Maiden Voyage

Wednesday 18th April 2018 was the day the St Roberts Rocket launched for the first time. I didn’t want to take the trip on my own, so I took my daughter; she supported me there and back by falling asleep. To be honest, I just needed someone to hear me swearing the whole time, so I wasn’t alone in my distress while driving a 23ft bright red caravan up the M1. We went to Rocket Caravans for 12:30 and hitched up. I attached my brand-new wing mirrors that cost £60 for an extra wide view. I positioned them successfully and I set off. I actually did really well considering I’d never driven a caravan on the road before.

My daughter had fallen asleep on the way back and as she woke I said ‘Lili, we are being followed by a red van’. She immediately sat up and looked alarmed, trying to look for the red van. I just burst out laughing. She told me off for being childish, however, like a true adult child, I waited about an hour or so and I did it again…she fell for it twice. I felt so proud of myself, not only was the trip going ok, but I had managed to laugh and trick my daughter.

The trip was three and a half hours, caravans can only drive 60 on a motorway and we also hit traffic. I was really nervous about getting the Rocket up the drive at home, I had been practicing the manoeuvre with a caravan and car I had made out of Lego. I just kept driving it up and down my imaginary drive. My husband said I was mad, but it made me feel better.

I was approaching the junction for home and I noticed my big expensive wing mirror wobbling a bit. I opened the window to see if it was loose, it seemed fine.  I approached my junction and the wing mirror fell off, it bounced on the road and hit two cars. I mean what do you do in that situation? I suppose Lego simulation can only get you so far! I just covered my mouth with my hand in horror. I left the junction and a guy in one of the car’s opened his window and said he needed my details because my mirror had hit his car. I was very obliging, to be honest I had reached my own band-width and I just needed to get home.

I got home and drove straight up the drive-way. I was so tired, I had tension in my back, but I was determined to unhitch and drink the bottle of champagne the manufacturers had given me before I left Kidderminster. Could I unhitch? No. It seems the bugger likes my car so much it doesn’t want to come away.

So, I’m into day two of my caravan just sitting attached to my car in the driveway and I keep moving it backwards and forwards and trying to unhitch like a crazy mad fool with ‘hitch’ disease. The worst thing is, that until the caravan is unhitched I can’t open my champagne, it’s just an internal rule in my head that forbids me to open it.

I think what I have learnt from this is that great ideas are great when they are in our minds, but great ideas need a great deal of work to pull off, more work than we sometimes realise.

There is a lot of ‘free flow’ in bringing about new ideas, all the preparation in the world and there are still things you can’t prepare for. Sometimes, we can’t do anything but cover our mouths in horror and just respond the best way we can at the time. Also, internal rules are rubbish, driving home in busy motorway traffic towing a huge red beast and then driving it straight up my narrow driveway entrance was a great achievement for me, why didn’t I drink the champagne? Did it taste any better when I had unhitched? No…it just tasted like champagne. It was already very stressful, and I made it more stressful by denying myself the acknowledgment of the thing I had achieved. Any athletes, business tycoons, mountain climbers or general perfectionists reading this may question my reasoning, after all trophies come at the end of the race, don’t they? Well a balanced mind is more important to me than any trophy, so I’m going to just drink champagne whenever I want to from now on.


Penny Rowe