Happy Mondays

Mondays feel different nowadays. Actually, everything feels pretty different. We no longer count down the days until the weekend, we don’t get that Friday feeling, the Sunday evening sorrow, or the ‘just f*cking shoot me’ Monday morning blues.

Today (on this sublime if a little grey Monday) I’ve made a promise to myself that I will never again work more days in a year than not. I actually quite like working. I’ve liked most of the jobs I’ve had in my adult life (apart from the year I worked in banking to pay my drama school fees- I wouldn’t wish that kind of misery on anyone, although the parties were excellent and the Friday feeling euphoric). However if my current state of contentment is anything to go by, it would appear that I like not working much much more. Call it a personal preference. I will therefore be ensuring that I achieve a genuine work-life balance for the rest of my time on earth.

Conveniently, it would also appear that I am content to survive on very little. Living in a van is not free, but the costs are a fraction of our previous London rent, and our other costs appear low too (so far anyway) so I don’t think I need to work full time to pay my way.

I’m aware that not everyone would wish to live in a small space but I rather enjoy it. I felt quite weighed down by all the stuff we owned in our London flat. Stuff is stressful. Living simply makes me feel lighter. It’s also a great time-saver. I can clean the whole van in about 30 mins (inside anyway- we’re yet to clean the outside, dirty bastards) which leaves more time for playing.

I’ve also got a bit of a phobia when it comes to contracts. Signing rental agreements and employment contracts has always made me feel quite nauseous, like I’m signing away my freedom. I prefer to feel like I could do a runner as and when I please without pissing anyone off. So the non-committal, flighty nature of van living suits me pretty well.

Anyway, enough of the self-indulgent reflection, let’s move on to business…

(Drumroll)…

(Tumbleweed)…

The chap from National Windscreens called this afternoon. They have found a replacement screen and can fit it for us tomorrow. We are officially saved!!!! Hooray for uncracked glass!!!!

And that’s not all. The icing on the cake of this merry Monday was the delivery of this genius piece of kit…

 

At some point this week (once we figure out how to install it) we will begin to draw energy from the sun (if it ever comes out to play again). I am still amazed that this is even possible. Sun hats off to whoever figured it out.

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It’s all about the craic

The insurance company have handed us over to National Windscreens. If they can source the screen then we just need to pay the £90 excess and our insurance will cover the rest. Happy days. The nice chap at National Windscreens seemed pretty confident that he could get one, it may just take a while. We’re feeling optimistic.

I’ve learnt more about windscreens and cracks over the past few days than I care to know. But all in all, it’s been fairly paneless.

(Sorry)

This week we are house-sitting and dog-sitting so are once again enjoying the comfort of a large bed, unlimited electricity, flushing toilets and a power shower. There’s an Irish pub at the bottom of the garden and the homeowners have very kindly decorated the guest room in a familiar palette, ensuring we feel right at home…

We’re particularly enjoying the dog-sitting part of the arrangement, well I am. Rodney is yet to be convinced that we need a dog in our lives…

Clearly the dog senses his reticence…

Nasty Rodney.

We’ll be returning to van life next week, crack or no crack, with revived enthusiasm. A few days ago we thought the van was a write off and we were pretty gutted. Turns out we’ve become quite attached to it. Turns out we quite like living in a big gold hunk of junk. Huh!

Not sure where we’re heading next. I’m very much enjoying the aggressive sarcasm of the North so I think we might explore Yorkshire some more before heading back to Pinewood studios early September for Rodney’s work. Our Europe departure has a heavy pencil for October 10th. Plenty of time to persuade Rodney that there’s space for additional furry passengers…

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…