‘How’s Cookin’?’

So far during our life in the van I have been leaving the cooking to my culinary King of a husband. He blossoms when we cooks and has jumped straight into the ‘open fire’ cooking method. He whips up piping hot caveman miracles using only meat and fire! So I have been happy to let him take the reigns and hungrily await my dinner. So far he’s grilled, roasted and basted a variety of scrummy meat and veggie samples.

However today it was my turn! While purchasing a gift for my Cooking King (Food from the Fire by Niklas Ekstedt, to help encourage prolonged fire feasts), I got myself James Wong’s ‘How to eat Better’. It’s a healthy eating cook book that teaches the best way to store and prepare your food for maximum health benefits (five stars). Blasted by inspiration I pro-claim to by Husband – “I’m cooking tonight”! His Highness passes the Royal Spatula Baton on to me. I take on the ‘All in one pot Mac and Cheese’. It’s a healthy take on a comforting favourite, replacing a lot of pasta with vegetables. One pot recipes are a fantastic idea for van life. Minimal clear up and minimal cooking space required. Yes, the cooking pot only took up one hob and yes, I can wack it all in the same pot. However there is still one hurdle. Preparation space.

There are minimal surfaces in the caravan and most are being used. So with time and patience I manoeuvred and found space for food preparation all over the van! I got into the pattern of clearing items once they’d been used and very calmly cutting the vegetables. It felt like a little reward every time I was able to remove an item from my minute preparation surface. I realised a secret of van life is not designating any specific space (apart from the loo!). I had to be ok with the garlic box on the sofa, asparagus in the sink and the recipe book slowly making its way all over the van! I’ve always liked things have their place especially when cooking. During general van life I think that it is important to be organised otherwise there would be chaos. However when it comes to van-cooking, in order to keep your cool and keep all your fingers you must spread out like smooth peanut butter. Remember; everything can be cleaned. Put dripping items straight in the sink if nesessary. The main thing is to remain calm and allow chaos to take over but staying chilled amongst it.

Needless to say the meal was delicious and full of love. The kitchen is still intact as well as all my fingers. Thankfully I will continue to cook in the van!


Deep Metaphorical Crocs

Today my husband bought me some Crocs. You don’t need to try and fake an ‘Oh how romantic’ response. This isn’t a romantic gift, he didn’t melt my heart through surprising me with functional footwear! These Crocs were out of necessity (that word again). After spending time in both India and Finland (where shoes are not allowed indoors) we have adopted the same policy in our van and awning. So we were both in need of a shoe that keeps your feet dry and warm, and can be slipped off at a moments notice. Que the Croc, the ugliest shoe known to man. Closely followed by the loafer and the moccasin. He did his best to buy me the most stylish pair; purple with a white fleece lining and they’re not the real deal! But essentially they are still Crocs! I vowed I would never own a pair of this vile plastic footwear. I’ve had discussions with friends regarding the ugliness of the shoe, and now at 28 I have my own pair of purple plastic crocs! Is the sacrifice of style worth it? Completely! The ability to go from out to in, wet to dry, chilly to warm in an instant is great! I’m not ready to say I love them, but it’s only been one day give it time!

This isn’t my attempt at a fashion blog. Fashion has never been my strong point. I live by the rule of comfort and colour! These Crocs represent the adjustments that are coming with this lifestyle. Deep metaphorical Crocs!

We’re already making adjustments to our usual habits while living here. When you notice how much water you are using, or you have minimal space, you really think through the decisions you make before jumping to what’s easiest. Another example of a major adjustment is to do with our number twos (I’m talking about poo)! We have to do our poops in the main house which is only a short walk across the garden. However I am a nervous pooper, so I am adjusting to using public restroom facilities before we head home for the night. I’m also slowly getting over my embarrassment that everyone knows I’m going for a poop if I walk across the garden with a good book. Que the handy Croc for a speedy slip on and a quick dart across the lawn!

The rhythm of live changes whenever you move house. It takes time to mould to any new space. Our move to the caravan is a little more on the extreme side, but so far we are embracing and enjoying it. So I’ll embrace the crocs and wear them with pride just like I am embracing this whole new lifestyle. My plastic functional fleesey footwear represent that fact. Just don’t let me wear them down the pub!


Lesser of two evils

(Back dated 11th April 2017)

It’s day 5 in the caravan and although we are getting used to our new simpler lifestyle, we still haven’t fully closed our previous chapter.

The exit from our home in Taunton has been slow and arduous. It was a home that served us well for two years and was our first rental with a private landlord. When we moved from Bristol to Taunton it was ideal avoiding estate agents and their extortionate agency fees. During the whole two years we never had a problem with our landlord until he wanted us out. Before I go on I must say he was a nice guy and going private is the lesser of two evils. However they are still evils that we seem to have to bare. However he painted it he was kicking us out for his gain. Which is in his right, it is his house after all!

I first started to fear that the pound signs would alter his behaviour when we started to pop over unannounced to do jobs. There was a day I came home to evidence that he had been there without either myself or my husband being informed. After a heated discussion apparently communication got muddled and I was ‘too focused on doing yoga after work to listen’ – so clearly it was my fault.

My husband’s gift of the gab got the house sold on the first viewing. We both cleaned it to the landlords standards whilst juggling organising a wedding, finding somewhere new to live, my husbands new job and general everyday life! Our landlord was grateful for the effort we put in. One of the agreements to making such an effort to sell the house was that when we left we’d not have to do it all again.

Today my husband and I arrived at the empty property at 11am. We cleaned until 4pm with no breaks. Our landlord arrived and claimed the property was “just not clean”. This just wasn’t true. We had scrubbed, wiped, picked, trimmed, cleansed and pimped the house from head to toe. In swans her Majesty the Landlord and runs his fingers along the skirting board and the tops of the doors. I had to leave and take a moment outside to clear my head of fury! After going round in circles with the Lord of the Land, we are returning tomorrow to give up more of our time to get the house to his Highnesses standards.

I must stress again that our old Landlord was not a bad guy and people only behave the way they think is right. I am attempting to un-emotively relay the facts. He went back on his word and we felt lesser human beings because of the way he behaved. No one has the right to do that. The fact is that our time, energy and money is being dictated to by someone else’s standards. How is that fair?

Needless to say my farewell to him was frosty.

Note to private landlords – Don’t try to be friends with your tenants. It will just make it harder when you take away their dignity.

(This post has been backdated, since then our old Landlord still claimed the property wasn’t clean enough and kept some of the backdated rent he promised to return.)