Not far from Glastonbury Tor in Somerset, England is an apple orchard. In the middle of the apple orchard is a gypsy caravan. It’s a magical place in a magical part of the world. We stayed there in July, 2017.
Upon arrival, we immediately set out to explore our surroundings, starting with the caravan. It’s a bow top, horse-drawn caravan of the type used by the Romany people (Gypsies) in the second half of the 1800s and early 1900s. This particular caravan was used in the TV series of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five. Inside, the caravan is hand carved and ornately painted. There’s a small cast-iron cooking stove (with chimney on top, always positioned to be on the side of the road away from low-hanging trees), various cabinets and a platform bed.
Near the caravan were two other buildings: a shepherd’s hut (with a sink and shower) and a vintage caravan (for larger parties) which included cutlery and a small farmhouse loaf of white bread we had pre-ordered from the owner’s 13 and 15-year old daughters.
In front of the caravan was a fire pit. Neatly tucked in a compartment under the back of the caravan were pots and pans available for those skilled and ambitious enough to build a fire and cook their own dinner. Being neither, we grabbed a takeaway and bottle of wine in Glastonbury.
The one thing we couldn’t immediately find: the “facilities.”
We went back to the shepherd’s hut and the vintage caravan. Did we miss it? Then we noticed a path behind and leading away from the caravan. This led first to our two orchard companions: a donkey and a horse. We learned later the donkey was named Boris (we can’t recall the name of the horse). Boris became our buddy. He loved to pose for selfies!
And just a bit farther down the path…the loo! It was a dry loo, tastefully decorated, with a bucket of sawdust and a scoop (with instructions regarding how many scoops to use depending on the nature of your visit). Dry loos, we learned, are eco-friendly:)
Mystery solved, we headed back to the campfire. With no wi-fi or other modern-world distractions, we settled in for a quiet evening, reading, sipping wine, and occasionally checking on Boris.
As night fell, we experienced a darkness that simply doesn’t exist in our suburban neighborhood in Kentucky. We discovered a small battery-powered lantern that made it possible to get inside the caravan and climb up into bed, tuned that out and went to sleep thinking, “How cool is this?”
When we find unusual places to stay, we view them as part of the experience and can justify spending “a little more” than we otherwise would (though in this case the cost was a very reasonable €90). We emailed Emily at Gypsy Caravan Breaks (www.gypsycaravanbreaks.co.uk) and arranged the stay.
Part of the fun of booking places like this is you never quite know what to expect (where’s the loo?) or who you’ll meet (Boris), but it’s always an adventure!