Over the summer holidays I had a phenomenal experience. I repeated to everyone I told the story to, that, “Things like this just do not happen to me!” And I apologise in advance to beautiful Kieran and her husband Bernie, that this story took so very long to write. So, here goes…
Over the holidays my main goal was to find a caravan for my son, Demitri. He is in Year 11 at school and desperately needs his own space. I started looking on Gumtree and saw most vans were around $5000, which is really still too much for me. But I got the money together and started meeting the sellers and checking out their vans. It was a totally frustrating experience. The vans were either too wide or too damaged or too expensive or too whateverish! And then I spotted a little van on the internet, which ticked all my boxes – it seemed. It was narrow enough to fit down my driveway, it was really, really retro, it was not too expensive and I fell in love.
I rang the seller and she told me how much interest the van had generated and that (disappointingly) it was not actually in Melbourne but in Cobram, which is a three hour drive from Melbourne and quite near to Beechworth where the boys and I had been camping for a week. I’m thinking, “Oh No!” but then the seller, the extremely lovable Kieran, said to me, “There has been that much interest in the van, we are just gonna have to bring it down to Melbourne.” I’m thinking, “Cool!” and “Yes!” (Air punch).
So, on an extremely hellish Australian summer’s day, with extraordinarly strong hot winds, Kieran tows her beautiful vintage caravan from Cobram to….? My phone rings. “Andie, I’m in Nagambie (about half way back to Melbourne) and this %&*#@ van has blown apart” Kieran is breathing heavily and nearly shouting but I’ve got to tell you, the swearier she gets, the more I’m loving her, “This van has been nothing but trouble. I’m ready to throw it in the tip. The side has completely blown off and the air vent on top is gone! If I get this van back to Melbourne you can have it for free!”
Please God. Melbourne. Get it back. Please.
Enter Bernie. I think Bernie is some sort of engineer, so pretty clever with rivets and such things. He got the van back to Melbourne. Bless him. So I make my way to their place. And I’ve got to tell you, at this point, they live about four doors down from where I used to rent as a University student. I felt like I KNEW these people. I quickly check out the van, which is out the front of their house and Bernie is showing me, but I didn’t even really see it because it was free. I kind of stopped caring what it was like. I fell in love. And love, you know the rest, is blind.
Yep. She’s an art teacher, like me. She has pictures of caravans on her wall, like me. She loves retro, like me. And she was just beautiful. Thank you Kieran, for your big heart. She told me how, after her mum, Monica, passed, she used some of her inheritance to buy the caravan. She painstakingly began to renovate the interior and then lent the van to her teen-aged niece in Cobram. And here we were. So, I promised Bernie and Kieran I would name the van after Kieran’s mum, Monica, the woman who bore many children and couldn’t suffer fools.
Today, with the help of my neighbours Maric, David, and Alexander, and my children, Daniel and Demitri, and my house guest, Af, we finally managed to squeeze Monica into the back yard, where I can begin to renovate her. It was a process which so much evoked memories of giving birth I couldn’t actually watch. While they all forced wider the fence posts, and etc. I went and prepared dinner.Isn’t this a terrific story of community and generosity? I love it. Thank you so much Kieran and Bernie. Lovin’ ya. And Monica. As you know, I have collected a variety of retro gems to deck her out. XXX