A New Home – With Wheels On
,,I used to dream I would turn a corner in the road one day and there it would be. Nestled, half hidden by wood and scented shrubs. Bees buzzing busily in the rose bushes. The sea waiting, just out of sight, down the twisting, turning, garden path.
My dream house. My forever home. I knew it was out there waiting for me somewhere. If I just turned enough bends, followed enough dusty, cobbled lanes…
And so I searched. Through all the years of my life. From town to country. Country to city. Beautiful houses were everywhere. But none of them were ever quite my beautiful house.
In each fresh home I’d settle in to explore my new surroundings. Make new friends. Map new streets.
But just as I was truly starting to find my feet that old, familiar, itch, would start up inside of me. In my toes…sure, but “itchy feet” doesn’t really itch in my feet. It itches in my soul.
My head, my back, my brain, my bones. It itches in my patience. It itches me in places a woman can’t even begin to reach. Not standing still anyways.
That itch, it itches the air that I breath. Falling leaves and starlings, swirling in black, towering, flowing rivers of cloud, in the Autumn sky. Swallows calling “Follow! Follow” as they swoop the graceful end of Summer in Scottish parks.
They always pulled me – these swallows, these flame coloured dying leaves. A dusty little girl with scabby knees. Tucked in a winter bed reading tales of exploration and adventure. Of “Dr. Livingstone I presume?” and the far flung distant galaxies of unknown worlds filling our dark Northern winter skies with speckled swathes of diamond light.
I devoured stories of gypsies and running away to join the circus. I was mesmerised by the old Tramps that would sometimes appear for a few days, maybe a week or two. Layered in ragged clothes, ragged hair, and the silent ancient of a giant tree.
My mother fed them when she could. Helped them as she always did whenever she saw a need. But to my child’s eyes they weren’t homeless people. They pulled me. Like the swallows. Like the leaves. Forces of nature, rolling with the secret tides of the planet that house folk could never see. There silent leaving painting “Follow! Follow” on the late September air.
Time and tides passed, and eventually, many years later, me and my partner in crime Jay decided to get ourselves a motorhome and start to wander. (You can read more in the About Us page.)
I read a lot about motorhomes. I joined internet forums and facebook groups and did a lot of listening. I read blogs. I watched “How to” and review videos on YouTube by Channels like Practical Motorhome.
And bit by bit we began returning more and more to one motorhome as being the one that would best suit our needs. Big enough, but not so big it wouldn’t fit into a parking space. With as much living space as possible as we planned on spending at least 50 weeks a year in it. Well made, low mileage, with solar panels and a refilleable LPG system.
The German built Hymer B544s seemed to tick all our boxes. And so we started going to motorhome dealers and spending time looking round all the different vans. Whenever we found a B544 we would keep coming back to it. There were lots of lovely motorhomes, but the more we saw, the more time we spent, the more we were sure that the B544 was the van for us.
It had taken six months of research to get to this point. Now all we had to do was find our van. It had to be at least a 2001 model (because they’re better in cold weather and have a bit more storage), within our £21,000 budget, and have a low mileage.
Another six months passed of daily scouring websites looking for our van. We’d already picked a name for him – Yggdrassil – Iggy for short. After the Norse tree of life, to go with our tree of life Logo and our desire to use our travels and music and writing to help connect people. Or show the connections we all have already.
And then, all of a sudden it just all fell in place at once. I found a 2002 Hymer B544 for sale in Darlington with just 48,000 miles on the clock. It was priced too high at £23,000. But the dealers agreed to fit a new solar panel and a brand new Gaslow LPG system as part of the selling price.
We paid a deposit agreeing to buy the van if all was as described when we inspected it and drove down to Darlington with our hearts in our throats. An hour of inspections later and we shook hands with the dealer. On the 8th of March, after service and MOT, Iggy would be ours.
And that, as they say, was that. Exactly a year and a day after the plan was hatched, Jay and I caught an early morning train to Darlington, and drove home a few hours later in Yggdrasil. After months of scanning Ebay and Autotrader we’d finally found him – our Iggy – and the Travel Malarkey family was complete.
