I am not a hippy. I’m not a crusty. I’m not a gypsy. I work for a living. I pay my taxes and I am a responsible citizen. I believe in recycling. I do not litter. But I want a simple life and so with my husband I’m moving into a van. Maybe we will hate it. Or maybe this is the beginning of a new life.
In search of another life
Tuesday, 31 August 2010
Now begins the time of year when it’s good to have a burner in your van. We have a gas fire which we can’t really use as our mattress hangs over the edge. We can put a ring on the hob to heat the van, or simply wear more layers. Last night I slept in a hoody and didn’t wake up hot. Luckily the weather is looking good and we will put the van in storage at the end of the month. If we were staying any longer than that we’d have to get rid of the mattress so we could turn on the fire. Let’s hope the rest of the month is as sunny as it was today.
Thursday, 26 August 2010
We got hold of some aluminium tape but could not find a ladder, so after a trip to B & Q, Reg came back laden with tar roof sealant and a cheap ladder. After both spending a lot of time up the wobbly ladder we reckon we’ve cracked it (not literally I hope). We’ve sealed up both sun roofs from the outside, and taped the culprit with sealant tape on the inside. And now we’ve parked up and left Brighton for a few days in the worst rain we’ve had in months, so I really hope we did a good job.
Thursday, 19 August 2010
Sunday, 15 August 2010
Not one of these people so much as made eye contact with me, let alone offered to help. I did not even get a few words of encouragement from the woman scraping paint. I know for a fact that had any travellers (or Asians in Asia) been nearby, at least someone would have said something to me. I do not mean to attack those who live in bricks and mortar, (I’m sure I will do so again myself some day), but it is surely a sign of the broken society we live in when people go out of their way to avoid looking at another fellow human being?
And that brings me to a favourite song of mine, Society, by Eddie Vedder. It speaks a lot to me about the choices we make in life and I think it’s beautiful.
Wednesday, 11 August 2010
But I am not convinced it will work. The council already offers the Horsdean Transit Site as a place to stay for gypsies and travellers. I have not been there but it is apparently full of drug addicts. I would be interested to visit in future, but for the time being will have to believe what I have been told. It does seem to be missing the point somewhat though, as many van dwellers don’t actually want a site to live on: they simply want to be left alone.
Tuesday, 10 August 2010
The Traveller Strategy states that in 2006, 10% Roma Gypsies and 19% of Irish Travellers gained 5 A*-C grades at GCSE compared to 57% of general population. Although I have no facts to hand, I would be willing to bet the exact opposite is true for the children of van dwellers and New Travellers. I have met many of them and they have blown me away. Full of confidence, seven and eight year olds are able to converse intelligently with adults, whilst maintaining a child’s view on the world. Instead of shutting themselves away to watch television, they are outside, making campfires, learning about nature and playing musical instruments.
Monday, 9 August 2010
Many other people park their vans along there without tickets, and pay at the meter. It’s an expensive way of parking, but until recently, parking attendants were very lenient on van dwellers and frequently let them overstay their tickets.
But apparently the police are now getting involved, as the parking attendants have not been doing their jobs properly. We are ok for the rest of the summer but if you have any spare N zone visitor permits, other van dwellers would not turn them down!
It’s lovely to fall asleep and wake up to the sound of the sea. When you close your eyes, listen to the waves and smell the salt air, you could be on any coast in the world. But where else would you want to be at this time of year?
Friday, 6 August 2010
At first I was offended. I have lived amongst these people and am in fact one myself, and the people I have met have been some of the most considerate, respectful and open people I have ever met. But I understand that those who have never yearned for a simpler existence in this respect may have pre-conceived ideas, and I feel that it is up to us van dwellers to disprove those negative notions.
I have felt much more community spirit and generosity amongst van dwellers than I have ever felt living in a flat in Brighton or a house in Kent, and surely that is a much more important thing to strive for than an uncluttered driveway or a spick and span street? But I vow never to get dressed without shutting my curtains (never did anyway, but have seen neighbours in houses do so) and what more can we do?
Wednesday, 4 August 2010
I have also painted about a third of the inside so far. I bought some non-toxic paint from the North Laine which incredibly has no smell and is safe to sleep near. Next year I think I’d like to build a van from scratch (well, the camper conversion anyway, not the actual van!)
Tuesday, 3 August 2010
Having looked inside a lot of vans and trucks I can say I’d like a bigger vehicle some time, but as we are only planning on living in her for another couple of months before we leave the country I’m happy to go small. Not only does it mean I can drive the van, but that we can nip about town without too much hassle. And being a couple, we know that if we can live in a space that is just twice as big as a double bed, we really can live anywhere.