As we all travel around to our favourite campsites, or even as we venture further afield each year, we often come across some interesting and unusual units. Whether this is an interesting van conversion or a project completed from scratch whenever we see one we stop and look and wonder what went into the project.
One of these projects which I have yet to see in real life is the Little Mouse Caravan. I have been following closely however on Facebook it’s development from the concept stage right through to it’s first trip to the campsite. This has been undertaken by Martin and Vicky Harford and the following is their guest article:
The Story Of Little Mouse Caravan
We love camping and have had many lovely holidays around the UK. We have always had vans which we have converted to campers, helped by the fact that Martin, my husband, is a very talented joiner. Our latest van is the smallest, a VW T4, which we love. We went for a smaller van this time as it has to work as our daily drive as well as our holiday home. However, since the birth of our second child, we have found it a bit of a squeeze so a solution needed to be found. We have an awning but we like to camp all year round, so the camper wasn’t ideal in the chillier weather.
Inspired by some of the cute little teardrops we have seen around, we decided a small caravan would be the way to go for us.
Basically what we needed was a bedroom that we could tow.
Martin started sketching ideas, incorporating everything we needed in as small a space as possible. He also started looking into regulations regarding building trailers and caravans. It seems that this is a bit of a tricky area when it comes to teardrops or sleeping pods, as they are neither caravans or trailers. Luckily one of the VW forums proved very helpful as a few people had already done the research and could point us in the right direction.
Some time was then spent trawling the Internet for likely looking trailers. We eventually went for a second hand trailer that was just a bare frame. Next time however, I think we would go for a purpose made trailer frame, as Martin had to spend some time getting it up to scratch; painting, replacing the hitch and generally tinkering.
Being a joiner by trade and having done a few camper conversions in the past, the rest of the build was right up Martin’s street. He built a wooden frame and covered it in polystyrene for insulation. The next stage involved researching and sourcing a suitable exterior coating that would be weatherproof and hard wearing. We eventually went for a resin coating which was suitable for over painting to match our camper. Ideally, we would prefer a harder finish than this has given, so we may put another clear coat over the top in the future.
For the interior we had decided that we needed sleeping accommodation and a toilet (none of us fancied that cold, middle of the night walk across the campsite to use their facilities). In the end we decided on a U-shaped seating area that can be converted into a nice big bed and which houses some storage space. We also decided on a bunk that fits across the foot of the bed for our five year old to sleep in.
Decoration wise we wanted a bit of escapism, something cosy with a bit of a vintage feel. The cushion covers and curtains were down to me so my sewing
machine took a bit of a battering. The house was full of fabric and foam for weeks while I tried to fit in sewing around looking after a demanding baby.
Eventually we were finished and ready for our first test, a weekend camping trip to a local campsite. We were all packed, hitched up, children in the van, ready to go. Just one last thing; towing lights check…….nothing! Poor Martin was devastated as he had checked everything time and again, our five year old was also less than happy. It didn’t look like we were going anywhere. Three hours later, after much head scratching, a bit of swearing (out of the children’s earshot) and checking everything again and again, we finally found the problem was a faulty tow light plug. That was fixed in no time and at last we got away. Better late than never!
Pitching up was a doddle, just a matter of plugging into the site’s electric hook-up and before we knew it we were cosy in the caravan. The first evening was spent eating take-away pizza and watching one of our daughter’s films before bed. The beds were very comfortable and there was plenty of room for all of us. We thought we might have found some things that needed changing or adding to, but it turned out that everything was perfect.
We certainly caused a bit of a stir on the campsite and lots of people wanted to know about the caravan and asked to take photographs. Even the campsite owners wanted a photograph for their website. Maybe we’ll ask for a discount next time we visit.
We are now looking forward to many trips away in our Little Mouse Caravan and if you see us out and about, give us a wave.
You can see full details of our build on Facebook