Illustrated Letters 8 and 9; off to Germany and California

I have embarked on a challenge to revive the art of letter writing by composing one a day for the year. But not just the written word, each one is illustrated with a Ziggy elf.

Here are letters 8 and 9 for two lovely people who agreed to join in. Firstly a little elf is off to Germany to live with Geralin, creator of The Colourful Sketchbook. She deftly produces with simple lines delightful images. Take a look. I can’t show the contents of the letter, it’ll spoil the surprise for Geralin, but I’ve illustrated the envelope. Somebody had to get a Skinny Dog and Geralin is the first.

Letter number 9 is going all the way to Southern California. I wish I could squeeze into the envelope and bask in some of that lovely sunshine. But I don’t think Hansi would be too keen. He is the recipient of the latest letter and creator of Hansi’s Hallucinations. How can I describe his blog? Do you know, I don’t think I could find the words to adequately do it justice. His tag line is “The Drawings and Rants of a Mad Man” which does it nicely. Head on over and say hello. Hansi gets a VDub Splitty ‘cos campervans and California go hand in hand.

 

Illustrated letter 8 Geralin

 

Illustrated letter 9

But if I am to complete 365 I require some help. I need more people to send them to. If you would like an Illustrated Letter you’ll find the details here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The SkinnyDogs; Most Popular in 2012

Mischa and Honey Skinny Dog are little Miss Popular. Who knew? The WordPress helper-monkeys that’s who. According to their annual number crunching stats report my post The Skinny Dogs Sketched and Tattooed received the most views of the year. I haven’t told them, it would just go to their heads. But it just goes to show, dogs trump elves in the blog world.

The top search term to find me was skinny dog, Nick Sharratt, Nick Sharratt drawings, illustrations for Jaqueline Wilson (they are by Nick Sharratt) and My Sister Jodie (illustrated by Nick Sharratt). Probably because I wrote this piece about my admiration for….Nick Sharratt. So if I draw the skinny dogs Nick Sharratt style I wonder what will happen. Hmmmmm…..I feel a blog post coming on.

All the best to everyone in 2013 and especially all those who have taken the time to view, like, or pass comment on the quite frankly ridiculous blog posts here at Ziggy Shortcrust. I leave you with the very popular Skinny Dogs.

 

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Hey Honey, prick up your ears. We were the most popular thing on Ziggy’s blog.

 

 

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Whoop! I could just jump for joy.

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Stop jumping and head for the sofa to pose.
Ok, just as soon as I’ve unstuck my tongue from my nose.

 

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Hello! Anybody out there admiring me?

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I laugh in the face of elves. Hahahaha!

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Campervan Skinny Dogs

Are Skinny Dogs more popular than elves? You decide.

Mist, Mint and a Mini Cooper S

The weather up North has been fantastic this weekend and I was lucky enough to be able to enjoy it with friends in Northumberland.

It started with early morning mist in the Coquet Valley.

Ready chilled mint growing wild in the hedgerow

Autumn colours.

Local wildlife.

Hoare frost on the car roof.

The stunning Cheviot Hills.

Some jolly fine classic vehicles.

including my mate’s newly restored Mini Cooper S

And finished off with a beautiful sunset.

But even though I was out in the growing gloom, I still didn’t meet the Simonside Duargar

How did you spend your weekend?

29 Faces in September; Campervan faces

Blogging in a campervan isn’t easy. I had no access to WI-FI at Busfest or on the campsite at Stratford upon Avon Racecourse, so couldn’t post up any faces. Now I’m back at the fabulous Mason’s Campsite and modern communication technology is back.

I haven’t done any Five Minute Faces for a while so here are a fab four to keep me up to speed with the 29 Faces in September challenge…..and not an elf in sight.

 

And they are all people that I met on my campervan tootle to Busfest.

Fact or fiction?

You decide.

 

29 Faces in September #7 and #8; Inky Lovelies

These are faces 7 and 8 in the 29 Faces in September challenge.

Firstly a massive thank you for all the likes and comments for the previous 6. It’s proving to be a challenge in more ways than one given that I am camping in Sunny the Splitty while trying to blog.

