May the Bugs be with you.

Something I never thought I’d say; “There’s a moth in my coffee”.

Bugs, insects, creepy crawlies, whatever you call them, this time of year they are in abundance. When we moved into the van we didn’t realise it was a house share. It turns out there were already a few tenants that had their eye on this property, and they refuse to leave. There’s The Wasp’s with their massive Big Mumma’s that use aggressive techniques to try and get us to leave. Then there’s Mrs Doubt-Spider and her crew of hairy black friends in all shapes and sizes. They like to hang out where you least expect them to be. Clothes, wine glasses, loo roll, curtains! They are a sneaky bunch. Earwigs love clean washing. Horse flies are vicious and flies are just plain ditsy! And then there are the ultimate bad house guests. The May Bugs.

May Bugs haunted my childhood. I can clearly remember the first time I saw a May Bug and was overwhelmed that something of that size resided in the UK! Since being bombarded by the beasts I have learnt that May Bugs spend 3 years under ground growing, then emerge for just 6 weeks to annoy us. I fear we have placed our awning over their birthing ground! They are bursting through our awning, like the chest monster from the film Alien! Their mechanical buzz isn’t of this world and neither are they. I call them turds with wings. They don’t like that.

It was a traumatic start to the day when I was alone in the van and found one in our bed. Remy was no help! It took me a solid 30 minutes to prepare myself for the evacuation. I cupped it in a glass early to prevent any sudden movements. The little darling was sound asleep, cosily wedged between two blankets under Remy’s bed. I must quickly add that we have a no kill policy in the van, unless in danger or by accident! After pumping myself up using bhangra and motivational pep talks, I went in for removal. I found the sturdiest magazine and approached the snoozing beast. As I scooped it up I made a noise that came from a very real place of fear! I had cleared my exit path so I could be swift. Remy obviously thought this was a game and jumped at me as I rapidly but calmly made my way to the other side of the garden. I feel an insect of their size must have some sort of memory. So in the hopes of disorientating it I took it to a table on the other side of the garden next to the chickens. I hoped that in the wind the May Bug might fly into the chicken pen and provide some extra protein for the chickens! I then sprinted back to the van with Remy in tow, shut all the doors and windows in case the Bug remembered its route back!

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Since then May Bugs have haunted my dreams and our awning. One night we heard a scratching at the door and low and behold it was a May Bug the size of a sparrow! In the morning we found it decimated on the floor, taken down by an unknown rodent. I imagined a hedgehog javelined the bug with one of its spikes and it fell to the ground allowing the hedgehog to gorge in its success!

Unlike all the other aspects of this lifestyle that I have embraced, this is the only one I am finding difficult. I’m not particularly frightened of any of our house guests (apart from horse flies). I just don’t adore their company all the time. They must learn to allow us our personal space, just like we have learnt not to accidentally kill them!

Apparently May Bugs are a sign of a good summer. I write this in June while it’s raining outside. They better not be liars as well as bad house guests!

A note of apology to the harvest spider that I accidentally squished with my forehead while zenning out in Extended Child’s Pose (yoga). He deserved an Oscar for his death sequence.

The Whippet with many names

Everyone knows that my husband and I come as a three. Him, Myself and Remy, our whippet. On a cold Guy Fawkes night in 2014 we brought home the third member of our unit. Since then we have been a family through thick and thin.

Remy is fuelled by, and filled with love. He’s not a nervy, shivering show whippet. He’s been up mountains, spent freezing cold nights in Scotland under canvas, and sometimes even braves a paddle in the sea. He comes with us almost everywhere; to friends houses, shopping and even joins my husband at work at the Steiner School. Remy has obviously joined us on 4 of our 5 house moves. Moving house is stressful for dogs, regardless of how many times you’ve done it. Remy’s head gets hot and heavy, his belly gets confused and he becomes clingier than normal.

Remy knows my Mum’s land well. After coming for weekend visits we’ve struggled to get him back in the car! But this time we aren’t leaving. This time the orchards, wildlife, smells and other furry companions are on his door step. It’s taken him a while to settle in. But now that he has settled in I don’t think he’ll want to live anywhere else.

There is obviously a reason why whippets and lurchers are popular dogs for travellers. They are incredibly calm and can curl up to the size of a dinner plate (when they choose to)! After a day of snuffling around the garden, playing with my Mum’s Jack-a-Doodles and following us around, he’ll happily curl up on on the sofa / bed and snooze the evening away. He’s the perfect companion for our van life. (#whippetsforlife)

 

Obviously there are some challenges to sharing such a small space with a whippet that has a big personality. For example, Remy adores cuddles. When we were puppy training him, food did not tempt him to behave. Attention and praise was what worked; “Oh good boy, cuddles cuddles cuddles”! So now Remy has a serious cuddle addiction. This isn’t a bad thing… until bedtime! We’ve always been solid on our rule of ‘no dog in the bed’. However van-life means that certain rules get bent.

