(Icon there again because this is in the same world as my little Farm, even if the two stories haven't met up yet )
I really wanted to have a go at another form of story telling, and this idea wouldn't let go of me. It gives you a nice idea of Freya as a person through her writing and its also a fun way to tell a long story in a short space. I hope you give it a chance and enjoy it
If you want to read the letters in full, they're all in the story below!
For a general idea: Freya arrived in England sometime around New Year. She doesn't find Lakewood until early summer, so that's a lot of time that she spends finding herself and enjoying the open road. She is notoriously bad at remembering the date.
(more notes at the end for better explaining).
Part 2 of Freya's story is now up!
Early January. I know that, because everything is freaking cold.
Mum and Dad,
I thought I’d wait until we were free and clear of the airport and all the paperwork before I started writing to you. You get most of the highlights over the phone anyway.
The flight was okay – a little turbulence but it passed quickly enough. The hardest part was having to leave Exy in the crate with the other animals. She didn’t seem stressed, thankfully, but she was definitely happy to get out on the other end! And I ended up sat next to an adorable little old granny who insisted on sharing her Worther’s Originals with me the whole way.
Exy and I crashed in a motel just off from the airport for one night, until the cargo plane arrived with our home (Exy made a friend the minute we walked in; the owner adored her so much, he gave her a sausage for breakfast). The Box weathered the flight well, too; though I did sit down in the car park to double check everything. See, Dad – I can do responsibility.
We got all our gear back in, I bought a road map and we started off towards the nearest town. You know we packed a little light in terms of food, so filling the fridge was the first job.
But I’ve been here a couple of weeks now, and I think I’m getting the hang of it.
It feels more isolated than Australia! We pass a village or a city nearly every day while we’re on the road, but not knowing anyone makes it feel different, I guess. Not that it’s bad; Exy and I are keeping well and enjoying the quiet.
And no need to worry, yet. I picked up a couple of freelance jobs already, so I don’t run into my savings. I was taking puppy classes in a small town last weekend while someone was off sick, and I also stopped by a local yard to help with a problem pony. It wasn’t a long term job, they just wanted a second opinion, which I can do easily enough (he’s just cheeky; he’s not really problematic, but try telling that to an over-concerned mother when he tanks off with her seven year old).
And that’s about all for now. We’ve left one of the little village towns on the border of Sussex and I’m currently heading kind of north-west. I think the next destination has to be the coast. It’s a lot colder, I know, but it’s too long since Exy’s been in the sea.
Be safe, and say hi to everyone at Winter Tree for me!
It might be February. Or early March. It’s a Wednesday.
Mum and Dad,
I could stop titling these, couldn’t I? You know who they’re for anyway; unless you’re showing them to the dogs. And on that point, I sent along some treats for them. Did you know they sell packs of dried sprats at the coast? We walked up the high street a bit before going onto the beach, and the local pet store – I can’t even remember the name of the town now, but its on the coordinate list – had bags of them on a stand. Tiny dried little fish.
Exy loves them. There’s a pack in the cupboard now. And I thought Bran and Hedge might want to try some. I just hope they ship okay.
Anyway, we’ve been here two months now, and we did get to the coast. It was a bit of a drive, and I stopped off for a week on the way to help out at a riding school that was short-staffed. And Mum, you’ll love this – there was a little grey Eriskay there! I got a picture – he seemed to like Exy just as much as the kids did!
The sea was amazing. A heck of a lot colder – no swimming for me – but Ex loved it (she has a fur coat. Alright for some). She made several friends of the canine variety, and was almost adopted into a family of five out there on vacation. The kids built her a sand-fort with a moat (though it got pretty obliterated when the tide started coming in). She also collected a bunch of seashells and a new stick. She may have also tried to bring home some seaweed. I put my foot down at that.
I know I talk about Exy a lot. I talk more about how I’m doing on the phone, but I always find it easier to write about her. I’m doing fine, though. The freelance jobs here and there pay just fine for food and any campsite rent. The rest is all easy thanks to the Box. And wifi is faster out here.
