Finally! We've actually managed to get somewhere. Eventually.
Wednesday was a cold and blustery day. I dropped Tracey in Kendal to taste the delights of big town life, while I headed off to Settle to have the car looked at. Fortunately the warranty covered the job, because it took nearly three hours and still isn't quite right. It'll be an easy job to fix eventually, it just needs a part which they didn't have in stock. Still, I had a smashing lunch in Ye Olde Naked Man Cafe (I have no idea, so don't ask).
At some point after returning to the trailer, it began to rain. Again. Now having the full complement of wipers, we braved the weather and set off in search of the Black Swan Hotel in the splendidly named Ravenstonedale. Curiously, I had yet another run-in with the menu, having to go through three options before I found one they hadn't run out of. Again, a couple of pints of a very fine beer (Hedonist ale from the Wylam Brewery) made everything good.
About ten minutes after getting back to the trailer, the wind picked up. And stayed up. A lot. We had planned to get up and head South early. It turned out that we didn't actually get much sleep and were awake when the alarm went off. The trailer was rocking all night while being pounded by torrential rain. It was such a strong Northerly gale, and we were rocking so much that we went to bed in Cumbria and nearly woke up in Lancashire! Michael arrived as I was trying to pack the bikes in the back of the car. He tried to convince us to stay another day. The M6 had been closed overnight, there were ten lorries on their sides and one driver lost his life when his truck hit the central reservation.
We stayed another day.
The Airstream team pulled us into the warehouse out of the elements. After the noise and motion of the night, it was a very welcome relief. We took advantage of the extra day (and the shelter) to do a bit of packing - it was the first opportunity we'd had to empty the back of the car since moving out of the flat. During the afternoon we took another brief trip into Kendal. On the journey, there was sleet howling at us horizontally and a couple of trees had been blown over in the road. But when we got into Kendal, it was calm as a mill pond with clear blue sky! I think I might go and live there.
We stayed in that night. It was MUCH calmer (at least it was in the warehouse) even though there was still quite a stiff wind rattling the doors. It was a bit odd, sleeping in a trailer inside a building, surrounded by about twenty five other Airstreams, all in varying states of completion. Almost like the opposite of a graveyard, whatever that might be.
The next morning was still blustery, but clear and bright. Without hesitation, we decided to go for it. Snow was forecast for the North of England, and we felt that if we didn't go now, we would be stuck in a warehouse for another two or three days. Anthony and John did a couple of last-minute tweaks while we got ready. Just as we were about to leave, Chris Johnston, a fellow 684 owner (he's had his a couple of months longer than us) arrived to have his awning fitted and a couple of little niggles sorted out.
And finally, at 09:53 on Friday the 1st of February, 2008, we set off on our Road Trip.
The journey was great. It was still blustery, but the trailer handled well, and the car was a dream to drive. I'm very happy about the choice of towcar. I ummed and ahed for a very long time about which car to buy, but I have to say that the Landrover does the job very well, and I never felt that I wasn't in complete control. Tracey had a go for an hour, and we made very good time to arrive in Wootton Basset, Wiltshire, at about 4:15. Just under 270 miles, and the car managed a fairly respectable 20mpg (not too bad considering it was pulling two and a quarter tonnes).
It didn't take long to set up camp (we didn't try out the new awning - it's still a bit too windy). Wiltshire is home to a number of chalk horses. I've heard it said that there are more white chalk horses on the sides of hills than there are real ones in fields eating grass. The other problem with them is that no one is quite sure when they were made. The Victorians were great builders of this sort of thing, and it is entirely possible that any given horse could have been made 4000 years ago, or the Thursday before last.
Now we're off to visit my oldest friend Geoff (not meaning that he's the oldest of my friends, but that I've known him the longest. Probably since the early 17th century - at least it feels that long) and his family.