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Sussex Vineyards and Wineries you can stay at

ruth wimpory skoolie stays

By Ruth

Both the Skoolie Stays bus (that bus above is our other one on a California Vineyard by the way) and our East Sussex Eco Cabin ‘The Vacationist’ are firmly in wine country! We provide accommodation close to some great Sussex vineyards and wineries. In this blog post we look at what makes Sussex wine special with a focus on some of the wine estates where you can stay on site, For each one we mention, we also note the closest accommodation we offer whether on the bus or the cabin. Whilst we are not in amongst the vines themselves, we are pretty close to many of them!

Our closest neighbours at the Skoolie, Kinsbrook Vineyard, get a special mention as it’s a lovely walk to their estate from the bus. They come top of the list for our West Sussex selection! Kinsbrook don’t have their own accommodation, but stay on board with us and you can drink like a local when you visit.

Sussex and Wine, a natural partnership

For wine lovers and nature lovers alike, no other English destinations offer what the vineyards of Sussex have. Sussex has emerged as a premier wine region, boasting a flourishing collection of world-class vineyards and wineries. From luxurious wine estate hotels to cosy winery cottages and unique vineyard accommodation experiences, the county offers a diverse array of Sussex winery accommodation options that allow you to immerse yourself in the art of winemaking while basking in the region’s beautiful landscapes. Join us as we embark on a journey through the finest vineyard stays, tours, tastings, and activities that Sussex has to offer, ensuring an unforgettable wine-filled getaway.

Sussex Vineyard Accommodation, East & West

sussex vineyard accommodation

For those seeking the ultimate in indulgence, Sussex is home to several prestigious wine estates. Many offer luxurious accommodations amidst their sprawling vineyards. 

 

Let’s look at the Sussex  wine menu…

Special focus: Kinsbrook Vineyard, our local wine stars

Kinsbrook Vineyard, which is a lovely walk from the Skoolie Stays bus, offers a rich and immersive experience for visitors, blending traditional winemaking with modern, sustainable practices. Owned and operated by Joe Beckett and Rebecca Dancer, Kinsbrook stands out for its commitment to sustainability and inclusiveness, making it a unique destination in the Sussex wine landscape.

 

The vineyard produces a complete range of both still and sparkling wines, crafted from grapes grown on its third-generation farmland. Visitors can explore a variety of wines, including the flagship Sparkling White and a new single-variety unoaked Chardonnay. The heart of the vineyard is the Kinsbrook Farmhouse, a traditional Sussex barn that houses a restaurant, grocery, deli, and butchery, all offering panoramic views of the vineyard. This setup not only provides a scenic backdrop for dining and shopping but also emphasizes the vineyard’s focus on local produce and artisanal products.

 

Beyond wine tasting, Kinsbrook Vineyard offers a range of activities and amenities designed to create a comprehensive vineyard experience. The cellar door welcomes visitors with coffee, cake, and antipasti, in addition to wine. The vineyard also hosts supper clubs, events, and live acoustic music every Sunday in the summer, fostering a laid-back atmosphere that complements the wine experience. This approach to creating an inclusive, sustainable lifestyle culture around wine is indicative of Kinsbrook’s broader mission. Though they don’t offer their own vineyard accommodation, they are really close to a certain luxury converted American School Bus  

 

1 hour walk from Skoolie Stays, or 5 minute drive

luxury glamping near lewes

Wiston Estate

Wiston Estate, a historic property dating back to the 16th century, is located in the picturesque village of Wiston, near Pulborough. In addition to producing award-winning sparkling wines, the estate offers vineyard accommodation in the newly renovated Pump House, a charming two-bedroom cottage overlooking the vineyards. Guests can indulge in private wine tastings, vineyard tours, and even participate in the annual grape harvest.

 

If the Wiston cottage is unavailable for your stay or not quite right for your group, the Skoolie is just 10 minutes drive or Taxi from Wiston and its lovely Chalk restaurant. 

 

10 minute drive or taxi from Skoolie Stays

luxury glamping near lewes

Our other local vineyards

accommodation at vineyards in Sussex

Staying local to our own glamping accommodation, thirsty glampers are spoilt for choice. Head to our Wine Tasting Breaks page and see all our other Local Vineyards  and Wine Estates close to the bus. 

Nutbourne Vineyards

Nutbourne Vineyards, located in Pulborough, West Sussex, is a family-run vineyard that offers a converted 19th-century barn as vineyard accommodation. With panoramic views of the vineyards and surrounding countryside, this charming cottage is the perfect base for exploring the region’s wineries and enjoying the tranquility of rural Sussex.

luxury glamping near lewes

Breaky Bottom Vineyard

Breaky Bottom Vineyard, situated in the village of Rodmell near Lewes, is a hidden gem run by legendary winemaker Peter Hall. While they don’t offer on-site vineyard  accommodation, there are several charming cottages available for rent in the nearby villages, allowing you to experience the serenity of this secluded vineyard during your stay.

 

30 Minute drive from The Vacationist Cabin

Bolney Wine Estate

For a more traditional yet immersive experience, consider staying at a bed and breakfast located on or near a Sussex vineyard. One such example, and a lovely one too, is in Bolney.

 

Bolney Wine Estate, located in Haywards Heath, West Sussex, is a renowned producer of award-winning still and sparkling wines. While they don’t have on-site accommodation, there are several charming bed and breakfasts in the surrounding villages, such as the Hickstead Hotel, which offer easy access to the estate’s tours, tastings, and events.

 

25 minute drive from Skoolie Stays

Ridgeview Wine Estate

Ridgeview Wine Estate, situated in the heart of the South Downs National Park, is a family-owned winery known for its exceptional sparkling wines. While they don’t offer on-site accommodation near the vineyards, there are several  bed and breakfasts in the nearby villages of Ditchling and Hurstpierpoint, providing the perfect base for exploring this renowned estate. It’s also a short drive from our own cabin glamping accommodation. 

 

A 28 minute drive from The Vacationist

Wine Estates with vineyard accommodation

For those seeking a more adventurous and unique experience, Sussex offers several vineyards that offer vineyard accommodation, allowing you to truly immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the region.

Bluebell Vineyard Estates

Bluebell Vineyard Estates, located in Uckfield, East Sussex, is a family-run vineyard that offers a unique glamping experience in a vintage Airstream trailer. Surrounded by the vines and with access to the estate’s tasting room and events, this is a truly one-of-a-kind way to experience Sussex’s wine country.

 

A 20 minute drive from The Vacationist 

Vineyard Tours and Tastings

No vineyard getaway would be complete without indulging in the region’s exceptional wines through tours and tastings. Many of the accommodations mentioned above offer exclusive tours and tastings for guests, but there are also numerous standalone experiences to consider.

 

Here are some great options…

Albourne Estate Vineyard Tours

Albourne Estate, located in the heart of the Sussex Downs, is a family-run vineyard that offers a variety of tours and tastings. From guided vineyard walks to tutored tastings in their charming tasting room, Albourne provides a warm and welcoming introduction to the region’s wines.

