Wait Just a Minute Mr Postman

Back in January I decided to revive the lost art of the hand written letter by writing a letter a day. I invited you to join in my challenge by emailing me your postal addresses so I could send out letters. But not just the written word; each one would contain an original Ziggy Elf. The promise of “a letter a day” has proved a little hard to keep up with but nonetheless over 70 letter elves have been dispatched right around the world, with many more ready to take flight.

However, even more wonderful, many of you have sent letters back to me. Beautiful, handwritten, illustrated letters often with decorated envelopes too.

Thank you so very, very much to everyone who has taken the time to reply. They are fabulously creative, fun and inventive. You are all so talented.

Many of the letters I have sent can be seen here. And if you want to join in with my challenge and receive your very own letter elf all the details are here.

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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.

 

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.  

    

Campervan tootle to York

I have a great affection for the medieval City of York.  My first taste of freedom from home was enjoyed there while studying on a Foundation Art course….and I met “Tall Man” within the stronghold of its ancient city walls. Actually, it was in the queue at the college canteen and it took nine years for him to pluck up the courage and ask me out.

The last 48 hours have been spent tootling in the campervan to York and back in order to see my father in law and his latest art exhibition. In a modern vehicle the outward journey takes about two hours. In an elderly vehicle that defies the laws of mechanics, well, you’re just delighted to arrive at all. Sunny the Splitty took it all in his stride despite gale force cross winds and, through no fault of his own, no visible form of heating.  This is unfortunate when tootling during the winter months especially as Sunny has many, shall we say, ventilation holes. Why, if you look carefully around the base of the clutch pedal you can find yourself mesmerised by the sight of the road’s surface speeding beneath you. But Tall Man and I know how to dress for such a journey.

We,ve got it all wrapped up!

Many layers for both travellers. Jeans tucked into hiking socks, two t-shirts, cardigan, denim jacket, canvas coat and hat for him. Double layered dress, two cardi’s, coat, thermal tights, thermal knee length socks, Doc Martin boots,woollen hat and travel blankets for her.

My father in law’s exhibition, at The School House Gallery looked fabulous. The gallery’s light, bright, airy space really brought out the colours in his work. Some of the reds and oranges were so vivid I could almost sense heat emanating from the canvas. Although this may have been a halucinatory effect due to my bodily thaw.

Sadly dogs, skinny or otherwise, were not allowed in the gallery, so while Tall Man appreciated his father’s art work I took the hounds for a trot into town. This was no easy task. Skinny Dog #2 always pulls ahead while Skinny Dog #1 trails behind. Add to this the realisation that my thermal tights were being pulled southward by my knee-high thermal socks and you have a recipe for panic. Top of Goodram Gate and into Kings Square and my knickers had slid below my buttocks with the tights in hot pursuit. Fortunately my double layered dress, two cardigans and coat were all knee length, so I risked lengthening my stride toward the nearest ginnel. York has many of these, its a Yorkshire word to describe an alleyway. Discreetly adjusting my underpinnings beneath so many layers of clothing while keeping two dogs from making a dash to the Hog Roast shop, was impossible. I successfully manouvered my socks from calf to knee bunching up the thermal tights into undulating wrinkles mid-thigh. In order to get a good grip on the tights I had to drop the dog leads to the ground and put my foot on them. There was nothing for it. I lifted up all the layers, exposing bare upper thigh, and yanked. Yorkshire folk, and I am one of them, must have a strong constitution (its the daily intake of freshly brewed tea, Yorkshire puddings, curd tart and pomfret cakes), because not one person ambling down the ginnel batted an eyelid. I scuttled out into The Shambles with the dogs and sauntered calmly back toward the gallery.

York was looking lovely. It’s narrow crooked streets twinkled with fairy lights as each shop and coffee-house tried to outdo its neighbour with glowing festive charm. However,it wasn’t long before my hosiery began its southerly descent once more but I didn’t care. I was so hot you could’ve roasted chestnuts on my cheeks. Either pair.