…and the Vardo Will be Close by.
Some important facts about caravan living before the ultra-modern RVs came along that may help people understand some of the choices I have made about my own wagon:
- The caravan is the hub around which camp is built, but most “living” actually takes place outside in the wide world. Sometimes this means tents or other temporary structures provide added protection from the elements. Prior to the second world war, caravan Travellers in Europe often slept outdoors, under the caravan when necessary while the kids were corralled inside. This makes a lot a sense as adults stay up later, and kids can wander off.
- Cooking is done outdoors, over a fire. The stove, when there is one, is for heat and drying. The hearth is the focus of family life, just as it has been for a million years. That is where people congregate, music and stories happen there, and it is provides comfort and cheer.
- There is no water closet or toilet inside the caravan. That is considered by connoisseurs to be repugnant in such a small space. Needing to defecate in such a small space is a modern, and to some, a filthy idea. However, this is one of the most common criticisms I hear about mine or other traditional wagons; seemingly from folks with little travel or camping experience.
- A consistent anthropological observation about nomads is the strict rules of hygiene and cleanliness. Working and wandering outdoors can be a dirty business so strict rules are adhered to. Some of these reach the level of taboos and can be traced back over at least a thousand years. Living on the road can make one appreciate this need.
- The fancy wagons of 19th century Britain are the exception, not the rule. Functional but sometimes homely carts and wagons have likely served as the home base for nomads of various types since 500 B.C. or before. They came to their peak of perfection in Britain in the 19th century before morphing into the RVs we see today.
Then as today, a conscientious traveller uses a fire pan to prevent scorching the earth by the roadside. Mine is an old plow disk.
And finally, above are a few examples of outside extensions added to late 19th century caravans across Britain exhibiting the functionality of canvas to extend the living space in less-than-perfect weather.