|Posted by heatherloughlin on January 31, 2017 at 10:45 AM||comments (1)|
Hello and welcome to the latest musings of this very intermittent blog. Before the 2017 season is upon us, I thought it might be an opportune time to look back on the happenings of last year.
Randomness is the only thing that seems to be a constant in Caravantasia. We've had bookings from couples, hen parties, birthday parties, pretend WW2 soldiers, mud stompers, stone chippers and ecologists. It's kind of fun that way though as conversations can range from topics as diverse as the number of birds present on site (at least 47 different types) to how to clean and assemble a semi-automatic rifle (I still don't know and intend to keep it that way). It keeps life interesting.
We hosted our first hen nights in 2016. We had some lovely groups of friends who were an absolute joy to have around the place. Some arranged their own activities and some asked us to help them out. They played rounders, had silent discos, learnt 'dirty dancing', made up quizzes, made dreamcatchers, made jewellery, took yoga classes, ate pizza and sat around a bonfire or danced until the early hours. One of the brides-to-be arrived in a bikini and toga because her 'friends' told her that was required dress... cruel, but very funny!
In July we hosted our first Summer BBQ, which we hope will be a regular event. It was a BYOB event with food provided, followed by entertainment in the form of Scott Maher (Singer/songwriter and general comedian) and Will Wild (probably the coolest DJ on the planet). A fun, fun night.
The site continues to be popular for one or two night stays for couples, young families and groups of friends. The peace and quiet of the place is the draw. We are very much in the middle of nowhere. Just sitting drinking coffee on the deck of a caravan, snoozing in one of the hammocks or wandering around the fields is the perfect chill-out and antidote for the stresses of the working week. We've always been a bit undecided about whether or not we should provide WiFi at the site and after last years feedback we've definitley decided not too. Guests tell us that after the initial shock/fear/panic, they actually enjoy just switching off from the outside world for a while.
So, that was 2016 and I'm guessing that 2017 will be much the same.... which could literally be anything! Bring it on
PS. The site will be open from 4th May - 24th September this year.
|Posted by heatherloughlin on May 17, 2016 at 10:30 AM||comments (0)|
You see, I came across this white rabbit and followed him down a hole and ended up involved in all kinds of shenanigans. And THAT’s why I haven’t blogged in so long.
So, before I get arrested for crimes against blogging (not to mention all of that dodgy stuff that happened in Wonderland), I’ll just move swiftly on shall I and we’ll say no more about it?
Caravantasia’s 2016 season has started with a bang. Tom has been putting in lots of hours in the workshop to finish our two new caravans for this season and I’ve been sewing up a storm making curtains and re-upholstering cushions.
The first of the caravans is called the “Sylva”. She was made in the West of Ireland in the 60s and was owned by the same family in Galway from new. The lady we bought it from was the daughter of its original owner and told us about the family holidays they enjoyed in it as kids, sleeping two adults and up to six children (gulp!). At Caravantasia she’ll be rented out as a more spacious 4 berth!
Unfortunately, time hasn’t been kind to this old caravan and we had to completely strip her back and replace all of the internal walls and framework. I suspect it may have been easier just to build a new caravan, but she’s a rare old Dame so we wanted to give her a bit of respect. We’re just putting back all of the fixtures and fittings and will have all of the soft furnishings, pictures, nick-nacks and other bits of prettification in her by the weekend. She’ll be a little 1960s palace.
Next up is “Wilma”. She’s a CI Cadet and was a very popular caravan in the 1970s. She’s being furnished in a slightly headache-inducing 1970s colour scheme, but a little toned down to make sure guests actually get some sleep.
She’s called Wilma because Tom’s first crush was on Wilma from 70s TV programme “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century”. This probably had a lot to do with all of those lycra space costumes. I had a massive crush on Buck, but Buck is a weird name for a caravan and sounds a bit rude. I will leave you with a photo of the dazzling duo and will be back much sooner with pics of the newly unveiled caravans.
