B U T W H A T A B O U T T H E F A R T S?
Once the realm of the 60’s hippie ‘van life’ has grown a new following within the millennial generation. According to VICE news #VanLife is the epitome of the modern ‘american dream,‘ Self sufficient, simple and affordable?
Working in the outdoor industry life out of a car isn’t exactly a new thing, in-fact it seems more like an unofficial right of passage. This winter I joined the rust bucket to road trip revolution whilst I climb quite a few mountains.
There are generally two ‘accepted’ types of van to convert to a home. The VW (sexy) and the Mercedes Sprinter (Spacious). I chose a short wheel base transit (neither…but cheap). I have missed out on the million strong VW instagram tribe or the headroom of the Mercedes, what I have gained is the anonymity of a ‘white van man’ transit. Most people think I am a builder with a kayaking problem (two on the roof), so I can park pretty much anywhere without being pestered (so far…touch wood).
My beloved ‘home’ was previously owned by an antique shop called ‘The White Rabbit’ so it only seemed fitting to call my new van ‘Alice.’ She is in good condition and passed her annual service with a clean bill of health, all costs were left converting her to a home.
£200 of cladding, £100 of planks, a fancy (and expensive-£200) battery to battery charger and several weeks quality time with my dad were all it took to make Alice liveable. While Paul worked on the more complicated tasks of a bed and desk, I set about insulating, cladding and building shelves. At first I wanted a ‘clean’ minimalist outfit but I eventually succumbed to Paul’s suggestion of ‘shelves EVERYWHERE’ -taking his experience in life in small places from his many hours sailing. He was of course, right.
Since spinning out of the garage and onto the road I have found that whenever the conversation comes up about van living most people ask things like’….isn’t it awful cold? isn’t it small? but…where do you wash?…..ew’ All points well made but not that important, my favourite reaction so far was piped shyly from a five year old girl who clunging to her fathers hand clearly bored at our chat. ‘but, what about the farts?’ she asked.
So this is the reality of life in a van.
I’ll start with ten lessons Ive learnt from my first two months on the road.
- I have a growing addiction to everything in tins and tupperware.
- Everything gets stinky really, really quick.
- My passenger footwell makes an amazing boot drying room (refer to point 2).
- Milk will freeze if left outside the cool box.
- I have developed an intimate relationship with a hot water bottle (refer to point 4).
- If you don’t hashtag #Vanlife on at least 2 photos a week the van slowly disappears.
- I am starting to get the ‘road slug’ mentality of motorhomes…speed = spills!
- Showers are lovely but not essential to happiness. Rivers are ‘brisk’ (refer to point 2).
- Cooking is like ready, steady, cook- who will get there first? Dinner or the C02 alarm.
- I have never been more free, it really is as awesome as it looked on Instagram.
I have learnt over a little while that everything comes down to discipline and organisation (my parents just spat out their tea shocked and laughing), in the van if it isn’t put away straight away it will get in the way.
After the last winter mission where I lived on a bike and in a tent the novel luxuries of a van still feel tremendous. While I still hope to get a lot of camping into my journey I am always heartened knowing that at the end of each day I can guarantee drying out. Simple luxuries like extra clothes, a heater at the turn of a key or the choice of which hill to choose rather than just the closest are all subtle comforts. So…I guess little girl, living in a little box full of farts isn’t too bad at all, back to life on the road.
Keep and eye out for Alice and I. We will be on the roadside until March as part of the #ColdestCorbett project. I’d love it if you joined me.