If you've been visiting me here in the Attic for any length of time, you will no doubt be familiar with my Caravan Love Affair. It's almost four years since Connievan became part of our family, and gosh what a huge amount of pleasure she has given us in those years. I can still so clearly remember the tremendous excitement of discovering her, viewing her, then very quickly agreeing there and then on the spot to welcome her into our family. That very first trip away in her, oh the sheer joy of it! Yes, I remember it all so well.
Four years on, and my love affair feels like it is stronger than ever. The older the Little People become, the more important it feels to make the most of family time spent all together. Little Man will turn 12 this summer, and I see his true childhood beginning to slowly ebb away now. He is maturing and changing so rapidly, I look at him these days, as tall as me, and get a glimpse of the very fine young man he is becoming. I don't know how much longer he will wish to squish into a caravan and share a bed with his little brother, how much longer we can hope for such simple harmonious holidays to fit with our growing family. But I am clinging to the thought that it is still possible, for this year at least. Owning a caravan makes it possible for the five of us to pack a few bags and head off to the coast to spend time together, and I love it so, so much for that.
Last year, towards the very end of the summer I was sent this book to read and review. Vantastic was released in Australia at the start of their Spring, but of course that was the start of our Autumn here in the UK. I was feeling a little melancholy with our 'vanning season almost at an end for another year and it didn't feel quite right to chat about planning caravan adventures back then. But now....well now Spring is here and once again I can feel the uprising of excitement as we begin to plan where Connievan will take us this year.
Putting it mildly, this book is Utterly Divine. It is written by Kate Ulman, author of the wonderful blog Fox's Lane. Kate and her young family took six months away from their organic farm in Australia to go on a travelling adventure in a vintage caravan. Kate blogged all about their amazing trip and the book then followed. You can see some photographs of their caravan here, Kate did such an amazing job making it beautiful.
Vantastic is a mixture of travelogue, practical advice, recipes and crafting projects accompanied by a delicious selection of photographs and friendly, engaging writing.
The styling of the book is just wonderful, it feels as if you are holding a precious gift in your hands and every page turn is a pleasure.
Kate crochet's and sews, crafts with her children and crafts to fulfill her own creative needs. Her passion for all things handmade shines out of the pages and every time I dip into this book I feel inspired to get busy making and creating.
Although Vantastic is essentially a book about caravanning, it is also very much more. It is about enjoying the simple pleasures in life, making sure to value time spent with family, relishing the freedom of living, eating, playing and exploring the great outdoors, making memories and having fun times. It encourages you to cook well, be creative, live life to the full, enjoy nature and spend time with loved ones. For all those reasons it has touched my heart and is a book that I have read and re-read many times already. You can find Vantastic on UK Amazon and Amazon US , it is a lovely, inspiring book for sure.
Now while we are merrily on the subject of all things Caravan, I would love to share something else with you. Exactly two years ago (yes exactly, to the very day, my life is so freakily rhythmic it scares me a little)...two years ago I shared the story of the above artwork, made by my very talented friend Caroline Rose, do you remember it? You can read all about it in my post from 26th March 2012, it is a sweet little story of like minds (and hearts) meeting and creating something rather gorgeous. Well Caroline did the creating of course with her very clever fingers, but I feel as if my heart is definitely entwined in that picture.
Well look now, there is a new cutesome little caravan on the block, a dinky little red number this time, isn't it lovely? Let me tell you, this isn't just a box with a pretty sticker on it. No, no. We have to look inside the box to see what treat is in store.......................
.....it's a most beautiful, shiny, colourful mug! Swoon!!!!!!!!!!!
Caroline has been working on some really beautiful new mug designs during the past few months, and my heart truly skipped a beat when I caught sight of this work in progress. First there were flowers, then there were stripes, and then a caravan? Really? A red caravan?
I couldn't wait to see it finished, I felt genuinely excited as I waited along with Caroline and many of her fans to see how this mug idea would turn out.
As it happens, it turned out really pretty great indeed, and all four mugs are just beautiful don't you think?
The image for each of the mugs is long and thin and wraps itself nicely around the mug. It is just such a nifty idea and as with everything that Caroline does, very beautifully executed and presented. She has also made fine art prints for each design so that you can see it all laid out, oh I just love that little caravan so much! I bought myself the caravan mug as soon as it landed in Caroline's shop, and I have been very happily slurping my morning coffee out of it ever since. I absolutely love it.
You can find these beautiful mugs and prints for sale in Caroline's Etsy shop, should you wish to treat yourself to some colourful handmade goodness.
I still have unfulfilled prettifying plans for Connievan, and I still regularly drool and sigh my way through Pinterest images of vintage 'vans and trailers when I feel the need for a little inspiration. You can have a little look at my Caravan Dreams board if you like, there is lots to love in the world of pretty caravans (above image source here)
I am a little ashamed to say that I still have one pair of curtains left to make for Connievan. I had some trouble with my old Bernina sewing machine which scuppered my sewing plans two summers ago you see. She began to protest and stitch badly, and then refused to do any more bobbin winding, so after the cushions were made, I ended up packing her away and no more sewing got done.
Today, after spending rather a lot of time daydreaming about caravans and feeling rather elated to be heading into Springtime, I took the plunge and arranged for my beloved Bernina to go away to a specialist repair place. She is forty-five years old you see, and needs a clever bod who knows how to tinker carefully with her old mechanisms. I am ridiculously excited about doing stitchy fabricky things again after an unexpectedly long two year break. I'm going to finish stitching my curtains! And I'm going to make patchwork curtain pelmets to hang above my curtains!!
Yippeeeeee for creative caravanning!!!
edit to add :: just wanted to mention that this is not a Sponsored Post. I would always say if I was being paid in any way to review products or give links to products.
I was sent the book Vantastic by the publishers on Kate's request, but offered to write about it voluntarily as I was already a huge fan of Fox's Lane blog and had followed both Kate's caravan and book writing journey. Caroline Rose has become a good online friend in the years since I first discovered her work, and I have bought several pictures from her that I love, the mug too.
I wanted to share Kate's lovely book and Carolines amazing work with you just cos I love them both very much and thought it would be nice to bring some lovely creative caravanny-colour to my blog today! However, I am a participant in the Amazon Associates programme and do earn a small commission if you follow my links and make any purchases via Amazon. I think I should write this into my sidebar so that it's clear what I am doing? Yes, I will do that :)