Tuesday, 6 January 2009

A funny thing happened on the way to the...


There we were, a couple of weeks back, just minding our own business and wandering along the streets of Hastings Old Town. The first thing that happened (that is pertinent to this story, at least) was that we looked in the window of a little art gallery and saw a copy of the Airstream Europe brochure in a leaflet rack at the back of the shop!? We had to know, so we stuck our heads in and asked. It turned out that it was simply given to the owner by a friend who had a spare one. The owner liked them and kept it. Nothing too exciting there, but it was just the start of our Airstreamly serendipitous journey.

Only a handful of minutes later, I looked into the window of yet another art gallery (Hastings Old Town has a lot) and saw a familiar looking face.
“Is that so-and-so?” I asked Tracey.
“I don’t know,” she replied. “I’ll go and ask.”
So, in she popped and asked. It turned out that I was right, and so-and-so turned out to be Andrew Ditton, Caravan magazine journalist and recent addition to the (unofficial and, as yet, non-existent) European Airstream Owners Club, having bought a 532 a few months ago. After a quick chat, we arranged to meet up later in the day and subsequently spent a very pleasant four hours nattering about caravans in general and Airstreams in particular into the small hours over a couple of bottles of red. Brilliant. We had such a great time that we’re meeting up in a couple of weeks in a caravan site on the Sussex coast. Two European Airstreams together! A micro-gathering! I know it’s unlikely (at such short notice), but if there are any other ‘Streamers out there who fancy a meet, drop me a line and I’ll send you the details.

Anyroadup, “where have you been for the last five months?” I hear you ask. “Why haven’t you posted anything here?”

Well, we haven’t had a huge amount of joy with the mobile broadband. It may be true that we chose the company that claims to have the best coverage, but they certainly haven’t covered any of the places we’ve been. While we’ve had some sort of signal at most places, more often than not it’s been slower than the dial-up connection we had ten years ago when we first got a computer. Sorry, but life’s too short to wait two hours to upload a photo. In fact, we’re still stuck in limbo, I’m just posting this (in the vain hope it doesn’t take forever) because
a) the reason above (about the possible gathering), and
b) because tomorrow marks the first anniversary of us picking up the trailer.

Yes indeedy, it’s been a year! And what a year it’s been. The world is a different place now. A global recession has appeared out of the blue, we have a new President of the USA, and with the demise of Woollies, the high street is never going to be the same again.

We had no idea what we were letting ourselves in for when we set off last January, but it has, quite simply, been the best year of our lives. We’ve seen more of this country than we thought possible. We’ve been to a handful places that we really liked, and more than a few places that we never need to set foot in again.

I don’t think that there’s any point in trying to fill you in on the last five months of travel, since it wouldn’t be that relevant or interesting, and most of it would read like a miserable weather report... It rained. A lot. In fact, for the whole of August it rained every day. I tried to convince Tracey that we needed to head South. Very South. Like South America. The Atacama Desert in particular. It hardly rained there at all between 1570 and 1971, and some river beds have been dry for 120,000 years. I’d have been happy if it lasted three days.

The weather more-or-less continued the same, while we more-or-less continued Eastward along the South coast. I think we’ve seen every major town (and many small ones) between Land’s End and Dungeness. To be honest, most of them weren’t worth the effort.

I was all up for heading for Spain for the winter, but the Pound decided to make a nose-dive against all other currencies (with the possible exception of the Zimbabwean Dollar), so that put paid to that idea. And finally, with the arrival of December, the rain stopped.

So, we’re still here in the UK. We’re still slowly wending our way around the country looking for the right place to stop. And we’re still blissfully happy.

Finally, then, I’d just like to say a quick Thank You or two. Firstly, to our parents, who have been incredibly helpful and supportive all year and, along with my brother and a couple of good friends, have dedicated a large percentage of their attic space to store all our “stuff”. Secondly, to the many people who have left encouraging comments on this blog. The counter on the site reads close to 5,000 hits, while the underlying total of all visits is over twice that. Staggering. When I started the blog, I just thought it might be a couple of friends and family might be interested, not the entire world. Thirdly, we couldn't have done this without the fantastic support from the team at Airstream Europe. They have always been there and always happy to help, no matter how trivial the matter. Fantastic.

Finally, I'd just like to thank Tracey for thinking that the crazy idea I came up with nearly a year and a half ago, was actually a good one. This has been the best year ever.

Stay tuned... The show isn't over until the silver trailer stops...


Dave McClelland said...

Yes, you are still with us!

Thanks for the update, love the pics and the writing style, you are living the dream! May the trailer always shine!

Happy trails

Pete said...

Ah, David,

If only the trailer always did shine. Sadly, the brushed aluminium surface looks decidedly dull when it's raining. And even more sadly, it's done that a lot.

Thanks for the comments and for hanging in there. I promise to write more this year.

Now then, where's that pesky internet signal?.....