Living In a Swift Kontiki Motorhome - My Story

swift kontiki motorhome

Living In A Motorhome - Forget The House, Poll Tax, Water Rates and TV License... I'm Off!



My name is Paul Jenkins and in the last weekend of November 2010 I bought a motorhome and decided to tell society to get lost, live in it and do some travelling! After a marriage break up and living in rented accommodation for 18 months I needed to do something and this is my choice. If you are thinking of taking this step then feel free to read on. I've outlined each week of my adventure and I hope you enjoy reading it. Please come back and read further as I update it every week... 

On Thursday 25th November I collected my Swift Kontiki Motorhome which I bought off EBay!! I did at least go and see it first, and being an ex mechanic from many years ago kinda new what to look out for, shame I didn't know about caravan stuff though! Its a Kontiki 640/6 model, never stepped foot inside one before other than an odd vee dub so its new to me. I've detailed my first week a little bit more than other weeks as the whole thing was all new to set up etc


To read technical  stuff plus my wild camping tips click HERE

Go straight to my 2011 Diary.. Click Here

My 2012 Diary is Here

My 2013 Diary is Here


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Week 1:

Get the Kontiki safely back from Gatwick area at about 8.00pm and drive in to Wanstead where I used to live, lo and behold as I drive down the road I see a huge parking space 100 yards from my old flat, happy days, I park up for the night. To late to get anything working I bed down in an old sleeping bag in my clothes and boy its blinking cold.

Friday First day of Motorhome living! Have a good look around the Motorhome and attempt a few bits, water is not working, can't get heater to work, but have figured out the hob, so I light that to keep warm. Blinds are a bit sticky, couple of lights out, slightly spongy floor (was a leak in toilet I was told) micro switches not working on taps, but previous owner has installed a separate switch for pump, turn on this switch water now works! Time for something more positive so head off to the ex witch's place to pick up my MEOS 12V Motorhome TV!! At least I can watch something. Install setup and watch 45mins of TV and leisure battery is flat. All these things cost money!! 

Dive off to Halford's and buy 2 new leisure batteries and wire them up together, also buy a mains hook up lead for when I go on sites, batteries £200 and hook up lead £30. Still can't get the heater to work so attempt to buy some calor gas, nobody does the stupid stuff or if they do they don't have it but manage to buy a flo gas bottle instead and its cheaper, connect it up and nearly blow up the van with a huge bang trying to light the gas. Now cacking my pants I don't bother anymore, and think I'll ring a pro. Slightly warmer night with gas hob rings burning away! ( thanks to Rob for pointing this out This is not a good idea!! carbon monoxide stuff plus fire risk and all that ) In my defence I turned them off before I went to sleep!

Ring up this bloke called Steve at Rainham motor caravans and beg for someone to look at my heater, bring it down he say's. Absolutely fantastic guy doesn't charge me nothing and gets everything working other than the carver water heater which needs a new heater unit thing, luckily he's got one and its £200 but everything now works!! And he shows me what's what and how it works, here's his website check him out, so helpful   Tip here is to ask the previous owner to run you through how everything functions before you take it home!!! Have a lovely warm evening and sleep really well.

Move the van a little bit further down the road, don't want to upset too many neighbours and find a nice quite spot. Buy a super duper all singing free view antenna £40 and its crap. Don't bother get a satellite! Tues, had enough of wild camping batteries are running flat so decide to book into nearby campsite Lea Valley in Sewardstone Road North Chingford its fantastic, all the 240 volts you need, great pitch, super showers and toilets I love it, but its not  cheap, at £17.50 a night although there is a pay for 5 get 7 deal on at the moment. Lordy my mate visits and gives it all the thumbs up .

