Lilly and Me: a campervan adventure in Cornwall

I’d never driven a classic VW campervan before. That was until I met Lilly. Lilly changed my life. She changed us all forever. My two year-old sobbed his heart out when Lilly left.

A 1973 Bay Window pop-top campervan, Lilly was the most beautiful member of our family for just one day. And in that 24 hours we all fell in love with her. I was in love with her by the time I’d driven from her home in St Austell to ours in Hayle. She only goes 50mph at top speed. But going at 50mph you get to see a lot more than you do on your average drive down the A30. Through the bay windows I pondered scenes of the Cornish clay pits, cows and horses grazing, coastal panoramas and facial expressions of other drivers. I could hardly hear my music above the noise of the engine. But I didn’t care.

When I finally got to Hayle and picked the boys up, they screamed in excitement. Soon we were on our way to Marazion, dog and picnic packed in the back, rolling under the sunny skies of Cornwall. Parked up by the beach we sat back on the deckchairs and admired Lilly. Passers by stopped to admire and photograph her too.

On the slow, happy drive to Godrevy I finally got the knack of driving Lilly smoothly. No more stalling every time I went for second, or hitting third gear instead of first. It takes time to drive an old van. Everything about Lilly takes time; she slows you down to a pace of life most of us have forgotten existed. That’s part of her beauty.

At Godrevy lighthouse we parked in a line-up of two other retro campers. I think she was most at home here: ocean views, sunshine and friends. And so were we. The boys played in the kitchen, pretending to make tea. Then we pulled the printed curtains, set up the bed and the boys snuggled into sleeping bags for story-time at sunset.

Taking Lilly back home the next morning was hard for all of us. I woke up in a terrible mood that wasn’t soothed until I was under the spell of driving her once more. When we handed the keys over my two year-old sobbed and refused to get back into our own van.

We saw Lilly again twice that day, off on adventures around Looe. For a wedding this time. That’s another thing about Lilly – she makes lots of people happy. Whether you want her to cruise around Cornwall in, as a surf-mobile, a wedding car, or to camp out under the stars, she can make you happy too.

Check out The Cornwall Camper Company: www.thecornwallcampercompany.co.uk 

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