 

A 25 minute drive from The Skoolie Stays Bus

Special focus: Tinwood Estate Vineyard, A Glamping Adventure in the Vines

For those seeking a more adventurous and unique vineyard accommodation experience, Tinwood Estate Vineyard in the heart of the Sussex Weald offers a truly one-of-a-kind glamping adventure amidst the vines. Nestled in the rolling hills of the Weald, Tinwood Estate Vineyard is a family-run operation that has been producing award-winning wines since 2007. While the vineyard itself is a sight to behold, with its meticulously tended vines and picturesque surroundings, it’s the estate’s glamping accommodations that truly set it apart. Tinwood offers a range of glamping options, each designed to provide a comfortable and luxurious experience while allowing guests to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the vineyard. 

 

From cosy shepherd’s huts to spacious bell tents, each accommodation is thoughtfully appointed with all the amenities you need for a memorable stay. The shepherd’s huts, in particular, are a true delight. These charming, compact dwellings are outfitted with comfortable beds, seating areas, and even small kitchenettes, ensuring that you have everything you need for a comfortable stay. Step outside, and you’ll find yourself surrounded by the lush vineyards, with the gentle slopes and rolling hills providing a stunning backdrop. For those seeking a more spacious and luxurious glamping experience, Tinwood’s bell tents are sure to impress. These spacious canvas dwellings are outfitted with plush bedding, comfortable furnishings, and even private outdoor seating areas, perfect for enjoying a glass of Tinwood’s finest while taking in the vineyard views. But the true magic of a stay at Tinwood Estate Vineyard lies in the experiences and activities on offer. 

 

As a guest, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in private vineyard tours and tastings, guided by the estate’s knowledgeable staff. Learn about the winemaking process, from the careful tending of the vines to the intricate art of blending and aging the wines.During your stay, you can also immerse yourself in the annual grape harvest, a truly unique and hands-on experience. Work alongside the vineyard team as they carefully hand-pick the ripe grapes, learning about the nuances of each varietal and the importance of timing in the winemaking process. Beyond the vineyards, Tinwood Estate Vineyard offers a wealth of outdoor activities to enjoy. Take a leisurely stroll along the estate’s walking trails, or venture further afield and explore the stunning Sussex countryside. The nearby villages and towns offer a glimpse into the rich history and culture of the region, with charming pubs, quaint shops, and historic landmarks to discover.

 

For those seeking a truly unique and unforgettable vineyard experience, Tinwood Estate Vineyard’s glamping adventure is a must. With its luxurious accommodation close to the vineyards themselves, exceptional wines, and immersive experiences, this hidden gem in the heart of the Sussex Weald promises to leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.

 

Whether you’re a seasoned wine enthusiast or simply seeking a unique and adventurous getaway, a stay at Tinwood Estate Vineyard is sure to delight and inspire. So pack your bags, uncork a bottle of their finest, and prepare to embark on a glamping adventure like no other, surrounded by the beauty of the Sussex vineyards.

 

A 30 minute drive from The Skoolie 

where to stay vineyards in Sussex

Nyetimber Vineyard Tours

Nyetimber, widely regarded as one of England’s top sparkling wine producers, offers a range of tours and tastings at their West Chiltington estate. From open day tours to private tastings in their 15th-century Medieval Barn, Nyetimber provides a truly immersive experience into the world of English sparkling wine.

10 minutes from The Skoolie

Additional wine related Activities and Experiences

While wine tasting and vineyard tours are undoubtedly the main attractions, Sussex offers a wealth of additional activities and experiences to complement your vineyard getaway.

Vineyard Picnics and Dining Experiences

Many of the region’s vineyards offer picnic baskets or al fresco dining experiences, allowing you to savor local produce and wines while taking in the stunning vineyard views. Bolney Wine Estate’s Eighteen Acre Café, with its viewing balcony overlooking the vines, is a must-visit for a leisurely lunch or afternoon tea.

Countryside Walks and Cycling

The rolling hills and picturesque villages of Sussex provide the perfect backdrop for countryside walks and cycling adventures. Many vineyards offer self-guided walking trails or can recommend scenic routes through the surrounding areas.

Coastal Explorations

With its proximity to the English Channel, Sussex offers easy access to charming coastal towns and beaches. Spend a day exploring the iconic Seven Sisters cliffs, the vibrant city of Brighton, or the historic town of Rye, all within a short drive from many of the region’s vineyards. Whether you’re seeking a luxurious wine estate stay, a cozy vineyard cottage rental, or a unique glamping experience, Sussex’s wineries offer a diverse range of vineyard accommodations to suit every taste and budget. With exceptional wines, stunning landscapes, and a wealth of activities and experiences, a vineyard stay in Sussex promises to be a truly unforgettable adventure for wine lovers and nature enthusiasts alike.

Special focus: Rathfinny Wine Estate: A Luxurious Vineyard Retreat

Nestled in the heart of the South Downs National Park, Rathfinny Wine Estate is a breathtaking 600-acre property that offers a truly indulgent vineyard escape. With its award-winning wines, exceptional vineyard accommodation options, and stunning natural surroundings, Rathfinny is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking a luxurious wine estate stay in Sussex.

 

The estate’s accommodation options are second to none, catering to both those seeking a traditional bed and breakfast experience and those desiring the privacy of a self-catered cottage. The Flint Barns B&B, housed in beautifully restored farm buildings, features 10 en-suite bedrooms with rustic charm and panoramic vineyard views. Each room is designed with its own unique character, ensuring a cosy and inviting atmosphere. For those seeking a more private and indulgent experience, the newly opened Rathfinny Cottage is a true gem. This self-catering haven can accommodate up to four guests and three dogs, making it perfect for a family or group of friends. Wake up to breathtaking vistas of the vines, enjoy a private courtyard for alfresco dining, and take advantage of the estate’s restaurants and vineyard tours during your stay.

 

Speaking of dining, Rathfinny offers a range of culinary experiences that are sure to delight even the most discerning palates. The estate’s restaurants showcase the best of local and seasonal produce, expertly paired with their award-winning Sussex sparkling wines. From casual al fresco dining to fine dining experiences, there is something to suit every occasion and taste. Of course, no visit to Rathfinny would be complete without indulging in their exceptional wines. The estate offers a range of tours and tastings, led by knowledgeable guides who will take you on a journey through the winemaking process. From the vineyards to the winery, you’ll gain a deep appreciation for the art and science behind each bottle of Rathfinny’s Sussex sparkling wine.

 

Beyond the vineyards and winery, Rathfinny offers a wealth of outdoor activities and experiences to enjoy. Take a leisurely stroll along the estate’s walking trails, or venture further afield and explore the stunning South Downs National Park. For those seeking a more adventurous experience, the nearby Cuckmere Haven and Seaford beach offer opportunities for swimming, kayaking, and even stand-up paddleboarding. With its luxurious accommodations, exceptional wines, world-class dining, and stunning natural surroundings, Rathfinny Wine Estate is the epitome of a Sussex vineyard escape. Whether you’re seeking a romantic getaway, a family adventure, or simply a chance to indulge in the finer things in life, Rathfinny promises an unforgettable experience that will leave you longing to return time and time again.

