Mildred in her old home in Newcastle Emlyn
PictureBook Studios owner Jon tells the story of our trip to South Wales for our old girl Mildred…
One sunny lunch time in August 2017 whilst sat at my desk in PartyBooth Towers, I happened to be scouring through Ebay when something caught my eye. An old 2 berth caravan named ‘Mildred’. She was currently being used as a sewing room in her owner’s garden and was in need of a lot of TLC. I remember thinking how fab it would be to bring Mildred up to the north east and turn her in to a Vintage Shabby Chic Photo Booth! So without further ado, I placed a bid and got back to my work.
3pm came and as our photo booth staff arrived for their monthly training session my phone let off that all too familiar sound of a cash register…. I’d only gone and won Mildred!
I let off a loud gulp as the reality sunk in. I’d bought a caravan! Could I carry out the work needed? Is it possible to turn her in to a Photo Booth? How would I collect her? Where is she located? Is she road worthy/towable? I hadn’t towed anything before, in fact I didn’t even have a tow bar fitted to any of our vans. All questions I should have really asked myself before placing the bid, but that’s me!
The seller contacted me to give me the news that I had won the auction and that she needed Mildred collecting the very next day as she was going abroad. Her home was Newcastle Emlyn in South West Wales, a 6 hour journey from our head office.
Within one hour of realising a trip to South West Wales was imminent, I’d had a tow bar fitted to our trusty van ‘Smokey’, thrown a few things in an overnight bag and booked a farmhouse on Air B&B to stay before collecting Mildred the next morning.
I let off a loud gulp as the reality sunk in. I’d bought a caravan! Could I carry out the work needed? Is it possible to turn her in to a Photo Booth? How would I collect her? Where is she located? Is she road worthy/towable? ….. All questions I should have really asked myself before placing the bid, but that’s me!
By 7pm, me, Craig and Smokey were off on our travels to meet the newest addition to our photo booth family, giggling our heads off in the van as I questioned what I’d done. Had it been one of my crazy impulse buys like the time I bought 6 mannequins from the BHS closing down sale?
Following a long and tiring 6 hour journey we finally reached our accommodation, a quaint little farmhouse owned by Freda & Bob, a lovely old couple who couldn’t wait to show us the adjoining door from our bedroom into their bedroom. It’s safe to say that me and Craig didn’t sleep a wink that night!
We arose to breakfast on a red hot sunny morning, sat in front of a panoramic window overlooking the stunning Welsh Valleys. Now no situation is ever normal for us here at PictureBook PartyBooths and that morning was no exception! One by one, Freda and Bob’s sheep appeared from nowhere at our window and stared at us as we ate our breakfast! Had they never seen two native north east lads scoffing Frosties before? It’s at this point Craig turned to me and said…. “Jon, how the hell did we end up here?” Bellies filled, it was time to set off to finally meet Mildred.
On arrival, she was parked up in a very tight space in her garden at the side of an end terraced cottage, looking a bit sad and tired, surrounded by huge overgrown trees. It was clear to see she hadn’t been moved for a very long time. Inside, her eccentric owner had set everything up ready for a tea party. I sat inside, amongst the antique crockery and ornaments and smiled to myself as I envisioned how stunning and unique I was going to make her for all of our Brides and Grooms back home in the north east. Craig was outside doing all of the important stuff like checking she had wheels and a tow hitch and that she wouldn’t fall apart when we moved her.
I handed over my hard earned cash and started out on our long scary journey back home having had no experience of towing before. Shortly after leaving with Mildred in tow, Craig asked to stop off at a shop on the village high street. I obliged and headed off to find somewhere to turn around to pick him back up once he was ready. Easy…right? Wrong!! 10 miles out and I still hadn’t found anywhere to turn around. Craig was calling me but I didn’t have my hands free connected so I couldn’t answer. Craig thought the worst! Had I crashed? Had Mildred become unhitched from the van during transit? Had Jon stopped off to say good bye to Freda and Bobs sheep? Finally a godsend…. I came across a roundabout that I could successfully turn around to head back the 10 miles into Newcastle Emlyn to pick a very concerned Craig up and start on our way home. Note to oneself, when towing a caravan, you can’t just do a quick u-turn!!
I let out a big sigh and thought…. what an absolute heap of sh**e! …I’ve only gone and bought Green Grass’ caravan from the TV show Heartbeat!!!
I drove with a big smile on my face that day and a huge sense of pride as I towed my lovely old girl behind me. I’ve bought an absolute diamond here I thought to myself. However, after pulling in to a motorway service station for a coffee, I parked up next to some stunning state of the art caravans, I stood back and looked at Mildred, with her door hanging off its hinges, I let out a big sigh and thought….what an absolute heap of sh**e! …I’ve only gone and bought Green Grass’ caravan from the TV show Heartbeat!!!
Never the less, I had a vision and I knew how stunning she could be. I tried telling this to my wife Joanne as we pulled up on the drive and she broke out in fits of laughter!
12 long months followed where every bit of my spare time was dedicated to Mildred. She had to be rebuilt inside and out, resealed, repainted, rewired and then finally, a custom built photo booth built inside. May 2017 all work was complete and she was finally ready to make her debut appearance at her very first wedding fair at Wynyard Hall to much acclaim. She has gone on to become one of our most sought after photo booths nationwide and where ever we take her, she is the centre of attention.