Van Life

 
 
 
 
 
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Van Life

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Posted: 04.02.2022  ·  #1
I thought I'd do a blog. I've never done one before, but I've paid my subs and might as well make use of some server space, so here I am. I'm on 4g most of the the time so don't expect too many pictures of the fabulous things I do and see, that and I don't take that many. You can always follow wifey on Instagram but you'll need to ask her first. Her account is jenn_squires, you'll need to ask her if you can follow her, PM me also and she'll let you in.

There will be a lot of my opinions, yours will be different so please comment.

Details about the van were covered in this thread topic.php?t=23941

We sold our house in England and moved out last July. Wifey did some house sitting for friends going on holiday. I went to Ireland, mum wasn't good and it was nice to be with her before she died. She passed on October 28th. We collected the van early November and set up camp on the Caravan and camping Club site in Hertford. Did some chores like get the van uprated to 4.1t, sorted out the storage container that holds the remnants of our life, then had Christmas with Dad in Ireland and set off for Spain early January.

There's a few things I need to discuss, so first off is:

My Wife and Van Electrics

There are two solar panals on the roof which charge two leisure batteries. The leisure batteries can also be charged by running the van engine or by plugging in an electric hook up. She understands this. There is a panel so she can look at the percentage remaining in the batteries. She knows that running the fridge off grid, along with switching on the inverter to boil the kettle from time to time gives us two days off grid, at this time of year three days if it's sunny. So why is, every time we stop it's twenty questions? Can I do this? Can I do that?

Today we're on a site with some very low powered electrics. We can plug the van it to charge the batteries but switch anything on and it's a trip to the office to get the circuit breaker reset. Fair enough, we plug the van in, she puts the kettle on, the breaker in the office trips. Breaker reset, she puts the kettle on, breaker trips. Etc. Campsite bloke says 6 amps (I think was the total of his English). I tell wifey that we can switch everything off, charge the batteries, then run off grid. So she switches the fridge on. More discussion and fridge goes off, campsite bloke resets the breaker, wifey checks we have shore power by switching the kettle on. We're sorted now, batteries are full, shore power is unplugged and she can run the fridge to her hearts content. I've very concious of getting into the "mansplaning" thing so just let things run their course.


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Re: Van Life

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Posted: 04.02.2022  ·  #2
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Re: Van Life

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Posted: 04.02.2022  ·  #3
Piranha....You just wrote the story of my life !!! 🤣.....I feel your pain


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Re: Van Life

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Posted: 04.02.2022  ·  #4
Quote by panda

Piranha....You just wrote the story of my life !!! 🤣.....I feel your pain


John that would just make you jealous.😂

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Posted: 05.02.2022  ·  #5
I’ve met your wife and many of her clones on quite a few sites over the years. Including male variations who cannot grasp that electric supply in a MH is different to a house.

As a site owner I put in 16amp ehus to save the embarrassed husbands the walk of shame to reception and more importantly to save me having to re set trips at inconvenient times.

I was parked next to a British couple in Vera who managed to trip the 10smp supply at least 5 times in 12 hours. I did explain that sometimes rather than operating every single electrical device at the same time it’s less likely to trip if only 1 or 2 high use items are used at the same time. He said thanks as he walked back to reception again. When he returned with the owner, the owner showed him one spare unused socket and said if it trips again he could use the spare but if that tripped tough.

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Re: Van Life

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Posted: 05.02.2022  ·  #6
Cant think the last time I tripped a socket, its just about management

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Posted: 05.02.2022  ·  #7
I remember being in a campsite one winter evening and as i walked past this caravan with an awning i was amazed to see an electric heater sitting burning away in the awning and nobody or nothing else inside the awning.

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Posted: 11.02.2022  ·  #8
Bear in mind the fridge is a 12v job, there is no gas in the van, we've had a bit of a breakthrough. After 3 months of living in the van wifey has sussed that if we don't have the fridge on we don't need to drive for 3 to 4 hours every few days to charge the batteries. We managed a whole week parked up with no external hookup and no driving and still had 60% battery capacity. Looking at the battery monitor seems to be her new hobby. :D


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Posted: 15.02.2022  ·  #9
We're on a site with a 12a hookup. We had a discussion about what we can run and it was one 230v appliance at a time. She's now popped the breaker on the campsite by switching the microwave on at the same time as the kettle. Still, the walk to the office to get it reset will get her daily step count off to a good start.


