
had to say about it.

We have a blue T2 called Skye. We originally
found her in May 2018 when someone local to us
used to hire her out, so we hired her for a trip to
Scotland. We took the van around the highlands,
including to the Isle of Skye. My husband Kyle
(then boyfriend) proposed to me on the trip,
which was a total surprise, so that trip and the
van had some very special memories for us.
In June 2019 we got married and I was waiting
for my wedding car to pick me up, instead of the
car arriving with my dad in it, Skye the T2 arrived
with our friend as the driver! I was shocked as I
had not seen Skye since we had got engaged
and I thought “How lovely, he’s hired her again as
a surprise”. He had decorated her with wedding
ribbons and bunting inside etc. When I got in the
van (with my dad inside) Keith our friend who
was driving, passed me a note which had the
typical wedding phrase:
Something old: Skye is from 1975.
Something blue: Skye is blue.
Something borrowed: She is borrowed
for the wedding.
Something new: actually she’s not borrowed,
Skye is yours!

Unbeknown to me, the guy who owned
Skye was selling her and Kyle bought her as a
surprise for our wedding day, so that’s how we
came to get her! What a surprise. Since then
we have had a lot of trips away, even in current
circumstances. We took her to Glastonbury 2
weeks after our wedding and then managed to
do the NC500 in September last year, as well as
lots more local weekends to the Lake District and
Northumberland where we got married. We have
a rescue fox terrier called Delilah who loves van
life as much as us 😍

We learnt a valuable lesson in September when
doing the nc500; we broke down in one of the
most northerly areas of Scotland and had to
wait 8 hours for recovery to be towed back to
the campsite, which was so embarrassing. The
problem was a snapped clutch cable, which we
have since learned is quite common and should
have carried a spare!

Typically the day we had to wait for 8 hours at the
side of the road was also the sunniest, warmest
day of our whole NC500 trip and we spent it at
the roadside! By the time we had been recovered
we were just grateful to get back to the campsite
and get it temporarily fixed, celebrating with a
big glass of well deserved wine!
We have been having problems finding someone
decent and reputable in the north east to fix our
van, there’s a few things we needed done and
ideally wanted it done before this summer. We’ve
been trying to find someone since last year, but
no one wants to touch it, so it’s getting a bit
stressful.

Members Motor – Helen Brown – Delilah

For this edition of Member’s Motor, we look at
Helen’s Bay, called “Delilah”. This is what she
had to say about it.
Why would any sane person want to buy, let
alone suffer the ongoing trauma of owning a VW
T2 camper van? Firstly, as well as the initial hit of
buying the thing, they cost a ridiculous amount
of money to keep on the road. They simply do
not go uphill unless they are in 2nd gear and
labouring at 10mph. They break down in the
most embarrassing and inconvenient of places
and no matter how many gaskets and cables and
bits and bobs you carry on board – you never
seem to have the part you need to get them
going again.

Then there is the small matter of hypothermia,
induced as you’re trailing along the road at
22mph. There are indeed two sliding things on
the dash for hot air – a red thing and a green thing

but what do they do? By the time the warm air
gets from the back to the front to warm you up,
it’s gone stone cold anyway and you end up
chugging down the road in a vintage refrigerator
wearing a full ski suit and matching bobble hat.
The exception is when it’s a baking hot day. On
baking hot days, your air-cooled engine serves
as a stifling sauna and even reaching for the air
conditioning that exists in the form of a window
winder, you definitely still get a good sweat
on. Not only that, but on hot days, you have to
pause your journey, not for a coffee or even a
toilet break, but to let your engine cool down!
Generally, this happens about ten miles from
your home! Perhaps these monsters were indeed
designed for travel on the back of a low loader!
The answer is that T2 owners tend to think
‘outside the box’. Perhaps we are slightly insane,
but T2s’ tend to be driven by ‘freedom seeking’
folk with such a sense of adventure and love of
more simplistic times gone by, that even the
hours spent on the side of the motorway waiting
for the low loader to arrive are an experience to
be cherished.

It’s like owning a grown-up’s Mechano set.
Everything on your beloved T2 can be taken apart
with a spanner (or some tool or other) and easily
bolted back together again. Rusty panels can be
cut out, replaced and lovingly repainted to match
the original colour. Everything can be restored
to original. Who would even want to travel at
70mph and be nice and warm, when you can
pootle and be freezing and wave to folk at a top
speed of 45mph? And as an added bonus, when
you do stop, your gorgeous T2 leaves behind it
a gloriously, glossy puddle of oil. Nothing could
be better!


I’ve had the best adventures in Delilah. Delilah is my pride and joy.
I can’t even look at her without grinning maniacally. She is a 1973
Westfalia Continental. Everyone has a story about how they ended
up owning a T2. I ended up single at the tender age of 50 and rather
than trawl through dating websites looking for a new fancy man, I
decided to push the boat out, fulfil my pipe dream and get myself
a VW camper instead. Delilah was being stored in a garage and
although sad and rusty, she was in ok shape for her age and was
fitted out with most of what turned out to be a Westfalia Continental
interior. The interior did have denim and Barbie pink fluffy fabric
glued all over it and it did smell of mould but nothing that couldn’t
be sorted out.
The basic restoration to get her back on the road took around ten
months. I wanted to keep her as original as possible but also needed
her to be reasonably practical and reliable. With that in mind, I had a
new air-cooled engine fitted with the larger twin Weber carbs, jetted
correctly. It gives just that little bit more oomph going uphill and
on motorways I can pootle at around 55-60mph. Everything else
mechanical wise was cleaned up, checked and put back. A must
have, is an oil temperature gauge. It is definitely worth having one.
The needle only ever moves on hot days, but it gives peace of mind!
The bodywork was stripped back, rusty panels replaced and a full
respray and triple Waxoyl underneath had her looking ship shape.
The next step was to get the interior restored and put back. I love
the look of the 1970’s original interiors. Westfalia literally thought of
everything. To have a full-sized double bed, a wardrobe, sofa, cooker,
sink, kitchen cupboard, overhead locker, storage cupboards, a “not
quite a fridge” and an upstairs bedroom with a double bed in such a
tiny space is a remarkable piece of interior design

