Gosh, where do I start!!
Firstly I'd like to say a MASSIVE MASSIVE thank you to all our subscribers, followers, supporters, friends & family. You have all made this year an incredible one for us! So let's break this year down into some of the most significant dates! This will also serve as an excellent reminder for Shaun about when our wedding anniversary is! He will have no excuse!
We knew this year was going to be epic. We had our wedding date in the diary since 12th Nov 2015! But we didn't want our lives to be just about this wedding, we wanted to start on a path to many future adventures we could share as a family for years to come. So back in 2016 we had put a deposit down on a brand new VW California Ocean and it was due to be ready to pick up in January!!!! SO EXCITING!!!
19th Jan '17 - WE GOT THE VAN!
What a way to start the year!!! January is usually a bit of a meh month, not a lot happens. Ok, well I guess Shaun has a birthday but on the 5th Jan we can all agree that's pretty inconvenient of him and annoyingly close to the massive outlay of cash for Christmas.
The van actually arrived a lot sooner than we had planned. We were trying to get the van before the Tax rise in April and VW managed to surpass our expectations there very well! So, big thanks to them for throwing our van together over the Christmas period! We fell in love instantly with the van, lifestyle and already had things like a Cali-Topper, Mattress topper and other gadgets that we felt we would need for our first trip away. Most importantly we checked with the boss, Bentley, that he liked it. With his seal of approval we had our first trip away planned for a few days later.
21st Jan '17 - First adventure; trip to Wareham Forest
Outdoor temperature was about -5ºC so if we wanted a thorough test of the Cali's heater in the cold then this was it's time to shine! Now, I am the coldest person you'll ever meet...no genuinely. I am half Canadian so you'd think genetically I'd be pre-disposed to deal with freezing temperatures, but my DNA has let me down!
I can categorically say that the heater is AMAZING!! With the added help of the Cali-Topper we have never been warmer. Bearing in mind it was -5º outside and we slept very comfortably upstairs in the pop-top while his lordship, Bentley, had the whole of the downstairs. I think the heater goes up to 10 and we had it on 3 or 4 during the day and turned it down to 2 at night as under the covers we were still lovely and toasty. I was very seriously impressed. We loved the freedom of getting away, and Bentley loved the walks through the forest.
Wareham was also where we filmed our very first YouTube video! We were very much finding our feet there and watching these videos back we really don't do a lot of talking to the camera. Definitely worth a watch to see how much has changed since then! Click the photo of Bentley in the frost and it'll take you straight to the video.
26th Feb '17- Featured in AD's video
We headed off to the NEC Caravan and Motorhome show to see all the things we were now eligible to buy for the Van! I believe we picked up our mattress topper from there from Duvalay which is amazing. It fits both the top bed and the bottom one. I wouldn't say you definitely need a topper for the top bed but I get a bad back sometimes so it's great for me. Only thing to remember is to not leave it up there when you close the roof as you'll definitely break it! Expensive mistake to make!
Probably one of the biggest things to happen there was us pouncing on the class act that is Andrew Ditton! He was exactly the same in real life as he is on his YouTube vlogs! His advice to us was to get out there and make some videos, to which we replied that we were and next thing we know we were thrust in front of his camera and talking about our plans to Honeymoon in our van around Europe! He was such a genuinely lovely man and we've become good friends with him since then. We owe him a lot and he will no doubt blush reading this but he really gave us the boost we needed at the beginning. We are eternally grateful to him and he's been nothing but supportive of us and our channel. So, thank you Andrew, from the bottom of our hearts! Please do check out his youtube channel if you haven't already, his adventures are epic!
