Caravan Family

During the heyday of Caravan living it is important to remember that these were rarely the dwelling of a loner. The Caravan was the hub of the nuclear family and groups of wagons represented larger, extended family groups and allies. We are social creatures that thrive in community.

Traveller Life

Every traveler has a campfire has the center of daily life. The hearth has been our home for 1.5 - 2 million years now. No wonder it fascinates us and brings so much comfort. Nomads in a stationary culture are often tolerated at best and left only marginal space to congregate. This will probably never … Continue reading Traveller Life

Interview Time

Well this is exciting. I got interviewed at winter count near Florence, Arizona back in February. It's heavily edited from a much longer discussion but I don't think I sound too stupid here talking about the Vardo.  The interview is very close-up and tight but you can get a feel for the interior layout. There … Continue reading Interview Time

Classic Liquid Fuel Stoves

A look at the origins and evolution of our favorite camp stove... This post was going to be a few words about the Primus stoves we all love and some images I've collected from around the web.  As usual, I found myself rambling all over the topic without a clear direction but here is a … Continue reading Classic Liquid Fuel Stoves

Traveler’s Wallet

Once again, I am producing some large, traveler's wallets.  While some are waiting their finishing touches, here's the first of six.  They are all of the same general size and design but each has some variation in shape and closure type. I think my dying is improving.  Having read more on the subject, I've been … Continue reading Traveler’s Wallet

Leather Knapsack Prototype

Why do this? In my life-long quest for better designs and finer gear, I am constantly on some sort of hare-brained mission to make something new.  Some readers may remember the earlier backpack I made and eventually traded off to a new owner.   My friend Jacob, even made a fine copy for himself and it … Continue reading Leather Knapsack Prototype

Happiness in Simplicity

A LITTLE CARAVANNING HISTORY At the end of the first decade of the twentieth century, the young artist Frances Jennings became a semi-invalid and was advised by her doctor to spend as much time as she could in the open air.  Being a Victorian lady at loose ends, the obvious choice was to take to … Continue reading Happiness in Simplicity

Work from the Leather Shop

Long, cold nights in the Midwest.  Limited mobility due to injury.  A need to create new things A desire to fund my trips later this year... This is a recipe for high productivity in the workshop. Fortunately, I have a fairly large stockpile of leather and supplies to see me through my projects as I … Continue reading Work from the Leather Shop

Sporran in Progress

I have been wanting to make a few sporrans based on the classic 18th century style.  This type, often referred to as a Rob Roy style, is a fairly simple, single pocket design that can have a number of variations.  The one I'm making here is from 6 oz full-grain hide and should outlive it's … Continue reading Sporran in Progress

Bike Trekker – Allen Hastings Fry

Despite how much I like this photo, I have held off posting this image here because I couldn't find any attribution or further information about this gentleman and his fine bicycle.  I came across it several years ago and stuck it in my image files until I could find out more; alas, I have not. … Continue reading Bike Trekker – Allen Hastings Fry

Early Car Campers

In the heady days of 1918 while the German threat was being finished off in Europe Americans began to take leisure time in a new direction.  Automobiles were almost commonplace and Yankee ingenuity was applying itself to this new platform of creativity.  Patents were being filed to sell improvements on the original designs while pioneer … Continue reading Early Car Campers

Romanian Gypsies

Peter van Beek has documented the difficult life of nomads in a modernizing Europe.  Fear, stereotypes, and unfamiliarity dominate their way of life and place them into a partially self-imposed, marginalized portion of society.  Although there is terrible poverty, he documents family life and survival of these remarkable people.   But it isn't all oppressive … Continue reading Romanian Gypsies

Campsite Life

Scenes of life on the road and around the campsites. This is part of a series of images, mostly Romany, Irish, and Scottish Travellers collected from around the internet.  Many of these historic images found on the web are without citation.  When a clear link to a source is found, I try to include it.  … Continue reading Campsite Life

Paris Travellers

A tiny accommodation, side entry single horse style.  It is documented that the adults with this style wagon generally slept outdoors except in very bad weather.  It was a good way to confine the children and the valuables. This is part of a series of images, mostly Romany, Irish and Scottish Travellers collected from around … Continue reading Paris Travellers

Travellers at Home

This is part of a series of images, mostly Romany, Irish and Scottish Travellers collected from around the internet.  Many of these historic images found on the web are without citation.  When a clear link to a source is found, I try to include it.  If a source is known, please pass it on and … Continue reading Travellers at Home

