1.0 An Errant Knight

Four months of teaching and living in a van.

And here I am.   Teaching again.  Four weeks in to living in a van away from home, a county’s distance, now north instead of south, jammed before creamed rather than creamed before jammed – though I’ve never swayed from the true and proper method – I am a wandering foreigner “Doomed for a certain time to” park up at night in secret and precious locations held as borrowed treasures and known only to those hardy residents with nowhere to shelter but their very own trusty, often rusty, van.

Mine’s a T4.  The last of the line of T4s before T5 swept the floor with them.  It is white.  A good service record.  A good runner.  Diesel.  Turbo.  2.5, and home for three nights a week.

I am a 40-year-old homeowner, married, childless (currently), dogless (currently); aspirations (many), geek (certified), four-eyed and fore-armed – yes I have two sleeping bags and two duvets fellow travellers.

The van is currently devoid of insulation.  Cloudy nights are my friends.

The back story:  The school was desperate.  On their knees, they begged me to return (this is how I tell it and may only reflect truth).  I mulled, sighed, considered and agreed.

“I’ll do a term”, quoth I.  “That’ll be ample time to find the one of whom the prophecies speak.”

And here I am. Chronicling the experience of living in a small van for three nights a week, parking up here, there and everywhere, travelling for work, negotiating showers, devouring sandwiches for tea and with time on my hand.

“How has it been?” say you.  “What have you learnt; what insights do you have for us?”

“Well,” I return.  “September has been a month of:

  • Establishing routines.
  • Finding safe harbours, preferably darkened.
  • Hiding from nosy dog-walkers and halogen torches brighter than the sun.
  • Cold sandwiches for tea time.  I’ve said this twice now.
  • Identifying the need to insulate the van.  Soon.
  • Foiling possible attempted robberies of garden sheds.
  • Scrolling through the efforts of Pinterest aficionados.
  • Disturbing a chap mid wild-poo on church grounds.
  • Catching up on my sunsets.
  • Jealously eyeing other van-dwellers with hot dinners.
  • Downloading items from Netflix on Sunday night in preparation for a dull evening.
  • Planning bed modifications, scrapping, re-planning and returning to ogling Pinterest.
  • Talking with a man on a faith walk along the coast with his unfriendly dog and nothing more than a tent, a Bible and the dog’s lead.  I’m sceptical of his credentials.

“And,” you ask, “do you long for four walls and a 16th century roof over your head?”

(We have a 16th century cottage, available for rent on Airbnb don’t you know)

“Well.  I’m coping.  Even though it gets cold.  Even though unseen footsteps draw me to twitch at the curtains.  It’s the 1st of October.  We’ll see.  December is only a sharp wind away.”

Items may convey a sense of the beatific in contrast with the reality

Photo by Nubia Navarro (nubikini) on Pexels.com

6 Comments

  1. I followed the link from the Guardian article and am glad I did! A well-written blog, entertaining without it looking like you are trying too hard. (I guess being an English teacher helps with that.)

    As a sometime-camper myself I hope you find the summer months to be easier than the winter ones. Good luck and keep having fun!

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  2. So happy i came across your blog. I live in a small regional town in Queensland, Australia. I am facing a similar situation – I have to drive 100km (maybe 60 miles) each way to work as a trainer – my students are young adults who come to this country for work, mostly they are degree qualified but work low level jobs in service industries. They are required to study something to get a study/work visa. I am looking at staying in an air bnb two nights per week or maybe couchsurfing with friends or buying a van to sleep in. It’s hardly worth driving back and forth from work to my house in the country. Currently I am employed for 20 hours per week. I identify as precariat class despite many degrees and decades of world-class professional experience in my field of work. I am somehow drawn to the freedom of this life though. It’s not a bad thing by any means. I have a sense of wanting to make an impression on my students despite having to get through the curriculum and manage the administration.

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    1. Wow! Thank you so much for taking the time to read!
      Your situation is very similar. It’s been a real dilemma for us, away from my wife and a very comfy home or three hours a day driving back and forth!
      It’s been an adventure and blogging has really helped with the journey we’re on.
      I’d recommend the van. There’s something to be said for having your own dominion, however small it might be.

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  3. A fabulous read, thank you. As a fellow teacher (well ex – teacher now), I can understand the draw of certain schools. I was lucky enough to teach History in a number of fabulous international schools and if any of these schools existed in remote towns in the UK, I too would be happy to live in a small van. Unfortunately, I was unable to find such a school and with the ways many schools are going in the UK, I certainly have no desire to teach in them. Nevertheless, your tales certainly bring a smile to my face and definitely makes me miss my former students. Take care and good luck!

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    1. Thanks so much for reading. It’s been a very therapeutic process. It’s by no means an ideal situation but it’s a really super school and affirming from top to bottom! Hope you can follow the journey. Comments mean a great deal so thank you for taking the time!

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