During our first night in the van my husband was repeatedly woken up by a cold nose on his face. Whippet’s have short hair and Remy got too cold on the floor of the van. His ears were like icicles. So we made a cosy corner for him at the bottom of the bed. It doesn’t encroach on our bed space… or does it! Remy will start the evening plate sized on his bed in the corner. However throughout the night his lanky legs spread and stretch onto my side of the bed. When he finally decides he needs more room he’ll sit up and plant his paws on my leg as if to say; “It’s time for cuddles now. Let me in!” This obviously wakes me up and he looks very proud of himself. Regardless of the hour I do not give in! “No Remy, on your bed”. He continues to demand to snuggle between me and my new husband. Oh yes, Remy always has to be in the middle! I don’t give in. I sit up in my sleepy state, wrap him in his blanket, put him back on his bed and fall back to sleep. Some nights he’ll try this routine more than once! Since we’ve moved into the van we’ve not had an unbroken nights sleep. It now happens so regularly that I can manage the routine while still asleep! The other night I thought I dreamt letting him in for a cuddle and I woke up nose to nose with the cheeky puppy! He’s a demanding and persistent pup! But the positives far out weigh the negatives. Yes, his white dog hair gets everywhere, but his face at the window when you come home from work is pure joy and dissolves the day’s stresses. And yes, his dog farts make our eyes water and stink out the whole van, but he tolerates ours!

Anyone that has rented with a pet before will be aware of the ridiculous financial hoops you must jump through in order to keep a pet in a rental property. One previous property we viewed wanted an extra £1500 because we had a dog. These are just more numbers plucked from the air to make renting and living how you wish harder. The only condition from our current landlords (my Mum and her partner) is to clear up his poop from the main garden! We thought that was fair.

Remy’s endless joy, love and companionship has made each house move tolerable and for that I am happy to share my bedtime with this cuddle addict. Maybe I need to admit that I am a cuddle addict too.

Nickname Challenge – 

We believe that Remy has more nicknames than any other dog. Could you suggest new ones we could use? I promise we’ve used all of these:

Full Name: Remy Thunder-Paws Trotter Crossley

Rem

Remmers

Remski

Remster

Remmald

Rembrant

Remmington

Remaloo

Remsterfarni

Remloid

Rem-erlem-a-ding-dong

Remmler

Remington Spa

Remy two-tone

Rem Bean

Beaner

Whippy

Whippold

Whipperlot

Whippster

Mr Whip

The Whip

Whipler

Whipsnade

Thunder Paws

Trotter

Snuggle Monster

Spotty Dog

Snuggle Pup

Snuggle Bum

Cow Dog

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Living the Stereotype?

I’m a big yoga fan. Over the past three years yoga has become a part of my everyday life. It helps me with all sorts of general day to day issues. From stress and PMT, to general aches and pains. I aim to practice yoga twice a day and instantly feel the benefits. I’m not talking about unattainable commercial bendy yoga. I’m talking about mindful grounded yoga with the incentive of being kind to yourself. It helps bring balance to a sometimes frantic world.

Every house we looked at before we moved into the van needed to have enough space for yoga. It was close to the top of the necessities list; “Yeh, I love the garden but where will be do yoga?” It’s important to my husband too so the question was always valid. In our two bed terrance house in Taunton we had a whole room dedicated to yoga and music. This was a luxury that we lavished in regularly. We even chose to have the small room as our bedroom so we could dedicate this larger space to a peaceful environment.

Since moving into our caravan the importance of yoga has not changed, however our space obviously has. No lavish yoga dojo here! We have adapted to our miniature surroundings and now have 3 yoga options depending on weather:

  1. DRY – Outside the van on the grass facing the orchards which are currently filled with spritely lambs.
  2. WET / DARK – In the awning by candlelight. By boiling the kettle at the same time it can get quite toasty!
  3. STORMS – Inside the van. This is the smallest space. This option is only suitable for longways yoga! No room for twists!

What I thought would bother me the most about van-yoga would be the small space or getting too cold. The cold air has actually been a new highlight. It’s lovely wrapping up warm and breathing in the cold air during pranayama practice. It feels cleansing. What I am adjusting to is sharing my yoga with all that comes with the outdoors.

I’m no yogi but I can guess that yoga originated outside. I can picture the ancient yogi’s on dusty tracks in the Indian mountains practicing their asana in a hypnotic trance. Not in a pristine white yoga studio with air conditioning and a water feature in the corner. However traditional yoga taking place outside is I have become accustomed to the quiet, thick bricked, temperature controlled room in my old house. But here, outside I am suddenly sharing my space, my sanctum, with all sorts of new characters; birds, sheep, Remy (our whippet), lawn mowers, tractors, horse riders, joggers, cyclists, Mum’s dogs, insects and the wind! Today I shared my mat with an ant which I danced around to avoid squishing it! I embrace these new characters and never fight against the cacophony of bird song. I enjoy it. However, regardless of how much I enjoy these new features they are all distractions from being in the present moment. It leads me to wondering whether practicing yoga indoors all this time has created a bigger challenge for me in the long run. I don’t want to block out the sounds of the outdoors. I want to allow them into my practice and share my yoga. I now notice that while living in an urban area I built a yoga wall. Especially while trying to block out my neighbours vicious arguments. I’ve worked so hard to go inward and block out nastiness, that now I’m surrounded by loveliness I need to start practicing allowing that in! Maybe it will end up advancing my yoga practice. It is a practice after all. It continues to change.

If you’re a fellow yoga fan I encourage you to get out of the studio. Get out of the peace you’ve constructed for yourself and play with your asana somewhere unpredictable. It’s good to learn to balance on un-even ground and lean into the wind. For those of you who don’t practice yoga, just sit outside for a while and listen to your surroundings. You might meet someone you’d like to share time with.

Yoga with Adriene (#findwhatfeelsgood) has taught me about true yoga. Check her out  on YouTube.