Wellington attracts many visitors, but few as unusual as travelling musician Michael Ranslee. He was on his annual autumn migration from Scotland south to Cornwall in his traditional Romany caravan when he stopped outside Lloyds Bank in Fore St to give us a tune.
While his horse Tarateeno enjoyed a few well-earned carrots, Michael took a breather from les carnemuse (French bagpipes from the Massif Central] to tell Around Wellington about the life of a modern-day troubadour.
“I travel about 2,000 miles a year, with the fixed points of Scotland for the summer and Cornwall for the winter,” said Michael, who’s lived a gypsy life for 30 years, since he was 19.
“I try to come into small towns like Wellington in the school holidays because the children love to see us.” Certainly there were lots of Welly kids lining up to pat Tarateeno and chuck Mummy’s quid in the hat.
Michael’s caravan is cosy with a wood-burning stove, a kitchen table and a full-width bunk. It’s beautifully decorated in traditional style and warmer than the average house – so he says.
During the ten weeks staying on a farm in Cornwall he’ll build another caravan and break in a new horse. “Yours for £10,000,” Michael offered. “You’d be surprised, I always sell them. There’s lots of people want to be out on the open road.”