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Airstream Rally

Words by Emma Edwards

Emma Edwards is also known as Miss Bamboo, her alter ego and reproduction vintage clothing label. She has been on the ‘vintage scene’ since 1983 and adores mid century style and airstream adventures.

I’ve always had a certain wanderlust. As a child I would be the one in trouble for playing that bit too far away and as a teen… well you could have just tried to stop me! I was a young 1960s mod girl of the early and mid 80s, always seeking adventure from my small hometown of Portishead. I would happily spend hours working out how to get to various areas of Bristol and Weston-super-Mare, to meet new likeminded sub cultural friends: mods, cool 69 skins and at times rockabillies. The pinnacle of teen excitement… The ‘vintage’ scene before vintage was even used as a term! Not afraid of the unknown, yet hoping I wouldn’t miss those landmarks scribbled down on notepaper from a hurried phone call in the local smelly phone box! Pre mobile phone days, it was always a risk going to those unknown areas, hoping that the new mate you’d made the week before would be there to meet you, that you’d find that elusive spot where the ‘Redland’ or ‘Weston’ mods hung out. The risk was high then, no communication means once out on the streets, would you make it before dark?

From my first forbidden scooter rally aged 15, travel was always on my agenda and travelling the UK and at times Europe, to the various seaside locations for numerous mod and scooter rallies of the 80s and 90s, gave a sense of excitement and freedom. Fast-forward into the 21st century and a new found love for the 1940s scene, alongside the 50s rockabilly scene that I had always partly toyed with.

With working for all of my adult life, along came a steady income and more means to travel. In 2011, I set up my business ‘Miss Bamboo’, selling reproduction vintage 1940s and 50s clothing and met my alter ego. The travel concept was embedded into Miss Bamboo with the idea of the mid-century socialite on her voyages across the Pacific – from the USA across to the East. Miss Bamboo’s aim was to evoke the glamour of the golden age of travel: ladies accompanied by off duty forces in the Pacific, holidaying in exotic locations in the post war boom of the tourist industry. As Miss Bamboo, I have been lucky enough to take some of those very adventures.

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Since my partner Nigel (aka Big Bamboo) and I bought our airstream three years ago, our adventures have taken on a new guise and a compulsion to ‘live riveted’, a fascination with life on the road. Our very first airstream adventure took us all the way to Spain and back, christening our Globetrotter with a mere 2000 miles or more.

Of course, whatever journey we take or adventure we make, we seek out places and things of ‘vintage interest’. I hope over the coming months to be able to share with you some of these adventures whether big or small, near or far and hope you will enjoy reading my column on the vintage travel adventures of Miss Bamboo! Perhaps you will be inspired to visit new places too.

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This summer we were pleased to be part of the inaugural ‘WBCCI Europe’ airstream rally in France, complete with opening ceremony and raising of the WBCCI Europe flag. (Wally Byam Caravan Club International). Wally Byam was a pioneer in travel trailer manufacturing and the founder of Airstream; the term ‘caravan’ meaning a ‘convoy travelling together’ as opposed to a mobile home! The WBCCI, a club for airstream owners, had previously existed, only in America, until last year when the European branch was formed. If you’ve ever spotted an airstream with big red numbers on the front or back, they are the insignia of WBCCI membership!

It was held at Belrepayre Airstream and Retro Trailer Park, in the middle of the French countryside near Manses and interestingly up a long, single track road. You have to liaise with owners Perry and Coline and other airstreamers, on making your arrival. You may even need an escort perhaps or someone to stand at the top of the hill to stop traffic while you make the ascent as two airstream rigs or a tractor meeting half way up in different directions could end in major catastrophe!

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On reaching the top however, you can only behold in wonder this amazing and unique caravan site, where only airstreams or vintage caravans are allowed to pitch up alongside the treasure trove of airstreams from the 40s to 70s available for rental. With the afternoon sun glinting off the metallic roofs, it was really quite stunning. It was fascinating to explore all the interesting corners, where vintage vehicles and Americana memorabilia sat side by side. There was also the amazing Apollo Lounge bar, an actual airstream complete with 50s aluminium bar stools where we sat listening to Perry’s extensive collection of vinyl, from the 50s, 60s and 70s.

There is a cool laid-back feel to this place; almost a 1970s hippy vibe meets the 1950s. The clientele was mixed, but overall a cool ‘alternative’ crowd: rockabillies, burlesque girls, 50s car enthusiasts with a smattering of 60s lovers and a more boho crowd.

In the reception (also an actual airstream of course), I came across an amazing collection of vintage travel pennants. I have now been enthused to start my own collection, which I feel will make an interesting alternative to the bunting that can often be seen adorning vintage caravans. Maybe one day I’ll have enough to showcase here and to adorn our new airstream awning when it arrives from America!

Image credits are: WBCCI Europe Photo Library and www.lewisphotography.co.uk

Lisa Harrison

Lisa Harrison

Lisa is the Deputy Editor of Vintage Life Magazine and Publisher at Dragoon Publishing. She is avid bookworm, collector of vintage homeware, loves travel, lazy weekends away and eats way too much cake!