“The Travelling Tinker” by John Burr

A painting by the Scottish artist John Burr (1831-1893).  Tinkers were originally tinsmiths or "tinners".  One of many itinerant jobs pursued by a class of casual laborers.  These were mostly skilled and specialized crafts like basket making, shoe repair, leather work, and metal work but many poorer workers were migrant farm labor picking hops and … Continue reading “The Travelling Tinker” by John Burr

Wandering Minstral

Here is a painting by the Scottish artist John Burr (1831-1893) of an itinerant fiddler playing for a family in a Scottish lane probably trying to make enough money to eat or maybe even receive some food for his entertainment.  I can't help but think the father looking out has a skeptical look; possibly wondering … Continue reading Wandering Minstral

Weaving Wagon

This is an excellent idea, especially for a skilled willow weaver. If you need a bicycle wagon and can get a lightweight frame built, this seems to be a great, eye-catching option.  I suggest watching the short videos on their site as well.  I find their site somewhat difficult to navigate, but who am I … Continue reading Weaving Wagon

The World is Your Workshop

In Britain and Ireland, the Romany Gypsys and the Traveller community are often associated with low-skilled work such as scrap dealers, horse traders, musical entertainers, or more nefarious activities outside the societal norms.  However, there were plenty of skilled craftsmen and craftswomen providing goods and services to people around the country. Below is an image … Continue reading The World is Your Workshop

Tents and the Vardo Life; What is a Bender?

Travellers in Europe and Britain have always been associated with a style tent called a bender.  This comes from the construction technique of cutting saplings and bending them into a dome, elongated dome, or half cylinder shape,  These frameworks were then covered with tarps and made watertight in the temperate damp.  The origins of this … Continue reading Tents and the Vardo Life; What is a Bender?

A Romany Family in Scotland

I really like everything about the image above.  We see three very different types of wagon-home-conveyances and a family, wearing clothing of the time.  Travellers on the margin of mainstream society have been shunned, persecuted, and culturally dismissed while at the same time romanticized for their freedom and seeming lack of attachment to a more … Continue reading A Romany Family in Scotland

Caravans

Here's another excellent photo of a pack of vardos (caravans) in the wild.  It looks like everyone came out and maybe even spruced themselves up for the photo.  I couldn't find any metadata on this one but it looks fairly early, probably late nineteenth century.  These appear to be high-end models in great condition still. … Continue reading Caravans

Community of Wanderers

Nomads are not loners.  In fact, humans do not do well alone in any setting.  We have always been communal people, depending upon one another for help and support.  Many hands make light work and it is essential to be near others you can depend on. I have been collecting images of Traveller communities for … Continue reading Community of Wanderers

Close Call at 65 mph

I decided this was worth a re-post. An incident that could have gone far worse in many ways.

Preindustrial Craftsmanship

I had to wait a while to publish this one but maybe I just need to get it out…

I like to think I’m a safe person.  At least to the point of looking out for others if not always myself.  I don’t drive aggressively, I maintain my vehicles, and don’t take big chances on the road.  That said, I probably stress my truck and the vardo more than most people would.  The truck has spent sixteen years as an archaeologist’s field vehicle and has gone into places I would have never thought I would take it.  I have crept into BLM campsites with the vardo that required it to be tipped up to 45 degrees and I was certain it was going to go over.  I’ve intentionally jack-knifed the whole thing just to push it into place between boulders.

These things are just the nature of travel in the…

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A Dog and Her Vardo

So, a vardo is a small space, especially when living with a dog.  The old dog loved sleeping under the rig as she took her guard duties seriously but unfortunately, she is no longer with us.  The youngster, on the other hand, has no interest in that sort of nonsense and only wants to be … Continue reading A Dog and Her Vardo

Tinker Family in Scotland

Here's a wonderful old photograph of a "Tinker Family in Scotland."  It is believed to be taken sometime in the 1920s but the location was not identified.  The wagon could just about pass for a western American sheep camp.  Even thought they had the wealth to own a wagon it was still a pretty tough … Continue reading Tinker Family in Scotland

A Perfect Vardo

Desert Dream This is a beautiful photo of Travellers in Britain, 1950.  I came across it a while back while searching out vardo images for my own inspiration.  This one has some great details and has a distinctive Scottish feel. There's a flag of the Scottish Caravan Club flying on the roof and some great … Continue reading A Perfect Vardo

Dugald Semple and a Simple Life

I would like to re-share this older post I wrote about a caravaner, scholar, and philosopher I am quite intrigued by - Dugald Semple Dugald Semple was a Scottish philosopher of the early 20th Century and an advocate for simple living.  After becoming and engineer he took to the woods and, for a period, a … Continue reading Dugald Semple and a Simple Life