Connie the Campervan

So begins our adventure with Connie


Having taken early retirement. and needing a new project to fill our time, we finally decided to take our son-in-laws advice and buy a van, and convert it to a camper.

With Jason’s help – he works in the motor trade, we found a silver Peugeot Boxer L3H2 van, with side and back windows, and a gas heater and decent mileage. We had decided that a retro cramped van was not our style, and wanted comfort and space, and room for the men to stand up.

So begins our adventure with Connie.


Our first step to the conversion was a trip to the Camping and caravan show at the NEC, Birmingham, to get ideas. This helped enormously in our final design.

We opted for a bed/settee across the back, kitchen down passenger side in front of side door, and shower room and fridge etc along the drivers side.

So we now had ideas and a van, and we hit Ebay to get stuff, and I mean LOTS of stuff.


So now we had to start work, so we could reclaim the spare bedroom.

First step was to fit a reversing camera, and Jason and Kirsty replaced the side door window with an opening window as the kitchen would be along that side.

Second step was to remove the existing tatty ply boarding, and start over again with good insulation.

First we put up Dead Mat sound insulation, and this proved worth every penny, as the previously rattly van was now quiet to drive.

Next we put in 2 layers of Celotex insulation, and used recycled Plastic Bottle loft insulation in the small spaces.

At this point the wiring plan had to be completed, and first fix wires installed, making sure wires were fed through struts rather than just behind insulation. Extra wires were also fed through in case the design changed.

We then cut new side panels from 9mm ply and carpeted the panels with light grey carpet lining.

Next step was to fit a bed – we had planned to build one from wood, but when we saw this ready made metal bed we opted for that instead. As we like our comfort, we left space at the back to extend the width of the bed to King size.


This was firmly bolted to the side panels and to the floor.

Our plan allowed some room for a small hanging space next to the bed and then the shower room. As we had bought a Thetford C402 Cassette toilet, we had to work out where the door would go, and work around that to position the shower room.

Once we knew roughly where it was going, we put up the back wall against the driver side wall of the van, and covered it with white PVC sheeting ( it has a protective blue film at this stage) cut to size.

Then we checked the toilet fitted, and bravely cut a hole in the van for the door.

Well done Jason!

A timber frame was then built around the toilet and shower base, the PVC fitted inside, heating gently with heat gun to bend the top to fit, a ceiling put in place and the walls insulated (for sound!).

Next was fitting the opening roof fan. These are NOT designed for van roofs, but we got there in the end, after our first try leaked. While we were working on the roof, we fitted a Solar panel, so we would not be reliant on mains power.

Wiring for the fan and bathroom light was also fitted at this stage.

Next we had to fit the 15mm lightweight 5 ply laminate boarding outside the shower room.

I had chosen some fabric for the seats, and we were planning on a light grey wood effect panel, but when we viewed the sample I didn’t like the shade as it was too beige, and instead opted for ‘Blue metal’, a duck egg blue laminate with a metallic sheen.

The board is in large 2500 x 1220 mm boards and was not cheap, so first we cut a cardboard template, then transferred that to hardboard, before cutting the board. I found that my circular saw was too rough for the job and resorted to a jigsaw, with good narrow laminate blades.

Then we laid Wood effect laminate flooring for a tough, easy clean finish.

We had bought the recommended drill blade for fitting the t-strip, but found it hard to work with, and it wouldn’t fit into corners, so got a new small router and special t-strip blade. This worked brilliantly, and most of the t-strip did not need gluing.

The light fitting in the shower has 2 settings, bright and dim, so mid night trips to the loo don’t wake the whole site. A standard shower is fitted, with plumbing going out the back wall into the wardrobe.

Next we decided to fit the fridge and microwave, as they were the largest objects lying around. We planned to put the microwave at head height, but once we saw it could fit above the fridge we went with that design. The fridge is electric low powered, so doesn’t need gas, and had a removable ice-box. The solar panel will run the fridge on sunny days.

The microwave can be removed, and the space down the side was made into a 2ltr bottle store, topped off with 18mm worktop in grey.

Ian fitted the electrics for both mains and 12V. This includes 230V sockets for the water heater, microwave and kettle. 12V for the fridge, TV and Bluetooth amp. The lights are all LED, with a colour changing strip light in the ceiling. The leisure battery has a solar charger a mains charger and a B2B charger so we can use powered and un-powered pitches.

Jason fitted the clean and waste waters tanks underneath the van and drilled the holes for the plumbing.


Next we built the kitchen units, and fitted the sink and double hob into the worktop.

The gas bottle has a door at the back which can be accessed from the side van door when open.

