I am rubbish at this.
7am. We're late, I have to wake up the snoring beard next to me.
Lets back track then. On Thursday we were supposed to be at the new Van working by 9am as usual but we didn't get there until midday. We were exhausted and running late, we got stuck in traffic, we had to pick up some indigestion tablets for our mate Fraggle, but all of the shops had no parking spaces and then we were worried about ordering our Lino flooring in time before we get to the Farm to work on our van because there's no internet reception there. We couldn't have ordered the Lino before that because we agreed to ask around some of the flooring shops for off-cuts that morning before we order it online, just in case on the off chance that we could have the lino asap and for cheap, we'd take it. That didn't happen though. Everywhere we went, we were looking at around £150 plus for lino for our van everywhere we went and that was too much.
Lino flooring that looks like wood... woah!
Building a home, when you have nowhere to live and doing it on an extremely tight budget is fucking hard. It's challenging us in ways that we didn't anticipate. We knew we'd be tired, we knew we'd be worked to the bone, we knew our budget was tight and our deadline was close. We knew this would be difficult, we just didn't realise how much it would affect us.
So Thursday morning was spent running around in a blind panic. Shouting at each other, arguing, us both having a panic attack and finally, ordering some lino on Ebay for £50.
I thought we had gone through everything there was to go through as a couple living in a Van for three years. Imagine having a huge blow out argument with your partner and then having to go to work with them all day long without resolving anything and then having to spend the evening together with some friends... AWKWARD. Luckily, EL was oblivious to the icy, silent tension between me and Dooze. I had stopped talking to him all day, instead I resorted to giving him dagger stares every time we crossed paths. AWKWARD.
Not talking to each other whilst working together is rubbish.
As soon as we got a chance to patch it over, we did. We came to the conclusion that we're not used to getting up at 6am everyday, and going to bed at midnight because we've had to drive back, eat, and write down and prepare things for the next day. We're good at sleep deprivation to an extent but we're also not used to manual labour like this. It is hard graft the way we're doing it. A lot of people we know who are converting their van just do it for several hours on the weekends or treat it as a side project that they come back to whenever they want. We literally have had no time for anything else. Everything has been about the new van. We just about manage to squeeze sleep into our schedule. It's been a test of what we can do together and how much we'll tolerate each other's shitty attitudes in the mornings. We must either like each other a lot, or both of us are crazy.
A cup of Tea together always sorts everything out <3
The main focus of the day was to get the walls up. First we had to make sure all of the insulation was in, any gaps had to be filled, and then we had to cut the ply wood to size and El measured up where all of the holes should go to drill the ply wood on. Before we could put the walls on though Doozer and El made another window on the right side of the van. They had to cut through the metal and rip a window off the other caravan whilst I got on with making sure there were no insulation gaps in the walls We then had to get this black tarp stuff that quite honestly looked like a giant roll of bin bag. It smelled of hot water bottles and belly buttons. We had to use some spray glue and spray all of the wall then line the giant bin bag up against it and stick it on. The first bit was a nightmare because it wouldn't stick right away and Doozer was spraying the rest of the wall before I got a chance to stick the bin bag on. Honestly, I was starting to wonder if we would have been better off with a pritt stick. We got there in the end though, once the wall was lined up with the giant bin bag we were able to put the ply wood on.
Sizing up the walls, getting the last of the insulation in.
Cutting up stuff and inhaling it into our brains.
Black Bin bags on the walls under the ply wood.
Doozer having a sneaky cup of Tea while he thinks no one's looking.
Me being unhelpful whilst Doozer carries the ply wood into the van.
Putting the ply wood on wasn't too bad. Both El and Dooze showed me how to use the drill to put the screws into the wall. I was specifically instructed that they're not supposed to go in too easily, or with too much difficulty either. I really struggled with this because I couldn't quite tell what was right.
Here's an amusing picture of me trying to do the drilling whilst Doozer watches with an expression that I can only describe as being one of either amazement, or concern.
In the end, I was told to go outside and varnish some more bits of wood instead.
Varnishing wood is a bit like painting, I guess..
Once the ply wood was on I was able to start priming the walls with white paint. Excellent! I like painting, I'm good at that!
