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Dublin: 8 °C Monday 18 November, 2019
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The Happy Camper: the joys of living in a van

“Tosh arrives over to make the deposit in our laundry press. CLICK, FLOP: a pair of boxer shorts lands with unwavering precision in the middle of my bowl, breakfast is over.”

The boys enjoy a night cap before transforming the table into a bed.
The boys enjoy a night cap before transforming the table into a bed.

WITH NO MIDWEEK matches to distract our attention there is a bit more time to focus, reflect and dwell on the joys of campervanning.

Yesterday morning we readied ourselves to depart Timaru, the blank car park outside was a haze with drizzle.

Inside, I’m leaning against the window forcing down a cold bowl of soggy cornflakes.

Tosh arrives over to make the deposit in our laundry press. CLICK, FLOP: a pair of boxer shorts lands with unwavering precision in the middle of my bowl, breakfast is over.

Since then, the boys have been offering up varying hypothetical scenarios: ‘if they were your jocks would you keep eating?’ ‘If they fell into a beer would you keep drinking?’

Eh, I don’t know, probably not… and it depends how many beers I’d had previously.

Another major drag on driving your house around is that you have to pack the whole shebang away before you even turn the key, lest every plate and glass be shuddered to the floor.

Tosh estimates an hour’s work to get going in the morning and this is doubly distressing when you are just moving Cian around 20 meters around the corner.

Stench

Today, in Hanmer Springs, the shower drain began to gurgle. It is a noise that means it is time to drain out the grey water tank of dishwater before it begins to bubble back up through the plughole causing an almighty stench in the bathroom. We take our vehicle round to the little van’s room to do his business.

We are barely gone five minutes but we get back to find that our neighbours (a group of middle-aged dastardly French) are not only using our patch of cement to have petit dejuner, but they have nicked our picnic table to do it. The bare-faced cheek… maybe we’ll have to sort them out in the semi-final.

By then we hope to have decamped from the van into a hostel in Auckland where the beds come ready formed. Tonight in Nelson, as with every other night, there will be a flurry of activity before sleeping. Tosh and Del practically have to renovate the kitchen to make a bed for the night, and me?

Perched high above the driver’s cabin there is little room to manoeuvre. The roof is two feet from the mattress; if you get into the bed here you had better have a bloody good reason to get back out because the clatter I make can wake the dead.

However, aside from all that, aside from having to crabwalk past the boys anytime you need to venture your way from the back window to the kitchen sink, there is no better way to see New Zealand. You can pull in and sleep in the vast majority of places along the road, your home is your car and your car is your castle.

Tomorrow we and our castle say goodbye to the South Island, half the country is behind us and we don’t know if we’ll ever come back, but know we’d like to.

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