Experience vintage Airstream on the Isle of Wight
Ever wanted to try holidaying like they did in the 1950s? Well on the Isle of Wight <br/><br/>you can, as Kate Edwards experienced when she stayed in a vintage Airstream
The girls and I have just got back from camping. Or rather ‘Glamping’ (glamorous camping) as the cool kids are calling it.We stayed on the Isle of Wight, in the new des res of outdoor accommodation, a 1951 Airstream Spartanette, courtesy of Vintage Vacations, and now I feel (somewhat smugly) very ‘on trend’.Everyone’s camping these days. People from all walks of life are packing up of a weekend, driving to a new location and having an adventure, be it in a tent, a trailer or a caravan. With this in mind, we embarked on an adventure to Vintage Vacations, a Hi-de-Hi style holiday experience on the Isle of Wight.Step back in time Owners Helen (a former stylist) and Frazer Cunningham have created their guilty pleasure on the Island, which includes various shacks, bungalows and even a converted church to hire for a week or just a couple of days. “Everyone who visits here loves it,” says Helen, who founded the company in 2004, “it’s like stepping back in time, great for couples who want a different kind of mini-break or for families. There’s so much to do here and it doesn’t matter if you’re on a big or tight budget.”
Farming funAll of the pair’s accommodation is uniquely decorated and lovingly restored to its former glory, kitted out with quilted multi-coloured blankets, retro games and other quirky touches.We stayed on Great Stranden, a field next to a working farm, which houses six of the 10 trailers. Knowing that ferry food is definitely an acquired taste, Helen leaves scones, clotted cream and homemade jam for you on arrival. There’s even complimentary Babycham to drink as she runs through life on site and there’s a guide listing things to see and do on the Island. “Don’t worry if you haven’t researched the area,” she says, “the guide caters for everyone’s tastes and if you fancy fresh eggs in the morning, walk across the field where the farmer will sell you some.”From the outside, the Airstream looks like a silver bullet, an impressive block of steel against an agricultural backdrop. Step inside and you enter a cosy and warm bubble, complete with low lighting, an old cuckoo clock and special nooks and crannies filled with vintage delights for you and your guests to discover. The kitchen is simple (four ring gas hob, wipe clean surface) and tea and coffee is provided. The bedroom is snug, filled with cosy cushions and handmade quilts, there’s even a dressing table with an elegant hand held mirror, a hairdryer and various lady-like trinkets. Island delightsAfter a few hours exploring the trailer, singing along to the 1950s music provided and making friends with the neighbours, we ventured out to explore the Island; made up of very pretty, picturesque seaside towns, it’s fast becoming the trendy tripper’s best-kept secret. Vogue even named Ventnor, ‘the place to be seen in 2009’ – you can’t get a much better accolade than that.A short drive from the site you can find lots of idyllic country pubs, including Newport’s oldest, The Castle Inn, which as well as having a mouth-watering menu, boasts its own skittle alley and live music on Friday and Saturday nights.We spent most of our Saturday eating and drinking at the renowned Garlic Farm in Newchurch, owned and run by garlic guru Colin Boswell.
Shop ‘til you dropIsland shopping is as much fun as sightseeing. Fans of Liz Earle can visit her flagship store on Union Street in Ryde and although it’s much smaller than its counterpart in Chelsea, the range is just as extensive. As Liz is a native Islander you might even be lucky enough to spot her passing by. Also pay a visit to Joelle, on Cross Street, it is a boudoir of sensual and exotic gifts, perfect for someone special. Packing up was hard, particularly lugging the weekend’s worth of shower water across the field to drain and as the ferry left the Island we were genuinely sad to leave.Since we stayed the owners have moved site. In April, Vintage Vacations is now situated on Hazlegrove Farm, Ashey Road. It’s even larger than their previous address with all 10 of their trailers accommodated for in the field.A three-night stay in an airstream costs from �195. For more information, tel. 07802 758113 or visit www.vintagevacations.co.uk
A brief history of the AirstreamWally Byam founded the ‘Airstream’ in the 1920s. He built them in his LA backyard. After his reputation grew, Byam introduced the 1936 ‘Airstream clipper’. Designed to cut down on wind resistance and therefore save on fuel, demand for the model soared. Unfortunately for Byam, World War II caused an acute aluminium shortage, producing a lull for Airstream. However, when the war ended, the leisure industry boomed and Byam took full advantage of this. It goes to show people look after their trailers – 70 per cent of models ever made are still around.
Did you know?�—‹ A new species of cat-like dinosaur, yet to be named, was discovered on the Isle of Wight in 1988. �—‹ Bonchurch is the Island’s most preserved Victorian village, which attracted many writers and artists such as Charles Dickens and Karl Marx.�—‹ There are 21 tourists to every Island resident.
Not your cup of tea? Try these…Xoron Floatel Xoron is an 11ft two-deck floating guesthouse overlooking picturesque Bembridge Harbour and the beach. The ex-motor gunboat from the Second World War has been lovingly converted to three en-suite rooms and a 90ft guest house with television and sea views. Stay for �28 per person, tel. 01983 874596 www.xoronfloatel.co.uk Bank End Farm Sleep in a ‘moonlight’ or ‘stardust’ yurt, which is equipped with one double futon, two singles, a wood burning stove, floor cushions and colourful rugs. Each yurt has its own shower room/wc and comes with use of the shared kitchen and games room. Stay for three days from �195, tel. 01983 852649 www.bankendfarm.co.uk Isle of Wight Camper Van HolidaysHire a camper van and travel across the Isle of Wight, exploring hidden coves and beaches in style. Each camper is fully equipped for your break including linen, towels and even a welcome hamper with cake!Available to hire from �395 during peak season (June, July, August and September, Monday to Friday or Friday to Monday). Tel. 01983 852089 or 07855 431566 www.isleofwightcampers.co.uk