A supercar is driving on the road. It turns heads, forces passers-by to stop and stare in awe of what they are seeing. It’s a phenomenon that can happen at any time and any place. The same phenomenon happens when driving a 1975 VW campervan aptly named Penny Lane, and if you’re inside the car, it’s possibly the greatest feeling in the world.
To begin our socially distanced holiday, the key was aesthetics. Therefore a playlist was created consisting of purely 60’s and 70’s music to help us fully immerse ourselves in our bohemian adventure.
As a resident of Norfolk, we felt the best decision would be to go more towards the Suffolk area; more specifically, just outside of Bury St. Edmunds. A town that I knew very little about, and eventually became very fond of by the end of our journey.
Driving Penny Lane was an interesting new challenge, but one we very easily overcame as everything you require is handily pointed out for you upon collection. Although we anticipated a challenge with the lack of power steering, once you get going it was smooth sailing. The gear box was pretty quirky and not as smooth as in modern vehicles but we enjoyed the challenge and felt a great sense of accomplishment once we had conquered shifting up and down. The best tip was from the helpful YouTube tutorial which suggested coming out of gear and giving the stick a gentle wiggle to help it find its path. The next challenge was parking the campervan, yet we actually found bay parking pretty easy, thanks to the compact width of Penny Lane. The only thing left for us to do was to relax in our spacious seats and head to our destination.
We managed to book in at a lovely scenic campsite opposite West Stow’s Anglo Saxon Village and Museum, which provided us with some lovely walks and a deeper education on the civilisation. The campsite itself was well spaced out, clean, and most importantly had hot showers for those cold mornings. Hooking up the electrics from Penny Lane to the pitch was very simple as all you needed was one wire, and left me feeling like a very accomplished electrician by the end of our excursion.
Filled with historical ruins to learn about and roam free around, the views of Bury St. Edmunds were nothing short of spectacular. As it’s also a market town, you’ll find plenty of shops and stalls staggered around to do a bit of shopping; something I’m very glad we did by our final days as the weather turned its back on us. It’s also worth mentioning Moyse’s Hall Museum. Not only filled with artifacts from history, but also the gruesome and captivating tales from the local area guided by incredibly helpful staff members.
Turning Penny Lane into the ultimate relax spot is very easy, and also makes you feel like you’re part of The A-Team with the way you can turn the back seats into the bed. It was the bed itself which I thought would be the biggest problem for me as I struggle to get to sleep normally, but it was so comfortable that I would get a full eight hours despite a couple of very stormy nights; and thankfully the pop-up roof waterproof and incredibly easy to assemble too. With the top up the loft bed made for a great additional storage solution for our bags, which were easily accessible when getting ready in the morning.
We didn’t let the weather get us down as we had bought games and books from one of our trips into Bury St. Edmunds. It was then that Penny Lane reached its peak. One of my favourite moments from our socially distanced holiday was playing games over the easy to put together table, then jumping over the back seat towards our bedding in the back, and curling up with our books in front of the heater provided for us.
While these are strange and unprecedented times, it can be hard to remember how to have fun. Luckily our little VW bohemian adventure helped remind us that we can go out and about and have a great time, while of course, keeping our distance.
Written by Ryan Keen.
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