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.

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.