Oh Buck…… *sighs*………..such 70’s perfection….. :
|Posted by heatherloughlin on July 1, 2015 at 11:00 AM||comments (0)|
Tom took our little caravan, The Atom, on a road trip to Dublin yesterday, for the launch of Failte Ireland's new WELCOME STANDARD, which we're very proud to have been accredited to.
Tom was presented with the Standard by Michael Ring TD, Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport who was a good sport and looks right at home being served tea by some little helpers.
The new standards allow for "greater innovation, individuality and authenticity in Failte Ireland's approved tourist accommodation businesses" and we're pretty chuffed to be in the company of some other great glamping sites such as Rock Farm Slane, Poduma and Clover Cabin. We're all for a bit of quirkiness!
We took part in the pilot programme for the new standard, which included being part of Failte Ireland's introductory video. You can watch it below.
CRINGE!! What an unfortunate pic of me on the still.... but it has some nice shots of Caravantasia!
There's more information about the standard HERE.
|Posted by heatherloughlin on May 1, 2015 at 10:30 AM||comments (0)|
BEHOLD! "Maggies Kitchen", our new outdoor eating area is now more than just a figment of our imagination. It's now looking more like the shabby old ruin that it's supposed to be. The back story to Maggie and the Kitchen is here if you're at all interested.
Over the last couple of weeks, Tom and Dave have been slaving away in that gorgeous summer weather we enjoyed recently, dilligently provided with ice cream and sympathy by yours truly.
Hopefully you can now get a better idea of how it will look when it's finished. The good thing about building a ruined building is that you get to decide when it's finished.... "But it's got no roof?" they say... Pah! It's meant to have no roof! "But it's got no walls on two sides?" Silly! walls are sooo last year! Just think, it could become a whole new concept in building... it would save on a hell of a lot of maintenance.
Anyhow, I digress. Maggies kitchen will have a barbeque and a cooking griddle for morning fry-ups. It will have a sink for drinking water, two windows and a functioning chimney and fireplace for warming cold hand on chilly evenings. We also plan to have a temporary roof on it on the off-chance that it may rain at some point over the summer.
There's just a bit of the two walls to finish now, then we get to decorate it with all of the things you might find in an old Irish cottage. We're thinking pictures of the Pope (John Paul II, of course), JFK, some nice china etc. All suggestions welcome!
So, you want to see some photos don't you? As usual most of the photos have dogs in them, and there's one extra this time too because Dave's dog, Jim the Jack Russell, accompanied him on the build.
|Posted by heatherloughlin on March 5, 2015 at 1:00 PM||comments (0)|
Don’t get me wrong, I love frogs. Much of my youth was spent collecting frogspawn (it was legal in the 80's, along with most other stuff). I'd watch in wonder as the tadpoles grew arms and legs and then turned into frogs. Really… how do they do that??
My frogspawn obsession hasn’t waned much over the years and I will generally start stalking our two ponds around mid February to see if any frogspawn has arrived (this year, it was first spotted on 27th February, in case you were wondering).
The problem is, frogspawn is one of those tantalising signs of Spring. For me, it’s the frogspawn, the catkins on the hazel trees and the first primrose in the ringfort that really let me know that Spring is here.
Unfortunately, in this part of the world it’s also Mother Nature’s way of saying “Spring is here! There’s so much to do! Just look at those weeds starting to take over Caravantasia! Feel GUILTY about those evenings spent slouched on the sofa with a hot water bottle, a glass of wine and a box set. Don’t mind those sub-zero temperatures/wind/snow/hail, you lazy human. Get outside, for God’s sake. It’s SPRING!!!”
You know what I mean? Mother Nature can be so cruel, even when she’s not dishing out floods and hurricanes. The promise of spring is there, but that's about all.
Next year I will leave the frogs alone and not go looking for frogspawn until around April. That should fix it. Ignorance will be bliss.
