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Black widow ‘lived for nine months’ in VW camper van

The spiderImage caption The spider has been rehomed at a butterfly farm

A couple found a venomous black widow spider had been living in their VW camper van for nine months after it was discovered by a mechanic in Worcestershire.

The couple, who do not wish to be named, imported the camper van from Sacramento in California in November.

They stored it in their garage before taking it to a Strensham mechanic, who found the spider on Thursday.

The spider has been rehomed at a butterfly farm in Warwickshire.

‘Very, very venomous’

Carl Marshall, from the Stratford Butterfly Farm, said: “The mechanic was working on the underside of the vehicle when he spotted the spider and told the owner it was there.

“We went over there and collected it last Thursday.”

Mr Marshall said although the spider was “very, very venomous”, it would have been unlikely to have attacked a human unless it had been squashed or sat on.

The female spider was found alongside a sac of eggs, which was also taken to the farm.

“The egg sacs were empty and it is very unlikely the young would have survived in Britain’s colder temperatures,” said Mr Marshall.

“The spider itself probably only survived the winter because it stayed in the camper van, where it was slightly warmer.”

However, he advised the owner to be cautious.

“It does sometimes happen that black widows are found in imported vehicles,” he said.

A spokesman for the Stratford-upon-Avon attraction said: “As the spider is renowned for being incredibly tough and living in dark crevices, it was easy for it to remain unnoticed in the camper van.

“It would have eaten insects to survive and caught its prey by snaring it in its web.

“Although living in the van for the last 11 months, it appears completely unscathed after its travels from the USA.

The spider is being kept in a biological hazard enclosure at the farm.

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  • Black widows are known to be one of the most venomous spiders in the world, with venom 15 times more potent than a rattlesnake
  • The venom, although potentially lethal, is only administered in small quantities, so rarely causes death
  • In the US between 1950 and 1989, 63 deaths were reported, about 2-3% of recorded bites
  • Female black widow spiders may cannibalise their mates after copulation to ensure they are well-fed to get through pregnancy. They can lay up to 900 eggs in an egg sac

Source: Stratford Butterfly Farm

Lovers of VW camper vans gather for weekend of food and live music

Strumpshaw VW Fab Festival. Photo : Steve Adams

Copyright Archant Norfolk 2015

Strumpshaw VW Fab Festival.Chris Hansen with his 1958 Transporter single cab that he restored and was owned by his family since new. Photo : Steve Adams

The VW Fab – Family and Bands – Festival came to Strumpshaw Steam Museum from Friday to Sunday, with scores of VW campers packing into the site.

Thousands enjoyed live music, a dog show, a charity raffle – which supported Priscilla Bacon Lodge and Scotty’s Little Soldiers – and even a camper van cook-off.

And the weekend proved so popular that by 1.30pm on Saturday the site was packed to capacity for the day, with the team unable to accept any more visitors.

Performances from acts including The Minute Steaks, East View Acoustic, Chris Brown and Tom Tonks kept crowds happy, with children’s entertainment for the hundreds of families.

A Dub Tucker Trial saw 10 contestants brave mystery meals, with courses including scrumptious skewers and a little tipple.

Festival-goers described the weekend as “brilliant”, saying they were already looking forward to next year’s event.

Scotty’s Little Soldiers supports the children of men and women killed while serving in the military, while Priscilla Bacon Lodge provides specialist advice and support for those with life limiting illness and their loved ones.

Guide to buying a VW campervan

Finding the right VW campervan for you If there is one iconic vehicle that represents the campervan it’s the Transporter-based model from VW. Since going on sale in 1950, there have been five different versions, with a new one due for release this year. And they are more popular than ever which makes buying one an absolute minefield. Unless you have this reference tome to handy.

