Whilst I’m still embracing the cosy winter season, I’m also putting in the work and preparation for warmer lazy summer days in the not so distant future. With that in mind thought you might fancy a bit of a summer musing for the weekend and so without further ado I would like to introduce you to my latest obsession and pet project, Brigitte, a 1970’s retro caravan, picked up for a song on Ebay and currently hidden away in a barn in Hertfordshire in the early stages of a makeover, in preparation for festivals and beaches, woohoo!
LIVING THE BOHEMIAN WAY IN ST. TROPEZ !
Like most of my ‘schemes’ it all started as a romantic whim, developed into an idea, read obsession, which I then ‘sold’ to darling ricky, who, although he would never admit it, is as much as an incurable romantic as I, has to be really as we would never have got any of this show on the road, ever! Anyway it happened last year on our annual jaunt to the Cote D’Azur in the intoxicating and crazy St. Tropez. We noticed a small campsite literally just off the beach, when I say off, I mean literally off, a few strides across the sand. It was like this place had just stood still in time, I’m pretty sure that some of the campers have been going there since the 60’s & 70’s and probably still have a penchant for the nearby nudist beach! Its a simple grassy sandy area surrounded by rushes and owned by a lovely older Tropezien lady who is probably sitting on a patch of land worth millions but is happy to just rent out her few pitches every summer, don’t you just love the ‘give a damn’ arrogance of the french? So I got to dreaming and before I knew it I had conjured up an image of how I thought Brigitte Bardot, queen and mascot of St. Trop, would look living all hippy chic and bohemian on the beach. After that it was sealed really, we would buy a retro caravan, refurbish it and tow it down to St Trop this year and park it on the beach for a few weeks and live like gypsies, perfect!
St. Tropez, we just love it, after 15 years of holidaying there it is now in the blood and I start getting twitchy for a fix of it around May. Always fashionable, buzzy and chic, people come to see and be seen. In the high season its a crazy hot house of characters from billionaires to beach bums, questionable looking nudists to models. From the beach clubs to the glorious vineyards that stretch down from the back drop of the hills right up to the famous long stretch of beach known as Pamplone, there is something for everyone and whatever that is it’s always fun. To me it still retains a bohemian flavour that made it famous when new wave artists and musicians flocked here in the 50’s. If you like to bend, break or just kick out the rules but with style, this is the place for you, no where does hippy chic like St. Trop!
THE CONCEPT – IT STARTED WITH A WHIM AND ENDED IN A MOOD BOARD!
Brigitte Bardot is synonymous with St Tropez, she made it world famous after filming the controversial “And God Created Woman” on the beaches there in 1957 and for many years had a suitably chic relaxed home on the waters edge known as ‘La Madrague’ Initially my concept idea for the caravan was a beautifully chic hippy style interior but I came across some photos of Brigitte taken sometime during the 1970’s at ‘Madrague and immediately knew that I had to recreate this.
CAMPING CAN BE COOL, THE PERSONALISED VINTAGE CARAVAN IS THE NEW HIPSTER GETAWAY!
The UK’s love affair with Glamping is still in full flow and with an ever growing band of festivals, cool camp sites popping up all over and George Clarke’s revelations of amazing spaces that won’t blow the budget, it makes sense that people are also recognising the potential for renovating and personalising older vans themselves. Basically they can become your own unique holiday home that you can carry around on your back (well tow on the back of your car, or drive if it’s a camper van), the perfect flexible holiday option for both couples and families, I mean it doesn’t get any cooler, this is Hippy Chic people! If you are handy it can be a brilliant DIY project through the winter months and if you’re not, like my darling Richie (he’s brilliant at many things but sadly DIY ain’t one of them), there are several companies out there now specialising in vintage caravan renovations. I’m working with the lovely Richard and Lyn Stark at the English Caravan Company, who are handily based very close to me in Herts so its easy for me to nip down and see how she’s doing. You can keep an eye on her progress by checking in over on her Pinterest where we are sharing the makeover on her own special board.
Richard and Lyn not only renovate older vans but also build brand new vans from vintage templates, as well as building their signature teardrop vans for both private and commercial use. They really are fab; my fave is the Toyhauler built to transport a toy (jet ski, canoe, bikes etc) which also converts into sleeping accommodation with kitchen at the rear.
There are so many options and unique takes on these beauties and something for everyone. What appeals to me of course is the potential to create something individual and personal. Take a look at my caravan inspiration board over on Pinterest to get your creative juices flowing and check out these few useful vintage caravan resources:
If you’ve got a vintage caravan story I’d love to hear about it ?In the meantime we shall keep beavering away and updating on Pinterest. Stay tuned and sign up for the big REVEAL!