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Posted: 28.02.2022  ·  #10
Spain

If you're reading "baguettes" blog you'll get pictures of where he's been. I do take pics but for some reason can't get them to upload to Flickr to post them. I haven't looked particularly hard for a solution so you'll have to make do with text.

At the tender age of 58 I've not really been to Spain. I've sort of been here. I've walked up to the border from the French side of the Pyranees, I've ridden an off road motorcycle from Andorra into the Spanish side of the mountains and cycled in an out from France, but I've never been any further. We arrived in Bilbao on January 5th, spent a couple of nights parked at a hostel and did some sightseeing. I'd recommend it for a weekend break.

From there we headed south. Had I realised earlier how close we were to Guernica then that would have been the first stop, but it was another civil war site that was on the itinerary, Belchite. We were't in a hurry and spent a couple of days driving there, so were't too surprised when we arrived, WTF is going on with Spain. There's no fu**er anywhere. The villages are almost empty, most of the property is boarded up with old for sale signs. There's no estate, agent just a phone number that was discontinued 20 years ago. The empty houses have been empty for a very long time, crumbling back into the ground. There's any amount of half finished buildings, grafiti'd and left to decay, Spain at this point in the journey is a very sad, depressing place. It's not just the north, much of inland Spain is like this, so what's going on? Apparently the movement of people from the countryside to urban areas is a decades old thing. Most of the population lives in one of 1500 towns and cities, 65% of those people live in flats, which sort of explains what you see. Once you get to a busy town there's building work happening on the outskirts and it's all flats, the Spanish do love an apartment, I'll find out why at some point. In the 2008 Spain suffered badly. There was lots of building going with efforts to re-populate the countyside, all repossessed by the banks and all lying derelect. There is a government ministry that been set up to try and find a solution to the depopulation of the countryside, I wish them luck.

Back to Belchite. This place is a big part of Spanish Civil War history, have a Google, it's important for the Spanish. It's twinned with Oradour FFS, and what's happening to it? Nothing. It's being managed in the best way possible with no money, it could be so much and it's left to fall apart. Such a shame.

On we go, staying inland. We've met a fair few people who've spent time on the coast and they all have the same story, it's a bit of a nightmare. Vans are getting moved on, sometimes in the middle of the night, people are getting fined before being moved, stay away. So we do. Off to the Sierra Navada and snow, Granada (well worth a visit), Spaghetti Western land and Tabernas then across the bottom to a campsite just up the coast from Cadiz which is where we are now. I really should get my photo stuff working, I've some stunning pictures to post. The baby chameleon I picked up today was sooo cute.

Thinking of coming to Spain? Then avoid the dog turds. The Spanish do seem to like a dog and there is sh*t everywhere, you will walk about looking at the floor it's that bad. The best advice I can give is this: the Spanish do like to go camping at the weekend. Make sure you're parked up by Friday lunchtime and don't even think about leaving until Sunday afternoon, Monday is better. If you try and find a park up at the weekend you'll be sorry you ignored this bit of sage advice.

It's now Monday 28th Feb, there's been a four day weekend in most of Spain and the campsite has been mobbed. We've decided to hang around here until Thursday then head off to Ronda, wifey has her sister and brother and his wife coming out for a few days.


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Posted: 21.03.2022  ·  #11
Where have we been?

Parked up a couple of nights ago next to an English couple who have been on the road for five years, we get chatting and wifey gets her journal out to compare notes. Have you been here? This place is good. We didn't like it there. The other lady asked me what I thought and to be honest it's a complete blur. As I'm typing this wifey is reading the latest park4night reviews for places we've stopped, she's got her notes in front of her, I can't remember most of them. She's doing her best to jog my memory but fighting a losing battle. Life is drive a bit to the next place, get the bikes out and go for a ride then move on. If we like it we'll stay a day or so but mostly it's a distant memory. There's been a few notable exceptions but not many. We stopped at a campsite on the Atlantic coast (we're still in Spain) for three whole weeks. We explored the area, all by bicycle, fitness went up, weight went down, happy days. But those happy days don't happen often enough.

