An elderly couple from Dorset are looking forward to a ‘once in a lifetime’ holiday in space, after negotiating a discount for taking their own food. Until now, VirginGalactic has insisted on providing its own nutritionally-maximised, dehydrated meals, but they hadn’t reckoned with Joan Hambleton’s stubborn insistence on behaving as if there was still a war on.
Joan and her husband Malcolm have long dreamed of travelling into space, ever since they saw a photograph of people watching the moon landing on a television. “We used to borrow the newspaper from next door, they often threw it away when there was still some reading left in it. When we saw the picture of a man in a showy suit standing on the moon, I just knew Malcolm and I would echo NASA’s achievements one day. But only after we’d made some awkward, bloody-minded cost-savings, to draw attention to how thrifty we are.”
Mrs Hambleton has knitted a pair of space suits for their mission, with a bit of extra room in so they can wear a cardigan underneath. “I had some left-over white wool so they really look the part, although I ran out towards the end. That’s why Malcolm has one pink leg”, explained Joan, as she practiced wearing her ‘space helmet’. “Doreen with the lazy eye lent me this, her Jim uses it when he’s collecting benefits on his moped. Malcolm still has that steel helmet he wrestled off a German in Normandy, in 1986. The people at the space port weren’t sure they’d be suitable for low-orbit space travel, so I told them they would be, in my loud voice.”
The Hambleton’s have been stocking up on food for their mission since 2003, when Joan was given her third chest freezer. “Any scraps left from meals go straight in the deep freeze, you never know when it’ll come in handy. When I get enough that’s the same colour, I’ll blend it into a space soup”, said Joan. “I’ve got half a gala pie from Ivy’s wake in here somewhere, and that tin of travel sweets I found in Ipswich. I’m looking forward to sharing them around with our fellow astronauts, It’ll help break the ice, before the sing-song.”
Joan and Malcolm have been on a training flight, but the meal was aborted after discovering the glass in Joan’s old Thermos had smashed. “I enjoyed the view”, confirmed Malcolm, “but Joan was too busy knitting a souvenir tea-towel to look out the window. I think she was sulking a bit, after I paid for some space peanuts."
The couple’s simple, frugal improvements to the £300,000-a-head trip are already paying dividends. “We’ve saved up nearly £80 to spend in the gift shop so far”, exclaimed Joan. “That nice Mr Branson was so impressed with my ‘make do and mend’ attitude, he’s offered to send me up for free in one of his old rockets. I didn’t even know they did one-way trips.”