A Trailer Trash Life

13 02 2011

When I first set my intention to attract the opportunity to live in my dream home by the river, I had no idea that this would include living in what my Dad lovingly refers to as my ‘Caravan-on-Thames’!

The correct term to describe my humble abode is ‘residential park home’. It is often described as a ‘mobile home’ – or in the case of a local reporter – a ‘90210 Winnebago’!  

My friends all thought I was crazy to want to take on a property that required so much work to make habitable again. They wanted to know what had possessed me to join a ‘trailer trash’ community, when I could have chosen to live in ‘civilisation’!

Dining Area - Before

Dining Area – After

‘Trailer Trash’ was a term that I was unfamiliar with and I don’t think it has quite the same connotations here in the UK that it does in the US, where I understand it is a term used to describe a stereotype of poor people (especially in the Midwestern United States) who live in trailer-homes.

My neighbours are mainly hard working folks, or happily living out their retirement in a peaceful environment. There are couples and single people – young and old. It is a lovely mix of different people with a multitude of backgrounds.

In fairness to my friends comments; the term ‘trailer trash’ may have been accurate at one time as the place had seen its share of unemployed layabouts, drug addicts, drunks and wife beaters – but at the first sign of any problems – Paddy (my landlord) and his henchmen ensured that the trouble makers were unceremoniously thrown back out on the streets.

Even so, my friends were unable to see past the fact that I had just agreed to take on a wreck of a ‘caravan’, on a  site owned by the infamous Paddy – a beer swilling, fist wielding, Irish traveller ‘made good’ – who ruled the place according to ‘Paddy’s Law’.

Irish gypsies live within their own culture and live by their own rules – so I had to suppress a giggle when Paddy said, “I want to make this place more up-market and I’m looking to attract more quality tenants like your good self. If I wanted to, I could just fill the site with travellers who would lower the tone of the place!”

Rich – coming from one of their own!

Having spent a good few hours negotiating a deal on the rent based upon the work I agreed to carry out, we sealed the deal – with a good old fashioned handshake – preceded by Paddy having spat on his hand to show that the deal was unbreakable!

Paddy is a multi-millionaire land and property owner who could afford to live anywhere in the world. But once a gypsy…always a gypsy…and he prefers to live in his own mobile home situated next to the security gate…rather than live on the river front…so he can spend his time policing the comings and goings on his property.

 

The site consists of 38 units and is run by a couple in their 80’s who have been working for Paddy for years. Gordon is a dear soul who will do anything for an easy life. Whereas his wife Jessie, is a real fireball and shoots from the hip, bawling you out before you’ve even opened your mouth. Her bark is worse than her bite although she is a terrible gossip.

If she’s not yelling at you…or disclosing details that someone had shared with her in ‘confidence’ …she is quite a character with loads of interesting stories to tell. You just have to learn to listen without telling her more than she needs to know!

Once you understand the rules and agree to honour these, it is a great place to live, within a caring and supportive community. I love my little home, painstakingly created after months of hard graft and numerous setbacks along the way.

Now the work is complete I have the pleasure of enjoying the fruits of my labour and every day I give thanks for finding the courage to follow my gut feeling that this was going to be a good place for me to live, despite initial signs to the contrary.

My home is situated on the curve of the river with water views in both directions.

I knocked down a wall to open up the vista and now have an open plan living space with a separate bedroom and bathroom – all condensed into a lovingly crafted 36 sq metres.

My friends had to eat their doubting words when they returned to visit last summer.

Driving through the site, past tiny gardens vibrant with colour and lovingly tended by the residents, they all agreed that the place had a ‘holiday feeling’ about it. I am just so lucky to live somewhere that feels like being on holiday every day!

When I lie in my bed watching the sun breaking through the early morning mist over the river and listen to the birds greeting the new day by calling out ‘good morning’ to each other, I couldn’t be further removed from living a ‘trailer trash life’!

Day 44 – 365 Days of Celebration

Today I am going to celebrate successfully completing my mission to make ‘Trailer Trash – Trendy!’

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46 responses

13 02 2011
Papa Joe

What a wonderful story Juls! And such beautiful pictures. You are a remarkable lady, truly.

Happy Birthday Juls! 🙂

– Papa Joe

13 02 2011
1961 Girl

Hey Papa Joe.

