What’s the deal with this camping thing anyway?

As still a relative newcomer to the world of camping and life in a small camper van I thought I’d put together my random thoughts of things to remember and watch out for when planning for and experiencing this slightly odd world of life on a campsite.

It should be noted that all this involves camping with kids. That’s our life right now. If you are camping without kids- go crazy, enjoy those blissful sounding sites that say no children allowed, oh and get a pitch far far away from the play park if you don’t…

Booking a site.

It seems to be best to book ahead, I’m sure some people just rock up but our island is small and camping is popular so why risk it? Look at the site online, check the facilities, does it have toilets, how ok are you with no showers/lovely shower blocks? Why are you going and what do you want? We love back to basics for a weekend, no showers and campfires allowed are brilliant when you know a shower is coming v soon. Longer trips, and we love a site with good showers and toilets close. We also love a site with a play park. We have boys who are 5 and 3. They fare better with a park and when we did our trip last year struggled more on sites without a park as a default to run off to. So research well, get advice from others and read reviews. If you don’t want to drive lots get a site within walking distance from pretty places/civilisation/a beach. Some of our best sites last year were across the road from the sea so there was always somewhere fun to hang out with the boys at whatever time of day or early morning. Equally if it’s a weekend escape get a site totally away from everything which has some woodland to build dens in and enjoy not leaving it for 48 hours.

Pack carefully.

Clothes:

Think through every weather and bring at least one thing to keep you dry/warm/cool. You’ll probably experience all temperatures in one trip so it’s good to be prepared (one or two things for each scenario is fine. Pack light, bring washing powder/tablets for emergencies (so annoyed that I forgot ours this trip…).

Kids stuff

An activity box is your friend – paper, pens, craft, Lego, whatever will fit into a small box. Maybe get them to pack it the night before leaving.

Outdoor toys.

Balls, frisbee, kite etc.

Food

A good small storecupboard will help- especially when you can’t be bothered to cook much and pasta, beans and pesto win the day. We do have friends who plan every meal and bring the exact amount of spices and herbs needed which sounds v wise. (we just bought the jars along- that’s on advantage to vans over tents- way more storage). Buy local and don’t worry if you are buying food every couple of days. That’s presumably how they did it in the old days before fridges. Cool boxes are good, I’ve heard some campers bring electric fridge boxes along but I reckon you can get away with a cool box for milk and bits on a short trip (and I have no idea what people do on longer trips. That’s why we have a van with a fridge…)

Oh and bring snacks. Lots of snacks. Healthy ones if you can get away with it, but lots of them. We are all far more hungry when camping. The outdoors and much more physical work make for good appetites.

Fun for you.

A book/wine/cards/gin/whatever cheers you up when the kids are finally in bed.

Furniture.

A table and chairs will make you all fairly happy but good old picnic blankets work for small trips. If you have no awning then a tarp is a good investment to sort out some shade/shelter outdoors in the rain.

Sleeping.

Really bring whatever makes you happy. If you need a roof box to fit in duvets and pillows then do it. There is nothing more miserable than bad sleep camping. Sleep makes it all possible. That’s why we have a van. I’ve heard sleep can be possible in tents, just don’t try and rough it if you don’t sleep in rough.

Getting settled on site.

We are still getting used to figuring out which bit of land is allotted to us at the mysterious ‘pitch’. Sometimes it is clear, sometimes it isn’t. It’s ok to spend a bit of time figuring it all out and making sure you aren’t encroaching on others space. We then make sure we are level, plug in, put on the gas and boil the kettle for tea. Then we slowly start to unpack and sort out awnings etc (and encourage the boys to find out where the play park is). We find this all takes so much longer than we think. Which leads me to my next point.

This camping lark is slow.

There is no getting around it. Everything takes longer and is slower. It’s one of the reasons I love it. But it’s also one of the reasons it takes time to adjust to this way of doing things. Getting water, boiling a kettle, setting up camp, cooking, washing up all take much longer than normal. Take off your watch, leave the phone in the car and enjoy it. The tyranny of time is lovely to escape once in a while.

