Thursday, 8 December 2011


Jeez, it's been a while but that's mainly because I've been doing this (which I must also confess to sort of abandoning, but will pick up on again very soon) and letting Helga get a bit of R&R over the winter months. I did recently buy her two lovely new (well, second hand) dalahasts though so she mustn't grumble at the lack of attention.

Sunday, 16 October 2011


Cake. That is all.

Made by a very clever friend of Mama Robinson here in all her glory is a cake version of Helga. She tasted delicious. A very wonderful 30th birthday cake indeed. 

papergirls and paperboys

Another lovely day out for Helga which we've been miserably slow posting about was back at the end of August when she helped the Project Club with their Paper Girl Newcastle event.

Paper Girl, for those not in the know, is a truly lovely little little art give-away. In the style of American paper-boys, rolled up pieces of art (submitted for free by artists and designers) are distributed, by bicycle to passers-by across the city. Our job, alongside the very nice folks from The TeaShed, was to help feed and water the hungry cyclists mid way through their mission.

The Newcastle version, which started with complimentary breakfasts at The Settle Down Cafe and finished with bike decorating at Hey, Baby Chief Panda, was organised by the rather wonderful Carlos Rosati of The Cloud Commission and has been very nicely documented over several blog posts, including those by our lovely chum Victoria McParlin (lady illustrator extraordinaire) and the dapper chaps at Novel Magazine, who have put together this wonderful video. 

continental style

Jeeez, it's been a while. It's mid October and there's still no blog posts about all the lovely things Helga got up to this summer. Where has all that time gone!? Rather than type a ramble of where we went*, what we did** and what saw*** here are a few photos from the trip. Enjoy x

*  the sleepy little town of Verchoque in Nord-Pas de Calais, Metz, Strasbourg, Frankfurt, Bruxelles and Brugge.
**stayed a week with J's family in a big old farmhouse and properly chilled out. Spent the following week bombing around Europe with Helga.
*** Some amazing countryside, architecture and caravans - and pretty much all of it by bike.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Helga goes to Kielder

Our pitch: Woodland 41
Last weekend we took Helga to Kielder for a few days. We knew the weather forecast was for rain, lots of it, but we weren't perturbed. We knew we'd be mainly in the caravan finishing off a few things here and there, sewing curtains, painting the bathroom, etc, so we went expecting rain and expecting to be indoors *most* of the time. What we weren't expecting, were thousands and thousands of midges. 
We'd read in the Caravan Club book (yep, we're now officially members) to be prepared for midges during the summer but we really weren't prepared for the masses that greeted us on arrival nor the hundreds that managed to creep through closed windows - it was like something from a Hitchcock film. But we survived, thanks to Jungle Formula (and Jonathon's foresight to bring it). 
Saturday the rain cleared a little and we spent the day wandering around the lake and seeking out some of the art work. Kielder has an amazing art and architecture programme, including work by James Turrell, sixteen*(makers) and Simparch. My favourite piece is Freya's Cabin by Studio Weave. The story of Freya and Robin is really lovely and I left feeling inspired to do some illustrations based around their tale.
Midges aside, we had a really lovely, relaxing time at Kielder and I would definitely recommend a visit, the landscape is beautiful, the staff are super friendly, there's loads to do and there's a a cute little pub:)on site. Only, if you're camping, we'd suggest you arrive at Kielder before 6pm and to stay in your caravan until mid morning. Oh, and arm your self with some formula... 

Life saving stuff, Jungle Formula insect repellent

The very beautiful Freya's Cabin, Kielder

The Ironing Centre (expect no less of a 4* caravan site)

Making curtains

What caravans are made for


Sunday, 22 May 2011

A little peep at Liberty

Liberty hasn't had much attention over the past few months so we thought it only right to take a few snaps of her during the refurb.

Monday, 16 May 2011

After laughter comes tears...

