It’s a cold damp morning in February and so miserable that even the birds don't want to sing! Dan and me are in the van trying to get to grips with the layout. We bought a dinky little wood burner about 10 years ago which we were going to put into our self build. It never happened. It’s been sitting in the shed gathering dust, but now its going to see the light of day. Trouble is it weighs a bloody ton so we can’t move it until absolutely necessary. Using a cardboard box we can visualise where the burner is going to go, for not only will it affect the interior layout but also where the solar panels and satellite dish will go on the roof. Dan has been taking out the existing skylights and filling them back in ready to be insulated, so the roof is pretty much prepared for all the gizmo's to go on the top.

Back to the inside and an extra bed. We found an excellent company based in Sheffield called JDS Metaltech who are making us a rock and roll bed. It will be seats by day (with seat belts) and a bed by night. I quite like the idea of having a day bed when were pitched up somewhere, with lots of cushions and throws on it. Its quite a narrow width so the super friendly chaps are making up a custom job for us.

My lovely dad is currently designing a logo for us. He's retired now but used to own and run a graphics company Alpha Graphics which started in my childhood home. It's still running and owned by the brilliant Peter Howells. I remember being surrounded by vinyl lettering and letraset packs, do you remember those? Before that dad had worked in London with a bunch of incredibly talented illustrators. Their office was above the Old Marquee Club in Oxford Street. As a child I would look out in awe at all the punks and goths lining up for gigs like The Buzzcocks and The Police. They were like exotic creatures, pea-cocking around with their multi-coloured hairstyles. I still love the whole punk era, music and fashion. Back in the now, my dad is the perfect person for the job. I've sketched some ideas because although I'm an artist this is not my forte. It will be interesting to see what he comes up with – I hope we like it!

Personally we don't like caravan interiors. All that plastic, shiny wood and dubious soft furnishings - really not our style darling! We both like warm reds, kilims, fake fur throws and shaker style simplicity. We want our van to be mega comfy and to reflect our eclectic style. Obviously we need the essentials such as a cooker, fridge, sink and loo but don't want to go down the old fart style route! Luckily Dan spotted an enamel 1950s gas cooker on EBay (of course). It was made by the Allied Iron founders who were established in 1929. They had been part of the first experiment in housing restoration in Stockton-on-Tees, providing cookers and bathrooms for huge housing estates. Our particular oven was built in 1952 and is white enamel with red knobs. Now we had something to base our interior on, retro with a twist!

On a snowy, stormy evening Dan set off to the dark depths of Dartmoor to collect our cooker. He had taken a few days off to explore, take photos - oh and collect the cooker of course! Dartmoor is beautiful, wild and inspiring, the artist Alan Lee (who has drawn many J R R Tolkien pictures) has been inspired by the beauty of the moor.

“I spend as much time as I can sketching from nature, Dartmoor contains such a rich variety of landscape, as many boulders, foaming rivers and twisted trees as my heart could ever desire”

Dartmoor is stunning whatever time of year you visit, a particular favourite place is Burrator Reservoir where Dan took some great photos. The lighting is always stunning, even on the gloomiest of days. After a day of meanderings he did get a bit lost trying to find the cooker man's house. With no phone signal for sat nav, he followed his nose (going past the pink tree), to a tiny little village in the middle of nowhere.

The cooker man it turned out, lived in a teeny tiny cottage with his huge beard, his even huger dog and his (normal sized) wife. He had ended up on Dartmoor after buying an old wagon off of a WW2 veteran who had insisted on a movable home in case the Nazis ever came back! Cooker man made his living restoring 1950s caravans back to their former glory. Our oven had been pulled out of one of these caravans which had sadly died a death. He had loving restored it and we were the proud new owners.

Online and back home, Dan found a cookery book to go with the oven, written by General Gas Appliances Ltd it had adverts such as 'A cooker that will be appreciated by the busy housewife (ok then!) It also had recipes such as; boiled sheep's head, cocoanut tart and Winifred's puddings which all sound delightful! Cooker man has invited us back to visit when our van is completed. I might make him a cake, although I'm sure his dog would much rather have the boiled sheep's head!

Do you remember free festivals? Hundreds of travellers pitching up with their rag tag of vehicles in some poor farmers field. Partying until dawn and beyond around a makeshift stage with various bands and DJs?

That was us 20 odd years ago, travelling around in buses in the UK and Ireland. We met fell in love and settled down to domestic bliss, and bliss it has been but now our children are growing up and its time to rethink our lifestyle.

We had been tinkering around with the idea of getting a bus again for many years, but the timing was never right. Now our self build home is on the market and we have itchy feet. We want to take to the open road!

Finding a 16 seater minibus on Ebay up in Coventry, Dan hopped in the truck ready for his 5 hour drive to go and see it. The van was owned by an old boy who had lived in the Coventry area all his life. After some photos had been sent to me for approval and Dan made sure he could stand his 6ft 2inch frame up inside, a deal was done. Over a cup of tea the gentleman who’s name was Trevor encouraged Dan to go and have a look at Coventry Cathedral as he was in the area. Dan didn’t need much persuading as he had always wanted to see it. Trevor nostalgically reminisced about seeing the weathervane being put on top of the new cathedral in the 1960s by helicopter. Trevor himself had been a choirboy at the catholic church next door to the cathedral in his youth, getting paid a farthing each time he sang. He was not remotely religious but the money (about ¼ of a penny in old money) made a huge difference to his family.

On the 14th November 1940 the city of Coventry was devastated by bombs dropped by the Luftwaffe. The cathedral as well as much of the city was destroyed. In the aftermath of this attack stonemason Jock Forbes noticed that two of the charred medieval roof timbers had fallen in the shape of a cross. They are now on an altar of rubble with the words ‘Father Forgive' inscribed behind them. Queen Elizabeth the second lay the foundation stone for the new cathedral in 1956 and the building was consecrated in 1962 with her majesty attending. Artists from around the globe contributed to the new build and Dan spent a contemplative few hours taking photos including one of the spectacular stained glass window. Interestingly the catholic church where our new friend Trevor had sung as a child (which is next to the cathedral) had not a mark on it and still has the original stained glass.

Back in East Sussex we waited in excited anticipation for the van to arrive. We had arranged as part of the deal to have it driven down to us on its trade plates so we could insure it as a camper when it got here. The driver was a right rough diamond with swallow tattoos on each hand. He was now in his 60's and told Dan a bit about his checkered past. He had run away from home at the age of 8 with all his worldly possessions packed into a little suitcase and ended up going from one orphanage to the next. The old boy Trevor we had bought the van off had rescued him, mentoring him for over 30 years. That and the love from his wife saved him from a life of skulduggery.

As soon as he left Dan got stuck in. By the time I came home from work, all the seats had been whipped out and the van was an empty shell. Our daughter had a go going up and down on the wheelchair lift, while I envisioned the finished project in the fabulous space!

- The New Van

So, we've finally done it, after years of talking we have got off our behinds (and have the funding) to buy our very own bus

She's a beauty (ish). A Mercedes Vario 614d, a little rough around the edges (like us) but with plenty of life left in it (hopefully like us).

Our children are growing up fast , so we're ready to face our next big adventure and be like Granny Weatherwax, who said, "they say travelin broadens the mind, I reckon I could pull mine out my ears now and knot it under my chin..".

Now the hard work begins to get our tiny home on the road!