I survived my first year of #vanlife!

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Today Im celebrating my first year living full-time in my VW California! Thats 365 days living in a space not much bigger than a king size double bed, with a tiny kitchen area and no bathroom. Ive enjoyed every moment and have zero regrets choosing this lifestyle. The time has flown by and I haven’t missed #houselife one bit. Admittedly I have been very fortunate to of spent the last year on Spanish unemployment benefits, which made my transition from apartment to vanlife a breeze. Those benefits stop this month so its time to start finding some paid jobs again, although wherever I go has to be dog friendly, as I cannot leave Babu in the van. Now theres a new challenge!

Anyways, heres a quick list of the Pro’s and Con’s Ive discovered living vanlife full-time.

The Pro’s.
1. Free rent. Ive saved 6,600€ by not renting an apartment this year!
2. I own my own home, the van, which will of paid for itself after three years, (if I paid the equivelant renting accommodation).
3. I have no fixed electric, water, or landline telephone bills to pay.
4. I use just a litre of water to wash dishes, and under 3 litres to shower, (I collect water for free from the taps on the beaches and gas stations).
5. I have enough clothes and bedding to warrant one visit a month to the laundry (which costs 6€ a wash). Air dried outside, free!
6. I do not waste as much food, as I only buy what my small fridge can store.
7. I dont buy or accumulate unnecessary stuff as my storage is limited.
8. I spend more time outside, (that includes when Im sat in my van with my feet hanging out!).
9. I use the internet 50% less than when I lived in an apartment with broadband, (and my 8GBs a month mobile internet is half of what I paid before).
10. I swim everyday in the sea, (its my bath!).
11. I can uproot and park wherever I please, (beaches, forests, mountains, city, outside the pub!).
12. I can drive away from noisy neighbours.
13. When its too hot, I drive to cooler spots on the island.
14. Babu can pop out for a wander or pee when he wants, (he’s a free-range dog).
15. My wardrobe and gear are never far away if I need or forget something.
16. I dont smell, (unless my friends are too polite to tell me otherwise?)!
17. My freedom, (paramount to my lifestyle and rebellious alter ego).

The Con’s
1. I have to walk to the toilet, (sometimes run!!).
2. I bathe or shower outside when its cold, (fortunately that only happens a dozen times a year in Gran Canaria).
3. My van becomes an oven some days during summer, (although most apartments do too).
4. When its overcast my solar energy is minimal, so I have to buy ice for the fridge.
5. I grumble when someone else beats me to a good parking spot!

With so few cons, theres heaps to like about living the outdoor van lifestyle. I think another year full-timing is in order?

Onwards and upwards, eh!

Babu time!


Its time Babu, my furbaby, got an update about his life living in a van!
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So far I believe he is happy? Its been 6 months since we started living inside the van, and he has adapted brilliantly. He never wanders away from the van, knows not to run into the roads, whimpers on the odd occasion at night when he wants to go out to pee, and knows his bed is the swivel front passenger chair (although he mostly snuggles up to me all night, my doggy body warmer).
He is also aware of giving us space, usually seeking his own spot on the far corner of the sofa bed. Im quite happy having him close by, which has surprised me as I thought maybe spending 24 hours together might be too much? But he is my little boy, and Im so used to always having him around that its odd if he’s not with me. That is maybe the only drawback to living the van life with a dog, as I cannot leave him alone in the vehicle, especially here with our year long sunshine. I have left him a couple of times, parked in the shade with the windows open and a bowl of water whilst Ive gone to the toilet, shop or doctors. As leaving him alone longer than that is not an option, I will have to think about a job where Babu can come with me, or…we can work together (but more about that in a later post).

One thing for sure is that Babu does not enjoy traveling in the van as much as he did on the motorbike, which is a shame.
Before, Babu would get really excited the moment he knew we were going for a trip on the motorbike. I would get out the rucksack that he would travel in, and he would get out his pink lipstick, lol! He knew the correct way to get into the rucksack, pop his head out of the top and sit quietly. He would enjoy the rides with the wind blowing into his face and the people pointing.
Now we only drive the van. He seems fine with it, knows to sit in his chair, but I thought he would love sticking his head out of the window like all dogs? He does get excited however, after Ive spoken on the phone to someone and start prepping the van to leave, as he knows we are going to see friends!