14th March - Van Tour released
We figured we had enough practise at doing some vlogs and talking in front of the camera, so we decided to get the VW T6 California Ocean Van Tour out there! We also had a few more subscribers now and had gained a little bit of confidence that our videos weren't complete rubbish!! I think we made it clear in the video how much we loved it already! Part of the reason we started making YouTube videos was because when we were discussing buying a Van we couldn't find any thorough reviews of it online! So we figured; why shouldn't it be us doing the review? We've had so many lovely messages since it's release telling us we're responsible for people buying their vans and going on their own adventures. We live for these messages; you guys are all so amazing and interesting!
21st March '17 - First fan mail!!
Big thank you to Martin!! He sent us our first fan mail with a sticker attached for our collection of stickers on the kitchen countertop! I can assure you Martin, it's still there. As is your message to us, that's happily pinned on our fridge!
25th March '17 - Volksworld show
This show is epic! We loved it! There is just so much to see and do there!
We shot a video there too and Shaun got ridiculously excited after discovering all the SkegVegas merchandise! SkegVegas is on our list of things we must go to! As our family is from Skegness it seems a no brainer that we must go. Unfortunately this year our wedding clashed with it but we will endeavour to visit in 2018! We also bumped into Fuzz Townsend who is a legend!
23rd April '17 - Tried out a CL
We had struggled to find time off together as our shifts were not matching up our days off. As a result we decided to go away for one night to a brilliant little CL in the New Forest. It was also one of our first opportunities to use the new drone we had! The site was Foxhill Farm and only has 5 pitches but some lovely facilities. We loved it, just to get away for one night and leave the stress of wedding planning behind was incredible.
11th May '17 - Awning sides finally figured out!
After our massive awning fail initially with the awning sides I had worked my magic and sewed up some *fairly* decent ones. We tested them out by going back to the Stonehenge campsite where we had filmed before and they loved it so much they invited us back for a free few nights stay! The walks around the campsite are incredible and the site itself has so much personality. We will definitely return.
27th May '17 - Hit 1000 subscribers
What is going on!!!!! 1000 subscribers was a complete shock to us! We couldn't believe that many people had subscribed to a channel that we had made! We were so excited and celebrated with a Live Stream! Everyone was so lovely, aside from the Russian Mafia that seemed to interrupt the live stream halfway through and confused us a lot (very awkward to watch, part of the reason we don't keep the live streams up for very long after they're done!).
23rd June '17 - Natalizzy adventure in Van
Shaun and I had managed to successfully survive both our respective Stag and Hen Do's and to relax after the chaos I went away with my best friend and comrade, Natalie, in the van! I ended up significantly more hungover than I did at my own hen do and I blame Natalie entirely. Still, we had a lovely time and filmed it all! Fun Fact: Natalie is the only person to swear in any of our videos! Shaun had lots of fun editing that one!
23rd July '17 - First proper troll!!!
We must be getting noticed more if we are getting trolls so I was super excited to get this comment! Poor Bentley though. He's not stinking at all!
10th August - WE GOT MARRIED
After so much planning and stress the day had finally arrived and it was better than we'd ever have believed. We absolutely had the best day imaginable and we were so touched to see that there was even a thread on a VW Campervan forum wishing us a Happy Wedding Day! We got tons of messages throughout the day which we got to read once it was all done and dusted. Thank you so much because we were so touched to see so many messages! Hollywood, our van's name, was of course there and Bentley was the Best Dog! Both featured in a lot of our photos too which we will treasure for ever.
25th August - We reviewed Mercedes Benz, our most watched video now!
It's crazy to think that we started the channel because there was a lack of videos about the California on YouTube, little did we realise that this was also the same for the Marco Polo, it's closest rival! So we asked Mercedes and they said they'd be happy for us to review it. This video stuns me everyday as it just keeps building and building in views! It is now our most watched video! We were mostly touched by the fact that a Marco Polo forum actually linked our video saying they thought we were really impartial in our review. Considering we're California owners we considered that a real compliment as it meant we didn't show any bias, which is what we set out to do!
