We came to buy our 2009 MURVI campervan almost by accident. We’d always been hardcore tent campers; even to the extent that we’d given up on modern fabrics because they were far too noisy in bad weather and reverted to cotton which was quieter and more breathable. The thought of caravans or campervans hadn’t entered our minds. Then one day we were out for a walk and we passed a school sports field where we saw our first MURVI and fell for it instantly. We even had a conversation about it and agreed that in the unlikely event that we ever had a campervan that would be the one.
The next thing that happened was that a couple of friends drove up to see us in exactly the same model we’d seen – so we were able to inspect it at close quarters and we loved it even more. The big mistake was to drive down to Exeter one Sunday afternoon to a regional show – just to look. Ha Ha! There was never any possibility of us buying a new van but we still got the full sales pitch so while I enjoyed the moment Madame went off and found a postcard small ad for an older 09 model second hand. Of course we still couldn’t afford even this one – we were about to blow most of our savings – and so we drove home empty handed. This next bit is amazing and rather beautiful because that very week an old friend offered to make a substantial and completely unexpected gift so that we could afford the van – and so we finally got our MURVI eleven years ago and it’s become our little place in the country, our field station and our solace in stressful times.
Now if that sounds exactly what you’d most love go ahead, but you need to factor in the constant need to maintain. Aside from tax, insurance and secure storage, all of which add up to just over £1000 a year; parts wear out and need replacing and whilst it’s possible to retain a head full of elaborate workarounds to keep the show on the road sooner or later everything finally wears out. So we put up with the minor inconvenience of having to blow up one of the tyres every week because in spite of all our attempts neither we nor the tyre centre can discover what’s causing it to deflate. The wonderful onboard heater is a highly sophisticated piece of German engineering but when the controller goes wrong it’s three figures. Water pumps wear out and the batteries – three in total – also have a finite life, and be warned, everything in a campervan runs on 12V, so if a leisure battery fails everything else goes as well. It’s no use thinking the mains electricity hookup will take over. Fancy alarm systems will drain the battery almost overnight. We once spent an icy week sitting in sleeping bags using head torches for light. That was fun! Oh and three way fridges well least said soonest mended – or perhaps you can do what we do and rejoice in the simplicity of the two-way fridge. Ten minutes on any campervan club website will give an abundance of ways of bringing the gas mode to life and trust me I’ve tried them all.
So we carry a reasonably comprehensive toolkit including a multimeter and we find that most things can be lashed up or repaired without resorting to ‘experts‘. The essence of campervanning is an ability to have fun even in a van that’s not quite perfect. Good enough is king! and it’s always better to use the onboard cludger than to trudge across a field in the middle of the night in a force 8 storm – we’ve done that and dried the T shirt, which takes days – especially in Wales. The campervan is the ultimate go anywhere home from home – with all my books for plant hunting, a portable router that can find a signal almost anywhere and a bottle of wine or three.
Possibly the best thing of all is that provided you’re prepared to be a bit flexible, you can be spontaneous and take off at the drop of a hat, even out of season. We’re not fans. we’re addicts; but the key thing is that in 30 years of tent camping taught us that the key to a happy camping life is resilience.