Washing up.

Lots of sites have washing up facilities. Bring a collapsible bowl, marigolds, sponge and liquid and you are sorted. Sometimes our boys even find it fun to help out :).

We like not bringing screens.

There, I’ve said it. We like not even having the option so there are no fights over when and where screens happen. We know that even if we just brought one for the journeys that the boys would argue us into it at other times. Cold turkey works for us. And I’m constantly reminding myself that we survived car journeys before screens were invented (and yes. When they were 3 and 1 we used a screen to get us over to Ireland. Now they are older we can cold turkey it more… and right now we are watching The Greatest Showman on the ferry crossing. We are ok with screens when available 🙂 I love us all disconnecting for a bit and have to remind myself to leave the phone in the van more. It helps us get into slow life more. You are different. Your kids are too. Do what works but don’t be afraid to try without screens being along for the ride. It’s lovely watching kids dig into their imaginations and face boredom (except when it isn’t and you want to kill them, but that too passes)

Be ok with some routines going out the window but keep the ones that help you stay sane.

We know the boys won’t go to sleep if they’ve had a late nap on a long car journey. So they go to bed when we go to bed (which we religiously avoid at home cos we know we need our 2 hours of space in the evening). We keep all their routines of bedtime though. Stories etc so they feel comfortable and whatever else works at bedtime. They have little concept of time right now so waiting until they seem a bit sleepy/overhyped works for us.

But when they have had a normal day we put them to bed at a vaguely sensible hour and have some grown up eating sugar and playing cards time.

Enjoy yourselves. Be yourselves.

Don’t worry about everyone else (although do walk around the campsite getting cool ideas and comparing tents and vans. It’s super fun to be nosey) but don’t be intimidated, probably no one else can tell you are a newbie and most people are pretty friendly on campsites. I love the random chats over washing up and wry smiles with other parents over melting down kids. It’s a weird kind of community but I like it.

Lastly.

Go with a growth mindset.

It’s all a learning experience. You will never have the perfect time, sometimes it will go wrong. Sometimes everything will fit wonderfully (but you and the kids will still have a grumpy moment or two). It’s all good experience for next time. That’s the beauty of camping. It’s cheap enough to be ok to quit if the rain doesn’t stop and you have to leave a night early. It’s ok if you have a crap time once in a while. You can change things up and try again. We stayed at a less than ideal site the first few days this trip. It was more built for motorhomes and caravans. But we learnt. We’ll book differently next time. We still had fun but it was harder than it could have been. We stayed at a very easy site last night. Lots of places for the boys to play and only a short walk to toilets/washing up etc unlike the previous one. We’ll see what next week brings. It might make sense to go back to sites you know work. I imagine as the years go on that’s what we’ll do, whilst not being afraid to try new things. It’s all a learning experience.

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First time away in a VW Campervan

Last year we had our first time away in a Motorhome, we did a 4 week tour of the UK, seeing friends and family along the way. It was a beautiful time of clarity and joy in an otherwise dark year. The mental health benefits of being on the road, bringing our beds with us and enjoying life outdoors were brilliant. It wasn’t all amazing wonder. We had grumps and tension as you would in any 4 weeks of life. But it was a pretty amazing adventure.

This year lots has changed, we are no longer in a Motorhome, we went crazy and bought our own little VW Trident, who is 20 years old but still a little beauty. We aren’t on a 4 week tour but a 2 week jaunt up to the Lakes, across to Northern Ireland, back to the Lakes and home again. The shorter timescale is doing odd things to my head. I keep thinking it should be a perfect holiday experience and not just normal life in a different context, doing the things we know are good for us- outdoor fun, no screens, lots of husbandface time but with a bed for him to retreat to.

