12.05.2009 - 12.05.2009
We spent days surfing the net and Gumtree London, letting several slip through our fingers. We were trying to decide whether to buy from a business, which would mean a guaranteed buy-back and some security with regard to reliability, but usually more expensive; or to buy privately through Gumtree. One business was in Derby and 2 others in Kent, which would have mean 6 hours of driving just to have a look. What finally put us off the buy-back scheme was learning that it is only applicable up to one year. We then spent a day setting up appointments to view vans around London the next day. We set off from Wincanton at 1300 for Berkhamsted, NW of London to view the first one. 2 hours later we were grimacing at each other, while the seller was demonstrating the complex intricacies of how to fold-out, flap-down and stretch out the bed for sleeping. All-in-all too compact, and we would have gotten "cabin fever" within the first week.
Next into London itself under the guidance of Molly [our garmin satnav], who steered us through the traffic to Tottenham. This time it was a shady dealer down an alley who had a Bedford for £3900, which was so mouldy and tatty we got out of there quickly! Then through Clacton, where we spotted loads of Hassidic Jews in the streets [we felt like we were on safari!], down through the Blackwall tunnel under the Thames to Lewisham where we had an appointment for 1800. Very nice guy but the van was similar to the first one we saw, just neater. By now it was evening and we were getting despondent; are all the adverts so much better looking than the real thing?
Our last option was a van in Clapham, for which we had not set up an appointment. We left a voice message for Marty the Aussie guy selling the van and set off for Clapham. We parked in Clapham, eating our supper of roast chicken and Coke, waiting for him to return our calls. Eventually we decided to set off for home, still 2 hours away. Marty phoned before we had driven 5 minutes...he had fallen asleep! We turned around and within minutes of seeing it, we knew we had found our van!
It is a LDV 7-seater van previously used by the army cadets, which Marty had converted and fitted out himself. Being an electrician, he has installed several innovative devices, with an overall sensible design; a big triple bed in the back with the kitchen in the front, with a minimum of folding-down and flapping-out! It is in good repair, 1997 model diesel and only £3700 with MOT and taxes for 12 months!
We decided to leave it in London while we travel up North and will collect it on 25th May. We felt very relieved as we drove back to Wincanton in the dark; 10 hours on the road had produced a good result.