Sunday, 20 June 2010

Repair, Restore, Refit

We went to visit Sam Harkness at Vintage Airstreams in Tewkesbury. He has a yard full of potential, a collection of really old Airstream trailers just waiting to be brought back to life. It will be fascinating to see how they will be resurrected and where they will end up spending the next chapter in their stories.

We have seen Airstreams in various stages of restoration and it is always intriguing to hear what the plans are, whether for a true-to-style restoration, or a completely new interior design and transformation.

Pete pointed out that it was clear for the first time just how much work is involved in taking on a vintage project. We hadn't seen any right at the beginning of the process before.

Some have a lot of the original fittings, some have grubby marks where the fittings used to be. Whether a grotty empty shell, or lined from floor to ceiling with brown swirly carpet, having sat in a farmyard or been abandoned by a lake, or been cherished by generations of one family, the back story is often a fascinating part of taking on or owning an old Airstream.

Frustratingly, I forgot my camera and got by with using my phone. Not bad eh, after a bit of tweaking on iPhoto?


Friday, 11 June 2010

The Inadequacy of Words

After the last Airstream Gathering we moved on to a small site on a farm just outside Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire, where we stayed for two weeks. We have started to notice a pattern now that we have held three of these gatherings, and it is that we experience a sort of post-rally slump, a deep feeling of 'what now?' And that wasn't helped much for those few days when we couldn't connect to the internet. We felt a bit cut off.

There are times when not being connected is appropriate, and even positively therapeutic. For example, last summer which we spent in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland and the Hebrides. We rarely had a phone or internet signal. But being out of touch and unreachable went hand in hand with the feeling of remoteness and wildness of some of the places we found ourselves in. In a way, not being able to tell what it was like, as we were experiencing it, added to the sense of a special and personal journey. We were cut off for much of the time and we had no choice but to be where we were one hundred percent, without diluting the uniqueness of our experiences. Words couldn't have expressed how I felt at the time, and I was happy not to have to confine the spaciousness of where we were and what we felt with words.

One year on it seems a shame not to have shared. We have posted about the Outer Hebrides and received some appreciative comments, so we're going to at least post some photos from last summer, from time to time.


Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Gorgeous Cheddar Gathering

The Spring Gathering of UKAirstreamers in Cheddar was a very happy event. We are only now getting the chance to write and post pics because we used up our monthly internet bandwidth in the lead up to it and have been out of touch since. Such is the nomad's lot, dependent on mobile broadband.

Firstly, thank you so much to those who made it to Cheddar. It was, as always, a joy to watch you all arrive and to see you all circled in glorious, silveryness. For reasons that are far too tedious to go into here, we had delays in confirming the arrangements and that meant that some old friends had previous commitments. You were missed, but we are looking forward to seeing you in September.

We arrived a day early so that we could be there to welcome everyone. It was our first journey since November. After six months in one place the process of packing up and travelling with the trailer felt almost new again, with the flutter of nervousness that goes with wondering if you've forgotten to batten, check and switch on, off or over. There were some fairly narrow roads through the Somerset villages on the way to Cheddar so the pace was steady. And when we arrived we set up and enjoyed having an enormous field all to ourselves. We got out the Moon Chairs, cracked open a couple of bottles of the local beer and watched the sun set in eager but chilled-out anticipation of the next day's arrivals.

On the Friday it was exciting to welcome the arrival of each trailer, watching them glint and trundle steadily across the field towards us. In the end we had eight Airstreams, with the agreeable mix of familiar and new faces that we like so much. All but one of the trailers were new European models. Glynis and Pete were flying the flag for vintage in their 1964 Bambi II. Come on you vintage Airstreamers! We are looking forward to seeing more of you in September. We love the new models, we bought one after all, but the oldies have such individual character and heaps of history.

We pitched ourselves in a circle, nose to tail and enjoyed being a little Airstream village for a few days. The sun shone every day and the weekend was very relaxed with lots of chatting, a bit of sunbathing and some sharing of shady awnings. We caught up with old friends and made new ones. The cameras were out, niggles, annoyances and modifications were compared. Some Airstreamers whose trailers were not ready for the trip came without for the day on Saturday, and we all mucked in with the barbecue in the evening.

Thanks again for turning up, for sharing stories, experience, tools, barbecues, fire pits, and most importantly, camaraderie and laughs.