For the past year and a half, Mr Buttons and I have been tossing around the idea of finding a vintage caravan to renovate and use as a mobile shop. What began with me trying to convince him it would be a good idea grew into him embracing it as he realised how much easier our set-up and pack-up could potentially be. From there it moved to us looking at a few, almost bidding on two, and then changing our minds at the last minute.
I think that you know somehow when you have found the right one - and we just hadn't. Some weren't the right shape, others were just way too long to even think about taking to markets (there is only so much grace you can expect when you are supposed to be operating out of a 3x3m space.) There was one that I fell in love with, but at the last minute when about to place a bid I realised that I just didn't feel right about it. We were about to have our little baby Buttons, and even though it was only a relatively small amount of money, it would have cut a pretty deep chunk into our savings. We also would have had to travel several hours to pick it up and potentially hire a caravan trailer, adding more expense. This ended up being a wise decision as I had some post-delivery complications and Mr Buttons ended up having three weeks off work. For me, this was certainly lesson number one in buying a caravan: don't overextend yourself to do it. There are actually a lot of caravans out there, and even if one seems perfect, another will come along if it just isn't the right timing.
A few months later this proved to be the case when Mr Buttons stumbled across a caravan of the perfect size and shape in a local farmer's paddock. He wasn't ready to sell it, but said in a few months time he would be in contact. Almost six months later we were definitely ready to buy, and he was ready to sell. We drove out on a beautiful late summer's day and I got to see her for the first time.
I'll admit, she is a bit old (but then, isn't that the point of a vintage van?) There is moss growing along the top, surface rust underneath (don't worry, we checked for anything more serious that we can't remove fairly easily), there was once a bat living in one of her cupboards, and she smells just a little bit damp. But as soon as I saw her, I knew that we had found the perfect caravan. And best of all? A far cry from the $2,000 budget we had been envisioning for this first step in our quest, she was a humble $100.
The drive back into town was an interesting one. Thankfully my brother and his fiancee had come out with us just for fun, and they ended up acting as our brake lights and indicators for the trip home. As they couldn't actually see our car past the wide berth, myself and Erin (as the passengers) had to relay instructions between the drivers over the phone to navigate when to turn, when we were stopping, and when we were pulling over to let the build up of cars behind us go past. With their help, we made it home safely, and set our new beauty on the grass next to our house.
So far, we have been just spending a lot of time researching and planning. The biggest question so far has been "Can we fit a bed in there?" (stay tuned to see whether or not that works out!) but we are feeling fairly confident that we have a straight forward plan of how we would like to go about this.
We also sprayed the inside and outside with a heavy duty pest killer (after all, she has been in a paddock for a few years!) and the number of spiders that came pouring out (and thankfully dying) was horrifying! Good thing to make note of as a "to-do" before starting to gut an old caravan.
The next step will be tentatively pulling out the cupboards and the old disheveled bed while assessing how much role the cupboards play in the overall structural integrity and then assessing the floor (which we will probably replace in full with form work ply) and removing it to accesses the metalwork underneath and start working on removing the surface rust.
In the meantime, I need to think of a name. I wanted to call her Clara, but that is already the name of my bicycle (and I think that's possibly a bit weird to call them both Clara...) so until I can think of something she has been nicknamed "The Impossible Girl." Doctor Who fans will get the reference, and there is something that seems quite impossible about the task ahead of us, so it seemed quite fitting.
Hopefully this week we will have some 'before' pictures of the inside and an update on the process of pulling everything out and getting ready to start afresh!
- Mrs Buttons xx