What’s Your Name? DARCY THE CARAVAN BAR

Darcy the Caravan Bar image by Stacey Bancroft

In 1969 an Oxford caravan was born. After a somewhat ordinary life, the caravan found itself in it’s mid forties and at a loose end. Enter Stacey and Mark Bancroft – graphic designer and draughtsman respectively – looking for an adult caravan to adopt, call their own, and put to work. The couple found the caravan in 2015 and got to work on transforming it into the life of the party it is today. Elegant yet subtle, modern yet classic, and refined yet fun, Darcy is that all-occasions mate you can invite anywhere and know he’ll fit in, no matter what the atmosphere. I talked to Stacey about how they knew their caravan was a boy, why they named him Darcy, which talented graphic designer created his branding, and Darcy’s custom colouring, amongst other things.

Abbie and Garth's HB Wedding, image by Kirsten Simcox

How did you know Darcy was a Darcy? When we first purchased Darcy he was a spare bedroom in Carterton. He had been painted to match the house in green house paint. He definitely wasn’t a Darcy then. I have always liked the name and if we ever had a son, I had wanted to call him Darcy. But Mark vetoed this, so our compromise was the caravan. Since then he was referred to as Darcy. He is our other child.

We wanted a name that was classic, timeless (think Mr Mark Darcy from Pride and Prejudice). We were always going to personify the caravan so that name had to reflect the positive aspects of his personality. He is charming and sophisticated with a bit of character. A charismatic fellow that has the girls blushing with admiration and the boys wanting to know his secret to success. We think that Darcy really suits this character.

Abbie and Garth's HB wedding, image by Kirsten Simcox

Why did you choose to personify Darcy? We always wanted our caravan to be more like a guest at the events he was going to be attending, part of the crowd. So it made perfect sense that Darcy was a ‘person’. A colleague once said to me “You speak like the caravan is a person.” I responded “He is a person!” So yes, we knew from the beginning he was going to be personified.

Darcy is clearly male (he is referred to as such on his website) – was this a conscious decision or was it made for you as the aesthetic of the caravan evolved (side note, calling Darcy “the caravan” feels like calling a child “it”!)? It does feel like calling a child “it”! We felt that there were so many ‘she’ caravans in the caravan world, so it was a point of difference to begin with. I suppose the sophisticated, Scandinavian style we were going with lent itself to Darcy being a ‘him’.

Abbie and Garth's HB wedding, image by Kirsten Simcox

 What do you think of when you hear the name Darcy and what do you hope your clientele/customers think? When I hear the name Darcy now, I think of soirees and weddings and gatherings where people are a little bit fancy, or have come together to celebrate. Overlooking a typical Hawke’s Bay view with some glorious Hawke’s Bay sun for partygoers to enjoy the occasion! I hope our clientele conjure up the same images, but we also hope people think Darcy would be a great asset to their party, a talking point and someone they want to be friends with. 

How often are you asked about the name Darcy? All the time. Quite often people think he is a she. I had never really heard the name Darcy for a girl before, but apparently it is!  

Do you have a behind the scenes nickname for Darcy when talking about the business with friends/family? Darce. Mr Darcy.

Darcy the Caravan Bar image by Stacey Bancroft

What made you choose the colour palate you did for Darcy? Was there much deliberation over the exact shade of white you picked? Because Darcy is a caravan we had to use automotive paint. I think we went with the standard Resene white. There must not have been much talk over the specifics as I can’t remember! The grey on the other hand had to be amended a few times. We wanted a really light grey, but the first one we got was so close to white you couldn’t see a difference. So we added some more tint to it until we got the grey it is now. The factory called it ‘Darcy Grey’.

