I had a (van) dream

We’re currently in Northern Ireland, working and saving to get back on the road. Back to the dream. However, we may have hit a bit of a snag. A bit of a metaphorical pothole (remember them?!). A bit of an ‘are you fucking kidding me?’ juncture. At the beginning of May Rodney drove the van into the side of a Mercedes van. Into the side of a ‘one-off’ / ‘brand new’ / ‘not cheap’ / ‘was speeding but we can’t prove it’ Mercedes van. Thankfully no-one was hurt. We waited six long agonising weeks to find out if our insurance would pay out. If it didn’t the dream would have been well and truly over. We’d have been wiped out, financially, emotionally, and van dreamily. The past six months of commuting four hours a day to work and living off supermarket reductions to save save save would have been meaningless. The small repairs we had done after Rodney’s previous smash would have been insignificant. Long story short, they paid out, Goldie is back to her former glory and we’re now trying to figure out our next move.

It’s highly likely that Rodney’s insurance will now skyrocket to unsavoury levels that would make her economically unattractive. If we want to keep Goldie I’ll have to become the sole driver and at the moment that isn’t filling me with joy, partly because of the size of her but also because she’s a left hand drive and has no power steering. I have no doubt that I could get the hang of it, but do I really want to? Also, if I crash her I’ll have to stop mocking Rodney for driving her into houses and stuff, and he’ll never let me live it down. He’ll probably start his own rival blog as pay back, and the mocker would become the mocked. I may be overthinking this.

The other option is to sell Goldie and get a smaller right hand drive that might be a bit easier / more relaxing for me to manoeuvre. The downside of that is we’ve put a lot of effort into adapting Goldie into an off grid dream machine and I’m not sure I want to go through all that effort again with another van. Also, we love her. She’s become a member of the family.  Like an irritating little sister and a wise old grandmother rolled into one. She’s part of our increasingly fucked up story and I’m not sure I’m quite ready for the Great Golden Disaster chapter to end.

Slight tangent, but I read an article once that said if you want to know whether you are on the right path in life you should consider what you would do with your time if you won the lottery. If your lotto dream life is wildly different to your current reality then you may be on the wrong path and might want to make some changes. It’s easy to argue that this is utter bullshit as many people in the world are not free to change their circumstances, but I guess the article wasn’t meant for them folk. No siree. I guess it was meant for wankers that type ‘am I on the right path?’ into the Google search bar, and write blogs about their vacuous van-loving existential crises. Touché!

I asked Rodney the other day what he’d do if we won the lottery and the first thing he said was ‘I’d get Goldie pimped’. So who knows Goldie Horn. Maybe we’re not done with you yet.

We chatted a bit more about our hopes and dreams and it turns out we’ve not strayed too far from our wanky wee paths. We still dream of travel. Of not having to ‘come back’ to work, but just to keep going until the world stops spinning or we die of natural causes, whichever comes first. Maybe it doesn’t matter how we travel, but that we just find a way to keep going. To see the world before it burns.

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Scroll down for a quick catch up on what else we’ve been up to for the past 7 months. I don’t have as much photo evidence as usual as we’ve been trying out this strange ‘living in the moment’ phenomenon so I’ve not been as snap happy…

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We celebrated Christmas at the beach house…

We popped over to London for the Star Wars premiere and said farewell to a strange year. I’m not sure Rodney will ever forgive himself for fucking up his Darth Vader audition but he still got to dive off space ships and shoot rebel scum so I think he’ll look back on it without regret. Maybe. Someday.