Now, ever since we sold our house property websites have become my hobby. I knew early on that van life wouldn't be a way of life for me, I'd be much happier loading up a bicycle and heading off into the sunset than driving a van there, but there's two of us so van it is for the time being. What we really need is a base to work from. Somewhere to call home, spend time and relax, swap kit over for the next adventure, ride bikes, go tent camping, that sort of thing. I think we've found it. Second viewing on Wednesday, the first one took two hours and we're still excited to go back. I'll keep you posted.


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Posted: 23.03.2022  ·  #12
The House In Spain

As I mentioned above we've got other goals in life besides living in a van and they really needed a base to work from, a house and home. We decided on Spain so I set to work on the property sites. Rightmove, Idealista, you name it I've looked at it. I think I've looked at every property for sale in Spain and narrowed it down to two. A house in the hills and a new build villa inland from Alicante. We viewed both on Sunday and fell in love with the house in the hills. We went back today for a second viewing and were as excited to see it as we were on the first vist. The deal was done and we went from the house to the solicitor to pay the deposit. We're back at the house in the morning to go through everything with the current owner who's flying home to Scotland in the afternoon. From there it's the notary to sign over power of attorney so we don't need to be present to sign documents, then it's a matter of waiting four to six weeks and it's ours.

https://www.alicantedreamprope…-6496.html

The compound in the pictures is about one sixth of the site, it's huge. The compound takes up half a terrace and there's three terraces. It has mains water and that's it. Electricity is from solar, I expect to upgrade the batteries to lithium fairly quickly. We'll stick a pool on the next terrace down and leave the terrace below that to nature at the moment. I'm still trying to get my head around what we've done, but look at it and find another like it. The pictures don't even come close to doing the site justice, it's epic.


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Posted: 23.03.2022  ·  #13
Stunning property in a beautiful region👌 ..We are near neighbours so.... We have a place not too far from you in Torreviega

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Van Life

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Posted: 23.03.2022  ·  #14
Looks great and newly built or renovated, enjoy a good decision all around. We'll done happy in it.

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Posted: 23.03.2022  ·  #15
congrats and best of luck with it :)

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Posted: 24.03.2022  ·  #16
Top class , well done, the expawers on YouTube have done the same years ago in Andalusia I think,and use their wee apt as a base to travel from, they’ve some life, ps don’t put the pool in just yet so you can have room a couple of meet ups he he😀

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Posted: 24.03.2022  ·  #17
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Van Life

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Posted: 24.03.2022  ·  #18
How are you going to manage the 90 day rules.?


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Posted: 24.03.2022  ·  #19
Quote by sprinter

How are you going to manage the 90 day rules.?


Me? Don't apply to me.

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Posted: 24.03.2022  ·  #20
Quote by Ally

Quote by sprinter

How are you going to manage the 90 day rules.?


Me? Don't apply to me.


Sorry I meant Malcolm, I'm not sure if he is still on an Irish passport, don't know if the 90 day rule is solely for UK visiting passport holders, or does it also apply for home owners in Spain.?


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Posted: 25.03.2022  ·  #21
Short answer, apply for residency.

I have an Irish passport but a UK driving license. Residency gets me around the 90 day rule, the problem is my UK license. Spain like you to swap your license for a Spanish one after 6 months, but there's no arrangement in place for a straight swap, they expect you to take a Spanish driving test. Hopefully that'll get sorted out at some point.

Wifey has a British passport and license. My residency should be a formality, she can then apply as a spouse which gets around the need for having to travel back to the UK for the consulate interview.

That's the plan anyway.


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Posted: 25.03.2022  ·  #22
Quote by Pirahna

Short answer, apply for residency.