On Friday we made the executive decision to do a "half day" because Doozer had a gig at The Hop Pole in Aylesbury which meant we had to be there by 5:30pm.
This also meant that it was my duty, as a friend and house guest, to steal Beardy Keef's Aylesbury Uke Jam mug to drink my tea out of that day.
I got Keef's mug.
Friday was ALL about the ceiling. Let me tell you something. Ceilings are bastards. I had to insulate the ceiling by myself that day, which meant I basically had insulated my eyes by the end of it. I can't think of a more frustrating thing to do, than trying to spray glue a black bin bag to the entire length of the ceiling in the van WHILST trying to get a bit of ply wood drilled to the roof. It all kept falling on my face and trying to kill me to death. Doozer actually punched me in the ear when he tried to stop himself from falling out of a tool box and nearly falling out of the door, and then a ply wood actually fell off the ceiling and hit him directly on the head. If you're ever planning to put a ceiling up, don't do it by yourself. OK?
Insulating the ceiling by myself.
We both took turns holding that fucking thing up whilst El was trying to make it stick.
It wasn't as fun as it looks.
The other problem with the ceiling was getting the ply wood up there. It took us all ages and lots of bits kept falling into our eyes!
Bastard bits in Doozer's eyes!
Waiting for EL to drill the ply to the ceiling was excruciating. I think he was making us stand like this for ages on purpose. He certainly seemed to be enjoying himself.
This is the bit of ceiling that fell on Doozer's head.
Now that it's drilled in, we're all safe from the falling ceiling.
Getting the ol' arm around the shoulder move on Doozer... he didn't notice.
Us trying to control the last bit of ceiling that needed to go in.
Once that was done, it was time for a cup of Tea before we go to the gig in Aylesbury.
I've had a few people say to me recently that it doesn't actually LOOK like we've done much to the van. So I feel like I need to justify why it's taken us five days just to get the floor, walls and ceiling in. When we got the van, we didn't realise how much work would need doing to it. There was more to consider than just whacking some furniture in and giving it some decorations. We can't half arse this and we're not going to just bodge it up. We may be on a very tight budget and a close deadline but that doesn't mean we should just whack any old thing in. We did that with our other van and look where that got us. It got us essentially driving around the country going crazy because we had no actual habitable living space left. If we're going to do this, even with a low budget, we might as well go all the way and make sure there are no mistakes this time.
So for those of you who aren't aware, initially we spent the first day and a bit ripping out all of the stuff that was already in the van. That included ripping out an entire fake wall that was nailed AND glued in. We took out the bed, the window and the badly placed cheap insulation that was in there. Then we filled in holes and cracks and all sorts. In case some of you missed it, you might want to read back on my first blog. There was a heck of a lot of work to do before we could even start insulating it. We had to get rid of bits of metal that were sticking out which meant Doozer using the grindy sharp cutty thing with fire, and we had to take things out of caravans that we'd want, very carefully as to not break them. We also had to take the tailgate off the van and assess the rust situation that was going on underneath there. Getting insulated and putting the walls and ceiling in after all of that has been the hardest part so far. I've heard from a few friends that this part is THE hardest part and that once all of the walls and flooring is sorted, everything else goes quicker. So I'm hoping for much more progress at a quicker visible rate next week. Keep your eye out. We'll be putting electrics and furniture in next, another step towards making it actually look like our home. You might all enjoy seeing that bit as its probably more interesting than me banging on about ceilings trying to kill us and insulation trying to bury itself in our brains.
Here's a random photo of me eating Dip Dabs on the doorstep of our van.
The gig in Aylesbury was incredible. We were delirious from exhaustion, I got drunk on one pint (One Pint Birdy is back) and everyone was BRILLIANT. Best Friday night we've had in ages.
For those of you who are interested in what the gig in Aylesbury was like, you can watch the second half of it here:
PS. The #VANLIFE t-shirts are being re-launched as soon as possible, we're currently awaiting approval so we'll let you know when those are available to buy again.
The link will be https://mercht.com/c/vanlife2
Thanks for reading, I'll catch this up again during the week.
The Famous Artist Birdy Rose.