….We are just over a month and a half on from attending Camp Quirky 2019 and it is still fresh in our minds. We had a great time – it was the perfect mix of social, educational and fun!
We didn’t really know what to expect – although we’ve been to festivals before this was a different slant on the experience. Would we feel left out because we didn’t have our van with us? Would people be friendly? Would there be enough to do?
We arrived on the Friday afternoon at about 5pm – just in time for a heavy downpour! Fortunately this cleared quickly and we were able to get our tent up. We had brought our festival trolley along in case there was a big walk between the car park and the tents – but as it happened, we were allowed to take our car in with us and park it by the tent which was very handy for loading and unloading. The festival has grown a lot since its inception a few years ago but we really hope this aspect continues as it definitely helps tent dwellers!
After setting up camp it was time to explore.
We wandered over to the information tent to get a programme and the all important Camp Quirky sticker – there is also merchandise for sale including T shirts and hoodies. These were selling like hot cakes so if you need a particular size, go early!
There are three main ‘arenas’ – Sprinter, Iveco and Crafter – all named after popular base vans! (Next year we’re hoping to see ‘Ducato’ added!! We saw lots of fantastic Ducato conversions!)
We arrived too late to go to any workshops on the Friday, but most of the main sessions are repeated so you don’t have to worry too much about clashes. We contented ourselves with buying a drink from the bar (located inside the main ‘Iveco’ marquee and reasonably priced) and wandering around some stalls and vans.
The festival was entirely powered by solar from Solar Decker and ReSource Solar Fire Engine. Quite impressive especially when you consider how much power must go into running a stage for live music! We were also thankful for the solar showers which provided plentiful hot water, as on the Saturday and Sunday we went out for a run on the nearby trails. The toilets were all composting and clearly a lot of effort has gone into making the festival as low impact on the environment as possible.
As well as vans to look at and some stars of the vanlife world (we saw Florence and the Morgans, Beyond the Van, Brown & Bird and The Lorry Life among many more) there was a wide selection of stalls and exhibits related to all things camper conversion. We bought some zero waste cleaning products and joined the Self Build Motor Caravan Club.
Then it was time to top up our drinks, sample some of the food on offer, stave off the gathering chill by the camp fire, and listen to some music!
After a lazy start on Saturday, the next two days were all about the workshops and visiting as many vans as we could. As we are still early on in our camper conversion journey we wanted to soak it all up and get as many tips as possible while there are still key decisions to be made about our build: with this in mind, we went to the workshops on planning your van conversion, 12v electrics, and campervan interior design. We also found time to fit in a workshop by Miss Green Clean on making cleaning products and a workshop on blogging (hopefully we are employing some of the tips here!?). Our final session on the Sunday was an informative look at renting our your campervan, run by the organisers and owners of Quirky Campers.
In between the workshops (and it felt pretty busy!) we went round as many vans as we could, talking to their owners, taking pictures and making notes. Everyone was unfailingly friendly and excited to talk about their own build and the sheer number of vans was incredible – we must only have made it round about a quarter of them. Roll on next year!
Here are our top 5 tips for anyone attending Camp Quirky 2020:
1: It’s OK to go in a tent – honestly! While there were hundreds of beautifully converted motorhomes of all shapes and sizes to ooh and aah over, there were also plenty of people kipping on air mattresses in vans that had not started their conversion yet – and there were also plenty of people in tents, who hadn’t bought their van yet. Some of the workshops were particularly useful to people at the early stages of their conversion journey, so don’t worry, you aren’t a fraud if you don’t have a van!
2: Equip yourself for blazing sunshine, rain and chilly nights – obviously this varies from year to year but early May is a fickle time for the British weather. We arrived in rain which quickly yielded to warm sunshine. But nights were cold and gloves, hats and scarves definitely wouldn’t have gone amiss! The evocative scent of woodsmoke cut through the chill each night – we can understand why woodburners in vans are so popular. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t bring enough warm clothing as the Camp Quirky hoodies from the merch stall are pretty cosy 😉
3.Don’t be shy – there is an absolute wealth of knowledge and inspiration available to you from other owners, as well as the jam-packed workshop schedule. In gaps between workshops we wandered round to see vans – we didn’t come anywhere near seeing all of them due to the sheer number! Without fail the owners were super friendly and excited to talk about their conversions and we picked up some incredibly useful tips which we would not have discovered if it weren’t for these conversations.
4. Think about what you’ll eat for breakfast, especially if you’re vegan/veggie – this is a factor at any smaller festival we’ve attended as the number of vendors has to be proportionate to the number of attendees, and not all vendors will serve breakfast, so you shouldn’t necessarily expect lots of options in the morning. There were a wide range of delicious food options available from lunchtime onwards – we enjoyed delicious veggie wraps, barbecue food, pizza and french toast – but we do recommend taking some breakfast food along. Avocado toast is a winner and you don’t even need a cool box or grill with you, just this cheap & clever stovetop toaster. Seriously, for £5 these are life changing.
5.Take pictures and make notes – we came back with a notebook and camera roll stuffed full of clever, useful and important things to take into account! For example, we learnt from a fellow Ducato converter that you can actually put your LPG fill point in a spare port under the fuel cap, and that it’s essential to make sure your lines as well as your water tank are super well insulated if you have underslung tanks and are planning to travel to cold places.
We had a fantastic time at Camp Quirky – we are really looking forward to the 2020 edition where hopefully we’ll be able to show our own converted van as well as admire the progress of the friends we made this year!