Life’s journey is seldom straightforward and for one couple there have been many twists and turns on the road to happiness.
Marta Adamska and her partner James Dear have seen bliss turn to despair – and then back again.
Now the next stage of their adventure is about to begin as the joyous new parents get ready to travel Europe in a converted yellow and green coach.
The £4,000 bargain – once a passenger bus on Guernsey – has been given a £5,000 makeover and become a real home from home.
And the best bit of all? There is an extra passenger on board… baby Ella, who arrived just seven weeks ago.
The pandemic has stalled their departure and Marta says: “For now, we’re enjoying quiet time at home with her while we wait out the latest lockdown.
Marta also reveals how the entire project stemmed from the most awful time of the couple’s lives – losing their first child, Dylan.
He was born in July 2018 after Marta and James had been trying for a family for years.
But at just 10 days old he passed away in his sleep.
The couple’s dreams of moving into a family house lay in tatters.
And the tragedy called for a change of direction for Marta, 37, and James, 43.
They opted to use their house deposit for something altogether different.
The adventurous pair decided that if domestic life hadn’t worked out then they would make the most of it – by buying a disused passenger bus, converting it and travelling the world.
They renovated the coach, quit their jobs and were all ready to set off nearly a year ago.
But then the coronavirus pandemic hit.
Faced with shut borders and international lockdowns, their best laid plans were once again derailed.
But more twists in the road were to come.
While stuck in the UK, living in their repurposed bus in a car park in Wales, Marta began to feel different.
She experienced a heightened sense of smell and taste, followed by nausea.
Far from having contracting Covid-19, she had much happier news… another baby was on the way.
The couple moved into rented accommodation for the winter and, on November 30, Ella arrived.
Marta says: “In a rollercoaster year, Ella was the biggest and most amazing surprise of 2020. When Dylan died, we didn’t think we’d ever be parents and decided to experiment with a different life.
“But if Dylan taught us one thing, it’s that life doesn’t always work out as planned.
Our plans to travel Europe in the bus are on hold for now, but we plan to set off on our adventure with Ella as soon as we can.”
Marta and James got together seven years ago and began trying for a family a year later.
But Marta lost two babies before falling pregnant with Dylan.
They were overjoyed when he arrived on July 31, 2018, weighing a healthy 8lb 2oz.
Despite Dylan suffering some initial breathing difficulties, Marta and James were given the all-clear to take him home at six days old.
“Finally, we were a family,” says Marta. “We were over the moon. I really thought we had our happy ending.”
But their world came crashing down four days later when Dylan died suddenly.
An inquest recorded an open verdict, with sudden infant death syndrome – commonly known as cot death – given as a possible cause.
Marta, from Caerphilly, South Wales, goes on: “We were devastated. We tried to come to terms with our grief while we tried for another baby
“But I experienced secondary infertility and it didn’t happen.
“All our plans had been focused on buying a house and raising a family.
“I was working as an accountant for a packaging company and James worked as a cost engineer for a company that designed heating systems. Our lives were mapped out for us.
“We found a property to buy that was within our price bracket.
“But with Dylan gone, our hearts weren’t in it. We didn’t feel happy with the decision.
“We’d read about other couples living in alternative homes, for example in shipping containers, and thought why don’t we do that?”
Marta and James sold all their belongings and bought the decommissioned coach.
They parked it on land next to a car wash in Caerphilly and set about the conversion in their spare time.
They pored over TV programmes about transforming unusual spaces into amazing homes and – after “a lot of trial and error” – James completed the conversion himself.
The couple moved into their new home over Christmas 2019.
Marta recalls: “We were surprised by how spacious it was – and so easy to clean!
“We both left our jobs in January 2020, which was a big move, and hoped to set off on our travels in March.”
But as the couple finalised their travel plans, the global pandemic hit.
Marta says: “Suddenly, we were in national lockdown living in a freezing bus designed for hotter climates.
“But we got our heads around the delay and tried to make the best of the situation, cooking nice meals and going for long walks.”
That’s when Marta noticed she had a heightened sense of smell.
She continues: “I felt nauseous in the morning but didn’t think for one minute I was pregnant.
“But when I went off the taste of wine, I knew something was up, so I did a test to be sure.
“When it came back positive, I literally couldn’t believe it. I had to ask James to double-check the result for me.
“We were scared but very, very happy.
“I was anxious after everything we’d been through.
“And the pandemic meant that James wasn’t allowed to come with me for appointments and scans, so I was alone when I found out we were expecting a baby girl.”
With council permission, the couple moved the bus on to a caravan site while they decided what to do next.
Marta goes on: “It wasn’t practical to live in the bus with a newborn during an English winter.
“The best option was to rent a house for six months as we prepared for Ella’s arrival. The place was unfurnished.
“So, ironically, we had to replace all the stuff we got rid of 12 months earlier. But a family member who was also moving house donated furniture. And living on the bus has taught us how to live simply. We don’t need a lot of stuff.”
After a straightforward pregnancy, Ella was born by Caesarean section, weighing 7lb 9oz.
Marta will cherish forever the moment she first clasped the tot.
She says: “Holding her in my arms for the first time, I thought my heart would burst with love.
“We are just so happy to have her. She’s a good baby but any sleepless nights are a bonus as far as we are concerned.”
Now a family of three once more, they hope to finally hit the road when their lease is up in April. Pandemic permitting, that is.
It will mark the final chapter of one journey – and the first in the next adventure.
Marta says: “Dylan’s death was the start of the project. If he was here, our lives would be very different.
“But we are looking forward to life travelling in Europe in the bus with Ella and can’t wait to see what the future holds.”