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'Today I'm in Wales, and I'm in absolute heaven. Why?
'Because I'm at a huge campervan gathering.'
I just love looking at all these other vans, it's so nice to see people
loving their vehicles and see what other people are doing with their vehicles.
'I get a serious case of campervan envy...'
Let me go inside!
Yes, jump in.
I love this, I feel like I'm in the Waikiki Bar in Hawaii.
'I'll be showing you the extreme lengths that some people go to to personalise their own vans,
'and reveal how to make the best campervan curry using the freshest local ingredients.'
And the reason I'm using lamb is because
I'm in Wales. The country is famous for it.
'And my van and I face the judges.'
Initially, looking at it I'd say it's very, very nice.
I've travelled just over 250 miles from the Lake District
over the border into Wales and the small town of Caldicot.
After a really long drive from the Lakes, I'm here in Monmouthshire in South Wales.
I'm going to a festival, but not just any festival - this is a campervan festival.
Festivals like these are where the good, the bad, and the ugly from
the campervan world come together to celebrate campervan culture.
I've set myself a challenge.
I'm going to enter the van for the Show and Shine.
Now that is the competition for the finest van in the festival.
Having done nearly 2,500 miles without a wash - that's the van, not me -
if I'm going to win this competition I'm going to have to get my rubber gloves on and get scrubbing.
'This could well prove a challenge too far.
'The festival, held in the shadow of Caldicot Castle,
'is only in its third year but has already become hugely popular.'
Ah here we go, this is it.
'This year, a staggering 1,500 campervans have made the trip.
'My van and I were in for some stiff competition.'
Wow, look at these.
This is the Show and Shine field, which hopefully we are going to be allowed onto tomorrow when I'm
all polished up and looking lovely, if I'm to stand a chance of winning a prize.
If you ever wanted proof of the campervan's popularity, then this is surely it.
This place was extraordinary, like a campervan museum, with examples dating back over half a century.
This is an early bay, looking very pretty.
We've got T5s,
'The much sought-after early models built in the '50s and '60s
'are known as splitties because they have a split windscreen.
'Some of them actually hinge outwards!
'Then there are the bays, of which mine is a late model.
'From here they evolved right up to the luxurious T5 model of today.
'Finally, one of my absolute favourites, the rat look.
'These are vans that are made to look old and tatty, complete with rust and faded paintwork.'
I just love looking at all these other vans, it's so nice to see
people loving their vehicles, and it's so nice to see
what other people are doing with their vehicles.
See how much people care for them
and take time over them and look after them and make them what they are, which is classic vehicles.
I'm going to have to do some serious polishing if I'm going to stand a chance tomorrow.
'But before I got the cleaning equipment out,
'I found my camping spot, parked up, and headed off with one mission - to check out the competition.'
Isn't this the coolest thing you've ever seen?
It's two old VWs, backs cut off, stuck together to make a mobile dining room, I love it.
Wow, this is cosy.
Look at that.
Excellent. And you tow it behind your van,
you can kip in that one, cook in this one.
And this is another one of my favourites, simply because it just belongs in the age that
it was born in, it looks like it hasn't changed a bit.
'As well as being the height of retro chic, this van also has an ingenious cooking arrangement.'
-The cooker is under the front seat?
-Yes, even most of my friends don't even know it's there.
-Could you show me how it works?
All you do is lift the seat up out of the way and drop it down,
and as you drop it down, if you've got your gas left on, it cuts the gas off.
'Wandering around, it was easy to understand how some owners become obsessed.
'But for many the campervan is simply a chance
'to sample a lifestyle that few other vehicles can bring.
'You get to drive and cherish these wonderful old vans, and the family can come too.
'I'd seen enough great vans to realise how strong the competition was.
'My trusty old van by comparison was looking a bit, well...tired.
'If I was to stand any chance tomorrow,
'I was going to have to give her a thorough clean.
'I don't carry a Hoover in my campervan so it was onto my hands and knees with my dustpan and brush.
'It's amazing what you pick up on a 2,000-mile tour around the country,
'sand from all the beaches, dead insects, and, of course, crumbs from all the cooking I've done.
'And boy, had I done a lot of cooking - from foraged mushrooms to fresh honeycomb,
'clawing out crabmeat,
'to creating a super-sized frittata from a giant egg.
'My campervan kitchen has been hard at work.'
I would say that's just about perfect.
Oh, it's delicious.
