Friday, 21 October 2011

Pass The Loofah

Things I can do (now that the cast is off):

Walk. Yay!!! Well, put one foot in front of the other and move steadily in a forward direction.

Get in and out of the Airstream on foot, instead of on bum.

Sit on the floor and make a fuss of the bunnies whilst bribing them with leafy greens.

Carry stuff, instead of moving stuff incrementally along horizontal surfaces.

Shower standing up. (replace the word 'shower' with 'clean teeth', 'get dressed', or any everyday, simple activity)

Make a cup of tea in under twenty minutes and then carry it to the table. Actually I can carry two full cups, so myerrr.

..... I'm on fire! I would like my own leg back now though. Mine has been replaced with a rigid, puffy, pink, flaky one. Eeoogh!

Friday, 7 October 2011

Stifled Profanity

Such is the strength of the rules of one's upbringing that in the throws of falling and fracturing a bone, you might be able to suppress the need to swear, even if you are a fan of the inherent oomph in a well savoured swear word like I am. When I slipped and fractured my tibia whilst out walking with my parents a month ago, I managed to simply suck air through my teeth, saying things like "Ow, ow, ow!" and, "It can't be all that serious, I didn't even say the 'F' word." Quite impressive really, since recently I had thought it would be amusing to try and train myself to say, "Oh dear. I didn't mean to do that." However, when it became clear I was going to have to walk two miles to get out of the woods I did find it helpful to utter a couple of mild profanities through gritted teeth. To be an effective release of shock and pain a swear word should contain at least one strong or sibilant consonant.

I am aware that some people choose to be offended by certain words, and I suppose we all have our limits or lines we decide not to cross. However, I think the intention behind a word or phrase can be far more offensive. I definitely don't want someone spitting the dreaded "C" word in my face, but the word itself carries no outrage for me. I'd rather be sworn at than patronised, or hear some narrow-minded views on race, gender or sexuality. And that's probably why on my ill-fated walk a couple of well timed "tits" and "twats" wafted harmlessly into the trees and at the same time helped me not to throw up. If my Dad hadn't been there keeping me distracted and comforted  I would definitely have let rip and turned the green forest air blue.

Back to the broken leg and, four weeks later even my bright purple cast fails to keep me buoyant. I wish I could claim to embody a Zen-like acceptance, instead I feel useless and clumsy. The awkwardness of getting around the trailer with one leg solid and unbending at the ankle means that each simple, everyday task takes at least three times as long and involves newly learned adjustments and physical manoeuvrings. I am getting the hang of it but early on I literally felt nauseous with the effort. And as I set up for the job of taking a shower, once I've put on my waterproof leg covering thingy, I find that I pause, breathe and motivate myself to continue.

From a starting place seated on the loo lid I stand up, rotate 180 degrees, take all my weight on the two crutches, hop backwards over the shower ledge, stand on one leg whilst balancing the crutches in a handy place to reach them later, find dry and firm surfaces to grip while I sit myself back onto the shower seat, reach out the bathroom door to pull the stool into the bathroom and close enough to rest my outstretched leg on. Then I can commence my ablutions and the soaking of the bathroom floor. Of course by now I mostly remember to put the stool in place, within arm's reach, before I ensconce myself in the bathroom. I also mostly remember to heat the water sufficiently beforehand, and switch from the external tank to the internal, or whichever one is full at the time. Mostly, I remember, because the occasions where I have had to repeat the aforementioned sequence in reverse just to go and hop about the trailer, damp and half naked to flip a switch and then back again have taught me to plan ahead. All this sounds as though I'm coping alone. Far from it, but of course Pete will be outside doing water fetching and waste tank disposal and other outdoorsy chores. Which is why I also need to remember to take my mobile phone with me, just in case.

I am counting the days until the cast comes off (it's 11), and the recent late burst of warm weather did perk me up, as did a visit from Pete's parents. We had some lovely trips out to local historic and pastoral places. I would sit in the sunshine and exercise my brain with crosswords while the rest of the family exercised their tourist muscles looking at castles, churches and fortified houses (like Stokesay Castle picured above).