 

A 25 minute drive from The Vacationist Cabin

where to stay sussex wine

East or West, Sussex wines are best!

In conclusion, Sussex’s vineyard accommodation offering is truly exceptional and there is a diverse range of options, catering to every taste and preference. From luxurious wine estate stays to cozy cottage rentals and unique glamping experiences, this picturesque region promises to delight and inspire wine lovers and nature enthusiasts alike. So why wait? Start planning your ultimate Sussex vineyard escape today and prepare to be swept away by the beauty, flavors, and unforgettable experiences that await.

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News Skoolie Stays Sustainable glamping

Why Glamping Stays on Converted Buses and Vehicles Make the Best Outdoor Short Breaks

ruth wimpory skoolie stays

By Ruth

In this blog, we explore the glamping niche that Skoolie Stays inhabits. You’ll probably realise we are not the only converted bus or vehicle that you can while away few days in in the great British countryside! Look around and you will find double decker buses, old coaches, helicopters, and all sorts of wheeled trailers upon which glamourous cabins have been built. You may even stumble across a car with hot tub built into it. So cool.

We are pleased to be leading the way with the American School bus fleet that has popped up in the UK and offer short breaks and glamping stays in these iconic vehicles. Johnny Vegas’s Field of dreams glamping project and TV programme has opened eyes to some of the possibilities of boutique bus and vehicles getaways. Certainly that coverage has piqued interest in those who like their short breaks to be on the quirky side

Go glamping on a bus to find WOW moments!

But what makes staying in a bus so special? We know the ‘wow moment’ of seeing the inside of our beautifully converted ‘Skoolie’ is a clue to the joy that bus glamping brings. It looks like a bus from the outside, but step inside: WOW! Here the story begins and it is another genuinely important part of the experience for our guests. Every vehicle has this, I think. Be it a double decker, an American School Bus, or an old Leyland Coach, you know straight away that there’s a story.  This definitely adds some meaning to your choice of accommodation. As guests you become a part of the story, you are the latest chapter in the life of that bus or vehicle. And it’s an unusual one of course.

 

Our own School Bus started its life ferrying kids around Florida, then some adventurous Brits who had lived in a school bus for a year in the States bought it and shipped it across the Atlantic. They converted it and opened it for glamping experiences in the beautiful South Downs in Sussex. It first lived in Firle in East Sussex, then up on the cliffs of Beachy Head, and now its nestled amongst the oaks in lovely West Sussex.

In this blog we explore some of the best things about staying in a converted bus in a British field and look at what you might expect from the experience.  

The Quirky Appeal of staying on a Bus, Coach or another crazy vehicle

best buses glamping magazine

One of the most alluring aspects of glamping in converted buses and vehicles is the sheer quirkiness and novelty factor. In a world where cookie-cutter accommodations are a dime-a-dozen, (to use an appropriate Americanism!) these unique retreats offer a refreshing change of pace. From the moment you lay eyes on your quirky abode, whether it’s a bright red double-decker bus or a sleek, repurposed helicopter, you know you’re in for an experience like no other.

 

This sense of whimsy and playfulness is precisely what draws many travellers to bus glamping. It’s a chance to embrace your inner child, to let go of the mundane, and to immerse yourself in a world where imagination and creativity are firmly in charge. Whether you’re a free-spirited adventurer or simply someone seeking a break from the ordinary, these unconventional accommodations promise to ignite a sense of wonder and excitement that’s often lost in our fast-paced, modern lives. Indeed a desire to ‘getaway from the normal’ is something we hear from our guests a lot. They know that’s exactly what’s awaiting them. Perhaps a Shepherd’s Hut or Yurt just doesn’t deliver in the same way

Converting vehicles for glamping: The Art of Transformation

Behind every converted bus or vehicle lies a remarkable story of transformation. What was once a utilitarian mode of transportation has been lovingly reimagined and repurposed into a cozy, luxurious retreat. This transformation is a testament to the ingenuity and creativity of the designers and craftspeople who breathe new life into these vehicles. Ahem.

 

Step inside one of these converted gems, and you’ll be amazed by the attention to detail and the thoughtful design elements that have been incorporated. You’ll see this in the clever use of space and storage solutions to the carefully curated decor and furnishings. As on our bus, so often every aspect has been meticulously considered to ensure a comfortable and stylish living experience.

 

But the true magic lies in the juxtaposition of the old and the new. The exterior of the vehicle may retain its rugged, industrial charm, but the interior is a world unto itself – a cozy oasis of modern comforts and luxuries. This contrast between the past and the present adds an extra layer of intrigue and character to your stay, making it a truly unique and unforgettable experience.

stay in a converted bus

First Stop: Connecting with Nature on your glamping bus holiday

stay on bus in sussex countryside

One of the greatest joys of glamping on converted buses and vehicles is the opportunity to immerse yourself in the great outdoors while still enjoying the comforts of home. These unique vehicles are often situated in idyllic rural settings, surrounded by rolling hills, lush meadows, or tranquil woodlands.

 

Imagine waking up to a gentle breezie in the trees and gentle birdsong stepping outside your cosy bus or vehicle to breathe in the fresh, crisp air. Whether you choose to spend your days hiking on hills (like our own South Downs National Park) , picnicking, or simply lounging in the great outdoors with a good book, the natural beauty that surrounds you is sure to help you relax and achieve the ‘getting away from it’ you need.

 

Many of these glamping sites also offer additional outdoor amenities, such as fire pits, hot tubs, or even private lakes or ponds, allowing you to fully embrace the great outdoors while still indulging in a touch of luxury. Our very own firepit area and log burner are big hits for our guests on the Skoolie. 

Sustainable and Eco-Friendly bus conversions for glamping

In an age where environmental consciousness is becoming increasingly important, glamping on converted buses and vehicles offers a unique opportunity to embrace sustainable and eco-friendly travel practices. By repurposing and breathing new life into these vehicles, we’re not only reducing waste but also celebrating the principles of upcycling and creative reuse.

 

Many of the companies and individuals behind these converted accommodations prioritize sustainable practices, from using eco-friendly building materials and energy-efficient appliances to implementing water conservation measures and promoting responsible waste management. By choosing to stay in these unique retreats, you’re not only supporting a more sustainable tourism industry but also minimizing your environmental footprint while still enjoying the comforts of a luxurious getaway.

Converted vehicles as tiny homes make for unforgettable experiences

go glamping on converted bus with kids

Perhaps the most compelling reason to choose a glamping stay on a converted bus or vehicle is the promise of unforgettable experiences.

 

Whether you’re seeking a romantic getaway, a family adventure, or a solo escape, these unconventional holiday rentals offer a chance to create lasting memories and forge connections with loved ones or with yourself. Every moment, from the cozy evenings spent curled up by the fire to the awe-inspiring sunrises witnessed from your unique vantage point, will be etched into your memory, creating unforgettable experiences that will stay with you long after your journey ends.