Charging system for my batteries seems to be rubbish, perhaps its because the system is 20 odd years old and batteries have moved on a bit, so back to Halford's for a super duper charger "Ring" can do 8 amps and I see a huge difference in charging time much better, I simply plug it into the 240 and whack it on each battery had huge night of sleep and the blinds in the van are great, major blackout. Its bloody cold cold cold outside but like toast in the Kontiki, nipped to Curry's and bought a cheap 2kw fan heater, works great, I'm thinking why use my gas when I can use the 240 volts electric, can leave it on virtually all day and save on gas. Tried the interior shower system in the van using the immersion heater off the 240, works piping hot.. brilliant.

 meos tv for motorhome   ring battery charger for swift kontiki motorhome   nice and hot in my kontiki motorhome

   MEOS TV            Charger         Nice n Hot



 Week 2 : 2nd Dec

Getting ready to blast the Motorhome down to Wales for the weekend its first run, got a party to go to and thought best stay in the van, gonna be right up in the Rhondda Valley. Head down on Friday with my buddy Milky, no issues and the van drives great, bit cold as its a big van to heat but all ok, steady 60-65 all the way, it won't do much more, takes 4 hours.

Manage to squeeze her into my mates girlfriends street right outside some poor persons house but no issues, everybody well friendly. Head out for the night into Caerphilly and a few jars but it hammers down with snow, £40 for a taxi and we get one hours worth of play! And have to return. Mates girlfriend tries to persuade me to kip on their sofa as I may be cold in the van, little does she know its 20 plus degrees in my van, I have a huge bed plus beer!

Female friend turns up Sat night for the party night out, and I give her the van tour, she likes it and gives it big thumbs up (good job to as she will be sleeping in it later ha ha ) out to the party and I get plenty of wine down her so there's no moaning about the van when we get back to it , but no issues and we had a great night, warm as toast, even though bitterly cold and still snowing outside. Must say insulation on Kontiki appears to be very good.

Depart Rhondda on Sunday late afternoon and head back to London, purrs along all the way back but I miss the Lea Valley campsite cut off time and camp up in the lay-by outside. Gonna be on the pay 5 days get 7 days deal this week, so save some money, always worth asking for a deal especially in Winter

Fed up of my crap TV antenna after trying to retune it again so I go to Marlin's and buy a 12 volt / 240 Satellite system £90.00. I also buy a tripod (actually its a speaker stand) and I highly recommend it, simply attach the dish to the stand with clamps and wiggle it around until you find the Astra 28.2 satellite, your tv will indicate the signal strength.

Also have a visitor this week my French friends are over and I have Jean Phillip staying for 2 nights, chance to test out the dinette bed system, bit fiddly but got there in the end, can't see how these things say 6 birth as its tight with 2 people! So remember that!!

satellite on tripod for motorhome  tripod on satallite dish for kontiki motorhome  sat unit for motorhome

 sat system tripod sat box


Week 3: 9th December

After a couple of nights out on the beer with the Frenchies I get the chance to finally do some work on the van on Saturday morning and find a few issues, Waste tank is blocked! I wondered what that smell was? It won't empty and appears to be blocked before the metal pipe that has an on off valve, (pic below) by coincidence while fiddling with it the plastic pipe that joins it from the tank develops a small rip and water starts to come out so my logic is correct. I'll simply renew the plastic pipe from the waste tank and somehow clear out the metal one.

Also discovered the rad appears to be leaking, bloody amazing you do the right thing by sticking anti freeze in and it makes your motor leak! Will try the radweld stuff first as it don't appear to be too heavy, if not, a new rad will be needed. I shoot off to Euro car parts as my temperature gauge isn't working also , but alas they don't have one so internet searching here I come. (UPDATE: Got one in Clarkin's in Walthamstow.. A tenner)

Decide to fit my new stereo as the old radio cassette isn't up to the standard for a man of my age! Cheap price..£40 from Maplin's and it does mp3 CD USB and SD impressive! Fit it up get it working then realise I HAVE BOUGHT ONE THAT DOES NOT HAVE AM!! That's no Talk Sport for me!!

Location: Currently still in Lea Valley Park Chingford, my 5 for 7 deal ends tomorrow but need to buy a few more days as I need to get these issues fixed. T-Cutted the cab today and she looks so pretty! Nearly as pretty as the lovely Michelle.

Replaced the temp sender and still doesn't show more then 50 degrees!! on gauge in dashboard it barely moves, tried an external temp gauge and its the same can't figure what's really going on.