Its been just over one year that I adopted Babu. Quite a lot has changed in his personality, and likewise Ive changed too.
When I first took this little stranger on, he was a quiet dog. He immediately accepted me as his pack leader and followed me everywhere (literally everywhere, even to the toilet!).
He has always been comfortable sitting with me, but grumbled a little if I got my face close to his, and snapped at me if I tried to take his toy or go near him whilst he ate. He was already 2 years old when I adopted him, so I have no idea of his previous living situation or treatment? What was obvious though, was that I had to teach him some discipline before he ripped my face off!
Unfortunately one night in a bar (probably 3 months after adopting him), a female friend was dog-sitting Babu, and he snapped at a guys face who ended up having six stitches on his chin! Luckily I know the guy, who said he wasn’t in Babu’s face(?), so I paid half of his medical bill.
Today, Babu is still not 100% trustworthy, but he has won over everyones hearts (even the chin guy rubs his head, albeit at a distance). Babu still grumbles at times, but only when people go to touch him. Im guessing he just doesn’t want people handling him, which is fair play. But let him off his lead to wander around and he’s as good as gold.
Some friends originally suggested I take Babu to dog school, to tame his grumbles. But I see it as a perfectly natural instinct for any animal who is approached by someone, friend or foe, to give a little grumble warning to leave them be? I just warn people beforehand that he’s grumbly and keep my eye on him.
Now with me, he’s totally different than before. Now I can rub my face into his neck when we play or cuddle, take his toys, or go to his food bowl whilst he eats without him snapping at me. Infact, hes totally submissive with me, although being a mix breed Terrier, he still likes to try his luck and occasionally attempts to do his own thing.

Which brings me to walk time. Babu is fantastic on or off lead. On lead, he walks by my side and never pulls. Off lead, he generally saunters 3 meters behind me, sniffing and peeing on everything! I call him to catch up, and he slowly at his own pace, joins me. This is when the Terrier kicks in, as he hears me, but he will never rush to join my side, so on goes the dog lead and game over for Babu.
At night, we break the law, coz thats how we roll! Its forbidden to have dogs on most of the beaches here, but so many people ignore this and take their furballs out at night for some exercise. This is the only time that Babu runs, and boy he is fast! For such a lazy dog, its a joy to see him sprint along the beach, jumping over rocks, going wild! By day you would think he was an old dog, but at night he’s like a young pup, acting his real age.
He is still not interested in swimming in the sea or getting wet though. Half of me is gutted because I would love to swim with Babu and teach him to surf, although the other part of me is happy to keep our van dry and clean of sand.

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One of the things I am most proud of is Babu sitting on the wall next to the beach, whilst I go for my daily morning swim/bath in the sea. I will dump my bag with my clothes for him to guard, tell him to sit and stay, and I get 5 to 10 minutes of swim time. He always sits patiently on the wall looking out at me in the sea, whilst passing tourists snap his photo (Ive thought about putting a little hat next to him for doggy donations!). Babu knows that he gets breakfast after my swim, so he gets his prize for staying on the wall.

Babu still hasnt made any firm doggie friends yet, although Im not giving up. My best friend Miki, has 2 dogs, one large bitch and a small dog about Babu’s size. They know each other well enough now, but they are quite excitable when we go visit and Babu is the exact opposite, wanting to chill out, so he snaps at them to bugger off! After bottom sniffing and grumblings, they all relax around our feet whilst we drink fizzy pop!
I have thought about getting another dog so that Babu has a playmate, but its not really practical. I can carry Babu in one hand and shopping in the other, take him onboard flights if need be, find last minute dog sitters, there is only one passenger seat in the front of the van, and Im not working so the extra vet costs would add up. A few of my friends also think Babu may not take to having a sibling, as he is very much my dog and may be jealous to the point of being unfriendly? Anyways, I already have my partner in crime and plus one for going out, so why complicate matters?

Babu continues to bring new joy to my life and he has made living in a van more fun. Having him around keeps me company, and he has proved to be a good alarm dog, barking at strange noises in the night (if he can be bothered!).
I look forward to years of hanging out and traveling with my little buddy.

Again like always, I thank Louise Baker from PetpalsGC, for bringing Babu and me together. He is the best thing thats happened to me in a long time.

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2016, it happened ten days ago!?!

imageHola! Its time I published a written post. The last few weeks I have only posted photos, but it was the silly season, so I was busy baking cakes, buying presents for loved ones, and decorating my van, not!
I dont really celebrate Christmas, but I do enjoy the festive lunches with friends, and look forward to my present from me to myself (this year I got a brand new iPhone 5S Plus, yay me!).
Some may be sad to hear that I did not decorate the van, but I decided that that money was better spent on festive boozing with my buddies instead of shiny tinsel.

