‘Tina Tina Orangina’ was named by Kerry’s children for her … well … orangeness. She was an impulse buy that turned into a long-term project. But helped by the fact Kerry’s other half is a VW mechanic they’ve now got Tina on the road and are just about to take off for a holiday in France in her.
‘Happy Campers’ is a series of posts featuring camper vans and their owners. It’s designed to offer advice and inspiration to new and existing camper van owners – featuring members of the WildaboutScotland community. To take part, please send an e-mail to me answering the standard question format below together with a good photo or two.
1. Introducing us and our camper van
This is Tina, the most recent addition to our family ! We bought her back in June 2011 on a bit of a whim. My brother in law had a T25 which my husband (a VW mechanic) had put a VR6 VW Corrado engine into (this makes it sound a lot simpler than it was), and we had a tent at the time. During hubby’s many hours searching eBay for components for the engine conversion we began looking for a Wedge (ie a T25). My husband had just left a VW main dealer to set up his own garage and we felt a bit dangerous (or stupid) and we saw Tina on eBay for £1200. Hubby and Bro-in-law went to look at her and about 30 mins later I heard something that distinctly did not sound like my brother in law’s’ car pulling into the drive !
When we bought her she had a homemade wooden lie back flat bench/bed with white PVC-covered cushions, a makeshift kitchen and what can only be described as a bulkhead through to the cab ! Three years and lots and lots of man hours and cash later she is about to embark on her first summer of being used as a family ! She has attended a few VW shows in primer but now she is ready. Our three children Josh (13), Lucy (10) and Jack (5) immediately called her ‘Tina Tina Orangina’ so that has stuck !
2. How do we use our camper van ?
For the last three years we have used Tina as an alternative way of burning money or putting £10 notes through a shredder ! She has been restored (by my husband with the help of a few friends) and will be joining us on a couple of local camping trips a year, a few “boys only” VW show weekends and also a week long trip to France this year with two other Wedges and two Bays!
3. Best thing we love about our van ?
For me it’s her colour: I LOVE the Orange (you have to embrace a van that looks like a 1980s Dynarod van !). I love her for her name, the reason we bought her and just her orangeness ! For my husband, she’s a toy and his other woman. He likes finding something he can make better and then getting on and doing it. The kids love just playing in her and helping clean dirty bits and pieces as and when they get stripped off of her.
4. Pet gripes ?
Being only 5ft 2 I can’t drive her ! With the seat as far forward as it goes I can’t get the clutch fully to the floor. The one time I did drive her (which involved a three point turn) I ripped muscles in my body that I didn’t even know I had ! Plus, I like brakes that actually stop the vehicle when you press them, not two minutes later … As for my husband he says he doesn’t have a pet gripe but I know for a fact that he got frustrated when he found a big hole or a pile of rust behind every layer of paint when she was being restored. Being from the 80’s nothing seems easy ! I’ve lost count of the number of conversations I’ve blocked out about wiring diagrams now …
5. Favourite accessories ?
Having slept on air beds and had terrible sleeps, I have to say the three £10 camp beds we bought in Halfords have been brilliant. (Not that I sleep on them when camping – I’m on the bed – but for sleepovers when friends come over they are brill). My husband won’t go anywhere without a little basic toolkit (it’s the mechanic in him). He once carried out a repair at the side of the road from cutting the finger off a latex glove and duct taping it around a burst water pipe (and in fact he has just told me that was 12 months ago and it is still in place and working !).
6. Best tip for new owners ?
From a female point of view, decide what you want before you buy. If you want a long-term project that will drain your bank account go for a van you can restore and make yours (oh, and marry a VW mechanic !). From my husband’s perspective he says enjoy every minute of it and be prepared to spend more than you think you will ! Expect the unexpected. Don’t buy the first one you see (unlike us …) and buy at the end of summer when they are cheaper.
7. Best trip in our van ?
The first time we camped with the van as a family was in June 2012. Tina was half-primer and half-orange and we had weekend at the nearby Dubbing in Dorset festival. It was our third time at this show but our first in a van, we felt so chuffed ! The awning didn’t attach to the van because we hadn’t sorted the connecters, it chucked down with rain which was very loud in a totally stripped back van and the second hand awning leaked. But it was brill !
8. Dream trip ?
We have both said that in 2 – 3 years we are going to do a trip through the Mont Blanc tunnel, through Italy and along the Amalfi coast where we honeymooned. This winter Tina should be getting a TDI Golf engine installed so hopefully the trip will be more viable.
9. Favourite campsite ?
Living in Dorset we have fab campsites under 30 minutes’ drive away eg Osmington, Wareham (Birchwood Park). Slightly further away we have Brean (Warren Farm) and also Ladram Bay.
10. When I’m not camping I’m …
… studying fulltime for a degree in English with History, being mum to three terrors, and eating cake and drinking coffee. And of course my husband is busy fixing cars …!
If you’re a Happy Camper and have a story to tell, please e-mail me and send a photo or two using the ‘Get in Touch’ form.