by Naomi Fiddes-Baron
Camp Quirky, in case you’ve been out of the country or taking a hiatus from social media, is the UK’s only festival focused on celebrating handmade campervans. 2019 was its fourth year of running and it was bigger, better, and even more quirky than ever before.
If you came, you will have been part of an awesome group of people that gathered in Northamptonshire with over 800 quirky campervans. Some vans were converted, some were in the early stages, and some people were in tents, eager to soak up ideas and inspiration for their dream campervan.
So, picking 5 vans out of that many is no mean feat!
Explore with the Goddards – Pepper
- FIAT Ducato – L3 H2
Camp Quirky inspired us on our journey to make van life more accessible for people with disabilities. Lots of people seemed super keen to hear more about this, which was really motivational
Jade Goddard – Explore with the Goddards
This brilliant campervan first attracted me because of the white walls and tiling. I do love a truly Scandinavian colour scheme! I noticed an undermounted accessibility lift and I just figured the van had previously been used for wheelchair access. It wasn’t until I met Jade, at Brown and Bird’s curry club night, that I realised this awesome lady had built, BY HERSELF, the van for her and her husband Dave.
It isn’t the fact that this van has been created with accessibility in mind, it’s more the fact that out of 800 campervans, I’d hazard a guess that 799 of them haven’t. In fact, Jade said that when she went to the dedicated “disabled access” section, she did not see another van with a ramp!
If you follow these guys on Instagram, and frankly you should, you’ll see that the fact that Dave happens to be in a wheelchair is kind of incidental to their message about accessibility. Pepper has been designed without compromise to their needs and requirements. You don’t have to leave the wheelchair outside of the van and “make do” when inside – instead, Pepper is wholly inclusive; from the adapted driving controls in the cab to the space in the rear. And, this van doesn’t skip a beat on the style points either. Which is really awesome, actually.
So, this is hands down my favourite van because of its attitude. Pepper is basically a personification of ambition, determination, and excellent style choices!
Camper Dreamin’ – Yosesmite
- Vauxhall Vivaro LWB
The best thing about Camp Quirky was putting faces to names and meeting the incredibly creative, like minded people behind the vans
Izzy Frampton – Camper Dreamin’
I’ve always had a soft spot for this camper van – it is a Vauxhall Vivaro High Top, which is just a badge change the same as my beloved Wanda after all! What I really love about Yosemite, the absolute best bit, is their dog Bear. I’m not sure he comes with the van, but he gives the most epic snuggles and feels like an integral part of their van!
Aside from that, if you saw this van, you will have been as impressed as I was by the attention to detail. Because these guys are climbers, there are nods towards this in the fixtures and fittings. The rear drawer handles are wooden climbing holds and, to be honest, you do need a fairly decent pinch to get them open!
Everything is so neat and planned out – there’s a place for absolutely everything. This includes the herb box which of course no self-respecting campervan would be without! The guys from Camper Dreamin’ have managed to create a veritable Mary Poppins van with oodles of storage for climbing gear, cooking gear, tables, chairs, BBQ pit and wine!
I love Yosemite, because she’s flying the flag for the smaller vans and proving that you don’t have to be big to have it all!
Brown & Bird – Unnamed Sprinter Van!
- Mercedes Sprinter LWB
The best bits about Camp Quirky were being part of a community, and making new friends to stalk online! In particular, throwing a couple of impromptu drinks and food gatherings and finding out it is possible to feed 7 people with two peppers, some mushrooms and a grated cauliflower!
Jaqui Brown – Brown & Bird
I’ve followed these guys on Instagram for a while now, often saving images of their beautiful crisp, clean van in envious admiration. In fact, I met them after being part of the panel on renting your campervan. After realising who they were, I admit I totally failed to play it cool as I exclaimed in fangirl style “Oh my god, you’re Brown and Bird” at least three times. I like to think I pulled it back enough as we were invited to their van for a snoop, which turned into wine, curry, and our dog stealing their dog’s food and blanket!
This van has it all. Space, storage, and immaculate organisation! The drawers were actually IKEA units which have been bolted to the floor and the walls. They may be a bit heavier than building them from scratch, but they’re so practical. The white walls and units make the copper lights really stand out.
What really, really made me fall in love was the very under Instagrammed garage storage. Honestly, is there a sexier thing than a well organised cupboard or storage space? No? Just me then….
This vans gets my vote for style choices. The decision to feature the bulkhead and keep the industrial electric ducting makes the live edge work surface contrast even more beautifully. There’s no wonder these guys get hundreds of likes for a coffee pot on top of the counter – it’s got style to rival any country homes feature!
Jane Ryder – ISLA
- Citroen Relay MWB
Camp Quirky was an opportunity to hang out and have fun with a diverse bunch of people, who connect in a very warm and open way through their shared passion for self build campervans and all things van life.
I was first alerted to this stunning campervan when my wife came bounding back from a van snoop outing exclaiming loudly that I “had” to see this van. I duly went and found it and immediately realised why Laura was quite so excited.
Isla is, basically, the van I want to own. The van I imagine most people would want to own. Why? Because Jane has taken a medium wheel base, and managed to fit in everything that normally you need a long wheel base van to do. And there’s no compromise on the feeling of space, either. So, either you’re walking into a genuine Tardis, or, Jane is a genius with planning and design.
This campervan was built by Rustic Simplicity, so it’s no surprise that the van is a thing of beauty. Hamish , Florence , Silva , Serenity and MacIntyre were also built by these guys so they’re pretty experienced at building a jolly good van!
Quirky Campers Fleet –Acorn
I was lucky enough to have Acorn and her owner Scott as camp buddies at the festival. This beautiful van is even more impressive when you realise that she was built almost entirely from salvaged materials. In fact, Scott single handedly crafted Acorn on the side of his street which is testament to his skills and creative vision!
The work surface is resin and pennies, the pallet wood ceiling came from a skip, and the drawer fronts were donated by a friend of Scott’s. Sadly, these wine crates didn’t come complete with the full bottles of wine, but they still look epic where they are!
Acorn is a really well thought out van, and super spacious once you’re inside. The varying wooden tones make it feel really warm and cosy – like a little rustic cabin, that happens to be found in an old minibus. I admit, it vastly appeals to the eco conscious side of me, to know that it is entirely possible to create something this beautiful, without needing to spend a fortune or opt for newly manufactured interior parts. It probably helps to have the craftsmanship and attention to detail of an aeronautical engineer like Scott, too, but a girl can dream of learning new skills!
Roll on Next Year!
It was super difficult to chose just 5 vans to showcase in this blog. I had hundreds of photographs on my phone and camera of so many others. You would walk around the festival jotting down ideas for modifications to your van, or, perhaps more likely, sketching up designs for your next one! I can’t wait until next year’s festival to get my next big fix of van life addiction!