I have an Irish passport but a UK driving license. Residency gets me around the 90 day rule, the problem is my UK license. Spain like you to swap your license for a Spanish one after 6 months, but there's no arrangement in place for a straight swap, they expect you to take a Spanish driving test. Hopefully that'll get sorted out at some point.

Wifey has a British passport and license. My residency should be a formality, she can then apply as a spouse which gets around the need for having to travel back to the UK for the consulate interview.

That's the plan anyway.


is it possible for you to exchange your UK for an Irish one, or do all new residences including other EU licenses, have the same requirements?


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Posted: 26.03.2022  ·  #23
Quote by sprinter

Quote by Pirahna

Short answer, apply for residency.

I have an Irish passport but a UK driving license. Residency gets me around the 90 day rule, the problem is my UK license. Spain like you to swap your license for a Spanish one after 6 months, but there's no arrangement in place for a straight swap, they expect you to take a Spanish driving test. Hopefully that'll get sorted out at some point.

Wifey has a British passport and license. My residency should be a formality, she can then apply as a spouse which gets around the need for having to travel back to the UK for the consulate interview.

That's the plan anyway.


is it possible for you to exchange your UK for an Irish one, or do all new residences including other EU licenses, have the same requirements?


Exchanging for an Irish licence is an option. Annoyingly, a Spanish person going to the UK can swap their license over. I think it'll get sorted out at some point, hopefully sooner rather than later.

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Posted: 04.04.2022  ·  #24
The bin lorry just drove past.

We had a trip to France, it was cold and wet. But because we'll apply for residency in Spain and really should abide by the rules it gave us some spare days to use (it's 90 days in every 180 per country). We're back in Spain on a site close to where we're buying and it's proper Irish weather. I'm not sure what's the most interesting thing that's happened today, emptying the toilet cassette or the bin lorry driving past. You have to love living in a van when the weather is crap. Still, on the bright side, I had a chat with the old man earlier and it's just as bad in Roscommon. It'll be 20 degrees here by the end of the week.

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Posted: 04.04.2022  ·  #25
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Posted: 29.04.2022  ·  #26
Gremlins

The very expensive wonder wagon has not been problem free. In the back where the electrickery lives there is a device called a Priority Switch, which, as far as I can work out has a choice of either van altenator, solar panels or electric hook up and assigns or works out which is best to charge the batteries, I think. There's also a box with Votronic written on it which I believe is a charge controller for the solar panels, it does other things too! In the van there's a special Votronic display panel where I can see how much is in the batteries and if they're charging, the levels in fresh and waste water tanks, the outside and inside temperature and switch the fresh water pump on and off.

The first week I had it the Priority Switch played up, the van stopped using the EHU on the campsite. Now, bear in mind wifey and I live in it, it's early December in England and wifey can use twice as much as the solar puts back. On the phone to the converter and we work out there's a fuse in the bottom of the Priority Switch, a small bit of unscrewing and I've got access to the fuse, order some on Amazon because they're a bit special to replace it next day. Except I don't. The thread on the plastic fuse holder is gone. I'm not a cack handed person but assume I must have cocked up and stripped it. We were going back to the builder to have some niggles put right and he replaced the fuse holder, all good and EHU works.

Fast forward a few weeks and the EHU starts playing up. Plug in and the 220v circuit breaker trips, reset the breaker and it's all good, until it isn't. Then there's the issue where the batteries are at 100%, put the inverter on for a cup of tea, everything resets and the battteries are showing 10% and nothing works. The latest incident saw the Truma heater stop working, no hob (it's diesel) and no lights, nothing in the van was working. Drive the next day and it all miraculously works again, except for the hob, so no cooked food for us (haven't tried the EHU).

We're on our back to the UK and it's booked in at the builders Wednesday. Think that's annoying, there's more.

