A day in the life…

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(A little bit choppy)

It’s St. Patrick’s Day as I write and as luck would have it, there’s rain so we feel quite at home! I promised my friend, Julie, ages ago to include the normal day-to-day stuff of life in a camper van and I never did… So for Julie, here’s a typical day on the journey! (Well, a typical travelling day.)

The alarm went off at seven am and I got up, opened the roof vent blinds to make staying awake easier. The blinds in the van are really good, complete darkness guaranteed but when it’s dark it’s tempting to fall back to sleep. Then I drank my health drink, got dressed and sat down to meditate.

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(Can you see the spray?)

Afterwards I went off to take some sunrise pictures as we were by the sea, waking Denis before I left. As we are by the sea the site is sandy so I don’t wear shoes inside the van so that’s a bit fiddly taking off and putting on shoes or slippers. It was very cloudy this morning and I think I was too late for the moment of sunrise. I’ll look at the pictures later. When I got back Denis was up un-hooking the electricity and turning off the gas. He’d taken down the cab blinds and turned the driver and passenger seats to the front (they can turn around to face the table when we are stopped).

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(I like the reflection of the sunlight on the water)

We used to have a list of things to do before we left a pitch but we lost it… Usually we remember everything and if we don’t I can do them as we move… slowly. Like pushing the buttons to secure all the presses and locking the fridge door. Putting away the kettle, the dishes and any food. Opening the window blinds and turning off the 12V battery and the water pump. Putting away the laptops. Plugging in the phones and turning off the wifi. Securing everything that might fall off the table.

We were driving out of the campsite at 8.10am following the instructions of Molly (we named our sat nav Molly, Molly!). We love Molly, even when we take the wrong road she never fusses, she doesn’t even say recalculating she just goes quiet for a moment or two and then finds a way to make our mistake go away. She takes very good care of us (except when she was taking us on the very scary roads in Portugal but that’s in the past, we’ll say no more about that…)

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(Stripes of colour)

Molly takes us on the toll road and I am very happy. Denis is not as happy but we have reached a compromise – the one who sits closest to the oncoming traffic gets to choose, so we take the toll road today. Our two and a half hour journey cost €20 in tolls, I feel it was worth it. In Spain you stop and get a ticket as you enter the toll road and then as you leave the toll section of the road you put the ticket and your credit card (or cash) into a machine. In Portugal the number plates are scanned as you drive under cameras (like the M50 in Dublin). We may be getting a big fine because although we connected our number plate to our credit card, the system is really difficult to understand.

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(What is that?)

We arrived at today’s campsite at noon and I brought our passports and camping card (there are reductions off-season) to reception which was at the bar. It’s slightly different at each campsite, but at this one you pay first, get a choice of pitches, the location of the toilets and showers, the wifi code and then you’re on your own. Sometimes we walk around looking at each one, to find the very best…. today we took the closest and reversed what we had done to leave the last campsite. Within half an hour we were sitting down to lunch.

Denis makes dinner each day and usually lunch too and I wash up. Today because of the rain I turned on the water heater to wash the dishes in the van, usually I wash up in the campsite sinks. It saves gas (we need to save gas because the gas bottle connectors are different here, so we must bring all the gas we will need from Ireland). It also saves the water in our clean water tank and it means we don’t have to empty our grey water tank as often.

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(Foamy waves)

While the water was heating I went to investigate the toilets. Toilets are different everywhere we go and bear no relation to the cost of the overnight stay. We are paying €20 per night at this campsite, the most we have paid so far on this journey. My friend Magda was asking me what I was looking forward to most on this journey and I said the toilets! She thought she had misheard but no it’s the toilets! Everything else is so new and interesting and fun but…. toilets are essential.

We have been very lucky, the toilets have always been clean. After that, toilet paper, soap and a drier make everything perfect. My investigation showed there’s no toilet paper, soap or dryer here… oh well time to take the toilet bag out of the wardrobe…. The toilet bag contains a toilet roll, a bar of soap and a hand towel. (Note to self: Remember to bring the toilet bag…)

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(This is my favourite one)

Now both of us are at our computers, Denis is at the table, I’m on the bed with my feet tucked under my favourite patchwork quilt. He’s talking to a client and I’m writing… this. Next I will look at the pictures from this morning and add them (or older ones) here before posting. Then I will have a shower – no queues in the afternoon. And back to working on my book. We will eat dinner around 7.30pm. Then read or play a game or if the wifi is fast we will watch the latest video from our favourite YouTube camper van geek. I will be in bed by 10pm. Denis might be working until midnight.

Too Much Information? Mairead.

PS Forgot to mention breakfast! I cannot survive unless I have breakfast within an hour of waking. Normally, I have it before we leave but today with the picture-taking there was no time so we stopped at a service area before I got too grumpy where I cooked my Irish Paddy’s Day Flahavan’s porridge.