Cali’s on the Farm 2014

This year’s Cali’s on the Farm event, organised but the California Owners Forum moved to Somerset and a much larger venue for the anticipated 150 vans. Predominately a T5 based VW California meeting, there were not too many Westfalia California vans at this years event, only three poptops – Koen and Jennifer all the way from Belgium, Ben, Hazel and their son (sorry, forgotten your name!) and us all with 1991 vans – and Peter and his California Exclusive.

A pleasant weekend, caught up with a few people we met last year, put faces to people we’d only met in Internetland and met some new people.

The three 1991 Cali’s. All looking pretty good for their age.
The 3 1991 Westfalia Californias

Team Westfalia!
Westfalia display team

Betty and her long lost sister. Registered one week apart, the last time they saw each other was at the Westfalia factory.
Twins

Betty Bus
Betty Bus

The event was across the road from the beach. Strong winds meant for challenging flying conditions though!
Kite

The Electric field
The electric field

Dinner. Ribs, slow cooked in the rain…
Ribs

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Overland to Stratford

Reading through Betty’s Twitter feed on Tuesday, an unusual tweet jumped out.  We hadn’t seen the Adventure Overland Show advertised anywhere before, it sounded exciting and as we had nothing planned for the weekend and it wasn’t too far away we decided to visit.

We don’t consider Betty Bus to be an overland vehicle by any means, she once had to be towed out of a flat grass field and she certainly couldn’t outrun a lion, so when we  arrived at the campsite on Friday evening we were pleasantly surprised to see a great many campervans there as well as the more traditional kind of overland vehicles that we’d been expecting.  We ended up being surrounded by other VWs, maybe the marshals thought we’d want to be together?  Safety in numbers and all that.

Lots of interesting stuff at the show and we got ourselves a tripod to hang our Dutch oven from.  We dropped by the Campervan Culture stand to meet the people behind the videos and chatted with Jed about wild camping for a while, an interesting and helpful guy and we love his whole approach to camping.

One of the presentations that we wanted to attend was Simon Jaratt‘s session about his adventures in a van very much like Betty Bus and we spent quite some time chatting with him afterwards over a cup of tea, about his travels and about his van.  Simon happily shared his knowledge with us about living in a small van long term.  It’s useful to know what sort of punishment our little vans can take.  It’s also great to know that we’re not the  only ones who get stuck in flat grass fields!

While chatting with Simon, we were introduced to Joe, an inspirational young lad who’s driving his Mini to Nordkapp in January.  The plan seems like madness, but after talking with him you can tell he’s thought it through and knows his stuff.  Good luck Joe, we’ll be following your blog for sure.

Cali’s on the Farm 2013

Twenty five years ago the first VW campervan badged as a California was introduced by Westfalia.  These were based on the T3 platform and interestingly, were at the bottom of their campervan range and aimed at the summer camper.  Topping the range was the fully winterised Atlantic, introduced at the same time, with the Joker models which they’d been producing since the introduction of the T3 in 1980 sandwiched in between.

In 1990 the T4 was introduced and with it Westfalia switched to using only the California name on their VW campervans.

This fantastic photo of us having dinner was taken by Andrzej.

For various reasons, Westfalia and VW parted company with the introduction of the T5, and VW started producing it’s own campervan under the California name.

Organised by the VW California owners Club, Cali’s on the Farm  held at  Blacklands Farm Campsite was intended to bring together as many California camper vans as possible.  Although not directly related to the 25th anniversery of the name, it was a nice coincidence that what is believed to be the largest ever gathering of California’s happened at this time.

Sadly, only a single T3 California was present at COTF, but it was a stunning example and the owners were very friendly and justly proud of their van.  Guess who forgot to photograph it?  We managed to get it on the video though.

There were a handful of T4 based California’s, including an early Canadian import, a couple of the long wheel based high top Exlusives and Club.  And us, of course.

The remainder of the field was filled with T5s.  Both the SE (full camper) and the Beach variants were represented.

There was a big mix of people present, young and old, from those with lots of VW experience, lots of travelling in their vans, right across to people who were spending their first nights in their new vans.  A few had made it from the continent and also from Ireland.  For us, it was the first time we’d attended any kind of VW camping meet, so we weren’t really sure what to expect.

There were a few traders on site, a coffee shop and a Hog Roast was organised for Saturday evening.

The weather did spoil it a little bit and unfortunately the rain came down very heavily during the Hog Roast.  It did result in a beautiful double rainbow over the field though.  The rain cleared and in the evening there was a raffle and the results of the show and shine.  I think most people came back out for the raffle at the end of the evening.

We had a nice relaxing time at the meet.  We chatted to some lovely people, had a nose around various vans, chatted about trips and campsites and Rosana even won a couple of small prizes in the raffle that was held to raise money for Help For Heros.  Final total was 106 vans camped over, plus a few more as day visitors.  That’s a fantastic achievement.

We made a short film about it, enjoy!

Volksworld Show 2013

It was bitterly cold and we attempted to chip the lumps of ice and frozen snow from Betty Bus so that we could make it to St Albans for 8 o’clock in the morning to join the Herts VW Club cruise to VolksWorld.  The diesel heater had been running for a while, but that had only just managed to raise the internal temperature of the van to just above freezing.

As we arrived in the car park at the meeting place we thought we’d missed them.  We’d been expecting to be one of the newest vehicles there at a mere 21 (and a bit) years old.  But the weather and a series of mishaps had seen just a few hardy souls turn up, and all in much newer cars than us.  So at a bit after 8 o’clock, we joined the convoy of a Golf, a Polo and a Lupo for the hour long trip to Sandown park.   Not quite what we’d been expecting.

On the journey down, the roads were ominously free of VWs.  Was anyone else going?

The show was nice enough, it was our first visit and if I’m honest, we’re more into the camping thing than the car thing or even the VW scene.  But the number of campervans in the car park bought a smile our faces and the examples on display inside were just stunning.  We got to meet Herbie, watched the Cool flo BMX display and also enjoyed the camper van cooking session with Martin Dorey (we’ve posted before about cooking from his cookbooks) and are seriously considering a mini smoker now – the smell was just great.

Here’s a few pictures from the day.