I’m so not sure about remarkable…I do what seem to be some crazy things at the time…but somehow they seem to work out – usually for the best. It really is lovely here and the photos don’t really do it justice. When I get myself a decent camera, I will post some more photos of the river with some close ups of the birds which are beautiful…especially the swans – my angels of the river.
Thank you for the birthday wishes.
Juls 🙂

13 02 2011
elizabeth.beckerley

What a beautiful, welcoming home you have created…. xxx

13 02 2011
1961 Girl

Thank you Liz. You will have to pop over for a return visit when you are in the area next month…and bring Mike with you of course! Hugs, Juls xxx 🙂

13 02 2011
Edson Camara

That is a really beautiful and quiet place to live. Congratulations Julie

13 02 2011
1961 Girl

Thank you Edson. Yes, it is a very beautiful and quiet place to live and I am so blessed to have the opportunity to live here. 🙂

13 02 2011
Quidmont

Gotta laugh Juls. You’re description of the different meanings of “Trailer Trash” are spot-on. And what you’re showing us is not the ‘90210 Winnebago’ world by any means. It looks lovely.

Happy Birthday Juls!

– Bob

13 02 2011
1961 Girl

Hi Bob – glad I made you laugh.
To be honest, I don’t really know what ‘90210 Winnebago’ actually means, but I don’t think the reporter meant it as a compliment! Glad you like it though.
And thanks for the daily birthday wishes! 🙂

13 02 2011
Quidmont

Hi Juls! Happy Birthday!

So just who was this reporter working for?

The way I read the “90210 Winnebago” comment is perhaps with a bit closer feel for the North American use of the term “Trailer Trash”. For me it brings up images of shows like “Trailer Park Boys” or “My Name Is Earl”.

The “90210” has to be a reference to the 1990s show “Beverly Hills 90210” I never saw it but IMDB.com describes it as “Focuses on the pleasures and problems of a group of rich children who go to West Beverly High School.”

Combine the two and you’ve got a reporter that will look down their nose at a trailer even if you were hauling Buckingham Palace as your Caravan. 🙂

I wouldn’t give this reporter any more thought than to realize there are small minded people who will never see the wonderful things life can offer.

You’ve made something wonderful Juls. Enjoy every minute of it. 🙂

Happy Birthday Juls!

– Bob

13 02 2011
1961 Girl

Hi Bob.

The reporter hadn’t even seen my place when she wrote the piece as we did the interview over the phone! I will have to see if I can find the link to the newspaper piece and send it to you. Thanks for the references to 90210…that helps to clarify even further than the reported was being less than kind in her telephone ‘observation!’. Juls 🙂

13 02 2011
jeanne

Juls, I agree with Papa Joe, you are remarkable. Simply having the courage to follow your dreams no matter the nay sayers. You are certainly making the most of your special year.
Birthday Blessings!
jeanne

13 02 2011
1961 Girl

Thanks for the birthday wishes Jeanne. I always try to follow my dreams even if those around me are doubting that I can pull something off. And in this respect it doesn’t really matter. The important thing is finding the courage to give something a go. Juls :=)

13 02 2011
Redneckprincess

🙂 Loved this post!! I think you are a lot like me, I can live pretty much anywhere and make it feel like home….your place is absolutely beautiful!! Can’t wait to see more pictures…

13 02 2011
1961 Girl

Hi Princess. You are so right. I can make almost anywhere feel like ‘home’…and I’ve had loads of practice over the years of moving around. From palaces to caravans…wherever I lay my hat… 😮

13 02 2011
nrhatch

Lovely story and photos ~ your transformation of the dining room shows the love and care you’ve put into the place.

Beautiful spot, indeed.

13 02 2011
1961 Girl

Thank you. Glad you liked the piece. I have put a lot of love into the place and it has rewarded me with being such a great place to live in a beautiful location. Juls 😮

13 02 2011
eof737

I had a good chuckle when I read this one. Paddy is quite the character and the 80 year old couple had me laughing.
I love your cute home and don’t see where the problem might lie… Nothing trailer trash about it at all. 🙂
Beautiful!
Eliz

13 02 2011
1961 Girl

Hi Eliz. He certainly is a character to say the least! Hopefully trailer trash will start to get a better press now! Glad the post gave you a chuckle! Juls 🙂

13 02 2011
Piglet in Portugal

What a wonderful place to live! Nice to know your friends had to eat their words.
I use to Work for a “Paddy” He used the “F” word to punctuate his sentences instead of full stops and commas. He frequently rang me for a rant about some wayward employee of customer. He was so funny he still makes me smile when I think back. Heart of gold! You played by the (his) rules he really looked out for you 🙂 I know exactly what you mean.