It’s still quiet and kind of lonely, I guess. But I use that word lightly, because it sounds like I’m sad when I’m not. I like the open road and just having Exy in the passenger seat (you should have seen the look on the face of a young cop who pulled us over for a random traffic check! I think he was taken aback by the windows and door on the Lorry, and then he saw Exy sitting up front as normal and I think he decided it was better not to ask).
Just a couple of weeks ago I stopped in a bigger city somewhere in Norfolk (I’m slowly heading north, but it’s not really intentional – I’m kind of meandering). Anyway, there aren’t really campsites in the cities, and most car parks aren’t built for anything near the size of the Box. I ended up working the weekend in a street café because the owner was kind enough to let me park up in two bays out the back. Her name was Dana (which sounds like a cliché, but its true) and she runs the place with her husband, Mick. Its a bit out there; bright yellow walls and pink counters, and they even have a receipt framed on the wall. Dana said it was the first cup of coffee ever bought there when they opened over twenty years ago. Busing tables was fun, if very different for me, and they were even okay with Exy lying under the till – she has a way of dragging the kids in.
But I moved on from there a little while ago (with a chunk of cake for the journey). Dana said if I’m ever passing through, the parking bays at the back are mine.
So for now, I’m parked up in an overnight lay-by on one of the A roads. The car noise is kind of loud, but constant, and its mostly drowned out by the rain, anyway. In typical English fashion, it started at midday and hasn’t stopped. Exy’s already asleep on her cushions and I’m going to crash, too.
Night, guys. Love you both. Say hi to Winter Tree and hug the dogs for me!
March sometime. Still 2015.
Mum and Dad,
I literally just stopped in a local chip shop to pick up some dinner. Its been a long day on the road, and I was working all of yesterday while Exy guarded the Box in the car park.
I’m just waiting for them to finish cooking my order, but I asked for a scrap of paper, because there’s a TV in the corner playing some Australian Soap. I don’t know what it is – can’t even hear it – but it made me think of home.
Hope your lives are going smoother than these poor folks. Sounds like someone’s pregnant out of wedlock. Or it might be a lost dog; hard to tell.
Crap – food’s ready. Bye.
Definitely March. The end of it.
Mum and Dad,
It must have been nearly a month since I last wrote, but I spoke to you two nights ago, so at least you know I’m alive.
There’s been a slight change to the living situation. It’s a good one, for now.
There’s a holiday and training Kennel out here that I’ve been able to get a part time, temporary contract with. I’ve got regular work for two more weeks. The Box is parked up behind the kennel block and I just pay back a small bit of my weekly cheque for the space.
Exy will quite happily chill out on the lawn, or curl up on the sofa while I work, and it’s great to be working with dogs again after the equine jobs. It doesn’t match up to Winter Tree, though. There’s some wild young dogs, and a particularly mouthy Springer spaniel puppy called Castle. I’ve mainly been working with the training boarders, everything from recall to small logic puzzles, but there’s some lovely dogs in the holiday kennel. A massive St Bernard called Forest is just a sap. The best part of the day is easily the mass pack walk. We take about four dogs each and walk around the field and down to the river. Exy follows us along and has a splash about while I work with the others. She’s being very good about my split attention (you know we had to work on that a lot when she was a puppy), but she seems to like having other dogs around at the moment.
I’m sure that will wear off. When she’s had enough of the company and noise, she just heads back into the Box.
Anyway, I’ve got some more of this, and then I’m moving on again. Still climbing North slowly, but we’ll just see where we end up.
Hope the boys are being good!
It’s the 2nd of April. I’m 97% sure.
Mum and Dad,
Did you know that Ice Cream vans are like some kind of supernatural beacon to lure children in from miles away? I didn’t.
We passed one on a country road this morning and pulled off the road a bit further down to help, because they had a flat. The guy is a nice man; he’s had his first granddaughter over New Year and he’s been driving the same van for three years now. He’s never had a flat with one wheel pressed right into the bank, though.