'After an hour of elbow work, I'd got the van
'back to the condition she was in when I bought her.'
Dirty, dirty, dirty, it's amazing how much rubbish I've managed to accumulate.
'But it was obvious parts of the interior hadn't
'had a proper clean for decades, so I used a little campervan tip.
'I mixed white wine with bicarb of soda to make a green cleaner that really cuts through the grime.'
I wonder when the last time was
this van saw
a damp cloth?
'With both my energy and the light fading, I went off in search of some food.
'Cooking would trash my van again, so it was the perfect excuse.
'Much as I like to cook, this was to be the first night off
'on my journey, so I thought I'd have a celebratory curry.'
I saw the sign. Cooking camper.
-It's a bit of a compromise, because on one hand, it would be great to cook in the van.
Obviously a bit limited for space, but if I was cooking in the van
I couldn't use the van for pleasure.
If you have a van, you want to do more than just work in your van.
-You want to go surfing in your van, sleep, have pleasure trips.
-Can I have a look?
Do you use it as everyday vehicle, then?
It gets used 365 days of the year, because apart from doing shows, I have a lunchtime delivery round
-which I do. So snow, ice, it gets a day off on Christmas Day.
But yes, it's every single day.
How many people do you feed, do you think, in a day at a festival like this?
In a day at a festival like this I will probably feed...
anywhere between 100 and 200 people.
-How do you do it?
-I have to prep at home.
Things like onions, chop them all the night before in the plastic tubs into the cool boxes.
It's planning, that's all it is, really.
OK. Oh, look, it looks like you might have some customers.
I bow down to the superior cooking and organisational abilities of this man.
-Can I give you a hand?
-Well, if you're offering to help, far be it for me to say no.
-Just grab yourself some gloves.
For the next batch of the vegetable curry, just some potatoes.
-Need chopping up.
Like me, Steve isn't a trained chef, but has successfully been cooking
out of his campervan for the past three years
using locally-sourced produce, and his food smelt so good that it really got my creative juices going.
I've had an idea that I would like to make
a lamb rogan josh with lots of fresh tomatoes, onions.
-Get some Welsh lamb.
-What are you using for heat?
-I've got chilli flakes.
Chilli flakes are great cos if you use chilli powder, everything gets coated in chilli
and it hits your tongue straightaway, whereas if you use fresh chilli or chilli flakes
you taste the meat, and if you're using Welsh lamb you want to taste the lamb and then you get the heat
Great tip. So basically you're using local ingredients, fresh
-ingredients, cooked with love out of the back of a camper.
On a glorious summer's day.
-Is there a better way of earning a living?
My congratulations to you on a really good lifestyle, it sounds great.
-Brilliant, it looks wonderful.
-Chicken curry, rice, and lentil daal.
-Thank you, I shall enjoy this.
-Enjoy your night off.
-I'm going round the other side.
'I headed off to enjoy my dinner in one of the last remaining patches of evening sunlight.'
That's actually really good and, you know what, it's a relief. For once
I haven't had to catch it, cook it, kill it, chase after it, go out in a boat to get it,
pick it off the beach, rummage around in the mud, get up to here in
dirt and grime, just go over there and enjoy great campervan food
from someone else's campervan.
'I finished my curry and had an early night, ready for judgment day tomorrow.
'Still to come, will my van sweep the competition
'aside and triumph in the Show and Shine? And I'll be showing you how to make the best campervan curry.
'And will my special guest gave the thumbs up to my campervan curry creation?'
'It was a busy day ahead, and it was competition time for my trusty van.
'But I also had a curry to cook and needed some ingredients.
'Luckily I'd been tipped off about the nearby town of Usk
'had a farmers market where you could buy just about anything.
'I only hoped they had Welsh lamb for my curry.'
I've got my shopping list and I'm heading off to the farmers market
to pick up some fresh ingredients for a very special festival curry.
'The farmers market really was as good as I'd been told.
'The range of produce was staggering, there was everything
'from locally-grown veggies to locally-produced salami,
'and even a stall selling Welsh wine - of all things!'
-Can I try some of the dry? Is that all right?
Well, funnily enough the first thing I found at the farmers market is alcohol-based,
but only a little soupcon.
That's lovely, I'll take a case.
That's what I like to hear.
Thank you. I've got myself some Welsh cider,
Welsh perry, which is very nice,
and some Welsh wine.
Guinea fowl. They look wonderful, but probably not very easy to cook in a camper van.
