Day 3 & 4: Building Our New Home #VANLIFE

Hi there, we need a little bit of a catch up don't we??!

 

Over the weekend, we were on a mega mission to find two things, a front door, dirt cheap... and a load of pallets, preferably for free. Guess what? We did it. We managed to bag a beautiful front door with windows and a little bit of colour in them, for only £20 in Northamptonshire via Ebay. Then we got pallets off our mate Dave Nevard who's an Artist from Southend. Proper winning! So that was all done on Monday.

 

KNOCK KNOCK! #vanlife #vanconversion

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We started work on our van again properly on Tuesday. It was a cold miserable day, and I struggled to get up on time. My alarm rang through from 5:45am until 6:15 again. Cold horrible early mornings should be banned!!! 


Anything before 7am sucks.

We should have an artificial sunlight that tricks us all into thinking its a beautiful sunny day out at 7am so that we feel good when we're commuting. Although, this idea could quickly turn into some sort of weird Black Mirror style story very quickly so I'm not going to put too much thought into the artificial sunlight. It's not my best idea.
Where was I? Oh yeah! So, Tuesday...
I got up, made lunch for the day which was couscous, broccoli and salad, I packed that up along with a cup of tea then I promptly woke Doozer up and told him how brilliant I am.
Then we headed to Hemel, this time from Aylesbury as our friend Beardy Keef has agreed to let us stop here during the week. I'm really enjoying staying at Keef's because he makes AMAZING food and he's a great conversationist (is that a word?) he knows a little bit about everything and big bits about really interesting things and he's a wicked musician. Look out for him at Bearded Theory this year, he's the guy who does the extraordinarily popular Uke Jam!
I've been nicking a different one of his Bearded Theory mugs every morning to drink my tea out of on the way.
I also like commuting from Aylesbury because it's much easier than driving on the sodding M25 every morning. I have American friends who think they know what commuters traffic is. I wish I could stick them on the M25 at 8am.


Our task for Tuesday was to get the flooring in, and all of the insulation.
I had to measure all of the little boxes in the ground and cut up the insulation to size then "bosh it in" as the boys called it. The insulation was much more annoying than it looks. Insulation is an actual bitch.
I know how to measure things. I'm sure of it. I'm also sure that a measuring tape never lies. So it's definitely the insulation that has a problem. Not me. Every time I measured the stuff and cut it to size, it suddenly would not fit in the square that it was supposed to. I'd then have to shave a bit off one of the sides to make it fit, and it still wouldn't go in, so then I'd shave another bit off the side and suddenly the insulation would be too small and the two bits I shaved off would be the exact same size as the gap!!! What the actual fuck?!


Insulation cut to the width of the section... or so I thought... 

The other problem I encountered was that insulation gets absolutely bloody everywhere. When we cut it up bits came off it and blew all around us like a snow blizzard. The stuff got in my eyes, in my mouth, in my nose and most annoyingly, in my TEA!!!
The worst bit was when I accidentally inhaled a bit up my nose and spent the rest of the afternoon convinced that it was going to lodge itself in the frontal lobe of my brain and change my personality. You know like how sometimes on documentaries about serial killers there is often a neurological doctor who stoically explains that the killer has some sort of unexplained or weird brain damage that happened to them before they became a psychopath? Well, that was what I was worrying about, I thought it might happen to me. I also considered the possibility that I would suddenly develop special abilities, such as understanding several languages at once or having photographic memory, but it would come with some sort of horrible quirk for example, an eternally itchy nostril, or the persistent sensation of a wet ear.  Luckily though, I kept blowing air out of my nose a lot, then whilst I was working, at some point, I forgot about the possibility of brain damage and the bit of insulation in my nose must have gone away because I haven't felt it since.

I think I got insulation stuck up my nose! #vanlife #vanconversion #conversionvan #insulation

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The other thing I didn't like about cutting the insulation was BENDY saw syndrome. For some reason when I don't concentrate on cutting straight, I always get a straight line. But if I focus on it, I always get a curvy zig zag line. Why do saws bend? It seems like a flawed idea to have a long sharp bendy thing to cut with.


Me looking menacing with my upside down saw!

Anyway, we got ALL the insulation in the floor done in one day. Then we whacked the floor in!!! Bloody Marvellous ain't it?! All it needs next is some lino. We'll come to that later.
Sometime between us pulling the floor down and me measuring up more insulation for the walls, Doozer went to the caravans and chose a toilet to rip out for our van. Doozer came back to the van carrying a toilet, complaining to me that "It was leaking blue stuff" THEN he proceeded to carry it INTO the van and put it on our brand new floor. Needless to say, the smelly "blue stuff" was some sort of toilet bleach and it generously leaked itself all over the floor. So, we got our nice new floor down and Doozer attempted to ruin it immediately!!!
Typical!