Abbie and Garth's HB wedding, image by Kirsten Simcox

How did you come to choose the font and colours for Darcy’s logo and branding? How do you feel these details represent your brand? I am a graphic designer so I designed the logo myself. Honestly? I just whipped something up quickly and thought ‘that will do’! Admittedly not a lot of conscious thought went into it at all, though perhaps subconsciously I thought about it. I guess the thought process behind it was having a clean, geometric font for ‘Darcy’, to go with the minimalist Scandinavian feel. And then a scripty casual font for ‘the Caravan Bar’ to show his quirky and charming side. There is also a little silhouette of Darcy that is used on collateral. Again, just a simple design that hasn’t been overthought.

We had come up with the colours in the very early part of the process. We wanted the natural tones of the timber, with the lightness of the white and grey and the contrast of the navy. This was all influenced by Scandinavian design which Mark and I are both huge fans of. The brand itself also uses touches of peach and duck egg blue, just because they are my favourite colours.

Darcy at Craggy Range Winery, image by Sarah Williams

How important are fonts to you and how do you feel about comic sans? The actual fonts we used aren’t really that important to us. Truthfully, the fonts were probably just the current ones I was using at the time in other design work. I couldn’t even tell you what they are off the top of my head! Comic Sans is like the gerbera of flowers. Common and available at your local petrol station or supermarket. Must never be used for special occasions, only if you are desperate. And even then, surely there is another option …

Images by local photographer Kirsten Simcox, Sarah Williams, and Darcy’s proud mama Stacey.

My Happy Place: Sarah and Otis Frizzell at THE SURREY HOTEL

sarah-and-otis-at-the-surrey-hotel-3

We are in the Surrey Hotel which is based on Surrey Crescent in Grey Lynn. It is absolutely a must visit place free from wankers and snobbery. It’s also a hotel, hence the name the Surrey Hotel. It’s just a down to earth awesome place that no one really knows about or would come to but we think you should visit.

It’s kind of like an English pub which is why we quite like it because they don’t really exist here. There’s no pretense. You get a cold pint in a pint glass with a handle, there’s a couple of dirty ash trays scattered around which adds to the aesthetic, there’s a cat that comes to sit on your knee, and you can still get a pint for $7.50 which is pretty rad.

I think its  a bit of a nostalgic hangover for me (Sarah). When I was growing up every Sunday we’d go somewhere like this with the family. Then it got to the age when it was the last place I wanted to  be and I hated it. Now I’m 35 years old and I’m on the other side of the world and I’ve eaten the best food and drunk the best wine. I come here and I think it’s so not trying to be anything that it’s actually way cooler than any other place trying to be cool.

Personally (Otis) I like a crisp lager. I’m not a fan of hoppy beers and Mac’s Gold is a perfectly acceptable crisp lager. Also they’ve only got two beers on tap – one of them is Speights and one of them is Mac’s Gold and I don’t really like Speights so its a very easy decision to make.

I’m a bit of a food wanker but not a drink wanker (Sarah), not with beer, I’m a working class English girl who just likes a pint of lager.

When my family (Sarah) came over from the UK when we got married in 2011, half of them stayed here before we drove to Hawke’s Bay. It’s in between our house and everywhere else. It’s pretty hard to miss because a road runs through the Surrey Hotel.

It’s one of those “always meant to go” that finally came and was like, why did it take us so long? We don’t go out to the pub very often so we’re here about once a month. Usually we’re on the couch drinking Chardonnay and watching Netflix. We like plain lager but we like oaky Chardonnays.

Our hood is still quite cool, it has the Pacific Island dairy, the TAB, and the dry cleaner merged with the Grey Lynn Butchers, Video Ezy, and Tiger Burger – it’s becoming trendy but it’s still a bit rough and ready. It’s good in a way but without places like The Surrey everywhere will end up becoming Ponsonby Road. It’s just honest. You can get a roast and you can get a pint. It’s substance without the song and dance.

As told by Sarah and Otis Frizzell, co-founders and owner/operators of The Lucky Taco

My Happy Place: Jamie Buckley at THE ROSE

Jamie Buckley at The Rose Irish Pub

We’re at The Rose Irish Pub (Napier). We’re here for a number of reasons – they have delicious Guinness, it’s Sunday, and on a wintery Sunday at this time of night this is a very happy place to be.

