There are so many titles I want to give this blog post:
A false start
Van life to 5-star
One night stand ( lol)
One night wonder
Go with the flow
Keeping it real
Life’s what happens while you’re busy making plans
But after all the pondering it’s called:
I was beyond excited Tuesday night to head to Melbourne to collect our new Jayco campervan. It had been 7 months since I fell in love with Frankie Dean (a Fiat Ducato) at the caravan and camping show, and I had been working hard – really hard – to pull it all together. The dream was becoming a reality, and I was a barrel of nerves, excitement and wonder.
I had decided to take Harper with me to be my ‘navigator’ and share the first journey , while Gem stayed with her Dad. (The thought of 3-year-old Gem listening to a 4-hour hand over at Jayco quickly made me realise it wouldn’t work!)
With a lift to the airport by a dear friend and neighbour – who humoured me through my nervous, excited 4.30 am babble – off we flew bright and early to Melbourne. It was a quick flight, followed by a drive out to the Jayco Dandenong factory with a fab fella called George who educated us on cars, skydiving and building businesses.
We had the best 4 hours at Jayco … Everyone was so friendly and helpful and happy to explain everything to Harper and I. And there’s a shop there too, where you can get Jayco accessories and campervan goods; it was an eye opener – toilet additives, hoses for this and that, even Jayco stubby coolers. Some introductions, paperwork and a cuppa, and next thing we are donning high vis and safety goggles, and getting introduced to Angelo, our teacher of all things Frankie.
We learnt about all the ins and outs and ups and downs and opens and closes of Frankie Dean. I was bursting with happiness – and also aware that there was a lot to learn and many manuals of reading to be done.
Then the time came …
Time to hit the road!
We headed out with a toot toot and we were doing it … really doing it ! Tears trickled down my cheeks – tears of joy, hard work and gratitude – then next minute, I was tackling Melbourne traffic, swearing, and big trucks were roaring past. I was out of my comfort zone, but I was doing it ! Sitting tall, proud, capable; then nervous again, like the beginner I was! All the feels … feeling all of them …
Visions of the future flashed before me … The girls and I in the van, cruising along, music playing , laughter – I knew in my heart of hearts, this was the beginning of many AdVANtures !!
Frankie drove like a dream. We wound our way up towards Daylesford and the landscape changed – country roads , bunnies, all so idyllic.
Next thing – hang on – was that a noise ? A new car noise? Was that normal?We arrived at the lovely Daylesford Holiday Park, the kindest hosts making us feel so welcome and guiding me as I learnt to reverse with ease (yay!! Fear overcome on day one). We plugged into the power, and we were doing it!!
Our evening consisted of card games and cuddles – and some rolling in and out of the awning – who knew that could be so fun!! Then it was time for a cosy sleep.
I had decided to give Fiat roadside assist a call just to check on the noise. I was also catastrophising in a big way … how could this be?! Why me?! No way! What if this is really bad?! Arghhh …
From here on in, our drive home in Frankie Dean took a different turn … a turn of events that has resulted in a new attitude … and from the wise words of Dawn, who I called to arrange pick-up from the airport later (yes, we flew home!) … ‘This is the dream, you’re living it, it’s not separate from life it, it just IS life’. And then it Dawned on me (see what I did there?) … and a new feeling washed over me, like a movie, an attitude shift …
Harper suggested we take a walk by the Daylesford lake while we headed back to meet the tow truck. It is the most amazing lake you have ever seen. We took the lake path, and, at the last turn, 17 little fluffy ducklings appeared! The reflections in the water were dreamy – so much beauty we couldn’t believe it. It was overwhelming; we soaked it all up, breathed it all in.
Next came a trip in a tow truck with the best driver, who gave us the tow-truck tour of Melbourne, and with whom we discussed everything from motorbikes to war, to the population of each state in Australia, to family life and children.
Then we met with the Fiat folk, who mothered us and organised our accommodation and a way to get home in time for Harper’s netball grand final. As well as fixing Frankie up, of course.
Then Jayco, amazing! Checking in with us, organising to send Frankie over to us as soon as his adjustment has been made …
While we we were waiting, we chatted to the woman in the waiting room with us – and her dog. She was travelling in a Ducato too, and she shared stories and gave me a mini lesson in using WikiCamps, while we played with her dog. It filled our waiting time so delightfully, it didn’t feel like we were waiting – just travelling .
I realised, this is all part of it , all part of the journey.
Then that night in Melbourne, we walked along Southbank, had Vietnamese salad for dinner, a swim in the hotel pool, and good conversations in the spa with fellow guests .
I am quickly reminded how wonderful, helpful, kind and connected humans can be.
Some advice I was given by a much loved friend when I travelled to London back in my 20s – ‘ talk to strangers’ – never rang more true. What could have been a complete low became a time of letting go – of expectations, of the idea that things have to be a certain way.
And here we are flying home ! Who would have thought … Frankie Take Two will be next week.
Stay tuned x