Five days into the trip and I woke up this morning to Si exclaiming “I love this van!” And I do too. It’s keeping us dry and warm as we slowly make our way back to the European mainland. Wet and windy weather has been a main feature so far and the van has been rocked by the winds and pelted with rain but we have both slept well in the comfort of our new wider bed… although the dogs still want to sleep exactly where we are despite the added room.
So far we have stayed virtually on the beach at Minehead, in a NT car park at the beautiful Chapel Porth Beach, a perfectly adequate carpark in Perranporth following a meal with van life buddies, and the last two nights in the front yard of mates in Pendeen – discovering possibly the best way to visit friends..
Having a self sufficient living space means that staying with friends is a joy to all of us. I know, with the best will in the world, having friends to stay disrupts normal life. There is the constant negotiation of bathrooms and toilets, breakfast arrangements, trying to keep quiet so as not to disrupt sleeping patterns etc etc. Doing it our way means everyone has enough space to actually enjoy each others company. It’s been great staying with Karen and Al (although they didn’t quite buy in to the idea that there was no need to make us breakfast). We were in and out of the house when they were free to socialise but didn’t interrupt work commitments. Si even cooked most of last night’s tea in the van. It’s just a shame that we didn’t plan to stay longer.
On to other matters: we are again trying to work on living happily in a small space. As I think all couples will attest, we can be snipier with each other than with other people and casual comments can escalate. There is a need to remind each other that we need to make an effort to be especially nice to each other and be as tolerant as possible of each other’s foibles (and we have many). I personally need to let minor irritations pass without comment, but not let them stew – something I’m not good at admittedly. I need to continue doing my back exercises as often as possible, and rest when I need to. And I think Si needs to let me do a bit more around the van.
Having said all this, as Si said this morning, the van is great. And the dogs are great. And we’re hoping to spend the next 5 months luxuriating in the freedom we have. What a lucky couple we are!
And finally I can’t stop before saying how proud I am of my colleagues and comrades in the UCU striking to defend their pensions. The sight of mass pickets has brought tears to my eyes, and the collective anger at the shoddy deal that was roundly rejected this week by the union rank and file gives me hope that we can stop the onward march of neoliberalisation through collective action. On the proposed “deal” itself, the suggestion that strikers should reschedule classes missed due to strike action is absurd – unless of course the Universities reschedule pay lost through the strike action too. The notion that there aren’t the funds to pay for the current pension agreement is a false one- the HE sector is rattling with money and is expanding. And we pay a significant part of our wages into our pensions. Of course you could go on the USS’s worst case scenario analysis but it doesn’t stand up to any real scrutiny. Keep up the fight comrades! I will be following carefully and visiting picket lines whenever near.
Solidarity to those fighting back! Peace and love to everyone else.