Minimally moveable

It’s been a bit of a struggle to get this post out a couple of days after I had planned to and the first real blip in the onebag blogging efforts. I knew it had to happen at some point. I am surprised I have managed to focus this long and kept it going. However the show must go on as the saying goes and that leads me nicely into the topic of conversation this week, or was that meant to be last week..

Last Wednesday I journeyed south to the Camping and Caravanning show at the NEC centre near Birmingham and the reason for my visit was partly down to the fact I won a couple of tickets thanks to Alde UK in a Twitter competition, on the whole I don’t win things and so with the benefit of free entrance I thought it would be a good opportunity to check out some minimal mobile living spaces. With the cost of housing both in the buying and also the rental markets skyrocketed in the last decade alternative cheaper forms of dwelling are being sought by many, not just those priced out of a roof over their heads but also people interested in living more intentionally and not get sucked into the consumerist dream. I have been giving a lot of consideration to the different forms of mobile living from camper vans, van conversions, caravans, canal boats and also although not quite mobile short term rentals and things like house sitting. But having ones own space however large or small is still ones own space and the joy of coming home is something that most of us take for granted. But looking at these alternatives makes me think what would it actually be like to live in a tiny space for an extended period. There are plenty of van life stories of sun drenched lifestyles, waking up to glorious sunrises and going to sleep with beautiful sunsets but to me the reality seems more like walking up in lay-by with lorries thundering by on a rainy winters morning and what about high winds and many other thoughts? Yes this may be my rather un-educated view but the reality is only something that can be lived to be experienced.

Back to the show and the the vans in all there formats that peaked my interest. As someone who knows virtually nothing about touring or caravanning or van life as have always flown to my holidays but now considering a mobile home it is amazing to what is on offer, not just the manufactured models but also the conversions. Now I also understand that these moving palaces are really aimed at a weekend wanderers or traditional get away breaks and may not necessarily be aimed at the full time live-aboard traveller. However with a minimal mentality space would not seem to be a problem with even the most compact of vans that I saw. Then there is a question or what is suitable for ones needs and the relative user requirements that can be summarised in good video by Andrew Ditton. But the fact that all these vehicles can be hired in some way and can be experienced to help

Then there is the van conversion market and browsing around Youtube will show you many examples of the amazing ingenuity of there builders. So the premise of picking a standard commercial van and slapping a micro flat inside depending on the model is certainly build for more rugged use. However the technologies and materials are readily available through the mature market of the caravan and motorhome suppliers. So many of the the amenities found in modern caravans are now easily purchased for a van build. Alde is case in point, on visiting their stand at the show I got a plumbing and heating catalogue with all their products which effectively brings a home heating system into a van, in fact theres nothing you can’t find to make your own little space comfy, clean and warm.

So finally some quick pics of some of the vans I took inspiration from. There is however a lot to be said for being able to change the scenery with the day.

Some of my plans for this year.

Now Christmas has been and gone and the last turkey and or ham sandwich has been eaten, the final chocolate consumed and the tree decorations put away in the old suitcase it is time to get back on with life, hooray. So far in this blog I have on the whole just been talking about or planning to do things but in 2018 it is the year for doing. I don’t make new year resolutions preferring to make changes by writing down things I want to add to my life when they occur to me rather than giving up a bunch of stuff on the 1st of the year only to have failed a few short days, weeks or months down the line. I also like the planning part of any goal or “journey” and although I suppose you could go into detail of say giving up chocolate, these ideas don’t come to you on the last day of the year, more likely it is triggered by other things that happen throughout the year. But having an outline of what one wants to complete is a good starting point. There are now so many ways to manage your life, goals, plans and just about anything else electronically that it can be somewhat overwhelming. Who remembers 43 Things I loved it for it’s notion and the way it worked but unfortunately it went away and yes I do know it popped up again under a different flag but I am taking a more personal view of my progress and trying to cut down on my digital commitment. The less places I have to check, remember passwords and post to just makes life easier and simpler.