The reality is that it’s hard work to take two small boys away in a van. But then again it’s hard work to manage two small boys anywhere. Especially when I have very little reserves left in the energy tank. It’s not a ‘holiday’ in any sense of that word but it is time away from the normal, which must be a good thing, right?

Anyway, as you can probably tell I’m struggling to love this trip. I’m struggling not to gaze at couples sitting drinking wine outside their vans in envy. And yes I know if I was them I’d be wanting children for some insane biological reason, and life wasn’t perfect wonder before two slightly annoying boys came into it.

Right now I just wish I wasn’t so frustrated with them. I wish I had limitless patience and understanding to love them well. I wish I had the energy to care more and not just grumpily snap at them.

Anyway. Moaning aside. I thought I’d list what we are learning this trip and how smaller van life differs from Motorhome life.

1) Smaller is better for the tiny roads in this country and especially for finding parking spaces in towns. I am a whole lot less scared about driving our Gracie compared to the 7m long Motorhome.

2) Smaller is not always better. There is more work to be done internally in the van. We have to make up the beds when we want to sleep and when husbandface has his downtime. That isn’t always a bad thing but it does require more effort and more patience from the boys whilst we do that.

3) Smaller is harder in rain, there isn’t much internal space to hang out in the van. That’s ok if we are on a campsite with the drive-away awning out but less fun if we are trying to picnic in the rain.

4) Smaller actually means bigger when it comes to our drive-away awning which gives us a massive space to eat in, hang out in when it’s raining and have room to breathe.

5) Smaller means no toilet on board at the moment, not much of an issue except at this first campsite we are staying at which is much more set up for caravans and Motorhomes and the toilets are a few minutes walk away. We do have a Porta potty at home but I still think it’s not all that useful as most of the places we’ll stay will have toilets. The boys aren’t really old enough for wildish camping to be safe in the UK – we’d be happy rocking up to a lay-by as a couple but it feels a bit too crazy with the boys. Right now campsites with easy access to play parks and fun woods for them to explore feels much safer. It’s great helping them explore for themselves and grow in independence.

All in all the van experience is just very different from the Motorhome experience. I don’t think I quite realised that and it’s taking a few days to learn the art of van life. We are new to working out our awning, new to the sleep thing, new to how to navigate each other in a tiny space. That’s all ok but it’s harder than I thought.

So why aren’t we going home? (aside from ferry tickets and family awaiting us in Norn Iron). It is hard but it’s also a whole heap of fun.

We are outdoors all day. We are closer to the joys of camping but with more comfy beds and facilities. We are learning. We are enjoying our pretty world. We are loving seeing the boys engage with nature. They already love scrambling over rocks, making logs into pirate ships and the sense of achievement a good walk with a map can bring. We have a place for husbandface to sleep in during the day when we are out and about. We have the ability to make tea and coffee where ever we go and we never have the ‘have I packed that?’ feeling because we are carrying around all we need.

I think it’s good every now and again to do things that help us look at life in a different way. We walk to get water, we walk to toilets, we take longer to do everything. We are slow. It’s no bad thing to have to take the slow road. I’m reading Matt Haig’s Notes from a Nervous planet at the moment and it echoes much of why we are doing this trip. Slowing down is good for our mental health. Slowing down and disconnecting from the stuff that crowds our world is good for us. And even though I’m tired and weary I still would rather be learning how to adventure this way than anything else right now.

Right, I’m off to play some cards and reassure the husbandface that I’m not about to do a runner into the woods. I quite like this adventure after all.

Coming up later in the week… I’m thinking of writing a beginners guide to campsites and useful stuff to bring camping either in a tent or van. Mainly so I’ll remember myself.

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The day before we depart…

There is always something in me which wants to write a blog post just before we go on holiday. A kind of line in the sand moment if you like. A marking of time and maybe it’s the same thing that is driving me to clean and sort our house out. I want to leave with no loose ends, no untidy strands to worry away at my mind whilst I’m away. I want to drive up the A23 with peace in my heart on Friday morning knowing I am clear of most of my churning thoughts for 2 weeks at least. Obviously I can’t escape all my thoughts with two small boys in a van but I can make my mind as clear of worry as possible, so I can be free to forget about life for a bit and concentrate solely on the three people I will be hanging out with each day.

