This post is part of the A to Z Challenge.
Over the last three years I've been asked several times why I drive a big vehicle, the implication being that as I live alone a small car would be much better for me and more economical, but the simple answer is it suits my current lifestyle. I must admit that had I originally been intending to buy a car for myself I would never have thought about getting one so big, but this was a 'legacy' from the break-up of my last relationship and even though I couldn't drive at the time it was one of the things I insisted on keeping.
It's a Japanese import - a Toyota Granvia, which is basically a Landcruiser 3.0 turbo diesel engine in a Hi-Ace Power Van body with windows all round. It's fitted with (among other things) electric curtains and lacy blinds, and very comfortable captain's seats with arm rests (the driver's seat is electric) and being automatic it's an absolute dream to drive. It's 15ft long, although it doesn't look it, and the space inside is enormous, even more so with the centre seats pushed back. And while it won't do zero to sixty in only three seconds it certainly moves, especially when the turbo kicks in.
When we first got it my partner took out the rear three seats and built a platform 12 inches above the floor, with a ceiling-high heavy duty dog guard separating it from the rest of the van and with grilles over the back and side windows at that point. With an old cot mattress on the platform this makes a good safe area for the dogs when travelling and has enough storage underneath for a trolley jack, fuel can and any number of things I want to put in there. As a normal day-to-day vehicle it can only take three passengers as opposed to the original six but it's very rare that I have more than two anyway.
The best thing about it though is it's versatility. If I'm tent camping I can pack any amount of stuff in it, and if I'm using the drive-away awning I can make up my double bed in the centre and still have plenty of under-bed storage. It's also great for transporting animals; as well as pet-sitting other peoples' dogs when their owners go away I also do volunteer transport runs for a couple of animal charities, transferring rescue dogs to temporary foster care or places of safety - with the seats pushed right back I can fit one large or two smaller dog crates in the centre. And when my son moved house a couple of years ago I transported several items of furniture and heaven knows how many boxes of stuff from his old place to the new one.
So, ask me why I drive a big vehicle? - those are just some of the reasons. It may be thirsty on fuel but it's one of the best things I've ever owned, so parting with it just isn't an option!
- Hi! I'm Eunice and I live in Bolton, Lancashire, with my two dogs Sophie and Sugar and an assortment of cats - well it used to be Sophie and Sugar, now it's Sophie and Poppie. I first began camping back in 1997 when my then partner took me to Anglesey for my birthday weekend. We slept in the back of the car - a hatchback - using the cushions off the settee at home as a mattress, and cooked and brewed up on a single burner camping stove. The site was good, the views were great, the weather fantastic and I was completely hooked. Following that weekend we got a two-man tent and some proper accessories and returned to Anglesey two weeks later, then over time we progressed to a three-man tent followed by an old trailer tent, then a new trailer tent, a campervan and finally a caravan. When my partner decided that the grass was greener on the other side of the street - literally - in April 2009 and I suddenly found myself alone after fifteen years, I decided there was no way I was going to give up camping and caravanning if I could cope on my own. This blog is the story of my travels, trials and tribulations since becoming a solo camper - I hope you like it