'We loved our East Anglian holiday so much - we bought the company'
- Credit: Neil Longdin
Fancy heading out on a campervan road trip of your own? Graham and Vicky Bray of Retro Campers Norfolk share some of the tips they've learned from their travels over the years.
Graham and Vicky both love the outdoors and adventure. They have been on camping holidays on their own, with their two boys, now aged 19 and 21, and even hired a 4x4 vehicle with roof-top tents to travel and camp through Namibia for 10 days.
And they love exploring East Anglia too.
"We have lived in north Norfolk for over 15 years and Graham and I love Norfolk and Suffolk," says Vicky.
"Graham is from South Africa so the fantastic open skies these remind him of the amazing sunsets back in Africa. We both love the brilliant beaches and there are so many areas to be explored. Even though we have been here for years, there are still so many incredible locations to visit."
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Back in 2014 they hired a VW campervan from Retro Campers Norfolk for their wedding anniversary and totally loved the experience.
They then bought their own VW campervan, a Westfalia 1976 called Boogie Nights, and loved it so much they asked that if Retro Campers Norfolk were ever going to sell the company to contact them.
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And at the end of 2019 they did.
"Little did we know that before the first rental could happen we would be placed into lockdown for three months," says Vicky. "We used that time to build a new website, take lifestyle photographs of the campervans and generally get organised."
And outside of lockdown periods they've had plenty of bookings.
"We were extremely busy last year from July 4 through to October, due to people wishing to stay in their own 'bubble'. And again this year; some people are wary of crowds so they are really enjoying the space, and of course the good British staycation effect has really helped generate more demand," says Vicky.
"We are pretty busy for June and nearly fully booked for July and August, but we still have availability for September and October when the weather is still generally good for glamping in a campervan."
Graham and Vicky have four campervans in their fleet - three retro 1975 VW campervans, Penny Lane, Buttercup and Mr Blue Sky and a 2019 VW T6 called Cherry Bomb, which has been converted in a retro style.
They say that if you love exploring, a campervan is the ultimate way to do it.
"Firstly, driving and living in one of the VW retro classics is such a great experience, something really different and very memorable," says Vicky.
"It’s the same feeling in a modern campervan like our T6, except that you don’t get as many 'head-turns' because there are more of them about
"[But] Most definitely it’s all about the adventure and enjoyment of being outside in the fresh air, whatever the weather. It’s fun to explore new places, watch the amazing sunsets and gaze at the night sky and the stars.
"It gives you such a feeling of freedom, relaxation and actually mindfulness too. Also, the ability to stop at a beauty spot, pop the roof up, have a cup of tea, relax, read a book in 'bed' while the world passes you by, it is the ultimate in chilling out.
"And personally, for us, even better with an open fire at your campsite!"
So what sort of kit do you need if you're embarking on a road trip? Here are Graham and Vicky's top tips...
Be prepared for all weathers...
"In cooler weather we take our cashmere socks and padded coats and beanies as well as some games to play," says Vicky.
"In the warmer weather we take mosquito repellent, rugs and cushions to enjoy chilling out in the outdoors, or maybe even our hammock which is really cool to tie between two trees. [Then] Lots of cool drinks, some wine of course and we love to pick out lots of delicious food from the wonderful local shops all over the place."
Take some home comforts...
"On one of our recent trips in April, we trialled our bathroom package consisting of a chemical port-a-loo, rechargeable shower and pop up utility tent, as well as an awning," says Vicky.
"This is now a must for us – we absolutely loved having our own en-suite which was necessary because the campsites had not opened their bathrooms yet and in poor weather, which we did experience at that particular time, the awning was a cosy extra room for chilling out or cooking on our Cadac Safari Chef."
Where to pitch up...
"We love Highsands Creek at Stiffkey for the views and the walks," says Vicky.
"Personally, we prefer smaller, more basic camp sites that allow open firepits, for cooking and just chilling with a bottle of wine.
"Locally we love campsites like Bircham Windmill, Deepdale Camping and Norfolk Brickyard Campsite."