It’s a good plan but it is making this week before we go away slightly frantic in my head, my mind whirls around to do lists and emails I need to send before I can hit the road with some sense of a clear mind.

We’re almost at the end of the second week of this odd school holiday time. It’s the first one I’ve known in our married life without the lovely husbandface at home. I think we are both finding the adjustment odd. It’s son1s first long summer from school and yep, the routine loving boy has been all over the place, slowly he’s returning to some solid point of being ok but it’s taken a while. Son2 as well. They and I are adjusting to constant time together again. That hasn’t happened, for an extended time, since this time last year and that was very different as we were off in the Motorhome with the beloved daddy.

So far though we have survived. Some days have been better than others, some we barely survived and some we have really loved hanging out and I’ve had a greater insight into their worlds. Some days I’ve wondered why we had kids and some days I’ve marvelled at their beautiful faces all day long. It’s been a bumpy road but we are riding it out.

Friday morning we head off on our challenge adventure with small people (holiday is a silly word for it) and I think I’m looking forward to it. The van is slowly filling with our stuff and I’m gradually ticking things off the to do list.

We go to The Lake District via some lovely friends, then to Northern Ireland and then back to the lakes for time in my favourite place. If we manage to sleep ok I think it will be a great time. Husbandface isn’t doing at all well right now but we at least know that taking your house with you always provides a safe space to retreat too. I think it will be ok. I hope it will be ok.

Right now I’m having to choose hope each day. I have no sense of the future, of whether we will be ok. All we have is this day and moment before us. I want to choose hope in the immediate world I have right now today. It’s hard to drag my head back from the past or away from fears of the future. We don’t know what the next moment will hold and to cope with it all we need to hope.

I hope in a God who is at work here, who will give strength for this day, who dwells in this moment with us. I hope in a God who pours out love on us. Who has abundant mercy, grace and love. So often I think we lack in this space we inhabit at the moment. I focus on the negative spirals of fear and all the things we don’t have. Honestly it feels like we have a world of scarcity rather than abundance. And in some ways that is true. I don’t want to skate over the bad stuff, it’s pretty bad around here at times. But we still have a world of abundance. Grace, mercy and love are not dependant on circumstances. In the midst of the dark we have grace, love and mercy, bent out and made tangible by friends and family around us.

And so we go. We head off into the unknown. Hoping a change will once more bring rest. Hoping for connection. Hoping for grace, mercy and love to live with us as we go.

Good thing our van is called Gracie. A reminder of the grace which holds us together as family in this weird world.

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A brief ode to my 30s. Here’s to the next ten years.

I’m sitting in the boys bedroom waiting for the weirdos to fall asleep pondering the end of my 30th decade of life. Tomorrow I hit the big 40, which, let’s face it, isn’t all that big a deal, unless I talk to people around the age of 20 and then I start feeling the weight of time. It’s a number. It marks another year longer on this weird crazy ass journey we call life.

Earlier this week I started to make a playlist of music I have adored in my lifetime. I’ve just finished the teenage years section and it’s entertaining to listen to songs that have carried me over the years. It’s been lovely to revisit the ones that got me through the murky teenage angst and those that came with me on the journey to university and the start of this adult life thing. I’m looking forward to completing this list of random songs that really only I will love every song of. I love the memories that this music has burst back into my head and the people I want to hang out with more as a result.

As I’ve been compiling the list I’ve sensed that those years seem further and further away. Even the start of my son’s existence, something that feels so new still, is slipping away. Son1 is finishing reception in three days time and I realise it’s 6 years since I carried him around inside me.

I’m not sure what I’m trying to say other than, time eh. It’s a funny thing.