Not sleeping well? Don't know why? last 2 days been struggling with it all

radio in kontiki motorhome  waste blocked on swift kontiki motorhome 

 New Radio Waste Problem


Week 4: 16th December

Headed up to Peterborough today but by train to meet a potential client, snow forecast again so didn't want any aggro road wise. Back down to Wales tomorrow for weekend of Karaoke Disco fun. All cool and cosy in Motorhome and (....dare I say) no internal issues. .

Got a call from Serena at Bar Room Bar can we do Karaoke gig next week before Xmas....Hey.... How in demand are we?!!!!!  Ha ha ha.  No real snow here in London today but my buddy and I are off to Wales for the weekend. We get a message that's its loaded up with snow down there but we take a chance.  All sweet on the road until ......the wipers pack up!! Its lucky we have no rain or snow but pull into services to try and fix them. The arm of the motor that attaches to the wiper rack has a dodgy plastic clip and will not hold it, so we clean the screen and brave it down to Wales, after the odd stop of cleaning we get there!!

Parking is an issue in the street, so I have to park on a hill, just up from the pub, I end up rolling down the bed and hugging the toilet all night, (I also get the odd drunk who thinks it's funny to bang on the van!) but I'm warm as toast and I sleep ok.

Saturday night kinda goes well, other than an over heating amplifier. It's fancy dress so I'm dressed as Mr Claus and my female friend is dressed as Miss Claus ( Phewww), I mange to move the Kontiki to a flatter pain so Miss Claus and I get a better nights sleep. Sunday morning I whack some no-nails onto the wiper arm in desperation to see if it will hold and....It bloody worked!!

No issues getting back to London pretty straight run, trying to keep the speed to less than 60 so as to maximise fuel, I reckon its doing 25 to the gallon, it will do more than 60 but I don't see the point. I end up missing the cut off time as normal for the park, and its bloody freezing, (I now realise why butane (that's the blue gas bottle) is so shit in freezing weather (it freezes!!) can barely get the gas fire going and I've got no 240 so its a couple of cans of Carlsberg and bed down the best I can in my sleeping bag. Happy days though as Monday I'm on pitch 9 got my 240 volts set up, my electric fire , sat TV, cushtie! ( Oh..My water is frozen but  I'm not bothered)

All set up on pitch 9 a few issues though, lost all my mains for some reason, check it through and the mains hook up lead is up the duff, crappy Halford's product! Unscrew one of the ends and a wire has burnt out.. How the hell??? The so called super duper satellite system I bought from Maplin's has fallen over in the wind, and the LBA bracket that's the round thing at the end has broken, go to Mapiln's they don't do them they only come in the sat kit, and a normal one doesn't fit, lesson... think before you waste £100.

Lastly.. Nip out for a few hours and come back, somebody has parked the mother of all Motorhome'd next to me must be 40 foot, slide out rooms the lot( pic below)


 big motorhome  Michelle  kontiki motorhome in wales  Maerdy Wales  view of mountain in Maerdy Wales

40 footer Miss Claus Kontiki Maerdy Garden View


Week 5: 23rd December XMAS NEW YEAR

Current location: Lea Valley Chingford / Waltham Abbey

Link to the Lea Valley Camp site is HERE!

(Bit long this one but it's Xmas and New year!!)

Weather is still very cold but snow is melting, got my 2KW fan heater on for most of the day, and it's toast in the van. Not using the gas heater at all. Packed the crappy satellite away and re-tuned the DVT aerial which for once in it's life is actually working decently, so got good tele in time for Christmas

OH yippee yippee Christmas is coming in 2 days, I am so looking forward to spending it on my own (Ummm). Head off down to lakeside shopping centre to get the required presents,  but not in the van in my car. Seems strange as the van is so big and high up yet the Porsche is so low, it's nice to drive something fast for a change though!! 

Bought an aluminium whistling kettle !! (a present for the van ha ha)

Spend the morning in the pub, (I know what you are thinking) but I have one of those virtual type meetings with a customer and the best internet is up the road in the Plough pub. I also spend yet more time scouring flights for New Years Eve as I'm spending the New Year in the South of France (Avignon) with female friend. Happy days!! After 3 days of searching I find a decent flight that seems to suit everyone, perfect price, dates everything. Get back to van phone female friend with the info she rings back an hour later and says she's not going. (If I drank whisky that would have been the time I got out a big bottle of Jack Daniels) . Pissed off I now contemplate what the hell I'm going to do for New Year and have a shit day.

