Lots of people have been asking questions such as : What’s it like living in van? What are we doing for food? etc etc.
There’s so much ‘other’ stuff that goes on. It’s not all sightseeing and happy snaps, so for my memory and for your curiosity here are some ‘MUNDANE’ rants about what really goes on in this caravan of luurve !
Space (as in personal space)
There is none.
There’s no room to move, 1 person only at all times is allowed in kitchen area (which is also the wardrobe area and Olivia’s bedroom and bathroom). We also have to walk sideways to get to this ‘area’ and if Sarah is in her wardrobe (her 1 drawer) and I’m trying to get past her to get to the kettle.. LOOK OUT because there is a bit of yelling.. and really, there is no need to raise voices because we are ALWAYS within earshot. Does this do our heads in after almost 10 weeks on the road ? The answer is YES.
Alone time (as in personal alone all by myself time)
Again, there is none. . not really anyway.
Wayne and I came to a decision about a month or so ago, that we each needed about an hour a day to have on our own. Whether it be alone in the van, alone in the pool, fishing, shopping.. anything really that lets up regroup and take a breath and just BE. So far, this hasn’t happened and I’m not really sure why. Wayne has been fishing a few times and in order for him to do this he has to pretty much work his arse off, and not because I make him either. I think he feels guilty so he insists on making dinner and bathing Frankie, while I sort the 2 older girls out. Can’t leave Frankie on her own at all – not that we would – but she’s fallen off the bed already (and it’s quite a fall) and she can reach the oven etc etc. About 10 mins before he leaves, Frankie starts crying (or screaming a better word) something she never ever does, so he leaves with a heavy heart and guilt. He’s usually back within about 2 hours sans fish ! He’s done this 3 times in 10 weeks.. When we first had this talk about ‘alone’ time, I chose the 3.oopm slot and he chose the 11am slot.. but it’s never happened. We are either travelling in the car, out and about somewhere or we just plain forget about it. Wayne will take the girls to the park and vice-versa, this is when we usually are doing housework though. . Maybe we don’t need the time alone as much as we think we do ?
I’m being as honest as I know how when I say I love doing Laundry. Actually, I guess this could be classed as ‘alone’ time as it takes a while and usually I’m on my own. In Port Douglas the Laundry area was really nice. It was outside amongst the palm trees, lots of tables in the sun and magazines. Their wash cycle was 40 mins, so I snuck up there, took my coffee and it was quiet and peaceful. Olivia found me, then Sarah and then I saw Wayne and the pram and my serenity went out the window.. I think he cottoned on somehow, but it’s not just the washing, you then get to hang it out and that’s easily another 20 mins or so.. The most annoying thing is that the machines are almost always old, they don’t wash clothes well, some rip the clothes, I’ve yet to get a stain out of clothing and that’s with stain remover. It say’s it’s washing the clothes with COLD water but the clothes all come out HOT.. and they cost up to $7 a load. Even though we all have limited clothes with us, there is always so much washing to be done. It really is never ending, but at least it’s a way of forcing us into ALONE time. Even today Wayne and I both had a discussion about who was doing the laundry. Frankie was all wet from the pool, her swimming nappy hanging down to her knees.. she had biscuit everywhere, through her hair and all over her hands.. He said ‘do you want to sort Frankie or do the washing?’. I said very quickly, yet begrudgingly (do not want him to know the truth YET) ‘I guess I’ll do the laundry then’ !.. and stalked off.. Win to me..
We have a ‘full size’ fridge in the van. Or so we thought.. it’s probably a 3/4 size fridge/freezer and while it can hold a fair amount of food, it’s not enough. Not with 5 water bottles, and Milk and Beer etc. We are at the grocery store probably every 3 days. We also have a WAECO which is in the car 24/7 which is perfect, because we can use that as a fridge/freezer too and we’d be lost without it. The good thing is that we are more organised with what we eat everyday and so far we haven’t really been stuck without dinner. We get takeaway probably once a week and a couple of times a week we will go somewhere for lunch. We could get easily carried away and think ‘we’re on holidays, lets eat out again’ but in reality we are gone for 8 months and we’ve been really good with trying to remain normal when it comes to mealtimes. I’m actually impressed with myself because usually I would be the one who would want to eat out all the time. The kitchen is small but we have everything we need and surprisingly it’s very easy to cook in. I don’t even miss the dishwasher, we only have 5 of everything anyway so there’s never much to wash up.