8th September - GOING ON OUR EUROPEAN ADVENTURE
This was by far what I was most excited for this year. Yes, of course I was excited by the wedding but this was a slightly less stressful life-event! The European adventure was just unbelievable. The freedom of travelling in a van around Europe is unlike any holiday I've experienced before. I won't go into detail because Shaun has more than covered our travels in both our videos and a dedicated blog, but what I will say is my favourite parts. I have two favourites; the first being the Jungfrau because that was just overwhelmingly beautiful. It literally took my breath away because it is SO HIGH up there! My second favourite was hiring Electric Bikes in Austria and exploring the mountains. We even did a live-stream from the top of one! We will be back, but with Bentley next time! We missed him so much!!!!
18th October - NEC Motorshow and Caravan Show.
As the year had progressed we had chatted more and more to other YouTubers to get advice and we became friends to a number of them! It felt weird as we hadn't actually met some of them yet so this needed to be rectified! Cue a huge YouTuber meet up between Andrew Ditton, The Indie Projects, The Adventures of Sarah and James, The Trudgians and Caravan Gossip! We had such a laugh and even got recognised by quite a surprising number of people! It was lovely meeting so many of our subscribers though. Honestly, you all don't realise how interesting you all are! I've been stunned by the stories we've been told about your adventures in Vans, Motorhomes and Caravans! If you ever spot us, please come over for a chat. We are extremely friendly and always up for a meet up!
31st Oct - Halloween special Live Stream
Not ones to do things by halves we decided to really go for it on Halloween and do a special live stream all dressed up! Was it Shaun under the sheet?! You may never know!! (It was though...). At the end we did a fake knocking on the door pretending the zombies had come to get us, unfortunately our acting skills are obviously far superior to what we thought as immediately after the video stopped I got a phone call from my terrified Mum thinking we had been attacked!! For the record, we were absolutely fine. Mum, please stop worrying about me, I'm 32 now!!!
24th Nov - Shut down Collars by Lizzy
I had a big decision to make about the future of my other love, which was my business, Collars by Lizzy. I had had some success building something I was really proud of but I had closed the business just before the wedding (it was too much to do my full time job, plus the YouTube videos, plus plan a wedding AND Collars by Lizzy too!) and after my Mum had a fall I hadn't reopened to keep our lives a little less stressful. YouTube was starting to take off more and more and we got a massive shout out from Thomas Heaton (legend) and other vloggers too (Andrew Ditton, The Indie Projects, Adventures of Sarah and James, The Trudgians etc.) and we were nearing 5000 subscribers and over half a million views on our videos! I decided to let the business go and focus on doing things with my family. In the end it was a no-brainer; spend time with my family making videos for people who I love chatting to, or spend hours alone in my room crafting dog collars. It was 100% the right decision but that still didn't make it any easier. I was really proud of what I'd created but I am so much more excited about what the future holds for our family and CaliforniaCamping!
10th Dec - Christmas Special released & hit 5000 subscribers!!!
Knowing that Shaun had to work Christmas day meant we had to have an alternative Christmas this year. We decided to do this in our van, roast potatoes and turkey and all!! I have to say, it was AMAZING and if we didn't have the family and ALL the dogs over for Christmas then we would definitely do it every year.
We have also now broken through 5000 subscribers and making our way towards 6k!! This is so overwhelming in so many ways and I can't help but feel a little emotional reflecting on how we've got here in just 10 months. For us, it's not been about subscriber numbers (although it is a nice numerical representation of how we are doing) but it's about the stories we are told and the people that we've met. We have made so many new friends this year that our lives have been so enriched by. Not a day goes by now that we don't have a chat to someone from the community and it really is a community!
We have so much to come in 2018 and really cannot wait to take everyone on this journey with us!! Thank you so much for your continued support, we could not do this without every single one of you!!!
WHAT A YEAR!!
All our love,
Lizzy, Shaun & Bentley xxx
P.S. New Logo coming out very soon! I've been a very busy bee working on it and love it so I hope you all will too!