Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Fantasy Time . . .

I'd love to have a vardo --  a bright-painted  gypsy van--
The traditional interior is spectacular if a tad busy for my taste.
 I've wanted one ever since reading Wind in the Willows . In the
passage below, Toad is showing Rat and Mole his new acquisition.

"He led the way to the stable-yard accordingly, the Rat following 
with a most mistrustful  expression; and there, drawn out of the 
coach house into the open, they saw a gipsy caravan, shining with
newness,  painted a canary-yellow picked out with green, 
and red wheels.

'There you are!' cried the Toad, straddling and expanding himself.
'There's real life for you, embodied in that little cart. The open road,
the dusty highway, the heath, the common, the hedgerows, the rolling
downs! Camps, villages, towns, cities! Here to-day, up and off to
somewhere else to-morrow! Travel, change, interest, excitement! The
whole world before you, and a horizon that's always changing! And mind!
this is the very finest cart of its sort that was ever built, without
any exception. Come inside and look at the arrangements. Planned 'em all
myself, I did!'
. . . 
It was indeed very compact and comfortable. Little sleeping bunks--a
little table that folded up against the wall--a cooking-stove, lockers,
bookshelves, a bird-cage with a bird in it; and pots, pans, jugs and
kettles of every size and variety.

'All complete!' said the Toad triumphantly, pulling open a locker. 'You
see--biscuits, potted lobster, sardines--everything you can possibly
want. Soda-water here--baccy there--letter-paper, bacon, jam, cards and
dominoes--you'll find,' he continued, as they descended the steps again,
'you'll find that nothing what ever has been forgotten, when we make our
start this afternoon.'" 
It sounds nice . . . 
Of course, to pull that gypsy van, I'd need a Gypsy Cob. 

They're available  HERE
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Poetry24 said...

A couple of years ago, a young Gypsy couple set up camp on a piece of common land just at the end of our lane. Their caravan wasn't dissimilar to the one in your picture, although it wasn't nearly as ornate. They cooked in an iron pot, suspended over a fire with a circular stone hearth. Whenever we passed them, on our walks, they nodded and smiled. They had a serenity about them that was totally charming. Then, one morning, they had left. No mess, no trace of their existence, apart from a small circle of ash where their fire had burned.

After WW1, my great aunt and her husband, Harry, bought a plot of land and lived in a Gypsy caravan for many years, until they eventually had the finances necessary to build a bungalow.

Jules said...

I wonder how many people around the world have been inspired by that passage in years gone by? I know I was and I still keep an eye out for a caravan though I have moved on from Gypsy to old fashioned round one! xx

Ms. A said...

I think I might prefer something a tad more modern.

Ellis Vidler said...

Yes! That caravan in Wind in the Willows lived in my imagination for many years. I wanted one too, but the closest we came was my dad's Volkswagen camper, which we loved.
I'd like that horse in the picture too--beautiful! Thanks for reminding me of a wonderful time.

Miss_Yves said...

Our gypsy van and your gypsy cob are great!

Jean Baardsen said...

Like when I lived on a sailboat - everything we needed, neatly stowed in a compact space.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for taking me back to one of my favorite childhood reads, Vicki!
For mystery lovers, the Victorian mysteries by Deanna Rayburn include snippets of the gypsy life in the first two books, "Silent in the Grave" and "Silent in the Sanctuary."

I enjoyed these books and will probably continue reading the Lady Julia series.

Deana the Queena

Barbara Rogers said...

You must have been at the studio with me looking over my shoulder yesterday as I built my "caravan"!! What fun!! Great minds and all that! But mine is just a replica of my camper van in which I traveled for 14 years in the 70's and 80's. I've been dying to see a real gypsy van, and here you've sent me the pictures of one. I can't wait to start construction on it! Thanks so much. PS, I also loved Toad's story.

Jill said...

You could get the horse before the cart! He he he..that is probably what I would be tempted to do.

Stella Jones said...

Absolutely love these! There is a museum of crafts near my house in London and for years they had a beautiful gypsy caravan there. I always went up to it and climbed the little ladder to look inside. It's a magic world in there. To be part of that world, I recommend 'Thrush Green' by Miss Read. She describes a Mrs. Curdle, owner of a fair and gypsy caravan, in such detail you feel as if you know her yourself.

Brian Miller said...

how cool would that be...i remember that book as well..the gypsy life has always fascinated me...may need to look into that job...

NCmountainwoman said...

I love them too! My "spark" was a Roald Dahl book, "Danny, Champion of the World," a story-time book for my children. Oh, I do miss story time.

Wayfarin' Stranger said...

Thanks, Vicki, for a wonderful post. I like the caravan, but I love Gypsy horses. Wish I had space for them. There's a family in east Tennessee who raise them, as well. Star mentioned Miss Read and 'Thrush Green.' We've read it and recommend it. I've been told that it and her other books were the inspiration for Jan Karon's Mitford series.

Friko said...

Most gypsies now are travellers who roam around in large motorhomes. I have seen only two of these beautiful caravans in my time here in the country, both were just the one vehicle and not these horrible, tawdry camp sites.

What a wonderful horse, so absolutely ravishing!

JJM said...

What a lovely post -- and what a lovely dream. Although I'd want mine to be a TARDIS, with the inside much larger than the outside, just to have enough space for all my books. And thank you for the passage from one of my "Desert Island Books", Wind in the Willows. I spent some of the happiest days of my childhood drifting down the river with Mole and Rat, and oh! that magical moment where Pan appears ...

I take it you were re-reading the book, that the yearning for a vardo bloomed again in your soul?

Darla said...

Such fun to imagine...!

Kath said...

Now I want my office to look like the interior of a gypsy caravan.
And the Gypsy Cob. What a beauty!

Vicki Lane said...

Great story, Martin. So often one hears complaints about litter and thievery from Gypsies.

You too, Julienne and Ellis and Deana and Mario? -- I love finding others with the same favorite childhood books. And yes, Mario, the chapter 'The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" is completely magical.

Barbara -- I look forward to seeing your ceramic version!

I occasionally peruse the various website of Gypsy Cob breeders -- just looking, I swear. They are rather pricey beasts. But so gorgeous!

Star and Jim -- I'm also a fan of Miss Read!

Folkways Note Book said...

Gypsy lifestyle -- a wonderful experience. I've tried a bit of it years ago. Only I did not have a decorative wagon like the one on your post. -- barbara

Brenda said...

Well, my sidebar promises me "January Miscellany" but each time I click, blogger informs me that the page does not exist! *sigh* Sometimes blogger gets possessed I think. Well, I got to go back and read this post that I missed. Wow, I checked out that website...those Gypsy Cob horses are gorgeous! I have never seen or heard of them before.