Finding the Caravan
Aged 4, I decided I wanted to live in a caravan. My parents that Christmas had bought me a Barbie pick up truck which attached to a folding Caravan. The caravan would fold out in half, opening up a deck area for Barbie and Ken to dine.
To my parents concern, this caravan had quite the impact on me. One day I sat in our kitchen in the mountains of Lesotho, with the pink plastic caravan set out at my side and a caravan catalogue that my father had lying around. I chose the one I wanted, read the telephone number, dialed it in and chatted to a surprised sounding salesman at the end of the line. When my father recalls this story, he says that he heard me babbling and stood around the corner listening to the one sided conversation. I apparently queried whether the caravan I wanted had enough room for my Monkey teddy and both my Barbie Malibu Dream House and the folding caravan.
Then I called my father to tell him that the salesman needed to speak to him. Thinking it was a game of fake calls and play, my father obliged “oh hello” he held the phone to his ear ready to continue this little make believe game. But the voice of the salesman at the end of the line hit him with absolute surprise. He ended up in barrels of laughter over a long conversation.
The end joke is on him though. About 6 months later, we returned to our other home in Johannesburg where one day I was out in the 4x4 with him picking up supplies, I sat on the passenger seat in a ridiculous 80s style Laura Ashley dress that my mother had picked up while seeing family in England earlier that month. Then to his surprise he found himself driving past the exact showroom I had spent time consulting with in that kitchen in Lesotho. So, on impulse we pulled in.
I had never been to Disneyland as a child, but I suspect that the feeling of awe was exactly the same as entering that caravan showroom.
The lady in the office took me to a chest freezer and let me choose an icecream while we waited for the manager that I had provided my very specific requirements all those months before. On his day off, he received a call that it was me and as a good opportunistic salesman couldn’t resist and brought his children over too. For what felt like hours we ran amuck in the showroom while the adults chatted.
When it came time to leave this African Disneyland, I bid farewell to these new friends of mine and with a head hung in sadness to be leaving this wonderful place, shuffled to our van in an ice cream stained Laura Ashley dress.
As I turned the corner, I saw it. We had a caravan hooked up to our van. Roaring with laughter my father and I headed back to the house with this brilliant new acquisition.
Pulling up the driveway through the big security gates, my mothers mouth dropped to the floor. She folded her arms and I knew it was time to slip out the van quietly and go to my room.
Decades on as a family, we can now laugh about the arguments which ensued following this ridiculous impulsive purchase.
Discussing the renovation programme for Pointers End with my father, he chuckled as we optioneered solutions for temporary living. Finally I would have my real life Barbie dream caravan.
The reasons for this approach to temporary living are simple, the driver is purely financial. Rentals are rarely available in the village and many come with 6 month minimum lets, the local opportunities which we have found to date mainly include large 4 bed + rural houses with huge monthly costs (although one came with an indoor pool which nearly won me over). The short of it is that the finanacial disruption is too much to bare.
So, with a driveway underway. We set out parameters – size, facilities and price ceiling.
After months of searching, saved ebay searches and many a classified punt… I think we’ve found the dream home! We put an offer in on a little home which will see us through months of work. Regularly making trips to the Lake District, Andrews parents have kept an eye out and liaised with family connections to put the word out that we’re looking for something.
We got a call from a family member who had found a perfect solution and helped guide us with an offer.
Like any used home, it needs a little work. I’ve compiled Pinterest boards and bookmarked youtube videos offering guidance and easy DIYs.
Speaking to some clients, one of whom is conveniently looking for a temporary solution towards the end of our programme of work for his own self build, I described the design considerations as “instagrammable.” It needs to meet many parameters – an office space, a warm and well insulated sleeping space, an area for specific allocation for Apollo and Aura, a place to cook in, secure with enough storage for mid term living. It also, needs to have a level of comfort and ascetic because, well there’s simply no need to live in squalor when for me in particular, inspiration is often born out of minimal sanctuaries. As anyone can imagine, explaining this concept to a group of engineers can be quite the situation. Which is why I quickly turned the discussion to sewerage and clean water connections.
We will need to install a small tank and overland pumped system back into the foul mains towards the main house. The clean water will be straight from the mains, with a micro heating system integrated. Electricity will be in ducts from the main house ducted in securely alongside the external house perimeter wall away from any heavy construction related ground clearance or weighted vehicular access.
Luckily the programme allows enough float to commence internal upgrade works – perhaps new flooring, upgraded upholstery, inbuilt blinds, a lick of predictably minimalist tones of white and grey, a little work on the bathroom to perhaps incorporate tiles and a pressurized shower, enclosed bedroom and subject to patience, a faux Carrera marble worktop.
The main driver behind the design is minimal lines and a basis to steer easy living during a time of particular unrest. While we're awaiting the acceptance of our offer and then figuring out how to mobilise the home 200miles southwards, we'll keep on exploring ideas. Once it's with us, we'll be sure to share the mini renovation journey with you!