On a couple of balmy evenings we sat outside with Carl and Gaynor and the boys. We are still guests of their incredible hospitality in this beautiful piece of Shropshire. It is perfectly remote from any light pollution and we have been able to star gaze and spot satellites and shooting stars. As a happily relocated city girl I am always impressed by anyone who knows their constellations. Pete's Dad was telling me how they used to navigate when he was in the merchant navy. It's probably obvious but in this age of Sat Nav for all, it's extraordinary to think how recently one's position in relation to the stars was the way to navigate the vast seas.

How conducive to relaxed chatter is an evening under the stars, a glass of wine in hand and a blanket to snuggle under.

Friday, 16 September 2011

A Very Big Tent

Before the 38 Airstreams arrived for the UK Airstreamers' September Gathering, Rockhill Rendezvous, there was a bit of a build up.

Recently added to our list of favourite things: our marquee, reminiscent of an old fashioned beer tent, dressed with 200 metres of homemade bunting and 320 metres of fairy lights. (You can see us and the whole Huntbatch family raising the marquee on our other blog here). When Gaynor said it would be "worth it" to make our own bunting rather than buy some sub-standard stuff, she was right. We spent large chunks of the following two weeks passing a bag of fabric triangles and tape between the farmhouse and our Airstream. She must have been experiencing some spooky intuition when she ordered 200 metres instead of the agreed 200 feet of tape.

When I fractured my tibia a week before Rockhill Rendezvous, sewing up bunting was the most productive thing I could do. That and make endless 'To-Do' lists!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Ready to Rock and Rendezvous

I was getting my hair cut and coloured last week and was describing our Airstreaming life and where we are at the moment, at Rockhill Farm, and the imminent Rockhill Rendezvous, and my colourist and I got the giggles. She loved the sound of it all, and I'm sure she had never heard of anything like it. She kept saying how amazing it all sounds, and we just kept laughing.

Mostly, this way of life is amazing. We chose it, we made it up as we went along, it keeps evolving. And we've got to a point where it is self-perpetuating. What I mean by that is, we have met some great people, we hold these events, people invite us to stay with them, we meet more great people, we visit and meet up with them. And where we are right now is the epitome of that wonderful organic process.

We have been staying at Rockhill Farm and getting ready for Rockhill Rendezvous which is happening this weekend. Carl and Gaynor and their three boys came in their 1959 Tradewind to our very first UKAirstreamers Gathering, a very informal, try-it-and-see meet in the Spring of 2009. They weren't sure if it would be their scene, and neither were we to be honest. But all along we have tried to avoid the cringe-inducing, enforced group activities and formalities of a 'rally' and that mission seems to be attracting a mighty fine crowd of Airstreamers.

Carl and Gaynor have a farm in the beautiful Shropshire countryside and invited us to hold our September Gathering here last year. The trickiest part of holding a meet or gathering is finding a location where we can fit our plans in or around the rules of a campsite or land owner. A couple of examples; no noise after 10.30, no fires, and no flags!!!! Imagine. Why don't they just say, 'Don't have too much fun'!?! But here, we already see eye-to-eye on what you do or don't need for a good weekend of laid-back yet stylish camping. And so far we have never been told, 'you can't do that'. So we arrive nice and early, and bit by bit we all tick things off the 'to-do' list.

On top of that, we get to camp here in a lovely field, all to ourselves, only to have it 'spoiled' by a load of Airstreams turning up for a long weekend of catching up, laughing, drinking, sitting around a big camp fire, making as much noise as we like. As we say, sucks to be us!

Only three days to go. There might be bunting.

Thursday, 18 August 2011


Is there anything better than strolling along a sandy beach at the water's edge on a sweltering day? It soothes the soul, and allows the brain to have a word with itself. I indulged in that sensation when we stopped on the Belgian coast before heading back to dear old Blighty. We were so dedicated to tracing the British coastline during our first two years in the Airstream, so I'm flummoxed that we have rarely dipped or paddled since.

Highlight of our first trip across the pond with the Airstream? Making lovely new friends, by far. We were overwhelmed by the hospitality of Dutch Airstreamers, Axel and Annieta, who let us stay in their 'yard' for so long that I virtually lost track of time. In fact, we met a lot of really friendly people while we were away. And spending time in Drenthe was incredibly pleasant. I think the far away horizon has a profoundly settling effect on my state of mind.

