Forget what Bear Grylls may have you believe, you don’t have to trek halfway around the globe to find adventure. In fact, less than 10 miles away from home, the diminutive Dylan – a 1970s-style T2 VW Campervan – transported an intrepid SoGlos.com journalist (and her husband) on an unforgettable voyage into the wilds of Gloucestershire. Well, for a fun night at a popular riverside campsite.
The little red Volkswagen came courtesy of Dylan’s Travels, a Gloucester-based business which hires the six-year-old camper to thrill-seekers from all walks of life. Since Dylan was shipped over from the exotic shores of Brazil, we’d been told he’s been used as a romantic place to propose and a stylish retreat for festival-goers, not to mention as an entertaining way for families to explore the Cotswolds.
Upon arriving at Dylan’s Travels’ Brockworth-base, after being almost blinded by the spotlessly gleaming red paintwork, we were comprehensively briefed by the vivacious Mary, until we felt confident about handling everything from hooking-up to the mains electricity to what to do in the unlikely event of a breakdown.
It was evident that a lot of love and care, and polish, has been invested into Dylan and as we started up his engine and waved goodbye, we hoped that after her thorough introductions, Mary too would feel more confident about letting a couple of novices drive away in her pride and joy!
Having taken GTI acceleration and power-steering for granted for years, driving Dylan – particularly around corners – took a little getting used to, but after a few hairy goes around the quiet roundabouts of Brockworth’s trading estate, we were ready for the open road, or in our case, the Golden Valley.
With excited points and waves from passersby as we drove by, it was easy to be swept along in the excitement of seeming new found celebrity – but alas, it was Dylan, not his passengers, hogging the limelight. And while a few beeps from inpatient drivers were also par for the course for a vehicle which tops 65 mph, most of the honks were friendly in nature!
We headed to the recommended Lower Lode Inn campsite, near Tewkesbury, paid a very reasonable £10 for an overnight pitch, and put our new skills to the test – popping-up the VW’s top, before exploring our little home’s ingeniously-designed features for the first time: from screwing in the table to switching on the gas to make a cup of tea, not forgetting folding out the backseat to make our bed when the sun had set. The few bumped heads and grazed shins were laughed off as all part of the experience.
Our riverside pitch bordered on the idyllic, with swallows flying overhead, competitive rowers on the water and the occasional duck waddling up to our door for a bit of bread – not to mention the cosy pub on hand for a convenient pint or homemade pie… or midnight trip to the loo!
With a deck of cards and selection of board games, sans flares and an ABBA soundtrack, the nostalgic campsite experience could have been one straight out of the 1970s, but there were a few definite nods to the present day – including a DVD player complete with episodes of the Magic Roundabout, as well as a thoughtful charger for iPods.
The immaculate attention to detail was also impressive. With a pretty picnic basket crammed with pick ‘n’ mix sweets to make kids smile and mini bottles of wine to please the grown-ups. There was also fresh bread, thick slices of Old Spot bacon and eggs from Over Farm stocked in the fridge, which were all delicious delicacies devoured for breakfast the next morning.
While we really weren’t expecting five-star luxury, sleep-wise the rock-and-roll bed was a snug fit for two fidgets during the night, and the mattress was a tad on the hard side, while the ‘upstairs’ seemed like it would make for a fun night for smallish children.
Combining all the novelty of a back-to-basics camping trip with little luxuries to outstrip the humble tent – and undeniable lashings of VW cool – Dylan provided proof that a DeLorean isn’t needed for time travel, making for an unforgettable and timeless overnight adventure just a few miles from home.
Dylan’s hire costs vary, starting from £200 for a weekend and from £450 for a week. For more information see Dylan's Travels or call 07747 618481 directly.
By Michelle Fyrne
Wednesday 13 July 2011
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