John Strand

“If you build it they will come” – the gist of the classic 1989 Kevin Costner film Field of Dreams. In it, the baseball-daft farmer played by Costner is compelled to build a baseball diamond in his corn field. Bonkers as the notion is, he plows the crops, lays the bases and a sublime magic unfolds. What emerges is the most unexpected but beautiful venue and sure enough, people start to pour out the woodwork from miles around to see it for themselves.

The Ayrshire Airstream is a little bit like that.

Back in 2017, while expecting our first child, we took on a charming old farm cottage that came with a whole lot of trees. We wondered at the potential of the place. The outbuildings frozen in time with their 1930’s wiring and stash of industrial relics, and acres of unkempt woodland too dense to chart a path through. But the beauty was there, in the mature beeches adorned by blackbirds’ mate-calling songs in spring, and in the rushing thrum of the Alton Burn winding its way through the trees.

We wondered if the best approach to good stewardship of the land would be to share it with paying guests to help fund the farm’s upkeep. But with the Irvine Valley currently lacking a strong tourism draw we reckoned the ‘holiday home’ itself must be the thing to capture imaginations. “Why don’t we get an Airstream” quickly escalated into bidding on Ebay. Then, one summer’s day, a cool 1978 vision of loveliness on wheels rolled into our lives – and as it would turn out – into the hearts of many.

Now, I say lovely, but upon closer inspection this 70’s trailer had issues. Its wooden floor was rotted, the steel chassis needed welding and hundreds of leaky rivets had to be drilled out and replaced, to name a few. We blanched, but our enthusiasm kept us going. During lockdowns, we learned to rivet sheet metal, tile and plumb, working late into the evenings and with a sleeping newborn never too far away. It took two and half years, but thanks to help from friends and family, the Ayrshire Airstream – re-imagined but still retro – was ready to host her first guests in May 2021. Exhausted, we stepped back to survey our labours, just like in the film.

“I have just created something totally illogical,” said Ray Kinsella.

“That’s what I like about it,” retorted his wife, Annie.

We haven’t looked back since. Guests today enjoy exclusive use of the Airstream and its one-acre site including tiki bar, wood-hired hot tub and campfire area with hammocks. The trailer itself has a cosy wood stove, king size bed, proper kitchen, sofa bed and fully plumbed wet room. The whole secret glade is peppered with quirky surprises throughout. Our family ethos generally is to love our neighbours so we treat our guests as we would like to be treated. The response has been incredible and humbling.

Review from Gill – Feb ’24:

“Sarah and Jack have absolutely nailed the Airstream experience – feels like you are in your own little piece of Yosemite living the American dream!”

Review from Kyle – Feb ’24:

“The privacy was a selling point for me as I didn’t want to be shoulder to shoulder with other pods etc. Be prepared when you arrive, as you won’t want to leave.”

It’s brilliant to think that our little place has featured in some of life’s biggest moments for some. It’s seen proposals of marriage under the chandeliers at night, and elopements next to the burn in summer. It’s also hosted creative projects including themed photoshoots. That’s one thing we’d love to explore further; it would be great to hear from anyone interested in using the space for the arts, to help develop the cultural landscape of the Irvine Valley. Our hopes for the future are to expand with another type of accommodation never before seen in Ayrshire, if East Ayrshire Council supports the plans. For now, we’re grateful to be living a dream of sorts and welcoming all the other dreamers who visit and ask:

“Hey… is this Heaven?”

And Ray Kinsella shakes his head just slightly as if to say, “No, it’s Ayrshire.”

(Well, Iowa in the movie)