Europe feature minimalism vanlife

Building a new life together

May 19, 2019

Woke this morning thinking how far we’ve come since first having a dream to sell/gift 95% of our possessions and head off to explore Europe in a self-converted van. We had to learn so many new skills to make this work – the first one being self-belief. This is an ex-delivery van (Mercedes Sprinter hi-top LWB) that originally had ply-panelling throughout and a giant metal bulkhead. It took us from April – Nov 2017 to do a complete refit. Mainly because we were both working full time and, because we lived in a rented terraced house, we had to do all the work with the van just parked in the street. We both worked on fitting the solar, insulation, panelling and floor but when it came to building the interior furniture (kitchen & bed) Andy took that on while I was whizzing all over the country running workshops. He worked so hard and I love every inch of our tiny home. The electrics were planned and fitted by @remotepoweruk 💚🙌🏻. Looking back, I don’t actually know how we did it. On our last day we had to leave the house at 4pm because I had a poetry gig in Hay-on-Wye that evening. We were still doing last minute cleaning and house emptying at 3pm – giving the keys back to the landlord felt insane. I literally turned up to the venue in Hay, picked up a mojito and a microphone and walked onto the stage. A surreal performance. That night, parked up on a street in a small Welsh village, we lay there humming with excitement and terror. But we always said we’d give it 12 months so we’d have something to tell the grandkids. That first year was such a steep learning curve for us; fun-filled & frantic. It took a year of moving around, mostly exploring the British Isles (Cymru, Scotland, England) then over to Ireland, then a long haul across Europe with a stationary overwinter on Crete for us to really settle into this new way of, not just living, but being in the world. I never imagined I’d be writing something like this having just spent a week on my own living in a forest in Slovenia, it’s been a wonderful experience, but I’m glad Andy’s back tomorrow, this life definitely works better when there’s two of us to share it all.

We had a loose plan on how it might all work, but a lot of it has been filling in the gaps as we go along. I’m not sure there’s any set way to do something like this – you kinda just have to go for it and be prepared to be completely adaptable & flexible so that you are able to face any situation. We even survived being broken into and all our gear being stolen (including our mountain bikes). What this has all taught is that the world is a beautiful place, filled with kind & generous people and I feel incredibly grateful to be able to spend part of my life discovering the full extent of this magic. We plan to remain on the road for the next few years at least – there’s so much we haven’t seen, so many places we haven’t yet explored. We are growing & learning & having fun every day, which is, I believe, the point of life. Why stop now?

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