Saturday, 26 December 2009
Wednesday, 11 November 2009
I don't mind admitting that after looking forward to going home at the end of summer, I got a little bit down in the dumps. Nothing major, just boring stuff.
Having towed the Airstream for three hours on Monday to a site, I spent yesterday driving a total of five hours to do a job near Manchester. As the miles passed and Radio 2 entertained, I felt calm, peaceful, happy, and hopeful. Being on the road makes me feel good.
My life has wheels.
Monday, 9 November 2009
Tuesday, 20 October 2009
Airstream Europe was there, as was Sam & Hazel's Vintage Airstreams.
It was HEAVING!
The world and his wife have decided that Leisure Vehicles are the way forward.
By the end of the show everybody looked knackered and deleriously happy. One of the guys at Airstream was smiling so much that if he had two mouths his head would have fallen off.
Meanwhile Sam and Hazel have a veritable procession of interested parties arranging a visit.
One manufacturer alone generated £12million worth of sales.
This truly is a golden time for the caravan industry and it's great to be part of it!
Monday, 12 October 2009
Anyhow, soon I was at Nottingham picking up my next van, a Dethleffs Campy:
It's a fab little tourer! Only 12ft long yet packs in a fixed bed, dinette, wardrobe, garage space, washroom, kitchen and a wardrobe. It's a bit basic with no hot water or shower, but its low price and low weight reflect that. Best of all I had a 2.0 142bhp VW Golf - in red - to tow it with all week. Fabulous!
First stop was Shaftesbury to do a review. Then it was back to Wales to Aberaeron where I enjoyed doing the touristy stuff.
Leaving there, I headed to Nant-Yr-Arian forest to do some mountain biking on my favourite trail, the Pendam trail. It's only 10k and is challenging enough to be great fun without being too much or too long.
Next stop was a campsite called Tyllwyd in Cwmystwyth, inland from Aberystwyth and Devil's Bridge. I have to say that it is my favourite campsite ever. I went there with the Airstream in August and loved it then, apart from being eaten alive by midges. This time I had the whole site to myself and had AMAZING weather... and no midges.
That night I went out to the car just after midnight and noticed that the moonlight was illuminating the entire valley. I had to grab my camera and tripod...
One of our trips was to the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth. It makes for an interesting day out, and one of the nice things is that some of the ideas presented range from what you can implement that very evening at home to how you can completely replan your life. The nice PR lady explained that they are now suffering a bit of a dilemma. What was ground-breaking environmental technology 5 years ago is commonplace today. So some of the exhibits show what everyone now does rather than what we could be doing. It's good in a way, but of course renewing stuff for the sake of it isn't really green.
Next morning I headed to Coed-y-Brenin which is one of the premier Mountain Bike Centres in the UK. I had a great ride on one of the trails, and as I was there at 7am I had the place to myself.
I also had an interesting visit to a slate mine museum which provided a fascinating insight into the roots of modern Welsh culture. I would loved to have done some more trips like ride the steam railways, but I was 'working' and had to press on to my next site at Caernarfon.
I really liked Caernarfon. Of course, it's always a bonus when the town is a 10 minute stroll from the site. A beautiful little harbour guarded by a majestic castle that commanded fabulous views of Snowdon.
I wanted to climb that hill, but sadly the day after I snapped this pic the clouds rolled in and it didn't seem sensible to do the ascent on my own, and I didn't fancy the £25 on taking a diesel train up there just to stand in cloud. So 'Climbing Snowdon' is now on my to-do list.
From there it was a mad dash to Tebay to drop off the Airstream for its annual service. My next trip to Wales was going to have a different flavour...
Monday, 21 September 2009
Thursday, 17 September 2009
After a quick job that involved staying at Bath (at a site where your caravan is valet parked!) it was time to head to the Forest of Dean for the Autumn 09 Airstream meet.
It was lovely to catch up with friends old and new
The weather was very, very kind
My last full day on the Isle of Wight, and on the spur of the moment I decided to pay a visit to Osborne House, the holiday home of Queen Victoria.
For some reason I had a very strong urge to go.
After all, I'm not overstruck on Stately Piles and not a fan of Victoriana in the slightest.
But I ended up having a fantastic day. I felt very happy and comfortable there... not at all as I imagined I'd find it. Very strange.
I loved the gardens.
Down by the Swiss Cottage were the gardens where the young royalty were taught real life skills.
Such a pretty yet productive garden made me miss a garden of my own.
The curators throughout were all very helpful and knowledgeable.