Wow I’m so profound after living these years.

Anyway. 40 used to feel so so old but now it just feels normal. Or young still. Or just another year.

The last decade has been one of so much change, and then so much ordinary living. It’s been a decade of learning to journey with someone else. (Something I’m still surprised at) I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since I moved into a house with a guy called Kevin and two other friends. I can’t believe that I really can’t claim singleness as my main experience of life anymore. Life has well and truly taken a strange turn and the things I thought so set on my 30th birthday have completely altered. I have the weird things that mean I would win at the silly game of life and yet life doesn’t offer simple rose tinted solutions.

This last decade has been full of joys and sorrows and I would not change it for the world.

I’ve been depressed, I’ve been full of joy, I’ve despaired, I’ve known hope as real as the ground under my feet, I’ve been sure we are alone in a cold empty world, I’ve been full of faith in a love that will not, ever, never let me go. I’ve grumbled and complained and I’ve been bursting with thankfulness. I’ve felt alone, I’ve been overwhelmed with how many kind wonderful people who have known and loved me along the way. I’ve been a walking ball of contradictions, I’ve never been more sure of who I am and what I am doing here in this world.

Life has carried on it’s strange twisty turning ways.

And although, this week, I am tired and fractious and wondering what I am doing, I know that through all this decade I have been held by a bigger love. Someone has been there in the storms, held my hand through wedding vows, in aching goodbyes, in the longest night of agony followed by months of confusion and joy at the small child lying beside me each day, in the fears of the second and the wonder of a night where it all went right, in long days with small people, in sleepless nights whispering songs of love into my ears, in the pain of community moving on and in the joys of new friendships formed, in walking me through the good works prepared in advance, in friendships old and new, in family ups and downs, in life in all its messy dirty ordinary joyous glory. I have been held, loved, guided, used, cared for and known.

It’s hard to sum up a decade of life and as I enter this new one, which looks remarkably similar to the last one, I walk over the arbitrary line in the sand knowing I do that with one who walks with me. Who has always always held on tight. Whose chest I rest my weary head against and whose smell I drink in to give me strength for the next step.

I am held. I have been held. I will be held.

I have been kept. I will keep myself in and I will be kept in everlasting love.

And so.

Here I go.

See you over that line 🙂

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A monthly round up…

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This was my second blog post which emerged from writing in the van this week. This time it’s an insight into our world right now, the highs and lows. Life bumbles on and in the midst of that I need to remember the truths I was reminded of at Forest Church as we journey on into the coming weeks.

A monthly round up…

It’s been too long since I sat in front of this screen and tried to process the craziness of life all around me. 

In the midst of these last few weeks I have felt the stirrings of desires to write again, to fumble through my thoughts and attempt to order them once more.

The weeks since half term seem like a massive blur. We’ve ploughed on through the days.  I’ve worked, husbandface has worked, the boys have enjoyed their school and nursery and we have put one foot in front of the other. Put like that it all sounds a bit bland. But then again maybe ordinary life does sound bland? We’ve lived, breathed, in and out, through each day, we’ve survived through the rhythms of weeks and weekends.

In the midst of that ordinary living thing there have been a few noticeable things.

I’ve busted my ankle and haven’t been able to run in the last 3 weeks, I’m desperate to run again, my endorphin levels are too low and my mental health is suffering in the lack of full on exercise.  However, it has created more space to get my reading mojo on again and receive lots of help and love from people, but still, I wish it would hurry up and be ok again soon.

Being fairly immobile coincided with me giving up on our 30 days of wild this year. I had a week or so off social media to try and be more present in life. I reached a wall of tiredness where I couldn’t face recording another thing in our lives. We get outdoors lots, we love nature, I’m not sure I needed the pressure of finding something to take a photo of and talk about online each day.