Happy Tears by The Bloody Wonderful Josie Brookes

Our very clever doodler friend Miss Josie Brookes is playing a lovely self-initiated game to spur on her drawing talent, called The Question Project. Everyday Josie listens out for the most captivating question which is asked of her (or her present company) and turns it in to cheeky (see day 3!) little typographic masterpiece. Last night's installment came out of a conversation between Josie, our mutual friend (and website design extraordinaire) Alan Sawyers, the brilliant Bethan Laker and equally wonderful Clare Armstrong (from girlie drawing collective, Set of Drawers). Our verdict? Two thumbs up :-)

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Helga gets new curtains

Double thumbs. That means it's good.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Helga take the high road

The beautiful Kate Parkin, pretending she's in a Cath Kidston catalogue

Happy Campers


Kettle's on

Sunday, 10 April 2011

A lick of paint

We've had the most glorious weather this weekend, which has meant three things, BBQ, picnics and a spot of painting. Here are the results...


Monday, 4 April 2011

cool stuff

Here's a few teasers. The Fridges get a makeover. They should be ready soon...

Helga's fridge
Liberty's fridge

Just like Jack, we’re On The Road…

Helga the Scandi-van

Saturday 5th march 2011
Westfield Farm

Our very first caravan outing. We opted to take Helga in all her pre-refurbished 1980s glory, mainly due to Liberty being not quite ready but also to spend some much needed quality time with Helga (a bitter winter has meant she’s been quite neglected of late). She did a fine job. To provide some moral support and ‘some on the job training’ Ma and Pa (and Margaret, their dog) came along for the trip. As longstanding members of the Caravan Club, they were also kind enough to research and book the site – a little Certified Location (CL) just a mile or so west of Seahouses and about 3 miles south of Bamburgh. We set off about noon from my parents house in County Durham and arrived at Westfield Farm a little after 2pm. The site was perfect - cute and quiet, occupied by only two other vehicles (and thee billy goats). It didn’t take too long to settle in, with Pa showing J the ropes.

Turns out there’s not much going on of a Saturday night in Seahouses so we opted for a take away supper of chips and curry sauce. 

Thankfully the weather’s been very kind, it’s been a bit nippy but the sun has been out for most of the weekend – it does mean J’ll have to wait until our next adventure to hear the drumming of rain on the roof. We had no problems packing her all up for home - all done and dusted an about a half hour. Can’t wait for outing no.2…  

Caravan love

I’ve wanted a caravan for years. Years and years. I’m not sure why, I’ve always been more the city breaker than the happy camper but I find something really charming about tiny little homes on wheels. The thought of carrying, snail-like, all the comforts of home with you, wherever you go is a heartening one.

About three years ago, as a job contract came to an end I had the idea of starting my own little caravan refurb business with grand intentions of buying lots of tiny old, unloved, battered and bruised vans, which I’d bring back to life with some elbow grease and  a lot of TLC, making them pretty enough to rent out for festivals, photo shoots and weekend trips. As it turned out, I landed a marvelous job looking after a collective of amazingly talented creative businesses and practitioners (housed within the Mushroom Works and Brick Works Studios in the Ouseburn Valley, Newcastle) and the caravan business idea was shelved. 

But thoughts of pretty caravans just kept coming back to me.

Three years later and it’s all taking shape.  I’m two caravans richer and a Laravan masterplan as long as my arm.  It all started with Liberty.  A 1980s ACE ABI Marauder. She’s a corker, currently being stripped out and painted ready for the summer. We’ve painted almost all the interior , have added some vintage features and recently bought about 20m of a lovely red Laura Ashley fabric to help make her really pretty.  Making the seating covers has been pretty daunting, using my tiny sewing machine, I’ve not sewn anything of this scale before and this is the first time I’ve sewn zips into anything – but it all seems to be going to plan (so far).  

Helga was a Christmas present from ma and pa (such a good Christmas present! She’s the perfect twin to Liberty (also a 1980s ACE ABI Marauder).

The ‘vans are slightly different, especially in their interior layout


So, two  ‘vans and nothing to tour pull them with. Several weeks of eBay searches, a very long ‘watch list’, a few local viewings, many lost auctions and a trip to West Yorkshire later and we have ourselves a lovely little Vauxhall Astra, complete with duel fuel and tow-bar. A little cart before the horse, you might say but all’s worked out well – the Astra does a fine job and will no doubt pull the caravans from A to B marvelously. 

Laravans... the beginning

A few years ago good friends of ours, Kate and John sent me a bespoke birthday card with a caravan on it – they named it Laravan – and it kinda makes sense, so in their honour that’s what I’m naming my wee collection of caravans . Welcome to the tales of the Laravans…
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