Found hiding in a barn under straw, rusted, unloved, unused and neglected in the South of France our vintage Citroen H van was a barn “find”.  Well, we say find, there were times we wish we hadn’t found her as the problems she caused were huge!

With a cracked engine, no brakes, no wheels and looking very sad for herself our Citroen H Van – who we believe is circa 1970’s came into our care hoping to be cherished and restored.

Toot Sweets Van Before Image

A gentle shot blast and etch prime was needed to remove the copious amounts of rust and after finding a reputable and professional company we had her towed to Plymouth.  However, there was nothing gentle about the shot blasting process, as the company decided to use a harder grain than agreed which pummelled the van to within an inch of her life.  To hide the fact that not all the rust was removed, they sprayed her with an industrial paint instead of an etch prime – but they sprayed the sun visors, the seat belts, the handles and anything that was on-board.  The paint used apparently was to prevent any rust ever appearing in the future as it was used on oil rigs.  The dust and shot blast was left on the van prior to spraying so left a rough surface under the paint and we were so disappointed with the result – and the high premium charged for the pleasure!

Due to an industrial paint being used – no other garage in the local area would touch the van afterwards.  We were in another pickle.


Eventually we found a garage who could do the work on the body work within the 8 weeks required so that our time scales could still be achieved and our booked events attended.  Sadly, this wasn’t the case and 7 weeks into the time scales the van hadn’t been touched.    Another 8 weeks were given – this time after 2 weeks Sarah popped in and helped out (hinting that work was needed to be done) but after 3 weeks the realisation hit that this garage wasn’t up to the work in hand and another was needed.

In the meantime we had events booked in for ice creams so we bought a trike.  We didn’t want a freezer on display like so many other ice cream trikes so we decided to clad it in pallet wood.  The wood was found at The Bristol Wood Project and Sarah went along with a pallet tool and pulled apart the pallets herself to obtain the wood for the trike.  It turned out Justin was secretly a dab hand at carpentry and managed to put Sarah’s ideas on the design of the trike into a reality and spent a few days working out solutions and how it would all go together to finish up with a trike that is rustic and beautiful to look at.  And what a great job Justin did! The ice cream trike is available to hire and is perfect for eco-weddings, woodland weddings, events, school fundraisers, charity events, sporting events, proms etc.  So we had our little “Beau” available to cover us for the bookings we already had in the diary so we wouldn’t let clients down.


Back to the van….We found a great little company in the Wolverhampton area who came down and collected the van and towed it.  They did the welding required and some of the body work.  After all the negative experience with garages we had found a gem and someone who was honest enough to tell us the facts, take on the job and finish the job in the time scale set – and do it well. Another company in the area then painted the van in a lovely warm cream with baby blue highlights – we wanted the van to be kept natural and unbranded so it could be used for corporate work and promotion when needed.  However, with the bad shot-blasting experience there are still quite a few rust spots on the van which were disguised by the red industrial paint but we’ll get those sorted ourselves now that we safely have the van back in our hands and the van is polished daily.

The van came back to us and the final fit out was done.  So our neglected beast of a van was transformed into a beauty so we called her Belle (being a French van and Belle meaning Beauty).

The company name is Toot Sweets.  Toot Sweet in French means to “come quickly”.  We also sell sweet style products: ice creams, sorbets, boozy sorbets, prosecco, pimms, ciders, wines, ales, cream teas, strawberries, mallows, hot chocolates, coffees, teas, milkshakes etc so the Sweet in Toot Sweets fits perfectly.  Also “Fancy a toot” is a phrase often used when going for a drink (ok, only used now if you’re of a certain age which we are) and of course toot – for a horn – which the van has.  We also love the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and in the song Toot Sweets there is a line that says “The edible tweetable treat” so fits with the current trend of twitter and erm… tweeting!  Plus our products on board are all locally sourced, of high quality and SCRUMPTIOUS!  It’s all well thought out – honestly!

So that’s the story of our journey with Belle and Beau.  Both now available to hire for any event in the UK.  Speak to us about your event and find out how we can supply you with the best in local produce and a friendly service that caters to YOUR needs and requirements.

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