We have a TV in the van, and Wayne also made sure we took our Apple Tv with us. At a lot of places we only get 2 tv stations anyway and most of the time we don’t even turn it on.I couldn’t tell you what was happening in my fav shows and apart from watching ABC 2 or 3 every now and again it’s mainly used to view the photo’s that Wayne has taken. We do have a few series that we have been watching, like Nikita and Person of Interest etc.. once the kids go to bed. We have about 1000 movies but we’ve yet to watch 1. This is a good thing, before this trip I would watch television a lot once the kids went to bed.. just because.. not that that’s a bad thing, but it’s nice to have peace and quiet.
Wayne and I. We get ‘our’ time together once the kids go to bed. I miss him, and he tells me the same. Usually this is the time that we figure out where we are going next and what things we want to see. I google stuff, he edits his photo’s, we listen to some music, he falls asleep and I am usually the one who stays up late. I guess this is the only time we both get to THINK or RELAX and it seems to take me ages to wind down. Look out family in Sydney .. you are on BIG TIME BABY SITTING DUTIES 🙂 People had said before we left that it would be hard to find time together. Even though we are with each 24/7 we are mummy and daddy most of this time. I’m not complaining.. honestly I’m not !
This is something that should be happening right ? I mean we have no where to be for 8 months.. Frankie dictates what time is wake up time (Sarah too, she’s also an early riser) As soon as Miss Frankie is up, the other girls wake up with big smiles on their faces. Frankie loves being able to see everyone and is so happy that it’s hard not to wake up smiling. We do however put her in the bed with her 2 sisters and they play for a bit while Wayne and I try to go back to sleep, but it doesn’t long. I have constant bags under my eyes and look extremely tired ALL the time. Just the way it is.
Sarah and Frankie are awesome. Sarah puts herself to bed, anywhere between 6.30-7.30pm. Off she goes without a worry. Frankie goes to bed about 7pm and she’s also pretty easy. I lie down with her, sing her a song and then 9/10 times she’s asleep within 10 mins and we don’t hear from her until morning. Olivia is NEVER tired,and she is also the one who is the most energetic during the day. I don’t know how she just keeps on going and going and going. She uses every delay tactic she can think of. We usually let her stay up a little longer, play a game with her etc but it’s the end of the day and Wayne and I are craving ‘our’ time at this point. She’ll eventually go to bed, but because her bunk is in the middle of the caravan she hears everything, like the Fridge, the kettle, us talking. . It’s not ideal but once she’s asleep she’s a very sound sleeper and she doesn’t wake up until morning either. The good thing about all 3 girls is that Wayne and I can be talking/laughing/ and they don’t wake up.
I hate them. All of them. Wayne doesn’t mind them at all. In fact he refuses to shower in our caravan as he thinks it’s too small and it probably is for him. He’s pretty tall and has broad shoulders. I love my shower and have only used the public showers twice and that was because they were very very clean. I find it so much easier to wash the girls in the caravan shower than I do taking them to the shower block. Everything is already here, they jump in and wash themselves and jump out again. Easy.. however, they would prefer to use the shower block like their daddy. I think they believe it’s an adventure. So more often than not he’ll take them with him. I prefer not to think about it. They come back nice and clean and assure me that they didn’t see strange naked men. Doesn’t happen all the time, but if they are really dirty and I’m cooking dinner and Wayne wants them to go to bed early, he just grabs their stuff and then takes them over. Frankie is easy. We either wash her in the tub outside if it’s still warm or she uses the laundry sink or the baby bath.
Travelling with a baby
People thought we were crazy with a capital C. Not all people I admit, but some! She’s been the BEST little camper in the entire world. At first there were a few teething problems. She had an ear infection before we even left Perth and was in a lot of pain. We were staying with friends for a week before we got our van and she pretty much screamed their house down the entire time. Very unusual for her, but we finally got it sorted and she had to have antibiotics for 3 weeks while we were traveling. It took her probably 2 weeks to get settled. New surroundings, new bed and travelling in the car for hours on end was not something she was used to. She’s great now though, doesn’t really muck up in the car, she usually sleeps and then we feed her and that always makes her happy. She’s more than happy to just crawl (now walk) around the van site, play with dirt and sand and mud and gravel. She’s good in the pram, she loves the water too so now we are in the hotter climate she’s been in the pool a lot. As much as she has been easy, she’s also the one we have to watch constantly. We can let the big girls go for a bike ride and play in the playground without us being there etc.. but that means 1 or both of us (Wayne and I) are on Frankie duty. No time to relax, but it’s worth it. We both know how precious this time is with her. Wayne is so lovely with Frankie. He adores her and is all over her. Every time I look over he’s kissing her cheek, picking her up, tickling her. He’s mentioned more than once that he loves watching her fall asleep and that he never got to see that with the other kids because he was working. We’re trying hard not to take this time we have with Frankie being so little for granted. Looking at Lu and Sarah we know how fast it goes. So it’s hectic yes, but we get so many kisses from her and we are always laughing.
