August 30, 2008

London, a stealth mission and a new guest star

Ladies and gentlemen,

We'd like to introduce you to the newest member of the Couchsitters' all-star cast, The Van Currently Known As Dakota Fanning (TVCKADF).

With less than two weeks until we left Lymington, and still no wheels, drastic action was taken. We kitted ourselves out in head-to-toe camo, blackened underneath our eyes and headed to London with one simple mission: buy a campervan.

TVCKADF belonged to a fiftyish Kiwi couple who had just taken her on a two-month journey around France and the UK. We met them in a carpark next to Wimbledon station to give TVCKADF a once over. She had everything we needed – bed, storage, fridge, cooker, grill, sink and dual batteries – but with a price tag of £2300 ($AUD4887), we weren't sure she was the one for us.

In stepped negotiator extraordinaire Craig O'Shannessy, who after quickly getting them down to £2000, realised that he could probably tighten the bartering screws a bit tighter and reduced our offer to £1750 ($3700), they tried to meet in the middle at £1900, but Craig stood his ground and Dakota was ours for over £500 less than the asking price.

After sorting our insurance, checking out sat navs and praying that we had made the right decision, the all-important name issue came to a head. A discussion over beer and pie at a pub ensued...

'I'll leave that one to Lisa,' said Craig.
'Hmm, I'll have to ponder,' I said.
'What?! You're gonna call it Dakota?' misheard our friend Karl.
'Yeah, I'm gonna call it Dakota Fanning,' I replied with the most sarcasm I could muster (which is a lot!).

And, of course, the name stuck.

And while we have nothing against the teeny little actress who has graced the silver screen in films such as Uptown Girls and War of the Worlds, and quite like the idea of saying 'bloody Dakota Fanning' whenever the van causes us strife, I'm sure you'll agree that if this van is gonna be guest-starring in this blog for the next three months – taking us through the likes of France, Switzerland, Germany, Poland, The Netherlands and Belgium – it needs a new name.

So, we want you to make like Oprah and have a 'lightbulb moment'. What should we call The Van Currently Known As Dakota Fanning? Leave your suggestion in the comments of this post, and if we pick your name, you'll receive a postcard from us somewhere in Europe, and, naturally, fame, glory and prestige.