'All very nice, but it was curry ingredients I needed.
'Luckily, the next stall was a great help.'
Mango pickle, that looks beautiful.
'I picked up some garam masala and sugar-coated fennel seeds. I was on a roll.'
I've spotted the veg man.
'The secret to making the best rogan josh is by using stacks of tomatoes.'
That many tomatoes.
That's the way to measure tomatoes, like that.
'I was going to make a lamb rogan josh because I know the local Welsh lamb enjoys an excellent reputation,
'so when I spied the organic meat stall, my heart leapt.'
Aha, lamb! My main ingredient.
-How are you?
-I'm fine, thank you.
-Good. I'm glad I found you because I'm looking for some diced lamb to make a curry.
OK. Now, tell me about your lamb.
-How far have you travelled to get here?
-About 20 miles.
So I wouldn't be able to get any more local than this.
-I don't think so.
-That's great, OK.
'Job done, it was time to hit the road.'
I pretty much got everything I need
so it's back to the festival.
'But there was one thing I'd managed to sneak into my shopping bag without the camera crew seeing,
'and something I certainly wouldn't be able to make myself in the van.'
One thing about campervan living,
you've got no oven,
so you'll have to wave goodbye to those baked goods.
Unless, of course...
you find them at a place like this.
And I tell you something, there's absolutely no way
I'm taking any chances with this in the fridge as I drive along.
That's a proper taste of summer.
'There was no time to waste - the van still wasn't as clean
'as I'd like and the start of the Show and Shine was looming.'
Let's get on with it.
'I'd brushed out and polished the interior last night, now it was time to wash the paintwork.'
'But because I was on my own, unlike the other campervanners,
'I didn't have my usual army of family and friends to help me. I needed to call in some backup.'
I've seen the competition,
and my kind of amateur Sunday afternoon cleaning efforts
I don't think are going to be enough.
'So I called in the cavalry for a bit of extra elbow grease.'
Thank goodness for that, I've got a bit of help.
-How's it going?
-Glad you could make it.
-That's all right, no bother.
A bit grubby, I'll do all the paintwork. I don't know if you
-can help me get the wheels tidied up.
Also on the front there's loads of insect spots, I could do with getting those off if possible.
'After 2,000 miles on the road, my van had taken a bashing, and I didn't want to let it down.'
What do you think, are you going to be able to get something done with it?
We'll sort something out, I'm sure we will.
That's looking amazing, nice work!
Maybe I stand a chance after all.
'The joy of this competition is that it's all in the spirit of good campervan fun.
'Everybody who enters gets to vote on the other vans,
'judging them on bodywork, interior, and overall condition.'
All the vans are separated into categories, and I'm here with the late bays.
And I'm the first to arrive so if I'm the only entrant, I'll win!
This is looking good.
'With the scent of victory in my nostrils, I felt spurred on to give the van one last polish.'
It would be awful, wouldn't it, to be first...out of one.
At least first out of two would be good enough,
but what's going to happen is some beautiful van
is going to rock up next to me and it'll be second out of two.
'By now, the Show and Shine contestants were pouring onto the field.
'Another late bay did show up in my category, a very rare model with a caravan grafted onto the back of it.
'But I remained confident that my original interior
'and immaculate paintwork would wow my fellow van owners.
'I was beginning to think I had this competition in the bag,
'but then along came a beautifully-restored camper,
'and even worse, it had a breathtaking interior.'
Looks like the competition's turned up, which is a bit disappointing
because they're really quite good, and I was really hoping to win.
But part of this competition is that everybody gets to judge everybody else's vans, and that means that
I can go and have a rummage around in all these beautiful campers.
# Every day I get confused
# Get on the bus that takes me to you
# Too much, magic bus
# I'm so nervous I just sit and smile
# Too much, magic bus
# House is only another mile
# Too much, magic bus... #
To say that I'm enjoying myself today would be
a massive understatement, I'm absolutely loving this.
I love seeing all these vans.
To people who don't know anything about the scene it might be hard to understand why
I get so excited about campervans, but I'm going to show you something that will show you exactly why.
I've come to talk to you about your lovely van.
Thank you. The tiki van. Less than 15 in the world with a high top,
DIY interior, bamboo, very cheap.
I like it. And this is what you would call rat look, isn't it?
Rat look, yes.
-just about road legal, and that's the idea.
-Do you get pulled over a bit?
Yes, to ask me questions about it.
