The Loop: Happy campers

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A weekly digest of your tweets and letters

Image caption,
Tony Craddock on his wedding day

Welcome to The Loop, the Magazine's letters column, including the best of your thoughts from Twitter and Facebook.

A Magazine article by Ben Milne reminiscing about the VW Camper van of his childhood prompted a number of readers to share their own memories and pictures. Tony Craddock, from Minehead, shared this picture (above) of his wedding day in 1975. His text captures the spirit of the "bus".

"We were working for Tony Stone Images (now Getty Images) as travel photographers. I can remember the roof leaked a lot and it was always breaking down in the middle of Europe. We were especially fond of the air vent controls which looked like the transporter controls of the Enterprise (Star Trek). Usually the whole cabin was full of 10x8 large-format camera equipment which left little room for sleeping and eating, but it proved fun driving through Paris etc.

K DeWitt, from Edmonton, Canada, also saw much of the world - including deserts - in the family camper.

"My father was a diplomat and when I was in primary school we were posted to the Middle East. My parents decided that, as we were going to be travelling to see the country, they would get a VW van, both for family comfort and for ease of maintenance (VW had good mechanics training programs in the area). We drove all over and it was great - my sister and I could lie down and nap as we drove long distances through deserts. It was such a success we got another one when we were posted to South America after, and then another when we were posted to Europe after that."

They hired different-coloured camper for different parts of the world - red in the Middle East, a beige colour in South America, green in Europe.

"My mother, who did most of the city driving, really liked them because the driver is seated higher than other vehicles so she could see traffic problems in the distance and try to avoid them, and the height gave her the advantage of peering down at drivers who were not following traffic rules - which, given the countries we were in, was frequent," writes DeWitt.

Paul and Sue Anderson sent us this picture of the day they took delivery of their "new" camper. "It had stood for six years. But fired up within an hour of getting home, and served us well for many years." Magazine reckons it has now been put out to pasture.

One of Magazine's most-shared stories reflected on what parents do when their children leave the nest to go to university. A few wags on Twitter suggested that said parents might want to "celebrate". Indeed, many might be right now embracing their new-found freedom. Joking aside, the feature hit a nerve with a number of readers, who wrote in saying how emotional they had found the experience.

Helen Parkinson emailed in this poem that she had written to mark her son's transition to St Andrew's University.

Only yesterday breathing in the air of childhood dreams / The only home you have ever known / Birth of your series of firsts / In the silence of a Summer's early dawn / Ready for awakening / Your first step without me by your side / Slumbering of boyhood dreams into St. Andrews sands and spires. / Torn from me / The feeling of a second birth / A chrysalis emerging through a veil of freedom / Into a new world. / Villages' gilded youth stripped away / An education for us both. / Wrenches deeply inside / This rack of rightful separation yet / Casting off doubts / We journey to your new beginning / Arrows pierce my heart / Fletches dipped in pride / As you tentatively soar. / Chasms yawn / The future wrests you away from me. / As I once was / I allow you to fly / Leaving your footprints / Etched in my heart.

It's been a creative week for Magazine readers. It came to Magazine's attention that an article from a few weeks back on whether there is any point in pressing pedestrian crossing buttons had inspired British artist and designer Dominic Wilcox to muse on what the road-crossing experience would be like if you could pay to speed up or remove the waiting time altogether.

"If the button was also a fingerprint reader then it could be linked to an online account that is set up as pay-as-you-press. Each press instantly (or as quickly as is safe) changes the red man to green and £0.40 is deducted from my account. For £0.70 you can also choose your own tune to cross the road to," Wilcox writes on his Variations on Normal blog.

On the blog, described as "a spotlight on the banal; adding a new, surprising perspective on the everyday", Wilcox has "designed" a spoof app for his "Quick Cross System" featuring a playlist for crossing the road.

The Benny Hill theme tune will now be going round and round in Magazine's head every time it steps off the pavement.

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