Last weekend I traded in my faithful camper van Harmony. She has been with me on many adventures through the five years that I owned her but was requiring a little more TLC to keep on the road that I was able to give. I’ve no garage facilities here and even if I did, the extent of my mechanical abilities stretch to replacing the windscreen washer pump (and even that took me 90 minutes). So, as sad as it is, I bid her farewell.

When I started looking for my new van, I wondered what I would require. Harmony was the first van that I owned so when I bought her, I really had no idea of what facilities were needed. In the end, I only ever used the loo at night and never used the hot water or the shower. However one of the big plus points was that she was quite petite at slightly under 5m long. This was one of the main points I wanted in the new van, a small vehicle I can take wherever I want to go. This is more of a challenge than you might think as most of the manufacturers are going for ever longer van conversions. Compact is considered to be 6m.

I decided on the classic camper van layout of bench seat at the back and kitchen down one side. Initially I was attracted to the Wellhouse Leisure Terrier. Ticked all the boxes and was on the new Transit base. It has been getting rave reviews in the press but probably for that reason, there is a 6-8 month waiting list (as of november this year).

Next up was a VW. You can’t own a camper van and not own a VW one at some point in your life. I considered some from Hillside Leisure and then even considered buying a transporter T5 and getting it converted. But while I was out looking for a T5 at the local VW van centre, I came across the VW California and fell in love with it.

The California is VWs own conversion. Built to the standards you’d expect from VW with aluminium honeycomb technology for the interior fittings and loads of neat touches like two camping chairs that fit into the boot lid and a camping table that lives in the sliding door.

I took the California for a test drive and it was very pleasant. Smooth, well put together with no rattles and all the modern toys. It was the one for me.

They are expensive but I got a good deal on an ex-demo model and if I look after her, she will last for many years to come. I have decided to name her Cali.

I’m looking forward to 2015s adventures and I can see lots of them, fate permitting, in the future. As for Harmony she served me well and I really hope she goes to a good home getting the care and attention that will keep her on the road for years to come.