-Let me go inside.
-Yes, jump in.
I love this, because you sit in here and you're taken to somewhere completely distant.
I could be in Hawaii now. It's raining outside and I feel like I'm in the Waikiki bar
in Hawaii and the world is a beautiful, beautiful place.
It doesn't get much better.
Look at that, real pineapples.
How about that for accessorising, you don't get that with a normal car.
What do your family think about it?
Love it, love it, adore it.
-Do you camp in it?
-Yes. We sleep in it, cook in it.
How are you feeling about today?
-You're among friends here, aren't you?
Yes. They don't fix anything for me.
After seeing Jason Cooper's extraordinary Hawaiian interior,
it struck me I hadn't done enough styling to make my van stand out.
Just enough time then to make some last-minute adjustments and bring out my trump card.
What's more stylish than a classic 70s toy?
Well, there's not a lot more I can do here, I've got my Stylophone,
original Rolf Harris...
STYLOPHONE BUZZES TUNEFULLY
1930s Touring England game,
some melamine, a bit of foodie stuff, my cooler,
and there's even a campervan hot water bottle in the boot.
So it's time for me to go and do my bit and do some judging.
'My style touches seem to do the trick, pretty soon admirers were
'flocking to come and see how it should be done.'
I'm judging the vans,
but to be honest with you, I just go for the vans I really like.
Some of them obviously in better condition than others, some of them
are really groovy, some with really good paint jobs.
This one is beautiful, looks like it just came out of the showroom,
so that will probably get my vote.
is, like, covered in tarmac.
'I thought I'd better seek some clarity about what I should be looking for from head judge and
'campervan guru Ricky, and get some reassurance about my own van.'
Come and have a look at my bus.
-Tell me what you think of this.
What I want to know is with the secrets of judging criteria, what
people are looking for in vans, and how you'd view my van.
Well, initially looking at it, I'd say it's very, very nice.
Trouble is over the years people have used these vans and they've
deteriorated, ripped out the original interior, modified them, done them, maybe redone them
the way they want them as opposed to factory spec, so it detracts from the originality.
So the fact that I've got the original interior will count well for me.
Absolutely, big bonus.
Some people don't want all that clutter, they want a bed and somewhere to chuck their
bikes and surfboard and all the rest of it, not interested in cooking and all that kind of stuff.
Depends what you want to use it for, but that looks like a very nice van, I've got to say.
With my judge's hat on, I went on viewing.
The next van was the epitome of high-tech luxury camping.
I love the splitty, I love them, but I just couldn't live with them.
I'm into the modern vehicle, you know, I like it.
You get in it and it starts, so I bought a panel van from a builder and it was the right spec.
The only thing wrong with it, wrong colour,
so I decided, right, I've got a budget, so I went for it.
Painted it the colour I wanted, saw an Audi TT with burnt orange leather, did that,
repainted it, did the black over the top a little bit different.
Fitted it all out, wired it all up and knew that I wanted a big TV because my
daughter said if we're having a new van and you sell the old one, I want a TV in it.
-So I put the biggest TV you can get in it.
-How big is that screen?
19 inches, so your van has got a 19-inch monitor and a DVD player?
When we pick them up from nursery they go "TV, TV!" Then I try and
get them out and my two-year-old won't get out.
You've obviously lavished time, love, and attention on this van.
There's a lot of labour on my side, which obviously you can't take into account because
that's partly me doing it, but cost-wise, I've spent near £30,000. I like keeping busy doing it.
I enjoyed building it. I did it all in six months, and I like that, project-managing it.
I'm into Mk2 Golfs and big flashy wheels and stuff,
and the wife's into camping, but likes smart vehicles.
So the deal is as long it's got TV, pop-top, and a bed in it and cooking,
I can do I want with it.
Well, judging's over and they are about to announce the winner.
I don't know how I've done, fingers crossed, but there's some really stiff competition here.
We'll start off with the club display...
'The awards ceremony is the high point of any festival, it's a pat on the back
'for all the hard work owners put into their vans, and I was itching to get my hands on a trophy.'
Moving on to late bays, in second place, Martin Dorey with the red and white bay.
Thank you, sir. Cheers.
'Suddenly all the hard work and the money I'd paid to the valet seemed worth it.'
At the moment Martin's travelling all around the country cooking, he's gone mad and is doing it in a Bay.
What's wrong with that?
-We're just surprised you're getting everywhere you're meant to be!