Haven’t seen too many. There are a few mozzies and in outback QLD there were a lot of larger flying insect things that made me eat my dinner inside rather than outside. I’m sure they are coming.. but so far so good !
PACKING AND SETTING UP THE VAN
Finally we have this sorted. We all have jobs to do and we get it done in an hour. That’s from the time we stumble out of bed, have breakfast, do the dishes, get dressed and packed up. The van is pretty easy to pack up, and Wayne has the most to do outside. Setting up the van takes a little longer if we are planning on staying more than 1 night somewhere., but that’s because we’re making the van our home for the next week or so, so we are sweeping, getting chairs out, putting up the shade cloth and taking bikes off the rack etc. Still, it’s pretty easy. The van itself needs a massive clean on the outside. Inside is OK. Doesn’t take long to clean but the dirt is everywhere.. I’ve learnt to close my eyes (Pinchy – you would be proud of me) but I still don’t like anyone on my bed unless they’ve JUST had a shower. I hate dirty feet on my doona !
This hasn’t been a problem with us. We are probably the noisy ones. I think we’ve just gotten used to the noise, the traffic etc. At times it’s noisier than others but it hasn’t bothered us.
Yep, expensive. At times we have paid around $800 a week for diesel. Mainly when we were travelling from NT into QLD and then outback QLD into Far North Qld. Hoping it will settle down a little now as we aren’t travelling long distances for a while. I couldn’t tell you the prices though, there has been too many petrol stations and too many ‘one sided’ discussions on petrol prices and fuel economy. I’ve learned to switch off ! Thankyou Raybo (father inlaw) for insisting we get the long range fuel tank..
Premium CARAVAN sites
Hard to get. We all want to be near either the toilet block or the playground. Asking the question is usually met with a hostile glare from reception, followed by ‘I don’t think we have any sites in that position’ only to be told by Wayne later that ‘yes you do actually, site # 4545 is free’ and then ‘oh that’s right, well ok then you can have that one’.Geez, it’s a hard gig.
HAIR AND BEAUTY (for you BG)
My routine is as follows. Have shower, wash hair every 2nd or 3rd day, comb it, slap on sunscreen.. DONE. Sometimes I will put some mascara and gloss on if I can be bothered, but usually not. You wouldn’t recognise me.
Wayne thinks we are a travelling nightclub. His favourite thing to do is crank up the itunes on the outdoor speakers and then walk away. See, we really are the noisy neighbours. I get embarrassed and turn it down, only to have him turn it back up upon his return. He’s obsessed with anything electronic. He has this van wired up to within an inch of it’s life. We have everything you could think of and he’s made little hanging leads and hooks so they are easy to get to. Everything has it’s own power lead and no one has to go far to charge anything. Just reach your arm and grab. You’re certain to get what you’re looking for.
We are all so very lucky to be experiencing this trip and although we sometimes get narky at one another and miss our own space, that is very quickly forgotten once we see a truly spectacular waterfall or a group of cows wandering through a meadow, beautiful vista’s, ULURU and the Atherton Tablelands. We are taking it all in… and thanks to the blogosphere and our weekly blogs I’ll never forget it.I’m so glad I can share with friends and family what’s happening in our world at the moment, but even more than that, we’ll always be able to look back and read about it. Especially the girls as I’m sure somethings they wont remember.
So if you’ve managed to stay awake whilst reading this blog I shall say goodnight.It seems I will be serenaded to sleep by the green tree frogs outside my bedroom window.. I’m one lucky lady (seriously I am)..
(Paul Probin – it’s midnight.. no spell check but feel free to edit if you like, I’ll send you my password) x