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Maddjakallss Van Life


When I first bought this perky little VW Campervan she was a council yellow and white. She had the perfect interior layout and the engine roared to life on the test drive with such gusto that even I, with my limited knowledge on engines, felt the vibes…here was a good engine. The guy who sold her from the Lake District, claimed she had previously belonged to two little older ladies and he made an odd comment about them perhaps being sisters because they went away frequently in her for weekends. Knowing how cosy and intimate sharing this delightful little living and sleeping space is, I don’t think they were sisters…but it’s an unknown definite ‘queer-y’.

I did everything wrong with regards to my buying strategy, gave the game away repeatedly that I was falling in love with ‘my perfect van’ and ruined all chances of any haggling over the price. I didn’t care. I drove home, caught the train back the very next morning and before lunch time had arrived, that fresh and sunny day in spring 2010, I was travelling up the M6 with a beautiful 1985 pop top VW Campervan. It was the first time I had felt this happy in months.

The sudden loss of my mum the year before had ripped my world apart and changed everything. No one was prepared for her surprising death. Least of all me. I was still in the middle of my 30’s trying to carve out my career, improve my step-mum skills, embrace my creative loves and learn how to voice my needs. I was not at all prepared to do any of that without one of the most inspiring and compassionate influences on my life. I was struggling to carry on, every single day. But I did. Hopelessly sometimes, recklessly at times and in all the dark days of shepherd tone spiralling forever downwards. I was without focus. I didn’t know how to adjust to all the plans, projections, dreams of the way I viewed my life ahead of me without her in it. I didn’t know what to do next. Everything forecast had changed.

Then one day, I knew exactly what to do. Well, I knew what to do next! It was a relief. It was hope. It was a good idea. I knew that my mum would highly approve of me buying myself a campervan with some of the money she left me. And that’s what I did. After some research on what the best layout was for me, the best van type and what I could spend…I found her. She wiggled her bumble bee butt and roared that eager booty into my life so easily. I was beaming with high hopes for a very happy life together. As the road trundled away at a steady 60 beneath us I pondered what the name of this beauty was. I asked my companion with me what they thought I should name ‘her’…clearly female then!! They grabbed the registration document for inspiration, and read the plate out to me…it started with a B.

I named her Beryl. After my mum. Absolutely perfect. I recall how I felt ecstatic at that. And as I surveyed the little of the van interior I could see in her rear view mirror I was overcome with good vibes, I knew we were going to have beautiful adventures together. I remember the next day her battery was flat. All the playing with buttons and fiddling with the switches I had done inside of her, and a little bit of fiddling with a knob must have left something on which drained the electricity. I happily skipped off to Halfords to buy a battery charging kit and Beryl’s own jump leads. The first of many tools and supplies you HAVE to carry when you own a VW.

Parked on the road outside our temporary housing she got a lot of attention. Every time I was in her cleaning, checking and getting to know all the interesting bits and bobs that came with her, I would end up with company either in the form of neighbours, walkers by and even people who stopped their car specially to come for a look and a chat. MANY of them with their own VW vans, imparting various bits of wisdom. MANY of them wanting to buy her! And MANY of them with interesting stories of their own experiences and adventures of a place I like to call VW Land.

Here are some of the notes I was given that 11 years later I have found to be absolutely true: It’s the best vehicle to break down in as you get so many offers of help, stories to share and you’ve got everything you need to kick back while assistance is coming Have a selection of tools and basic parts on board VW vans attract other VW vans You will get obsessed with M code extras (there’s a catalogue) Look after it and it will increase in price And here is the one point most people made that I am honoured, proud and amazed to say did NOT come true for me and Beryl in the frequency implied; You will break down a lot, but it’s part of the adventure!

Now don’t mistake me. I have a couple of EPIC breakdown stories. But that’s it. In ten years…a couple. How amazing is that? More on that to come…Generally I felt very prepared for the adventures. Beryl gave me such a protective vibe. I always knew, with her I would always be alright. She radiates an energy that I respond to and others are drawn to. I bought a note book for her. To recall all her adventures. And to write down all her visitors. A sign in book, if you like! For she was gaining so many friends I could barely keep up! She was just what I needed.

Over the course of the next few weeks I had Beryl checked over. She had a service and went from a sludgy 60 miles per hour max on the motorway to a nippy and gutsy 80 and still pulling. I was glad to know the scary near death experiences of lorries hurtling towards our rear end were over. When Beryl had to trundle up a long slow incline…oh boy….doing less than 40mph on a motor way is scary! And you get a lot of long angry beeps. But they were all a funny story left in the rear view now. She breezed through her garage stay for tuning and servicing with high praise and such positive feedback about her engine. She had a basic internal uplift with some different curtains, covered the chair / bed cushions and I went to town filling her with all her own supplies so she was always ready for me to take off.

She has been my salvation ever since.

Beryl has become part of my life and my lifestyle in a way that’s ensured so many beautiful experiences; she’s been a safe haven from challenging relationships, she’s been a party bus for more people you could believe could even fit in her at wet festivals, she’s been an overnight break from a long shift, she’s been a heart break hotel and a one night stand motel; she’s been a travelling bedroom for visits to friends in one beds, she’s been the place to be when everyone has gone to bed.

She has been my sturdy salvation at times when I’ve needed a reliable friend. She’s cocooned me tight in her cosy comforting belly. She’s kept me safe, dry and independent. And shes always been there. She’s been my constant. My very own slice of glamping getaway from peril. The perfect pick me up, is a stay in Beryl.


Once the metal work is done we aim to collaborate on a Maddjakallss and William Pauls spray paint job. Bringing something unique and visually stunning to Beryl’s final coat of armour, her beautiful bodywork. Just need to find the right hint of indigo to purple and we are good to go. Exciting times for Beryl! Exciting times for Maddjakallss!

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