I'd often pondered about getting a caravan but with the ability to sleep on the buses at shows I really didn't bother. It's only when the taxi collection came along, the problem of long weekends with only the back of a cab to sleep in cropped up. At SCOC HQ there are a few caravans stored nearby and one day I spotted the Europa. Now what I know about touring caravans you could write on a stamp as I used to work with static vans in the past but never these things, but I realised it was old. None of this streamlined front end like the modern vans. As it was unlocked, I looked inside. It was full of crap from floor to ceiling. Cuddly toys, old clothing, chicken wire... you name it, it was in here. Despite that, it was dry. Annoyingly, there was no chassis plate visible which meant it hard to find out what it was for sure. I vowed to speak to the landlord to see if he could put me in touch with the owners...
So imagine my surprise when some weeks later, I found it dumped outside on the grass verge. Speaking to the landlord, he informed me that rent hadn't been paid on it for years and he was selling it for scrap. I decided to make an offer, thinking he'd want silly money but £60 later and the van was mine.
Initially it lived behind the buses at HQ and all the crap inside was emptied. I was still unsure what to do with it though. Paint it up as a mobile travel office with a big National Bus Company logo on the side? A mobile exhibition unit? It would have looked good behind 5807...
As usual, fate had other plans. A change of circumstances saw me needing accommodation to live in. I am now a homeowner - even if it is only a £60 one!
The outside was quickly painted up to tidy it and it gained the rather tasty blue and off white you see today. Long-term plans will see it externally restored to the pale green and cream colours from new.
I've now been living in it on a farm on the coast since August 2015 and it's so much fun and easier to heat than 7041. In fact I've only ever been cold in a power cut, mostly it's super warm inside.
So why Carry On Behind? Well that was one of the later films of the series set in a caravan park and plenty of Caravan International (CI) products are used throughout including Sprites, Majors and of course Europas.
I know this isn't bus related, but it demonstrates how one past time can lead to another. Without the buses being at HQ I certainly wouldn't have seen this caravan. Right place right time... just keep the Top Gear lot away from it.