VW Campers are generally built by specialist conversion companies and only in the last ten years or so by Volkswagen itself, but many are created by competent owners using off-the-shelf kits, or relying on their own DIY skills, either way the range of options available proving practically infinite. Each and every one is based on Volkswagen’s Transporter, a vehicle that has been around since 1950 and is now about to enter its sixth incarnation. Though a ubiquitous and popular vehicle in its own right, there is no doubt that the Transporter owes much of its success to the iconic status of the VW Camper.
So, are you tempted? Have you always fancied a VW Camper but don’t know where to start? Perhaps you own one already but secretly crave something with the latest creature comforts, or maybe a head-turning classic air-cooled model.

Whatever the dream, a new book called, rather aptly, the VW Camper Buyers’ Guide might help you on your journey to making it reality. This handy paperback will acquaint you with the history of the VW Camper and give a rundown of the best conversions over the years. This will help you understand the benefits of each generation, from the earliest split-screen campers to the latest new models. Which ones will suit your needs and which ones won’t? It’s time to assess your requirements and decide on the ideal VW Camper for you and your budget, before learning what to look for when viewing vehicles for sale and, or course, how much to pay.

Select the right model of VW for youInside the VW camperWhether you are new to VW Campers or a seasoned enthusiast, the VW Camper Buyers’ Guide is the only source of in-depth advice on buying all five generations of this iconic vehicle.

Richard Copping is Britain’s leading Volkswagen author and historian. With more than 25 books to his credit, he has written extensively on both the Volkswagen Transporter and the Volkswagen Camper. The book is in paperback format, measures 210x148mm and has 224 pages with 250 illustrations. The ISBN is 978-0-9928769-1-3. Published on 1 April 2015 by Behemoth and priced at £14.99, the VW Camper Buyers’ Guide is available from bookshops, Amazon and other online retailers.

Just what America needs — a VW pickup truck!–a-vw-pickup-truck-2015-3?r=US

Volkswagen Pickup
File this under “insane” mode for potential business decisions. Volkswagen, struggling to gain significant market share in the US market, is looking to shake up its product mix.

On the plus side, there could be a revived VW Bus, that iconic transport of hippies and assorted counterculturalists in the 1960s.

According to Bloomberg, “Volkswagen AG, which became part of U.S. pop culture with its bug-eyed Microbus, is looking at getting back into the U.S. van market.”

Groovy! But then … there’s … this:

The German company could also sell a pickup truck as it examines opportunities to broaden its range in North America, Eckhard Scholz, head of the light commercial vehicle unit, said at a press conference in Hanover on Wednesday.

“Pickup trucks are a dominating segment,” while there’s also a trend in the U.S. toward compact European vans, Scholz said. “We’re looking at both options intensively.”

Before you say, “Um, WHAT?!” please note that VW did sell a pickup in the US in the 1980s, a woefully underpowered compact model that was like a Rabbit crossed with an El Camino.

And VW currently sells a small pickup in a lot of countries that aren’t the US. It’s called the Amarok (see the photo above).

But the operative concept here is not in the US.

Because nobody can sell pickups in the US if they aren’t General Motors, Ford, or Chrysler. The big three own the pickup market. Toyota tried to challenge them, and basically failed. Nissan’s pickups have been also-rans, although some have been popular with outdoor-sports types.

On the one hand, it’s refreshing to hear VW addressing its vehicle-mix problems in the US. The company is far from realizing its ambitions to come back to the US a big a way and challenge GM and Toyota.

On the other hand, however, it’s downright disturbing to see VW talking about, of all things, pickups as part of its US comeback strategy.

Let’s hope, for VW’s sake, this is just speculation.

Read more:–a-vw-pickup-truck-2015-3?r=US#ixzz3V2MCDfg6

Vintage vehicle serves up sweet new venture

Paul Scott and his partner Deb Lawton, have set up the Fudge Bus. Picture: Ian Burt

Paul Scott and his partner Deb Lawton, have set up the Fudge Bus. Picture: Ian Burt

Take an iconic vehicle and a melt-in-the-mouth sweet and you could have a winning combination.

Paul Scott is hoping his 50-year-old VW camper van and a supply of award-winning fudge will be the recipe for success after giving up his day job and ploughing his savings into his new venture.

