By The Captain - Jonathan Williams
I had just secured the best pitch in the world at Freshwater West; I was simply over the moon. The fact that I only had 4 weeks to find a trailer to become the flagship of the Pembrokeshire Beach Food Company, Café Môr, and that I had no money, seemed to me small details.
I had an idea and a lorry load of enthusiasm. So I got myself my old trusty 0% credit card and hit eBay. Thankfully when I phoned the credit card company to increase my limit I had a lovely conversation with a young chap in India who seemed all too glad to up my limit to £10,000 (Disclaimer, I do not recommend taking out large sums of credit without careful thought and advice). Now the world was my oyster, though it did become quickly apparent that any decent food trailers cost £20K plus. However this did not deter me, and after days of eBay scrolling I suddenly saw her, slightly rusted, overly greasy and a touch tired, but I saw the beauty and strength within. She was a classic Burger trailer with some sea blue lines and blue is my favourite colour!
I waited, heart pumping as the eBay clock counted down, bids started to come in but still I waited, paused silently on the mouse button, 30secs, 20secs, 10 seconds to go, I went in with my killer bid. The screen went white, frozen in time, I refreshed, refreshed, and refreshed again and then those wonderfully black happy words came up in green: You Won This Auction.
£4562 for this dreamboat of a trailer, ok I hadn’t actually seen her in real life but, again, mere details. Next job was to collect my prize. Bolton is a place I have never visited before and it didn’t look too far on the map, basically just past Manchester. Luckily my parents had just purchased a brand new VW T5 which had a tow bar and so that weekend I was on my way up north, to the sound of Rihanna and Diamonds in the Sky.
The Ukrainian flag colours shimmered brightly in the midday winters sun from an old petrol station that had been converted into a bustling car wash. And again, blue and yellow, two of my favourite colours had to be a good omen. I jumped out of the shiny new VW T5 and went running up to the nearest employee, who kindly directed me to HQ. I knocked excitedly and heard a deep throaty grunt, which I took as a ‘hello please come in’.
The owner was relaxing on an old beaten leathered sofa, belly hung out of his open shirt almost touching the floor, draped in gold chains, large cigar in hand and a wedge of notes by his side. This was a man who clearly had much business to attend to as he pointed and grunted again to the back door where I could see a glimmer of day light.
I rushed excitedly to the back door where upon opening I found a yard full of trailers in various states of repair, I quickly scanned the yard and saw my trailer being attended to by a young lady also clad in gold.
After a quick inspection of my prize, it became apparent that the description of my trailer wasn’t as accurate as I thought. It wasn’t the grease that bothered me or even the hole in the floor, but the fact that two wheels on one side of the trailer were very flat, cracked and green. Green is not one of my favourite colours. The young lady saw my despondent look and quickly offered me a generator to sweeten the deal.
I had come too far and time was ticking on opening at Freshwater West; to go through eBay scrolling again wasn’t an option, so I took the generator, paid my cash, and cautiously attached the trailer to the new VW T5. I drove to the nearest garage to get the tyres sorted; the thought of driving a trailer 250 miles back home on green, deflated, cracked tyres was not an option.
However, after the third garage it seems that trailer tyres are something of speciality that need to be ordered in and take at least 3 days to arrive. As much as I loved the golden streets of Bolton, Pembrokeshire was calling me home, so I inflated the green tyres as best I could and hit the open road. (Disclaimer again, I do not recommend this whatsoever.)
My mind drifted. Once, when I was younger I was on holiday in France with my family. We were driving on a hot summer’s day on the AutoRoute and in the distance there was a caravan weaving from side to side, the wheel on one side was smoking and suddenly came off. The caravan flipped on its side as the car skidded into the hard shoulder. By the time we passed the caravan was in bits, strewn across the motorway.
I had two thoughts that I tried hard to supress during the 6 hour drive; one, and probably most troubling, was if the trailer somehow made the shiny new VW T5 flip, that would be a tough one to explain to my parents. The other was if the trailer flipped and shattered into a million pieces on the M4, I didn’t have another 0% credit card. However, frequent stops to inflate the tyres and my trusty playlist on my IPod kept worries to a minimum and I followed the sun all the way West back home.
The weaving started just passed Kilgetty roundabout, unfortunately the next garage wasn’t for a few miles so I slowed down and crossed my fingers. By the time I got to Carew roundabout I stopped and inspected the wheels, one was flat but as it was a twin axle trailer I still had one left. So I slowly went to Robston Wathen to the great West Wales Trailer garage. The smoking started around Canaston, it was only a mile or so left to go so I pushed on.
I arrived at the garage just in time before the gates closed, both tyres had now perished but it was parked in the yard ready to be attended to by the trailer angels of West Wales.
Within 2 years, the Café Môr trailer had won best street food at the BBC Radio 4 Food and Farming Awards, James Martin filmed a cooking programme there, as well as BBC 1 Back to the Land, ITV Escape to the Country, Channel 5 Street Food UK, BBC 4 Geology, ITV Coast and Country, BBC 1 Country File, BBC Radio Wales, as well as film crews from the Czech Republic, Holland and Germany.
The original Café Môr Beach Trailer became one of the first trailers in the UK to be powered by the sun and wind. It also became the first and best seaweed kitchen in the world.
Thank you eBay, Bolton, VW T5, Trailer Angels, all the Café Môr, my brother, my Mum and Dad and Hannah.
To my first ever trailer, thank you and farewell, you have been sensational! X
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