On The Road: A truly knockout experience in a retro campervan on the Isle of Wight
Saturday 24 October 2009
The kids are excited. Very excited. They've been trying to cajole me into buying an original VW campervan for months, so this seems like the perfect compromise. Let's hire one for a week and see if we like it. Correction: see if I like it.
And so we collect our 1970s Type II Westfalia with pop-up roof from the charming and laid-back Steve and Elaine, both wearing beatific smiles.
"Huck" looks the part. Steve gives me a quick tour of the vehicle, issues some vague advice about having to "search about a bit" for reverse gear, and then we're off.
Twenty minutes later I'm having to "search about" for reverse gear. To describe it as elusive would be something of an understatement. At the very least a compass and OS map would be required; maybe even a GPS and team of trained sniffer dogs, with enough emergency flares to alert a search party. From the back of the van comes a really helpful and well-timed suggestion: "Daddy, why don't you let Mummy drive?" A further 20 minutes and phone call to Steve later I've found it, and I don't want to lose it. Maybe we can drive backwards round the island, I suggest.
Recalcitrant gearbox aside, our main problem is the cramped living space. There's barely enough room to squeeze an anorexic kitten into the back of the van never mind swing the damned thing. My wife almost loses a kneecap on a wayward table support and I inadvertently drop the roof on my head. I vow never to lust after a 1970s Samba again. There's nothing cool or retro about lying in hospital with a fractured skull.
Two days later we're camped by the beach. The kids are playing by the water's edge and we're brewing up a cuppa as we sit on the sea wall. A passer-by throws Huck an admiring glance and looks at us enviously.
"I could get used to this," I say. My wife fires me a warning look: "Don't even think about it!"
Footprint's 'Britain with Kids' is available now (£14.99).
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
Actress isn't a fan of Ed Miliband
Do you qualify – and how do you get it?
- 2 Black Friday 2014: Opening times for Asda, John Lewis, PC World, GAME and Argos
- 4 Jeremy Hunt: 'I took my children to A&E because I didn't want to wait for GP appointment'
- 5 Girl, 7, gets Tesco to remove 'stupid' sign suggesting superheroes are 'for boys'
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
£55000 - £65000 per annum: Investigo: My client, a global leader in their fiel...
£45000 - £52000 per annum + bonus+bens : Investigo: My client, a global leader...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits : Investigo: One of the fastest growing g...
25,000: Sphere Digital Recruitment: CRM Executive – Global Travel Brand – Luto...