An elderly couple from Harold 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 watched the moon landing on a neighbour’s television. “We used to borrow their newspaper as well, they often threw it away when there was still some reading left in it”, said John.
“When we read that man would land on the moon, I just knew Malcolm and I would echo NASA’s achievements some day. But only after we’d made some awkward, bloody-minded cost-savings to show everyone 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’.
“My son bought me this, for when he gives me a lift on his moped”, said the zero-G spendthrift. “And Malcolm can wear that steel helmet he wrestled off a German in Normandy, during our coach tour in 1997. The space people weren’t sure these would 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 invested in 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 and that tin of travel sweets I found in Ipswich. I’ll share those 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 $250,000-a-head (£160,000) trip are already paying dividends. “We’ve saved up nearly £75 to spend on garish tat in the gift shop”, exclaimed Joan. “That nice Mr Branson was so impressed with me pointing out all the ways he could save money that he’s offered to send me to Mars for free in one of his old rockets.”
“I’ve got some turkey from Christmas that should see me through that quite nicely.”