Vanlife fail: Stuck in Britain

“Whose genius idea was it to come back to the UK in the middle of winter?” – I thought, as I watched the pellets of icy rain hitting the windscreen of our Transit van, waiting for the AA to come and fix it, or at least tow it off the road to safety.

We had broken down in the middle of a relatively busy road on the outskirts of Brighton and the weather outside reflected our sour moods as our hopes to spend an evening in a warm pub after a day out in the cold evaporated.

This was a week ago, and to my immense disappointment we are still stuck in the same spot. Well, not quite the same, we are now in a warm flat (courtesy of our lovely friend Tom) and the van is parked outside a garage. Our bank account is also some £300 pounds lighter. Apart from that though, nothing has changed. It is still immobile, we still don’t really know what’s wrong with it and we still cannot predict when it will get fixed or how much more we will have to fork out for it.

Ok, that’s also not quite true. We do know what’s wrong with it, but it doesn’t really help, because in this day and age you have to be a specialist to fix the various problems that can arise with modern vehicles. The short story is, we tried to install the electrics, short circuited something, and now the van seems to think it has had a major crash. We don’t know how to fix it, the mechanic doesn’t know how to fix it, and the specialist that might know how to fix it was so busy fixing other vehicles he hasn’t even had the time to look at it yet. Result: it’s the 19th February, we were meant to have left England about four days ago, and we are currently well and truly in limbo.

Not the start to van life that I would have preferred, but I guess when life gives you lemons…you learn some lessons from it at least, right? So I am consoling myself with the fact that I have learnt quite a few lessons in the past couple of weeks, which I hope can shape my future in the years to come.

Lesson one: Never come back from travels somewhere warm to wet and miserable winter, not if you can help it. Especially not in February. It is singularly the most unpleasant month of the year and my decision to come back to the UK during this time must have been made in a fit of madness.

Lesson two: We have the freedom to make choices about where we live, at least for now. So live somewhere warm and pleasant. Maybe you’ll earn less money, maybe it will take some adjusting, maybe you’ll have to learn another language…but it’s all part of the adventure!

Lesson three: If you’re a climber – live somewhere close to outdoor climbing. It turns out I don’t really like climbing on plastic holds. Also, it is very expensive. At least when you are living on a tight travel budget for an extended period of time.

Lesson four: Travelling is absolutely the very best thing you can possibly do with your time and money and if you’re umming and ahhing about it…don’t. Just do it. Your only regrets will be that you didn’t do it earlier and that you came back too soon. If you can afford it for longer, do it for longer.

Lesson five: Keeping a positive mindset is one of the most important abilities a human being can possess. Maybe the most important. And unfortunately it doesn’t come to me naturally. So I have to learn to fight for it and remember to be grateful for the little things.

Here’s to hoping things will soon improve and that my next blog will be from a camping spot somewhere in Europe!

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