Husbandface’s health is pretty bad. I’ve written about it before. You can read what it’s like in a day to day way here. There isn’t much more to say other than it’s a fairly sucky situation. We are coping differently this year to last year, it feels less intense for me because I have other outlets in life, work is a welcome difference and son2 is at nursery 3 days a week. Husbandface is now able to work due to a lovely lovely job and a fairly calm environment to work in. The boys are less confused because he’s doing ‘normal’ things. There are good things in this stretch of whatever this is. But the tiredness is creeping in again. The tears are close to the surface and I can feel my stress leaking out on the boys.

I go back to my sailing metaphors to cope with the darkness. We’re in a boat, a man down, I steer into the dark, occasionally he comes and sits by my side and we stare out at the horizon together, always together. Then he retreats below deck to battle demons and I sit in the cold light of morning wondering what squalls will come our way to navigate today.

I’m grateful for the people around us, for the ones who’ve looked out for us, fed us, asked after us, laughed with us, been points of light in a very hard situation. I’m grateful for our full rooted life here, for the community we are part of, for the people I see each week for cups of tea and chats. I am grateful for our church, for a space to know the reality of God in this present weird world. I am grateful for my beautiful insane boys and their waves of development. I am grateful for our camper van and the opportunities for chats, tea and reminders of reality that already are taking place in her.  I am grateful that we are still holding hands in the dark and I am grateful for wedding vows, for better, for worse, richer or poorer, sickness and health and the way they act like ropes which wrap us around each other and keep us on this ship in the storms.

In the midst of the slog through the ordinary we realised we were going to have to postpone my birthday party, an afternoon of african drumming, music, poetry, cake, tea and beer. It was the right call, it’s now going to be at the end of the summer, (message me if you want to come) and I think it should be a lovely afternoon. I can’t help but feel a little sad though, our stupid world tells us over and over again that we need good stories to tell of milestone birthdays. It’s no good to say, I just had a quiet day like normal. We crave injecting meaning into the passing of time. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just a hard thing when life feels small and rubbish at times.

BUT, I shall either eschew the desire for a meaningful exciting story of my 40th Birthday or I shall retell it and reframe it and look back at it as the best birthday ever because it marked the point when Gracie, our lovely VW Campervan joined our lives. Yes, reframing is best, why question the underlying assumptions of our world anyway?

Husbandface and I are escaping for the day in her on Saturday (thanks amazing parents) and we shall have fun, and maybe a nap. I am loving writing this post in her and kitting her out today with the stuff we need for our holiday in a few weeks time. It’s not such a bad way to celebrate turning 40…

There you have it, life is a mixed old bag of weird. In the midst of that I’ve taken today off to sit on the downs in Gracie and try and breathe. To remember who I belong to and the eternal realities all around us. Ordinary life is hard and brilliant all at the same time. I’m exhausted but held. Overwhelmed but protected. In need but stunned by the plenty more than enough we have. Crushed but not perplexed, persecuted but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed.

There is hope, a golden thread in the dark which encircles us and does not let us fall.

I am glad.

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Forest Church

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We hadn’t been to Forest Church for a while.

It was a good opportunity to get cool after a long hot morning.

We sat in the same place we have sat before, last time we had come it was winter, everything was dead, damp and cold.

Today green moss covered the logs, luminous leaves sheltered us from the sun overhead and a cool breeze made the day bearable.

The boys clambered over fallen down trees and made a den in the forest.

We sat and tried to discern the invisible by looking deep at the visible all around us.

We were sent away to listen, to write, to return.

I wrote in response to three questions:

Today I feel…

Exhausted,

Run dry,

Aching.

But I can see in creation…

Familiar security

Unchanging strength

Eternal rootedness

in a landscape that
transforms, morphs, moulds itself
to the tides of seasons, sunshine, rain.

Everything is altered whilst everything remains.

The light somehow makes it through the trees.

So I will…

Keep walking
Keep hoping
Keep holding your hand

Keep resting in your eternal, secure, dynamic, present, transforming love.