I got work in Belfast so we moved back into the van and headed across the country to become city van dwellers. It was fucking freezing…

Rodney had to wear his turtle neck to keep warm…

We lasted three weeks before moving back into the beach house and I now commute to Belfast everyday. My contract ends in 17 weeks so I guess that’s how long we’ve got to decide our next destination. We talked about renting a place in Belfast so that I wouldn’t have to endure the long commute but decided we’d miss the beach too much. Returning home every evening never gets old…

We had a few guests. Making the most of having a place for friends to stay before we become nomads again…

We went to Tenerife for a bit of vitamin D. It was very resorty. We weren’t too keen to be honest but the sun was glorious…

We had some great trips away in Goldie the horn dog…

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And then there was that thing I mentioned…

But we just got her back and she’s looking as blingy as ever…

To be continued…

The incredible Irish adventure(rs)

Well, holy guacamole, it appears we might actually have stuck to The Plan! We drove to the ferry port, we got on the ferry, we travelled around Ireland (come here, it’s lovely) and then we rented a beach house on the north coast so that we can work through the winter and replenish travel funds. I’m currently writing this from my new king-size bed in my new lovely home looking out at one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. It’s actually more of a beach mansion than a beach house (and at a snip of our old London rent), but I guess everything feels like a mansion after a. renting in London and b. living in a f*cking van.

As for the f*cking van, well, in a bizarre turn of events Rodney has just crashed the van into our new house. Yeah. He moved our old home into the new one, quite f*cking literally. Perhaps he subconsciously thought the beach mansion was a mistake and that we should just live in the van all winter. Perhaps he thought the golden beauty needed shelter from the sea air. Perhaps it wasn’t his fault at all and Goldie was so enraged at being rejected for a second winter in a row that she sought revenge. Who knows! I balled my eyes out. I think you might have to live in a van to understand why it’s so painful. The strange thing is, I’ve been expecting it. For two years I’ve been consciously wondering when it might happen, what with Rodney being the clumsiest eejit in the world and all that. But in all honesty, nothing could have prepared me for the gut-wrenching horror of seeing my vintage wagon split in two. Rodney was flapping around like a headless chicken not really knowing what to do. He’s been in that state ever since though I’ve calmed down a wee bit, it’s only a f*cking van after all, hey?! 😳 Small mercies, the house is unscathed.

So our to-do list now consists of:

  1. Get work
  2. Save for next adventure
  3. Fix Goldie

Easily the dullest to-do list I’ve had all year. But it turns out the beach mansion is “parked” on one of the best surf beaches on the North coast, so don’t pity me too much. We have ample space for fellow van lovers so if you’re ever in the area, by all means come find us. You can warm your toes by the fire and make our eyes misty with talk of adventure and wilderness and the open road. Ahh I miss it already. Onwards and upwards as they say.

Keep reading for the lowdown on our drunken tour of the South…

 

There were two main reasons that we decided to tour Ireland, the first is that we found a stash of Euros in our safe from last year. We bought them when the going was good and the plan was to live in Europe for a couple of years, then Rodney got a job dicking around on Star Wars and the rest is history. We’d completely forgotten about them, which is incredibly unlike us, so when Rodney found them one day, hiding under our insurance documents, we immediately put together a plan to spend them before they could burn a hole in our pockets. The second reason is that despite our Irish connections, neither of us has really spent that much time in the Republic. I’d never strayed further than Dublin on family visits and Rodney once went to Killarney on a family hoo-haa. Given that we’re applying for Irish passports, it seemed appropriate to right this wrong. Call it a research trip. A very drunken research trip.

So that’s me chilling on our very early ferry to Rosslare. I think I got the shade wrong, I was going for emerald but it’s maybe a bit more… baby shite…

Mixing his stout. Controversial…

A few drinks later I fell out with Rodney because he wouldn’t help me escort (steal) my new friend back to the van. Eventually he managed to convince me that there simply wasn’t room for him, and that we’d be arrested. Farewell Jeeves, maybe next time…

Rodney at Blarney Castle, looking like a keen-bean tourist…

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Rodney kissing the Blarney stone that I was too short/ scaredy-cat to reach. Although, from what I hear tis a rather filthy deed so I should perhaps be grateful that I couldn’t reach it…

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Ahh what’s the craic? D’yer loike me wee castle there? (Can’t remember the name of this one but it was the day after we got drunk with some wealthy American Trump-loving golfers and Rodney spent the night trying to alter their political stance. So somewhere near Killarney)…

