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Thursday 30 May 2024

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A Gypsy Caravan in rural Somerset – a weekend away for your soul

Gypsy Caravan in Somerset

I like to think of myself as a true adventurer in the Mark Twain spirit.

Let me explain: when I take a trip, I like it to be as authentic as possible. I hate sanitised, watered-down versions of experiences especially designed to suit the fussy tourist who can’t manage a single night without puppy dog toilet paper or a hot shower. When I travelled on the TransSiberian Railway, I wanted my Soviet-hungover cabin with all its sparsity, and a toilet that was little more than a pedal-operated hole onto the tracks at the end of my carriage. Not for me the ensuite, ‘luxury’ cabins designed for softies and jessies, where they can be all wrapped up in fragrant cotton wool, protected from anything approaching ‘roughing it’. I like to drive my Comecon Trabi (once I can find the gears) or Skoda as nature intended, with no power steering, servo brakes or meaningful heater, and swing axles that would just as soon have you jacked up into the nearest ditch as look at you.

You can imagine, then, how excited I was at the prospect of spending a weekend in a real, live, authentic, gypsy bow top caravan. Having admired a carefully restored one in the fabulous York Castle Museum for many a long year, I was delighted to discover that I could actually sleep in one of these classic vehicles, a real piece of social history in itself, for real.

Such adventure waits in store at Marsh Farm, an end-of-the-world little haven nestling up a quiet track in the tiny village of Pitney, deep in rural Somerset. After my four hour drive from Lancashire, I felt all my tensions start to melt away as I approached the old cider orchard where the caravan can be found, and savoured the satisfying whiff of the camp fire on the air as it coaxed a kettle full of water into boiling for a much needed brew. This was going to be no ordinary weekend.

I can’t find words that could do this getaway justice. Please don’t come if you want luxury, or every modern convenience at your fingertips, or a lavishly appointed bathroom or kitchen; you’ll be disappointed and just end up moaning as usual. But if you want to experience something very special on a spiritual level, and get far, far away from the madding crowd and be prepared to live a little more basically, then I could not recommend this highly enough. There is no feeling in the world quite like cooking breakfast on an open camp fire in the peace and quiet of an idyllic location such as this. To sit outside the caravan and admire its charm and beauty is to appreciate it as much as to slumber in its cosy and surprisingly comfortable double bed. And to relax under the stars by the glow of the fire, supping local scrumpy (a jug of which is provided along with a pack of delicious sausages), simply revisiting the art of everyday conversation, is as good a recharging of your soul batteries as you’re likely to get. You’ll also get the use of a fantastic Marshall showman’s caravan too, which is perfect for those odd times when the weather is a little less clement.

And if you miss the pub, a mere ten to fifteen minute walk away will have you at the Halfway House, where you’ll find no juke box, music or Sky sports – just fantastic food, an unprecedented amount of real ales and ciders, and good, honest chat with friends you’ve not yet met.

It’s not camping as such, nor is it ‘glamping’ – that tired old little word that’s been coined far too often. But what you’ll find here is something more satisfying than either – a rare chance to experience a way of life which most of us could only dream of. If you’ve ever felt like screaming “stop the world, I want to get off!” then this is certainly the antidote you seek. So forget the telly, pack up the basics and give yourself a little spiritual retuning – you’ll be amazed how much you’ve earned it.

Gypsy Caravan Breaks
Marsh Farm
TA10 9AN


Tel.: 01458 270 044


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