Sounds like you have a lovely community.

13 02 2011
1961 Girl

Hey Pip…my ‘Paddy’ also uses uses the ‘F’ word to punctuate his sentences. He justifies its useage by saying that he never learnt to read and write so he doesn’t know any better! Not sure if ‘my’ Paddy has a heart of gold…but at least we have come to understand each other better! 😮

13 02 2011
mrsled

I had quite a few years with my daughter and I sharing a ‘trailer home’. It was two bedrooms, bathroom, living room, dining room and kitchen. I exchanged my brick house to live in ‘my mobile’ and it was the best thing I ever did. We had many happy times there.
It was not on the Thames like yours Julie, and you do have some great water views but it was only a small site in Surrey, about 12 units, but ours was on the very end over looking the rolling Sussex/Surrey hills and we saw loads of wildlife such as foxes, deers, badgers….
We also lived near to a gypsy encampment,they were no trouble at all. Maybe every now and then their horses would be right outside my window, but no problem.They came and got them back.
Enjoy your lovely life. I really envy you. Such fun and so cosmopolitan.
Have a great day!

13 02 2011
1961 Girl

Hello Mrs Led. Great to hear that you have also lived in a mobile home. It certainly is a wonderful lifestyle which I can thoroughly recommend to anyone thinking of trying it. Although my daughter doesn’t live with me, she does come to visit and loves it here. Your site sounds lovely and 12 units is a nice number to form a community without it feeling crowded in any way. Best wishes Juls 🙂

13 02 2011
vixter2010

The Thames is a great place to live, whatever the home. I live close to the river too and you have a wonderful view. Just don’t end up on my Big Fat Gypsy Wedding 🙂

13 02 2011
1961 Girl

Hi Vixter2010. No, I don’t think I’ll end up on My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding…and I don’t think my landlord would be too keen to appear on TV. The programme has hlped me to understand their culture so much better and it answers a lot of questions around some of my landlord’s reasons for doing/saying the things he does. Juls :-0

13 02 2011
Katie

Ah vixter2010 I was thinking the same thing. This week’s episode focused a lot on Paddy, an Irish traveler (now settled), who runs the site he lives on for the council. He’s known around the site to sort out any mishap. They didn’t say whether he was a millionaire but he seems pretty rich, judging by his home, and he said he had a new car every two years. It isn’t the same site, is it? Hope that doesn’t sound like a silly question, I bet there are a lot of Irish travelers named Paddy!
Anyway, your home looks lovely. It must be great to see that view everyday.

13 02 2011
1961 Girl

Hi Katie. I saw the episode of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding you refer to. No, it’s not the same, but the character of the chap you mention is very similar to my landlord except my landlord seems to have a new car every five minutes! There certainly are a lot of travelers called Paddy. My landlord has called both his son and grandson, Paddy. Now that must set up some confusion! Juls :-0

13 02 2011
Jenny Cutler

photos so often keep us going through the winter, don’t they. I lost a lot of picture I’ve taken of our lovely new courtyard (that was a concrete place for deliveries to the shop), and because we can’t see it from the house, photos keep it alive during these dark February days. I will take more pictures soon! and I’m longing to come and see your lovely new home. Great shots, Julie.

13 02 2011
1961 Girl

Hi Jenny.