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That tall Rodney fella climbing my wee nameless castle…

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Boats!…

Nearly got a really amazing shot of Bambi. I think Thumper must have hollered…

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Hi Goldie, remember when you weren’t being driven into a wall? Ahh them were the days!…

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The weather was not a highlight of the trip. “F*ck it, let’s go to the pub”…

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The signs were a highlight. Ireland’s signposting is superior to any other country on the planet. (A dream for crap navigators like me)…

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We still used Google Maps on occasion, it’s worth it just to know the name of the road you’re on. Here we are cruising down ‘The Ha-Ha’…

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The Cliffs of Moher were a blustery affair. Quite cool though…

Another wild (but blissfully flat) camp spot. We tend to gravitate to the water when looking for a place to sleep, and fortunately Ireland has lots of it…

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And when the sun shines it’s glorious!…



Rodney’s one and only shower, dirty wee brute…

We made it up to Galway for the Oyster Festival. It was a hoot…

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Camping at Galway Docks in close proximity to the pubs. If you want a city break in Ireland go to Galway. This is my one nugget of advice for all man-kind. You don’t have to rough it at the docks like us of course, but just go to Galway…


We made a brief stop at Ballyshannon so that Rodney could stand next to this statue of his friend’s guitar hero and so that I could take a picture of him doing so (this one’s for you Neill McIlfatrick)…

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After said picture was taken, this happened! We were the sole witnesses of the 2016 Ballyshannon Tractor Run. Tractors for miles, parading the empty streets. What a treat!…

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Quick vodka before the pub. Running low on Euros at this point, but not on enthusiasm. Excuse the state of the place (all Rodney’s mess)…

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Looks a bit dicey…

(sorry)

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Single track lanes, hell on earth for the nervous navigator…

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We took the Pilgrim’s walk up to Slieve League. (As an aside, Rodney’s commitment to tea-making could be the main reason our relationship has survived the old house / new house collision)…

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You might have noticed we’re mostly wearing the same clothes every day. This is because we hate doing laundry and we don’t have anywhere in the van to store a large bag of dirty laundry. We’ve slowly learned that it’s best to keep wearing something until it becomes unsociable to do so. (Don’t tell Rodney his jumper’s on back-to-front)…

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When we arrived at Slieve League it was so foggy and blustery we couldn’t see where we were going, and it was a bit eerie so we turned around to walk back down to the van. If Rodney hadn’t made us stop for that cuppa we never would have returned to see the lovely view (and how close we were to dropping off the edge)…

Before…

After…

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What is this life if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows…

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There’s that sheep I/ William was talking about…

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Starey bastards…

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Trying to decide whether we can make it to the top of Errigal Mountain before dark (we couldn’t)…

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No cars beyond this point! Just in case you were considering it. ❤️ Ireland

 

Eating rocky road because I really like it, and not because it’s like totally symbolic of our lives…

We parked in a lovely dark layby for the night and were rudely awoken a couple of hours later by some angry locals who didn’t want us on their patch (there are w*nkers in all corners of the Earth unfortunately, though this was our only run-in of the trip). We drove to the next town and hid behind a boat for the night to avoid drawing further attention to ourselves. Slept like a baby!…

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Our timing is always impeccable. We realised we had a flat tyre whilst in the queue for the ferry (from Donegal to Northern Ireland). Rodney handled it like a pro. I took pictures and got in his way. Two years… two ferry-related flat tyres. Not bad considering the tyres were over a decade old! (We just bought her four new shoes. Lucky girl!)…


Back in his home land. King o’ the North!!

 

Old house 😭😭😭😭😭

New house…



(Not my dog 👆)

 
And Rodney has already finished his Christmas shopping…

 

And it’s all delightfully warm and festive. 

But one month in and we’ve already got itchy feet. (Relaxed but itchy feet).

