Rub-a-dub-dub, a Series III with a hot tub. Includes free views of the Devonshire countryside
Words: Patrick Cruywagen. Photography: Chris Law and Ralph Westmacott.
We Land Rover fans are breeds apart. I have underpants, socks, ties, cufflinks, T-shirts, shorts and caps with pictures of Land Rovers or the Land Rover emblem on them. In fact, I once bought a jacket and sowed a Land Rover badge on it. How sad am I? My five-year-old son Isaac has a big Land Rover Monthly poster on his wall and he has more Land Rover models than a toy shop. My wife knows the difference between a Series III and a Series IIA. When we go on family holidays we cannot help ourselves and it’s always a competition as to who can see the rarest or most impressive Land Rover first. It’s fair to say Land Rovers dominate our lives. My wife might argue not always for the best...
So recently while scrolling on my smart phone I noticed that someone had tagged me in a picture of a Series III with a hot tub in the engine bay. A lonely-looking fellow occupied the hot tub while sipping on a glass of wine. It looked like my idea of blissful solitary confinement except I would’ve preferred a cold lager. The general consensus in the comments column was that the pic was a fake as all the proportions were wrong. The journalist in me concluded that while the photo may have received a bit of colourful Photoshop work it was worth some digging. It didn’t take long to find out that the Series III hot tub was not a fake, thanks to some help from fellow journalist, Joe Brown.
This Series III hot tub which recently caused a social media stir is in fact an integral add-on to the Bluebird Penthouse, a charming 1950s caravan strategically set in the Devonshire countryside to be enjoyed only by couples as an accommodation option with a real difference. Unfortunately no kids or dogs allowed as the caravan is on a working farm.
Land Rover fans will just love this Series III hot tub and it’s creator Ralph Westmacott tells us that a high percentage of Bluebird Penthouse visitors do in fact drive Land Rovers. So, if you are a Green Oval fan and a bit of a romantic then what better way to spoil your other half than a trip to the Devonshire countryside? It’s the perfect place to propose or celebrate a memorable milestone.
The caravan and tub have been strategically placed on the high ground so that its occupants can enjoy good all-round views of the popular and scenic Taw Valley.
The hot tub is the perfect place to watch the world (or should that be cows?) go by. We live in an age where a Premier Inn or Travelodge seem to be the go to option for accomodation. You know exactly what you are getting with those two options but I prefer quirky and different and the Bluebird Penthouse with its Series III hot tub has just been added to my places-to-stay list.
It’s creator Ralph grew up in Africa where he was always surrounded by classic Land Rovers. He also owned a few in his time there. So when he and wife Lucy created the Bluebird Penthouse they decided to do something with an old Series III which had been parked up in the nearby woods for a couple of decades.
Ralph explains: “It was such a shame to see it rotting in the woods with a few other Land Rovers. In fact, it was destined for the scrap heap, but then we decided to give it a new lease of life.
I like to do things a little differently while being creative and fun at the same time. It was missing a bonnet – which was useful as we did not need one. I knew that we could create a beautiful hot tub from it despite the fact that everything except the bodywork had rusted away. The doors were missing, but we nicked some off another Land Rover in the woods.”
Ralph goes on to explain how he installed a hot tub in to the engine bay of the Series III: “I spent a few thousand pounds on a hot tub, threw away the warranty, took a saw and cut away some of the pipes. I then added a heat exchanger and it was ready to go.”
The hot tub gets its heat from the farm’s boiler and log burner. The wood is sourced locally and comes from the same woods the SIII had been parked up in. I doubt if there is a more eco-friendly Land Rover in the world. The tub is cleaned and the water replaced with clean water after each set of guests reluctantly heads home.
I cannot imagine anything better on a cold snowy or warm starry night. Sitting in a hot tub and relaxing with a nice single malt and my significant other.
As for the 1950s caravan, it too was abandoned before being lovingly restored by Ralph and Lucy. Prepare to take a sleep back in time thanks to its vintage yet very comfy interior. It is also centrally heated so you can enjoy the valley views from your warm bed thanks to the many large windows. The caravan even has a little hidden wine cellar!
If your partner is like mine and likes to w(h)ine and dine, you can cook them up a storm in the fully-kitted kitchenette and grab a bottle of red or white from the secret cellar. Then, if the weather allows, fire up the outside log burner and enjoy a candlelit dinner on the deck. Life cannot get any better than relaxing in a Series III hot tub or sleeping under a puffy, soft duvet in a 1950s caravan permanently parked up on a quiet hill in the Devonshire countryside.