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  • Writer's pictureSarah

An introduction

Updated: Sep 14, 2020

Hello! Welcome to our first ever blog post! I hope you and yours have been safe during lockdown and coping ok. How bewildering to find ourselves living through The Great Human Pause. For us, this new disease was unsettling but it also indirectly brought the unexpected blessing of more time together at the farm. It also meant that with a newborn, we were missing family members like crazy who couldn't come near, and our Grand Plans for the Airstream project with a big fat capital G, though well-laid, were way-laid.

But, I should start at the beginning. I've always loved tiny spaces. Treehouses, 'forts' my siblings and I used to build in upturned sofas, polly pocket toys (90s kids am I right)?, trailers... So when Jack and I moved to our smallholding here in East Ayrshire in 2017 and realised we needed a further income stream to renew and maintain the property, I had a lightbulb moment. We needed a tiny house. We needed a charmed space others could occupy as they pass through, or linger to enjoy this lovely and curious part of Scotland. I wanted something special, unusual, foreign, challenging. Cue: an Airstream. I'd never stepped foot in one, but always admired them from a distance.. like, in the kinda way that you're on a bus and a handsome passenger embarks and you think 'oh hello you're nice.' Then you suddenly remember yourself and realise you're staring.

Now you know anything can be bought on eBay. That's where I first flirted with Stanley, as I've come to think of him, a 1978 Airstream Excella with a blue stripe down the side, parked down in England. It was just window shopping. That's what I told myself. But after speaking to Jack, and my dad who kindly offered to partner on the project, it was a goer.

So in July of that year, Stanley arrived in Galston cool as a giant American cucumber as he glided past the hedgerows of an ancient corner of Ayrshire and into our driveway. And then things got real. He was a bit of a Monet. Sexy from a distance, but up close, rusty in the bones and cloudy of eye. So Jack and I set upon the makeover with crowbars. A brown and beige blur of 1970s fixtures went flying out the door. Yes the kitchen sink too. And all this while newborn baby Mila was down for her naps. One thing which was not apparent from the photos when we bought Stanley online was that his windows were in really bad shape. The old tinting product between the double panes had disintegrated into something resembling fallen autumn leaves stuck inside the window. Not ideal for taking in the views.

We also soon realised that the rotten wooden subfloor at the tail end was sinister. Below it was the result of decades of water ingress. Parts of the steel frame were decaying or already gone. It was a suddenly a full ground-up restoration. That phrase sounds cute when George Clarke says it on Amazing Spaces. The reality was.. not so glamourous. what had we gotten ourselves into?! The revelation was probably the emotional low point of the build. But now, two years on and SO much has been done. I promise to write more about the different steps of the restoration in detail but seeing as this is just our first blog post I'll skim forward to this year.

So, our second daughter Suvi was born in early March. Yay! At that time we were so eagerly anticipating my parents coming from Canada to stay with us to celebrate their new grandchild and to help us finish the 'granny wagon' - as stanley is also known - which will be their home when they visit Scotland. My Dad is like, superDad and an engineer who can look at any DIY project out the corner of his eye and tame it in ten seconds flat. And at this point in the build I was weary after a long pregnancy and an even longer Scottish winter and we needed reinforcements! But alas, Covid put an end to all that. It also meant our amazing brother-in-law and Trailer-Mover-Extraordinaire Curtis wasn't able to come help us finally tow Stanley onto his permanent home in the woods. None of our friends could come. We were on our own. We had no clue how we could have the Airstream ready to host guests this summer as planned. It would have been an absolute disaster but obviously when a global pandemic's on, your priorities are abruptly reassessed; Plans put on hold if you were lucky. lives put hold - or worse - if you were not so lucky.

So obviously with Covid putting things into perspective keeping our babies and ourselves and others safe by isolating as much as possible became the most important thing, But we also didn't give up. In between diaper changes, restless nights and isolation blues, we grabbed the Airstream by the horns, (omg moving the trailer is a story in itself) and have been plugging away during lockdown. Often supplies became unavailable as retailers shut down and without essential items we found the build paralysed. We tried to get on with what COULD be done instead, like landscaping the site. So, after all that, today I feel so relieved and so happy that here in Scotland UK we are now tiptoeing out of lockdown and getting to try some of the things we probably took for granted. Haircuts, meals at restaurants, children getting to hug grandparents, gathering with friends or to worship, even staycations!? ;) These freedoms contribute to a natural sense of wellbeing, and I'm embracing them, carefully.

And specifically for the Airstream project it's meant that after a year in the planning, the trailer's eco-friendly sewage treatment plant arrived and has finally been installed! (More on that next time) but I truly never thought I'd be so excited to see a poo tank in all my life! There's some clunky symbolism in there somewhere about transformation I'm sure. I'll leave it to you to come up with the puns.

Cheers for now Neighbour.

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