On the night of Christmas Eve, keeping within the Spanish tradition of eating with family and friends, a bunch of us boys made a BBQ feast in our parking spot. Along with way too much meat, we had roasted peppers and potatoes, all washed down with plenty of booze and guitar playing.

Christmas day, I drove two buddies to a fantastic Chinese restaurant, where we pigged out on good food on the outside terrace in the sun. The rest of the day was spent visiting friends in various bars, and drinking copious amounts of the fun stuff!

Boxing day, I Skype’d my parents back in the UK. My brother and my two young nieces were over for lunch, so I got a quick view of them before they ran off to play with their new toys. I was using the wifi from a bar close to where we always park, so gave the folks a live view of our beach and our sunny “winter” weather.

After a few days of no booze and healthy eating, New Years Eve arrived, which I celebrated at a friends house. A Spanish tradition to score good luck for the coming year, is to eat one grape for every 12 gongs of the bell preceding midnight (the luck comes from not choking on a gob full of fruit!). I ate all 12 grapes like a seasoned pro.

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A little festive road trip to a hidden dog friendly beach, and Germains catch of the day, freshly harpooned squid.

Did I make any new years resolutions? No, not really, as I always repeat the same ones each year…keep fit, eat healthy, read books, explore the island, be happy, and dont talk to strangers unless they have sweets!

Goals? To get more ink, sing whilst playing guitar, make money without working full time, get healthier.

Trips? UK to visit family and friends, Australia for a besties wedding (my health permitting?), and Boom festival in Portugal, to dance and realign my soul.

I have a feeling that this year will be just as awesome as last year, albeit without the ill health I suffered in 2015 with that nasty meningitis (although I did not let that experience ruin my year. Infact it woke me up to follow my dreams).
This year, like every other, is about meeting new people, making new friends, and grabbing opportunities to explore and hopefully find some work in different environments, (little comes to those who stick to their pack or stay in their comfort zones).

Apart from that, Im super happy with my life right now, as I pretty much have everything I have always wanted (my van, my dog, my lifestyle choice, my friends, the islands fantastic weather), but theres always space for new tech gadgets, lol!

So from Babu and myself, we hope all of our friends and followers of this blog, have a super awesome 2016, with heaps of good health, happiness, outdoor adventures, and booze (as everyone knows all good stories started with an alcoholic beverage!).

 

Passed vehicle inspection!

imageJust a quick post to say that my VW California passed its vehicle  inspection today, so Im good to drive on the roads for another year, phew!

Having problems starting the van as of two weeks. Not sure if its me draining the battery charging my gadgets, or its the starter motor? Vans going into service next week to find the problem (and charge me a small fortune in the process!). But its my home on wheels, so gotta be done and Im OK with that.

Dinner time! Peace

Debunking #vanlife

Everyone has their own idea or image of what van life is about. Dreamers imagine a life on the road, parking up on beaches, early morning swims in the sea, meeting cool people, outdoor adventures, and late night dinners under the light of the moon and stars.

Non-dreamers imagine days cramped up in a small space, avoiding police or thieves, no toilet or shower, mosquitos at night, and the worst case scenario…. No TV!

Van life is what you make it and how you deal with the little inconveniences of living in a smaller space. It aint easy, but its not a chore either. Everyday is an adventure, and thats what I love about it!

Anyhows, this little 11 minute video is a parody of van life. Its one of the funniest videos I have seen in ages, and it totally sums up the image portrayed with this lifestyle, as well as some honest truths. Enjoy!

PS. The homage to Eddie Vedder is hilarious!

https://www.youtube.com/embed/QWDtNw5ii9w“>http://

Van dwellers and crazies!

In the short time Ive been living out of my van, I have spotted a few like minded souls who appear to be living full time in their vans or motorhomes.
I have also spotted a few crazies, not in vans, but close to where I like to spend my days parked up.

Tonight Im in a quiet beach village. Theres no swanky hotels or restaurants here, just a couple of shops and rentals for windsurfers. Where Im parked, there are two older Canarian guys who both live in converted high top panel vans. They are parked a few meters apart, but they spend the majority of the day and night together, talking enthusiastically about god knows what as neither appears to leave the site or do anything news worthy? I would imagine they are both retired?They look happy with their van lifestyle, and are always polite when I say, Hola.