 

If you’re looking for a distinctive and memorable outdoor getaway, glamping on a converted bus such as the Skoolie or any pf the other amazing options out there is an excellent choice. Embrace the quirky charm and cosy comforts these unique places  offer, allowing you to write your own part of their story, and find your own ‘wow moments’.

stay on an american school bus
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News Skoolie Stays Sustainable glamping Uncategorized

Press reviews

Skoolie Stays in the Press

From the UK to the USA – what the papers have to say

Typing in a skoolie

By Ruth

Skoolie Stays has featured in local and national press, she’s appeared on television and in a book…  So what do the media make of Skoolie Stays? 

Quirky Weddings Magazine: What's love without a little rebellion?

Quirky Weddings Magazine featured us on a 4-page spread in their magazine and online . It was part of a collaboration with Eastbourne based photographer @thornandfound and make up artist / concept planner @makeupbychelsey_. We had SO MUCH fun staging the rock ‘n’ roll photo shoot on the bus. It was the perfect setting and the team were fantastic. 

Wild Escapes: Incredible Places to Unwind and Explore (National Trust)

Wild Escapes

The National Trust contacted us a year about a possible stay for their author Sian Anna Lewis, who was documenting Wild Escapes in the UK. We were thrilled to be considered and hosted her in early 2022 at our site in Beachy Head.

 

Of course the eagle-eyed will spot that it talks about our site at Beachy Head. Sian’s Wild Escape took place before we had the news that Black Robin Farm, our site, was to undergo works as part of the Council’s Level Up Funding project. The South Downs National Park could no longer let us stay at our spot and so we moved to Little Thakeham Farm.

 

But although some of the suggestions about pubs and hikes may not be relevant, the bus is after all a bus – it has many stops. Little Thakeham is just as wild a destination (and it’s a lot less windy!) so we think our guests will find it just the place to unwind and explore. 

 

Order your copy here!

Call of the Wild: Guardian / Observer

Guardian observer article Skoolie Stays
"Surprisingly chic and spacious"

Sian Anne Lewis, an award-winning travel-writer and blogger visited the Skoolie Stays bus at our site in Beachy Head so that she could write about the best UK wild escapes for a National Trust book. 

 

In preparation for the book launch, 10 of the best of the 40 escapes mentioned in the book, appeared in the Guardian and Observer on 7th May 2023. There was the Skoolie, in at number 2. 

 

She declared the Skoolie as a “big yellow home-from-home” whilst the photographer, the fantastic Annapurna Mellor, told us privately that they had both “loved (their stay) and it’s a really unique addition to the book.

 

Across the Pond: Florida Patch, Manatee School District and ABC Action News

We got in touch with the school district that had originally been home for the Skoolie Stays bus. They were so excited to hear from us. 

 

We worked with Melissa, the Communications Specialist at Manatee District Schools, to provide our side of the Skoolie story and then her team created an incredible film showcasing the reactions to the story of bus #25’s English retirement.  It was shown at their School District meeting, which went out to six thousand of their employees. You can read more about that on our blog

 

The story also led to coverage in The Patch, which goes out across Florida, and the ABC Action News.

 

10 Wild New Stays in Britain: Telegraph

Times article - meet the owners
"Original stays with the wow factor"​

We were interviewed by Laura Fowler for the Telegraph Travel Section. She wanted to talk to ‘glamping entrepreneurs who gave up their day jobs to create original stays with the wow factor. 

 

Laura was really interested in our idea of sharing the off-grid lifestyle that we had enjoyed in America through Skoolie Stays. 

Fire pits and frosty walks’: readers’ top UK winter cabin and glamping stays: Guardian

The Guardian article Skoolie Stays
"A tiny quirky home"​

This was a reader’s tip that made it into the Guardian top tip pages!

Tiana Wilson's Converted School Bus Tiny House Tour (Off Grid)

Teen you-tube star Tiana Wilson decided to book a weekend in the bus to create some content for her numerous channels. She created a couple of different videos for her 5.29m subscribers – a “haunted bus” series and also a tour of the bus.  We had no idea Tiana was staying, so had quite the surprise when the bus popped up as her film set!

itravel: Autumn Glamping Adventures

The itravel article Skoolie Stays
"All American quirky comfort in an altogether more English setting"​

We didn’t even realise we had featured in this until a family friend sent us the itravel article!  Here we are though, second in the list of places to hunker down for a cosy UK break. 

The Argus: Couple's Skoolie Stays Glamping Business Comes to Eastbourne

Argus online
Everywhere you turn there is something creative and interesting "​

The Argus interviewed us to find out more about our trip and how it inspired us to ship over the Skoolie Stays bus. 

Eastbourne Herald: A Look Inside the American School Bus

Easbourne Herald
"This eco-friendly self-catering accommodation boasts solar panels and renewable energy "​

The Eastbourne Herald ran a series of features on us when we moved to Beachy Head. A yellow American school bus was not a common sight and locals were evidently curious as to exactly what was inside that bus!

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Skoolie Stays Uncategorized

Glamping reviews

Skoolie Stays Reviews

What do our guests really think… read on to find out what American School Bus glamping with us is actually like

Typing in a skoolie

By Ruth

Skoolie Stays has been running for 18 months now and we are on to our third location: Thakeham in West Sussex. 

 

We’ve told you our story – where we got the idea, how we built our Skoolie and how busy we have been, but we know that the one thing people actually want to know before they book is “what do other guests make of the bus?”!!

 

Well, read on and find out!

Beautiful or functional?

It looks pretty but is it well equipped for a holiday?

Skoolie Stays - equipped with everything
"An impeccably presented glamping property"

We’ve just got back from an absolutely amazing stay with Skoolie Stays. This is a memory that will stay with us for the rest of our lives. As short breaks go, this is the best we have ever done. The Skoolie is simply stunning. We wanted and needed for nothing. There is genius in every detail, from the murphy bunks to the kitchen design and sun deck. We felt at home immediately.” Sarah

 

“The bus is beautifully fitted out & has everything you need to experience “van life”Paul 

 

“We used the drop down balcony at the back of the bus constantly, lovely place for a brew” Emma

 

“Inside is immaculate with a toasty log burner, games and books to keep you entertained and the most comfortable bed I may have ever slept on.” Mo

 

“The bus has been finished immaculately with so many thoughtful details; this is small space living done well! Ingenious compost loo and lovely hot shower, perfectly formed little kitchen, beautiful parquet floor, comfy bed and nifty little Murphy bunks for the children”. Sophie

 

“The bus has been designed in an incredibly clever way which makes it feel cozy and homely, while still creating enough space for each individual. Beds are gloriously comfy, shower and toilet make perfect use of the space available and are user friendly without fault. Kitchen is practical and once again showcases careful thinking and planning so that it’s small enough not to be in the way yet also accessible and useable. There was absolutely nothing lacking in this bus for our short break. The wood burner was super toasty and heats the whole bus in no time. We used the drop down balcony at the back of the bus constantly, lovely place for a brew and to read, again it’s a brilliant size to relax in comfort.”  Emma

 

“Every detail on board had been thoroughly thought through, testament to the long US road trip that the owners undertook in one of these. Perfectly kitted out, the Skoolie is a labour of love!” Daniel

 

“A really exceptional and special place for a break, we feel really privileged to have been able to stay here. Thank you.” Emma

 

“We loved all the little touches; twinkly lights, cosy blankets and reading books. Our boys loved sleeping in the handcrafted bunk beds and we loved having a beautiful bathroom and shower to freshen up in. Everything had been thought of and we came away wanting to rebook as soon as possible.” Chantelle

 

“We especially enjoyed cosying around the log burner in the evening and cooking up a full English breakfast in the morning which we ate on the sun deck.” Sam

Family friendly?

