Excitement is mounting in the Kirby household.
After many months of planning, searching and waiting, we anticipate taking delivery of a new camper van at the weekend.
Buying a camper van is not a small undertaking: there are many decisions to be made.
One of these decisions, apparently – and bizarrely – is what to call it.
I admit that I haven’t always been enthusiastic about the notion of owning a camper van.
My wife has gradually worn me down with her enthusiasm.
We will be able to go off for the weekend at the drop of a hat, she says, without worrying about the cost of hotels or bed and breakfasts.
My rejoinder that we could afford an awful lot of hotels for the not inconsiderable cost of a camper van fell on deaf ears.
Eventually I was dragged off to Bus Fest to see some vans ‘in the flesh’.
Seeing the art of the possible, speaking to enthusiastic owners and contemplating the opportunities that open up for attending festivals and rallies finally won me over.
And so the planning began in earnest.
We considered the various options for which type of van to get, and finally came around to the obvious answer: the only realistic alternative for the dedicated camper van-ist seems to be the VW Transporter.
Although the older model VWs look very nice, quirky and traditional, with my mechanical prowess it had to be a newer van. This also seems to be the more practical option in terms of actually using it.
As kitting out the van is expensive, it is sensible to buy the newest van with the lowest mileage that you can afford, so we set ourselves a budget for a T5.
The next thing to think about is actually the kitting it out bit. We briefly thought about doing it ourselves, but once we finished laughing we set out to research professional fitters.
There are quite a few out there, and apparently some are better than others – and some are to be avoided like the plague. We finally settled on St Leger, who have a good reputation as well as the added advantage of being based in Leckhampton, just outside Cheltenham, less than 10 miles from our house.
The search for a van took a while. We increased our budget but still no joy. Then St Leger found one for us.
It was, of course, over budget, but it was in better condition and lower mileage for the price than anything we had looked at. It also had a tailgate, which we had entirely given up on any hopes of finding. So we bought it.
That was back in mid-October.
We were extremely lucky to get a slot with St Leger pretty much straight away – generally there is a wait of many months.
There were many more decisions to be made about colours, materials and fixtures, most of which I left to my enthusiastic wife as she has much more of an eye for this stuff than me.
Since then the van has slowly been taking shape and St Leger have been brilliant. They really know their stuff, their dedication to detail is impressive and their enthusiasm for the conversion almost matches our own. They couldn’t have been more friendly and helpful.
And so, finally, the wait is almost over…
…and we come to the question of what do we call it.
I can honestly say that it never crossed my mind to consider that the van would need a name, but I seem to be in the minority.
Whenever we speak of the van, especially to other camper van owners, this is one of the first questions that come up.
I sort of understand the allure of naming the older style camper vans – they have a charm and character that calls out for personification. I’m not convinced this is true of a modern former builders van.
We have friends with camper vans. One’s called Daisy, there’s a Brian and another is called Mungo (the vans, not the friends!).
Another friend, who is a recent convert to the camper, has a T3 in the original brown and cream colour; he calls his van ‘Strangely Brown’.
I quite like that, but my suggestion of ‘Plainly White’ wasn’t well received.
So what do you call it?
I have no idea. Maybe something will come to us – polite suggestions welcomed.
Or maybe we’ll just see sense and decide it can remain the van with no name.