The former shop manager from Melton Constable bought the camper van last year and after sourcing fudge from a producer in Yorkshire he has put the two together to create The Fudge Bus.

He, and partner Deb Lawton, took the bus full of fudge to sell at a couple of events last summer where he soon realised that it could take off as a full time job.

With its shiny cream and green paintwork with the instantly recognisable VW symbol on the bonnet, vinyl seats that turn into a bed for weekend festivals and events, and oak fronted cubby holes cleverly making the most of every inch of storage space, the bus is already proving the perfect shop front for the new business.

Paul Scott and his partner Deb Lawton, have set up the Fudge Bus. Picture: Ian Burt
Paul Scott and his partner Deb Lawton, have set up the Fudge Bus. Picture: Ian Burt

“People are drawn to the bus,” said Mr Scott. “Then they see the fudge and can’t resist it so the two seem to go really well together.”

If the business takes off it will be a dream come true for 42-year-old Mr Scott, who was the shop manager at Pensthorpe Natural Park until last year, as it will be the chance to combine both his love affairs.

“My first car when I was 17 was a VW Beetle and I go to all the VW shows around the country,” he said. “I managed a sweet shop in Hunstanton for four years and made my own fudge so I know how popular it is. So I put the two together and on our first event we sold 50kgs of fudge. We have done some pop-up shops over the winter and now are booking into as many events as we can in Norfolk.

“It has been quite a gamble going from a full time job to working for myself but hopefully this year it will really take off.

“And the bus is a lovely place to work.”

Mr Scott’s camper was built in 1965 and he believes it was first bought by an Austrian and used as a bus to transport a football team to matches, before it was imported to the UK. Its top speed is about 55 miles per hour but Mr Scott prefers it that way as it means stress-free motoring which “puts a smile on your face” and it gets admiring looks wherever it goes.

Get a first look at the new VW T6 camper van at the Motorhome & Caravan show at the NEC

Visitors to the Motorhome & Caravan Show at the NEC this autumn will have the chance to see a collection of the new VW T6 Transporter conversions under one roof for the first time in the UK.

Four exhibitors have confirmed they will have VW T6 conversions at the show, including the original VW campervan converter Westfailia GMBH which will debut its new T6 Club Joker City on UK shores.

Concept Multi-Car Ltd (Stand 11,145) will launch its all new conversion for the VW T6 which is called the Reimo Free Van and expects to have another T6 based model on display.

Nomad Campervans (Stand 11,165) will have its new ‘Ranger’ T6 conversion, unveiling a layout that combines the comfort of saloon car seating with the functionality of a campervan. Taking advantage of the new T6 variable seating layout options of the back passenger area, this new family multi- purpose camper offers seating for 5 on full size seats without the usual compromise of sitting on a 3/4 width rock and roll bed.

Wingamm (Stand 8.08) will have the show’s only T6 coachbuilt conversion, with the new T6 Micro on show in the entrances to Hall 9 and 12.

Westfalia Mobil GmbH (Stand 12,160), widely regarded as the original VW campervan converter, will feature its brand new T6 based Club Joker City at the show. It comes with a pop-up roof and will go into production in autumn 2015. This new model is designed to be used ‘365’ days a year as a go anywhere vehicle acting as both daily driver and campervan at a height of under two meters. It comes with a cassette toilet in the rear and the possibility to include a shower. It also features a compressor-type refrigerator as well as a warm water boiler and heating, with innovative sleeping and seating arrangements.


Other exhibitors also expect to feature VW T6 campervan conversions pending delivery of base vehicles into the UK this September. AutoHaus (Stand 12,86) plans on featuring T6 conversions of all its popular models at the show. Danbury Motorcaravans (Stand 12,60) too expects to have a T6 conversion of its popular Surf model. Hillside Leisure (Stand 11,10) plans on featuring a T6 version of its Birchover campervan conversion. Vanworx (Stand 11,160) also hopes to feature a VW T6 converted to campervan specification at the NEC this October.


