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.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013


I sit here writing this blog from a hotel room on the sixth floor located in one of my most favoured cities - Glasgow.

I had been angling for this position for some weeks and when the manager of the project rang my number to inform me I was required for four day's work in the centre of Glasgow - I couldn't help but feel the glow of success and that nice feeling that is called pride.  Paid to work in Glasgow!!! It doesn't get much better than that.

On the Monday morning I took the train to Southhampton airport.  This is a small airport and these are the best.  Flying out of Heathrow you will need to be at the airport two hours before departure.  This airport required only half an hour's processing time.

The plane boarded was a Bombardier Dash 8 aircraft - a plane with short take off and landing capabilities.

I was seated next to a little old lady and I noticed straight away her bright sparkling eyes.  The flight lasted just over an hour and the little old lady and myself seemed to click.  She was fascinated by my odd life in a caravan and she told me of her story, moving to Swanage to be with her husband but never really enjoying the area.  She was to visit her daughter in Glasgow.  As is usual with these encounters with strangers in transit - you speak and share and then say goodbye never to meet again.

I caught a taxi to the hotel.  The cab driver was a very chatty fellow with a deep Glaswegian accent.  I found myself asking him to repeat himself on a number of occasions - my ear struggling to tune into the cadences of the accent.

The hotel is decent enough with a television and kettle.  I thought the bathroom was rather odd - it is a module plugged into the corner of the room.  So it is really a budget hotel room and these are fine so long as they are clean and the bed is comfortable.  I opened the window as far as I could - but these hotel windows always have a bracing mechanism permitting only a few centimetres flow of fresh air.

The next day I got myself ready and took another taxi to the office on the High Street to meet the project manager.  We went to a cafe and formulated some email responses and then he informed me that the project was not yet ready for me to complete my tasks.  I was to be on standby.  So I returned to the hotel room.  It is a strange life - to be paid to sit in a hotel room in Glasgow without anything to do. This is very unusual and normally I have to work hard for my invoice.  Something else is rather unusual also - it has yet to rain here in Glasgow since I arrived.

Peace to All

Extreme Weather

March was the second coldest March since records were taken 100 years ago and I spent it in an old and rusty Ford Transit van.  I was working for a big security firm in Hertfordshire and my park up was on a site that, if it was warmer, would have been very busy.  In this site you could go fishing, play with radio controlled cars, risk your life on an elevated assault course or buy some soil and flowers from a garden centre.  It was completely deserted and mine was the only camper van on the camping site.

This was probably the most spectacular site I had camped on and if I had any critique to offer it would have to be the distance between the camping pitch and the shower block.  The shower block itself was superb but it was quite a trek on a freezing cold and frosty morning.  The shower block was so far away the camp site owner had placed lighting beacons to guide a groggy camper up the hill.

Just follow those lights.

And here is the view from the shower block looking back down to the camp site.

And for the big kids who whose fantasy is the Formula 1 racing circuit.

Thankfully there was a toilet block a lot closer on the camping site itself.

The Ford Transit van is a fine vehicle but it is not at its best when the temperature is hovering below freezing point.  The mean temperature for this month was a mere 2.2 degrees centigrade so it was well below zero at the start of the day and at the end of the day - and these were the two times of the day I would insert the key and hope the van's engine would spark into life.  It always did.  Confusingly I would experience a starting problem when the engine was still warm.  One morning I stopped to fill the tank with petrol at a busy filling station.  After paying the clerk I returned to the van and switched the ignition but it wouldn't start.  This was a predicament and there was a queue of impatient cars lined up behind me waiting for their fill.  Every time I tried to kick the engine into life I could hear the battery lowering on power.  As I sat there in a van that wouldn't start on a cold and grey morning I could feel my enthusiasm for this project ebbing away.  There was not much I could do.  I had a battery starter pack I could use once the battery was completely dead.  I could ask the clerk to help me push the van out of the way.  I could call the break down service.  I could make one last attempt at starting the engine.  And yes on this last attempt when the battery was close to dead - the engine did spin over and it combusted into life.  And I drove it to the office.