And we can’t wait for the next adventure…


 

Get well soon Goldie! 🚍👍

Van Damned

The day before we left Ireland, a local man stopped by. He’d seen the van parked on the drive, found out what we were up to and wanted to come over to wish us luck. Rather amazingly he brought us some gifts; a travel iron, solar shower, hydraulic jack, washing line, emergency triangle and some hymer curtain hooks. Nice man. He had travelled across Europe himself in an identical Hymer several years ago and told us a few stories of his adventures. One in particular stuck with us…

He was driving along a bad road one night in a storm, keen to get to his next location as soon as possible, when a lorry overtook him and a “brick” flew up from the road, hit the windscreen and completely shattered the glass. He pulled over, a bit shaken and bloodied and phoned the police. Long story short, the insurance company were unable to find a replacement windscreen and the van was written off, thus ending his adventures across Europe in a Hymer. He gifted the van to the Hymer Museum in Germany where it remains today.

Since hearing this cautionary tale we have made a continuous conscious effort to give all other vehicles a wide berth, which isn’t always easy when there are so many cars on the road -a massive increase I’m guessing, since I last owned a car in 2008.

(Deep breaths)

Yesterday, some total f*cking prick in a devil red jeep cut us up on the M1 and just as we were shouting “priiiiiiiiick!” (as you do) our eyes were drawn to a stone flying up from beneath his piece-of-shit wheels. Our mouths gaped in a silent scream as the stone bounced off our beautiful big windscreen leaving behind a very small but very visible chip. Within ten seconds the small chip became a small crack. We watched in something close to horror as the crack spread across the screen, neither of us able to form words.

We’ve taken refuge at Rodney’s brother’s house in Sheffield and are waiting for the insurance company to phone us back. They’re Yorkshire-based so are perhaps a little busy drinking tea with our old blowy-air motor friend. We’re drinking something a little stronger.

Road worthy?

It took three nail-biting days to get the van back from the garage. The first mechanic who tried to MOT it went home with a mysterious injury (true story), then by the time the other mechanic came to do it, the DVLA in Northern Ireland had shut for the weekend meaning they couldn’t check that the vehicle was registered, so they locked it away, alone in the cold dark garage until the Monday. If you’re in any kind of hurry to get an MOT done, don’t hand your vehicle over to a Cornish mechanic who says it’ll be done “dreckly”.

Fortunately we weren’t in any great hurry as we were living it up at my folk’s B&B in St Ives, celebrating my Mum’s big sixty. Because I am her one and only daughter, and because I live in a van, I was rewarded with the best room in the house, much to my nieces’ dismay. So for one glorious week we were sleeping in a super king-size bed with soft designer bed linen, fluffy white towels and the best scalp-battering power shower in the history of mankind. Sigh (now a distant memory).

Imagine our surprise come the Monday afternoon when the garage phoned to say that the golden beast had passed the MOT, and that the final bill was a wonderfully unchanged £40. I didn’t realise it was possible to feel relief and disappointment at the same time. It is.

It took a while to get back into the swing of van life after that. Partly because we were reminded how much easier it is to live in a lovely spacious sturdy on-grid building and partly because Rodney has been back and forth working on that there fillum for the past few weeks, thus shitting all over the holiday vibes. We’re currently waiting for confirmation of filming dates for September and October, which would put our Europe departure back considerably. That doesn’t particularly fill me with joy but Rodney is already counting his chickens and bartering them for extra special European treats and adventures, so I’m not totally against it.

In the meantime we’re back on the road again, heading north for a while, chasing the rain (unintentionally) and the good times. My mum has just sent me a shiny new smart phone so that I can update this here blog more easily and regularly, reducing the number of ‘are you still alive?’ phone calls she has to make. FUN!