The cupboards have shelves for food, and space for a bin.

Little touches like the spice rack on the back of the sink for washing up liquid etc really make a difference and use wasted space.

The wall cupboards have holes for the crockery and mugs, and a magnetic knife strip holds knives when not in transit.

We then built around the bed base and put in the side extension, and ordered the bed foam, 4″ of hard foam laminated to 2″ memory foam, cut to size. I covered these in the fabrics I had bought.

Jason fitted the table base and we made the table and a storage space for it in the wardrobe.

He also put the stickers on the sides, to comply with DVLA requirements.

Getting near to finishing, we built the wall cupboards either side, and fitted the TV.

I sewed the curtains, adding small magnets to the edges so they stay in place, and lining them with blackout fabric.


As we had now all the requirements for the DVLA we sent off the registration and it quickly came back declaring Connie to be a motor caravan. Success!

We were now ready to give Connie her first trip out – just a one night stay not too far from home.


I’m sure I have missed some of the process, but we have enjoyed 3 months of labour, and are delighted with the results, she is warm and quiet and comfortable, so look forward to our trips out in Connie.


PS – One addition I needed was a G&T shelf on the back door – success!







And back again

Galaxidi is as gorgeous as ever

As I never got around to finishing the second half of my last blog on our sailing trip from Nidri to Corfu, I thought the best thing to do would be make the return trip, and more.

So this blog covers a flotilla placement trip from Corfu to Epidavros.

We start by waking at 02:30 for a 06:00 flight to Corfu, this had better be worth it.

We arrive in Corfu late morning, and travel the short distance to Gouvier marina to pick up our yacht Kanoni.

After settling in, we dine in a marina cafe, and settle for an early night.

Next morning, we set off (hopefully before the other 160 Sailing Holiday yachts) for Corfu yacht club. We found some light wind in the morning to sail, then stopped on Nisida Vido, the island outside Corfu town, for me to take a swim, and collect sea glass on the beach. Refreshed, we made our way into the yacht club, with the help of the harbour master.

We stayed here last October and fell in love with the quirky place. The marina is set right below the high imposing walls of Corfu citadel, and below the music college.

The citadel is lit at night, and snatches of music can be heard drifting down to the boats.


The lead crew organised a punch party for us to get to know the flotilla members, then we wandered off to dine in Corfu town, an odd mix of regency British architecture, with twisty lane climbing the hill. While here last year we heard brass band playing in an upper storey.  Research found that Corfu has 3 brass bands.

Tuesday morning is the Greek labour day holiday, and we set off southwards and over to the mainland. The wind was not existent all morning, but after lunch on the go, it picked up and we sailed most of the way to Sivota Mourtos.

Ian is sure we have stayed here before and we both recognise a hotel on the way in, but the town itself doesn’t ring many bells. However we moor on the town quay, facing a busy taverna packed with local and holidaymakers enjoying the sunny labour day.

Next day we head off back over to the island, to Gaios on Paxos. A good windy sail, with our sails well reefed.


Due to encroaching bad weather we stayed another night in Gaios, giving us a relaxing day for reading and walking, and meeting the local cats.

Friday we set off early towards Prevesa, planning a swim in Emerald bay, but large waves and jelly fish kibosh that idea, so I will have to resort to last years photos, when it was calm and sunny, it really does live up to its name.

We then motor sailed onward. This stretch is my least favourite, large swell and no scenery. Last year it was so tedious we played Eye-Spy, ‘S is for……’ should have been the title to the second blog

Eventually we arrived at Prevesa, which is off the tourist track and is popular with the locals who promenade along the front. On our previous trip this was our laundry stop, as you can see from the washing strung around the boat.

We had another lovely meal in the Mermaid taverna, if you ever travel there, we recommend you visit.

Saturday, after a thundery briefing the rain stopped and we set off out of Prevesa. A good wind allowed us to sail to the Lefkas canal.

After motoring through, we again sailed towards Sivota. We made a brief detour at Skorpios to meet Robin and David who had been sailing in the south Ionian while Robin passed her ICC. Having eventually found them, we had a short chat, then set off again, motoring down to Sivota.

Thunder and heavy rain rattled through during the night, and the next morning.

Sunday was a free sail day, but due to the bad weather many of the flotilla decided to stay put in Sivota. We looked at the weather maps and planned to go to the bays on the north of Meganissi, which looked a bit more promising.

We left the harbour in heavy rain and thunder, but after half an hour, it started to brighten up, and while it still drizzled, it was far better that in Sivota. We sailed around the foot of Meganissi, and up the east side, and finally anchored in Kapoli Bay on the north, with just a small yacht and a cruiser for company. I swam ashore and tied a long line to a tree as wind was blowing down the bay.