Rest by the tree.
Beyond the view lies
me.

We shared our thoughts, ate brownies and I was left with a deep impression of the protection the trees offer. We have sheltered in these same woods this year in pouring rain and we were not drenched, in the blazing heat of Sunday we were protected again and we did not burn.

In this storm we live in at the moment we are protected, not from it, but in it. We are held in hands bigger than ours. In the wondering why it’s happening, in the joys of life despite it, we are held and we are not abandoned. We trust, not for never facing storms like this one, but for protection in the midst of it. We trust like those throughout the years and years of trying to dwell with the divine and we hope beyond hope that we will not be disappointed.

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This could be the start of something new…

I know it’s been a while. A round up of the month may come soon. For now though I have news. News of a rather big and exciting nature. News that I can hardly believe we’ve actually done.

If you’ve been lurking around this blog for the last two years you will be familiar with our obsession with all things to do with #vanlife. We started dreaming about life with a van last year and fell in love with the whole home on wheels idea when we went off in a motorhome last summer. It seemed to be the best way to do holidays together as a family and we started to dream about how it could make a difference in the everyday world of husbandface’s illness. It was amazing to take a safe space for him to retreat to everywhere we went, for him to enjoy adventures with us and for the boys to have more access to their beloved Daddy.

We came home slightly desperate for a van but realised financially we needed to try for stability, to be rooted in one place for a while and to be content with the small.

The idea never went away though.

This illness isn’t going to be magically cured any day soon. This year I’ve learnt that the rebuilding of someone’s whole world is a long long hard road. Our holidays and days out will always need a safe space for husbandface to retreat to. Even visiting friends and family needs a safe space for him to retreat to. Snail living offers the chance for husbandface to be with us and be able to rest when needed.

The idea still didn’t go away.

At a crucial point early last year I finally found an awesome long term thing I wanted to do with my life. An idea of merging my love of vans, outdoors and walking with other in their journey with God. When I left uni, I left with a dream of encouraging others, of driving a van around the country being a source of life and faith with those I knew. I exchanged that dream for one of being rooted in a community which I think was better all round. This year though, in the dark month of February the idea came back and and morphed into the idea of training to be a Spiritual Director working out of a camper van. Offering people space in the outdoors for silence and reflection seems like an awesome thing to do.

The plan was formed. The idea had extended into something tangible and to aim for.

Autotrader became my home. I fought the fight of contentment and waiting.

I got a lovely job with my Church and knew the van idea could fit extremely well with that.

The idea didn’t go away.

The longing for some kind of sanity in this world of unknown timing grew.

And so.

We cracked.

We found a couple of vans on Gumtree and looked them over last weekend. They were no good. So we started to put the dream back on the shelf until, on a last scan of the internet, we saw a van that looked better, more cared for, a safer option and at a crazy reasonable price.

We visited it on Monday.

I had goosebumps and a crazy grin on my face.

We looked at each other and said.

Yes.

I know we aren’t allowed to talk about money in our weird world (another blog post to follow on that) but we worked out we could invest a bonus (that would have gone on a two week van hire in the summer) into this van and get a low interest loan to cover the rest of costs. It seemed a no brainer, we can afford the monthly repayments and then can have loads of low cost fun. Crucially it makes going back to Northern Ireland affordable and enables us to be more engaged with our lovely family over there.

We are in a different place to this time last year. I have an amazing job which I love and which has the added bonus of bringing in some more money. Husband face is rooting himself in his new job and settling into a long term world of coding. His company is lovely and helpfully gives out a few bonuses every now and again. Financially we seem to be more stable again. It seems to be a sane decision to bring joy in a time of hard slog.

And now I shall follow the advice of my lovely Mum and stop justifying myself and just enjoy it.

We have a Campervan!

She’s gorgeous.

Meet Gracie everyone.

It’s possibly the best birthday present ever.

Posted in Life on the journey, Outdoor fun, vanlife | 1 Comment