Human Scarer

The last five days have been spent travelling accross the country (again) to deliver the last large batch of tipis for the season. We move over to the tipi campsite in exactly 1 week today, bookings are trickling in, we have nowhere near enough furnishings, and the only idea so far is to make a roughly thought out ply-board table with bits of smashed up pallet for legs… In typical fashion, instead of using the hours and hours of time spent in the van during the 1500 miles we have driven in the last few days to make lists and plan what we need, we decided to plan a travelling expedition to Eurpoe next year… Who needs to worry about tipi furnishings when you can think about how to strap a solar panel to the roof of your van in order to charge a 12v battery while crossing the Pyrenees?…
So far the last week has mainly consisted of to’ing and fro’ing (I hesitate with the apostrophe when I write to’ing and fro’ing, but when it’s not there it would read in a similar way to boing… curious because you wouldn’t write do’ing or go’ing…still, I shall stay on the side of caution and add the ’…what do you think? Answers on a postcard…)
Meanwhile, here is how not to run a business delivering tipis if you want to A) have a sound and healthy vehicle and B) have a sound and healthy mind… The usual mix of stress, fun, and bizarre have followed us along the A30 and M5, up the M4, over the the A421, around the M25 (which, perhaps most bizarre of all was totally free running and clear of problems, not once but three times!) and god knows where else… must… keep… going…
A total of 4 nights in our own bed in the last few months, we are firmly part of the travelling troop who live their transient summer in a state of confusion, maps and bags of unwashed clothes… No time for weeding, watering, strolling or reading for us, think of us as you sit in your armchair, cup of tea nearby…
Totally knackered and having put a fresh cocktail stick in each eye, we load up a van for the third time in a week…because of the broken trailer last week, we now have half the  amount of space we usually have to carry the huge swathes of canvas we need to carry up and down the blue lines that crisscross the road map…still never to be put off by a challenge we crack on… By now it is 11pm, it’s raining and we have spent 4 hours packing, finding and counting things that we need to deliver and set up for the next two weeks, almost finished, great! But oh…wait a minute… what about the 70 or so poles we have to collect on our way up country – weighing a tonne or more…pause… glance at wheel arches, barely room to slide the latest mechanics invoice between the bottom of the arch and the top of the tyre…utterly defeated, we accept we have to empty most of the stuff back out of the van, knowing, but trying to ignore that this now means a good 7 or so extra hours of driving and another day of unloading and loading as we make what was one trip into two.. .On the bright side though we do get an extra night in our own bed as a reward and with the broken trailer axle day still firmly in mind we know to only overload the van with twice the maximum weight that Volkswagen say it can take…
Leaving at 7am, having blearily spent another hurried hour unloading the rest of the temporarily redundant ‘stuff’ into the garage, we stop to get some supplies – the hairless dog decides this is the perfect time to shit in van, painting poo paw prints all over the chairs, windows, dashboard and child seat… Too tired to even react, rain still pouring, we wrestle the car seat out of its position, strip off the covers, clean up with the only thing we have to hand (about a dozen baby wipes and a couple of old napkins) and then spend 10 minutes rounding the child and dog up along with the litter from the previous two weeks which are now swirling around the carpark in a weird game of crisp bag, animal, child, chase – We all sit silently, trying to block out the the stench for the next 30 miles until the rain gets light enough to be able to open a window without us getting soaked… As the rain stops, the sun comes out turning our black van into a dog poo/breakfast bap/latte scented furnace.
Next stop goes smooth as ever and without delay we strap the poles onto the roof and instead of looking at how low the van now is decide to ignorantly continue and just avoid as many bumps and pot holes as possible…So begins the next 10 hours of motorway driving, wincing at every squeak and avoiding looking in the mirrors to see if any poles are bouncing off up the M5 behind us…
 Off we go to deliver tipi number 1 to a couple called Ken and Adrian – possibly two of the nicest people we have ever delivered a tipi too…Adrian is tall and chiselled, Ken has the eyes of a man who knows it’s best to just go with Adrians latest project (Andy related well to Ken) Within two minutes of getting out of the van Adrian has poured a large glass of wine for me which turns into a bottle and half of wine during the course of putting the tipi up – An hour and a half later we somehow find ourselves accepting their offer to join them both and their friends for dinner – At around 9 ish we head off to get our bedding, some fresh clothes for the next day and more wine – A few more bottles and an invite from us to them to come to our wedding, we start considering the next tipi delivery and crash to bed.
