​”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.

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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?

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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.

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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

Exploring North East Wales

So, just finished my second week at my first placement. I’m used to the hustle and bustle of school life but throwing in the added mix of class lists, assignment and lesson content and it suddenly becomes more complex.

I did have a serious moment of wanting to quit and just travel in the van… But that was because of witnessing glorious sunrises and sunsets…

So glad I’m not a vampire…

So aside from school, I’ve tried to get out. Where I am currently staying the Clwydian Range is nearby, in fact I can see them every morning from my van as I drive from Ruthin to Mold. At the highest point is Moel Famau, which in Welsh means ‘bare(moel) and ‘mother(Famau has different variations of the spelling- Fama, in old texts. ), so is sometimes referred to as “Mother’s hill“. On top of this hill is the Jubilee Tower, or what’s left of it. At three stories high it could be seen for miles, but due to being unfinished and a storm, it now only has the base left. It was built to commemorate the golden jubilee of George III in 1810. Some great views from this point.

On a clear day you can see Snowdon to the west (35miles away!), the Irish Sea to the North and Blackpool Tower to the East! Signs at the top point the landmarks out for you.

So, I took a walk up the popular southern route within Bwlch Penbarras, only 1.25miles to the top, which didn’t take long. The route is part of the Offa’s Dyke way and is well maintained- plus there’s a couple of Geocaches on route..

I didn’t want to camp up here, it was the weekend and I imagine it gets very busy with racers so decided to find somewhere else. What I did find was the most stunning sunset I’ve ever seen within the United Kingdom.

The last time I saw a sky this red was in Nepal at about 3,000m high. So beautiful.

In the morning, I decided to take a wander around the trail of Alwen Reservoir. It’s a blue mountain bike route, only 7 miles long, but nice to walk as it passes through coniferous and dedicious forests and over moorland.

After the walk I ventured over to Llyn Brenig to enjoy the free WiFi and all day breakfast (yummy!) whilst looking out over the lake at the fishermen.

When I originally found out I’d be in this area, about an hour away from Snowdonia National Park, let’s just say I was annoyed and disheartened. There didn’t seem to be as many interesting ventures to be had around here than what I’ve experienced in the five weeks in and around Bangor but, not being one to sit and grumble, I’ve been looking around at what I can do/hike/look at/enjoy.

I’ve spent a couple of nights in Llangollen, explored a quarry and walked along the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and decided to walk the hills around the area.

On a suggestion given to me by a friend, I was told to check out the Berwyn Range, to the South West of Llangollen… So, I picked the highest points (may never come back this way…) and walked up Cadair Berwyn and Cadair Bronwen.

There’s an interesting thing about these mountains. In 1974, there was an alleged UFO landing on these mountains but scientific evidence indicated that the event was generated by an earthquake combined with sightings of a bright meteor widely observed over Wales and northern England at the time. The didn’t stol UFOlogists claiming that a UFO crashed and the British Government covered up the military’s recovery of a crashed spaceship…

Lastly, I decided to run in the Run Wales Flintshire 5k event. Starting in Mold, this round route was really enjoyable. I haven’t run for a while but didn’t do too badly I thought, least not for me! A t-shirt and a nice medal later, I was celebrating in Subway with a 6inch meatball marinara sandwich (cheese melted, lettuce and bbq sauce. Hmm).

A fitting end to my second week here. Only one more to go then a couple of days back at uni, then to Swindon, then eight weeks till end of placement. It’s scary how quickly it goes. In the meantime, I hope I win the lottery and can make travel my full time occupation… So much to see and do out there!

Just Joanne

Quick update!

My first PGCE assignment has been taking up a lot of my free time so I haven’t been keeping up with this blog recently… but no worries, am in London/Swindon for a bit so a lot of travel time to update recent adventures (a while 4 hours from Bangor to London!)…

Just for a now a quick snapshot of what I have been up to…

  • Sleeping in the van on the coast of Anglesey, lots of places to park up! The views are GORGEOUSE!
  • Assignment writing…
  • Visit Dulyn Bothy in the Carneddau for a look. Amazing little bothy, well maintained by the Mountain Bothy Association and a nice lake nearby for a wild swim…
  • Assignment writing…
  • Assignment writing…
  • Stayed at South Stack on Holyhead and witnessed the most beautiful and peaceful sunset whilst working on my assignment…
  • Assignment writing…

  • Assignment writing…
  • Again, witnessed a beautiful sunrise in Llanberis. I feel so blessed to have had this opportunity…
  • Assignment writing…

 

There’s been more… way more… more blog posts coming soon about castles, mountain walking, scrambling and climbing…!

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.

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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.

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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!

 

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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

Misc

  • 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

Bathroom/bedroom

  • 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?)

Debating

  • 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