It's Friday night, me and Doozer are going to drink tea and clean the bog. PUNK AS FUCK.
First thing's first. We have re-launched our #VANLIFE T-Shirt/Hoody campaign due to popular demand (about 6 people on Facebook) so now is your chance to get one, this time it is available for a bit longer because we're nice like that!
All proceeds will go towards building our van.
This week has given us the most visible progress so far. It's amazing what can be done in a few days. On Monday El had to go to look at a scan of his baby in his wife's bello. So we had to work alone. Me and Doozer are completely fucking clueless. We just about managed to prime the walls and ceiling, tidy up, then whack some paint on the main wall.
Priming the walls
Then the ceiling...
A bit of wall colour... IT IS NOT PINK!!!
...It's Salt Red...
I like painting. It's what I do for a living. Painting a van however, is a different thing. When I painted the ceiling, I wasn't wearing glasses, or goggles... so the paint kept splatting directly INTO my eyeballs and I wondered how the hell Michaelangelo painted the Sistine chapel. I think he laid down on a plank of wood suspended from the ceiling. I wouldn't be comfortable doing that, I wonder if he got paint in his eyes too? I blinked a lot of the paint out. When you blink stuff out of your eyeballs where does it go? I was wondering that, because sometimes I get a small hair or something stuck in my eye, I blink for a bit and then it just falls out. But paint is a liquid, it can't just fall out. So where did it all go?
I did worry for a bit that it probably has gone into my blood stream.
Fraggle asked me why I was worrying about it, I told him, and then he told me that I would be rubbish at gambling because I have no concept of probability.
He's probably right.
Us driving to the new Van on Tuesday, which was the sunniest day EVER <3
Tuesday was the day when we managed to actually start making our home which is different to doing all of the insulating bits and covering up holes and stuff.
This is the exciting bit!
The first thing we did was putting the front door in at the back (Yeah, that makes loads of sense!) and then we started making a back wall to go with it.
This would have been more fun if it didn't start pissing down with rain halfway through. The rain basically shat on us all. El had to take the door off about a million times to shave a bit off the bottom and he got covered in varnish and sawdust. We all looked like a bunch of ugly ducklings.
It was worth it in the end though, because it all looked like this:
From the inside...
From the outside...
Doozer smoking in the wind...
The end result!!! This is the back of our van house!
The next thing we did was lay the lino flooring down. I had to varnish the floor first then we all put the lino down together. I really like the lino because it looks like wood flooring, but it isn't, and it's soft under our feet. The only bad bit about having lino is that El keeps telling us to keep our muddy shoes off it so we have to walk about in our socks and it's fucking freezing, mate!
If you ever want to build a home in your van, do yourself a favour and do it in the summer time.
Now things are getting a little blurry here and I can't quite remember which day was which. So I'll just write this up in some sort of logical order. The next thing we had to do was to make our bed. It had to be big enough to fit our new double mattress on, which was gifted to us by debs, the wonderful woman we bought the van from. She also bought us new bed covers and bed sheets and pillows and cushions for our bed. We've been shown so much kindness lately <3
Bed making... put a plank of wood on another plank of wood, shove screws in it, and them dump a mattress on top. WALLOP! You're done. What next captain?!
Well.... next you have to secure the bed in, you dummy.
To make the bed safe enough to actually hold our weight, me and El decided to make a wardrobe/cupboard under the left side of the bed which should be able to hold the weight of a drunk elephant if it needed to.
This was fun to make because it basically meant that we just sent Doozer outside to smash up loads of wood whilst me and El do all of the really creative stuff.
New thing I learned: Doozer LOVES smashing things up.
The lion, the witch and the wardrobe under the bed.
We used the bed for the first time that night. It's not ready to live in yet though. We could see our breath and we didn't have a light or anything really ready except for our bed and it's new bedsheets. It feels like this is our first actual home already and I'm starting to see how much easier our life and work is going to be from now on. I've had a few people say "Why don't you just get a car and a tent?" Which is a completely reasonable suggestion for festival season alone. Most musicians we know who do that have a house to go back to during the week and definitely don't tend to pitch up a tent outside their gig venues after a show. Spending the last few weeks essentially sofa surfing is making me appreciate OUR own space a thousand times more and I already appreciated it loads. I know this lifestyle is our choice and I would never ask or expect anyone ever to pay for it. I am feeling extremely grateful to everyone who believes in us, because that means we're not totally shit at what we do, and it means we're doing the right thing.
That night We spent our first night together in the van.
To finish the wardrobe we had to smash up all of the pallets, which we got for free from Dave Nevard (Southend Artist - http://www.nevardart.com ) El's job was to measure up bits we needed and work out other parts for the van, Doozer's job was to smash up pallets, get wonky old nails out, then chop the pallets to size, and my job was to sand the pallets then screw them in place with a drill. It was a really good system and it meant the wardrobe was done in no time at all. The worst bit of this system was leaving Doozer alone outside with a hammer and an electric saw chopper. Before we knew it, Doozer had smashed himself in the eye with the hammer, broke his glasses and cut his eye... he can't help this sort of behaviour, it's the attention seeking nature of his personality, almost all musicians are like that. We had to tape one side of his glasses back together with a load of dodgy black wire tape, so now he looks like Marilyn Manson.
The importance of sanding down the pallets before use...
If you're using pallets, it's also a good idea to varnish them afterwards too :)
I broke about 15 of El's drill heads before I managed to figure out how to drill screws in properly. Practise makes perfect, right?!
