Tribes!

You already know I have a thing about tribes right? If not, it’s time you did. We’re on day eleven (I think) of our #SevenFerries trip to the UK to get some paperwork sorted then back again via Portugal and Spain to try ride some of the #CaminoWay on Daisy! Not as a spiritual journey but because we were close by anyway, and I’d always thought I’d like to walk here, (then when I couldn’t walk any more – certainly not any kind of distance), I thought I’d never do this. So in some ways this is a bit of up “up yours!” at mah Eeds as I ride bits of it instead.

We arrived via ferry from the UK a couple of hours ago and we’re tucked inside doing work for the book launch week and writing madly for the next two books. We love wild camping and there’s nothing quite like sitting in Molly working away. But some of the camping is a bit odd. In France they provide free spots of mostly small green patches, but in Spain they do things differently.

They use sporting facility car parks and other tarmac areas that otherwise sit empty. It sounds very odd but it’s brilliant and so clever. Like the French, these stops have rubbish, water, and dumpling facilities for a small fee. It’s often not as pretty, but when you’re only staying to sleep, it really doesn’t matter once it’s dark.

It’s safe, you know you’re welcome, but above all, it feels great to be amongst our own. We’re surrounded by mostly huge beasts, so we’re the babies by a long shot, but as the sun goes down and little lights go on and the little homes light up with cooking and chatting and settling in for the night, as bicycles are strapped down and dishes are washed and out comes the red wine, we feel like we belong in this strange tribe. We’re in the middle of a miniature village.

The guy in the van in front of us offered to move (we didn’t need him to but thanked him), but he doesn’t speak a word of English. Our tribe is made up of all kinds of people from all over the planet. We’re bound by one thing only; this place and our similar journeys! One that knits us together just a little bit. 😊

Nighty night from Spain!!

PS: My Africa my Home eBook is on sale today and tomorrow if you didn’t get your copy before launch!! http://getbook.at/MyAfricamyHome

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Seven Ferries

After nearly two months in one place, it’s time to hit the road again, and for the first time with Daisy hitched to the back of Molly. It’s partly a functional trip with some real life paperwork needed in the UK next weekend, but too early for him in the season to be so far north (& the cold). So it’s a fast dash to Sittingbourne, just the other side of the channel, and then we’re off to Spain and Portugal to ride some pieces of the Camino Way. More details to follow, but as we complete the loop, via Sardinia and home again in about a month, we’re catching seven ferries altogether and as neither of us have sea legs and all ferries are booked and paid for, this is going to be an interesting journey so buckle up!

This morning’s ferry from Valletta (Malta – currently home base), required a 5am check in, so we drove out late last night and slept by the wharf, with alarms set for 4:50am. Still way too early for me, but that’s the timing of the only ferry out of Malta, so we’ve both been exhausted all day.

We’re now settling in for a home cooked meal in Molly and an early night. Tomorrow’s ferry doesn’t leave till 11pm, so we have all day to catch up on spoons and rest and sleep… and maybe take Daisy for a spin.

If you’ve never been to Sicily, it’s GORGEOUS!! And the food is out of this world! Check out the local blood oranges:

If you don’t already follow my Facebook PAGE then click on the link below to follow the journey. We’ll be doing some Facebook Lives of interesting bits and there’ll be lots more photos too.

BOOK NEWS: My Africa my Home launches on Friday and it’s an incredible feeling to know that the hundreds of people who’ve preordered their copies will get to read it this weekend! Sale ends on Thursday night if you haven’t grabbed yours yet 👊🏻

The paperback went live this week and about twenty books went out before we noticed some words missing from the back cover!! AAAAHHHH!! Those will be collectors items one day so hang on to them if that’s you!

The two following books are up for preorder now too, but I’ll tell you more about that later. For now, we’re watching the sun set over the Mediterranean Sea from the snuggly warm comfort of Molly!

Here are the main preorder links, but you can get it on all the Amazon sites: Just click on your region and it’ll take you right there – USAusUK, and Canada.

 

Do you want to know more about what’s behind my books? See exclusive photos? Get other free stuff?

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Still Tweaking!

Like all homes, I’m not sure Molly will ever be “finished”. We potter and shuffle and think of new things all the time. We’ve also been living out of suitcases for three months across five countries on both sides of the equator so we’re carrying some extra baggage. Some of it’s bulky (like Hitches travel bag which uses up half of Molly’s storage under the seats), the rest is smaller but all these extra things add up.