The builder has an exceptional reputation, even amongst his peers in the trade he's held in high esteem, so here's what's wrong with the van. We picked it up a dreary day in late November and failed to spot the crease in the front of the roof, the distortion on one of the side panels and the twisting on another panel where a window has been so badly fitted I'm concerned about water ingress. Rather than fix the initial cock up the build continued and would need significant dismantleing of the interior to rectify it. The skylight/vent thing in the bathroom was badly fitted/sealed very poorly and leaked. The panel on the sliding door isn't properly fixed, the panels making up the bed are too tight and creak, the upholstery on the seats could be better (one of the cushions has two nicks/cuts in it, two of the four reading lights have broken lenses. There's more but I get too angry to type.

The van sounds like a crock of shite but it really isn't, large parts of it are exemplary. The faults would have been spotted at the workshop by a more vigilant person. I spent most of last year travelling between Ireland and England waiting for mum to die from bowel cancer and had neither the time or inclination to visit the workshop. I trusted someone with a very good reputation to do a good job and was let down.

Onwards. If it was a van for highdays and holidays I probably would have persued him through the courts. It was always going to be a van to live in, hopefully I can move it on when it's fixed then move on with life. The next one will be off the shelf, left hand drive and wearing Spanish number plates.

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Posted: 29.04.2022  ·  #27
Be sure you sell it in Angerland, because the Spanish will look to see if you have two heads.


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Posted: 13.06.2022  ·  #28
Time for an update.

We took the van to the builder for some work and whilst there discussed selling it. He agreed to take the van and do the leg work for the sale, it was dropped off to him on the 1st of June. We'd got the tent and camping stuff out of the storage container the previous day and had already pitched it. What a relief to be back in a tent, I like tent life. My first travel choice is to strap a tent to a bicycle and head off, there will be plenty of that in my future. Wifey was initially reluctanct to sell the van but realises it makes sense, it'll end up a very expensive white elephant parked the garden in Spain not getting used for months on end, she's fine with the tent. My mood has lifted considerably, I think I was in a darker place than I realised with the van.

I accepted an offer for the van at the weekend. The couple say they need to re-arrange their money and will be ready to move some cash in my direction in 10 days time. Fingers crossed it all goes well.

The old man had a knee replacement a couple of weeks ago, I swapped places with my sister last week and am now housebound in sunny Roscommon for two or three more weeks. Wifey is couch surfing with her family whilst I'm in Ireland. When get back to England it'll be a week in the tent then drive down to Spain, staying on campsites, in a tent.

The picture is taken in the Wyoming Basin, the high Rocky Mountains and Colorado are visible in the distance. I'll be doing more stuff like this.



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Posted: 14.06.2022  ·  #29
Each to their own thing, the one thing I did not like about the camping was when you had to pack up and it was raining.
Good luck with your new journey .👍

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Having made a decision!

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Posted: 14.06.2022  ·  #30
Quote by Pirahna
A very big congratulations on your house purchase choice, good luck and enjoy.We have spent 9 years just looking and are back in Ireland !
Living in a van gives a different perspective.Let us know how your driving .licence thing works out.


The House In Spain

As I mentioned above we've got other goals in life besides living in a van and they really needed a base to work from, a house and home. We decided on Spain so I set to work on the property sites. Rightmove, Idealista, you name it I've looked at it. I think I've looked at every property for sale in Spain and narrowed it down to two. A house in the hills and a new build villa inland from Alicante. We viewed both on Sunday and fell in love with the house in the hills. We went back today for a second viewing and were as excited to see it as we were on the first vist. The deal was done and we went from the house to the solicitor to pay the deposit. We're back at the house in the morning to go through everything with the current owner who's flying home to Scotland in the afternoon. From there it's the notary to sign over power of attorney so we don't need to be present to sign documents, then it's a matter of waiting four to six weeks and it's ours.

https://www.alicantedreamprope…-6496.html

The compound in the pictures is about one sixth of the site, it's huge. The compound takes up half a terrace and there's three terraces. It has mains water and that's it. Electricity is from solar, I expect to upgrade the batteries to lithium fairly quickly. We'll stick a pool on the next terrace down and leave the terrace below that to nature at the moment. I'm still trying to get my head around what we've done, but look at it and find another like it. The pictures don't even come close to doing the site justice, it's epic.

Liked by: Pirahna

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