Post-adventure recovery for daddy and Young Johnston. New clothes, salt and vinegar sticks and a hot chocolate.
When you own a house, you’re always saying you need more storage. For every new dress or outfit, you need a bigger or better wardrobe. When you buy extra kitchen rolls, because your young boys like to spill stuff, where do you keep them?
A van is the same. I built it with under bed storage, which seemed a good idea and is great for keeping the van tidy. There is loads of space under there too. Then I decided to make some shelves…. because… you know, I bought those extra camping mugs and I needed somewhere to put them…
Well, the new shelves were such a success I wanted to make more! Some would say having more storage means you just buy more things to fill it. As long as it’s bought in Tiso or GoOutdoors or some other outdoor emporium, I think I can live with that…
I cut some wood.
I fixed it together.
I oiled the wood with teal oil.
I added elastic to the bottom shelf to stop the small storage boxes I bought falling out.
I added the fittings for the two metal end shelves.
I placed the shelf unit in the van and started to install it. Some well placed brackets and it’s solid.
I re-organised some of my gear into the new shelves/boxes.
And here’s how it looks all finished.
The bed will now be smaller but can still hold two people. And there’s now more room for storing tents and other stuff under the bed. It’s great having a small table top now as well as part of the build.
I will need to stop building shelves. Otherwise there will be no room to sleep or sit. And the shelves aren’t full. So what shall I buy to fill them?
A February break with nowhere to go, what do you do? Bernie has been in need of some new storage and finally here was a few days where I could maybe manage some time in the garage. First thing to do was remove the walking poles, ice axe and their mount from the side wall and re-attach to the back door. You can see in the picture the mount marks left on the wall.
The big question was what would fill the space? I did a bit of googling. Instagramming. YouTubing. And tried out some ideas.
I settled on a pair of flat shelves, built as a unit. And something more like a wonky letter box. After a bit of carpentry and some oiling, here’s what I ended up with.
I had checked earlier where the van ribs were as I wanted the shelves attached solidly. I know for a fact someone will lean on them, fall on them or just feel like testing their strength. That certain someone helped me drill the holes through the metal ribs and drill the screws.
A spirit measure was used although that might not be clear from the pictures… #eversoslightlysquint
And here’s a look at how it all looks now.
It’s a job I’ve wanted to sort for a while and I’m chuffed with how it’s turned out. I was a little concerned the shelf unit might stick out from the side to much. It’s a small van and I used timber with a 100mm width. But it’s worked out perfectly for the gear I though would go in it and for clearance.
The wonky letter box shelf is for atlases, maps, flat items etc. The top shelf of the unit has been left empty at the moment. Free for drinks, phones or anything else I want to put down.
Once the latest lockdown is finished, I can’t wait to head off into the wilderness for some outdoor adventure.
I needed some. So I built some.
One of the things that has impressed me since I started building Bernie in a camper colossus is how people can squeeze even the tiniest table into their vans. I wanted one too! And after the now standard hours spent researching all the usual places (YouTube/Instagram/vanlife websites) I came with a plan.
It would be completely recycled. And functional. And easy to store away. So I used some old off cuts, nails and glue I already had and for the legs, I took apart an old camping table from a friends old caravan.
It folds away perfectly into a slot between the bed and the van wall, behind the cushion.
And after one table, I was feeling confident and wanted two other little flat spaces on the back doors. ***cue more research***
And so with some more off cuts, carpet, nylon string and a couple of teeny purchases (hinges and hooks), I set to it again.
I’m so pleased with how they came out. They are also fold away and are pretty sturdy. We’re there issues? Well yes, I’d meant them to fold up rather than down, but some dodgy woodsmanship knocked that on the head. But they still work. So now I have more space to put stuff and I’m really pleased with how they look.
Just need lockdown to end so I can test them “in the field”. And with phase one of the Scottish Government’s Covid plan coming into effect on Thursday, that time is surely getting closer.
A second three weeks of lockdown has just been announced. So back to the van for the next job, making a midge net for the window. I essentially copied this idea: https://www.motorhomeplanet.co.uk/archives/4795
It seems to have worked really well, but we’ll see how it performs next time I can get further than the front door.
In the meantime we spent a night in the van as the weather was sunny and warm. We made homemade burgers and drank in the sunshine. The new awning worked a treat and This microadventure was an absolute treat.
The lockdown is almost three weeks old. We can’t go out unless absolutely necessary. As a family who loves the outdoors, we stand and stare out the windows, dreaming of potential adventures.
But it would be wrong to say that it’s the end of the world. We have stiffened our upper lips and embraced what we can do, rather than tearfully sob at what we can’t. And we’ve remembered that we have so many reasons to be happy, even if our freedom is restricted.
We have learnt new skills such as how to create a remote teaching and learning environment. We have dusted off some older skills such as baking (there’s been a lot of this…). We have spent time as a family, which has been amazing (and only occasionally fraught!). We have taken our daily exercise around the village which has allowed us to get to know our new home and what it has to offer. Young Johnston learnt how to ride his bike just today! And we have another child on the way, due for delivery in July. (Although hopefully not by Ralph the Hermes guy who has been at our door almost daily since lockdown life began.)
We’ve built Sam a rocket den in the garden, made fires, drawn on the street in chalk and made elephants out of old milk bottles. Our spare room is now ready for Ralph to deliver our next package (a baby chair, not a baby!) and the house is cleaner and tidier than it has been for weeks.
And I’ve moved on to my next van project, an awning. Before I even bought the van, I knew it needed somewhere to sit, cook or shelter in outside. So here’s what I did.
Lockdown has meant I haven’t been able to test the awning anywhere other than in front of the house. The pictures would look so much better on a beach or other remote green space.
But it’s just after 8pm, and the clapping in the street reminds me though that we are in strange times, a phrase I’ve heard so often lately. As soon as we can go further afield, we’ll be off on a Bernie adventure. But in the meantime, there’s plenty more adventures to be had close to home.