So we keep finding better ways to hide it and store it. Which means constant reshuffling, which can sometimes be interesting (but often boring).

I wanted one of those kitchens for Molly where everything hung on hooks. But in the end having ALL the crockery in a single soft basket seems to be the best solution. One single, non-rattling, non-sliding, soft-but-sturdy bag where if you need anything from a pot to a plate, the kettle or an egg ring, it’s in there:

It travels on the bed so it doesn’t go anywhere when we go over bumps, then sits on the counter when not needed, which is the easiest spot to access anything in it anyway. Then when you open the lid to cook or get some water, the bag moves easily back onto the bed.

Crocheting bags keep me busy as we drive and are going on the kitchen wall hooks instead of the pots. They are fun to make and I’ll show you more soon. They hold the cutlery, glass coffee plunger, glass wine glasses etc.

Oh, and I made a hanging fruit bag too so the fruit doesn’t bounce and get bruised. so today was about settling in to routines.

He makes oat porridge for me in bed each morning which is such a lovely way to start each day. The view never tires as it’s different every morning 😊

And that’s all before even climbing out of bed!

So far Molly is everything we hoped she would be and more. Belgium is absolutely AMAZING in ways I can’t explain! What a fabulous diversion!!

Another fabulous day, though Bertha’s not helping things and today was a particularly bad day 😢

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PS: Thanks so much to those who’ve offered to support and keep asking where and how! I’ll keep these links at the bottom of my posts for the next month 🙂 They’re the easy, no-spam emails I’ll send out no more than weekly (and believe me, I miss sending half of those) till the book launches and you can get your free copy!

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Bruges!

I think I’m going to have to post more regularly as things get so out of date so quickly! We woke this morning to a leisurely getaway from Nigel’s house in England, popped into the supermarket for some last minute supplies (more on that later), then drove an hour to Dover, hopped on the ferry, all without me even leaving Molly!

A couple of hours on the ferry with my blanket and hot water bottle and before we knew it we were landing in Calais, drove across the top of France, through to Belgium, and arrived in Bruges by 5pm!

Thanks to our Wild Camping app we’ll be spending the night along this canal in the middle of town. A short walk to the city square, the best waffles I’ve ever had, a local beer for him to enjoy by the canal with the harbour master (& new best friend) and our first night in Europe appears to be quite the success!

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PS: Thanks so much to those who’ve offered to support and keep asking where and how! I’ll keep these links at the bottom of my posts for the next month 🙂 They’re the easy, no-spam emails I’ll send out no more than weekly (and believe me, I miss sending half of those) till the book launches and you can get your free copy!

Hare & Tortoise

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Wild Camping!

I love many things wild. I think in some other life I’m part wild child, flower child, hippy even … to a point though. I’m not entirely sure where the line is though, but I love nothing more than sleeping under the stars … (except my health won’t allow it). So when I imagined a life in a campervan, I had visions of stars and forests and beautiful vistas… from the comfort of an AMAZING bed! I’ll put it out there now: I have a strong dislike for Caravan Parks. I think they can be fabulous for families and certain life stages, but the idea of another tent or caravan a foot from my door is not the same thing as sleeping in the wild (for me). I want to get away from it all, not have to listen to next door neighbour’s movies, drunken stories, children running around at 5am. I want to read and listen (and watch my own movies of course – but not bother anyone either).

So when I heard of wild camping I was even happier, but my very conservative other half was not so sure. Wild Camping to him sounded like hiding in car parks for the night and the police knocking on the window at 3am telling us to move on. I admit, I thought there’d be some of that too, which I don’t like, but I also thought of forests and beaches more.

But it turns out that it’s the best of all of that! Running country pubs and farms across the UK (and Europe) is expensive these days and there aren’t enough chimneys in any one village to support them any more. So they need to attract people from further afield. It turns out that most pubs in the UK are allowed up to three campers overnight in their car park. So why not bring in three extra van loads of people and in exchange for a clean loo, a place to park (often with a stunning view of farmland or rivers etc) they have their beer or even a meal, in your pub (or buy some of your apples).

Some farmers and publicans have taken it a step further and provide showers, clean drinking water to fill up tanks, others go even further and ask a small fee of just a few pounds for even more including electricity and more formal sites. There’s a whole world out there of campers, sites you would never know exist, fields, orchards, river banks…. with kind, informative, friendly fellow travellers and all the open sky, privacy, and room you could ask for, and much of it almost free!