What are my plans then? well some are things that I have just recently dreamt up and some are activities that I have been thinking about for years but have never gotten round to doing. These are probably the most hardest to complete due to complexity or cost or both. However I have thought a way round it and am where possible trying to break them up into more ‘doable’ bits. Also I am deliberately not trying to overload myself with more things that I know I wont be able to achieve, more like grabbing the low hanging fruits, not what all those cutting and thrusting motivation gurus would be telling me to do. Lets cut to the chase and get me to put down in writing or should that be typing some of these things that I want to do this year.

  1. A Section of Pennine Way
  2. Camping – Starting off small
  3. Car camper – Can it be done?

As you can see I am being rather vague about these individual goals and deliberately so. I have some idea of incorporating some or all of these to achieve one or more of the goals and I have picked a theme to run with for the year. It has been a long standing desire of mine to complete a long distance hike and until relatively recently I could never find the time to even think about doing one probably more like I never really made the effort to organise doing it. A series by on the good old BBC with Paul Rose ignited the idea again after doing a short stretch of the 109 mile Cotswold Way with relatives over from Canada last year. I picked the Pennine Way as it was something I was aware of and being close to at a young age through my Scouting days. I tried to enthuse others to go along with my crazy plan but most of the adults thought it was mad idea and were not going to let us go wandering off on our own through hill and dale. The fire was lit and has been smouldering away ever since and with every trip North passing through the limestone peaks and dales just reminded me that ‘one day’. As the path passes not that far away I should in theory be able to complete this reasonably easily with the assistance of public transport and a tent. This leads me on to the second goal, and one that I loved doing back in the day. Tramping out with your home and provisions on ones back made for a sense of true explorer even though we were on the whole probably no further that in site of our village and home, but it was exciting and fun. Camping is also the ultimate tiny home life as you can only own what you can carry, now this is something I don’t want to necessarily explore too much but the idea of having a mobile home that can been wherever you want to be and can get to a lot of places many other forms of tiny homes can’t is fascinating.

In conjunction with the camping I have had an idea to either walk or cycle via the canal network to see my friends in Wales which is around a 100+ mile journey from here and would be quite a trip. But that is somewhat extraneous to the core goals I set for myself this year but it never harms to have a backup plan!

Finally, car camping, this is the most challenging for me as the car is a tiny little Ford where you can barely spread ones arms out to either side of oneself. However it is an important precursor to getting a van as my view if one can survive in a car then a van would be luxury. I have been thinking about this and noodling some ideas up in Sketchup to see what is possible and with the back seat taken out there should be sufficient flat space to create a bed platform and storage for the essentials. But I need to carry out some works in the garage first to make space so I can get car in to work on in relative comfort. But this would definitely increase the range of my hiking trips. I will document this as I go along but I don’t expect this to really get started till the warmer weather returns in the spring.

I do have other goals that are not really part of core goals but are no less important or exciting to me. There’s the desire to learn a language via the wonders of Duolingo, for the record I am learning German as I was taught this briefly by mein Großmutter and a little at school but I wasn’t at all interested in learning then which is a shame as I had the perfect opportunity. I have a wish to return to Switzerland and travel on the Glacier Express and some of the other Mountain railways and so a smattering of German would be useful. Then there is a very deep seated desire to learn to fly. Thats been there ever since I can remember and with a family full of pilots I was always drawn to the air. One of my earliest memories was being taken to Biggin Hill airshow and the roar of a low flying Spitfire. This is somewhat of a pipe dream as I am fully aware of a) the cost of learning and b) cost of continuing but hey a boy can dream.

Anyway I will leave you with a pic of the first walk of 2018 and hope you follow your goals and don’t let making resolutions hold you back.


New VanLife Podcast

Just wanted to give a shout out to a new van life/transformation podcast over at A great way to start the new year with sometime to listen to whilst tinkering in the garage. Learnt loads about #leisurebatteries already. I shall be following this one as I have lots of ideas for micro mobile-camping that I want to tryout.

Links to it: