We planned a micro tour of Wales, a micro tour consisting of 6 nights. Those of you who have been with us for more than a year will know all about our abandoned camping trip to Wales last year and the 'stuck in the mud in a field full of cows capers' that preceded our abandonment of our tent in the early hours of the first morning in Pembrokeshire. Well it was that trip that prompted the purchase of a 13 year old Honda Step Wagon; a large 8 seat vehicle made specifically for the Japanese Market and most often used as executive travel. Japanese motoring standards are very high and as such the vehicles are maintained to a very high standard and come with quite a few mod cons as standard. The box like shape and the configuration of the full size seats means that they can be converted into camper vans quite easily. Throughout our time in Wales Vikki continued to say 'we wouldn't have had to abandon the campsite if only we had a camper van rather than a tent'. So last summer I went without a vehicle while we started our search for the perfect model (we did consider, briefly, a Mazda bongo ( a poor relation to the Honda) before setting our minds to a Step Wagon). We travelled as far as Wales and back again, simply to test drive a couple of contenders before we found our perfect partner just down the road some 6 miles from home. That's often the way with Internet dating so I'm told.
So vehicle sourced we set about finding the perfect conversion system when we happened upon Campal camper conversions a few more miles away but in the same county. The efficient Martin, the inventor of Campal, designs and produces a king of flat pack bed/sofa/table combo and drawers system that can be fitted and removed easily from a range of estate and box shape vehicles. Ours was the first Step Wagon Martin had made and the prototype for all subsequent models. It caused him quite a few sleepless nights and a couple of trips for first draft fitting and remodelling but by April we took delivery of our Campal and began our campervan adventures. So far only managing to have a picnic by the seaside where we became something of a spectacle as we breed coffee, cooked bacon baps and sat at the table in the back of our car before reclining to admire the view.
It didn't take us long to decide on the location for our first adventure. We usually have a week off very close to our wedding anniversary in mid June and this year was no different. This year our week off would straddle the summer solstice which is a perfect time for camping as you can make the most of the long days and warm nights, making the most of the outdoors as long as possible.
In the subsequent weeks we began to source bits and bobs to make the campervan cosy and habitable for a week of wild camping. We had had an awning on order since the winter (another UK entrepreneur,designer and maker), a sheltapod multiuse awning/gazebo/tent combo, so we were all set for our travels... Until....
Driving along, to one of my favourite towns to visit a friend and a gallery shop where I have a selection of Jewellery (subtle plug), without a care in the world I looked down to check my speed and the digital screen was blank. I had no digital display at all. I instantly slowed to a snails pace in case I lost some other electrical function and carried on my journey. I found the lack of speed awareness somewhat disorienting but quite pleasing all the same.
The garage where we bought the car, incidentally the only place we can get it properly serviced and maintained, were able to see to her the following day and said they would give us a call once they had established the problem. The radio silence was excruciating and after 2 days we called for an update. 'Don't call us, we'll call you'. A week had passed without our car so we decided not to book the chosen camp sites even though it was 4 weeks away til our epic trip. sorry I meant micro trip. Ten days later the call came and we were reassured that they could fix the problem and it wouldn't be too costly, all they needed was a part, they would order the part as soon as we gave them the go ahead. The part was ordered and our offer of part payment was declined as it could be some time before the part arrived as it had to first be sourced and then shipped ... From Japan... But it would come in a container filled with other parts and once they had enough parts to fill the container it would set sail. The timescales given for this epic journey was anywhere between 2 to 6 weeks.
disappointed but ever optimistic we had high hopes that we could go ahead with our trip some 4 Weeks later but decided to think of a plan B just in case. Taking the tent was out of the question given last years debacle and the reason we invested in said vehicle in the first place. I can't begin to tell you how many possible trips and locations we had in mind before we decided to return to our 'home from home' Tossa de Mar.