Below is a light smorgasbord of our recent adventures to help fill in the gaps caused by my tardy blogging (I’m not sure if I can use smorgasbord in this context?!) and bring things up to date…

Getting happily windswept atop a hill at Boscastle…

Rodney became one with nature on his own private safari…

Then he threw a spear at me…

Then he stunk the van out for three days with this bony old trout (this was before he stunk the van out with badger shit after rolling around the fields, drunk, in his best suit, but I don’t have any pictures of that)…

Me pretending to wait for a train by the side of this old disused railway station (comic genius that I am)…

Rodney’s first ever visit to Newquay, Cornwall…

£2 a pint (the view is free), Sailors, Newquay…

The time we found prawn and mangetout gyoza in the reduced section at Marks & Spencers, bought three packs and ran out to the car park to cook them there and then (because we’re wild!)…

Go to the Eden Project, get in line at the Roskilly kiosk, buy shitloads of hazelnut & baobab ice-cream. Put it all in your mouth. All of it. That’s right (You can thank me later)…

The Great British holiday… Hmmm, 14 degrees and raining… Let’s hit the beach! (St Ives, Cornwall)

Older but not wiser, my nieces made a piñata for my Mum’s birthday celebrations. Only we took the piñata away as soon as the blindfold went on her and then cried laughing as, unawares, she beat the shit out of her pear tree…

A typical van meal (all grilled on the BBQ), when we’re not eating curry…

The time that Rodney was chased out of a field by giant cows when we were trying to find a shortcut home. And I accidentally wet myself laughing…

Nope, we’re definitely going to have to go the long way round…

Adjusting to van life

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We’ve been living in the mighty gold van for almost a month now. So ‘how’s it going?’ I hear you ask. Well, as you may have perhaps guessed it’s been a bit of a bumpy ride with numerous metaphorical (and real) potholes along the way.

The biggest metaphorical pothole (aside from the mini heatwave that left our tin can totally uninhabitable) was the discovery of rain water seeping in through the skylight last week. Yes, you read that correctly, the sh*****g f*****g roof leaks.

You’d think we’d know this already, seeing as we were working on the van in a very wet Ireland for two months. But noooo! It turns out that if you park the van at a particular angle (i.e. the exact angle it was parked on Rodney’s parent’s drive) the rain just runs off. It was mere luck that kept us dry through our first few rainstorms. Unfortunately that luck ended last Monday when we parked on the flattest patch of land in England and woke up to a raging torrent (a bit of a drip). We’re now only able to park on slopes until ‘Bodge a job Rod’ (business cards are on the way) gets what he needs to finish the repairs.

Soggy jim-jams aside, we’re starting to feel pretty good about living. The main thing that we struggled with in London was the feeling that life was passing us by; that there was never any time to do anything except work and sleep. We have very literally just bought ourselves some time. It’s not a massive amount of time (coz time is money yo!) but it feels significant.

For now we’re still figuring out how to live in a tiny space, and how to avoid killing each other when living in a tiny space. I’m happy to report that we are both still alive. We’re no further along in terms of a plan, but there are some big decisions on the horizon! We took the van into the garage this morning for its MOT and all future plans rest on the outcome of this momentous occasion. Fingers and toes are currently crossed. The results of this standard £40 test will determine whether we travel across Europe in a golden van this winter… or book ourselves flights to India / New Zealand / Japan instead. I’m not entirely sure which outcome we’ve got our fingers and toes crossed for to be honest?!

In the meantime here are a few highlights from our first month driving across our great british lands…

The fence appeared to be the only thing stopping these lovely bovines from humping the golden beast (Peak District):

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Banana pancakes for breakfast (every breakfast):

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Suspension bridge (Forest of Dean):

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Moments after Rodney (part-time vegetarian) said ‘I’m glad I chose the chicken instead of that pork loin, I can hear the pigs squealing from here’, this little chicken crept up behind him with an unmistakable look of judgement in her tiny eyes:

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A very green place (somewhere in the peak district):

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Cheesy chips and a cuppa tea at ‘The Regent Restaurant’ (Weston Super Maaaaare):

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Not a bad place to do engine repairs (Stratford-Upon-Avon):

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Foraging for wild garlic- delicious! (Forest of Dean):

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Wild mushroom foraging bounty- shroom roulette (Cheddar Gorge):

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Peace and quiet and spidery sunsets (South Downs):

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And here are some early tips for living in a van and for life in general (all lessons learned the hard way)…

  • Do check for leaks before you set off
  • Don’t expect to get a phone signal or wifi in rural England
  • Don’t expect to know what day it is
  • Don’t drive through a campsite at night (people will HATE you)
  • Do pull over immediately if the van starts to shake and shudder
  • Don’t wear skinny jeans on an eight mile hill walk on a sunny day

Good morning campers!

