Before they bought a bus and decided to hit the road, Thariea and River Paige had absolutely zero DIY experience.

They hadn’t even hung a picture.

But four years ago, Thariea’s dad Mark took the couple to a camper van festival – and they fell in love with the lifestyle.

They began to dream of having a home on wheels – and knew they would need to get crafty to make that fantasy a reality.

They bought a former council bus for £8,000 on eBay, then set about turning the 7.6 metre long eight-seater bus – with space for four additional wheelchairs and a driver – into their perfect home base.

Since then they have raised the roof, added six solar panels, and kitted out the interiors with all the mod cons they and their children, Roman, eight, Arabella, six, and Nalu-River, 18 months, need.

When Covid-19 travel restrictions lift, they plan to take the bus on a journey from Europe through Africa.


But in the meantime, self-employed children’s photographer, Thariea, 28, and River, 27, who has just quit his job as a superyacht sign designer, have spent the last month living in the bus with their brood, which is parked in the drive of his parents’ house in Leicester.

Thariea, who explained how they have lived with her in-laws since leaving their three-bedroom modern rented semi in Broughton Astley, near Leicester, in January 2020, said: ‘We’ve loved living full-time on the bus for the last month, even though it’s only 80 per cent finished.

‘The children were so excited that, after having a one-night sleepover in it on March 27, they wouldn’t leave!




‘We’ve all been living in it ever since.’

Despite falling for the idea of camper van life four years ago, it took the couple, who met when they were 15, nearly three years before they put the plan into action.

Thariea said: ‘At first, although it seemed like a great way of life, we thought it was way out of our comfort zone and impossible.

‘Then we had our third child and one day early last year I texted River at work and wrote, “Let’s just do it”.


‘He agreed and we started looking to buy a bus and found one on eBay for £8,000 just before lockdown in March last year.

‘We decided we were just sick of every day nine to five work and missing out on time with the children.

‘Every day just rolled into one.’

In addition to the initial cost of £8,000 for the old bus, the renovation project cost £13,000 to complete.

The couple did all the work themselves to keep costs low.

Quitting their rented property, moving in with River’s parents, and selling belongings helped to pay for the project, too.


‘We did the conversion a little more slowly than we would otherwise have done,’ Thariea said.

‘Four years ago, River didn’t know how to hold a drill.

‘But he’s done so much research on this, as he is a perfectionist and wants everything just right.

‘I’ve trawled Pinterest to get ideas to make the interior just how I want it.

‘It’s great now to think, “Wow, this is our house”. We’re so calm in the bus.

‘It doesn’t make any difference to us that it may be a bit small – our blood, sweat, tears and soul has gone into building it.

‘Even the children have joined in. Roman helped measure, mark out and push insulation into cavities on the bus. They’ve all had a go at painting and sanding.’


One of the couple’s first jobs was ripping out the old bus seats and chopping off the 3.5m roof to make it higher.

A big chunk of money went on the electrical system, plus a fridge, sink, cooker and heater, upholstery, and lots of materials including birch plywood – even though everything has been made bespoke by River.

River has sorted the electrics, plumbing and most of the re-fit, while Thariea helped out with grinding, stripping, and interior painting – and they have not used a single tradesperson.

For now, the family are looking for a farm to move into, then they’ll set off on their big adventure.

Thariea said: ‘We’re quite easy-going and will go with the flow. We don’t want to rush and if we love one place we’ll stay.

‘To start with, we’ll take the ferry to France and then head to Portugal, before aiming to get to Africa starting in Morocco.

‘We originally thought we’d go for one year, but that could turn into two years, and two years could turn into three.

‘The bus should be finished how we want it in another month, but until Covid restrictions allow us to go, we are looking for the farm to move on to, just so the kids gets to experience outside life and we’re out of River’s parents’ way.

‘We were keen for the kids to go back to school for a bit when they were allowed to again recently, as they had missed so much of their education and had missed their friends.

‘We will be home-schooling them while we travel and, although they will be away from their friends, they have arranged to send postcards and do FaceTime catch-ups.

‘We may well go to Greece and Rome. Roman has been studying the Romans and Greek mythology at school, so he will be able to experience it rather than just seeing it in a book.

‘They will actually learn to write letters, which children don’t do any more – although I’m not sure what they’ll put on the address apart from “Our bus, somewhere in the world”.’

To follow the family’s future travels, give them a follow on Instagram at @slowlywild.

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