It's great to see quirky but is it suitable for kids?

“It’s comfortable and stylish, with gorgeous quirky touches, and every single detail has been carefully considered. Plenty of space for a family of four”. Katy

 

“A special stay for our 10 year old son who is mad on ‘Miss Fritter’ the school bus from Disney Cars 3 demolition derby ! Absolutely stunning location and a fantastically kitted out cosy school bus. Highly recommend.” Oskar

 

“I really love the comfy bed it was cosy at night. Also I love the penny design on the worktop. We toasted marshmallows last night. They were delicious! My mum and dad also had a great time. Thank you for a really cool surprise holiday. We will miss it but will never forget it”  Daisy

 

“Definitely recommend to anyone and everyone from couples like us to a family with kids.” Ruby

 

We arrived late and collapsed on the deep slouchy leather sofa with a glass of wine whilst the kids gave us a break by playing at bus drivers and checking every knob and lever – luckily safety has been considered first, and they couldn’t cause any trouble!” Jenny

 

“From the grown ups to the little ones we were all amazed by the Skoolie’s charm and coolness. As a family we loved our time together playing American monopoly and reading books kindly provided”. Paul

 

“We had simply the best weekend in the skoolie, and our 3 year old absolutely loved it! The location is beautiful – better than the photos, the enclosed garden is great for kids to play in.” Nikita

 

“My family and I have just returned home from an amazing stay on the Skoolie bus. From start to finish it was an amazing experience. Each one of the family members enjoyed the experience and were sad to leave”. Jonathan

 

“Great fun for families with young children – sitting in the driver’s seat and pressing the many buttons was enjoyable for me as an adult!! ” Deborah

Does it work for winter breaks?

Will we be freezing if we glamp in the colder months?

“The bus was toasty warm and comfortable, even in chilly November, thanks to the wood-burning stove and sheep’s wool insulation”. Daniel

 

“We arrived in a huricane but as soon is the stove was lit were as cozy as anything.” Paul

 

“I was glad I ordered the fire wood – which I had hoped we would use outside but it was just too cold – but the log burner made it so toasty inside. The bed was the cosiest! Plenty of hot water in the shower”. Nikita

 
“We had the Skoolie experience with our grandsons and all four had a brilliant time!  The bus is the star of the stay, everything we could need including very comfortable beds and a welcome hot shower after a days walk! The log burner burned brightly both nights- cosy. We really hope to return in the summer but any season would be a pleasure!” Christine
 
 “With the log burner on, sitting in the bus with a glass of wine whilst the wind whipped outside was warm and cosy.” Chantelle
 
“For my 50th I had a desire to pitch a tent next to a river…,but… it is January…. So I found the Skoolie Bus instead! It was a wonderful experience and our kids loved it too.  The bus is very comfortable and with the log fire going we were never cold.” Claire
 
“The log burner and the diesel heating kept us lovely and warm despite the cold January weather.” Megan

Does off-grid mean basic?

And come on....it says smell-free but is the compost toilet really ok?

“I was slightly apprehensive about the compost toilet, but as promised, it really doesn’t smell, and is not weird at all!” Jen

 

“This is a mini boutique bolt hole . Being off grid didn’t feel like a compromise at all with solar lights & hot showers! “ Shehani

 

“This eco-sustainable accommodation seriously needs to be seen to be believed and we are already considering another stay next year. If I could give more than 5* I would!”  Mo

 

“The perfect place to reconnect with nature and each other. I highly recommend it!” Catherine

 

And what are the owners like?

What happens if we need to speak to Ruth and Guy?

Ruth and Guy Skoolie Stays
"Ruth and Guy were such wonderful hosts who made sure we had a lovely stay which we are very grateful for, thank you!"

Cannot fault the communication from the owners, professional yet also personal. Easy to contact, and gave clear and informative instructions.” Emma

 

“The owners are truly wonderful… friendly, funny and very helpful with providing all the info you need in advance and during your stay”. Moira

 

“Absolutely blown away. The attention to detail is amazing and the little touches make all the difference. Pretty clear that heart and soul has gone into creating this luxury bus stay and we loved every minute!” Daniel

 

“The bus was easy to find as directions were clear, everything on the bus was easy to use with the detailed user guide to hand, the bus itself was truly amazing and so much fun! I loved it so much that it has inspired me to buy and convert my own Skoolie bus one day so I can take it out on the road! Ruth was an amazing host going above and beyond to accommodate us! Thank you!” Ruby

 

“I had some minor issues with the gas hob but Guy arrived quickly to resolve them.” Elaine

 

“My daughter I had recently experienced the joy of staying on the Skoolie Bus! Amazing! The love & thought that has gone into the Skoolie Bus & your stay is evident throughout”Tracy

Should I book?

I would - it's not just the guests that love it. So do the press!

National / local press features: TelegraphTimes; Guardian; iNewsThe ArgusThe Eastbourne Herald

Categories
News Skoolie Stays Sustainable glamping

Converting the Skoolie Stays American school bus

ruth wimpory skoolie stays

By Ruth

Buying an American school bus and bringing it to the UK is not for the faint-hearted. It takes a lot of time, skills, creativity and contacts to turn an old retired yellow bus from a different continent into a rural bolt hole in the UK.  Luckily, after travelling 14,000 miles across America in our first Skoolie, we had the confidence, ability and network to take the plunge and buy bus number 2 and launch our new business: Skoolie Stays.  

Buying an American school bus from the UK

Chicken buses central america

There was a sense of de-ja-vu when it came to purchasing a new bus.  It felt very different this time though because of the financial risk. The major cost of a Skoolie project is not in the purchase of the bus – ex-school buses are plentiful in the States, so they are good value – it’s in the shipping and conversion. We needed to be sure we picked a good bus that would be worth the investment we were ready to make. When we found a bus in Florida that had our choice of engine, transmission and had the ‘dog-nose’ look we like (rather than flat-faced), as well as the interior height we sought, we had our friends check it out before we put it on the ship over to Southampton.  

 

In America, you buy your bus and then convert it before applying to change the registration from bus to a private vehicle. You get your insurance and hit the road. It’s a slightly more complicated process in the UK. You need an HGV license for a start. You also need to navigate the confusing world of DVLA guidelines about MOTs and imported vehicles to get your bus registered. Long story short, you need to get your MOT certificate before you begin your conversion as it needs to look like a bus in order to be assessed as a bus. We had to make a few changes to fit within UK rules and regs, but we sailed through our test and were able to send off our paperwork for registration. A few weeks later. we had our plates. 