This photo is taken by AllWinner's v3-sdv

Eventually the cruiser left, and we spent a quiet if lumpy night, as the wind turned and we were side to to the waves with our line to shore. It alternated between sun and showers all evening.

Next morning we woke to a gorgeous sunrise, and after a swim, in undid the line and we sailed around the north of Meganissi. As we passed Nidri we saw some dolphins who came a played for a few minutes, including a youngster.

We continued down to Big Vathi to rejoin the flotilla, where, despite our longer trip, we arrived first after the lead crew. We strolled into Vathi from Dimitris quay, and had the best ice cream ever from the bakery on the front.


Next morning,Tuesday we set off by 08:30, as we were rafted in behind 3 yachts, and we had a longer trip today.

We motor sailed across the inland sea to Messalongi. going further than our Autumn trip this time.

This is another town not visited by tourists, and the approach is along a long shallow sandy canal, bordered by wooden houses, some on stilts, that gives the place a very Southern American feel.

Wednesday we strolled around the harbour at Messalongi then set sail before 10:00.


Once out of the channel, and lots of photos, we raised our sails for a while, but soon gave up. The flotilla congregated by a cardinal marker for sand banks, and one yacht had quick repairs, then we set of for Rion-Antirion bridge which we could see through the haze. The wind picked up a little, and we goose-winged with engine power towards the bridge.

After the bridge the channel narrows, and the wind picked up and we were able to goose-wing all the way to Trezonia, reaching 8.8 knots a few points, as the wind was behind us and the waves travelling our direction and speed. Yeeha!

It was sad to find thaT Trezonia has become a yacht graveyard, with an examples of how NOT to park side to.

We wandered round the quay, comparing sailing notes with the flot, then ate on board as the wind died down.

Thursday, we set off for Galaxidi, getting good sailing under a genoa, until we turned the corner, when it died down. Galaxidi is as gorgeous as ever, a real refreshing treat after Trizonia, it even smells delightful, with rosemary and other herb bushes along the quay.

We wandered into town to dine, only to find the whole of the flotilla had chosen the same restaurant.

We were up early on Friday for a coach trip up to Delphi. We had been before, but due to renewing the paths and step, part of this ancient site was shut. This time we wandered up to the stadium.

Saturday we had an early start towards Corinth. After a short bit of wind, it died down and we motored across, but did see dolphins for a short while. Corinth has cleaned up its act and the yacht marina is now clean and tidy. In the evening it is a meeting point for the youngsters of Corinth, and also a standard walk for young and old alike. Later it became busier as a club ashore had loud music, but we still got a good nights sleep.

IMG_2744We were booked to traverse the Corinth canal at 9:00, so we’re up bright and early again, but we were them delayed to the 10:30 slot so I took the chance for a swim while we loitered. The canal is as marvelous as ever. We saw sparrow hawks nesting on the walls this time.

For lunch we stopped in a bay with a very steep beach, which meant the boat was only a few feet off the shore. I had a great swim, it looked almost like we were on the edge of a reef. A couple of other flotilla boats came and looked, but only one managed to anchor beside us.

After lunch we saw a boat well under sail, so set off. After an hours very good sailing, we realised we didn’t have time to continue so motored on to Angistri, a new harbour for us.


A team meal in Milos Jamaica bar, a lovely hotel with an incredible view, and live music and they even got us up dancing.

Monday we had a good sail round to Poros. A beautiful sunset over the lady as usual.


Next day was a free day so we first walked round the end island of Poros and up to the clock tower, then after lunch walked along the large island coast and I had 2 swims, and collected more sea glass.

Early start on Wednesday, to Hydra, as it is always busy. Despite a short sail and arriving 11:15, it was full, so the flot headed round to Mandraki bay, where we rafted and most had a good swim. We then walked into Hydra, for ice cream and shopping, and got water taxi back.

I tried out my GoPro while swimming, and dined onboard, sat looking at stars.


Thursday, after a morning swim, we headed over to frog rock for another swim,

CIMG0037 then motor sailed to the bay next to Perdika for yet another swim, but didn’t take camera, then on  to Perdika, where we fought off catamarans for a space.

Next we travelled to the third Vathi of the trip, this one is a tiny pretty little harbour next to a few tavernas.

As we had arrived early, we decided to walk up to the volcano, which is a cave formed when the hills behind Vathi last erupted. It was very hot and a long way, but we made it, and the views were spectacular.

Sadly the next day was our last as we sailed on to Epidavros and returned home, but we enjoyed our 3 week adventure, visiting places new and old to us.