From the very beginning...
As a young child I lived in South London and travelled all over the UK with my parents and older brother in various converted vans. We visited fairs and showgrounds where my parents spent time trading and we had the freedom to make friends and have fun.
I don't remember much about it as I was very young but what I do remember is the excitement of travelling, sunny days and playing with lots of other children.
When I was 18 months old my parents decided to move to Lincolnshire in search of a better life for us children.
We settled in the village of Billinghay and lived in a caravan whilst Mum and Dad worked on the derelict house that later became our home. However, at weekends we continued to travel around the UK in our converted van and caravan, making friends and having fun.
Sadly , the small haulage company behind our house rapidly expanded to the extent that it made living there not the quiet and peaceful home it once was.
Fast forward a few years.
By now our family was growing and my parents wanted all of their children to be able to experience the freedom my brother and I had known, so we moved to the outskirts of the village and into a small farmhouse with outbuildings and a couple of acres of land. Again, all of these needed a huge amount of work.
This had to be one of the best playgrounds an adventurous child could wish for!
Our adventures never seemed to end and went from making dens with the old straw bails to making rope swings in the old barn, making a fire to cook on, a local river where we would spend entire days making rafts and catching fish. Looking back, it was awesome. No wonder I was always in a daydream at school, staring out of the classroom window, counting the minutes until home time. My life was full of interest and adventure. I have always loved being outdoors.
At 16 I left school and with only a couple of GCSE's and no idea what I wanted to do as a career, I went to work in a local factory.
It didn't work out and with very few opportunities locally I moved to South London and started work in a sawmill.
Living in grotty house shares was very difficult and I missed the adventure and freedom of the countryside. I gave it my all, but after a couple of years, I was making plans to move back to Billinghay, until I met Gemma!
It was a tough decision and at the time my Mum and Dad were very sad that I wasn't moving back. They have always given me unbiased advice and have allowed me to make my own choices in life from a young age, even if some of them were a bit crazy!
Soon after Gemma and I met, we moved into a flat share with some friends. With a very small 2 seater car, a tent and not much else we started to go camping in Cornwall. No luxury, but we made some great and some not so great memories.
Years later, we managed to buy a house that needed extensive modernisation. We did virtually all of the work ourselves. We spent most evenings and weekends plugging away and making it into our home.
We couldn't afford to take holidays at the time, but it was all worth it in the end.
2 + 1 = 3
A year later Max came along, it was life-changing. He was only a few weeks old when we took him to Porth, Cornwall. The place that Gemma and I had fallen in love with years before. We rented a static caravan for a few days and our passion to explore new places was reignited.
Our first van
In my spare time, I started buying and selling secondhand cars.
I started with £500 and over the following months, and just before Gemma and I got married, we had made just enough money to buy our first campervan.
What a wreck!! With a huge amount of help from my brother in law, we fitted new suspension and fixed various other problems.
A few weeks later Gemma and I headed off on our honeymoon in Betty. 20 minutes into the journey, the engine overheated and we came to a stop on the side of the M25!
For our first wedding anniversary Gemma, Max and I embarked on our first adventure abroad in Betty. We headed to the South East of France. It was an absolutely awful time!
With our lack of knowledge, blistering heat and quite possibly the worst navigation system ever made, the stress was unbearable. We didn't celebrate our wedding anniversary and we wonder how our marriage survived those 10 days of Hell.
It must have been awful for Max too. :-(
Jed, Louise and Isaac
Betty was a VW T3 Westfalia. For those who are not familiar with VW campers, Westfalia are the only company Volkswagen ever sanctioned to turn their vehicles into campervans. In our opinion not much comes close to the layout, extras and durability of their design. The perfect camper van, or so we thought!!!
We caught wind of a family making short videos of their trips away in their VW T3 Westfalia and posting them on Facebook.
This was around 2010 when this quite a new concept. The first thing that I noticed was they were driving it off-road and camping in the middle of nowhere. Away from your normal manicured campsites. They were cooling beer in the stream and cooking over a fire!!! We wanted some of that!
After some research, it transpired that Volkswagen had produced a limited amount of what is known as a Syncro. In other words, they had made a 4x4 version of the T3. Between1985 and 1992 Westfalia made a small amount of them into campervans!!!!! HELL YEAH!!!! I needed one and I needed it straightaway!
To say they are rare is an understatement! After 18 months of constant searching the whole of Europe, asking on various forums, one came up for sale in England.
I booked my train ticket to Yorkshire and with some negotiation and the exchange of a large (for us) stack of cash, I was driving home in our newly acquired 1989 VW T3 Syncro Westfalia!!
Around this time Harry was born and became the fourth member of the team!
It was lovely and looked the part. Raised suspension and larger wheels and tyres for improved off-road capabilities.
However, the engine was old and underpowered due to larger wheels etc and used a huge amount of petrol!
Over the next few years, the engine was replaced with an engine from a VW Golf TDI and pretty much everything under the van, including the entire transmission was upgraded to better suit our requirements. We did as much as possible ourselves to keep the costs down.
We then went through the inside. I fitted a compressor fridge, night heater, solar and a high output charging system.
Whilst this was all going on, Jed and his family were still making travel videos. They had become more adventurous, with trips as far as Croatia, the Alps and then Morocco. We were totally inspired and desperately wanted to explore these wonderful places they were showing on YouTube.
We soon found ourselves heading off to these awesome places too. Always squeezed into a 3 or 4 week summer holiday or a few weeks over Christmas. But with only 20 days of annual leave per year, it was all over too quickly.
We learnt a huge amount whilst on these adventures. With most trips including a few minor mechanical and electrical issues, I quickly became pretty good with a of set spanners and a Multi-meter.
We learned what we really needed to take with us, what products worked for us or were just a load of old tat and dead weight.
This was a very expensive learning process. Nowadays, we have pretty much cracked it.
We have reviews of all of the gear we use coming to YouTube soon.
Jed's videos have become massive hit and are still inspiring people all around the world.
This helped pave the way for Jed and Louise to open the webshop Campervanculture.com.
They sell a lot of products and spare parts that are relevant to the kind of travel we do.
What's so awesome is we are now inspiring them!!! So much so, Campervan Culture decided to sponsor us!!!