Stay before you buy? We can help!

When your ideas are getting serious, why not come and stay with us? Spend a couple of days and nights on our Skoolie Stay. Check that head-height, get a real idea of how solid it is…and how big. Big enough? Sit and think about layouts, why not bring a measuring tape! Get in the drivers seat and try it out for size. Can you really imagine driving one?  Pick up the books on the bookshelf about Skoolie builds and our own project and meditate on your future adventure. Does you other half need persuading? Here’s a surprise weekend away that’ll help! Get in touch now and we’ll help you out with this and a friendly chat about your own school bus buying ideas. Or just check prices and book now, and give us a shout when you are ready.  – Guy & Ruth

OK, read on about how to buy your own ‘Skoolie’!

Converted bus hotel
bus glamping west sussex

First conversion job: stripping the bus

Seat removal is the first place to start with a Skoolie conversion but it’s a nasty job. Our seats were bolted onto rails, which meant they came out easily, but the rails themselves also had to go and the bolts were tricky to shift. 

 

 

It took us 3 filthy and exhausting days to remove some 500 bolts. Each one had to be angle-grinded and then hammered or drilled out. Mercifully, the wooden sub-floor was easy to wrench up. We’ve seen plenty of builds in which this stage is even worse – the glue refusing to let go of either surface – so we thanked the Skoolie gods and pulled it all back for the big reveal. What state was the floor in?

 

 

The condition of the floor is always a bit of a unknown when buying your bus. You can get an idea of rust from a survey of underneath and around the edges, but you never know until you rip the floor up what kind of state the bus will be in. It can be an expensive disaster to find a rusty, holey mess. The best way to prevent that, especially if you are buying remotely, is to purchase a bus from somewhere that stays warm(ish) and is not too near the sea, and that is built to drive on terrain similar to that which you will need it for. It’s no good heading to the Alps in a city bus that is designed to stop and start on flat roads!

 

 

Our floor was thankfully brilliant – just a touch of surface rust which is exactly what you’d expect. We sanded back the surface then treated it with de-greaser before spraying it down with a specialist metal prep. All the holes left by the bolts were filled with bits of old bus metal and pennies (the perfect size) and with the whole floor deemed waterproofed, we covered everything with a rust preventative paint, which is totally resistant to road salt, petrol, battery acid, etc, before adding a gloss top coat (which took forever to dry in the February snow!). g

Back to the metal ... and then out with half of it

Floor done, we moved onto the walls. All the unnecessary metal, fittings and insulation had to be removed, so there were a few more long days wielding angle-grinders, drills and hammers to remove the aircon units and the disabled door lift.  Dirty, dusty, achey days.

 

We then started on the roof, removing the two emergency exits. Climbing out the hatch to the roof-deck was one of our favourite things to do in America. They are not designed to be opened and closed as regularly as we did though, so ours broke. We wanted to avoid that this time and, as we weren’t building a deck on top, decided to replace the front exit with a glass marine hatch and the rear with a campervan-style vent. Neither were the size of the hole left by the original hatch, so we patched the hole, made a new frame to support the marine hatch (out of old bus rails) and then cut through again to fit. It worked brilliantly and now we always have a view of the sky, even when it is closed.

 

 

With the hatches done, the roof was cleaned and sanded down. All the rivets and seams were coated with silicone before a fresh coat of military vehicle paint was applied. The white top, as well as looking traditional for a school bus and making it pretty for the birds and paragliders overhead, has the added benefit of reflecting the sun’s rays and keeping the bus cooler on hot days. 

Taping out our planned layout

MArking out the space in a Skoolie

Once the interior was dry we put the insulation and the ply subfloor down. Suddenly it was starting to look like a useable space and we could dance around marking things out in tape. We had a plan already of course, but you never know how it will feel until you lay it out. Are those tight gaps workable? Can you squeeze anything better into that space?

 

Before we could get too excited, we hit a problem. We’d picked the worst time of year to begin our conversion. February was freezing but at least it was dry. March was wet, wet, wet. In this instance it was useful though. We arrived one soggy morning to find tell-tale wet spots below the windows. It could only mean one thing – leaky seals. This is a common problem, particularly with this style of window frame, and it was good that the issue was flagged up early in the build. Despite the foul conditions, Guy had to spend the day on a ladder re-sealing each one up while I dammed the drips with blue roll. When the wads of tissue came away dry, Guy was allowed back in again!

 

With a solid floor, sealed windows and our masking tape guides, we were able to start framing out the living space and lining the walls and ceiling with sheep’s wool insulation. We chose Cumbrian wool because of the eco-credentials. I also liked the idea of wrapping up the bus in a big woolly jumper, even though it smelt like a farmyard for a few days until we got the waterproof membrane taped on top.

Getting down and dirty with the plumbing and heating

Plumbing in a Skoolie

With the inside taking shape, Guy turned his attention to the plumbing for the water and heating. It was a tricky and messy period of the build and even though he had spent hours preparing detailed schematics and timelines for ordering, it was still an almighty challenge and nothing seemed to work quite as we had planned at the first pass. When you are building a bespoke conversion you can’t always buy things off the shelf and much of the time we ended up sourcing what we needed from companies who sold pond supplies or farming equipment. The measurements varied between imperial and metric, but also seemed to be dependent on different companies interpretations of how to measure. Things would arrive and be a mm too small or wouldn’t flex in the right way. It was endlessly frustrating and kept Guy on the laptop until late at night as that was the only time he had free to research and purchase new.

 

We got there in the end and once we had everything mounted and working, we set about rust-proofing the exterior underbelly with Lanoguard, a sheep-wool derived rust protector. It is a brilliant product and so much better than chemical protectors. Lanoguard even came down to help us apply it. We warmed up their thick grease and painted it on the bolt holes so that it could really soak in to the newly exposed areas, then set up the pressure spray to cover the bottom in a more diluted, thinner product. Mark and Jacob got under the bus with Guy, I went to make them all tea and by the time I came back they had finished and the bus looked brand new.

Fitting out the kitchen, bathroom and living room

Building the interior of a skoolie

Back inside, the framing was done and we had the skeleton of a bedroom and bathroom, as well as a kitchen carcass. It was time to call in the specialists.

John arrived to help us with the tiling, spending days coiled up in the bathroom turning an empty space into a luxurious bathroom. Lots of people are not sure whether you can actually use ceramic tiles in a vehicle conversion, but as long as you use the right kind of flexible grout and sealant, it’s fine. 

 

 

Once the bathroom was complete, we moved on to the panelled pine ceiling and made one of many last minute design changes that have gone on to become real features. This time it was to add a long wooden backbone down the length of the bus to help ensure the slats went in neatly and evenly, but also to provide a more solid base for our spotlights. It was time for the first fix electrics. 

