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The Simple Life

The buzz among caravanners over the past couple of months has been about the excellent television series ‘George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces’, shown on Channel 4. If you missed it and you’re quick, you might still catch the last couple of episodes on 4oD.

As I don’t actually possess a television, I relied on visiting friends with sets or catching up online, and I have to say that for this series it really was worth making the effort.

Stylist and consultant to the programme was none other than the lovely Jane Field-Lewis, whose fantastic books ‘My Cool Caravan’ and ‘My Cool Campervan’ have worked wonders in presenting a new side of our cherished pastime to those who love the idea of touring, but aren’t so keen on modern standard issue beige.

Caravans and campervans were of course heavily featured in George Clarke’s series, ranging from delightful 70year old gipsy caravans to a fab and funky VW Camper.

Some of the ‘builds’, like the sweet 1960s caravan that was discovered in a farmer’s yard, were spruced up and converted for business use such as an ice cream parlour or an office annexe.  Others were aimed squarely at getting away from it all, be it a space to rent out to holidaymakers, or a retreat at the end of the garden.

It was this latter use that got me thinking. As I sat watching the box with my friends in their three-bedroomed house burgeoning with clutter, they mused and fantasised about converting the summerhouse in their garden into a proper little retreat with a wood burning stove.

As the pace of life becomes increasingly frenetic, it appears that all people want to do these days is simply slow down. Interestingly enough, as our lives become increasingly full, we desperately need clear spaces more than ever to be able to sit quietly and clear our minds. I think this is one of the reasons that caravanning is increasing in popularity. Not only can we let our imaginations run wild if doing up an old van, but the resulting clear, simple, uncluttered space provides much-needed clarity and simplicity in our lives. Be honest, if your ‘van is stored near the house, how many times have you nipped inside ‘just to sit in the ‘van for a bit’? I wouldn’t mind betting that the few minutes that you spend recalling happy memories, and dreaming up exciting new plans, leave you feeling far more energised and positive than you felt before you went in.

As the festive season hurtles towards us at full pelt, our caravans provide us with somewhere to hide from the Yuletide Chaos and gather our thoughts, if only for a minute or two. Of course, you may have been inspired by George Clarke to take on your own project. If you have the time, the space, the inclination, but above all the imagination, why not look into it? Put the book ‘My Cool Caravan’ on your Christmas List for starters and see what happens. This could be the start of something simple, elegant, and beautiful.