James Bissett, Marketing Campaign Director for NCC Events, organisers of the Motorhome & Caravan Show, said: “Our event is the UK’s national leisure vehicle launch show and we are really excited to have a selection of VW T6 campervan conversion models making their UK debut as this will be the first place visitors will see them all in one place.


“It’s testament to the industry how fast the leading converters have acted to get hold of the very first VW T6’s coming into the UK and burn the midnight oil to turn them into campervans. It shows the importance of our Motorhome & Caravan Show. Stay tuned to our social media channels and for updates.”


The Motorhome & Caravan Show 2015 will be opened by ex-superbike racer and ‘King of the Jungle’ Carl ‘Foggy’ Fogarty and is the first place to see a life-size model caravan made of LEGO® bricks revealed to the world on opening day 13 October. All new 2016 motorhome and caravan models from leading UK and European brands will feature alongside trailer tents, folding caravans, caravan holiday homes and lodges, campsites, tow-cars, awnings and porches.


Visitors can enjoy exclusive show only deals, new product demonstrations, the Experts’ Theatre, FREE caravan towing and motorhome manoeuvring lessons, browsing hundreds of accessories, free parking and a free show guide – plus kids go free too!


The show is supported by The Caravan Club and The Camping and Caravanning Club, fills 11 huge halls at the NEC in Birmingham and features every type of leisure vehicle.

To buy tickets (in advance from as little as £7.50 senior/8.50 adult*) and for more information visit: or call: 0844 338 7799

A van that has lots of people fooled

Chenae Loveridge’s van is suffering an identity crisis.


On the surface the tiny van resembles a classic Volkswagen camper, but hiding beneath the retro trimmings lives a factory standard 1990 Subaru Sambar.

The masquerading VW is a rare sight on New Zealand roads and there have been reports of Loveridge’s dolled up Subaru being the only one in the country – a far cry from the van’s motherland where there are plenty of Japanese motorists navigating the expressways in their kitted-out replicas.

New Plymouth woman Chenae Loveridge baffles fellow motorists with her 1990 Subaru Sambar Volkswagen replica mini camper.

Fairfax NZ

New Plymouth woman Chenae Loveridge baffles fellow motorists with her 1990 Subaru Sambar Volkswagen replica mini camper.

The VW conversion kit – which comprises additional side skirts, an altered front panel, an oversized VW emblem, chrome wheel caps and a slick new paint job – is virtually unheard of here in New Zealand but is believed to be available for purchase in Japan.

Loveridge’s customised people carrier underwent its transformation before arriving in the country and when the New Plymouth woman fortuitously spotted it at a Te Awamutu car dealership she immediately fell in love with the peculiar motor.



But the van wasn’t actually for sale and the car yard, which had further enhanced the automobile’s charm with white-wall tyres and window tints, was instead using the vintage knock-off as a promotional vehicle and was not in any hurry to part with it.

“I looked at importing one myself but they’re notorious for rust and I didn’t want to take the risk of not being able to inspect it myself,” says Loveridge.


“When I called them to ask if they were willing to sell it they wanted to know what I would be using it for before they would consider it.”

The Humdingers Cakes owner-operator explained to the dealer how she planned to turn the fifth-generation Sambar into the custom cake shop’s newest delivery vehicle, and luckily for her the idea was well received.

The petite van underwent the retro transformation with the assistance of a VW conversion kit.

Fairfax NZ

The petite van underwent the retro transformation with the assistance of a VW conversion kit.

About a month ago Loveridge became owner of the imitation VW, which runs a 650cc engine with a five-speed manual transmission, and she says her father had to head north with a trailer to pick it up due to the van’s lack of grunt.

“It doesn’t go much above 70kmh so you can’t really take it out of town.”

The urban delivery van embodies the cake shop’s unique and funky style, which almost certainly explains why Loveridge was so keen on pursuing the van despite already having a company car.

“I couldn’t get it out of my head,” she explains. “I just saw it and had to have it – it was one of those impulse things.”

The creative foodie, who is planning to vinyl wrap the Japanese auto with a nice shade of pink, says wherever the van goes it attracts a crowd and she has even returned to the vehicle to find onlookers taking photographs.