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PS: Thanks so much to those who’ve offered to support and keep asking where and how! I’ll keep these links at the bottom of my posts for the next month 🙂 They’re the easy, no-spam emails I’ll send out no more than weekly (and believe me, I miss sending half of those) till the book launches and you can get your free copy!

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Trial Run.

It took till Friday (yesterday) to set off on our first “trial run”. We hadn’t decided to do one as such but this past week has been one of regrouping in more ways than one. He spent days researching security options for Hitch, much of which needed ordering online, and then we needed to wait, install, practice, fiddle, discuss, and so on.

Our dear hosts Nigel & Michelle were very patient with us, and poor Nigel came down with the flu. The autumn winds settled in at about the same time, and there was much work to catch up anyway (editing for me and schoolwork for him), so as they did their thing we hunkered down, battened down the hatches, and created a whole new level of relative security; light sensors, heavy chains, bike cover, and even a security camera.

We still jump a little when someone passes Molly a little close, …or a leaf rustles, but I guess that’ll pass in time.

We hope we didn’t overstay our welcome, but Cat didn’t appear to want us to leave which was heartwarming!

So with Hitch secured nicely to his spot on Molly’s back and round one of the renovations complete, we hit the road yesterday and made for the south coast and the British cousins.

A quick camping shop stop at the very end of the British camping season was a brilliant last thought idea which yielded 2 camping chairs, some melamine crockery which looks like gorgeous pottery, and a much-needed kettle. It wasn’t quite the colour I’d choose normally but it does look better in real life and I quite like it. I’m looking forward to trying it.

Twenty-four hours with the cousins in their gorgeous cottage finished off the week perfectly. Molly and Hitch were very happy on the level street out front, and we slept like logs. We also forgot to take people photos there was so much talking to be done.

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Apple Crumble with the last of the apples from their own tree rounded off the week perfectly.

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PS: Thanks so much to those who’ve offered to support and keep asking where and how! I’ll keep these links at the bottom of my posts for the next month 🙂 They’re the easy, no-spam emails I’ll send out no more than weekly (and believe me, I miss sending half of those) till the book launches and you can get your free copy!

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Upgrade Mark 2

So Molly started out life as a commercial vehicle. @VanscapeLtd found her for us, stripped the insides, and built a basic fit-out. This was done from afar and constituted her first upgrade. We chose Vanscape mainly because their fit-out has a full sized double bed option which could potentially be a game changer for me. Believe me, this is a rare thing in the camping world, and they did an amazing job. I elected to have some of the doors not fitted, as my bed will be an almost permanent set up and I won’t be able to open them with the bedding on.

We collected her on Wednesday, then on Friday drove to good friend Nigel’s for a few days of R&R and upgrade round two.

I would have preferred no window here behind the driver side, as it’s not really needed and the alternative for me would have been a kitchen wall. But I didn’t have a choice, this was the right van to get, and it came with a window here. So, as soon as we got to Nigel’s, I locked it shut, put up its thermal blinds, and asked Nigel for his thoughts on a backing board.

Low and behold, he produced a gorgeous piece of blonde plywood from the corner of his amazing garage, and over a good many hours of very careful work, we (mostly Nigel actually) produced this:

I’d arrived prepared with some basic fittings from IKEA, and the kitchen really started to take shape on day two, despite the rather stressful night in between!

Nigel’s such a patient man! But also a truth speaker like myself, so he very kindly worked with me and my ideas but said NO when they got out of hand somewhat, …and lovingly suggested alternatives which produced these gorgeous copper “towel racks” on the high cupboards:

I’ve still got a long way to go to finish Molly’s fit out, but in the meantime, I’m very happy with the progress so far!

There’s a fine line between the kitchen on the left and my “Office”/bed on the right, but I’m trying to keep them a little bit distinctive. More photos to come as we tweak again…

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PS: Thanks so much to those who’ve offered to support and keep asking where and how! I’ll keep these links at the bottom of my posts for the next month 🙂 They’re the easy, no-spam emails I’ll send out no more than weekly (and believe me, I miss sending half of those) till the book launches and you can get your free copy!

Main email group:
Team Tortoise:
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Where you can find and follow Jennifer:

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@JPeaSmith