Brenda drives a converted Suzuki Wagon R – perhaps the smallest campervan on the roads today – and has packing it off to a fine art. It’s her daily vehicle: economical to run, easy to park and can easily be spotted in the car park! In spite of her small size, Suzie has been the perfect base for exploring the backroads of France and the Scottish islands.
‘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 myself and my camper van
I’m Brenda and the blogger’s Mum. I am also the devoted owner of Suzie, a bright yellow Suzuki Wagon R which doubles as a single-person camper van, complete with pop-up roof, kitchen and swivelling front passenger seat. It was converted ex-manufacturer by the innovative company Wheelhome, with many clever details. Having been a camper with tent or, later, camper van (Peugeot Talbot) most of my life and especially with my husband and three sons, I reverted to a tent when single again. On a site in Sutherland however, I was astonished and thrilled to see the ideal vehicle, a Wheelhome-converted Suzuki Wagon R, in use by a woman even older than me! Fortunately, I was able quite soon to find and buy Suzie, two years old and carefully-kept. She is now well-known around my home village, instantly recognizable by the tap in the back window!
2. How do I use my camper van ?
Suzie is my only vehicle, economical to use for all purposes and small enough to be housed in the garage; available for anything from shopping or taking friends out for a run, to a few days’ or a few weeks’ holiday.
3. Best thing I love about my van ?
The small size for parking or pitching is a great asset and I can easily find her in a car-park with the high roof and cheery bright colour. Once parked on a site, with the roof popped up and the front seat turned round to form the sitting area, we are quickly in residence and ready to put the kettle on.
4. Pet gripes ?
One limitation is that I can only carry two passengers since the fourth seat-space houses the kitchen. My only real gripe is the difficulty of press-studding the windscreen curtain in place at night: strong fingers needed!
5. Favourite accessories ?
One of my favourite accessories is the drop-down flat box under the roof for packing clothes flat; another is the big shelf under the raised roof where bulky items like bedding and jackets can be stowed, leaving the living area clear.
6. Best tip for new owners ?
There are unlikely to be many new owners of an identical vehicle since this model of Suzuki has been discontinued. However, Wheelhome have several other attractive car/camper van conversions, the smallest at present being a Fiat with the additional option of a bed in the roof.
7. Best trip in my van ?
Having enjoyed many great trips in this vehicle over the last ten years all over the UK and especially most of the Scottish islands, I find it hard to choose the best, but perhaps my latest French holiday was a special one. I decided to explore the region of Picardy with its marvellous mediaeval churches and cathedrals, secluded flowery villages off the beaten track, and extensive forests. Also fitting in a few days at each end spent with two lots of old friends, I ended up with a tour round Basse Normandie and returned from Le Havre. All the campsites I visited were well-maintained and quite quiet, but with a dearth of sites in rural Normandy, I also stayed in two excellent chambres d’hote (B&B).
8. Dream trip ?
I’m blessed with having had a good number of dream trips in past years. Perhaps the next will be a return trip, up one side of Scotland, along the top and down the other side! Or perhaps I’ll get side-tracked on the way…… The fun of a camper van is in the flexibility!
9. Favourite campsite ?
My current favourite site is Kildonan at the southern tip of Arran (see the Top 10 Scottish Beach Campsites) which I visited in perfect weather last summer: idyllic little sandy beach with clear water for swimming, sunsets over the sea and islands after days spent walking and exploring, and a good book to read with the waves swooshing just below the van.
10. When I’m not camping I’m …
When I’m not camping I’m enjoying my retirement, busy with friends, village and church affairs, preaching around our rural Methodist circuit, visiting my scattered family and exploring our rich historic and prehistoric past – in Suzie of course.