We are about to set off to the Three Counties Showground in Malvern for Busfest; the biggest festival in Europe that is just VW campervans. It’s the first time for us and I’m assuming I won’t have WI-FI or much else come to that so here are two faces to keep me up to speed.

They were drawn in biro in a notebook that I found in Sunny yesterday. It had gone mouldy with condensation and I liked the effects.

 

Campervan Tootle; The Scarborough Stitchers

I recently took a campervan tootle to North Yorkshire, primarily to spend the weekend with my Mum. But it also gave me the chance to have a look at an exhibition of embroidered work, The Scarborough Stitchers, of which my Mum is a member.

This was the first journey I have embarked upon with Sunny the Campervan where speed became an issue. As you know, campervan tootling is all about taking it easy; life via the B roads. But not when the speedometer cable has snapped. It wasn’t that I was afraid of breaking the speed limit, Sunny is happiest trundling along at 50mph, but if I went over 55mph I ran the risk of blowing up the engine! It was like a low-budget version of “Speed”. However, being the top-notch tootler that I am I arrived safely at St Hilda’s church, Ravenscar, engine intact.

The Scarborough Stitchers are a group of ladies who….. stitch! They create beautiful pieces in a diverse array of embroidery techniques, from stump work to gold work and everything  in between.

St Hilda’s Church

View from St Hilda’s toward Robin Hoods Bay

 

Considering how far off the beaten track the exhibition was the little church was full to brimming with curious visitors examining each and every piece. The  work wasn’t for sale, because if it was I would have had one of those little bags, it was a showcase of extraordinary talent from a group of extremely friendly Yorkshire ladies. Who, incidentally, bake the most delicious banana cake and brew the best pot of tea.

 

Dub Lovin’ at Druridge Bay

Today was my first VW event of the summer (I use the word summer loosely). It’s the third annual Mighty Dub Fest held at the very beautiful Druridge Bay in Northumberland. Not surprisingly it was very muddy under foot but I was wearing my knee-length Doc Martin’s and was invincible.

The very first stand we approached sold rustic wrought ironwork, but we had to scarper as Skinny Dog#1 ate the roast vegetables on the wrought iron kebab display. A few stalls along and Skinny Dog#2 squatted down in front of the pie and pickle stand causing a lot of “eews” and “urghs” from passers-by. So we high tailed out of the festival grounds to have a look at the vans in the camping area beside the lake.

We then felt brave enough to re-enter the festival as the dogs had by now shared a Northumbrian pie, snaffled scraps of food out of black bin liners and pooped for England around the lake. (please note we do collect the poo and dispose of it responsibly).

Probably because of the appalling weather not as many vans had turned up this year. So, the following photos are a mix from today and last years event. See if you can spot the difference.

This is Lulabelle, a van full of cakes…..scrummy!

A time for reflection.

Festival boots and paws.

 I talked about herbs in my van in a previous post……so here are todays fresh bunch; oregano, chives and thyme. Not that we did any cooking today.

And finally, the test of a British summer festival; mud proof footwear.

Why Name Your Campervan?

When I first started exploring the idea of owning a campervan I scoured classic car magazines, checked out club forums and chatted to other campervan owners. It didn’t take long to notice that owners referred to their much beloved mode of transport not as “it” or “the van” but by a given  name. This is not usual among modern car owners. I’ve never been introduced to Freddie the Ford Focus or Albert the Astra. Perhaps it is because a name suggests character, something that is missing from most Euro Boxes. On the other hand an old campervan is personality plus.

Driving a campervan is so unlike driving a modern vehicle. There’s the added frisson at the outset of a journey; will she start, will she get you from A to B and back again? Once on the road your senses come alive and you can actually hear the engine; taste the air as it rushes in through all those little gaps you’ve yet to seal; feel your biceps tightening as you tussle with non-power assisted steering; see all those envious faces as you hurtle by at 45 miles per hour; smell burning engine oil. Come on, your faculties won’t be assailed like that in a poncy Picasso!

A campervan is so much more than just a vehicle; you’re driving with a pal and as with all best friends not always reliable. Why only the other day on a trip with my buddy, the door handle came off in my hand, the front number plate dropped down and the windscreen wipers packed in. But we laughed. Yes, you’ve gone and bought yourself a living breathing companion and that companion deserves a name.

But how to choose one?

