Saturday 5 November 2016

Wanderlust...Airstream Adventures to Belrepayre with the WBCCI Europe

Miss Bamboo is the new 'Travel Editor' and has a monthly column in Vintage Life Magazine. This blog  is a variation on the article featured in issue 71 Oct 2016. Vintage Life can be ordered online at

I've always had a certain wanderlust. As a child I would be the one in trouble for playing that bit too faraway and as a teen, well just try and stop me. 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 those 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 'piss smelling' 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 street, streets that were certainly no suburban haven....would you make it before dark?

From my first forbidden scooter rally age 15, travel was 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. 

 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 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. 

Since myself and partner Nigel (aka Big Bamboo) bought our airstream 3 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.

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!  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, requiring liaison with owners Perry and Coline and other airstreamers, on making your arrival. An escort perhaps or someone to stand at the top of the hill to stop traffic while one makes that ascent. Two airstream rigs or a tractor meeting half way up in different directions could end in major catastrophe!! 

On reaching the top however, you  can only behold in 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. It was fascinating to explore all the  interesting corners where vintage vehicles and Americana memorabilia sit side by side and of course 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 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 show case here and to adorn our new airstream awning when it arrives from America! 

Special thanks to Don Lewis and members of the WBBCI Europe for many of the photographs shown

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