Where are we now? Not telling; we're lying low and prepping for Rockhill Rendezvous, the next UKAirstreamers' Gathering which is only three weeks away! But we are 'back home', and it's raining.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Inspiring Travel Writing

I have done a fair bit of reading during the summer so far, but the most inspiring by far has been this little Penguin travel book, part of their Great Journeys series. Adventures in the Rocky Mountains by Isabella Bird is a collection of letters by the adventurous traveller to her sister. But this is letter writing which I am convinced is no longer practised. Her letters read like prose, and her descriptions are beautifully evocative.

In 1873 Isabella Bird travelled alone to Colorado, encountering rough and wild characters, grizzly bears and stunning, but often inhospitable landscapes.

She is told, "There's nothing Western folk admire so much as pluck in a woman..." and she is shown respect by the most lawless of settlers. Plus, she knitted! "- my usual resource under discouraging circumstances."

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Long Lost Project

The number of times I have needed a little bag this size! I remember now that it was specifically for carrying my pocket-sized camera that is just a bit bulky for an actual pocket. So that, when Pete and I are out exploring (I can vaguely remember us spending two and a half years doing just that, bliss), and we've parked up next to a field with a hunebed or monolith, or "pile of old stones", I can just pop in the camera and car keys and go.

I had forgotten all about this poor abandoned little bag until Carole reminded me of it last week. I retrieved it from the depths of my half-finished project bag and just got on with sewing up the sides and attaching the strap. That's all that needed doing. How insane. And I am completely over the moon with it. I now feel the need for one in each colour.

Also handy for trips to the pub; money, keys, phone, lippy. I might have to turn this into a blog about the combinations of essentials that will fit into my handy little crocheted bag.

Sunday, 10 July 2011


It needs a bit of work. I think it needs a chunkier yarn. But it's a start.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011


We seem to have slowed right down. While Pete has been dealing with some rather annoying shenanigans on the UKAirstreamers forum I have managed to read a couple of books and dabble with my knitting. I'm trying out a cup cosy to keep my tea warm while I'm sitting outside. It's like a little cardi for your cup. A bit daft really, but I just feel like experimenting. I must have unravelled it at least four times so far.

Perhaps I should make one to fit around my glass of red wine as well. It was getting a bit chilled as we sat around the campfire last night.

Friday, 1 July 2011


Axel kindly took us out a couple of times to see some of the hunebeds (stone burial chambers) which are numerous in the Drenthe region, and around some of the lovely neat villages, as well as for a walk in the woods. Apart from spending a couple of pleasant evenings which were topped-off beautifully with sitting around the firepit, swapping traditional alcoholic beverages, it also helped us to get our bearings.

One drizzly day we took a drive to the village of Borger where there is a very attractive and informative museum about the hunebeds. The tour started with a rather hypnotic and atmospheric film, without commentary, showing simply with images how the large stones (glacial erratics, I love that term) came to have arrived here from Finland after the ice age.

In the museum I especially enjoyed its large collection of reconstucted, decorated pots, and a series of dioramas demonstrating how the landscape would have changed with the advance of agriculture and the introduction of the canal and drainage systems. Although I was baffled when some text explained that settlements would have been built on higher ground. I haven't seen any yet, but the concept is more subtle here than we're used to.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Euro Airstream Gathering

Rather belatedly, here are some of my images from the Gathering of European Airstream owners near to Venlo in the Netherlands. I mostly managed to avoid getting any people in my pics, but there was a lovely crowd, honest. And some of them had gone to a huge effort to restore some very cool and covetable vintage trailers and trucks. Fords and Chevys seem to be very popular, and they do go rather attractively with vintage Airstreams. But that's a lifetime's worth of polishing to commit to!

We had been a convoy of new Airstream trailers on the way from Britain, so it was a pleasure to mix in with the heavily vintage crowd. Every old trailer has so much history and character, whether it's been preserved in original detail, or restored with some creative flair.

And this beast (the trailer, not the flamingo) has just been happily collected from Southampton Docks, all in one piece and without dents or bits missing, after its Atlantic crossing.

