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.”