In a different beach resort, theres an older guy living in an Nissan Vanette. He looks Spanish, but I have never seen him talk to anyone, nor does he look like he wants to talk? We both frequent three different parking spots in the same area, and like me, he probably thinks Im stalking him!

Then we got the crazies! We all see them, the down and outs, bums and drunks, but we quickly avoid eye contact and walk away swiftly. They are quickly forgotten.
But living outside, Im closer to their natural habitat and Ive discovered their patterns of movement, where they go, what they do for food, their odd quirks, and where they sleep.

Take Dustbin Man. He is down and out, and most definitely crazy. He speaks with a thick Canarian accent and mutters incoherently to himself all day. He also loves raising his voice, not at anyone, but at anything! His spot to spend most of the day and night is outside an expensive sea view hotel, which is next to a popular parking for campers and motorhomes. Locals are used to his crazy, but I do feel for those tourists having to listen to Dustbin Man’s rants at all hours, especially after paying extra for those sea views!
As his name implies, Dustbin Man is a dirty looking fellow, who walks around with two big black rubber bins of junk. They are heavy to carry together, so he has devised a method to get himself and his gear from point A to B. One bin he leaves behind, whilst he walks a few meters with the other. He then goes back to collect the remaining bin, grumbling the whole way as he drags it to stand with the first bin. This method will be repeated until he makes it to point B, and shortly after he will repeat it all again to return to point A (incase the tourists in the expensive hotel missed him?).
I have not made any contact with him, although recently he looked at me and exclaimed “79 pesetas”. He probably doesnt know about the Euro, introduced in January 2002?

Another crazy lurks close to my most favourite parking spot next to the sea in a quiet beach resort. He is probably in his late 30’s and most definitely nuts. So far hes been low key, living inside a gnomes mushroom house in an abandoned crazy golf coarse (how fitting!). Ive only seen him a few times, dancing on the beach like someone high on psychedelics, arms and body gyrating to music thats playing through headphones that are NOT plugged into any musical device!
Im ignoring him in the hope that he doesnt strike up a conversation with me. I know that sounds harsh, but Ive been trapped in the presence of crazies many a times, but back then it was my job and I was getting paid, lol!
I may however, challenge him some day to a dance-off, with real music!

Along with a few other crazies Ive seen, they all seem pretty harmless enough? But Im guessing the crazy who hacked a womens head off in a tourist town in Tenerife, a few years ago, also seemed harmless?

On a lighter note, its been 3 months that Ive been living out of my crash pad on wheels, and I still love it!

Over and out.

Feeling good.

Its night time, the camper side door is open, and Im sitting at the end of my bed, back against the kitchen cupboards and feet dangling outside. Theres a few light rain drops kissing my feet, and Im listening to the waves crash onto the beach just meters away. Im alone in an empty carpark, looking down an alley to the just visible sea, and theres a public toilet at the ready for my early morning dump.

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Sorry, had to kill the dreamy imagery, this blog post was starting to sound like a Coldplay song!

Im happy to announce, that it has been over 4 years this week that I moved to Gran Canaria!
I did not know the island, nor did I have any friends or contacts here, but I made it happen and I am looking forward to starting my fifth year living here!

I could not of made it a success without the help and friendship of a few good souls that I now call mates (you know who you are!). Ive been very fortunate that everything has always gone very smoothly for me, so I cant even romanticize about how Ive come out good from the rough times (the meningitis episode could of been tragic, but I was too high on life and pain killers to worry or care!).

The obvious highlights of my time here have been two of my most recent life changes, adopting Babu (my furry plus-one, who comes EVERYWHERE with me), and my switch to living out of a camper van.
These have been the two things I have wanted to do for many years, but my previous lifestyle and jobs would of made these changes difficult.
Here in Gran Canaria, the pace is very relaxed and so are its people (and laws thankfully!), so everything I have dreamed of just seems possible here.

Farty pants poo bum, (sorry, this post was going all Coldplay again!).

Anyways, just before I sign off, I would like to mention how 2015 seems to be a big year of positive change for so many people I know. Heaps of friends are moving houses, changing jobs, improving their lives and relationships, and others are making it big singing their little hearts out or performing on stage in dodgy frocks!
One very special friend, just kicked cancer in the butt. Now beat that!

You are all doing something pretty fantastic that is making you happy, so thats gotta be good for your health, right?

If you have something you want to do or need to change to get your happy back, dont put it off for another year, make the first move now! Do it!