BONNIE and Clyde are a pair of retro charmers holed up in Edinburgh. Like their legendary namesakes, or at least the Faye Dunaway/Warren Beattie screen versions, they ooze style and character and are sometimes a touch hard to handle.
These ones are available for hire for weekend sorties or longer adventures.
For this family of campervan novices, Bonnie was quite an experience, as well as a head-turner and, for the taller ones, an occasional head-banger. The yellow paintwork and generous chrome gleamed in the sun, and Loch Rannoch beckoned.
So, why hire one? Well, you might be thinking of buying and want to try it out, or just feel like being a ‘Vee Dubber’ for the weekend. It’s the freedom thing, with less discomfort than a tent. But that depends how many are coming along. Bonnie is billed as sleeping four but if one of them is a 15-year-old boy, another a nine-year-old girl and two are parents, with a sausage dog thrown in, there will be some dicey moments.
These are the quintessential campers, of course – legendary, iconic and all the rest – with their instantly recognisable shape, sound, character and ... handling. Bonnie, new in 2010, is one of the Brazilian-made VWs, adapted from Rio people carriers by a specialist company in Oxfordshire called Danbury. Without getting too technical, it has a water-cooled engine and much better fuel consumption than its older, German-built forbears.
As you might guess, some Vee Dubbers have strong opinions about this revamp. Is it a betrayal of a sacred heritage – What? No air-cooled engine? – or a timely extension of the lineage, bringing new generations to this delightful form of mobile shoebox, sorry accommodation. Judging by all the friendly people who stopped in the street to tell us about their own VW experiences while we were trying to load up – plus the thumbs-up from drivers of the older versions – this newer incarnation has plenty of admirers.
WINING AND DINING?
What estate agents would call a compact kitchen comes with a two-ring gas hob/grill and oven, compressor fridge/freezer and sink and all the utensils and crockery you need. Our nine-year-old chef was in dinky heaven. The 15-year-old was less impressed.
Minimal. The odd bang on the head from the ceiling or an elbow in the ribs from a relative, just to let you know they’re there. The main bed is nice but the roof one is a foldout shelf with a very low ceiling. If the nominal weight limit of 16 stone did not rule out most adult couples, claustrophobia would. None of us was even prepared to put up with it solo, a situation we had smugly anticipated with an overspill tent. For extra sleeping space you can also hire a free-standing awning for £20.
BUDGET OR BOUTIQUE?
Certainly budget in terms of space – VW campers are not dormobile behemoths – but made up for it in black leather upholstery and knick-knacks.
TV/DVD player, turned up nice and high, was lovely for passengers to lie back and watch on the move. Like all campers, there are also a mains hook-up and sockets so you can plug in to campsite power. There’s a sunroof and blinds, and optional extras include sat nav, sound system, bike rack, bedding, a food hamper and broadband USB stick.
Bonnie is ideal for a couple on their own or with one small child. OK, two very small, very well-behaved children.
• Bonnie Campers (0131-558 9077, www.bonniecampers.co.uk) vans cost £300 to £425 Friday to Monday, £250 to £425 four nights midweek and £500 to £750 for a full week