I went right through Catholic schools so somehow there’s an affinity there with the Irish and somewhere on my Dad’s side there’s an Irish connection so there’s some sort of ancestral throwback coming through to a hungering to drink Guinness. It’s quite a warm kind of glow you know – have three or four and you’re nice and relaxed. And full.

This spot in particular is close to where I’m living so it means that I can walk home. Now with the drinking limit lowered you can’t really take any chances. Especially in our industry – I’m super conscious of that so coming down here is key because I can walk and it’s free. 

The food is super simple. I got bangers and mash tonight. I just love bangers and mash eh. That and burgers. Just real basic meaty filling carbs. We didn’t really grow up like foodies. The kind of thing we grew up doing as kids with family was all getting together, you go to your aunty’s and have burgers and that was a big deal. These kinds of places just feel really comfortable, like what you’re used to.

You’re not going to find any life in winter on Sunday in the bay really anywhere but here. There’s these guys – one of the best kept secrets in the bay I reckon – The Bold Decievers. They play from 6pm – 8pm every Sunday. This stuff’s going back down the generations of stories and legends and culture and they’re banging it out right here. I like music so it’s nice to come down here and get a little dapple on and if anyone’s visiting on a Sunday at this time I’ll bring them here because it’s just got some nice energy.

The whole man cave kind of thing fits into the Irish theme so you’ve got gambling and pokies – I like to have a dabble, it’s fun. My mum likes it so when she comes to visit I bring her here, we drink and we play.  And then dad likes pool – there’s pool tables here as well. You’ve got sport on the TV, if there’s important things on like the NBA finals or random stuff going on you can come down here and ask them to chuck it on. 

If you look around the whole place its pretty well put together as a concept. I like the way its all divided up so you can hide in a corner. I pretty much never see anyone I know here which is kind of funny. You’re talking to people all the time at work and you walk around and you know people everywhere you go but somehow here I don’t bump into people. It’s totally underground.

As told by Jamie Buckley, manager of Mexi Mama

My happy place: Dan Norman at COMMON ROOM

Common Room (Hastings) is the coolest bar in town. Its a really neat collection of spaces, all pretty eclectic in their design with lots of little nooks and comfortable seats. It reminds me of a British pub – it’s got that feel about it – as opposed to what I would call a New Zealand bar. No TVs, nothing to distract you, just a good place to come and have a beer with a couple of friends and put the world to rest. 

My favourite thing about Common Room is the decor. Today I walked in and thought, wow that’s changed! It gives that feeling of wanting to sit down and stay here as opposed to having a beer, then another, before going somewhere else. You don’t want to go down the road to another bar.

I’m drinking the Zeelandt Vienna Lager. It was the first beer I saw when I walked in and it struck me as something I wanted to drink. I’ve had a couple of beers already today so now I’m just carrying on. There’s a good selection of drinks here, they’re big into craft beer.

We’re outside in the garden today in the sunshine but there are lots of little places to sit inside when it’s dark in the middle of winter. We came here on their one year anniversary and there was jazz on, we went out for pizza and came here afterwards, hung out for an hour and listened to some music, it was great.

It’s a convenient space – local to home – we live within walking distance and drive past it on the way from from work in Napier. It ticks all the right boxes for me.

A local is sometimes not your closest bar, it’s somewhere where you feel most welcome.

Common Room is a couple of years old now and I’ve been coming here since it opened. I’ve got a two year old and a three and a half year old so coming out for a beer is a luxury. When the boys and I go out and catch up we normally end up coming here or when the wife and I have a date night we’ll have a quick beer before going to the movies or a glass of wine afterwards. 

Gerard Barron (owner) started out just being a sole barman. You’d come in and you used to talk to him when it was quiet with no one else in the bar in his first couple of months. Now he’s got busier and has staff but he still talks to his customers and always says hello when you come in. It’s one of the nice things about the place.

As told by Dan Norman, GM for Opera Kitchen Limited / eatdrinksharehb