I’ve spent many very enjoyable summers of my life at various festivals around the world, sleeping happily in moth-bitten tents, blissfully surrounded by my fellow wannabe hippies. But as Trew Fields approaches as fast as my 37th year on this planet, and after one too many waterlogged sleeping bags (yes, I was there for the washout year at Glastonbury 2007) my wife and I decide that it’s time for an upgrade. We opt to bypass a yurt and go straight into everyone’s favourite hashtag: #vanlife. The only slight hindrance here is that we don’t actually own a van. So when we discover CamperVanTastic, a rental company in South London, it’s time to explore the options. The name of the business alone has charmed me, but their array of vehicles is equally impressive. We decide on the VW California Ocean, which apparently sleeps four so should allow enough room for all the festival essentials: a hairdryer, glitter, makeup… and my wife’s stuff as well.
After the long train journey from Edinburgh, on arrival at CamperVanTastic we are greeted with a big smile and a very in-depth demonstration on how every little bit of the California works, including the pop-up roof. We’re told that this is one option for sleeping; the other, slightly less spacious but quieter choice is the fold-out back seat that doubles up as still-pretty-generously-sized double bed. I guess we’ll just have to see how noisy things are when we get there.
And then we’re off, hurtling south on the A3 towards Trew Fields, the UK’s first cancer awareness and holistic health festival. As we arrive, we pull up and park behind an old bright purple Mazda Bongo which matches the owner’s hair. It’s a thing of visual beauty (the van, not her hair, although her vibrant locks are quite impressive) and has drawn a crowd. We’re in a Mojave Beige coloured van, which I’m grateful for as I’ve never been one to seek attention, so I’m happy to be in our undercover mobile home for the weekend. Plus, the Bongo doesn’t have a pop-up roof. We’ve arrived as the sun is beginning to set, so the first thing on my mind is dinner. Luckily the demonstration at the depot had included how to use the niftily designed kitchen which boasts two gas hobs and an incredibly efficient fridge. There is amazing festival food on offer, but this is the first time I’ve had a kitchen in a van, so it’s time to get our cook on. (Not in a Breaking Bad way).
Once we’ve mastered the swiveling of the front seats, the unveiling of the canopy and the unleashing of the camping seats from the creatively hidden away pockets in the boot door, it’s time to serve up our first meal of the festival. Due to the fact that it’s not raining, a true treat for us as we come from Scotland, we elect to dine outside. We happily tuck into our Thai red curry (no more lukewarm Pot Noodles – we really are glamping now) and chat to random passersby, many of which are in admiration of our van. “Ooh,” the lady with the Bongo says, “Is that the California?”. Yes my eclectic friend, yes it is. And no, I don’t want any purple face paint. Oh go on then, maybe just a little bit.
To rent a campervan from CamperVanTastic and to find out more about their range, visit their website.
Photos by John Harfield