On a workshop with Jill Purse, she asked us to look into the ambitions of our parents and grandparents as it could well be the case that we are unwittingly and subconsciously trying to find completion on any unfulfilled dreams.
This certainly resonated with me as I have had 2 significant life experiences with buses! The first being a yellow school bus that I bought for $500 on the island of Maui, then converted and lived on for the best part of a year. The second being a double decker bus that I purchased derelict from a used car garage in Pembrokeshire, Wales and converted into a triple decker bus! Some say it was the first of its kind!
We took the bus to Dale airfield in Pembrokeshire where strong south westerly winds of West Wales rocked the vehicle while we converted it to a functional catering and hospitality unit. The lower deck was already all stainless steel kitchen, the second deck had seating and I made a bedroom largely from pine logs that had floated in on the sandy shores of Pembrokeshire. On the 3rd deck, I worked with a steelsmith in St Ishmaels, to create a stage with railings and a massive awning that all packed down onto the deck below. Access to the 3rd deck was via a new spiral staircase and hatch cut into the roof.
On the back of the bus was a traditional, 3/4 tonne red telephone box :-). No idea where the idea came from. Originally the plan was to turn it into a shower with mirrored windows but it ended up housing the gas bottles and generator instead!
Mounted over the engine on a large steel hinge I installed a 24kva generator that could be switched on by changing a few drive belts around! The plan was that this would power a large sound system and lights for bands on the stage while we sustain ourselves through selling good food. That grand tour of Europe never did quite happen but we did make it to a lot of different events around the UK such as hot air balloon fiestas, horse events and even backstage at Glastonbury serving the likes of Julian Lennon and Cornershop their breakfast behind the New Bands Stage.
18 months earlier, I had bought the bus and drove it at night to the tiny village of Dale in Pembrokeshire. Shining a light on the windows of the second deck, friends asked what the heck I was going to do with it! I flippantly said I would do catering at events like Glastonbury.
When I actually made it to the festival with the bus it was a pivotal moment of reflection on what the options were now that this goal had been achieved! Did I invest more money in the bus? Into a fleet of buses and make this my life?? Of course not!! I sold it on eBay to someone in the US about 3 months later!! I often Google for images of it to see what it might be doing now but have never found anything. Let me know if you ever come across it 🙂
When I first purchased the bus, my dad Sean loaned be £1,000 and helped me make the transaction. When he passed away, about a decade later, sorting through boxes of his papers I came across several large black and white photos of him driving a double decker bus! I couldn’t believe my eyes. Mum then told me he used to run the bus occasionally, taking it to events around Leicestershire selling food and drink to raise money for MacMillan Cancer Relief… and not once had he ever said anything about that to me!
So the big question is, did we manage to get buses out of the system and fulfil this ambition?? Only time will tell but there have been some very near misses since!