The UK’s tiny ‘dream homes’ on wheels – BBC News

The UK’s tiny ‘dream homes’ on wheels – BBC News

“There’s been an awakening to climate change, and a desire to consume less in all aspects of our lives,” said Matthew Payne, an adventurer and filmmaker who, like Duckworth, has converted an ex-military truck into a home on wheels. “Living in an old vehicle that has already lived a life and been saved from the scrapheap is far better for the environment than building and heating housing.” It can also be very comfortable; while from the outside Payne’s truck, Matilda, has a brutish, militaristic aspect, its interior gingham cushions and rustic worktops recall a farmhouse kitchen.

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Much of vanlife’s appeal lies in the opportunities it presents to learn new skills on the job, and the movement chimes with the British 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-propelled shopping trolleys or honing the perfect all-in-one Wallace and Gromit-style breakfast machine. In vanlife, as in all things, mistakes are part of the journey.

Or, as Duckworth put it, “You need to mess things up and pipes need to explode for you learn how to do it better next time.”

Vanlifers congregate to compare their builds and share stories of their adventures on the road at Camp Quirky, 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 the vanlife was a leap into the unknown is Amy Nicholson, who tours the UK full time in her converted Vauxhall Vivaro. Originally from Kent, Nicholson’s first taste of van living was that classic Antipodean adventure: touring New Zealand in a campervan. She now works remotely as a freelance marketing consultant from wherever she’s pitched up.

“I fell in love with the simple life that vanlife brings,” she said. “Because you are living in such a small space you can’t have that much stuff, so it makes me less materialistic. It allows me to travel and explore the world while still being able to have all my stuff together and work from the road.”


Van life