I love those few seconds in the morning when you wake up and don't remember where you are, when yesterday's journey is a blur and you're not sure which way your head is pointing or what view you're looking at.

What I love even more is arriving somewhere and parking up in the dead of night, then having your breathe taken away by the view that awaits you in the morning. The little surprises along the way which keep you guessing, keep you wondering.

There are many things to love about living in a van, and a great many not to like about living in one too. Driving around at midnight trying to find a place to park, standing outside in the pouring rain trying to fix the windscreen wipers, splashing about in the mud setting up the levelling ramps, hearing all your possessions crash around you when you have to hit the brakes. The lack of personal space, being woken up at the crack of dawn; break downs, headaches, not knowing if you're going to make it to the next fuel station or not; bumps, scrapes, leaks and near-misses, dodging crazy foreign drivers who don't even know what side of the road they're meant to be on, so how are you supposed to know?

Bad nights' sleeps that make you want to cry, lying there at 6 in the morning thinking this is so far from what you'd imagined and dreamed about. 

The constant maintenance, the lack of stability; the bad times that unfortunately are there to balance out the good.

 

Then there's the good times, the fun times, the happy times, the awe-inspired, breath-taken times and the excited can-we-go?! times. 

Squeezing our big blue bus through the tiniest village streets in Italy, partying til sunrise on the wild coast of Portugal, trekking through sandy pine forests in the South West of France, happy, sun-baked, dizzy with heat; skinny dipping under the summer stars, climbing so high into the mountains you can no longer see the world below, dancing wildly late at night tripping over eachother in the cramped space until you both fall down laughing, having conversations where none of you speak the same language, sipping beers and swapping tales by the fire.

Fresh mountain air, ice cold lakes in summer, hot springs in winter, ice on the windscreen and hot tea in tin mugs, smell of woodsmoke and happiness, writing postcards home, crisp spring water, salty sea air and secret little places.

There's that feeling like you're the only ones to have ever discovered a spot only to ponder how many dozens of other travellers have stood in the same shoes looking at the same sky as you are right now.

The outdoors becomes your home; you cook, shower, wash and mend while curious onlookers stroll past and you just laugh and let them stare. 

There's the smokey taste of vegetables cooked on a fire, greasy fingers from melted Camembert dipped with chunks of crusty bread, the sweet taste of beers and laughter and memories made.

Lying cosied up in bed while the wind rocks the world around you and rain hammers louder than you've ever heard it before. 

The weird, the wonderful, the everyday: waking up surrounded by herds of goats, being chased by a woman with a stick shouting at you in Portuguese, evening meals joined by sheep, stray dogs and walkers wishing you "Bon appetit".

 

There are many things not to love about living in a van, and a hundred and one more to love about it too.

After all, it wouldn't be an adventure without a few surprises along the way. 

 

"Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure.”

- Bob Bitchin

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