I've said it before, you've gotta have flamingos!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Three Nights In Ghent

So we took part in this convoy from Dover to Venlo (Netherlands) via Ghent, picking up more Airstreams along the way until we were fifteen arriving at the campsite, and joining many more for a weekend of relaxing, partying, and loving our Airstreams. There will be more Airstreamy facts and observations on our Pete and Tracey On The Road blog, but here are some details from Ghent, where we stopped off for three nights. I was a bit wiped out from the travels up to that point ( and I wasn't the only one because everyone crashed out later that day) so I don't have a lot to say about it, just some pics.

bottle top window decoration
scary ashtray

you've gotta have pink flamingos

Saturday, 11 June 2011

A Boondock Stop-Off

We just spent two nights boondocked at the beautiful and welcoming home of Airstreamers Pete and Glynis. They have been coming to the Gatherings in their 1964 Bambi 2 since the early and improvised ones, and extended an invitation to stop over with them if we were passing. It just so happens that we were passing on our way from Worcestershire to Kent. Why such a schlepp? Because we are on our way to the Netherlands for a Gathering of many Airstreams (49 at the last count)! Lots of grown up people are getting very giddy with excitement, and a couple of us are a little nervous about driving on the continent for the first time.

So what is boondocking? I'm not sure but we believe it's where you stay in a mate's driveway or something like that. That's what we did anyway and I don't think you'll ever find a more elegant 'dock' than Pete and Glynis' immensely cool 1929 Deco house and garden. I can also now claim to know a Domestic Goddess. That would be Glynis, not Pete. We were entertained and fed in style and we stayed up ridiculously late and drank far too much wine, or was it just enough?

Honorary Airstreamers Simon and Emma live nearby so we had an evening at their lovely house too. It was one of those typical English barbecues that has to be hurriedly moved indoors because the weather misbehaves. It was a very jolly evening in spite of that. Honorary Airstreamers? Well they used to have an Airstream and they were at our first two Gatherings and have followed and supported us and UK Airstreamers all along. Now they have a very cute vintage Sprite, whatever that is. Only kidding!

Part of our journey to Hythe in Kent was on the horribly busy M25. When you spend lots of time tucked away in a field with the occasional tractor and school bus passing by you forget that there are all those people out there, driving around in cars and trucks. It's not so much the volume that worries me, as the delayed manoeuvring and lane changing that goes on. This is our home following us along the road and the nutters rushing to cut in front of us don't have a clue that we aren't as nippy as them.

But we made it, of course, and here we are, the fourth unit to congregate so far. And an Airstream welcome is about as warm as a welcome can be. I think five more will arrive over the next few days before we depart in convoy for the ferry from Dover.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Lovely Laundry Day

I have stumbled upon a foolproof way to make laundry day less bothersome:  Find the nearest launderette that has sensible opening hours (8 till late works for me), bung washables, detergent and money in machine, go and buy ice cream. Then the remaining bundling and folding goes by in a haze of gratified self indulgence.

Apply above method to any tiresome activity. In winter, replace ice cream with chocolate and hot milky beverage.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Classic And Frivolous

Pete's Mum asked me to make a cosy for a friend who likes blue and white china and always makes her tea in a pot (the proper way, right?). So here it is, more restrained in colour than usual but with a generously oversized pom pom to make up for it. I think a tea cosy should be frivolous in some way.

This bank holiday weekend, with the rain we have come to expect, has proven to be perfect for staying in and knitting whilst watching old movies which we have probably seen too many times already.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Glamping Essentials

I enjoyed seeing the glam accessories at the Spring Gathering last weekend. Since I am such a fan of bunting and tea cosies myself I was happy to see I'm not alone (see previous post). Other lovely extras included Trudie's Union Jack awning, some multi-coloured, striped deckchairs with co-ordinated wind-breaks, the obligatory pink plastic flamingos and an over abundance of fairy lights as John and Pete tried to outdo each other (John triumphed, just).

Our friends in Brazil just placed a huge order at my Little Tin Hut shop which is obviously fantastic in itself, but also because I get to make more stuff to fill the gaps. Luckily I have some red and white bunting ready to add and a turquoise, red and white tea cosy that is almost ready.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Happy Cool Campers

Well, we have reflected and discussed, we have caught up on our sleep and on Wednesday we moved from the site of the Gathering, back to our little Worcestershire hideaway. Now we will now get ourselves organised for taking part in a convoy to northern Europe. Very excited about that.