I will let you in on the plans for Caravantasia over the next few weeks. We have quite a lot of fun events in the pipeline and will have another Caravan to show you soon. Maggies Kitchen, which I talked about in the last blog post, has been on hold for a while because of the frost (which is bad for the mortar, apparently) but it should be finished as soon as the weather improves a bit. We can't wait to start getting the site ready for the new season but will need a bit more dry weather first.
So, until next time, just hurry up Spring and stop messing around with us. Ok?!
Skip: Clearly not impressed either.
|Posted by heatherloughlin on December 1, 2014 at 8:05 AM||comments (2)|
Wooah, what happened there.... I was gone for a bit too long. Busy summer and [insert random excuse] stuff.
So, the caravans are all closed up for the year, but that doesn't mean that Tom and I are also in hibernation. There are THINGS happening!
As part of our planning permission for the site, we are allowed to build seven 'follies' i.e. things that may or may not have a purpose and may or may not be completely ridiculous.
We have recently got approval for three follies, these are "Maggie's Kitchen", a cob house and a fire pit. The first of these to be built is "Maggies Kitchen" which will be an outdoor eating area in the style of an old ruined irish cottage, incorporating a barbeque and a pizza oven and a traditional fireplace. It makes PERFECT SENSE in our heads, I promise you.
Why is it called 'Maggie's Kitchen'? The last of Tom's relatives to live here were his Aunt Maggie and Uncle Jim. By all accounts Maggie was a lovely lady and a lot of our neighbours who would have been kids back in the 70's and 80's have fond memories of her baking and her 'smokey lemonade', a homemade lemonade that had a distinctive smokey flavour due to the turf fires in the kitchen. So when we came up with the idea for an outdoor kitchen area with an old Irish theme, we had to make sure that Aunt Maggie was acknowledged in some way.
In the photo below, Aunt Maggie is the lady on the right. Do you notice anything weird about this picture? Oh yes, there's a small child levitating in the background.... something to do with the smokey lemonade, no doubt.
Maggie and friend
Tom has been hard at work digging foundations and has begun to build the walls of the structure. We're hoping that the main structure will be finished in the next few weeks and the whole area will be ready for when the spring and the warm weather are back with us.
Foundations of Maggie's Kitchen poured
Main walls being built (Green house in the background)
Honey dog is not at all impressed with this flurry of activity. There is much less playing and stick-throwing going on, and much more sleeping on the agenda.....
"Dog in the fog"
|Posted by heatherloughlin on September 2, 2014 at 5:20 PM||comments (0)|
For once, I didn't have to think of a cringey blog title. It's already been done for me.....
We are just back from a weekend at the Electric Picnic festival in Stradbally, Co. Laois and it seems fitting that Caravantasia should report back on the area of the festival that's known as Trailer Park.
Trailer Park has grown in size over the last few years and is now a spectacular of caravans that have been converted into a diverse range of caravanny delights from foot hospitals to time machines.
Unfortunatley, my camera had a bit of a wobble over the weekend, so the photos are a bit rubbish, but let me talk you through some of the weird and wonderful goings-on.
There was a Car-au-vin caravan that sold... you guessed it... WINE.
The "Caravanoke" was a karaoke bar inside a caravan, complete with screen, seating and oversized mic's for the crowd. The caravan totally rocked, in more ways than one, and I may* have spent too long in there singing. (*I did, I totally did).
The Steampunk time machine was an amazing contraption that after a few lemonades would totally convince you that just by sitting in this pedal-powered machine and selecting the century of your choosing you would be there in a flash. I don't have a photo of it unfortunatley. I'm guessing that my camera got mangled in the space-time continuum. They're susceptible to that sort of stuff.
We saw our friends, The Classic Beatles play in the Trailer Park stage. They were as brilliant as always. The stage hosts bands in the living room, bedroom, kitchen and lavatory of a mobile home. Like you do.
