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Into the Hermitage: Low-Impact Gypsy Life on the Road

Posted Dec 06 2009 11:35pm

Few of us can even begin to imagine whittling our possessions down to just a few boxes full of items and living in a room that measures barely eight feet wide. But what if that room was a recycled gypsy home on wheels, with an ever-changing view of the Scottish countryside out of reclaimed leaded glass church windows?

Welcome to the utterly enchanting reality of artist Rima Staines and her partner Tui, a musician. The talented pair live a nomadic existence in their wooden horse box turned charming miniature home, complete with a double bed, rows of bookshelves and a wood stove – all documented on their blog, Into the Hermitage.

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Rima and Tui painstakingly crafted the interior of their wandering home, a wooden Bedford TK horsebox, using mostly reclaimed materials. The result is warm and cozy, with well-worn wood cupboards, a built-in sofa with storage room hidden beneath it, and a sleeping nook over the cab of the truck.


It’s a stark contrast to the gleaming plastic surfaces of modern RVs and all of their amenities – but far more charming, and with a smaller impact on the earth. Rima and Tui eat and draw by the light of candles and lanterns, a copper kettle whistling atop their wood stove. They often stop for weeks at a time in forests and on farms, and travel to art fairs so Rima can sell her beautiful hand-painted clocks.


If you’re like me, you’ll find it easy to lose yourself in ‘The Hermitage’, where Rima’s folksy illustrations keep company with photos of swirling incense and the foggy, ghostly landscapes of the UK. It’s an escape into a simpler life, where living small equates to living free.

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