Christmas eve today, so I have arranged to have lunch with my 2 daughters. Head off to Wanstead and meet in the George, (Weatherspoons ).All goes well.

Christmas Day  Wake up for my first Xmas ever in a Motorhome! Nip down to see my girls and swap presents, and have a quick pint in the pub. Scour around a few places for a Xmas meal and find a pub that will do one, they want £55!!! Like hell. Back to the Kontiki, I make a nice vegetarian chilli plus extras, have a few cans watch Shrek and I'm loving it. Fall asleep, wake up, female friend now says she wants to come to France with me..Happy Days!. 

Boxing day I park up the van near my old flat in Wanstead and head off down to Wales in the porker (Porsche), again it seems really strange I've been like 6 foot up in the air and now I'm 12 inches from the ground. Have a great 2 days in Maerdy Rhondda with my mate Milky and his girlfriend Ruth. A bit worse for wear I arrive in Rogerstone, Newport Tuesday afternoon and meet up with Michelle, after packing and bah blah blah we head to Bristol airport and I get to spend a lovely night in a hotel prior to our early morning flight to Beziers.

This is the life!! Arrive in Beziers ( More HERE About Beziers ) Weds morning, only here for one night though as my buddy Jean Philip will be picking us up Thurs to take us to Avignon. Have a small room in Hotel Confort run by the most loveliest woman in the world Mary, a truly amazing woman (totally recommended hotel). Go out for the evening at 9.00pm and Beziers is the worlds dead-ist city , not 1 single bar or restaurant open!! It's a ghost town despite a huge fairground directly opposite our hotel! We eventually find a very very dodgy bar with local drinkers inside near our hotel and risk it (Me..I Loved it! Female friend was shxting herself!) Can't see what her problem was? Ok they were smoking inside and one was spliffing up but who cares ha!  Next day Jean Phillip collects us and we get to Avignon ( More HERE About Avignon )Thurs tea time and after checking in to the Avignon Grand Hotel (recommended) headed off to Steff and Jean Phillips place for a  Grande Soiree with friends.

New Years Eve head into town in the afternoon for grub and a few beers, lovely place Avignon and I give Michelle the guided tour, complete with my impressive French language skills.  Fully tarted up and raring to go later on we arrive at my favourite Avignon pub (O'Neils)  at 10.00 pm and no sign of my friends. 11.00 no sign, come the hugging and shouting bit at 12.00 still no sign. Lazy French bastards turn up at 12.30am and I'm fuming!. After a quick slagging off I forget all about it and we party hard including dancing on the bar topless! See my pic's below. 4.30am we bail out and leave the Frenchies there for another hour (hey... We were there 2 hours before them!!) Totally in a coma the next day I amble down to reception and ask them to let me keep the room for another day as I can't be bothered to pack and we need sleep!

Sunday with one day left to go the Frenchies give us a lift back to Beziers for our Ryanair flight on Mon, but we go via the amazing La Grande Motte,(More HERE  About La Grande Motte ( near Montpellier) a new town built on the sea about 30 years ago. Amazing place must  be mega packed in the summer, and even now, I counted over a dozen Motorhome's. Huge marina with massive yachts and restaurants galore we loved it.

Sadly... Mon morning Michelle and I leave Beziers to catch the Ryanair flight and arrive in crappy, snowy and freezing Bristol!! Michelle says.." I don't want to get off the plane!"

I arrive back in London Mon night and snuggle down into the Kontiki knackered. No problems with the van as my lovely neighbours were keeping an eye on it for me. I'm parked on the street and I decide to spend a couple of nights here, its pretty safe, both my leisure batteries are fully charged, I'm water and gased up, plus I save some money after quite a bit of Xmas cost. Need to do laundry though as the stuff is piling up a bit!

Please see all my pics below!


Beziers at night   Porsche 944 in snow   Michelle and Paul Jenkins   Desperados beer in Avignon      Pont de Avignon



 Palace de pape  In the square  friends in avignon  anette and michelle  pauls pub avignon (o'neils)  la gande motte  




                        MY 2012 DIARY IS HERE  !!