So, that's just a little taster of the caravan-related stuff we saw at the weekend. As usual we were working in the Greencrafts field at festival, running workshops in stone carving. Tom arrived there a few days earlier to do the stonework for this metal-working forge.
Unfortunately the forge had to be disassembled yesterday, but I guess that's the nature of a festival. Here one day and gone the next, leaving nothing but a load of happy memories and several hundred acres of abandoned tents.
We had a blast - were any of you there? What were your highlights? Let us know!
So until next time.... THANK YOU......... YOU'VE BEEN A GREAT CROWD....... GOODNIGHT!!!! (*rooar of crowd*)
Sorry, I can't come back for an encore - I have to put the dinner on.
Photo credit: Electric Picnic www.electricpicnic.ie
|Posted by heatherloughlin on July 29, 2014 at 11:25 AM||comments (0)|
Yowch! Could the title of a blog entry about solar lights be any more cheesey? (answer: probably... don't tempt me).
Our 'ethos' for the site is to be as green as possible, but without forcing it down people's throats. We don't want to be all green and preachy and make our guests shower in recycled pond water*, but we do want to have as little impact as possible.
One of the ways we're doing this is by going 'off-grid' and using solar energy for hot water and electricity. The hot water for our showers and toilets is heated by solar panels and the lights for the toilets and showers are all solar powered too and are on automatic sensors.
We've been really impressed at how bright the lights are. I'd always imagined that solar lighting would be a bit puny and temperamental, but that's not the case at all. You wouldn't notice the difference from mains power, and I guess that's how it should be.
In the Green House we have solar lights inside, solar fairy lights outside and a PV panel for electricity to power a laptop, stereo etc.
Colm Griffin at http://www.purchase.ie supplied the bespoke solar lighting system for the site and I'd thoroughly recommend the company. Not because I'm getting paid to say that or anything, just because it's true.
Also a big shout out to our super-efficient plumber Harry Ardnt who installed the solar hot water system and Jimmy Hayes from Killenaule who worked some late nights to get everything installed before our launch. Thank you!
So, now we can carry out all manner of activties in the Green House at night.... ....solar powered rustic pole-dancing classes anyone? .......... anyone?.............
* the water comes from a well, in case you were wondering ;-)
|Posted by heatherloughlin on July 20, 2014 at 9:30 AM||comments (0)|
Phew, what a week it's been. We've had a small army of people here for the last week, helping us with the final push to get the site ready for the opening event, OUT OF THE WOODS, a day of tree-related events hosted on behalf of the Tipperary Green Business Network.
It's been hard work... there have been long days, late nights and a few unexpected things to keep us on our toes (such as escapee cows and magotty sheep) but there's also been a huge amount of craic. Loads of the stuff.
So, at around 10:30 on Saturday 19th July, Caravantasia was declared officially open, with the ding a ling of a bell...
Wesley Seery started the day off with a presentation and demonstration about how to make charcoal. He also bought charcoal along for the barbeque. There was lots of fire and smoke (mainly smoke) and lets face it, who doesn't love a bit fire.
The process takes several hours, but we checked the barrel this morning and it was full of perfect charcoal. There are very few people in Ireland making charcoal from native Irish wood (most of it comes from China, Argentina etc), so it was great to be having locally produced food cooked on locally produced charcoal. Wes is from Mayo, which isn't exactly local, but we'll let that one pass ;-)
Richie Clarke (www.clarkewoodcarving.com) was next up, he'd arrived a couple of days prior to the event to make a start on a sculpture that he would finish on the day. He gave a talk on how he approaches carving, both with the chainsaw and hand tools and shared how he gets his inspiration for his work. The carving of a fox was finished by the end of the day and the result was pretty impressive. The sculpture will be going to a private house near Clonmel.
Honey the dog checked out the Health & Safety arrangements for the day.... yes, beside the guy with the chainsaw looks like the perfect place to sleep. Of course.
