Month: June 2016

Where Patrick was born

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(article poor in terms of pics and numbers, by directives of the brand 😉 Volkswagen has many factories in Germany. Each of the brand’s models has its own production line. The California is manufactured in Hanover. You guessed it… that’s our van Patrick’s model. 😉 That was all the motivation we needed to head to Lower Saxony…. and finally learn about where our house on wheels came from! Patrick was going back to his birthplace to meet his new brothers and sisters. When we arrived, lots of people were in front of the factory’s gates. It must have been time for the shift change. Franck greeted us in his white coat. We exchanged a few words but it was difficult to communicate because he doesn’t speak a word of English and we don’t speak a word of German. Luckily, we were saved by Katarina who is an English-speaking trainee! She was prepared with a pre-translated list of technical vocabulary words to describe what we would be seeing. The four of us set out to follow the path …

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Dreams On Wheels

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“It’s so clean and new it looks like a luxury hospital”, said Mattijs when he visited Patrick. Well, when you compare it to his van it’s obvious that our interior is a little lacking in personalisation. Stickers, flags, boas, cacti, coconuts, Hawaiian dancers… the van, a 1989 Volkswagen Caravelle, is full to the brim with little treasures, souvenirs from his travels. Mattijs bought it empty and completely renovated it. From the engine to the seats, the furniture to the sunroof, he did everything himself – and you can tell. We’re impressed with his work, and he is impressed with the equipment and technology in our van, he called it “the transformer”. He was bitten by the road trip bug in Australia after staying there for 6 weeks in a rented van. When he got back to the Netherlands he decided to buy his own to fulfil his dreams of becoming an adventurer. In September 2014 he found what he was looking for and spent 7 months restoring it. He test drove the machine for 5 …

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150 horses across the Channel

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Victoria and Richard live in southern England, in the little village of Elsted, north of Portsmouth. Their lovely home is surrounded by apple trees and huts built by their two little twins Beatrice and Daisy. We met in Mull, Scotland during a sevens rugby tournament. And they were kind enough to invite us to stop by their place for a barbecue during our trip south. Richard and his brother manage a jewellery shop in London. He told us that two days from now, he would be wearing his top hat and tails to present a brooch to THE QUEEN for her 90th birthday. To us, the royal family is part of the unchanging English folklore that surprises and thrills us. No matter what, it’s quite classy! But before this royal meeting, there’s a horse race at Goodwood. And Victoria and Richard have invited us to go with them! It will be a glamorous evening at the racetrack, starting with a six-course meal then dancing to the rhythm laid down by an international DJ. We are …

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A chocolate enigma in Pittenweem

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In the small harbour town of Pittenweem on the east coast of Scotland, there is a link between Zimbabwe, a secret key and a sacred cave. The first clue: Pittenweem means “place of the cave”. After asking the townsfolk and passers-by for directions, we find an iron gate in a steep and narrow road a few metres from the harbour. The words “St. Fillan’s Cave” are carved above the gate. Peeking through the bars, we can see a few steps, then darkness. Only a key allows visitors to enter. According to a small sign, the key can be found at 9 High Street. The treasure hunt continues. 9 High Street turns out to be a chocolate shop, “Cocoa Tree Cafe”. A popular spot, full to capacity. We ask the owner if she can tell us more about the famous key. Her face lights up, and Sophie the chocolate lady fumbles in a drawer, then hands us the key in exchange for £1. “Don’t expect anything too exciting, it’s a very small cave. But it is …

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The courage of the (monster) hunter

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In 1970, when he was seven years old, Steve’s parents took him on holiday to Loch Ness. There, he learnt about the legend of Nessie, and became obsessed. He would often go back on holiday or on an expedition, but never saw anything. His responsibilities eventually caught up with him and he became manager of the family business, then the owner… But in 1991 he decided to pursue his dream. He left his wife and his job, sold his house, bought and repaired an old van (previously used as a mobile library), and set off for Loch Ness, in search of Nessie. Slightly mad, you might say. But to us, he is courageous. Courageous enough to leave everything behind and follow his instincts, rely on hope and end up with no regrets. And so, for the past 25 years, Steve has been a full-time Nessie hunter. For the first 10 of those years he drove his van around the loch, exploring every nook and cranny. He even made a film for the BBC, “Desperately Seeking …

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Islander [2/2] – honesty & rugby

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Tom, Flora and their two children live in Laggan, just a kilometer away of Lochbuie and the farm. Before moving to the Isle of Mull, Tom and Flora managed a company offering classic Volkswagen camper vans from the 60s and 70s for hire. “Happy Highlands Campers” was based in Inverness. Flora managed the 4 vans and Tom carried out the repairs. The couple are true fans of the roadtrip concept and are delighted to tour our van, “Patrick”. They settled in Lochbuie five years ago. Tom helped his father manage the farm. He also told us about his former adventures, as a farmer in the Australian desert, as an engineer working in Antarctica for 18 months, as a wind turbine repair technician… Flora wears many different hats. She manages the rental annex and the two holiday cottages, she helps manage the abattoir on the island, she drives the local children to and from school, and she has opened an “honesty shop” in the former post office in Lochbuie. For this project, she brought together local craftsmen …

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