Getting to know the van


Let me take a minute to talk about the motorhome, and my initial thoughts about it after a few days of “van life”.

She doesn’t have a name yet; nor may she ever. I think perhaps we’re both better off this way.

Built in the early 90’s, the Talbot Compass Express remains the byword for luxury; sporting two double beds, a kitchen, a dining area, a bathroom, and a cupboard! To be honest I was surprised to discover that everything in her still works just fine; at least I’ve not found anything broken on the old girl yet!

Now for a quick review of the Talbot Compass Drifter.



The interior certainly has something of a charming retro feel about it. But then a thought hits me like a Bakelite hammer – in its heyday this design would have seemed the pinnacle of modernity! I can just picture the scene – laying down the latest issue of ‘Motorhome Monthly’ on your faux-marble formica kitchen worktop, calling through the hole in the wall (which you’d knocked through to the living room to create that ‘breakfast bar’ feel) to your buddy Dave sat on the navy blue vinyl sofa, cigarette in hand. Dave’s listening to his just-bought “NOW 23” on the Pioneer Progression VI Hi-Fi, and you call out to him – “Mate, have you seen?! Talbot have brought out a new motorhome called the ‘Compass Drifter’ and it looks absolutely state of the art!”. I expect this conversation will have occurred countless times in homes across the land.

She feels spacious enough, featuring a dining area/fold-down bed that makes a great space to work, or to catch up with friends over a coffee. You could also easily deliver a Powerpoint presentation, should you be called upon to pitch to a couple of hard-nosed investors (obviously the question foremost in your mind) and if things ever got awkward, well you can look out of her window and comment on the weather!


The Ride

Driving takes a little time and effort getting used to. I haven’t got a tape measure to figure the exact distance, but I think the clutch has an action of about 60 centimetres, with a very high biting point (I apologise to any Americans who have no idea what the heck I’m talking about now). This configuration forces you to keep your leg in the air like a dog while navigating the depths of the low gears. She also can’t go past 50MPH due to the pocket-sized petrol engine she’s fitted with; as such going up hills is an activity strictly confined to first gear.



All of these limitations mean that motorways are effectively out of the question, and so my getting across the country is going to be a case of travelling through towns along the “A” roads. I’ll therefore be forced to take in much more of each country that I visit, which will also serve to dramatically increase the time I need to allocate to get from A to B.