Next up, Liam from Woodelo had brought along a couple of his wooden bicycles and explained how they're made. I hadn't seen these before and wasn't sure what to expect, but was really impressed. They are quite beautiful, and really light.
Gary Dalton from Ecoworks (and source of pure entertainment) had brought along his mobile pizza oven and explained how to make one of these as a permanent feature in your home - using two different techniques. Some people got stuck in and got their hands dirty plastering the oven with clay.
Jim Dunne from Dunnes Sawmills showed how hurleys are made from the butt of an ash tree. He also very kindly supplied us with some beautifully made benches for the day. And if you're reading this, Jim, we have our eye on that lovely gate.
PJ and Molly cooked a barbeque lunch, with organic lamb and beef burgers supplied by Sheepwalk farm, which were totally delish. Some of the salads were supplied by Aimsir Bia, a community organic food growing group in Cashel.
We had some of the caravans on site for our guests to have a look at. Some are finished whilst others will be complete in the next few weeks. We also brought along a 1960's caravan that we've not started work on yet... to show a kind of a 'before and after'.
It was a nice dry morning with sunny spells so everyone had the chance to wander around the site, the farm and the ringfort.
And then, out of nowhere... the rain came. Not just rain, but a torrential downpour of biblical proportions. The type that gets you soaked in seconds.
But, hey, we live in Ireland. It rains. We just cope with that sort of stuff don't we... it's only water, right? and we're all waterproof?
Having said that, I think Madeline and Bill from Peg's Cottage deserve some sort of award for keeping smiling despite getting caught in the middle of a field during the downpour. Luckily, the last few talks of the day could be done inside, in our 'Green House'. First up we had Peter Cowman talking about "Eco-building on a shoestring", a really interesting talk about building affordable homes that respect and come from the land they're built on.
Next, Peter's wife, Alanna Moore, talked about 'Sensitive Permaculture'. Alanna is a master dowser (finding water and energy using a pedulum).
After this, Sean Farrell from Cloncannon Biofarm talked about "Biodiversity and Trees'. Sean has a wealth of knowledge about ecology and has his own organic farm which is open for visits.
Wrapping up the day, there was a raffle which members of the Tipperary Green Business Network had provided.
If you were there on the day, thank you for coming and we hope you enjoyed the day. We're really grateful for everyone's support.
So, I guess that's it.... CARAVANTASIA is OPEN. Woohoo!
Thank you so much to our wonderful friends, neighbours and family who've got us this far and the new friends we've made along the way. You know who you are and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Every single person who's worked on bringing Caravantasia to life has brought a little bit of their own energy and uniqueness to the site and I think it's this wonderful mix of people that's made this site so special.
So, y'all ... if you 'get' what we're trying to do here, hop onboard the Caravantasia train and let's have some fun...... ..............
Heather & Tom x
|Posted by heatherloughlin on July 2, 2014 at 6:00 AM||comments (0)|
Eeek! There's nothing like a countdown clock to focus the mind. There are now 16 days left till our opening event "Out of the Woods" and we're busy getting the site ready for the day. Life has become a hectic whirlwind of random actvities such as wallpapering a caravan in the middle of a field, climbing onto a roof with a hose to water plants and tiling garden sheds. Random, yes, but good fun too. Here's a few pics:
"The Atom" - all finished now and ready for her new curtains and cushions
Watering the roof of the Green House - the wildflowers were becoming a little parched in the sun
Of course it's a well known fact that all work and no play is bad for the soul.....sometimes you have to take a bit of time out to enjoy the surroundings. The caravan decks have become my go-to place for a spot of relaxation (the tables and chairs for the decks are being deleivered next week, hence the rather laid-back angle of the photo below). We've left the areas around the decks untouched and a bit overgrown because it's such a good wildlife haven and we think that most people would prefer to share their space with the birds and bees?
Today, my random tasks will include sewing a set of curtains for a shed and making a garden for an 8ft wooden hare to live in.... as you do.