In 2014 I bought a wheelchair adapted 2001 Citroen Berlingo. Not that I needed the adaptation, but it was the only first version Berlingo for sale nearby. When I got it home I realised there was enough space in the back for a camp bed – just.
It didn’t take long to organise a water container and a leisure battery and other home comforts. I made a few trips out but only one abroad, to the Waterloo battlefield, and that only for one night in Belgium.
Some thought was given to modifying the car into a permanent camper but the adaptations made it impractical. On a standard vehicle, the spare wheel is located under the rear in the space now occupied by the ramp hence the spare wheel is inside.
This prompted me to start looking for a properly fitted camper and I found a company in Sussex fitting out Berlingos, Chapel Motorhomes. I still wanted a practical daily transport and my parking space at home was a bit cramped so didn’t, at that point, consider anything bigger.
As bought it was designed for two people. The sink, cooker and storage unit was across the back and cushioned boards were set up to provide the bed. I tried using it as a single but couldn’t get comfortable and returned to the builder. The proprietor, Vince, was very helpful and following my suggestions he came up with a design for a solo traveller with a bunk along the side and the unit on the other and partially across the back. He has since refined the design and fittings and it’s now a standard offering.
It’s an excellent motor but I discovered its limitations on a three week trip across Germany to Berlin; the lack of storage space and the lack of headroom. I hadn’t realised what you can’t do sitting down. Having a strip wash in the woods in summer is fine. Having done it while in the army, I know that it’s not so good in winter. The decision was made to find a van to fit out as I wanted it.
For several years I’d been passing a van dealership near Kidderminster and while out and about took the chance to call in. He had a couple of medium wheelbase VW Crafters on offer. The make and model was one I’d been thinking about but there was one thing about one particular vehicle that attracted me, it wasn’t white.
I made the purchase and set about finding someone to fit it out for me. The company I decided upon could start work sooner than the others. Sadly, they didn’t make a good job of it and three years later it’s not yet in use but that’s a story for another time.
To fill in while the Crafter was being prepared, I sold the Berlingo and bought a cheap LDV Convoy. Overall it appeared to be in good condition but I asked a local garage to give it a thorough check for any age related or other problems while they serviced it. A couple of seals and similar items were getting tired so I had them changed.
Then it was time for a trip to Gibraltar over Christmas and the New Year.
In spring 2017 I was spending so little time at home that I decided to give it up and live in the camper full time. I was hoping to move out on the anniversary of moving in to the house but other things got in the way and delayed it by about six weeks.
The lack of storage space soon became an issue and I started looking for a more suitable vehicle. Apart from places to put things my other criteria was for a fixed bed. I found what I was looking for in a Carioca 15 based on a Fiat Ducato.
Before taking delivery I asked for a few items to be fitted including a roof mounted solar panel, additional leisure batteries and a Gaslow refillable gas bottle system.
This has turned out to be an excellent motorhome and has taken me on a number of good trips, including round Europe, initially to the North Cape, Norway then through eastern Europe to the south of Greece and back to the UK.
The Carioca is still in use at the time of writing (April 2020) although I’ve got a Transit 4×4 being fitted out but the Corona virus has stopped progress.