Arriving back to the UK and my sometime day job seemed to be the end of a blog about my travels but there are other things that people have said they hope I am recording so I will continue. If I had to give it a specific start date my mid-life crisis happened the night before Leeds Festival 2003. At the age of 38 it was my first music festival and I went only to give lifts to some younger people (teenagers). Since then I have attended about 50 festivals, learnt to ride a motorbike and had two long rides round Scandinavia and the Baltic, moved from my house into a flat and lately into a coach that I am turning into a motor-home. Perhaps mundane is not really an accurate description. I decided that the best day to put was the day since my birth. Can’t help it I’ve always been a nerd.
I bought the coach on e-bay in 2008 winning the bidding one day while supervising a detention on supply at a high school. The young man in detention sees me occasionally and reminds me of the event. It is a DAF 3500 chassis and engine with a Jonckheere Deauville body. I bought it from a couple in Cheltenham and having taken the train down to see it and organising the bank transfer I drove it back to Scarborough.
It was quite pleasing when the coach took Whitwell Hill, a steep climb on the A64 between York and Malton, without having to go down too many gears, in fact it took it in 4th gear.
The first task was to take it to Carnaby Industrial Estate near Bridlington for several of the windows to be replaced by aluminium sheet. I didn’t want to just blackout or block them on the inside as I want the coach to look as good as possible. Unfortunately the coachbuilders didn’t follow my instructions accurately and instead of both rear windows being replaced only one side was done and the section in front on the near side was replaced. My original intention was that a double bed would go across the back with solid walls at either end. I decided to keep the bed along the back but changed some of the other plans.
Unfortunately the return of the coach coincided with the start of the festival season that year and work was abandoned. It was not until the following spring that we started again having found a yard to park the coach in near Pickering. The first job was to take out all the seats, at one point I planned to leave 4 pairs of seats in at the front, eventually settled on 2 pairs with the spacers taken out of the mechanism so that they can recline as far as possible. I couldn’t find anyone that would take the 22 unwanted pairs of seats so they ended up being taken to the county recycling centre.
Once the seats were out we took down the racking, the parcel shelf above the seats running the length of the coach on either side. These contained the lights, air blowers and air conditioning units and taking them out was quite a fiddly job especially as they ended up as long sections which were awkward and heavy to move.
By now the inside was becoming a large empty space and it was getting easier to imagine how things may fit in. I have wanted to do a project like this since I was about 11 and travelled daily on a coach to school. Though I never knew him as such my Granddad was a bus driver before he retired and it was one of my childhood ambitions to get my licence. It may sound daft but I was more pleased to get my licence than I had been to get my mediocre degree a few years earlier. I suppose the degree was something that was just expected of me rather than something I really wanted. So having had so long to dream and day-dream about it the plans for the coach were pretty quick to do even if there have been many versions since.