The second tipi delivery is to a man in Godalming… I have never spoken to him on the phone, his order for a tipi came via email and I have had a maximum of 3 emails in the whole process of payment and ordering…These types of orders always excite me, I know nothing of the person we are going to spend the next few hours with…It only happens once or twice a year and almost each time (just like in this case) comes with a deposit in the post written on a Coutts cheque…Creeping up a winding lane, smelling of wine and mud we reach two huge solid oak gates – At least 10ft wide each and a good 12ft or more high…The sign on them tells trade and deliveries to keep following the arrow past them which we do and soon we arrive at another set of matching giant oak gates…We can’t get the van near enough to press entrance button without scratching the beautiful gates with the tipi poles, so I dutifully get out of the cab and upon reaching the front of the van I suddenly feel all weak and floppy… I’ve had an ability to hear high pitched noises from being very young – I can easily hear an electrical ping from the tv and shrews squeaking in hedges – I suddenly realise that everytime I move, I hear the ear piercing high ping sound similar to the type a cat scarer makes and feel all fuzzy and confused…This is not a cat scarer… It’s a human scarer, I am being zapped by some sort of electric field designed to stop people snooping – I can literally feel it like static all over my body and face…Just before I puke on their gold studded tarmac I reach out and hit the button and blurt out to the staff member on intercom that I was delivering a tipi so please stop blasting me, but it comes out as one big slurring sentence (this could also be the after effects of the wine) I retreat quickly to the safety of the cab, the gates smoothly and silently open, I daren’t even speak due to being highly aware that somewhere deep inside the mansion we are being watched on a black and white monitor, we pick our chins up from floor as we wind our way along the estate road and soon appears the mansion, the manicured lawns and the woodland out of which three boys appear, I would say typical bratty type boys, but I excuse these types of brats because they know no better and, as is the case here have spent most of their childhood in a boarding school… Shame its the holidays…The next two hours are spent in the pissing rain putting tipi up while getting smacked on the arse and mocked by the middle child and laughing merrily har de har ‘oh isn’t he a dahhhrling’…  Andy jokingly asks the Coutts man which sport caused the five knee operations that make him struggle to crawl through the tipi entrance – only to be told that though it was originally a sports injury, the several expeditions to the Arctic didn’t help either… chin back on floor and ignorant smiles all around… Coutts man takes us into his mansion to sort out paying the rest of the invoice… We enter via the  panic room, inside the metal walled panic room is a safe bigger than our front door, through to a kitchen bigger than our house and kitchen island bigger than our…well you get the idea… this man uses the deep end of what used to be the indoor pool (fear not, he has built a new indoor pool in the grounds of the house) now covered with a solid marble top complete with marble electronic hatch door as a wine cellar. And that my dear, is what bankers spend their bonuses on…
The next tipi delivery goes without a hitch…other than me casually telling the man how strange things sound inside a tipi before you put the flooring down as your voice bounces around and sounds all tinny…only to then realise he has hearing aids in each ear…
We decide to leave the fish concentration camp early in order to make a mad dash up the M25 while it is clear and instead camp near to the final delivery destination… My hit rate of finding bizarre campsites without meaning too is high, so far, an adult only sex camp, a site run by a possible slave who twitched when he mentioned the owners names ‘Mr and Mrs Boss’,  a filthy static caravan on a traveller site, a pub car park next to a train line and a motorway… ah the list goes on… and this next one didn’t disappoint in terms of filthy services, I almost showered under the outdoor tap just to avoid another shower incident where I dare not touch the walls… However 10 out of 10 for quirkiness… In we drive to the most amazing brain explosion ever, we are camping out the back of one of the largest antique sellers in Essex, lovely old things everywhere, they hang from the front of the little wooden shop shacks, which line a dusty road like something out of a Western movie… Somehow the next morning we find ourselves sitting in the owners front room watching breakfast news, eating a fry up, and talking about his dream of creating a tipi site out on his camping field, only to then be asked to move the van because the bloke who played Boycie in Only Fools and Horses was there to take part in some antique hunt programme and a rather muddy, black van with a load of tipi poles on the roof and bits of branch sticking out from the various trees we’ve scraped under on our journey isn’t antique enough… Just another day…
Homeward bound…  Three hour drive…Collect the child and dog… A further three hours… Stop to collect two large tents which have been up for a couple of weeks and turns out not been looked after at all, sift through the urine, mould and mud stained cushions to see what we can salvage, wring out the soaking rugs and blankets,  fill bin bags of ruined things… A further three hours of driving we finally arrive  home at 5 pm to an empty fridge and no dinner, we are beyond exhausted and dirty but press on and mow the lawn, put on three loads of washing, catch up on emails, unpack the van and then repack it all for an early morning drive back to North Devon… now – really must get thinking about this tipi campsite…

