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News & Blogs Photos Life by the Side of a Road

Discussion in 'People & Cultures' started by Anagor, Jul 14, 2016.

  1. Anagor

    Anagor Vagabond

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    Friends of mine ...

    http://www.bristol247.com/channel/news-comment/features/interviews/life-by-the-side-of-a-road

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    Interviews: Life by the side of a road
    Louis Emanuel , July 8, 2016

    "Bristol is the Bermuda Triangle for travellers," Paul says as he takes a seat on the cushion-less sofa in front of the smouldering remains of an overnight campfire behind a bus stop on Bath Road.

    "If you can’t find a traveller anywhere in the country, then come to Bristol."

    Traffic roars past and people on the top deck of buses, headphones in and lost in their own worlds, look down nonchalantly at our makeshift meeting from over the rusting fence.

    Paul may be right; Bristol is indeed a magnet for travelling communities from far and wide pitching up anywhere from residential streets to underneath fly-overs or on patches of disused land like this little corner near Arnos Vale Cemetery, occupied only since the beginning of the week.

    The first mention that a new site like this gets in the local press is usually following a complaint by a local resident and is accompanied by the obligatory shock-horror headlines.

    So we thought we'd jump the gun by hopping through a hole in the fence and giving the caravans a knock to see what life is like by the side of a road.

    img_0505-1467992334.

    From right: Jessie and her son, Casper, Ivy, Paul and Johnny
    After 22-year-old Paul makes himself comfortable, we’re joined by Johnny, 29, who perches on the sofa before heading off for an interview for a job as a street fundraiser, Casper, 19, an Irish traveller, Ivy, 20, from Somerset, and Jessie, 24, also from Ireland, who lives in her caravan wither her three-year-old son.

    There are 11 people here altogether, but most are at work or on errands when we visit. They’re a disparate bunch - roughly half from Ireland and half from the South West of England, but all have came together through the squatting scene, and are a solid and tight-knit crew.

    “We normally cook on the fire together, but most nights we just hang around here,” says Johnny, originally from Cork. “We socialise like a house-share would, there’s not much too it really.”

    Paul, who works on sound rigs at events around Bristol including at Colston Hall, adds that they were all brought together through a mix of travellers' sites, festivals and squats where they settled with a blend of people who haveve removed themselves from mainstream culture and lifestyles to live on the road away from the pressures of work and the housing market.

    [​IMG]

    About 11 people in and out of work live on the site next to the busy A4 to Bath
    “A lot of people live in caravans because they’re homeless. We live here because we like the lifestyle and it’s one of the few options left that’s affordable,” he says. “Rent is expensive, it’s a farce to be honest.”

    Casper butts in: “I’ve lived in beautiful houses, mansions, by squatting and there’s no going back to be honest.

    “Being all cooped up and claustrophobic, paying through the nose, nah.”

    Among the squats some of the people living here have been in before include the Free Shop on Stokes Croft and the old probation offices in St Paul’s, the site of an attempted murder last year.

    “It was shit, horrible,” Ivy says. “People getting stabbed, so much stuff going on. It’s what happens if you don’t have a tight group of people.”

    Paul adds: “Unfortunately we all suffer from it as we all get bundled up with those lot in one big stereotype.

    [​IMG]

    The group met after surfing at various squats across the city, including the notorious Telepathic Heights
    “But you’ve got to remember, the Free Shop is the other end of the spectrum. It lasted four years and they were taking donations and distributing food.”

    Paul also remembers Telepathic Heights on Cheltenham Road, the site of the notorious Tesco riots five years ago - although he’s shy all of a sudden when asked if he was there at the time, offering “no comment”.

    For Paul, the reputation of squatting and the stereotyping that goes with it is what causes some of the grief that they get as travellers. That and being misidentified as gypsies.

    “When we first arrive somewhere people often come and say we are just making sure you’re not Irish travellers.

    “One time we were parked up in St George and the neighbours were threatening to burn our homes down. It’s just anti-traveller stuff. Anti-gypsy, mostly.

    “Then not too long ago people were throwing bottles at us in Stapleton Road and also in Bedminster. It’s just how it goes. Most of them are just kids getting told the wrong things.”

    Johnny adds: “They’re just suffering from a lack of understanding too. A lot of people are just concerned about gypsies. They don’t see this as a way of life. They see it as you are just chancers taking the piss. People are quick to be judgmental.

    “I see myself as the same as everyone else on most levels. Just because my house has wheels... it doesn’t matter, I just live like you but I get to see more of the country.”