The ladder to our bed, the wardrobe, and Doozer's Dynamite box which he's had since 1880's and has been lugging it around with us for years trying to convince me that it has a place in our lives. Well, now, it finally does. As a step up and as an extra seat, and also a book box. Multifunctional!
It's actually incredible what can be done with a bunch of pallets that had been thrown away. Now every time we see a pile of pallets outside shops we're checking them out, seeing if they're nice and chucking them in the van with us to make something out of. We're starting to accidentally achieve that "Rustic Hipster" look with our van, which really is just a fancy phrase for "Cheap Shit".
My favourite part of it is the lovely hinges and handles for about £2 in Toolstation.
The interesting bit for me is that the small details like door hinges and handles were not a priority to us, and we didn't know we could get them so cheap and so nice looking too. They look proper smart, right? I've spent a lot of time in the past browsing the internet, looking at vans and daydreaming. At one point we were looking at vans with this sort of "look" and the quotes for doing something like this were around £30,000 - £40,000 or more for a trendy up-cycled interior JUST like what we're making now, for next to nothing! ONE website even went on and on about how everything would be top quality and that the full price would not be known until the end of the project and that because everything is done top quality the fine details, such as door hinges could potentially end up being billed at £80 per door hinge! What the actual fucking christ?!?!
I thought we'd NEVER have a van looking like this because it would be too expensive. So when El said, "get a load of pallets we'll smash them up and make the furniture" I was really surprised that we'd get it looking THIS incredible. It makes me feel like some of these websites and companies that offer to build this stuff for people are taking the piss. It's not really up to me to say whether it's right or wrong to charge £40,000 for a van conversion like this over the space of 3 months. If you have the money for it, and the time to wait for it, and you don't want to get your hands dirty, then by all means it's probably worth it. All I'm saying is, me, Dooze and El have done what we've done so far in just ten days, and on a budget of just over ONE grand. That's including buying insulation and all the bits we need which to be honest, insulations, walls and flooring has been the biggest cost so far. Pallets were free and screws are cheap
Getting ready to build our sofas...
PS. Our walls are NOT pink.
After this was done, we spent our second night in the Van. We had our first meal in our new van. We sat on cushion on the floor, in our PJ's and shared a mushroom chow mein whilst discussing what we're going to build next and how we're going to do it. It feels exciting and terrifying at the same time. To be lame and quote Doozer "I just wanna live a life that's always interesting"
The crazy bit about all of this is more we work on this new van the more I wonder how we've managed to live in our other van for 3+ years. Even down to little things like having a mattress. Neither me or Doozer have had a mattress in over 5 years now. I didn't even have one in my flat before we got a van. I slept on the floor. I didn't have heating or hot water. We're getting a wood burner AND having hot water in our van. This feels like a total luxury and it's blowing my mind. Actually having places to put things too, homes for everything will make such a difference to the way we live, rather than just shoving everything in a box under the bed we will have the room and ability to put things away nicely.
I had to make Doozer have the photo taken about five times because he wouldn't sit still.
So yesterday we built our sofas. We have some awesome pallets built all the way up around the structure. I'll take some photos of that when we're back. Today we're off to MacStock which is an indoor music festival in Warsop to raise money for Macmillan cancer support. We all know people who have either had cancer or died of it. It's such a horrible thing. Earlier this week I read on Facebook that a girl I knew from school, Tara, lost her battle with Cancer on Monday. It was heartbreaking to read because I was literally wondering how she was doing the previous day as I hadn't seen her post any updates. Life is short. Rainy shitty miserable days outside, working hard, and bad moods, they're all good days too. It's hard sometimes to remember to think positively and live positively.
So I'm glad we're doing this gig tonight because if we can all raise money to help support the people who support the people who are suffering, then we've done a good thing.
All of my prints available in stock will be sold at a discounted price to help me and Dooze raise up a bit more funds to finish this van, I will also be donating back to Macstock £1 from each print sold.
All the planks we used to make our sofas with.
It is NOW Festival season for us. Doozer is booked for a festival every weekend from today through till mid October so we're feeling a bit intense about getting this van finished.
We've been panicking a bit because we've run out of budget to get this van done and we're not ready yet. We only have a few weeks left until we legally cannot drive the other van around. So we need to get this done. Luckily for us, El has been mega understanding. He's left us all of his spare tools and instructions on how to do some of this stuff by ourselves. He's shown us how to use all of the tools in the last couple of weeks, we've learned a heck of a lot. We will still need him for a few bits so over the next few weeks so we'll be selling all of my prints that I have in stock at a discounted price and I'll be doing a 25% sale on all of my paintings that I have on my website. I've also been noticing that a few of our fellow musician friends have been struggling to get a reliable small van or vehicle to hit the road and sleep in so I'm wracking my brains as to what we can do to help others out too. In the meantime if any of you know of a small van or caddy going for a reasonable price asap please get in touch.
This year's Festival poster, it needs several more added to it now, including Beautiful Days Festival, Rebellion, and Convoi De Fete to name a few!!! Exciting year ahead :)
The 25% off discount code for original paintings is VANLIFE
FAAAANKS for reading this, here's a little video of me eating pickled onion Space Raiders during one of my lunch breaks - It literally sent me into an E-number fuelled workaholic frenzy afterwards!
PS. Yesterday I got a splinter in my buttock.
The Famous Artist Birdy Rose.