​”Plan B”

I didn’t expect the Van to get through its MOT this year, not a chance because of its age and usage but I didn’t expect to be thinking of implementing plan B at this stage…

There is structural damage and axle damage which, according to the MOT centre will need welding; however, they don’t do such a thing, so I’ve had to book it into a repairs centre to see what they can do. They need to examine, see it if it a weld job or a write off job or “whatever”. “Whatever” does not bode well, but I’m more worried about the vehicle being written off, so my “plan B” may have to come into force at the end of the month.

Screenshot 2019-04-10 at 14.48.58

Plan B is a van park up permanently to provide protection at night, with removal/scrappage at the end of placement, which would be early June, to move into a car/campsite(s) for last two weeks at uni. I, fortunately, have access to another car (as it was recently offered to me) so transporting myself around won’t be an issue.

It would be a shame to lose the vehicle at this stage as we have so many more plans for it. It has flown through 15 years of MOTs without structural issues, nor any advisories relating to it, so to happen now and to such an extent has been worrisome. Yes, its had heavier use since uni started but has not exceeded 10,000 miles since I’ve purchased it over a year ago… it’s just about hitting that (it was on 118,000miles when I purchased it, 127,000 now)… surely the damage would have been picked up sooner?


Whatever the outcome I’ve planned ahead. It’s a rough plan, it’ll do for now. There’s only seven full teaching weeks left, ten overall inc holidays. I just didn’t need this added stress, but these things happen – always have a “plan B” somewhere (I also have a plan C, D and Z!). Roll on the 23rd (or maybe sooner if a family friend can help out) when I will fully know where I (and the van) stands.


I’m just saddened at the thought of the possibility of not having it for much longer as I’ve grown attached to it but grateful I’ve had the opportunity to experience the van life; I will just miss the adventures with it, so hoping everything will work out ok once it’s been looked over again.

-Just Joanne

Busy, busy

“But don’t you get lonely?”

That’s often the first question people ask when they find I’m dwelling in my van, 160+miles away from family and friends, and to be honest, the answer is always “sometimes”. Everyone gets lonely at some point, but I don’t feel as if I any get lonelier than others? I keep myself busy. I’ve just been hearing this question a lot more recently as visiting members of school staff are informed that there is someone staying in a van on site. Many are fascinated by the thought of it but are then confused when they expect to see some Instagram worthy beaut and see my little monster instead. Haha.

Speaking of monsters, my van has been a pain recently with the heating cable. It has decided that the cable must be in the most awkward and delicate position before it will spew out any heat via the fan. A challenge I was willing to undertake at first but no matter how I try to fix the cabling it slowly decides to shift itself and I’m left with having to pull up along the roadside to ‘fix’ it again. When my patience gets better I will take a serious look at it.

I’m still getting out and about it in and stopping at some wonderful places. The weather is getting warmer so I’ve been able to sleep within additional clothing and front window condensation has been dramatically reduced. Summer is coming!

I’ve been very humbled these past few weeks by the generosity of others in providing me with shelter, food, conversation and warmth – the lower level of my hierarchy of needs are being supported by their good will and I am grateful for this. My higher needs are being steadily fulfilled within the placement. I’ve done so much and at the end of the week, I am tired but happy tired. It has been interesting so far, especially experiencing the longer activities during the day and the energy young children seem to possess (more so after they’ve eaten their body weight in food!).

So I’ve been mining, gorge walking, a mini via-ferrata, hill walking, on low/high ropes, orienteering and beach exploration!

Just a few photos below of the activities:

Fisherman’s Walk and low ropes:


Cwm Idwal and Conwy Mountain:

Both were equally fun. We looked at a lot of the geology, rock formations, history and flora and fauna of both areas. The only difference being with Conwy Mountain was the hill fort at the top and being able to discuss slingshots and use the rocks to create routes for the teams to navigate with!

I’ve also been taking one too many pictures of the curious sheep within this area:

These are Lleyn (pronounced ‘Kleen‘) sheep (named about the Lleyn Peninsula in North Wales) and are identified by the lack of wool on the legs and face, their white faces with black noses and lack of horns. These sheep almost became extinct in the ’70s! Their use today is their fine wool and meat. They are curious and will approach you until you make any sudden unexpected movements. Still not as lovely as the Herdwick.

One day I will own a sheep. Or maybe several. I might just Sheep Trek instead…!!

I just wanted to add in these photos from Anglesey. I’ve never seen such iridescent waters as we did on this day. The sea was in a swathe of blue hues and it just looked so unnatural but equally mesmerizing. The camera did not capture its beauty and I doubt I’ll ever see anything like this again.

These few weeks have been busy and have passed quickly. I only have seven teaching weeks left within this placement, an action research project to complete, a couple of outdoor course assessments, a couple of weeks at university then it’s all over! In the meantime, I shall be heading back home, the Isle of Wight, Peak District and some caving and I still have no idea what I’m doing this summer or beyond! Fun times.

-Just Joanne

2019 Van Resolutions

Inspired by ItsHerVan’s recent New Year’s Van Resolutions post, I thought I would make a couple of my own for my Van.

