Interview with Dale, The Welsh Nomad

with DALE
by Dawn.

My lifestyle is made up to not be told what to do and to move about freely and to stay in certain places as long as I can- which is not usually very long, because I am addicted to moving on!!” -Dale

I met Dale at a festival in Wales summer 2004. He had a beautiful wooden caravan pulled up there that he was living in. The inside was tidy and snug. He’d never left the boundaries of Wales, but travelled within it constantly- suitable to the pace and distance of being horse-drawn.

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Describe a typical day in your life.

A typical day is to have some sticks ready for the fire, to get the kettle on- unless it’s still going from the night before, and let my two dogs off their leads that live underneath my caravan (that’s a horse-drawn caravan). I would not be able to sleep if I was not to have dog’s underneath me, as they are my warning as to anyone or anything around me! As I sit with the fire smoke swirling, I plan my day then!! It is nice to see what you have around you and make things out of it. It makes a new meaning of going to work! But yea, the day usually consists of making things out of wood and other materials at hand!

How was the transition into your current way of life from your former- gradual or sudden?

My life changed just by chance by meeting somebody I hadn’t seen for years and she made me change my lifestyle and it was very quick, as I do adapt very quickly.

How much did you study ways of yore to learn how to live as you do?

I learnt alot of my ways by my partner of that time, too. She grew up on the outskirts of London and went horse-drawn 3 or 4 years before I met her. There was a lot to learn and the first was fire and then horses. When fire was sorted, then I had to learn to cook on it! Going into the woods in the winter, looking for different wood for different heats in the woodburner insider my wagon…

You build beautiful, ornate, storybook wagons that I usually associate with the Romany or Tinkers. Have you borrowed anything from the tradition of these modern nomads?

I imagine that as soon as the wheels were made and a flat bed on top of wheels, they would have covered the top and as a bow is the easiest way of covering a flat surface, that would have been the way (that’s my thought, anyway!)

Have the Romany or Tinkers seen you with your wagon? How do they respond to you?

I get a very mixed reaction from people of the past and present.

What’s your life philosophy?

To carry on!

How happy are you?

Most of the time, I am happy. As long as I keep busy and do not stop!

Have your struggles changed being nomadic versus before?

Being nomadic means you do not collect too much, so you can get up and move easily at any time! And the less stuff you have got, the easier it is and not so congested in mind or bind.

What can you teach modern, civilized man?

To go back to old ways of buying local, building local and staying local instead of being worldwide. Use what’s around you!!!

Since you work so much with the elements, do you feel that the planet is alive?

Nature comes in All Sizes. One size fits another! This planet is Alive, but for how long!

Is nature equally dark and light?

Winter is long but the days get longer. Spring is rewarding, blooming rewarding. Summer is short but full of thought. And the colours change in Autumn!

How solitary are you?

I have solitary when I want it and I have the heat of the crowd when I need it!

How easy could it be for anyone to try living as you do?

If you could cope without your conveniences and be prepared to collect what you want, it’s easy.

What was the biggest influence in your lifestyle today?

Outdoors or no doors.

What future hopes do you have in your life?

The future means to keep focused on what I am at the moment- wood sculpting, whittling, carving, and to meet more people in the coming seasons. But I do think of complete change….

Well Dawn, I hope this helps to gather support in what you do!

Thank you so much, Dale! See you out there on the Welsh hillsides, then.

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