So how did we meet Brian?
"I'm not too proud to pee in a hedge"
We thought we were looking for a camper van. Our lives had reached a point where we wanted to shake things up a bit, and start doing some of the travelling that we had always promised ourselves. Before we met, I had solo backpacked in Asia for several months on different occasions, and at the age of 14 David had travelled across France on his own, and since meeting over a hump in the road (that's a story for another time!) we had enjoyed discovering new places together, whether close to home or as far away as Iceland, India, Ecuador and the Galapagos.
Now we aimed to do things a bit differently – taking our time to explore other cultures, customs and cuisines and using our creative skills to share what we learn with others, and had believed that a camper van would be our ticket to independent travel.
But we never quite saw the right van. We saw several features that we wanted: comfortable space for the two of us and our lovely lively Lola (a rescued Springer Spaniel), room for all the necessary equipment so that we could continue our design and photography work as we went along, somewhere to cook and eat, and a bed for the night... but not all in the same van. Having enjoyed many adventures afloat, including sailing across the Atlantic in the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, I was well used to living in confined quarters and not fussed about having en suite accommodation, so I was happy to consider options that might necessitate the occasional pee in a hedge.
Quite early on David suggested a tent as an option, but I didn’t want all the hassle of poles and pegs and blow up beds, so we parked that idea. At Birmingham's National Exhibition Centre in February 2018 for the Camping and Caravanning Show, I agreed to humour David and walk through to the tent zone.
We were stopped in our tracks by the sight of a tent atop a Discovery. My first thought was “that’s a bit batty”, but I climbed the ladder anyway to look inside. Actually there was a fair bit of space, and a comfy looking mattress over the whole area. No uncomfortable bumps under a leaky groundsheet! Andy showed us how ridiculously simple it was to take down and put up, with a hard shell lifted on gas struts and extra floor area that folds out wider than the car to give increased sleeping space with a sheltered area underneath. You just unclip the shell, allow it to rise on its own, fold out the floor and integral ladder, attach two supports for the fly leaf and you're done. No finding the right bit of frame to fit the right hole in the canvas, no guy ropes, no puffing away at an air bed. Ten minutes sat up in the tent imagining the opportunity for adventure that this offered us, and we were sold on the idea. Yes, maybe it is a bit batty but we love it.
We've upgraded our trusty Renault estate to an Isuzu D-Max with the tent on a BushTec steel canopy on the truck, and enough load capacity for about 1,000 bottles of wine if we only take a change of underwear and a toothbrush, so now we can go (almost) anywhere.
And why 'Brian'? .... he was named after that well-loved snail in the TV show 'Magic Roundabout' who carried his home on his back, as all snails do.
We hope you enjoy reading about our adventures – and we aim to have lots!