We finally got our floors down! #vanlife #vanconversion #floor

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We're currently upcycling loads, pretty much anything that we need that a caravan has, we're taking. It's saving us massively on costs, I don't think we'd have got this far if we were buying everything. At first I was a little bit hesitant about some things. For example, I've always wanted a cooker, and I wanted it to be a new one. There's something nice about that thought... But when I asked a friend of mine how much his campervan cooker costed, he told me it was nearly £400, I very quickly went off the idea of a new cooker. Upcycling is amazing. I don't know why anyone would throw away some of the things they throw away. If it's useful, other people should reuse it! There's almost nothing in the caravans that can't be salvaged with a little bit of elbow grease.


Move along, nothing to see here!

In the meantime we had to start insulating the walls and the ceiling too. Everything has to be insulated, otherwise your van will be freezing cold in the winter and boiling hot in the summer! It also helps keep noise and wind out, and helps to keep the heat in if you have your heater or burner on. Insulation is very important. Our other van, that we've just spent 3 years living in, has NO insulation. I actually cannot explain HOW we've lived in it for all of this time with no insulation whatsoever. When we bought it, we didn't know what on earth we were doing. I'm convinced now that back then, we were both a bit mental too.  We just bought a big van that has a big bed in it and some storage underneath. That's all we thought we needed. I guess, at the start of this journey, that is all that we needed, because we had nothing and we didn't know we were going to get this far, as musician and artist. So, without insulation It gets really cold in there, there's damp and condensation and we even started noticing mold coming through. EURGH. 
This is why insulation is important guys!



The next thing we had to do was measure everything up and work out how much ply wood we would need for walls. I'm not going to lie, I can't count.  Our friend El, who's helping us, is actually the genius behind pretty much everything we're doing here. We're rubbish at everything. I draw pictures for a living. Doozer writes songs. We're not carpenters, or engineers or, really all that handy. El is a very skilled engineer and is one of the cleverest people I've met. He did all of the numbers and literally would just write down what we need down to the exact sizes and where to buy it from and we will go and get it. Easy. If me and Dooze were doing this completely alone we probably would have cut our own fingers off with the bendy saw, or inhaled too much insulation, or fallen into a bin somewhere and somehow mortally killed ourselves to death. We're eternally grateful to have El on board with us.


El "boshing" the insulation into the ceiling because Doozer can't reach...


El ordering the ply wood for us in the exact measurements because we are useless

Buying plywood for our walls! #vanlife #vanconversion #conversionvan #woodworking #newhome

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Yesterday we focused on the walls. I was outside varnishing all of the ply wood until lunchtime. It actually started off as a pretty horrible morning. There was frost outside, it was cold, grey, cloudy and miserable, again. When I started varnishing the ply wood, I could feel the cold wind chilling my bones, then I felt a few raindrops and I was feeling really exhausted. I'm not used to physical work. However, somehow, at some point, the clouds suddenly fucked off and I felt this warm ray of sunshine on the back of my neck then the day changed. The sun came out and the day was beautiful. It changed the way I felt. We all suddenly pulled in and worked harder and better and more efficiently. Yesterday was a really good day. I got all of the plywood varnished, which meant I had lots of time to think.
Here's what I was thinking about:

- Do wood spiders think that other materials such as plastic and grass are other countries?
- If I accidentally drank some insulation would it block up my intestines?
- Does insulation have nutritional value?
- Who invented Couscous?
Things that make me and Doozer a good team:
- He can count, I can't
- I'm good at choosing and deciding things, he doesn't like choosing and deciding.
- He's good at lifting heavy things, I'm not
- I'm good at imagining where things go, he's not.
Things I don't like about working with Doozer:
- He spills a manky old toilet bog in our new van.
Why do I like Dip Dabs so much?



Putting the first wall in on one side was a bit trickier than I thought it would be because we can't let there be any gaps and it all has to be straight. So this took a really long time to get right. Plus we had to consider where our electrics were going to go and make sure there's holes in the right places for all of that too. 


Doozer struggling with the insulation in the cab whilst me and El get the wall started...

Having a wall in the van meant that we could then literally draw out where everything is going to go. For me, this is the really exciting bit. We're having the kitchen up against the big window. Then a sofa next to it which will hopefully fold out into a sofa bed. A small wet room/toilet room next to that, at the end near the front (back) door. It's not far off what we initially had in mind. The best bit last night was getting the sofa cushions out of one of the caravans, and literally the first ones we chose, fitted in not only the spaces we had for the sofas, but also fitted the width of our van as a bed perfectly. It's nice when things fit into place isn't it?


El & Doozer sizing up our plans.

I have to stop writing this blog now as we're about to start Day 5. Keep watching this space, more updates will come soon!

In the meantime, here's a video we made during one of our breaks, it looks like a clip from a hip-hop music video!

Taking a break from working to film our new hip hop video. #vanlife #vanconversion #conversionvan #break

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PS. Advice for anyone considering converting their own van, or infact, doing any physical hard work at all... wear trousers that fit. Mine keep falling down and I'm 80% sure I got sunburn on my bottom yesterday.

 



Cheers
The Famous Artist Birdy Rose.


2 comments

  • Oops, sorry. Loved it so much it posted twice somehow ?

    Barbara
  • So loving this blog. Can’t wait to see the finished van. I love what you and Doozer do, talk about living the dream ☺️ Looking forward to seeing you in the Summer. All the best x

    Barbara

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