I had a really funny conversation the other day with my friend Colin who had always wanted to own a Jaguar E-Type. No matter how many years passed, his hopes of ownership stayed strong. Then as middle age was starting to approach he finally treated himself to a test drive in the dream machine. Trying to bend down to fit into the front seat was the first sign that all was not going to go well. The steering wheel was pressing against his legs, he couldn’t see out the (tiny) windscreen and the gears were impossible to use. The drive went by in a blur of tension and discomfort, and the noise was unbearable. He finally came to a shaky stop and extracted himself from the small space and shook his head. The dream was dead.
The story rang a bell. Harvey the campervan was our dream travel vehicle for years. He was so cute, blue and bumbling and adorable, and we were so pleased to finally own one of these iconic beauties. But despite the happy smiles and waves from strangers as we trundled along, all too often the journey was pretty fraught. The engine was temperamental, the seats were uncomfortable and when the wind picked up, it was quite honestly terrifying. One fateful day on the motorway a gust of wind actually lifted Harvey up and set him back down again (thankfully in the right lane) but we were terrified. Not long after that we started to look out for a more solid and reliable van – and Hans came into our lives. The wind doesn’t bother him at all and Chris can even stand up straight in the back.
There’s something about dreams and reality – they don’t tend to match up. We close our eyes and sigh wistfully, but if the real world crashes into the picture it ruins everything. This is quite common, and it probably keeps us safe from disappointment. So why bother even trying to make dreams come true?
But sometimes stepping out of the dream and onto the path can bring incredible reward. Most of you know that five years ago Chris and I fulfilled a lifelong dream to run away in a van for a whole year. Hans carried us safely over hill and dale for sixteen thousand miles to see seventeen countries. And it was amazing. Yes, there were challenges, and it was hard to get going, but in the end I’m so glad we did it. No regrets.