Thousands watch as Penwortham couple transform huge van into off-grid home

It's big and it's green and it looks like something from a military compound, but it's going to be a new home for a young Penwortham couple.

By Catherine Musgrove
Friday, 28th May 2021, 12:30 pm
Eden and Nick with their van
Eden and Nick with their van

The 2008 Mercedes Vario is being given a new lease of life by Nick Boyd and Eden Ashton who are kitting it out as an off-grid camper van - and their work has attracted thousands of views on social media.

The couple, who met at university in Bath, have been unable to work for much of the past year due to lockdown as they are bartenders and work ski seasons in the Alps.

With the pandemic forcing them to rethink their aims, and in a bid to break the "never ending loop of earning money just to live", they picked the van up from Scotland just before the last lockdown and have spent the last six months getting it ready for their round the world adventures.

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Nick, 29, said: "There has been so much uncertainty (because of the pandemic) that we decided just to go for it..

"I had to convince Eden, else it wouldn't really have happened. But it was a case of 'let's get this massive van to travel the world'."

He added: "I do have some experience of doing the work. Three years ago I bought myself a little American van that I have been converting, but we realised that it's not really suitable to stay in for longer than three nights. It'a a great van, but you can't stand up in it, there's no toilet.

"So I decided I wanted to buy the largest van I could with the cab still attached, which is the 5 1/2 tonne Vario."

Eden and Nick

The van - named Roamstead - which has been taken back to bare metal, rust-proofed and insulated to withstand sub-zero temperatures, will have a separate toilet, shower, kitchen, living area and massive roof deck, where solar panels will be attached.

Nick is now in the process of sitting a special driving licence for the van, and the aim is to set off on November 1 to take Eden to ski season in the Alps. When the season is finished, they will drive through Europe, taking in the French vineyards and Portugal.

The idea is to make the journey as eco-friendly as possible - for a vehicle with a 4.2 litre diesel engine.

"Yes it's got a massive diesel engine", said Nick. "But we want to travel the world, so the alternatives are planes, trains or coaches. In each one of those, we'd be staying in hotels, putting waste into the system.

Eden Ashton, 23, from Penwortham

"At least with this everything we'll be using is electrical, we're going to have solar panels, an incinerator toilet, and maybe even wind turbines on the roof rack.

"We are trying to create as little waste as possible."

The couple have recorded their work on social media and have attracted 14,000 views to a YouTube vlog about their journey. Each video takes two to three days to record and edit.

Nick said: "It's a great way of recording what we're doing and how far we got - something for the grandkids one day."

Inside the van

Eden, 23, a former All Hallows and Newman College pupil, said: "There's a really big van life following and it's nice to be part of that, offering advice and tips, and showing that it can be done."