The couple renovating an abandoned caravan park and hoping to be mortgage free by 35

  • ‘Adeiladu’r Freuddwyd: Camp Out West’, is a new digital series made by ITV Cymru Wales for S4C

A couple from West Wales who sold their Llanelli home to buy an abandoned caravan park, hope to build their dream home and be mortgage free by the time they turn 35.

Emilie Lovaine James and her husband Jon James shared their experience in a new S4C digital series, ‘Adeiladu’r Freuddwyd: Camp Out West’, made by ITV Cymru Wales.

“I think being mortgage free and living within our means has always been such a priority for us, especially because of lockdown when all of our work stopped," Emilie said.

"We’re quite easily pleased, we don’t need much to be happy, we don’t want expensive cars, we don’t want a big house. We’ve never wanted big flashy things."

The couple met whilst studying photography at university in Newport in 2008. They were originally flatmates and friends until their third year of university, and have been together ever since. 

The couple sold their Llanelli home to buy the land and set up new life with their dog Maggie. Credit: Camp Out West

"Here we are with our dog child Maggie, 14 years later, married, living in a caravan in a muddy field," Emilie explained in the first episode of the series.

The new series follows their journey from the very beginning as they build and renovate their plot of land in Llanelli in Carmarthenshire. 

The pair have been living on the site for over a year in a caravan they bought from Facebook marketplace, after selling their house in Llanelli to buy the plot of land for £90,000.

Emilie and Jon are wedding photographers and videographers, who also run several of their own businesses, which helps them fund their building project. 

The couple have gained a large social media following posting as 'Camp Out West.' Credit: Camp Out West

Their plan is to do as much work on the site themselves as possible in order to stay within their means, save money, and make the project as affordable as possible.

They spent their life savings on the land, which left them with only £500 in their bank.

Emilie said: "It’s funny because we’re living in a caravan, and we’ve had the least amount of space and money we’ve ever had, but we honestly have never been happier. 

"It’s made us realise you can think you want all these things when you’re younger, but you kind of get it and you realise maybe it’s not for you. 

"So, the fact we’re living in a caravan and we’ve never been happier, we know this is exactly what we’re meant to do. I think we are living the dream."

The land was formerly a caravan site for miners who worked in the colliery opposite. Many of those workers came over from Germany to work in the mine in the 1950s. 

When the coal mine closed back in 1989 the land was left unkept and became completely overgrown.

"We were always looking for a plot of land to buy to set up a house somewhere so we looked at all kinds of websites, Facebook, trying to find places so when this came up, I couldn’t believe it, because I remember the place from growing up as my grandparents lived down the road in the next town," Jon said.

Jon’s grandad Islwyn Rosser (left) and Jon's grandad Graham James Credit: Left: Phil Cullen / Right: Emilie and Jon James

Emilie continued: "It was quite funny because we drove past it so many times we had only seen the bit on the side of the road that looked a bit like a horror movie and Jon was so against it at first so I had to really try and persuade him to come and view it. 

"We kind of looked around the caravans and thought what are we doing here? But as soon as we walked behind the back and saw the view we kind of envisioned straight away we can imagine living here.

"Especially because it's so quiet and peaceful. We stood there looked at each other and knew this is where we wanted to live."

Emilie’s family is originally from Swansea, whereas Jon’s family are from Llandovery and are well known to the locals.

Since they moved onto the site, neighbours have been telling the couple stories about their memories of the family.

"His grandad, Islwyn Rosser, was a local fireman, and also worked at the coal mine opposite our miner's caravan park," Emilie said of Jon's family.

"His other grandad Graham James, known as ‘James the fruit', served all the villages within the Gwendraeth Valley for decades with his fruit, veg, and sweet van, he also delivered to our caravan park.

"The amount of stories and comments we've received from people on TikTok and Facebook about them has been amazing."

The couple have gained success on social media posting Camp Out West Credit: Camp Out West

The couple have gained social media success as ‘Camp Out West’. Over the last year they have gained 455,000 followers combined across platforms including Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube.

Emilie said: "I think the biggest thing we didn’t anticipate working in our favour was documenting everything we were doing.

"We were so surprised how many people are interested in what we are doing because really we say it all the time, we’re just living in a caravan in a field and all we’ve done over the last year is move rubbish that’s been here, we haven’t really done much work yet.

"All the exciting stuff is still to come so it’s really nice but really surprising that so many people are watching."

The couple's end goal is to build their dream home, two cabins, and glamping on the site for guests to come and stay. 

"Because my family come from Cwm Gwendraeth I think it's nice to come back here and show off how beautiful it is here - a small corner of Wales that you don't get to see," Jon said.

"There's so much history and we want that to play a part in what we do."

The digital series will be available on S4C’s YouTube account with one episode coming out every month until December. It followed by a three part series which will be broadcast on S4C in spring 2024.

You can follow this link for the first episode that came out earlier today.

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