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Bath Artist's Peugeot Symbol Campervan

By Tim Saunders
11th April, 2014

Campervans provide complete freedom and affordable holidays.
Oil painter Mike Service from Combe Down, Bath loves to travel and six years ago he and his wife purchased Roland, a three year old Peugeot Symbol with 25,000 miles on the clock for £18,500 compared to a new price of around £35,000.
“It’s an Autosleeper conversion of a Peugeot Boxer van, which is popular with plumbers,” says Mike, who has eight grandchildren.
“The plan was to travel far and wide but we have not really been able to do that due to circumstances. But now we are now able to use it for longer trips. We took it to the Med and enjoyed skiing in the Alps. But we’ve just started using it properly.
“It’s brilliant, although not the one I would have gone for, because it has a fixed high roof to accommodate the shower that my wife, Sarah, a singer insisted on. When travelling on the continent you get charged twice as much (equal to the cost of fuel) at the tolls because of the added height. When we were first married we made do with washing in a basin but my wife insisted on a little bit of luxury.”
Mike’s campervan has already provided some memorable holidays after he was introduced to Passion, an organization which, for a yearly fee of just £20, provides him with various sites in France, Italy and Spain to stay for free. “The caveat is that these sites are purely for standalone campervans with their own water and toilet facilities. Only five vehicles are allowed on a site at any one time and there is no pre-booking so you just turn up and hope for the best. You typically stay on a farm and Passion recommends that you introduce yourself to the farmer and buy his produce. There is no obligation to buy from the farm or whatever but with fresh cheese, honey, meat and wine why wouldn't you?” 

That proved particularly expensive for Mike during one trip to Rhiems where they stayed beside the vines in the Champagne region. “The stay was free and we were then shown around the vineyard, presses and caves and spent £258 on champagne!”
Although holidays are the main reason for the campervan Mike does take his sketchbook and does some quick watercolours when he gets chance. “It’s no good for oils, which take ages to dry and my wife can’t stand the smell of turps plus it’s no good cluttering up the van with my paintings, it wouldn’t go down well.”
When he remembers, Mike ensures that the water bottles are full, which will allow for a few days away but then it does become necessary to refill them and this can usually be done for free. “We fill the water tank for showers and washing up and keep bottled water in the fridge for drinking.
The cassette toilet must be emptied either in a public convenience or a specially designated place on a campsite. 
Mike finds that he only needs Roland for six months of the year for travelling and so rather than cluttering up his driveway he pays a commercial dealer £150 to store it for him on a hard standing. This also means that he only needs to buy half a year’s road tax. 
There are two options for the layout of the beds in this two-berth campervan, which now has 70,000 miles on the clock. “You can either have a 6ft x 6ft double bed or two parallel beds. The latter, we find works best, so that you can get out of bed in the middle of the night without disturbing each other.”  
 
Peugeot Symbol
 
Facts at a glance:
 
Used price: £18,500
New price: £35,000
 
Top speed: 100mph
0-60mph: it will but it would be rude to
Economy: 30mpg

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