-2,500 miles and no breakdowns, yay!
-Well done, Martin.
'No time to rest on my laurels, I still had a dinner to prepare.
'It was time to start cooking my campervan rogan josh.'
Well, I've had a great day, I've really enjoyed the competition.
I won a prize, how about that?
But now I've got to focus on cooking, I'm going to cook a lamb curry for a very important guest,
and he's going to be quite hard to please, I think, so I've got to get on and sort my spices.
'My mystery guest was Steve, the campervan man who had cooked for me
'yesterday, and whose chicken curry had really impressed me.'
I'm making him a lamb curry
as a return favour.
The only thing is,
his curry was really good.
'I'm preparing the classic curry base of fried garlic,
'ginger, and onions, into which I'll throw my dried spices.
'But the key to the rogan sauce is lots of fresh tomatoes from the farmers market.
'First off I sealed the lamb by frying it in vegetable oil.'
The reason I'm using lamb is because I'm in Wales, the country is famous for it.
And this lamb is organic, and it's been reared only about ten miles away.
So it's as local and as fresh as I could possibly hope for.
'After removing the sealed lamb pieces, I stir-fried the onion, garlic and ginger
'until they were soft, along with my spices - garam masala, turmeric, ground coriander and chilli.
'After adding the local lamb and tomatoes, I let it cook for an hour,
'which gave me just enough time to make my chapatis.
'I added some water, oil, and salt to wholemeal flour, and kneaded the dough.
'Then I pressed them flat and cooked them in a hot frying pan.'
I've decided not to serve rice with my curry tonight, I decided to do something
very simple and that's chapatis, because I've always got flour,
oil and water on board the van.
'My lamb rogan josh smelt and looked great, and in an effort to boost my five-a-day and as
'a special surprise ingredient, I added some local spinach for the last few minutes of cooking.'
-Good to see you.
-Are you all right?
-Yes, not too bad.
-How's your day been?
-I'm just about ready to plate up so do you want to take a seat? I'll bring it out.
-I'd love to.
So it's local lamb,
That's great, it's in season at the moment and it's delicious.
Yes, it's organic stuff we picked up from the farmer's market.
'My campervan rogan josh was the first curry I'd made on my trip.
'The tomatoes and lamb juices had reduced to a thick spicy sauce
'tempered by a dollop of sour cream and my home-made chapatis.
'But would my discerning guest be impressed?'
Oh, that's lovely.
I used the chilli flakes rather than powder, yes,
thanks to your advice.
-Because you can taste the meat.
-You get the lamb.
I always think it's a shame when you have a curry and you
can't taste the individual ingredients that are in there.
I've also got some Welsh cider.
Lovely, cos it's not just Somerset that makes cider.
The Welsh make very fine cider as well.
They do. Apples are very Welsh.
-Years gone by, every, every Welsh house had an apple tree in the garden.
-Is it the right accompaniment to curry?
-Well, it's refreshing.
Because it's dry and crisp, it's lovely.
Last night, I had my first night off cooking in a long time.
-Is this the first night you've had off cooking for a while?
-It is, yes.
And it's so nice to eat something that I've not cooked
and that I've not had to go to a restaurant to pay for,
which is lovely. I don't get cooked for very often.
'What a wonderful weekend.
'I may not have ventured far from this muddy field in the middle of
'Wales, but I've had the chance to show off my new van to some fellow enthusiasts.
'I cooked my first ever campervan curry, and to top it all I'd even won a prize.'
'Next time - the final leg of my 2,500-mile trek around the UK
'takes me to Pembrokeshire and the beautiful Welsh coast.
'I get the whole family involved for the final stretch.'
-That's the way we like it, isn't it?
'Burgers and homemade campervan chutney.'
Wow, that's massive!
'I make a cordial out of foraged flowers,
'but just five miles from the finish line, face my biggest disaster yet.'
What do you reckon?
Truck, it will have to be on a truck.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
Series which sees Martin Dorey, campervan lover and passionate foodie, journey around Britain in his 1970s classic campervan on the ultimate escapist adventure.
Martin travels around the UK meeting growers, fishermen, farmers, larger-than-life local experts and fellow holiday makers. He forages for local delicacies and cooks for his new-found friends, creating local dishes in his small campervan kitchen.
The food adventure continues in Wales. A campervan festival creates the opportunity for both Martin's 70s classic camper and his Welsh lamb campervan curry to face the judges.