Our Spring Gathering last weekend was a big success. Phew! If you fill a field with beautiful trailers and vans and friendly people, what can you expect? Everyone mingled and chatted and admired each other's pride and joy. There were some very chilled out scenes, sitting in the sun, cups of tea being made, flags, bunting, lights, flamingos, stripey deckchairs.

Children played, food was blackened, fire warmed us as the night chilled. A downpour during the Sunday breakfast didn't even dampen our spirits (having a barn to shelter in helped heaps). It was just lovely.

As usual I didn't get to spend time with everyone. I think that I need to be on the site as people arrive. That way, at least I get to say "Hi". 

Pete and I really appreciate everyone's help, contributions and enthusiasm, and we will definitely take up those offers of help for the next one. Everyone knows it's the people who really make an event a success, and so many comments were about what a lovely bunch had turned up. It was also fun to have a mix of the Airstreams and the European vintage caravans. It made for a field of style and character.

the view from our trailer

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Travel Day

Since today was a travelling day we decided to set ourselves up with a decent breakfast, and all four of our eggs had double yolks! Now would someone please tell me that a double yolk is a sign of good luck while I go and check if our lottery numbers have come up? I mean, what are the chances?

We are now at the site where the Airstream and Cool Caravan Gathering is taking place this weekend. We have been comparing our 'to do' lists and will stock up on supplies tomorrow. Early birds start to arrive over the next two days, then most will join us on Friday. Can't wait to see all the pretty caravans, trailers and camper vans.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Cool Airstreams

The countdown is on and I am getting very excited about our Spring Gathering next weekend. For this one, we at UK Airstreamers have teamed up with Chris Haddon and his My Cool Caravan Facebook followers and we are going to have an eye boggling and mega groovy weekend in Lutterworth, Leicestershire.

It is time to dust off the pink flamingos, unravel the bunting......

..... untangle the fairy lights, 

and prepare to chill, laugh and generally relish being surrounded by some of the finest trailers, caravans and RVs in the country. More information can be found here.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Felt Flower Brooch

I am continuing my experiments with felt and my best friend's birthday was the ideal occasion to branch out and try something bold and floral. I spotted a flower brooch tutorial on the Feltorama blog, but it was glued and I wanted to stitch the whole thing. So I started with the sort of heart-shaped petals as per the blog and then figured out the stitching as I went along. I also attached the scrunched petals to a flat flower base to give it  some support and to introduce a contrasting colour.

Then, since I didn't have a suitable button for the centre, I made a squishy felt one filled with a tiny bit of polyester stuffing and embellished it with some seed beads which have been begging to be used. 

I can't find the exact blog entry on Feltorama now but it is a treasure trove of links to a myriad of shared ideas and tutorials which are brilliantly listed under categories. So if you want to make a felt chicken dinner you look on the list under Felt Food and it will link you to the appropriate blog.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Morris Men

We finally got to enjoy some morris dancing. In our three years and a bit of living on the road this is our first encounter. It was the May Day bank holiday and this team (The White Hart Morris Men, I think) were stepping out at The Star Inn,  Ashton Under Hill in Worcestershire.

I had always thought that Morris is an all-male dance, and this troupe was, but apparently there are regional variations and some have women! Wiki describes the dance as "rhythmic stepping", and I think that's pretty accurate. Plus, of course there are complicated formations. There are hankies flung and sticks tapped, bells jangled, and prompts are yelled out. The musicians were ambidextrous, one playing a whistle in one hand and a drum with the other. It's a great entertainment for a beer garden on a sunny afternoon.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Easter Bunnies

the grumpy one

the cheeky one

Their Bunninesses

Thursday, 21 April 2011

There can be only one

I used to pick the peel out of marmalade until on a train from Penrith to London I met a dapper elderly gent in a chalk-striped suit who told me he was heading to Harrods or Fortnum's to buy some No Peel Marmalade. It could have been created for me. Even better once I discovered that you could buy it in any self-respecting supermarket. When John and Carole came to visit the other day we discovered that Carole and I share the same discerning taste. We have tried others but they all fail to impress. There can be only one.