So rewind to last Friday, I was knee-deep in curtain fabric not knowing my arse from my elbow, Don was discovering new weird and wonderful broken things under the bonnet and with only 20 hours to go before we were due on the ferry Rodney’s stressy head veins looked like they were about to explode (all over my newly upholstered cushions). A reprieve came in the form of a phone call at 2pm telling us that the film dates were being rescheduled to later in July. We wasted mere seconds celebrating before diving for the phone to amend our ferry booking. For £31 we bought ourselves an extra day to get the van ready. I don’t know why we decided that just one extra day would be enough- could’ve really done with an extra week- but somehow, with the help of the wider Tosh clan, we made it onto that ferry on Sunday morning… and we bloody drove on, not a tow truck in sight! Here we are 30 seconds after “moving in” to our new home on wheels, and 30 seconds before we hit the road (for realsies!):

The crossing from Belfast to Liverpool was eight long hours and we used the time to steal HP sauce satchets (for emergencies) and to try to figure out what to do when we arrived in Liverpool. We decided that we should drive to a forest because that sounded like a solid plan. We drove off the ferry and no less than 3 miles down the road we realised that we were in trouble. The van was shaking so violently we thought it might actually break apart. We pulled off the motorway and drove into a creepy industrial estate and stepped outside to find this:

 

It was a joyful moment! Flat tyres are easy- vans breaking apart for no reason are not so easy (apparently). Of course, dealing with the flat tyre would have been easier still if our jack was a couple of inches higher (Rodney had to let down the spare in order to get it on and then pump it up again).

We tentatively set off again, marvelling at what a smooth ride we have (when all four tyres are intact). Within an hour we had arrived at Delamere forest, complete with owls, bunny rabbits and whispering trees (it really was a solid plan). We were too knackered to cook so reverted to our 15 yr old selves and ate Pot Noodles and cheese sandwiches before promptly passing out. Classy:

On Monday morning we woke up, made tea and wandered through the trees marvelling at the wilderness and proclaiming ourselves lucky bastards.

After many years of dreaming and many months of preparations it would appear that we are now fulltime van-dwellers, gypsies if you like. After spending so much time looking to the future it may come as no surprise that we now need to learn how to live in the present- which may prove quite challenging when it takes 15 minutes to boil water on the hob (pot noodles are not a convenience food).

Good morning campers- everything might just be awesome!

When the eleventh hour turns out to be the twelfth hour

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The blowy air heater thingy has arrived… at my brother’s house in England. There is now no chance of us getting it fitted before we head off, and probably no chance of us getting it fitted at all seeing as Don is the only person we know who would do it for free. It would take him over a day to fit as he’d have to take apart the entire dash and mess with wiring etc. so even if we had it couriered to us for tomorrow, we still wouldn’t have time to get it in before we leave on Saturday morning. So close and yet! I don’t want to think about how many hours we’ve wasted finding the piece of crap.

I also (finally) managed to convince Rodney that we should get solar panels, and having spent many, many, many days searching for the most amazing panels at the most amazing price, they go out of stock (20 minutes before we phone them) and we have to wait a month for them to be delivered. If you were the person who placed the last order, I hope it’s very cloudy where you are (for the next month). We did however order and fit a decent inverter, so what little power we do have can now be safely used to power electric shizzle. Exciting!

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We’ve still got a long list of jobs to do before we leave so we’re now at the point where we have to prioritise which jobs are most important as we don’t have time to do it all. The alternator is still on the list, I don’t know why but it is. And the composting toilet is on there too, though Rodney has said “we’ll not leave until your shit bucket is installed”, so either he’s sure it’ll be done or he’s willing to change to a later ferry (I doubt it’s the latter coz he really wants to go back to space).