Native Americans watch the personality and quirkiness emerge in their children, and then choose a name that reflects this. However, that way could lead to your campervan being referred to by a string of expletives. You could use your number plate as inspiration. My first car was a mini whose reg was POG; so endearing. The second, a highly unpredictable mini Clubman estate, had an equally influential number plate; FKU suited it down to the ground. Some owners loiter around homes for the elderly in order to stimulate their imagination resulting in a lot of Maud’s, Ethel’s and Olives. Admittedly these are elderly vehicles so a pre-war moniker (or should that be Monica?) are quite apt.

What name has been given to my chum? He’s a VW Splitscreen and the previous owners had dubbed him Harvey however,  inspired by the pale yellow paintwork and cheery faces of passers-by we christened him Sunny. The perfect name for a bright, radiant and downright brilliant old friend.

If you own a campervan or old classic vehicle what name have you given yours?

Campervan Tootles; Living via the “B” Roads

Three things about me;

 

1. I love old things and salivate over patina, rust and layers of flaking paint. Nothing makes my heart beat faster or my pupils dilate quicker than the words “vintage” and “retro”.

2. I thrive on small space living, rising to the challenge to make one room work three ways.

3. I have no interest in speed and adopt a leisurely attitude to most things.

 

 It was, therefore, inevitable that I would one day own a campervan.

 

The seeds of lust were sown many years ago while on holiday in Devon with Tall Man. We ended up chatting with a couple who pulled alongside us in their campervan on a cliff top carpark. Tall Man was all about the oily parts and I drooled over the interior. Mellow wooden cabinets with flip down this and pop up that. Vintage melamine picnic gear, chintzy curtains, piles of cushions and crocheted   

blankets. Most intriguing of all was a dashboard vase stuffed with a bunch of herbs. “For cooking with” explained the lovely lady flipping down a two ring stove housed on the back of the door.  I learnt there and then that campervan cooking is not baked beans and Cadburys Smash. For the rest of the holiday I could think of nothing but bud vases and cunningly concealed kitchen equipment.

 

Sometime later and fate intervened.

 

Tall Man was travelling back from a trip away and pulled into a service station somewhere in the midlands. There he met a young couple with a sunny yellow campervan. They were looking to sell it. Email addresses were exchanged and on his return Tall Man enquired after the van. Yes, came the reply, it’s yours if you want it. We took a train journey the length of England to Brighton to meet a 1965 right hand drive, primrose yellow and white VW Splitscreen campervan complete with cut glass bud vase. We both fell head over heels in love.

We drove the newly christened Sunny home; a terrifying 12 hour journey along the motorways at 45 miles an hour with the steering wheel slowly but inexorably tightening. And so it began…..

The steering box needed to be rebuilt with a full set of kingpins, drag links and more ball joints than you could shake an oily mechanic at. First big trip away and the engine over heated and the “little end” blew up so starting an on-going relationship with breakdown men.

And what is a campervan like to drive? At 5’ 2 my feet only just reach the peddles and the hand brake is such a stretch to release that I have to sieve my breasts through the steering wheel. Lack of power assisted steering results in well-toned biceps and there are only two gauges to worry about; petrol and speedometer.

 Sunny lives and breathes.  He chooses his own trajectory while you fight with the wheel to keep him in a straight line. He honks his horn when he feels like it, grinds to a halt for no apparent reason and when Imaginary Daughter suggested he was gay he flung open the passenger door while in motion scaring her witless.

But we wouldn’t part with him. Fellow campervan owner @ChalkyPilot puts it so well in his blog Off the Beaten Track; the world looks that little bit happier from behind the wheel of a campervan. People’s faces light up with glee as we tootle by, they point, wave and even cheer. When we park up, people amble over, take Sunny’s photo, peer inside and ask “what’s it like to own a campervan?”….. just like we did all those years ago.

Campervan living means; an unhurried life via the “B” roads, enjoying the journey, discovering hidden gems, meeting other campervanners, summer shows, wellies, rock n roll beds and two ring cooking.

 

If you get the chance to own a campervan go for it. There are so many to choose from, not just VW’s. Take a look at My Cool Campervan for inspiration. Oh, and don’t forget to fill your bud vase full of herbs.