A couple of months after the onset of Covid, I became obsessed with ways of travelling about which would be self-contained and therefore safe from The Virus. Turns out many, many other people had had the same idea. I likewise developed an obsession with YouTube channels that featured people who’d given up the rat race to live on either a canal boat, a motorhome, a caravan or a ruin out in the middle of absolutely nowhere. I’d just love my own (fantastical) address to be:
The House in the Dell
Snug Fast Bottom
The Middle of Nowhere
wasted spent many happy hours perusing these channels, with a particular fascination for those who’d renovated ancient caravans, motorhomes and what are termed ‘tiny houses.’ The renovation aspect particularly answered the call of the domestic goddess that lives somewhere inside me; and here I refer to myself as a goddess in the ‘ironic’ sense, the way good old Nigella insists she used the term of herself many culinary moons ago. Oh, to look like Nigella at 61.
The upshot of months of research was that I finally took the plunge and
forced the husband (I mean gently wore down the husband via incessant whinging, in the way that gentle drops of water will eventually erode a heavy stone) into placing an order for a Go Pod caravan. I felt temporarily overcome by this immense financial decision (but not more so than the dazed husband) because the Go Pod is ordered online, like you’d order a bit of something from Amazon – except this was a caravan! The Go Pod is tiny, so it could feasibly arrive via an Amazon courier, packed up in a cardboard box. In fact, it’s more than tiny. It’s like a Wendy house on wheels. It’s like the sort of caravan your average Hobbit would have set out on a quest in, to save his size 20 feet.
I’d chosen the Go Pod after looking at every other tiny (which weren’t that tiny once you looked at their specs) caravan out there. The Freedoms. The Elddis 304. The Basecamp (definitely big, even though advertised as small.) The Barefoot (dismissed for its ridiculous price tag and the fact it’s also not small at all.) Back then I could have talked to you for hours about caravans. I could have discussed jockey wheels, Truma water pumps, electrical mains hook up, nose weights, towbars, payloads, ALKO braking systems, anti -snaking devices, as though I was a caravanning pro. This research (which attained PhD standards I’m sure) paid off when the husband rang Caravan Guard (recommended to us by our Pod dealership and based in Halifax so, pleasingly, up North) to sort out our insurance after the Pod arrived. The husband had ended the phone call and then said the woman had asked him a lot of questions and something about an anti-sizzle (or something) device. ‘I said we didn’t have it,’ he said. From my then position at the washing up bowl I’d screeched, ‘she’s on about an anti-snaking device, the Pod has it and you can probably get some money off for that cos it’s a safety thing!’ The husband immediately rang the insurers again and got £14 off. He then filled in the guarantee for the Pod’s dual fuel heating system and spend an age looking for the heating’s serial number in the Pod. ‘Can’t find it anywhere,’ he’d grumped. He’d been looking at the heating control panel. Something came to me, as in a dream, wherein I saw the heating unit sitting underneath the Pod’s seating. The husband lifted up the lid on the seating unit and there was the heater, plus serial number. Such are the blessings of a mind prone to endless research.
The Pod also has a loo (porta potti) squished inside a small cupboard. The loo is small, as is the cupboard, as is everything Pod-related. My initial obsession with caravans stemmed from the fact that they have bathrooms and loos. Hence providing a way to travel without having to call in at public services during a pandemic. The Pod however does not have a bathroom. The designers did away with this, both to keep the Pod tiny, but also in the knowledge that few caravanners use their bathrooms, preferring onsite facilities. The fact the Pod does have a loo was a huge bonus. Of course, the thought of using a chemical toilet was not an attractive prospect in the least, but it did provide a way to travel and go to the loo in sublime safety. The husband has ever since found much hilarity in the fact that he basically forked out for the world’s most expensive mobile toilet.
We ordered the Pod in September and it (amazingly) arrived on my 60th birthday. The four-month delay was due entirely to The Virus, as the Pod’s ‘GRP shell’ (I know my stuff) is manufactured in Portugal (where The Virus caused delays) then shipped over to be fitted out in the UK. On the day of its arrival, I was on tenterhooks. I knew the Pod was small, via photos and nosing around other people’s Pods online, and yet it always looked invitingly small, as in not that small really. But I also know that the camera lies.
When our Pod came into view, poddling behind a large van, I exclaimed, ‘But it’s tiny (that word again, nothing else will do.) It looks much smaller than online!’ This was in spite of the fact that I’d measured out its dimensions in the back room, so had a realistic picture of its actual size. But behind the works van it looked so sort of helpless and child-like and cute – already I was anthropomorphising.