I’ve just written a long list of the jobs we’ve already completed so that we feel less like we’re failing, and we really have done a lot. It made us feel better for two whole minutes… then we started to think about how we’ve spent TRUCK LOADS on these repairs… and how lovely it is in Bali at this time of year. The cost of the van plus our expenditure since leaving London on May 2 has now exceeded what we spent on our last (7 month) trip around SE Asia. What a hoot!

None of that matters of course because this was never really about living it up in warmer climates (though we like that very much), but about breaking away from a life that did not make us happy, living more simply and freely and reducing our footprint.

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Now, I’ve got one day to make / learn how to make four curtains. Someone send us a bit of good luck because I think we’re going to need it!

A very official start date

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Tomorrow wasn’t awesome, but it was better. Don and Rodney repaired the alternator and fitted the shiny new radiator. Rodney’s brother made and fitted a safe and they reinforced the pull-down bed, replaced the halogen lights with energy-saving LEDs, and fitted new locks to the door and all compartments. I put a second coat of white paint all over the interior and cleaned up everyone’s mess (yet to expand my skills). I also bought material which I plan to turn into lovely curtains for the front windows (soon to expand my skills).

Then Hollywood called requesting that the boy wonder return to London before the end of the month for more adventures in pretend space. And so we did the unthinkable, we bit the bullet and we booked a ferry from Belfast to Liverpool on Saturday 27 June. So that’s that, we have a brand new and very official start date for moving into the van and hitting the road. Holy shit!

On Wednesday we took the van on a 70 mile test drive. She performed admirably and fuel consumption is at least a third better than we were expecting. We celebrated with fire and cider and cheese.

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On Thursday I sat outside in the cloud (sun appears to be a foreign concept in Northern Ireland) drinking a cup of tea and I thought to myself ‘something is going to happen’. It was a fleeting, unsettling thought and I may have a future career in soothsaying.

On Friday we were woken by a phone call from Rodney’s cousin. Granny Betty had phoned, she’d fallen over and couldn’t walk (she’d shuffled down the stairs on her bum to get to the phone). An ambulance was taking her to the hospital with a suspected broken hip. When we got to the hospital she was still in the ambulance. The gas and air and morphine were doing little to numb the pain so they’d had to give her more of everything. The paramedic said he thought the hip must be shattered.

We were in A&E for 5 hours whilst they did X-Rays and scans and I lost count of the number of people who came over to say hello- passing nurses, visitors, other injured folk- they all knew her, or knew of her, or were somehow related. “I’m Mary’s wee girl”, “My Granny was your first cousin”, “I used to live next to your son” etc etc. Everyone just knew everyone.

It occurred to me that had I been rushed to hospital in London under similar circumstances, I wouldn’t have known anybody, nobody would have known me, nobody would have been related to me, and it would have been a royal pain in the arse for family to come visit me. I always said that one of my favourite things about London was the anonymity. I’m now not so sure.

In the end ‘a wee fracture’ was the diagnosis and GB was ambulanced off to a hospital in Derry that knows how to deal with that sort of thing. She had to wait until Monday morning to get a partial hip replacement and I’m pleased to say she’s doing well (or as well as can be expected for an 83 year old chain smoker who can no longer walk) and may even be home again by the end of the week.

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Now, here’s the thing… the last time Rodney and I went off travelling (2011) my Nan died. I wholly regret that we chose to go away when we did- she’d told me months before that she’d be done within a year, but as I couldn’t really comprehend such a thing I guess I just didn’t believe her. It is my one and only regret in life.

We’re yet to have a serious adult discussion on the topic, but given the week’s events it’s starting to weigh heavily. Are we really about to feck orf again and allow history to repeat itself? Rodney has two very fragile grannies and, sorry to be the bearer of bad news but father Don is pretty sick too. We could spend a year or so closer to home so that Rodney can get some quality time, or we could get the ferry to Spain in September as originally intended knowing that when we leave this Saturday some goodbyes will likely be permanent and we may be flying back before too long for funerals. Quite the predicament.