Mud, axles and AA men…

Following a longer than average drive from Bristol through floods and rapids to Stoke on Trent we spent a night in a filthy caravan next and got next to no sleep, the trip hadn’t started well, when we found ourselves getting dragged onto a field by a tractor to set up tipis for a festival we knew it didn’t bode well…  Still – we trooped onward, pushing pegs into the sodden ‘jelly bowl’ ground, which had the added sensory pleasure of being recently covered in 3ft of silage. A night in the van, a trip on a steam train where the hairless dog puked in front of revolted onlookers, another dragging off of a field, loading up and another night in what can only be described as the most soulless campsite I’ve ever been too in my life we found ourselves packed and ready to head home…with a trailer axle deep in mud, an hour of waiting to be dragged back out of the very field we had been dragged into 48 hours earlier a field we should be well on our way home… ‘Phew’ I here you say, ‘no, no, no’ I say, ‘because this is us, not normal people…!’

What instead happens is the strong smell of burning rubber heads us off the motorway to Burnham on Sea, where we investigate and notice that having being dragged through several mudslides we’ve broken the axle on the trailer, wheel sitting at a frightening angle and wood and rubber all but worn through…So off we head to a garage who helpfully remind us that because this isn’t a ‘proper’ trailer but actually something thrown together by a person after too many nights on the scrumpy and not anywhere near enough baler-twine they can’t simply ‘fix it’ and, instead we can choose between a few nights on the road waiting for ‘whatever the part is’ or ‘the local drunk to sober up enough to be trusted with a welding torch’ instead we call upon our close associates the AA… Who hate us with the increasing amount of call ups for wheezing this and oily that but, still, after a sigh and some finger tapping agree to get the trailer on a pick up and bring it back to Cornwall…. providing one of us stays with it the entire time, and with the added delightful news that they won’t do a full run but will go to Exeter and then around 5-ish will take it the rest of the way over the course of the next 48 hours… A bit of begging from me and they’ve agreed they are indeed capable of picking it up themselves without me being there to encourage them and mop their brow… Andy, Tom and dog all trudge off in the van to take the other tents down near Bristol while I bore the AA man to death for an hour as he takes me and trailer to Exeter services.  Just to make this more ‘us’ Andy has no battery so has no clue where I am or what is happening… So I sit here, telling you all about it, while drinking a coffee and watching the rain come down…no point getting stressed, ‘the key to happiness is to remove all attachment’ my Buddhist meditation teacher tell me…  One way or another we will all get home, when or how is anyone’s guess… In the meantime I will sit here trying to telepathically will Andy to come and find me at this table in Costa, if you all have the time to help with such willing I shall forever be in your debt…. And so the weekend ends, nearly….. ‘but what will you do now?! Aren’t you worried?’ says the AA man as I slide (and nearly break my leg from the unforeseen drop) from the lorry cab… ‘nope’ I say, ‘this sort of thing happens all the time, we are quite used to it really’ he gave an agreeable nod as I closed the door and stood in the pissing rain waving him off with our lopsided trailer beside me… A Tipical Day indeed…See you on the other side…

The start of the ramblings…

Hello! Welcome one and all!!! Over the coming weeks we will be moving from our brick built house with (most) mod-cons to a canvas single room dwelling on our tipi campsite which we are running for the summer…no electricity, no running water and only flames and coals to cook on..eek!

I should explain that ‘we’ consist of myself Clare, my long suffering, numb-eared other half Andy, our little boy who is 3 plus, (if you include animals, which I do) a range of hens, two rescue tortoises named Torsie and Puck, a hairless dog called Benji who spends most of his time chasing his tail and the love of Benji’s life, a grey cat with orange eyes called Molly.

Myself and Andy make tipis for a living – when I say ‘living’ I mean providing you only eat as much as the average sparrow and have no high hopes of seeing the world or owning clothes with labels… luckily this suits us (just) fine!

Driving all over the country to deliver tipis in our big black converted transporter van with it’s fluorecent orange flowers stuffed in every nook and cranny, along with the learning curve of animal husbandry, the never ending quest to buy some land on which we can ‘live light’, mixed in with the magnetic attraction I seem to have for total chaos are the main theme of this blog. Expect rants, ramblings, musings and no doubt a lot of drama!

So…The intention is to begin updating on here during the course of our move and onwards – following us as we make and deliver our tipis all over the place.