I didn’t inspect the Pod for two days due to incessant rain. And then we sat in it. Sitting in it is about all you can do. There is negligible headroom, made worse by the fact that the Pod curves downwards towards the towbar (for aerodynamics.) There is a pop-up top immediately above the sink/gas hob which raises headroom to 6’ 1” – the relief on pushing this up was immediate. We could actually stand up in the Pod, albeit that the pop-up top is roughly 3’ square. The upholstered seats, made from foam, are rock hard and quite narrow. On first inspection I was sort of underwhelmed. But that’s me, never at ease with the ‘new’ or change. Here is the cooking area of our Pod and the full interior. Further photos can be found at Red Lion Caravans Ltd, the only maker of Pods.
A second inspection the following day revealed double glazed windows that open and then stay open via a tube mechanism. It also revealed quite a nice amount of cupboard space. We hooked it up to the mains which revealed lights above the cooking area, and above the fridge, and above the seating area, along with two flexible reading lights (far too bright.) It revealed slats that pull out from the front end to make up the bed. At each discovery the husband exclaimed ‘oh, this is good,’ or ‘oh, this is alright.’ He became interested, he became enamoured, he began to think Podding might be a good idea.
For, during my obsessive search for a Covid-proof portable loo (never thinking that that search would arrive at the Pod as the answer to my defecatory prayers) it had also dawned on me that the Pod was capable of answering many other prayers. It would provide a spare room, should the entire family descend on our terraced house. A spare room kitted out with a king-sized bed and a TV/DVD player. What more could guests wish for. It would also provide local weekends away for the husband and myself, as methinks a couple of days would be all a person could stand Pod-wise. This negative thinking may be that the Pod arrived in Winter, so it’s difficult to picture a Podding idyll, when current skies are continually grey, the rain buckets down and temperatures approach freezing. However, we also have an awning on order, yet to be delivered due to The Virus, and which was the husband’s idea. And now I have the Pod, I can see he was right. The awning will double the Pod’s liveable size and, more importantly, we’ll be able to stand up in it without fear of banging our heads.
The headbanging is so far a BIG problem. The husband has only to enter the Pod and it attacks him from all angles. He has banged his head on the shelving above the hob. On the side of the pop-up top. On the doorway as he comes in. A couple of days ago I found him at his laptop rubbing his head in a most concerned manner. ‘What’s up,’ I asked. ‘Banged my head again on that Pod,’ he said. It is unlike the husband to complain, least of all about pain, even though he’s been in pain almost his entire life. I therefore worried that he may have concussion, or something worse. ‘Should you go to A&E,’ I asked. ‘Of course not, I’ll just have to not bang my head.’ The way the husband had said: ‘that Pod,’ was slightly worrisome. He’s also taken to wearing his Dad’s old Russian style furry hat in the Pod as protection from the Pod. His second thought had been to get a cycle helmet. I’ve also banged my head frequently, leading to thoughts of fashioning attractive stuffed ‘things’, akin to a doorstop, to somehow stick on the offending parts of the Pod’s oh so low ceiling and thus save our bonces.
There’s also the matter of age. We are both descending into dotage. Can we cope with lugging a caravan about, however tiny. I hopefully pre-answered this as the other reason I had chosen a Pod was for its low MiRO (mass in running order) weight, which should provide ease of towing. The Pod is also pretty close to the width of a car and is a single axle caravan, meaning just about any sized car can tow it. Can we, moreover, sleep on a rock-hard bed, when I find the Premier Inn’s self-proclaimed, most comfortable bed on the planet – the Hypnos – a pain? Would I ever have the nerve to use a portable loo? And yet the call of this Sceptered Isle is becoming stronger as I get older, a symptom of which is a propensity to watch things like Mortimer and Whitehouse Gone Fishing, just so I can drink in our green and pleasant land. What better way to see this other Eden than pitching up in some farmer’s field and living, as it were, right in the middle of an English wonderland.
There are many things to get for the Pod, but these can wait. I have joined a Pod Facebook group, the only Facebook group I’ve ever joined, or ever will join, so I can get tips and ask questions and nose around other Pods to my heart’s content. Almost all Podders name their Pod. I’ve never been the type to name inanimate objects. I thought of ‘Escape Pod,’ it fitting with my liking for Science Fiction, but someone beat me to it.