 

With Guy plumbing, John panelling, Neily working on the cabinets, Steve fitting the wiring, Marcus doing the LPG and Andy from Hove log burners lying prostate on the floor trying to fit the log-burning stove, it was quite timely that the Government chose that point to send the kids home from school. It was time for me to leave the boys and work from home! 

Repurposing the bus seats and working from home

Repurposing bus seats

My fingers may not have been as cold as the boys but it didn’t mean I could take my foot of the pedal. In between home-schooling I painted endless panels of wood , all of which had to dry in the warmth of the house, and spent hours researching and ordering bits for the bus. It was also a chance to begin work on all the creative ideas that we had been thinking about. Home-schooling art projects began!

 

We wanted to reuse as much as we could from our bus and, with a whole bus load of seats at our disposal, it made sense to repurpose a couple and use them to create a dining area. Only problem is, those seats are wide – the aisle space on a US bus seems to be smaller than a UK bus. We decided to cut them down to 2/3 their original size, welding them together and reupholstering them in new vinyl to create our own American-diner. We found an original teak school table from the Wood Recycling Store, cleaned off the gum but left the graffiti, and used part of the disabled lift as a table leg to complete the look.

In for a penny - the epoxy kitchen countertop

Epoxy counter

My other big ‘work from home’ project was the kitchen countertop. Whilst travelling in America, we’d helped our friends create an incredible feature shower wall with glow in the dark epoxy on pecky cypress (wood that is full of holes made by fungus… we don’t get it over in the UK, although other woods get fungus holes) and I really wanted my own epoxy project on the bus. I had in mind a river table but when I started to research it, the huge amount of epoxy you need and the seasoned live wood were prohibitively expensive. I started looking into micro-cement instead but that too was pricey. Time was running out – Neily needed to move on with the kitchen – and I was moments away from ordering a boring butcher block surface when I realised that if we did a shallow epoxy pour over an interesting surface, an epoxy countertop was do-able. Scrap the butcher block and head to the bank – I wanted pennies and lots of them!

 

Neily cut me the MDF base, I primed it and then set to the job of meticulously cleaning and glue-ing 3000 (ish) pennies and halfpennies to the top. Grout went on next and then it was polished. I was nervous about the epoxy pour because you only get one shot at it. You mix the epoxy and hardener to exactly the right ratio and then stir for a specific amount of time. Once you start, there is no room for error. Get your ratios wrong and it doesn’t set. Set your timer incorrectly and it gets dangerously hot. Pour it badly and you get bubbles. Cure it at the wrong temperature and it scuppers the process. Yikes. We followed the instructions to the letter! The main concern was the rolled edge – to achieve this you have to tape the edge of the countertop to form a barrier. You leave it to cure for an hour or so until it has more of a gel consistency, then remove the tape. The gel doesn’t just stream off like a liquid, so it holds its shape as it drips and eventually rolls over the edge. It was still a bit bubbly, but we chose an epoxy that degasses itself as it cures so we left it for the night. In the morning it was crystal clear and looked sooooo good. It took 24 hours to be touch dry and then a further couple of days to completely harden up. A quick sand of the now solid drips at the bottom and we were good to go. It was a week in the making, but it was worth it – it’s a triumph, even if I do say so myself!

Getting off-grid ready - solar power, compost loos and a service vehicle

Solar panels Skoolie

We wanted the bus to be off-grid. We loved that we could just travel anywhere in the U.S, we didn’t need to plug in to survive and could stay in the wilds as long as our water tank allowed us, so our UK bus needed the same features.

 

With the help of some fabulous friends, we were able to install 6 solar panels. We hinged each panel on to aluminium boxing with gas struts so that they can be angled to 35 degrees, which is optimum for harvesting the low English winter sun. We will be able to generate plenty of power even on wintery days. 

 

The other eco-arrival was our compost loo. We thought long and hard about this one. There was no doubt in our minds that a compost toilet made sense – it not only massively reduces water consumption, which means we wouldn’t require a black waste tank, we lived with one for a year and we know that they are brilliant devices for small spaces.

 

The concern was guests being grossed out with the idea of a campsite-style stinky long-drop. In the end we figured that we just had to change people’s minds by promoting the benefits, namely the enormous amount of water you are saving, and addressing the fears, the biggest one being that they smell. They don’t at all. The liquids and solids mixing together is the main culprit of the lingering smells and with a compost toilet like ours, they are separated. Guy has fitted a tank under the bus for the liquids. The solids go into a container that is vented to the outside. A scoop of sawdust to hide the evidence and a sliding lid to cover the container, and you can walk away confident of no smells.

 

Our toilet choice was a Simploo, a UK make. They have been really helpful and their customer service is also top notch. We are pretty sure we will win our guests round with their product.

Adding design flair with repurposed wood, upcycled metal and an evolving cool colour pallette

Painting the wooden panels

From the beginning of the build we tried to make the most of the materials around us, re-using parts of the bus as I’ve mentioned, but also upcycling things we found along the way and hunting for the perfect pieces in second-hand stores.

 

Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace and Ebay were my friends. Scouring through other people’s trash produced bus treasure which came with fascinating stories or brought us new followers. Our perfectly-sized Scandi leather sofa belonged to a local man who would chill out and relax on it as the tunes played from his fabulous Wurlitzer. Our retro leather pouffe came from a lady who was thrilled to find out that her beloved footstool (which didn’t fit her house) was going to move to a Skoolie. She was so inspired by our story that she went on to become one of our first bookings. 

 

 

The ‘treasures’ often evolved to be something entirely different. The old doors we picked up that were too heavy for us to use, turned out to be made from American oak slats that we were able to plane down and use to frame our old bus mirror as part of a feature wall, and a kitchen cabinet. A water-damaged teak futon was dismantled and brought back to life as a sliding barn door for the bathroom. The hardwood pallets were used for framing the hatches and even our cutting table from the build was chopped up to be turned into shelves, held up by a huge bit of driftwood we found on the beach. To smooth out the cut marks, I filled in the gaps with leftover  epoxy and glow in the dark paint.

 

With practically everything finished, it was time to paint. Our original choice of green was developed to create a pallette that matched the wood and copper tones. We added copper and cream paints and fittings and shopped for soft furnishings in soft greys, earthy maroons and teals with the occasional accent of orange because I’d found a fabulous retro Le Creuset ‘volcano’ kettle!

 

I spent the evenings sewing cushion covers that would tie everything together while the boys worked on their last big project: the murphy bunks.

The murphy bunks and the king-size bed

Murphy bunks in a skoolie

In America, the boys bunks were the worst part of the Skoolie. Our son summed it up:

“They were like coffins! You could barely sit up and there was no air – they sucked”!

 

Considering they were only being used to sleep in, they took up an enormous amount of space. We knew we wanted to do something different with our UK bus. 

 

Murphy bunks fold out from the wall, which means they have a much smaller footprint. Friends of ours have ones in which the top bunk drops down to become the back of a sofa (the bottom bunk), but though we liked the design we knew we wanted to keep the sleeping area separate from the living space. 