But, she understands their curiosity and although the mock camper tends to confuse a lot of bystanders she says more often than not it has them fooled and they are left thinking it is a legitimate Volkswagen.

“As far as I know it is the only one of its kind in New Zealand. We were really lucky to find it.”

 – Taranaki Daily News

Annual VW car show taking place in Killarney, Canada

Killarney Fairgrounds will be transformed into a Volkswagen enthusiast’s paradise. The Dubs at the Lake annual VW Enthusiast Car Show will take place on Saturday, Aug. 15 and Sunday, Aug. 16 with registration at 10 a.m. and 9 a.m. respectively.

“The first year I planned the event I didn’t know what to expect. I thought I’d be happy if a few people came with their cars,” said organizer Ryan Smith. “There were 54 cars last year and I was more than happy.” The second annual event is already growing in popularity and its sure to be even more successful than the first year with people expected to attend from Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Minnesota.

“Word is getting out and there are already people pre-registering.”

The event is open to anyone who wants to display Volkswagen vehicles of any shape, style and description for a charge of $15 for the weekend. A number of vendors are also expected to attend with memorabilia and collectables.

A swap meet on Saturday will add to the excitement as those working to restore their vehicles have an opportunity to connect with each other.

“When you’re restoring a vehicle, you’re always looking for that hard-to-find part and the swap meet will help them out,” Smith added.

A cruise through town is planned for Saturday afternoon around 4:30 p.m. and it will give everyone a chance to see the vehicles in action. From there, the group will return to the camping area for supper on their own prior to a drive-in movie scheduled for dusk.

Smith’s enthusiasm for Volkswagens began several years ago when he started looking for a VW bus. “I finally found one and dug it out of a bush,” he said. Throughout the restoration process he met other enthusiasts and his love of the vehicles increased. “You meet such a neat little group of die hards,” he chuckled. “Everyone remembers yelling ‘punch bug, no return’ and hitting their sister in the back seat.”

Smith was impressed by the collection of cars at last year’s show and invites anyone with anything VW related to attend. “They can come with a fully restored car or one that is full of rust,” he said. “It’s just meant to be a good time bringing everyone together.”

Donations throughout the event will be accepted for the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity. To register or for more information on the event, please contact Ryan Smith at 204-523-2060.


VW Festival roars into Leeds

VW 2

The VW Festival is the liveliest motoring event in Yorkshire’s summer calendar, and it’s coming to Leeds’s Harewood House again on August 14-16.

It all started in 2004 when lifelong VW fanatics Paul Scott and Shane Beardsley got together and thought that if they found a suitable location they could start a festival. Very much on the basis that “If we build it, they will come” – and come they certainly did.

The VW festival has grown year on year with the help of a team of 18, and festival-goers now number in their thousands.

As one of the few Northern VW events, it has proven to be a welcome change for VW fans and their families living in the North who in the past have had 300­ mile round trips to get to other shows.

VW 3

VW Festival is a family-­friendly, entertainment­-filled weekend that has something for everyone. You can spend the day, or the full weekend looking around some of the best Volkswagens that the UK (and in some cases from overseas!) has to offer, as well as enjoying live music, an awesome live graffiti display, a dog show, as well as a wide variety of other entertainment throughout the weekend.

Previous years have seen chainsaw juggling, fire eaters, stilt walkers, fire dancers, circus performers, an F1 simulator, a BMX display team, and free runners….the list goes on and on, and is in addition to the extensive list of activities permanently resident in the grounds of Harewood House. Prepare to take the little kids (and big kids) home very tired indeed.

The show ‘n’ shine winners parade featuring the finest vehicles displayed over the weekend will take place on the Sunday afternoon, followed by the eagerly awaited charity raffle which sees another fantastic classic VW Beetle, that was lovingly restored by Herbie Hospital, given away.

This year’s chosen charity is Cash For Kids and their volunteers are selling raffle tickets over the weekend, so please help to support them.


VW 4

Looking back as VW Kombi turns 65