Updated: Oct 4
I’m worried. I keep waking up I a cold sweat and thinking about water tanks. Not ones that are pristine clean and sparklingly tempting, but ones that are mouldy and contaminated. Ones that don’t have hot running water. Ones that poison me. And I'm wondering how on earth do you clean them out.
YouTube can be a Godsend or a curse!
The videos on how to clean your tanks (waste and fresh water), are good, but complicated. They’re generally older men who have been campervaning and motorhoming for nigh on since they were born. So, unfortunately, they miss out on a lot of detail, like:
how to get the pipes out
where the pipes are located
how to drain the tank
where the knobs and buttons are to enable ease of access
Don’t get me wrong, they’re great. A source of entertainment and education. And the people who give the information are knowledgeable and interesting. So, who am I to complain?
I think there ought to be a course whereby people are taught how to look after their campervan. I haven’t looked for one yet, but I’m pretty sure there are going to be people out there that have thought about that. I'm hoping!
I know those who have set-up and built their own would know how to do it. But those like me? Those who are just starting out?
It’s not like buying a car. A car, you can check over mechanically, put in the key and drive away.
But a campervan?
You have to:
have a habitation check
have a mechanical check
check the doors close properly
check for leaks
check for condensation
check for mould
check the fumes from the fridge
check the gas canisters are not liable to kill you in the night
check the water won’t give you a bad tummy
check for mould in the tank
check the water isn’t contaminated
check the bedding area hasn't got mould or mildew
check you’ll get enough heat for the night and for the wintertime
check that you'll be cool in the summertime
There’s an awful lot to learn. It’s ok to send it to a mechanic for repair and upkeep, but it’s best to learn it yourself. If you learn it then you won’t have to keep paying extortionate bills. For instance, I’ve just been quoted nearly £200 for a habitation check and nearly £200 for a mechanical check. How do they justify that price?
I know they don't take that long! I've watched the videos on YouTube!
If those checks included all of the materials, a top up and refuel, water check, gas check, refrigeration check and heating check – and top up and clean out of all those things, then maybe it would be worth it.
But you’re looking at over £400 just to get the bloody thing on the road! Is that fair?
You could say,
“Well, you’d have to pay that for a house, and then some.”
But it’s not a house. It’s a van. A temporary home on wheels.
The emphasis is on temporary. You’re not allowed to ‘live’ in it. You have to have a bloody house to be registered at in order to have it in the first place. So you’re paying all the taxes that the government want you to pay, you’re stuck in the system and you can’t get out of it.
Where’s the point in living in a van?
This is what I wake in cold sweats about.
I mean, while I’m looking, I’m ok. Money is in the bank. I’m relatively debt-free (I know, I'm extremely lucky) and I have a job and a home, clothes on my back, food in my belly.
If I choose to actually go out and buy one, then I’m really stuck. I mean, how much is a campervan worth?
I could buy one for under £10,000, then I’d have to get someone to build the inside for me, at a general cost of around £14,000. So that makes it around £25k in total – with all the insurance, tax and fuel needed for it too.
Plus all those darned checks added into the equation!
So, I wake at night, in the morning, and just before I get up. My anxiety levels are up and my heart is beating like crazy.
The question rattling around my mind is:
“What the hell do I want to live in a van for?”
I try to answer that question by looking around me. My job is not much to write home about. The company (on a whim, without notifying me) decided to move me from a house, to a 2-room/en-suite to a one room and shared showers. Which is ok, if you’re in your 20s and it’s your first job. But for a woman who’s nearly sixty, who has had a home and has a lot of baggage to cart around all her belongings in boxes - one room just doesn’t cut it.
And it gets a bit nauseating when you see some employees going from house-to-house-to-house, in delightful locations. Which is so terribly unfair.
I guess I could write about it.
I’m sat here, at 0603hrs in the morning at my laptop, which is going wrong. It won’t shut down properly. It takes ages, then reboots itself and asks me to open-up in safe mode. Inevitably, I don’t. I just open it up and close it again. Which makes me think I’ll need to get myself another machine to do all my work on. Which is a terrible shame as I love this laptop. It’s a good machine and I love it. I love the feel and the weight of it. I love the style and I love its look too. And it has seen me through an awful lot of good work over the years. I really don’t want to lose it.
The reason I woke this time, was because I’m in pain.
My back is hurting me so much, I’ve resorted to using Ibuprofen. They are those little red gel capsules. They’re easier to take than the bloody big white ones that are chalky and stick on your tongue and won’t go down your throat. Urgh! These are very good. I’m conscious of the fact that I don’t want to take drugs, but my body is in pain and these are effective. They will do as a temporary measure to get me through this difficult patch of sorting and packing ready for my new location.
This job is one of the reasons why I am desperate to buy a campervan.
I don’t want to live in a one-roomed place! It’s ridiculous! It’s so unfair! I’m pretty darned sure the Directors would never work in a location where you had only one room to live in for two years. And, if you think about it, it's kind of a pay-cut as the accommodation is included in our contract. Therefore, when you go from being allocated a house, to living in one room, that's effectively a drop in salary.
In fact, I think that should be a matter of course - the Directors of a company should 'rise up from the lowly factory workers conditions' and experience everything the workers have to endure.
In fact, I believe all people who are leaders should experience the conditions that their employees go through before they even get their positions. At least that way, they will know what it feels like. And I'm pretty darned sure they wouldn't inflict it upon us lowly minions then!
Anyway, I’m getting off-topic. The reason why I’m writing this is because I’m on the cusp of buying a campervan. I’m torn between desperation and buying one next week, and the other route of not buying one at all.
If I don’t buy one at all, I’ll still have the funds available which makes me feel secure. But I won’t have the freedom. I’ll have to go back to my one-room every night of the week and wake in the morning (twice in the early hours), to go the loo - as you do as you age.
If I do buy it, then I will have:
the freedom to come and go as I please
a private space to call my own
be able to visit people and not have them worry about where I’m going to sleep (normally on the sofa, and my bones and muscles are getting too old for that now)
the freedom to travel around the country, free to wander at will
a great community of people who I can get to know as well
What’s not to like about it?
Meanwhile, I have planned a visit to a campervan for Monday where I’ll drive down to Somerset and put my dreams to bed by finally making a decision.
If I don’t like this van, I shall turn my back on the whole thing and keep the money until I have enough saved for the land I want to buy and the project I have dreamed of starting – helping the homeless by giving them a tent in a field. As if they’d want that, eh?
Kaye is a freelance publisher, author and certified psychotherapist with over three decades of experience. She is also a writer for various blogs about writing, publishing, travelling and health care.
Feel free to visit her BewleyBooks.com site, where you can sign-up to follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and YouTube.