Life has changed dramatically for Mr G and Ms Raccoon over the past few weeks.
Last night, after much debate, we decided that since it is patently obvious Ms Raccoon will not be off on her travels any longer, rather than go through the process of re-registering our Volkswagen California in the UK, re-insuring it, taxing it and all the rest of the performance, we would sell it before the middle of February, which is the deadline by which we must do one or the other.
This particular Volkswagen California is rather a special beast. We bought it direct from the factory at Wiesbaden as an ‘ex-demo’ with 500 km on the clock – we got a lot more than we bargained for. Whilst all new Californias are factory built rather than ‘van conversions’ – this one was built as Volkswagen’s own ‘support vehicle’ for the Paris-Dakar rally, but never went. All dressed up and no rally to go to.
It is four wheel drive, with special raised suspension, and it really will go anywhere. It is completely sealed with a metal tray underneath to protect it from rocks and other obstacles – and road salt!
It sleeps four people, or two adults and two kids, or the extra long Ms Raccoon and the broad shouldered Mr G in perfect comfort; Ms Raccoon has long bagged the upper story with its two windows out onto whichever million dollar view we have picked for the night – that’s the thing with the California, it will smugly drive under those annoying low metal barriers with their ‘no camper van’ signs on the French Riviera, or picturesque Italian villages. On the move, it is just a normal van shape and size – and priced accordingly on toll roads and ferries.
Once you arrive at your destination, press a button and the roof rises, giving you standing height to cook, wash, or dress. Everything has been designed and fitted by Volkswagen (not a conversion) with Teutonic precision. Sink, fridge (goes down to -7° so useful for stocking up on British sausages for the long drive back to the Dordogne!), twin gas rings (excellent for frying bacon sandwiches with HP sauce for your wife when she’s in hospital) a mini wardrobe with shaving mirror, tons of storage, including room in the back for a webber gas barbecue (did you really want to wait until those lumps of charcoal got hot enough?), auxiliary battery with power point to plug in your lap top and keep your blog updated – or your electric toothbrush; Bluetoothed phone factory fitted. There are seats that swing round so four can sit round the table in comfort.
The door panel reveals itself to be an additional outdoor table, with deck chairs hidden in the back panel, and an awning to protect you from the sun – or God forbid – rain. There is a fully integrated sat nav system, tow bar (we have moved house twice with this vehicle!) and the rear seats move fully forward so you can get a chest of drawers in the back if you really want to go on holiday with a chest of drawers. There are all sorts of gizmos, a special air conditioned glove box to keep your chocolate in, a cooling bay for a bottle of Chianti, air conditioning front and back – and central heating that keeps you toasty at night if you insist on driving north.
It’s a 2005, 2.5tdi, 4 wheel drive California that has done 179,000 km (roughly 110,000 miles) and has a full Volkswagen service history. It has the odd scratch and blemish but nothing dire! It is left hand drive and currently on French plates.
We have had acres of fun with this vehicle all over Europe – it is our Hotel California on wheels. When the sun shines, it takes two minutes to get it ready to leave for a few days, and when you arrive, instead of manoeuvring a ‘three seater settee and double-bed’ into a ‘permitted’ parking place and then walking to any places of interest – you can just park right where you want, or nip back into town if you run out of wine in the country.
I wouldn’t own any other camper van, and if there was any chance that I would be fit enough to go travelling again, we wouldn’t dream of selling the Volks.
But there isn’t, and we are.
Under the circumstances we are not in the mood for protracted negotiations based around your hope that you might sell your house next year, or would we take a Massey-Ferguson tractor in part exchange?
The first realistic cash offer will secure.
If you are minded to take off across the Sahara, or to drive round the Greek Islands for the summer, or just to cut down on hotel bills for your job – then e-mail me at [email protected]. Ms Raccoon now has a limited amount of time ahead of her, and No, I don’t feel like talking about it, thanks. It’s a bummer.
If you are not interested, would you be kind enough to retweet this to anybody/any forum who you think might be? I thought I might put this blog to work for me for a change!
Here’s another video that shows the interior – a bit long winded, but if you are serious it gives an idea of the ‘ship board comforts’ available. Sorry I don’t have pics of our vehicle – the camera is in one of 36 packing chests in the garage…..even if I found it, God knows where the computer connection is!