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 Matthieu payne, an adventurer and filmmaker who, like Duckworth, turned an old military truck into a house 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 outside Payne’s truck, Mathilde, has a brutal and militaristic appearance, its interior gingham cushions and rustic countertops 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 kind of people who would once have spent their weekends building jet racing carts or perfect 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 adventures on the road to Unusual Camp, an annual festival in Northamptonshire where tents house workshops on solar panel installation, carpentry and insulation, among other essential van building skills.
One of those for whom vanlife was a leap into the dark is Amy nicholson, who tours the UK full time in his Opel Vivaro converted. 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. “