Bernie Needs More Shelving

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.






…multiplied by at least 50,000 this week. That’s the noise made as I tap on whatever device I have available, whether it be my laptop, iPad, my phone. As a teacher in a Scottish School, it’s probably safe to say, with a hint of understatement, that this week has been a bit different.

After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing the week before (one minute we were working in school, the next working from home) we found out at 7pm on Sunday 22nd March that the schools would indeed be closed to all staff and pupils. With a pregnant wife and son at home, it felt like the right decision personally, even though it meant classes across the country taking place in chatrooms rather than classrooms. As my class of P4s had been on Glow and Teams all year, using these online platforms wasn’t such a massive culture shock as it could have been. But the situation was still completely alien. Learning remotely, at home, with a teacher and peers you couldn’t see. I tried my very best not to sound like Mother speaking to Dallas in the film, Alien, when recording my daily class message.

The alien theme continued when the Prime Minister announced on Tuesday that he was placing the country into lockdown. A curious place, usually spotted in big budget Hollywood films, where you can cram into a tube train but you can’t drive.

It’s been a week where every single person across the country has learnt something. About themselves, about their kids, their teachers, remote learning, or about virus control. Why does it take a national emergency for us to take learning seriously?

With all that in mind, life has been well and truly shelved for the time being. So I spent my day away from the keyboard talking to Bernie. Building shelves.

Building Bernie’s Bed

It’s always more interesting to look at how a child sees something. I’ve spent hours/days/months looking online and speaking to friends to find the best way to create Bernie the mini camper out of the Arnold Clark ex-hire van I bought back in August. Some of the builds I’ve seen have been painfully impressive. Young Johnston’s ideas were…..different.

Drawing his plan with him was probably the most fun I’ve had in months. He was articulate, engaged and full of very funny ideas about what would make Bernie the perfect mini camper. The teacher in me liked the giant tick and hoped it wasn’t a blood sucking version. Including a fire to burn me on the bum when I least expected it was a typical Young Johnston thing to say, but in this context it really tickled my funny bone.

I set to work with two competing ideas. The Instagram perfection version, all smooth lines, bright surfaces and usually with a stunning sunset in the background. And the plan I drew, with utmost precision, but probably way beyond my skillset.

With my measurements in hand I bought all the timber and bits that I thought I needed and set to work. I’d seen one film on YouTube that was my guide as I set off, cutting lengths of planed pine and screwing them together to create a basic frame, with added wood glue for extra muscle.

Even by this stage I was proud of my efforts. Size looked good and it seemed fairly strong. Next I had to find out how my storage boxes would best fit underneath. After trying a few options, I plumped for this layout.

And with the storage boxes in situ.

Next up I cut the slats for the solid section. And then created the frame for the pull out section.

And then added the slats for the pull out section.

You’ll notice two slats are missing. My calculations for what I would need were just ever so slightly wonky. Unlike the final frame! Which I’m pretty proud of. The final test was to make sure it would fit in the van, which it did.

I used some braces to screw it to the van floor.

And added these clips to stop the pull out section from moving when on the road.

Finally I had to add the cushions, kindly donated by a friend with an old caravan. My original measurements were made with these cushions in mind. I’m not a fan of the orange, but Kirsty is going to re-cover these for me at some point.

And all set up, ready for the road!

I’m incredibly proud of what I’ve achieved, with a lot of help from others like Kirsty, Young Johnston, The King, Rich and the many bloggers and YouTubers I’ve been stalking. I’m no DIY guy. I think Kirsty might expect a bit more from now on though…. And as for the wee man’s original ideas, there is no room for a police station, but for me, this is definitely worthy of a giant, big, fat tick.

There have been less outdoor adventures lately due to all the insulating, carpeting and bed building. Let the outdoor adventures recommence.


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