Lockdown projects for most people looked like learning a language or teaching themselves to paint - but that was not the case for Gill and Dave Rivers. 

The couple, who live on a working farm in Great Burdon, on the outskirts of Darlington, took on a novel project - converting their bus into a two-bedroom, luxury holiday home. 

Darlington and Stockton Times: The Holiday Farm Bus.

The bus had previously served as a petting farm, but when Covid arrived, trade dried up.

The bus was made in 1987, and was supposed to be exported to Hong Kong, but when the deal fell through, it was grounded in the UK.

Read more: Runners and walkers enjoy annual Wensleydale Saunter

Darlington and Stockton Times: The unique holiday home is dog-friendly.

Only two of the failed Hong Kongese buses were built in the end, and the one that was destined to become the Holiday Farm Bus was purchased by Stagecoach, ferrying hundreds of thousands of passengers through the eighties, nineties and noughties. 

Years later, in 2011, it fell into the hands of the Rivers family. The small-holding fanatics converted it into the 'Farmyard Flyer', a mobile farm that advertised itself as "bringing the farm to you". 

Darlington and Stockton Times: The bus's kitchen.

With a background as a teacher, Mrs Rivers educated schoolchildren on farming by guiding them through a bus filled with large farm animals on the lower deck, and smaller animals, like rabbits, lizards and chinchillas, on the upper deck.

Darlington and Stockton Times: The bus's toilet.

The family were kept busy with the farm bus, and had no intentions of stopping. 

But "day one of Covid killed that dead," said bus hotelier and farmer Mr Rivers. 

Read more: Multi-million pound cost of A19 bridge for Coast to Coast trail revealed

Darlington and Stockton Times: The second double bedroom.

With all of their farm animals off the bus, and no end to the lockdowns in sight, and the double-decker bus mouldering in their farmyard, the usually busy family were at a bit of a loose end. 

Mr Rivers said: "We didn't know what to do with it - but then one day, I just woke up and thought about glamping.

Darlington and Stockton Times: The bus's bathroom.

With the help of a builder friend, who had recently had a kidney transplant and was highly vulnerable to Covid, the Rivers started to renovate the bus. 

Mr Rivers lent a hand with all of the "heavy lifting", with his wife doing much of the designing and interior work. 

Darlington and Stockton Times: The bus has an outdoor seating area.

It has been an ordeal of blood, sweat and tears - literally, at points, with Mr Rivers smashing his finger whilst trying to remove the bus's engine to make more internal room. 

"After doing all of the renovation work, we opened on March 12 of this year. It's just taken off so much more than we could ever have expected. It's really just unbelievable."

Darlington and Stockton Times: A lush seating area with fire.


Darlington and Stockton Times: The bus's kitchen.

But, it has all paid off now. As a testament to the Holiday Farm Bus's success and popularity, since opening its doors, there have not been four clear days where the bus has not been booked out.

The couple documented their bus renovation journey on their Facebook page, the Holiday Farm Bus,  amassing hundreds of followers. 

Stays on the bus can be booked through AirBnB. 

Darlington and Stockton Times: One double bedroom.