Unpredictability - Good for your health

Our modern life is based on organising an environment free from the unexpected. The house needs to be as stable and reliable as possible. The job as safe as possible. Nothing should break down. Nothing but what we predict, should occur.
This is the life of the zoo animal. Let's explore the life of the Nomad. Let's live the life of the Nomad.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

The new assignment

There is a different mind set to those who travel for a living.  My condition was spoken little about among my colleagues in the previous contract.  These workers would travel to work each day from their house.  And back to their house at the end of the working day.  They couldn't understand a different life such as mine, and so I rarely talked about it.

Working now for a major consulting company where those I am working with will return to a hotel during the week rather than their own home - among this group of nomads in denial, I have experienced no prejudice at all.  In fact the opposite - they are inquisitive, supportive and enthusiastic about this way of doing things.  Like me they would prefer to return back to their own habitat each evening, rather than an over heated hotel with a limited menu, single window over looking a busy street and a set of rules from hotel management.

And it is a strange thing, to be driving your home into work and back each day from a campsite inhabited by lambs, ducks and tourists.  Living in a transit van is a unique experience.  There is something special about waking up with a view through the windscreen of a mountain ridge rising into the mists.  An environment where the noise of the vehicle is replaced by the rumblings of a farm.  The horses, birds, sheep and cattle.  And all too often the pitter patter of rain on the transit's tin body.

It is the unexpected noises in the transit that stresses the traveller and tries his patience.  And it was a rasping noise of metal against metal that commanded my attention last Tuesday night as I was driving back from the office to the campsite in the Pennines.  I drove on a couple of miles until I found a park I could drive into and examine the vehicle.  The tail end of the exhaust was scraping against the back axle.  The rubber hangar responsible for keeping this section attached to the vehicle had broken apart.  I was rather annoyed since it was only last December that I had a brand new exhaust fitted and this should not have happened so soon.  I reached for my tool box and suspended the exhaust on its hanger firstly with a cable tie.  Then I strengthened this with a section of clothes line rapped around the joint and secured with a knot.  This little fixed worked well and lasted until the Friday.

After work on Friday I drove to the nearest KwikFit store and they repaired the exhaust since it was still under warranty.  They also performed a tyre examination and suggested one of my tyres needed replacing.  Oh well - you can't compromise with safety, so fifty five pounds got me a new front left tyre.  They know how to do business.  I don't mind this sort of thing - I would rather prevent something from breaking than deal with something that has already broken.  The back right tyre will also need replacing soon.  I would have got them to replace this also but they only had one tyre in stock and I was eager to commence the seven hour trip back home, rather than wait while they got another delivered from their nearest store.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Little things and big Problems

Living the life of the nomad, as I do, can be a very interesting way to live.  But it can also have its challenges - and indeed this week, being 250 miles away from my base, gave me an interesting problem to solve.  Driving back from the Lakes District meant crossing several cattle grids and these do vibrate the tires no matter how slow you cross them.

I suspect it was one of these that shook the right front wheel bearing dust cap off.  Such an innocent little object but so hard to get hold off.  And really it is not a good idea to drive around without them since the bearings can dry out and it wouldn't be a good day if the wheel scrorched itself off the axle and took its own route down the road.  So I rang several places but no one had them in stock.  I even tried a few car wreckers but no joy.  This is how it is when your vehicle is over twenty years old.

Driving from my campsite into Huddersfield on the way to work in the morning, I noticed a car washing site that looked like it could be a gypsy site and noticed several disused transit vans dotted around the site.  After work I pulled into the site and indeed the workmen appeared to be Irish travellers.  I asked the lead man if he had one I could buy off him.  After examining my wheel, he shook his head and said 'Doobt it, but go and ave a look at the yella transit rnd da corner'

And so that is what I did and to my delight it looked to be the right sized grease cap.  I went back and asked him how much he wanted for it.  He look surprised since he didn't think it was the right one - but he had thought I was after the entire wheel, not only the grease cap.  He said I could ...'Ave it for Nowt'.  Great stuff and so I retrieved a flat edged screwdriver from my tool box, ran around to the van and wedged the cap off.  I gave the man five pounds anyway for a pint, fitted the cap and drove back to my camp site a very happy man.  Us nomads can be easily pleased.

Scafell Pike

We had already reached the summit of Sca Fell and had been hiking for a good six hours.  The day was hot and the sky free of cloud.  It was magnificent.

My mate Simon led the way down a gully called The Lords Drake.  It was a hazardous descent we had to make in order to commence the final hike upto the summit of Scafell Pike itself.  The rocks were sharp and loose and we took our time.  I hadn't prepared properly for this hike that was to last over ten hours.  Salt drenched sweat would seep into my eyes causing a fair amount of pain.  The legs felt heavy.  But upwards was the only way if the day's objective was to be met.

And with great joy we reached the top half an hour later.  There were many other hikers there also, and this you would expect on such a glorious day on the highest mountain peak in England.

At only 978 meters high this is hardly a difficult mountain to hike up, if you take the tourist route that is.  We took the Eskdale route which is considerably more difficult but the advantage is that you will be free from the hordes stumbling up to the summit.

But while this was only a minnow of a mountain on the world's scale, for me it was particularly satisfying.  My passion had been hiking.  Eighteen months ago I had a skiing accident and had pretty much given up on doing this sort of hiking again since I had broken my knee.  You can see the rocks in the photo and hiking hour after hour over this terrain is extremely hard on the knees and ankles.  I had no idea if my knee had healed enough to partake in this hiking and scrambling.  Thankfully the knee gave me no issue.  And this hike was one of the most testing hikes I have ever done.  So I was back in the hiking game - great stuff.  Also, it was the meeting of a goal I had set myself a few years ago.  To climb the three highest mountains in the United Kingdom - Ben Nevis, Snowdon and Scafell Pike.