Working in the van

If you follow #vanlifers on Instagram, you’ll see lots of photos of attractive people tapping way at laptops sprawled on beds in their vans. Much like the promotional photos of people checking their bank statements sitting barefoot on sofas, or silver-haired, fully-toothed oldies browsing through holiday websites on their iPads in Sunday magazines, these are mostly a load of rubbish.

However, for this life to work for us, we do need to be able to work in the van. So far, one week into our first serious trip, I can report some success. Continue reading “Working in the van”

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2018-09-21 Finished the dog bed

I wrote a while back about prototyping the dog bed. We tested it out – it seemed pretty solid, and Loki was happy to climb up there – so I went ahead and built it out of better materials.

It consists of 3 main parts:

  • A 60 cm x 80 cm Eurocrate plastic box, that we plan to use for washing – as a kind of mini bathtub
  • A 30 cm extension, to make the total width more like 110 cm – enough for the dog to be able to lie down comfortably in a few positions
  • A sliding wall that is sandwiched between the dog bed and the Eurocrate, which can be pushed back to allow him easy access, and pulled across to give him some protection while we’re driving. The wall has a gap at one end to allow him to hang his head off the side, which is one of his favourite ways to lie.

The two boxes both have removable lids made from plywood, and on top of these are two foam cushions with removable fleece covers.

We wanted to make something modular and flexible, but also safe and comfortable for Loki. So all the boxes are bolted to the wooden bulkhead so that they are secure when Loki gets in or out and as the van is in motion. But if we want to, we can unbolt them, and take the little extension off and use it as a seat, or take the Eurocrate outside to use for washing, as a seat or table.

So far, I think we’ve got a big thumbs up from Loki.

Treatex Hardwax Oil

One of many combination oil and wax finishes suitable for wood (Osmo is another popular brand which I haven’t used). It gives good plywood a beautiful smooth sheen, and is easy to apply with a rag.

Way better than water-based PU varnish, in my experience.

£26 for a 1 litre can.

Drawer runners

These are 45cm, full-extension, side-mounted, ball bearing runners.

If your drawers and cabinets are square, and a good fit, proper runners like these are the way to go (rather than fitting wooden rails for the drawers to slide on). They feel secure, smooth, and let you pull the drawer out all the way when opening.

My only regret is that these runners are heavier than needed, and we could have got away with some lighter duty runners.

£6 per pair from Screwfix.

A winter trip to the Lake District

Early December is one of the best times of year to go to the Lake District (one of the best mountainous regions in the UK).

So we finished up a few jobs we needed to complete, and installed a couple more prototype bits of furniture and headed north to make the most of it.

The weather was perfect: very cold, with fresh snow on the hills, and a few flurries in the air. Clear blue skies, and air still enough to light a candle.

The only snag was that our gas installation was not quite complete, so we were without a gas hob, or our gas heater, even though 99% of the components had been installed. Continue reading “A winter trip to the Lake District”