Britain’s tiny ‘dream houses’ on wheels

“There has been an awareness of climate change and a desire to consume less in all aspects of our lives,” said Matthew Payne, an adventurer and filmmaker who, like Duckworth, turned an old military truck into a home. on wheels. “Living in an old vehicle that has already lived a life and has been saved from scrapping is much better for the environment than building and heating a house.” It can also be very comfortable; while from the outside, Payne’s truck, Matilda, looks brutal and militaristic, its interior gingham cushions and rustic countertops are reminiscent of a farmhouse kitchen.

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Much of the appeal of vanlife lies in the opportunities it provides to learn new skills on the job, and the movement fits with Britain’s tradition of eccentric amateurism. It’s easy to imagine that it attracts the same sort of people who once would have spent their weekends building jet carts or perfecting the perfect Wallace and Gromit-style all-in-one breakfast machine. In van life, as in all things, mistakes are part of the journey.

Or, as Duckworth says, “You have to mess it up and the pipes have to explode so you learn how to do it better next time.”

The Vanlifers come together to compare their builds and share stories of their road adventures at Camp Quirky, an annual festival in Northamptonshire where tents house workshops on solar panel installation, carpentry and insulation, between other essential van building skills.

One of those for whom van life was a leap into the dark is Amy Nicholson, who travels the UK full time in her converted Vauxhall Vivaro. Hailing from Kent, Nicholson’s first taste of van life was this classic Antipodes adventure: touring New Zealand in a motorhome. She now works remotely as a freelance marketing consultant, regardless of where she is located.

“I fell in love with the simple life that vanlife brings,” she said. “Because you live in such a small space, you can’t have so many things, so it makes me less materialistic. It allows me to travel and explore the world while being able to have all of my things together and work from there. road. “

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