I was one of the last to leave.
A wonderful day. I would definitely go again.
Tuesday, 15 September 2009
Early this month it was time to head to the Isle of Wight..
So last week I arrived in Portsmouth to get the ferry to Fishbourne. As the ferry drew up, I set up the camera to get a possible stock shot of a caravan disembarking, but instead this was the feast for my senses:
Boarding was effortless and drama-free (CalMac take note) and as the ferry pulled out of Pompey I was impressed with what I saw of the Waterfront. It certainly looks an awful lot better than the 60s monstrosity of a city centre that I remember from my last visit.
The weather was glorious and due to break that night, so time was very short to get decent snaps in. What didn't help was getting lost on the way to the site and the SatNav trying to take me down roads with a 6ft 6in width restriction. It wasn't a great introduction to the island. And the signage here is APPALLING! The other day I was following signs to Yarmouth, then suddenly just for a laugh they changed to Totland (where?), then back to Yarmouth...
Anyhow, once set up I went out to snap the site and came across this scene which made me titter (check the car registration):
It was then time to rush off to the last couple of hours of the steam fair.
I managed to set up a feature on a couple the following day, and as the show was finishing one young couple and their baby headed off with their engine and caravan:
It was SO sweet. Lovely young couple, little baby, steam engine, and a 'pig pen' caravan in tow. Just so adorable. Obviously the guy loved his engine, and his partner shared his enthusiasm. Hey ho, moving on...
From there I went to The Needles, an interesting rock formation that leads into the sea off the West Coast of the Island.
As it was nearly 9pm before getting back to the Airstream, I used a little iPhone magic to find and order a curry from the nearest Tandoori. It was, without a doubt, the second worst curry I have ever tasted. The worst was at Ellesmere Port in March. The Dansak was sickly sugary sweet, and the Naan bread like crispy overcooked rubber. The sag aloo and rice were OK though, but I didn't bother saving any for the next day. Ugh, it was horrible.
The next day was less sunny but it was windy! Hurrah! After working most of the day I went to a place called Yaverland, North of Sandown on the East Coast to kitesurf, and it was OK. The beach was nice but the wind had massive holes in it so I was either bobbing up and down in the water or completely and utterly overpowered on my 12m. I came in just before a squall, and as I sat in my truck with the rain lashing down reflected on the the session: 'Well, it's alright, but it's not a patch on the Hebrides...'
So on Wednesday after doing some work I headed for a beach on the SW side of the island hoping the wind would be cleaner. The rain was lashing down and I was suffering with severe motivation issues when I arrived, but some local guys were out and they were very friendly and chatty, so with my confidence boosted I went out on my 12m.
OH MY FLIBBERTYGIBBERTED GOODNESS!
It was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!
Being slightly overpowered, but not too much so, I did some HE-YOOGE jumps and landed them OK. The waves were fabulous and there was just ramp after ramp of the good stuff. I was, as they say, stoked.
I went back and made my own curry which was stonkingly delicious. What a great day!
Thursday I wanted more of same but had some stuf to do first. When I got to the beach it was deserted but I set up anyway. But then a squall came through and I ended up sheltering under the kite like a tent, lying in the damp black sand in my wetsuit with the rain hammering down. It was quite cosy actually...
Eventually I got out and had yet another amazing session. It was absolutely brilliant and eventually came in as everything started to ache, and at this point all the locals arrived after work:
Friday was an assignment I was looking forward to: To find the Ultimate Island Cream Tea. All in the name of research, you understand! And by gum did I find it:
Naturally, I only bought it to photograph it, but once the snaps were done it would have been a shame to waste it...
From there it was back to Brook Chine and again I was the only one out, but it was another great session.
Saturday was the 'Panic' day when I had to go out and do heaps and heaps of research, but sadly for personal reasons my head wasn't in a great place to deal with such banalities. I dreared around nice places like the Ventnor Botanical Gardens whereas usually I'd enjoy such a trip immensely. By the time I got to the beach the tide was so low that rocks were exposed all over the shop. I just went home and wrote copy.
Sunday and it was time to move on to the next site....
To be continued...
Monday, 14 September 2009
Thursday, 10 September 2009
For reasons of security, postings may be a few weeks 'old' before going live, as I will always have moved on before saying where I was. I'm sure that's understandable.
If I get time, I'll go back some day and link to older blog postings about my travels, but for now this will be the default Airstream Adventures channel.
It's a great life. And it's a pleasure to have your company.