I LIKE the simple things in life.
I like Moretti. I like PopMaster. I like custard creams. I like footie before VAR. I like manual handbrakes. I like picnics and barbecues and lazy summer evenings. I like Yorkshire Tea.
I even like my kids.
But do you know what I really, really like? I like the freedom of a camper van.
Go where you want, when you want, and wake up every morning to a different view from your bedroom window.
This time last week I was in Devon, it was 24C and glorious.
Surfing at Croyde. Stand-up paddle boarding and cliff diving at Watermouth Cove. Then fish and chips watching the sun go down at Ilfracombe Harbour. All just five hours from home.
My mate Dave spent £1,500 renting a house for his family. My accommodation cost a tank of fuel. It had a fully-fitted mini kitchen and sleeps four.
Of course, the maths aren’t as simple as that. Camper vans are expensive — especially a brand-spanking VW California 6.1 starting at £55k. Finance from £429 a month.
But add up how much you spend on a family car and a two-week family holiday to Tenerife every year and it starts to make sense. Especially if you buy nearly-new.
With Covid-19 and social distancing and Brexit — goodness knows what that will mean for E111 health cards, phone data and driving permits from next year — do you really want to be flying somewhere abroad and eating from a menu showing pictures of your food?
Staycations are about to become as trendy as TikTok.
What’s more, you could happily use a California for the school run in the week then drop a pen on a map and go on a mystery tour at the weekend.
Now, you should know modern Californias are Transporter vans converted expertly in-house by VW. Old VW campers built before 2005 were converted by other firms, so that’s your starting point.
So what do you get for your money? A sweet engine and gearbox combo for starters. I averaged 37mpg on a 600-mile round trip, which is more than the official VW figure.
You get cutting-edge technology (adaptive cruise control, digital cockpit), VW craftmanship and lots of admiring looks from hippies to hedge-fund managers and everyone in between.
But most of all, you get cool things like picnic chairs hidden in the tailgate and a control panel for the electric elevating roof, heater and level-o-meter to find flat ground — essential for a good night’s sleep.
And if you don’t get the master bedroom up top, there are blackout blinds on the windows below.
As I said, I like the simple things in life. I like camper vans. I like adventure at the drop of a handbrake.
KEY FACTS: VW CALIFORNIA
Engine: 2-litre turbo diesel
0-62mph: 14.3 secs
Top speed: 113mph
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THE coolest TV vans ever: A-Team; Scooby-Doo Mystery Machine; Ghostbusters. For your chance to win this £49.99 Playmobil Scooby-Doo van, follow me on Instagram @robgilluk and like this photo by 12noon on July 24, 2020. For ages 5+. Winner chosen at random. Thank you, Playmobil.
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