I’m glad you managed to save some of your photos. I seem to recall that you put these up on FB a while back. Photos are a great memory and I must get around to printing some off one day instead of just storing them on the computer. Juls 🙂

13 02 2011
frizztext

congratulations to your life near the river.
compare some houseboats in BERLIN:
houseboats in BERLIN

13 02 2011
1961 Girl

Great photos. I almost bought a houseboat a few years back but it couldn’t be moved to a nicer location because it had been built in situ. In some ways, I know have the best of both worlds because when I sit in my living room, all I can see is water all around me. Juls 🙂

13 02 2011
celsil1950

Dear Julie:
I loved your post and your dream come true. I had a dream like this: I lived in the countryside, a small farm (really just needed to enjoy the countryside) by fourteen years. Now I’m back to the urban area, because I need to be near the places where I, my husband and my grandson exercise activities.
I know how you feel happy looking at this wonderful view from both sides of the house.
Kisses.
Celina

13 02 2011
1961 Girl

Hi Celina.

I’ve lived in the countryside and in urban areas and would choose the former any day. Although I enjoy the buzz of a large cities, I love being able to retreat to the peace and calm of the river. 🙂

13 02 2011
last_lines

I liked this post! I especially liked the description of the people you call neighbours. It helped paint the place eloquently and gave it some personality. I also like what you have done with your diningroom.
Great that you have a home you love and enjoy.
-Kim

13 02 2011
1961 Girl

Hi Kim.

I’m so pleased you liked the post. It certainly is a great place to live with some wonderful characters to keep me amused! Juls:-)

13 02 2011
classyrose

Hi Juls, you’ve done a wonderful job fixing up your home. I would love to have a place near the water and be able to listen to all the birds and other wildlife outside. 🙂

13 02 2011
therunninggarlic

Sounds like you are extremely happy and safe! Swans in your back yard – now that is something not everyone can say … make sure to take pictures when you get that new camera! Sounds like a Great community!
Debbie 🙂

14 02 2011
1961 Girl

Hi Debbie.

Yes…I am so lucky to live in such a beautiful location…surrounded by the swans…my angels of the river. I will take lots of great photos when I get a new camera. Thanks for stopping by to say ‘hello’. Juls 😮

14 02 2011
Marcia

That was a lovely post Juls, you are a woman after my own heart! I could very easily life that life and you are very fortunate to be where you are. It sounds like you’ve worked immensely hard on the place and well done you because it’s a credit to you. I’ve often thought about living in a place like that, I don’t need a fancy pad but to be near the water and nature is just marvellous. My friend has a log cabin in Scotland and when I’ve been there I don’t want to come home, it’s gorgeous and these days they really are a home-from-home with all mod cons (if that’s what you want).
I’ve always said I’ve got gypsy blood, so maybe one day I’ll be doing the same. My other choice would be a cosy little narrow boat, although I am a bit fearful of water…
Thanks for sharing the story, I felt like you took me there just by reading it. Lovely!

14 02 2011
1961 Girl

Hi Marcia.

I did consider the idea of buying a houseboat a few years back. It was rather beautiful and brand new. Unfortunately, it had been built in-situ in a location that wouldn’t have worked for me and it couldn’t be moved. On reflection, I’m glad I waited as now I have the best of both worlds…a house on dry land…that is so close to the water that I could almost be on a houseboat.
Like you, I think there is a bit of a gypsy in me as well, so maybe the next step will be a large camper van to travel the world in! Hugs Juls 😮

14 02 2011
Seashell

Well done Juls! A beautiful place. you should be proud of all of your hard work. I so admire you for living your dreams! I’m trying and you post is very motivating. Happy Birthday Year!

15 02 2011
barb19

Congratulations Juls – after all your hard work, you finally have your “dream home” to show off to the doubters who thought you were crazy! It looks like a beautiful place to live, right on the river, the the photos of inside and out are fantastic. Well done!

15 02 2011
1961 Girl

Thanks Barb. The hard work was worth it as I now have a lovely little home in a fab location. The views are amazing…and priceless. When I sit on the sofa and look out of the window, all I can see is water and it feels like living on a houseboat…bliss. Juls 🙂

15 02 2011
Julie Jordan Scott

This looks like a lovely place to live! I am grateful to have found you via the facebook post-a-day group!

15 02 2011
1961 Girl

Hi Julie…and good to meet you.

Yes, this is a magical place to live. I am so blessed to have the opportunity to experience live on the riverbank.
Best wishes,
Juls 🙂

16 02 2011
Jenny Cutler

love your before and after photos!
a brilliant demo of what you can do.
love jennt

19 02 2011
JaxieCat

Your place is as beautiful as you are in your heart~ Jaxie

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