At the dealer’s we handed over £23,000 with one very large gulp, then Jay started up the engine for the first time. BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! Guess we’d got the model with the step alarm then! Yup we’d managed to forget to put it up on our very first drive. A quick dive back to the habitation door for me and we were off. Heading home in our new home. Which meant we were already home. Marvelous!
We did a lot of research before we bought Iggy. Went to a lot of motorhome dealers. Bounced on beds in a lot of vans. Read a lot of stories on forums and owners groups. But we really weren’t prepared at all. Not in the slightest.
I’ve been in buses and vans and lorries. So why is Iggy so different? I really don’t know. All I can tell you is it’s like riding on top of the world. The view from his huge expanse of glass is just superb. Riding in a Hymer is being a kid again. Everything’s right there! It’s all clearer somehow. Like someone just took a filter from my eyes and everything became crystal bright. And there we were, riding right up above it all. Somehow more in it, while at the same time wrapped in a bubble of space, and home, and safe. It feels good folks. Really, really good.
Ah that was a day to remember. A day of joy and hope and fresh beginnings. A day full of new things. Our first drive on the motorway, on A roads and on cobbled city lanes. In bright sunshine and strong winds, and lastly in darkness, as we glided through the nighttime streets and Iggy finally came home to sleep.
So that was day one. Our second day out in Iggy was to be shakedown day. The overnight trial run into the countryside to see what worked, and what didn’t. And to start with, everything bubbled along quite beautifully. To start with.
It was our fifth day as proud Hymer owners, and we were up and out bright and early. The plan was to run around town picking up bits and pieces that Iggy needed, then park up at Portobello beach for the night. I had an early morning appointment the next day and we were going to take an hours jaunt down to a loch in the Borders after that for a second night. Everything was going great. Jay handled our magnificent beast like a pro, and with just one last quick stop at Halfords to go, we were a mere five minutes away from our stopping place for the night.
So close. We were so, so close. And that’s when the day took a turn for the legendary. The legendary day in which Iggy the Hymer got a bandage. Also to be known as, “The day we broke the motorhome.”
“What?!” I hear you cry. Not as loud as we did I promise you. Oh it was horrible. That noise! That dreadful, sickening, “CRUNCH” of a noise, as a lurking bike rack sprang out of hiding in the car park, and sank itself deep into Iggy’s unsuspecting nose.
Poor Jay. Poor Iggy. The cycle rack grinned at us evilly from it’s embedded position next to Iggy’s headlights. As if a giant axe had been flung between his eyes. Smashing it’s way into his skull. At first glance the wound seemed deep and mortal. Fearing the worst Jay put Iggy into reverse and delicately inched him backwards, while I watched his bumper creak and groan in heartrending protest. As he broke completely free of the offending rack the broken bumper collapsed towards the ground, dangling suspended, inches above it, by the vein like wiring from his lights.
Thank goodness for the forums and Hymer Facebook pages! If there’s one thing we knew every secondhand Hymer owner must have, it was gaffer tape. While Jay moaned pitifully in a horrified “What have I done!!” way, I ran back into Iggy and quickly returned, waving the gleaming silver roll of miracle tape in my hand. Jay’s eyes lit up. All was, maybe, not lost.
We lifted and held. Cut and smoothed, and carefully slathered his broken skull with modern day vinegar and brown paper. Lights were tried and found to be mostly working, and after a quick discussion we limped the last mile to the beach to regroup and lick our wounds.
One of the great things about a Hymer is the ability to make a nice cup of tea in almost all situations. Or coffee in our case. With the initial shock over we were relieved to see that Iggy’s wounds were mainly superficial. His bumper might be toast, but the main man himself was unharmed. Given that and the fact that nothing could be done for him until the next morning we did what anyone would do in our situation. Settled in to enjoy our first night by the sea together. Garages could be called first thing on Monday morning. For tonight there was moonlight, and the gentle lull of waves on the beach.