 

Guy and Neily excelled themselves with the design and build. They are roomy, comfy and really easy to put up and down because they are assisted with gas struts. It makes a huge difference to the space being able to close them up when they are not in use. And, judging by the social media comments, they are loved as much as the epoxy counter!

 

The last thing we brought in was the king-size bed mattress and slats. Underneath the bed is the pipework, diesel heater, batteries and the water tank so this was a key working area for much of the build. It was only right at the end that we added the wooden slats and finally brought in the comfy Inofia mattress, transforming it from a work zone to something beautiful and tranquil. The slats sit on a frame so we can lift the whole bed up to access the pipework if ever we need to. 

Laying the floor and the deck

Laying the floor

All that was missing was the floor. Or should I say, a couple of square metres of floor.

 

Way back at the start of the build I’d sourced 10sqm of old wooden flooring that someone had bought and no longer needed. It was gorgeous engineered, top of the range, oak herringbone-style slats. The problem was, when we took it out the boxes, we only had 6sqm. Gutted…. we needed 8sqm. Would we really have to source something new?

 

Buying expensive items at the start of a build, when you have the time to shop around, is much easier on the wallet than at the end of a build. We had neither time or finances on our side so I thought I’d try my luck and source the supplier to see if they would help us out with the last 2sqm. I found their name on the side of one of the boxes – Havwoods – and got in touch to see if they still stocked the wood.

 

Joy of joys, Havwoods still had stock. And, joy of even bigger joys, they loved our Skoolie so much they agreed to sponsor the last corner of the bus so that we could have our beautiful floor without breaking our budget. They even posted up an interview with us on their site. It looks freaking awesome – the shades and patterns of the wooden planks brought together all of the angular designs and warm tones we had used throughout the build. We couldn’t have been happier with the result.

 

 

The last thing to arrive was our deck. For this, Tristan, a local lad from Firle area, stepped in to help. He was brilliant and developed the original plan to improve the layout and functionality. It is amazing to be able to walk straight out from the bedroom onto a private sun deck – better than we even imagined and the perfect way to end our build.

The finished Skoolie!

american school bus firle

We are both so proud of what we have achieved – what a journey, what a finish and what a result: we own our very own fantastic Skoolie again. 

Categories
Travelling chimps

Rye: glamping without the kids

I am a massive fan of ‘doing presents’ – hiding in the birthday present pile looking like another card in a nondescript envelope, until you open them up and unravel a delicious treat. Or you unwrap a weird present that makes no sense, until you work out that it’s a clue for something really cool. This year I had a card with a pic of some champagne on it… inside there was a plan for a night in a Shepherds Hut near Rye. Yay! I gave him an American school bus toy with Travelling Chimps on the side, which was actually a present to go down and hang out with a guy who I’d found who owns an American bus in Devon. It’s a chance to see a bus for real, imagine what it will be like to live in one and find out more about the pitfalls and pleasures of buying and travelling in one. That’s a blog for another time though – back to glamping in Rye.

Rye and Winchelsea walk

Walking map
Our route around Rye and Winchelsea

We arrived early and downloaded a 7 mile walk that would take us to Rye and Winchelsea in a loop. It was glorious sunshine as we parked up on Dumb Woman’s Lane – such a good name – and strolled along to Rye. We’ve visited the town before with the boys but fancied going back for a mooch among the antique shops, cobbled streets and pubs without them. On a sunny day it’s a lovely spot for a beer and we had to try very hard not to have a second!

The ‘Shifting Sands’ walk that we downloaded from Discovering Britain officially starts and finishes in Rye but we joined at point 17 and looped from there. It took us all around Rye (which we realised after we had already walked around it),  past Camber Castle and via a bird hide that looked out on a surprising marsh land,  and on to Winchelsea where there were apparently lovely views of the sea and the shifting sands, which was not apparent to us even though it was a perfectly clear day.

The route is full of commentary from ‘Raymond Molony a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society’ and you can actually download the audio guide or a massive booklet of written commentary. Most of his notes we ignored as it took too long to load up, but we did find some interesting stops using our own eyes! Sutton’s was a treat – a seafood and fruit shop just outside of Winchelsea that served up the loveliest cherries (for me) and cockles (for him), and we saw a great view of Dungeoness, ominously sitting on a peninsula and kick-starting a big discussion on nuclear energy.

Winchelsea didn’t have much going on but we found the one thing we were looking for – Spike Milligans Grave. Oh ok, we didn’t bother with that but we did find a pub. Again, a gorgeous beer garden and an icy beer. It was so delicious we failed to stop after one and found ourselves wandering round a ‘upcycled’ thrift barn where we bought a lamp. Useful for a walk!

Glamping in The Hut

Woodland path to the Hut
Our path to our secret hideaway

We stayed in a Shepherds Hut owned by Extraordinary Huts., following a path through woodland into our secret home for the night. From the deck of the Hut, set in the clearing of a wood on a slope,  you can see nothing but green hills and sheep. It feels very private and remote, even though you are only a short distance from the road.

The Hut was billed as luxury accommodation that has ‘everything you need’ for 4 people but i’d argue that it was probably better for two and it was more ‘glamping’ than ‘luxury accommodation’. Perhaps we’ve been spoiled by a remarkable stay in Boutique Bothies  in Scotland, where Jane, the owner, had laid on strawberries from her garden, home-made jam and bread, as well as toiletries. The Hut, in comparison, had lamps with missing batteries, burnt out candles and not a local delicacy in sight! It was still lovely though – a fine balance of nature and comfort –  and after a brief spin back to Rye to stock up on snacks, we settled in.

Inside and out

View from The Hut – not a soul in sight

Inside The Hut there is living space with a sofa and a woodburning stove, a fully equipped kitchenette with sink and a gas hob, a wet room with a good shower and a flushing loo, and an upstairs mezzanine level with a low double bed on one side and two low singles on the other. There’s a ladder up to the bed level and it’s all open; we had toyed with the idea of bringing the kids (for 5 minutes, honestly!), but I’m glad we didn’t as without a guard rail to stop you falling down from the platform as you try to go to the loo in the dark in the middle of the night, one of them would have had an injury!

Outside the Hut there is a fire pit and a hammock, with plenty of wood and firelighters. We had a lovely campfire when we got home from the pub – screeching away to Radiohead until the early hours. Hopefully our neighbours weren’t in earshot – we discovered in the morning that The Hut’s older sibling, ‘The Hide Out’, offers a glamping experience just a thicket of trees and bushes away. Oops!

Dinner at the Plough

Although we could have cooked at The Hut, we opted for The Plough pub. It was a short walk and a lovely pub, although we had to order extra chips because the portions were small . This happens regularly… I’m beginning to think it is our appetites that are at fault and not the pubs we eat in!

If you do go with the family and you van…

Incidentally, If you are looking to stay in Rye in your campervan, the River Haven Hotel charges £10 for an overnight in their car park. It’s no glamping – there’s a fair bit of rubbish and a car wash operation going on in the corner – but it felt safe enough and if you hop over the wall it takes just 5 mins to walk riverside to the pretty parts of Rye. Bargain!