Star Wars Celebration Europe was over before it began and Sunday at 5:00 p.m. came far too quickly. We said our goodbyes to all the friends we only see at Celebrations around the world, knowing that the next fan gathering would take place in Anaheim in April 2015. We loaded Slave-2 and squeezed the vehicle out from the stand, made arrangements to pick up Maureen and Jeremy at 09:30 the following morning, and headed back to our hotel to rest our weary heads before the next day’s long drive back to the UK.
We got up and had breakfast in good time but loading the two cars took far longer than we anticipated, and the Caravan of the Force seemed to be going back with a lot more than we’d thought — we’d all bought far too much! Dave jumped into Slave-1 and picked up the Bullochs from their hotel while Matt unloaded and repacked Slave-2 Tetris style. By the time Dave returned we were almost ready to go, and we left Essen at 10:50 for the journey back to the UK.
The journey took us out of Germany, through Holland, back into Belgium, where we paused for a quick pit stop, and on into France and the port of Calais where we arrived at 3:00 p.m. with 20 minutes at Citi Europe for some quick shopping (wine run). Our hope was to arrive at the port in time to catch the 4:05 ferry, but we missed that and were put on the 5:20 instead. This meant waiting around for about an hour before we boarded, but we used the time well and Jeremy kindly signed some photos as a thank you for our generous sponsors.
Back on board the ferry we were swiftly ensconced where the Caravan belongs — first class. It wasn’t long before we were drinking champagne again and joined by Paul Bateman, Jonathan Wilkins, and Ben from Star Wars Insider/Titan. Unfortunately for them, they learned the Watto lesson the hard way — no money, no parts, no deal — unable to produce first class tickets and seeing as the staff were not susceptible to Jedi mind tricks, they were quickly asked to leave!
We arrived in the UK at around 6:50 p.m. and were soon back, on the right side of the road, driving to south London to drop off the talent (sorry Maureen!). We arrived at 8:45 p.m. and after unloading Boba from the cargo bay we had a quick cup of tea (very British) along with a team photo in Jeremy’s office/Boba Fett room.
Next stop was James’ house where Dave, Mark, and Matt had all left their cars for the last 11 days. We arrived at 10:30 p.m. after putting some diesel in the two vehicles and unloaded both in the rain — we were back in Britain after all! We all said our goodbyes and as Slave-1 and 2 were parked and James headed in to spend some time with his family, the others had two-hour journeys ahead of them to get back to Fordingbridge, Lichfield, and Corsham respectively.
The Caravan to Celebration Europe was over and the vehicles were returned whilst our phones were backed up, packaged, and sent back to Vodafone. The journey’s not over, though, as we continue to raise money for Make-A-Wish Foundation with some great auctions on eBay now through to the end of September. We’ll be auctioning off a number of unique items — including a Microsoft Star Wars Xbox signed by various actors and behind-the-scenes people from Star Wars and The Clone Wars. Please continue to support us by bidding in these auctions or by making a donation at JustGiving.
Thanks to everybody for their help and support along the way at ExCeL London, Elstree Studios, Toys”R”Us, Brent Cross, Van Damme Army Barracks (Lille), Caves of Han in Belgium (with special thanks to Albert Joris), Atomium (Belgium), Electric Lady-land Museum (Amsterdam), and the Atlantic Hotel (Essen).
We really want to thank Maureen and Jeremy for embracing the spirit of the Caravan, Dave and Matt for their help, ideas and continual support, all our friends at Lucasfilm (especially Mary, Barbara, Tracy, Matt, and Chris), David and Pablo for welcoming us to Essen, the 501st, Rebel Legion, and R2 Builders Club for their sterling efforts across Europe, our sponsors Holiday Inn, Hyundai, P&O Ferries, Star Wars Celebration Europe, Toys”R” Us, and Vodafone, without whom this wouldn’t have been possible, the fine folks at Hasbro UK and most importantly our amazing wives, partners, and families for allowing us to run with this crazy idea and for their continued love and support. Lastly, thanks for all your donations and please keep giving!
And finally, planning is already underway for the Caravan of the Force to hit the road again for Star Wars Celebration Anaheim — and we can’t wait!