If we postpone the ferry and spend the winter in Ireland, would we not just be two chilly unemployed people living in a van, waiting for the grim reaper? Would Rodney persist in wearing (holey) socks and sandals?

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I guess time will tell. Stay tuned… watch this hole… etc.

The big day is here!

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Is it b*ll*cks! We’ve pushed back our departure date so many times now I’m starting to wonder whether we have any concept of time at all. The big day is certainly not here, nor does it seem to be fast approaching. I now understand how Hasta Alaska ended up spending 5 months camped outside a Mexican mechanics (watch the whole sorry story here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8A20RWnMOf0- it pretty much encapsulates how we’re feeling today, minus the tequila).

The good news of course is that Rodney is back from London (which was every bit as exciting as he hoped it would be) so we can now return to the process of ‘getting our shit together’ and crack on with repairs. Tomorrow.

In the meantime I think it would make me feel a little better to have a mini moan. Because it needs to be said… getting your shit together is not easy when the world is full of so much incompetence. Today we had some curtain hooks arrive and we were so shocked that they were actually the right ones and not faulty that we danced around the room for five minutes. The luck really does end there. The LED lights that we were waiting patiently for turned out to be faulty.  The replacement blinds arrived and they too turned out to be faulty, again. The new alternator belt we fitted turned out to be the wrong size (actually that was our fault) and fell off.

And in other cheery news Rodney and Don flushed the engine radiator and a whole load of shite came out of it. Unfortunately, it would seem that the shite was the only thing stopping the radiator from leaking, so we’ve now had to order a new radiator. We’ve found some rot in the flooring so now need to replace a floor panel, because we really know how to do that. I just broke the step. Rodney just spilled an entire bottle of glue in the glove compartment. THE MITES ARE REPRODUCING!

I’m going to go and buy a bottle of tequila. Actually I don’t really like tequila. I’m going to go and buy beer. Lots of bottles of beer. And then we’re going to get our shit together.

We’re also going to put this everywhere because the label is so utterly convincing…

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*I apologise for the amount of “shits” and “shites” in the above

**Tomorrow is going to be Awesome

“The force is strong with this one”

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We had big plans to get our shit together and sort the van out once and for all this week. But then Rodney got “the call” and he ran off into the sunset, leaving me and the van lying by the wayside (Rodney’s parent’s drive), lost and broken and so casually abandoned.

I can’t say I blame him really. Seeing his little face light up when he got “the call”, I knew there was only one way that this was going to pan out. There was no way I was going to stand in the way of him fulfilling another childhood dream. (He still hasn’t forgiven me for dragging him away from the baggage reclaim in Delhi airport before he had a chance to accost Ian McKellan with “a bag is never late Sir Ian, nor is it early, it arrives precisely when it means to”. I maintain that he was probably a bit tired after the long flight and wouldn’t have appreciated Rodney’s hilarity- you can thank me in your own time Ian).

So the call was an invitation to work as a stand-in for a certain character on a certain sci-fi film. If you can’t recall what a stand-in does, then maybe this will jog your memory:

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That said, I’m not really sure what being a stand-in for this certain character would entail. Same as usual I expect… lots of standing in. Dreamy stuff!

Ah but there’s more! For no sooner had he jetted off to London than the phone rang again… “another call” (this is exhausting), this time offering work on the new James Bond film. Two childhood dreams in one week, should have bought a lottery ticket.

And so he’s gone and here am I, keeping the other dream alive, like a champ, an internet shopping champ (still searching for that illusive blowy air motor). Van worries aside I’m pretty content. I have fully mastered the art of relaxation and I am in love, with this wee dote…

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She is called Lucy, she is a Jack Russell / Yorkie cross and was bought (saved) by Rodney’s parents for £40 from travellers, a little over a year ago. She has a sticky-out ribcage on one side where she’s been kicked or thrown, and sometimes she gets a bit scared. But mostly she’s happy and awesome. She’s very intelligent and she gives cute hugs. Her childhood dreams are just to be loved.

Rodney who?