TENNIS star Annabel Croft and her husband Mel Coleman have converted a standard white van into their dream vacation home.
The former Wimbledon player and TV presenter, 56, began the renovation project during the UK’s third lockdown.
She told Sun Online Travel: “I never knew you could do what we were doing until my husband Mel asked me if I could fix a van when the whole world was shut down.
“I wasn’t camping and wasn’t familiar with the idea of renovating a van, but I started watching YouTube videos and I just couldn’t stop.
“Watching all the videos was very overwhelming, but it was so much fun to see what you can do in such a small space.
The couple went to their local DVP junkyard and bought a £13,500 white Sprinter van – with just 50,000 miles on the clock.
Back home in south-west London, Annabel, Mel and their wedding’s best man, Guy Barron, set about their transformation.
She said: “My husband is a former sailor, so he’s very handy – because there’s no one to fix things for you in the middle of the ocean.”
The couple spent just three months converting the van – which they dubbed Vannabel – into the perfect vacation home on wheels.
The total refurbishment cost Annabel and her husband £12,000.
She said: “It’s been an amazing project and Vannabel has become a huge part of the family.”
Since completing the transformation, Annabel and Mel have traveled all over the UK.
They have been to the Isle of Wight, Snowdonia, Suffolk and Norfolk.
She said: “I love to run and just not being attached to anything and going out and about to visit the area – it’s so liberating.
“We try to do two activities a day when we’re away, so maybe we’ll go for a walk in the morning and then visit a castle or country house in the afternoon, followed by a drink in the pub.”
While Annabel has yet to be recognized at a campsite, she has been spotted in her van on holiday.
She said: “A member of the public approached me in the tea room. They said their boyfriend was too shy to come over and say how much they enjoyed watching my tennis coverage.
“It never bothered me because I love talking to locals. Mel and I were recommended some good places by locals that we wouldn’t have found otherwise.”
Annabel and Mel have big plans for their van adventures.
She said: “We want to drive into the Lake District, explore the west of Ireland, travel Scotland’s northern roads and take Vannbel through Spain.”
During the colder months, Vannabel will stay home, but the couple have decked out their van with fairy lights, cheeky elves and mistletoe to spread the festive spirit.
Annabel will be present with the Caravan and Motorhome Club at the Manchester Caravan, Motorhome and Holiday Show (12-15 January) on Thursday 12 January.
She said, “We love the way we’ve done outs, but I love going to shows to see how different people have modified their vans.”
https://www.the-sun.com/travel/6885318/annabel-croft-van-renovation/ I’m an ex-Wimbledon & TV star – now I travel around the UK in my Mercedes Sprinter van