We’re waiting for the AA to show up, but it’s starting to get really warm after the rainstorm yesterday, and already three separate families have walked past on their way to the local fishing lake and stopped for ice cream.
I got one for free for stopping to try to help (with the wheel pressed over like that, there’s not much I can do), and he gave Exy a plain vanilla 99 cone.
So, it’s barely eleven am and already the day is looking good!
Guys, I think someone just asked if they could buy the Box? Hard to tell with country folk. Fun day.
Well, I know that three days ago it was the 17th of April.
Mum and Dad,
So we’ve been staying at a park for the past few days. I haven’t been working; with a full fridge and lots of savings, it’s been nice to just have days to spend with Exy and exploring one area.
The park is a huge green field with some nice woodland, and a big parking plot (with no marked bays, which is nice. The Box never fits them, as you both well know). There’s lots of families and dog walkers around now that the weather’s picking up, so Exy has made plenty more friends, and I guess I have, too. A lot of people seem interested in the fact that I live in a self-sustainable horsebox.
And this was what I noted down the other week – a guy with his Rottweiler and girlfriend sounded fascinated. I think he was kidding about mine, but I do think he’s going to try to get his hands on a horsebox!
As I write this, it’s the day after I called you last, and I was able to speak to a passing traffic cop. There’s no need to worry; she cleared it up. The park is council property, and although they don’t really like loitering, there are no rules on parking up all through the night (unless you’re doing un-PG things while parked up, that is). She said families often pitch tents on the field during the day, and they can camp overnight, too, if they don’t damage the grass. So really, The box sitting in the corner of the parking plot is not something I’m going to get clamped over. (Which, when you think about it, is sort of stupid in my case)…
And as I now write, Exy’s just come charging inside with that look that says she wants a walk. I think we’ll go through the woods and around the housing estates for a bit while the sun holds out.
Give hugs to the dogs and tell everyone at Winter Tree they’re missed!
We might be in May now. May. I should really buy a new calendar.
Mum and Dad,
I’m writing this in a Motel room. Its not exactly a five class establishment, but it was cheap and they let Exy in the front door (they’re big on no pet zones in England) They didn't say anything when I brought in a takeaway, either (and I'm sending you my first English fortune cookie prediction. I don't think I'll need that).
Before you panic, everything is fine!
The Box was making a rattling sound in the engine yesterday when I was driving on a freeway (or a dual-carriageway; whichever you prefer). So I stopped, but the garage closest was booked up, and it was late, so I agreed to leave it in their forecourt so they could do it first thing. And don’t worry; I locked up the back first, so they just had access to the cab.
It was nothing big; some nut or other came a little lose, and they’ve tightened it as well as checked over quickly for anything out of place. They already called and as soon as I finish this, I’m out of here to get back on the move.
Everything is really okay. It was nice to take a few days out and settle, but both Exy and I missed the open road. She’s waking up now – I have to go. I still have to pinch their instant hot chocolate packet before we bail.
It’s late May. I’m sure.
Mum and Dad,
Just a quick update, since I’m writing this on a scrapbook with a chewed pencil whilst waiting for a gridlock to clear on the motorway. I don’t think we’ve really moved in at least ten minutes. It sucks.
Exy’s just asleep. It’s nice for some.
I’m much further North; there’s a lot more open land up here, and I’m following a recommendation from a woman I worked for last week. It was a weekend clinic with junior riders, and she said there was an eventing yard looking for a freelance trainer to cover a holiday. So that’s where I’m headed. At least they aren’t expecting me for a couple of days.
Things are going fine for both of us, and the Box is back into normal working order after its trip to the garage. The eventing yard sounds fun but I think after this I’m going to try picking up a job with dogs again; I miss the barking.