    [​IMG]

    There are two dogs and one three-year old child living on the site
    So what kind of life is it?

    Half of the people on site have temporary work and live solely out of their caravans, cooking on fires outside and keeping warm in the winter with wood-burners inside.

    Toilets are at a nearby Burger King on this occasion, and there are a number of places to go for a wash, including at the bricks and mortar homes of friends across the city.

    Besides from the nosy neighbours and occasional trouble from young kids, the group here say they’re mostly left alone by police and landowners, until they make contact and occasionally strike a deal for a peppercorn rent ideally in exchange for clearing the place up a bit.

    “In this case, we have had no contact from the owner or the police," Johnny says. "If you look at it it’s just a derelict bit of land. We are not even blocking anyone’s view.

    “Granted, it would be nice to have a bit more privacy and we might board up this fence. But the noise? Nah, we lived under the M32.”

    [​IMG]

    "It would be nice to have a bit more privacy and we might board up this fence. But the noise? Nah, we lived under the M32."
    Not all of the attention has been bad since they arrived in their latest spot, Paul says: “As soon as a group of travellers park people do come down just to be nosey. They come down and ask when you are going mostly. We say in a week, of course.

    "But here there have been a few people here who’ve wanted to help, bring us water, have a sit down and that.

    “We’re open for anyone to join us and if people want to come down and have a chat that’s all good. Bring some tea and milk and we’ll even make you a cuppa on the fire.”

    [​IMG]

    The group have received threats to burn their homes down and have had bottles thrown at them
    It all sounds lovely doesn’t it? So what about those who accuse travellers of freeloading, taking advantage or other people’s property for their own gain without contributing to society?

    “Look,” Paul says. “It costs you nothing to come into this world, why should it cost so much to just live?

    “You just end up working to live. And you live in a system created which only produces problems for people. What’s one man’s gain is another’s loss. Why would you want to be part of that?”

    Johnny adds: “It’s nice, it’s stress free here. It’s like one big family with lots of people. Why would we want it another way?”

    “When you live by the rules you get greedy,” Paul points out. “You always want more and more.

    “I appreciate anything I find. You walk down the road just there, people are throwing away flat screen TVs on the pavement. I don’t want to be part of that."

    [​IMG]

    "It’s nice, it’s stress free here. It’s like one big family with lots of people. Why would we want it another way?"
    He adds: “If I won the lottery, you know what I’d do? I’d burn all the money in a massive fire. I'd bring a few rigs along and make a night of it. I would. I’m serious.”

    We didn't’ get the chance to ask him if he’d use some of it pay off the debt owed for his caravan.

    So, what’s the message for all the people walking by and peering in from the pavement and buses?

    “Fuck you?” Johnny laughs.

    “At the end of the day we are just human beings,” Paul says. “And if people want, they can pop down and see for themselves. Come and sit round the fire, and have a cuppa. Just don’t forget the tea and milk.”
     
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    #1 Anagor, Jul 14, 2016
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 20, 2016
  2. Tude

    Tude Sometimes traveler is traveling.
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    Anagar! You must still be in Bristol I take it. Cool article. I brought the info from the link btw. :)
     
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  3. OP
    OP
    Anagor

    Anagor Vagabond

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    No, I'm at home in Germany at the moment with a friend from England. Came back last Sunday (14h Coach Tour),

    Thank you! :)
     
  4. Matt Derrick

    Matt Derrick StP Founder, Admin, and travel addict
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    i totally want to go check this place out :)
     
  5. roguetrader

    roguetrader Vagabond

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    fuckin Bristol full of kids and wannabes - it's like the Portland of England - I can tell by the trailers they been doing this for about 10 minutes - if you do come to UK come hang with peeps bin doing this shit 25 years - example of a real travellers trailer below owned by the lovely Lisa my wife..... also mine and friends trucks....
    IMG_20140706_074011. IMG_20140722_214504.
     
  6. roguetrader

    roguetrader Vagabond

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    IMG_20140706_074049. sorry @Anagor not meaning to be down on the kids pictured, everyone starts somewhere - more the media and it's lazy attempt at detailing the traveller lifestyle....

    another travelling truck
     
    #6 roguetrader, Apr 8, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2017
  7. NotmybestNotmyworst

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    "Ahhhhh! Look out! Bottle kids!"
     
  8. BelleBottoms

    BelleBottoms Wayfarer

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    “Look,” Paul says. “It costs you nothing to come into this world, why should it cost so much to just live?

    Here, here.