The interior all got scraped, cleaned up and put back in. New
cheerful orange canvas completed the pop top. Sadly, the original
mustard upholstery did not survive restoration.
My travel companion is a crazy collie called Dobbie. He likes sitting on
the furniture with muddy paws. Therefore, I took the furniture to be
covered in dog proof pale grey vinyl and I did give strict instructions
to keep the mustard fabric on underneath. The poor lady doing the
stitching job couldn’t cope with the rancid smell of the mould and
removed the mustard fabric….and burned it! I had to agree with
her that it did smell awful! Over the course of the following year, I
acquired a door for the wardrobe, a primitive hand pump, water
tap contraption for the sink and even a table to sit and work at
and eat my beans on toast off. (Martin Dorey would be horrified at
my campervan cookery.) Original Westfalia Continental items are
difficult to find, so I was really chuffed to have been able to source
some of the pieces I was missing via the T2 forum on Facebook.
Finally, just to get it completed, I actually bought a complete interior
and sold on the pieces that I didn’t need.


In 1973 people must have been hardier or perhaps we had warmer
weather back then. I could not cope with the cold journeys. It was
no fun rolling out of the van in a frozen lump at the end of a long
drive. So, after looking at the various options including the diesel
heaters, I finally went for what I felt was the safe option and got a
Propex heater installed in the cupboard under the buddy seat with
a digital thermostat fitted to the back of the wardrobe unit above
the driver seat. It is a real game changer. Pricey to buy, but it doesn’t
seem to be desperately greedy with the Camping Gaz and having
heat when driving and when camping without electric hook up has
made it worth every penny. Even on the coldest of days, the van
is beautifully toasty in a matter of minutes and it keeps everything
onboard dry.
Whilst on the subject of comfort, I like my comforts. I can live without
hot running water in the van but there were a couple of creature
comfort things that I needed to sort out. Sleeping on a bed with
gaping cracks in the mattress where the cushions fit together isn’t
great. Nor is waking up tied up in an impossibly twisted sleeping
bag. The back of my van stores a memory foam mattress topper,
decent pillows and a goose down duvet. I slumber in comfort, all
nicely tucked up between the dog and the spare wheel!

I learned the hard way not to sit up and crack my
head on the overhead locker. I keep my bottle
of gin in the wine rack under the driver seat.
And as for a toilet, I decided that being on my
own, I needed a toilet on board. I very accurately
measured the space between the two front seats
and after some diligent research found that the
smallest chemical toilet that Thetford makes, fits
perfectly. It was the final thing I wanted. Imagine
my joy at finally having onboard toilet facilities
and my despair when I realised that although the
toilet fitted in the space between the two seats,
my backside would not!
Naïve, I was at the beginning. I thought after this
wonderful restoration and new engine, there
would be no further problems and I’d just sail off
into the sunset. This was far from the truth. Delilah
had lots of little problems. One of the rocker
cover gaskets was loose, resulting in oil dripping
onto the exhaust and rancid smoke belching
everywhere. Being a newbie, I thought I was on
fire! Thankfully not! I eventually limped home and
replaced the spring cover with a bolt on one and
by tightening everything up every few journeys,
the oil leaks are a thing of the past. Then she was
pulling to the left. Every little problem takes a bit
of investigating and trial and error to sort out, but
it turned out that the pulling problem was the
brake callipers binding. New brake callipers were
fitted to keep her on the straight and narrow and
new Spax shock absorbers made the ride more
comfortable. Her battery died and no sooner
than I replaced it, her starter motor gave up.
Fortunately, some kind soul pushed me and her
down a hill to bump start and we managed to
get home.
To be honest, I lost confidence in her. I could
never figure out what was wrong with her and
I did consider selling her. Then I realised that my
VW coping mechanism was relying on the RAC.
This was no good! I bought ‘How to Keep Your
VW Alive’, navigated the Haynes manual and got a
genius mechanic to do the impossible and teach
me! To own a T2, you have really got to have some
understanding of the mechanical side. Although
my knowledge is somewhat limited, it has meant
that I now know enough to have confidence in
what needs to be done to keep the old dear on
the road.
I love to hike, so Delilah is a welcome sight for me
and Dobby at the end of a long day of walking.
Somewhere to sit and chill, cook, eat, watch
beautiful sunsets and sleep. You are always
guaranteed to meet other VW owners to chat
to. Just being able to jump in the van on a Friday
night and go on an adventure. What’s not to love
about owning a T2? I’ve had so many absolutely
wonderful adventures in mine that I could write a
book! It keeps me sane

Helen Brown