  1. Firstly, to spend more time keeping it clean – it’s like a teenager’s bedroom in the back!
  2. Secondly, I need to keep an eye on the drainage in my van. The rain and gunk collected underneath the wipers which then drained into the passenger footwell via the heating system. Due to the cold weather, the footwells haven’t fully dried yet so I will need to ensure this doesn’t happen again.
  3. I need to ensure I only take things I will use and need. This currently has been a success, as some summer weather gear is back in Swindon, but I’ve still packed in a lot of books I know I probably won’t get around to reading…
  4. To ensure my tires are replaced… two down and two to go!
  5. To get another van key cut and find a place to put it (on the outside)! A moment of panic on a night out when I realised I’d locked the keys in the van and needed the help of a policeman to open the door without breaking the window…

The joys of Van life.

I’ve just renewed the road tax and MOT is due in April, so fingers crossed it will pass without issues as I need it to last until the end of June… the worst of the weather hasn’t hit yet so am a bit concerned about that. *fingers crossed*

I haven’t selected any New Years resolutions for myself… well, maybe one and that’s to get a job after this course!

Here’s to 2019!

Just Joanne


From Swindon to North Wales. First night.

This is it. I have departed Swindon and now I am in North Wales.

And I’m anxious.

I’ve spent the last two weeks thinking about the kit I will need to pack into the van and the last two days doing so. I’m surprised at how much space I still have and how much I have actually packed. My books and clothing have taken up the most space, followed closely by kitchen items, toiletries and bedding. Sadly, after all my careful planning I have left my mouse back at home! So the plan is to buy a cheap USB one if I can find one. D’oh.

Last night was very emotional and I am still full of mixed emotions. I very much want to be doing this but there are certain people (and a certain dog) that I do not want to be four hours drive away. So, I have been on and off crying since last night and there’s a terrible pain in my chest from missing them.

Four hours away from Swindon home…

On the other side, I NEEDED to get out of Swindon and find somewhere else to explore. Just tonight I have been walking along a promenade, alongside a train track gazing out into a bay and feeling calm at the sight. It has been bliss.

Beautiful sight!

And now, as the sun goes down and I am parked up, I am nervous at the thought of spending overnight in an unknown location. Sure, I have slept in my van alone before, but in areas I know. I suspect over time this feeling will lessen but as a precaution, I am sending my location each night to family and will be logging where I stay so I don’t have to think/search very late at night.

(For safety, and reducing environmental impact, I won’t be posting my locations on this blog.)

Tomorrow, I register and start the various introductions to the different aspects of the PGCE course and I get to meet the other trainees (there’s ten of us altogether), some I’ve contacted already via social media to say “hello”, but haven’t spoken to the late additions. So it’ll be fun to meet them- I’ll probably be the oldest one there!

For tonight I do have company! I won a Rastafarian pug toy from one of those hand-grab arcade machines on my first go – £1! So he rode shotgun on the journey up.

For the evening I’m going to watch a film I’ve downloaded on Netflix and try to relax and take my mind off things and get ready for bed. I’m looking forward to tomorrow but right now I am already missing the luxury of having access to a shower!


My evening plans.


Just Joanne


Minimising the load.

Not long to go now before I set off. This time next week I’ll (hopefully) be returning from the sea side and starting to pack ready to leave next Tuesday for North Wales.

I have been considering what I will need to take. Having spent a lot of time on various camps/in various locations away from home for long periods of time I think I’m fairly clued up on items I will definitely need.

So I’m making a list, checking it twice… a work in progress!

Kitchen stuff

  • Cutlery
  • Bowl
  • Plate
  • Small saucepan
  • Small frying pan
  • Knife
  • Chopping board
  • Wooden spoon
  • Mug
  • Plastic bowl
  • Lunchbox
  • Spare gas stove plus gas


  • Laptop plus cable and mouse
  • iPad plus cable
  • iPod
  • WiFi box
  • Books plus pencil case
  • Bag
  • Head torch
  • Heater
  • Rail pass
  • Watercolours
  • Sat nav plus cable
  • Road maps


  • Toiletries
  • Wet wipes
  • Dog bags
  • Spare glasses/contacts
  • Towels
  • Sleeping mask
  • Pillows
  • Fleece blanket
  • Bed sheet
  • Laundry basket
  • Clothing inc work clothes

Outdoor kit

  • Hiking boots
  • Hiking waterproofs
  • Sleeping bag
  • Climbing kit
  • Rucksack+backpack
  • Wet suits plus goggles and shoes
  • Running kit inc trail shoes
  • Yoga mat
  • GPS unit plus compass
  • Snowdonia maps
  • Down jacket
  • Tent plus bivvy bag
  • Thermos plus water bladder
  • First aid kit
  • Instructor cards/paperwork

To buy

  • Colander
  • Alarm clock
  • Waste basket (plastic bags?)


  • Camp chair
  • Financial paperwork (might scan it all)

Things I really want to take but can’t

  • Camp blanket
  • Dog
  • Bike

I’m hoping the list is robust enough that won’t require me to spend out on any extras from student loan money. I’m pretty sure I have forgotten something!

Just Joanne