An insider's guide to the county's best kept secrets
When I was 15 I fell in love. Usual high school crush you might
think but my love was for a vehicle with a smiling face; a crush
that made me save my pocket money for 20 years until my
dream of owning a Volkswagen camper became reality. My
story is not unique. There’s something about the VW classic
camper that evokes eternal affection around the globe.
Symbolising fun, freedom and adventure, this home-is-where-
you-park-it mentality is a lifestyle statement adopted by
millions every summer. Polish it, strap a surfboard to it, pack
up the kids and hit the road; the journey is as important as
the destination. They’re slow, they struggle uphill and they
need constant attention, but they’re carefree camping at its best.
Buying a classic camper is tricky business. Whether it’s a split
screen (‘Splity’ 1950-1967) or a one-piece curved front screen (‘Bay’ 1967-1979), you’ll need to be one step ahead of the rust cover-ups. This is where Norfolk’s own Doktor Dub comes into play.
Graeme offers pre-purchase checks to avoid costly mistakes and will do all your beloved bus servicing and repairs at a very reasonable rate. He’s also an enthusiast, lives and breathes VW and clearly knows his stuff.
Prefer to try before you buy? Graeme also maintains Groovy Campers 70s camper fleet in Blakeney which are all fully restored and ready to hire. Everything included – just bring your sleeping bag. Retro Campers in Sheringham have 60s splities as well as 70s bays and name their vans after a song from that era. Get away for a
weekend in ’77 Boogie Nights, low season, for £275 or a week in ’66 Wild Thing, peak season, for £795. They offer a price match guarantee and will even pick you up from the station with a hamper of goodies and a full tank of petrol so you can jump straight in and flee.
With campervans come camping and the whole outdoor living
scene. If music and noise is your thing, then head to a summer
festival. Dubs at the Hall in Holt is a good place to start
(4-6th July). White Noise has grown this year to occupy Euston
Park (1-3rd Aug) and is now the largest VW and music festival
in East Anglia. If you prefer things a little quieter though, you’ll
find a good selection of campsites nearby. Deepdale Backpackers
has a strict ‘no noise after 10pm’ policy making it ideal for
families. With excellent facilities including a cafe and shop, they
also offer the new genre of glamping (yurts, tipis and shepherd
huts) for those that like the ‘idea’ of camping but not the cramped
space. If enjoying nature is high on your list of priorities, the Anchers Touring Park nestles next to the river Yare and has fantastic views over the local marshes, plus the added bonus of a good pub, Reedham Ferry, on the doorstep. Manor Park in East Runton’s 60 motor home pitches have breathtaking panoramic sea views too.
and pout until your heart’s content. You’ll go away with a disk full of high resolution photos and a day of memories to last forever, event prices start from £125.
If you look hard enough you might even see me, chugging along in my newly restored Dottie, a ’72 bay the colour of summer sand. You will undoubtedly overtake me and reach the sea first but hey, I have fresh cream cakes in the fridge!
This article was written for Norfolk on my Mind magazine's Easter 2014 issue: www.norfolkonmymind.co.uk
Wherever you go and whatever you do though, remember the only thing that truly matters: having fun. Campers are synonymous with leisure time and stress free living so become a hippy for the duration and let the good times roll. VW camper owners are a quirky bunch, always thinking outside the box. Just look out for some of the ways they make use of their precious vans. Can you spot Campaccino on your travels this summer? A ’67 split screen mobile coffee bar. Or why not hire Campervan Photobooth for some fun in the sun? Rebecca will roll up in Edith, her ’79 love bus, filled with retro suitcases full of props including wigs, hats, glasses and signs for you and your guests to pose