Mavis's Shoe

Author of two novels and a creative memoir.

Sunday, 1 March 2015


Having forsaken the certainty of work deadlines, other people’s stress and the dark streets of Glasgow, I am now in Helmsdale on the chilly northeast coast of Scotland. This is my campervan parked outside Timespan, a heritage and arts organisation. I am on a campervan journey of uncertainty. Unlike some of my previous campervan trips, this vagueness is deliberate, albeit not on my part.

Also differing from previous campervan trips, I am not alone. With me is Graham Hogg of Lateral North, an architectural designer, and he seems to know what he’s doing. Graham has set up a series of destinations. There is loose talk of presentations and workshops and collecting stories and the future of Scotland, especially the north. I am simply the fool who responded to a plea on Twitter for a campervan which would enable this exciting project.

After a short business meeting in the van while parked outside the People’s Palace in Glasgow, I was silly enough to let him take measurements of dear Vanessa Hotplate (named after her cooker) and then two weeks later he took her away to various destinations without me in order to do a refit. A refit? Anyone who knows Romahome campervans will realise this is madness. Romahomes are basically fancy lunch-boxes on wheels with special shapes inside for cupboards and a sink, all moulded immovable plastic. This is not easy to modify. Graham promised nothing permanent would be done without my agreement and that when I got it back I could use it as I always had: for working, chilling, eating and sleeping. Therefore, gasps went around the kitchen table at home when I said I’d agreed to holes being made in the metal of the cab. Six weeks ago I had never met Graham. But he seems to get things done.

Last night he revealed to me the inside of my little van. It now has slatted wooden benches, a map of Europe across one end, a slot for a i-pad for a quick search and display, tartan curtains and cushions (all matching, which has never happened before) and an aerial photo of Scotland on the roof. You can even stick pins in the photo to indicate where you’re from or the site of a particularly wonderful story. Gasp and sigh! I love it. Internal photos to follow. Here's the front, and yes those are Mini Eggs and Percy Pigs on the dashboard.

Look out for us on our tour from Helmsdale to Shapinsay to Tongue to Applecross to Lairg, and then back to Helmsdale and the True North conference next weekend. Stop us with your stories.

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