The following statement may make us traitors to the hashtag-vanlife purists: so far, in 2019 we have not been living in our van. Instead, we have been watching the winter weather from inside a 600 year old thatched cottage, sitting on a huge sofa with a radiator at our backs. We could park our van inside the bedroom, and we have the option of a shower or a bath in the bathroom. It is a temporary home of course, and only living somewhere for a few weeks at a time wouldn’t suit everyone, but for us it is one of the things that makes our van life so enjoyable!We are once again working and living on the holiday cottage farm in Devon, England. We spent a couple of months over winter here last year, and were really pleased when the owners asked us to come back for some more work projects this year. When we were first talking about hitting the road in 2017 and trying to get jobs as we go, we knew that the most important thing for us have a chance at success would be to build a reputation and hope for a bit of word-of-mouth momentum to ensure the next job and keep us afloat. We also knew this would take time to develop, so it was an awesome moment for us to get a repeat booking after just a year on the road. And what a place to be able to return to!
The work for us here this year is mostly rennovation. There are 7 holiday cottages here, all needing a fair amount of upkeep and attention, so we arrived to quite a long list of projects and the list keeps growing. We have been re-painting houses, refurbishing doors and windows, upgrading chicken enclosures, beautifying sheds, chatting with guests, walking dogs and more.
We have a few more weeks here and will make the most of the treats that living in a house allow. Here are a few that we still don’t take for granted:
Having an indoor toilet that we can quickly walk to for a midnight pee. Perhaps we should one day film the clumsy, disastrous debacle that one of us goes through to climb out of the van door to squat outside for a midnight pee. Honestly, having a toilet just around the corner is great.
When we are wet from rain or filty dirty from work, having plenty of appropriate places to put clothes without worrying about what else is getting wet or dirty.
Having a machine wash our dishes. It feels like putting a robot-servant to work every time.
Having an oven – baking cakes, roasting potatoes, pizzas, cheesey bakes… mmmmm.
Having pets. This is something that we have seen a lot of vanlife folks enjoying on the road too, but our van is just a bit too small to comfortably accommodate extra companions. Here, we often have a resident cat, and a couple of awesome dogs. We love that.
The simple pleasure of sitting on the sofa watching TV.The rest of the year is looking pretty busy at the moment. We will keep you posted with our next plans when we hit the road again! For now, follow our Instagram and we will share more photos of course.
A rather remarkable thing is happening as we write… the jungle-acclimatised half of us is sitting outside, in the sun, in a t-shirt and feeling warm for the first time since we embarked on our van life! We’ve also finished up Job #2 in Devon and have a few days of relaxation before hitting the road once again. Well, actually every day has been pretty relaxing since we left Vienna, but we have a few spare days now before the next adventure begins.
So of course, it’s time to reflect on the last few weeks, and things we’ve learned and observed during our time in the lovely South West of England:
The only thing the English need to don a pair of shorts is a glimmer of sunshine. Never mind that temperatures are hovering around freezing – when the calendar says Spring, that means it’s shorts and sandals time regardless
There are some hard-core Old Timer fans to be found everywhere! In tiny Devon villages, be prepared to pose for a photo if you’re in a vehicle that’s as awesome as our almighty van
Trip to the beach = ice cream. Similar to the shorts, weather be damned. Even when bracing an umbrella against gale force winds throwing sideways rain, there is still a hand free for an ice cream
Skype/Facetime/any kind of video call from one country to another still mostly consists of both parties saying “can you see/hear me? Oh wait you’re frozen… I can hear you ok… Hello?”
Spring is beautiful!
Ducks are bullies
Throwing a ball for an excited dog never gets boring
For the last 9 weeks, our version of van life hasn’t involved much living in our van since we were lucky enough to be able to move into one of the holiday cottages on the site, so we’re pretty excited to get back in our tiny house and do some more miles. The job in Devon has been great, just what we were hoping for really. Who knows, our van might bring us back there again in the future…
So, Sweden here we come! Our next blog will be an update on the (hopefully completely uneventful) journey from here to there, which we still haven’t totally decided on yet, so watch this space! Watch us on Instagram too obviously, and leave us a comment if you want to say hi.
We’re set up now in job number two of the Epic Hobo Working Road Trip and we’re living a life of luxury – we have a house! A dishwasher! A washing machine! Central heating! Separate rooms for sleeping and cooking! We can’t quite believe it. In our awesome van we sit up in bed and can reach the cooker and all things required to make coffee. Here, it’s a short walk from one side of the cooker to the other.
After landing in Dover on the east, we trundled across England to the South West for Christmas. Then, made the looooooong journey all the way back across as east as you can go for the Norfolk adventure. Now, we have bounced back across the country once again to land back in the sunny (so far anyway) West Country! We could be accused of bad planning, but we always intended to follow the jobs that sounded awesome, and our van loves being on the road (well, he had a minor protest when we left Norfolk, so we enjoyed the side of the road for a couple of hours) so it’s all working out pretty well so far.Here in Devon we’re working with a couple that own some holiday cottages. They’re preparing the site for the 2018 season, and we applied for general cleaning work with them. After reading through our CVs though they offered us different jobs – creating an entertaining and theatrical play area for kids, and assisting with all the social media, marketing and admin work, interspersed with the ocassional animal-feeding requirement. It’s all a perfect fit for us, and we get to live in one of the cottages on site! There are lovely dogs around, lambs, two awesome goats, rabbits, ducks, a cat and some chickens, which is great as we miss working around the chickens every day. One of the dogs is really interested in power tools, and insists on popping her head into the middle of the action whenever she can.
We’ll keep you posted on the progress of our projects – spread the word that the hobos on wheels are always available for hire, and as always you can check out extra pictures on Instagram and say hi here or in our Guestbook!