Fire, Kids & Dying In A Lay-by

I feel like I’m in way over my head with blogging, and I love it! It’s a whole new world for me. It’s inspiring, marvellous, mysterious, daunting all at the same time. When I sit back and think about that first ever post I did back in December on Vanlife UK, I would never have thought I’d be where I am today!

I mean I’m no one special (I have special tendencies, granted) but yet my words have inspired and connected so many people I feel truly humbled. The support from you guys is absolutely phenomenal, from your kind words, donations and encouragement to EMDR therapy, sponsorship from The Campervan Bible and Camptoo and even a regular column in a new Vanlife magazine debuting next month! Not to mention the regular bi monthly blog for Camptoo! You have captured my heart and the hearts of those around you!

I had my boys for the weekend and it was truly excellent! We were on a campsite for the first time since my Vanlife commenced and it was a surreal experience to say the least. Usually we’re at my daughters flat or in a car park somewhere or a relatives driveway. But they were free to run around and shout and ride their bikes and have fires and do normal stuff. Normal stuff that I and they had forgotten about. Sure they were still bored every five minutes claiming “there’s nothing to do dad” to which I’d offer up some kind of plan to entertain, which usually consisted on how fast can you run around the field or hold your breath for 17 minutes and you can have a sweet. Or candy as they keep referring to it as

We had a mini fire in my backpacking wood burning stove to roast marshmallows and keep the early evening frosty chill off of us. It’s not their first and they know the rules. But sure enough they take after they’re dad with the clumsiness...A bit of wood fell from the burner and Marshall instinctively picked it up to put it back in. “Ouch that was hot” he said calmly. I said the age old adage “you won’t do that again”. He seemed fine and wasn’t bothered for about five minutes when the tears started rolling down and the sobs started. It was the tiniest little blister on the end of his thumb but crikey did he cry! We had water on it, plaster on (despite me telling him it won’t help) plaster off, more water, toilet paper bandage on, toilet paper bandage off, yet more water, a trip to the tap to replenish the water, an entire towel wrap, the list of A&E supplies goes on. It gets worse for this dad of the year! After a pretty good nights sleep, safe in the knowledge no one will knock on the door to enquire what I’m up too, I woke to Marshall taking the kids out of Brayden’s ears. I thought in my slumber filled head “what’s he going on about? His ears aren’t weird?” I told him to come here and had a look and immediately thought “ah man. I hope that’s gone before school or I’m in trouble!” His ears had obviously taken a dislike to the copious amounts of April sunshine and had formed huge liquid filled blisters on the topmost part of the ears. It looked ridiculous! Like he was growing a new set of ears from the top! With a heavy sigh I pondered on how I was going to explain that to social services “it’s April. We’re not in Australia. It wasn’t that hot. (It blatantly was that hot). I ran out of sun cream. Sun cream is for wimps” I had no idea. I felt guilty at first but then the sight of his now daft looking ears made me forget I was heading for prison and a rogering from Big Dave on D Wing over the pool table.

I made Brayden cry later that day when I explained that the enormous pig on the walkabout farm was going on the BBQ later. He loves ribs too and now I’ve ruined it all because of my evil sense of humour. Then I smiled because I thought “more ribs for me then”

Here’s five things I learned from this weekends camp:

1: kids will always have more energy than you

2: kids will be bored no matter what activities you find for them to do

3: kids aren’t actually interested in eating the marshmallows, they just wanna make fire

4: kids will eat the chicken from a BBQ that they refuse to eat from a cooker at home

5: kids cry when you don’t let them win in a bike race around the campsite

Last night I had my first night in a lay-by. I kid you not, I thought I was going to die. It was an unprotected lay-by, on the side of a 60mph road. But all night cars and vans whizzed by at FTL speed (faster than light for you non science fiction fans) and with each vehicle that passed mere inches from my head at the back of the van I just thought “this is it. This is the one that’s going to kill me” bit it never came. A fitful nights sleep filled with horror and dread was had. I won’t be doing that again that’s for sure! This morning though when I jumped out the van to sniff the A1m morning exhaust fumes that runs by the other side of the road, I heard a cheery “Marning” and there was a fishmongers van behind me. Maybe that wasn’t exhaust fumes I could smell had a quick chat and was offered tea. I’m a coffee man so declined gratuitously but had a nice chat and a few laughs so that’s set me up for the day!

My van took me to church too, to repent his sins. Dripping oil on the roads, leaking water in car parks, stealing power from the sun to name but a few. He also made me make a Twitter account. Find me here:

Random thought for the day:Why is no one just “whelmed” I don’t understand how you can be overwhelmed without first being whelmed I would Google it but I like being mystified sometimes.

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