I know you’re always updating me on how things are at home when I call, but I do still wonder how you’re all doing. It must be starting to get cold again down there. Its so weird; we had rain yesterday, but the weather’s been gradually improving since we arrived. Wow – five months. But I’m having such an amazing adventure.
Oh! I think we’re moving a few inches! Be safe!Freya
So, a couple of things to give you some more info on this girl.
1. She lives in an old style horsebox that she and her Dad converted themselves years back. Its self sustainable, using its own water collection and filtering systems, solar panels, electrics, disposal chutes and so on. I did not make this up. I discovered a company called housebox.com who do these conversions on a commission basis, and the idea rollercoasted in my head. You can look them up. They're stunning. The only bit of real creative licence is that Freya used a lorry with a long chassis (previously used for up to 4 horses) and they left a space at the back relatively the same, so that a horse can still be transported safely, and loaded via the rear ramp.
2. Due to not really needing anything, other than somewhere to park, Freya is remarkably free once clear of the airport and paperwork. She enjoys her freelance work, and with that income, and savings in order to make this trip, she's easily able to care for herself and Exy.
3. She's frequently calling her parents, whom she loves dearly, but she likes to write to them, too, so she'll scrawl out these letters periodically, store them up and then air mail them in batches out to Australia, along with photos documenting their travels. The image you see would be the letters, scraps and pictures spilled across the garden table in her parent's home.
4. There are a series of books I read many years ago, and I still love today. One that stands out is 'The Last Polar Bears' all by Harry Horse. Grandpa and Roo, his dog, go on amazing adventures looking for all kinds of things, but the entire book and story is told through letters that Grandpa sends home to his grandkids. I didn't even remember these until I'd almost written this, but it must have been a subconscious influence; they're so creative and beautiful.
Freya goes through a lot of stuff before finding Lakewood; and most of it is little stuff that might not make a really interesting story, but I want to share it, because it happened and her life starts before the Farm. There is a bit more of her solo journey to go, but since that is a separate chapter, that will be posted separately.
Which brings us to the art...
This took way longer than planned. I painted (albeit quite horrendously roughly) each of those separate 'photos' before importing them into this compilation and arranging them to fit. A few of them are bigger than what you see, and most if not all are downsized here, so some of them may end up being posted whole in my scraps (they're really too shoddy for much else) so if you're an Exy fan, let me know and keep an eye out there
The wood texture is very much not mine. It is a free for use texture on dA and found here: tileable wood texture
Took hours. Too long. I knew it probably would but it was still a blast
No refs. Which is why some of my dog anatomy is probably wonky.
Art, characters and story copyright to Tattered-Dreams
Do not take, copy, edit, redistribute or manipulate.
Freya and Exy make an adorable team. I really have fallen in love with Exy's design.
I am looking forward to more snippets of their adventures before they stumble upon Lakewood.
I'm so glad you like it - this was honestly such a joy to write, and even to put together, despite my having to rush off a few paintings. I love that analogy of it, too - a spilled memory box...love that
Freya and Exy. I adore all of my characters, but it's only when I was really writing this and putting myself in Freya's place that I really started to feel their relationship come to life. They have a history together, on the open road that no one can touch, and I loved this narrative style because I liked how it showed that, in pieces. There's one more installment of their roadtrip to come before we catch up to the present (as it were) and they find Lakewood. And Fleecy appears for that bit
I'm glad you like it, and the scattered collection of stuff in the image, too ^^
Freya seems like a fun girl already, can't wait to see how her story unfolds (:
And the art is amazing! It helps creating this special atmosphere, this... universe you are creating
I think I'm too much of a homebody to really live on the road...but this, this I could possibly do - if I could keep my animals with me, not worry too much about where I'm going (I get lost so easy) and if I literally drove my home around with me. Yeah, I'd love to give this a go.
Its great to see you're liking the sound of Freya. She's pretty independent and just likes to go with things. Planning ahead is over-rated XD I'm hoping the second half of this backstory can be posted soon. And I'm glad you like the image itself; something a bit different and fun to tell the story visually, too