6am: I’m awake because it’s cold and bright. If I bury my head deep enough under the duvet I can pretend to go to sleep again, but it won’t be long before dog walkers start arriving and I need to make coffee and find a toilet
7am: I’ve just meet a guy who can’t stop rescuing Alsatians, one of them was Albino. He had four dogs out today, they were all wet and all came to say hello but to be fair I did encourage them
11am: I’ve found the most gorgeous haven off the M6, the Applestore cafe and Wryesdale Estate near Scorton. I may be here some time, have been driving a lot and need a change.
3pm: I’m sitting outside a garden centre somewhere south of the Lake District waiting to make a conference call with the Institute of Physics. I’m outside because the garden centre was a bit too posh, well you win some you lose some. It’s quieter in the van anyway – let’s see if the battery of my laptop hols out?!
The Lake District: Windermere
6pm: Success! The van works as a mobile office! My laptop just about held out (new battery required..) and to top it off I’ve made it to the Lakes.
I’ve just had to help a chap who had got stuck in his wetsuit. I’d been watching him glide around in the late golden spring sun, feeling rather jealous and deciding that paddle boarding is definitely the thing to do (as if I don’t have enough hobbies). He made my day by then demonstrating that his paddle board deflated and could be packed in a rucksack! That would definitely fit in the van!
None of the above really explains why I’m now sitting alone by the lake shore listening to the evening bird song and watching the sun set over Lake Windermere. I realise that just being here is reason enough. But there is an additional purpose. Tomorrow I need to be in Coniston to meet Rachel for the start of the Great Lakeland 3 day run.
As usual I have taken on a task that is way beyond my capabilities. And as usual it shall be completed. Largely because we are in the C, or ‘cafe’ class, but mostly because Rachel is brilliant and happy to have fun and focus on this as a navigation rather than speed exercise.
I did start training to run the distance but I really struggled to form the right habits. I alternately did too much or too little and have left myself in probably a worse state than when I started. This has been due to struggling to find my feet with this new way of living. Having a somewhat loosely fixed abode makes it hard to form habits. I dwell where my heart is, and that’s not always the same location as my stuff. Just making sure I have the right number of underpants in the right place is an effort.
But this lifestyle is also what enabled me to spend two days this week with my sister and my nephews, and then drive north slowly and with great interest over the space of another two days, rather than having to belt up to the Lakes on Friday with all the brave weekend warriors.
I am learning my loose form of #vanlife as I go along. It should be easy to find somewhere to lay your head when you’re driving around with your bed behind you. Sometimes it isn’t and you’re tired and lonely. Sometimes you should be fine but you’re not. Sometimes you know exactly where you want to be and it’s not where you are. Sometimes it is exactly right where you are.
When I’m sleeping in a tent this weekend I know exactly where I’ll want to be and that’s back in the van. But then again, assuming I’ve made it to the stopovers I’ll probably be so exhausted I won’t care where I’m sleeping!