Wow - here I am, I've just created this blog, my first, ready to tell the story of Chantelle, our beautiful 1963 Bedford Marshall bus that is going to take us on some wonderful adventures. I'm going to write this for fun, for all those people whose eyes lit up when we told them about her, and for anyone else wanting to do the same thing, so we can share what we find out. And maybe because just because I'm so excited about the whole thing !

Monday, February 20, 2006

Low impact living

We've been into the idea of low impact living for some time, and experimented a bit last year on the camping trip. Its self-evident that over-comfortable lives make us wasteful, when you have to walk to collect water, you use less. On the bus, it will make practical as well as environmental sense to be as spartan with everything as possible. When camping we had a small solar panel, which we fed into leisure batteries, which kept the phone chargers and minimal lighting going, but not much else. I learnt a lot about electricity, and realised if I'm going to take this seriously, I may need to learn a lot more.

We're planning this time on 3 main sources of fuel.

  • Biodiesel, for travel, electricity, and the water and heating. We've sourced some biodiesel, but this will be an ongoing search.
  • Gas for cooking, as it still the most efficient method
  • Wind, we hope, for powering the batteries. This is totally new to us, and something we're starting to investigate.

We're planning that once we've parked the bus at the site, we wont move it again till we leave, so we're taking bikes for everyday travel ; - great news, I acquired one locally yesterday, and managed to ride it straight off, not having ridden for 10 years !

The 60s project

We've thought a lot about the inside feel of the bus, my favourite is the one we saw at a festival last year, where you couldnt see through the window for bottles. Unfortunately, this is a family bus, so we had to look further afield for inspiration. We went to a big Motorhome show and this clinched our decsion to convert a bus, rather than buy a tourer, because of the naff suburban interiors which seemed to be the only options available. So we needed to make the bus feel fab, in keeping with its era, while adhering pretty strictly to the reduce/reuse/recycle mantra. We're equiping it almost entirely with second-hand stuff, where possible from the mid 60s, even down to the cleaning products we're planning to use. We have a head-start, with our loft full of hand-me down household stuff, and of course, for everything else, there's eBay.

We've managed to acquire the heating system, and the cooker. A fridge, water tank, shower and toilet are the biggies we're still looking for.

Meeting Chantelle for the first time

After the disappointment of realising we couldn't go ahead with the Thames Burlingham, we scanned eBay many times in the hope of finding what we wanted. Mostly, they were either too new and characterless, or too precious, and deserved to be preserved. We were over the moon when we saw the Bedford Marshall, and made arrangements to go and see her as soon as we could.

We drove down to Gloucester on a bright but cold day. As we got closer, we started to wonder how we'd find the house in the very pretty village we were in, when Alfie shouted "Look, over there !" She was parked up a little drive; a beautiful bus sat in a beautiful setting.

We got out, and knew immediately we wanted her. Especially we loved, in descending order, the bell, the cab, the wooden floor, and the old sock ! We could see how this could be just perfect for all our summers. We were made really welcome, and rushed home to place our bid. We were absolutely over the moon the following evening, when we were the winners, and Chantelle was ours.