The van tested my nomadic patience on one particular week.  Some folks say there is a series of three and I certainly had three mechanical issues to deal with in that one week in March.  The first issue was an ear-piercing screeching howl that would come from the engine bay at times of acceleration.  It seemed to be worse in the rain and a bit of research on the internet suggested this was most likely a fan belt issue.  I purchased a new one from a motor factors and removed the old one for examination.  As can be seen it was a damaged belt with several teeth missing.  I was lucky this hadn't snapped while I was on the motorway.

I was able to attach the new belt onto the pulley system and this resolved the howling problem.  The next problem was a crunching sound whenever I applied the brake.  So the brake pads had worn down, and a warning light should have warned me about this before it became metal against metal.  Thankfully there was a an ATS Euromaster midway between the camp site and the office.  They had to order some parts for the back braking system so the work was carried out over two days.  I would drive the van to the workshop then order a cab to the office.  Then a cab to the workshop and the van to the camp site.  Immediately after the braking system was fixed the end section of the exhaust pipe broke.  So for a third time in the week it was back to the workshop.

Thankfully now the van is in good order and once again I am able to keep it rolling on the road with some confidence.  I do think a replacement will not be too far away - sorry about that old van.

Peace to All

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

A New Home

The Pageant Moselle caravan had been providing me with fine service as a weekend base to bring my children.  However, as is the way with children they have a habit of growing vertically and the living space needed increasing.  So I decided it would be a good idea to purchase an apartment and this would be some sort of investment to leave the children.

I called the estate agent and he showed me some properties in and around Bognor Regis.  A nice town widely famous for its Butlins holiday park.  He showed me five properties.  None of them seemed particularly appealing to me but this would be expected if you live like I do on wheels in some of the most spectacular rural areas in the country.  I decided on a ground floor flat that looked cosy enough and had a decent off road parking space for the van.

So then it was off to the bank.  I had been into the bank before seeing the estate agent and the mortgage lady gave me a certificate stating how much I could borrow.  I had been with this bank for several years and so they had a financial history of my affairs.  So I had my invoices for the past year printed out and statements to show the deposit was in order.  And it was with a surprise to me when the computer told the lady that the answer was no.  This was strange indeed since I am without debt but there was little I could do about it at this point and I still needed to solve this living space problem.

I decided therefore to purchase a bigger caravan as a temporary solution and committed myself to a savings plan that would enable me to buy a property outright rather than use the mortgage avenue.  And so it was that I became the proud owner of an Elddis Crusader Superstorm.  This is a twin axle top of the range caravan with berths for six people.  It took a good evening to transfer my belongings from the old van to the new and this was quite an exhausting exercise.  Once completed I sat down on the plush L shaped lounge and gave some thought to the new abode.  It seemed very luxurious and I couldn't help but smile at my fortune - even a Nomad deserves a bit of luxury.

And I will list some of the fine features of this caravan.

  • Motor mover.  Attached to each axle are a number of motors.  Using a remote control device I can entice these motors to move the caravan into position simply by depressing a few buttons.
  • On board water tank.  The external aquaroll water tank is still required but once connected, water is pumped from the aquaroll to the internal tank.  There is also an electronic gauge that will tell me how full the on board tank is.  I like this feature and there is no longer the need to go outside into the cold and the mud to check if there is sufficient water for a shower.
  • An alarm.  Just like a car alarm.  This really is quite loud and I discovered how loud when by accident I activated it one morning - waking the neighbouring campers from there slumber. 
  • On board music system.  It is no different to the music system you will find in a modern car.
  • Built in microwave.  The microwave is housed in an enclosure attached to the ceiling and so this is a great use of space.  I am quite the microwave cook and it was obvious after heating my Tesco Spaghetti Carbonara that this was a fine microwave device indeed.
Peace to All