There is nothing to do at this stage but keep plugging away. Henry is spending hours each day working on the truck, laying the floor, waterproofing the roof, adding new air dryers and exhaust silencers. There are enough different things to do that it is never boring, but it is still physically exhausting and mentally draining. The good news is… she has an MOT! We are road legal and able to drive! (If anyone is wondering how on earth we are allowed to drive this humongous thing, Henry got his licence before 1997, meaning he can drive anything up to 7.5 tonnes, which seems crazy, but there you go.)
How does one fit in an exhaust silencer? An air dryer,? What exactly are these things and what do they do? All of these are excellent questions, and ones I am unable to answer. One of these days (maybe when we are looking back on the build from a less balls to the wall get-it-done get-it-done perspective) Henry can write a few posts that answer all of these very legitimate technical queries.
Anyway, if you are tired of looking at the engine-y parts and roof waterproofing (or “flashing” as it is hilariously called) and are thinking to yourself “yeah yeah Jess, air dryers are all well and good, show me some DECOR”, feast your eyes on this-
Why yes, that is beautiful solid hardwood parquet flooring. One of the great things about building in a tiny space is that you can afford to do things to a really high standard. We are doing it very frugally, and paying with our time (by spending hours scraping bitumen off the back of parquet pieces) but doing it well.
Our little family is slightly scattered at the moment. Bel and Keffie and I are up in Surrey and Henry has remained in Brighton to work on the truck. Other than a quick driving lesson (for me), daddy daughter time (for them) and tapas date (for all of us) on Thursday we haven’t seen each other since moving out. I know it has only been a few days, but it feels longer.
With the pooch and baby out of his hair, Henry has been able to make some progress with the truck! The reMOT is next week, so a lot of the progress isn’t very photogenic (replaced tubes in the engine, brake light, etc) but some of the shape of the living area have started to come together.
Our bedroom has walls and a ceiling!
We have storage! This is the wardrobe and chest of drawers that we had in our house, and it fits perfectly, just like we planned! (Totally kidding, we aren’t that good. It is just a magical coincidence)
We have a water heater! Rather than having an enormous boiler we went for a sleek little on-demand water heater.
This is a wide view towards the front of the truck, The chesterfield is just for phase one, we will eventually have a sofa that folds out into a double guest bed. At the moment we are focusing on getting her ready to move in, and some of the bells and whistles will be completed later.
The view from our bedroom! The little slatted thing is where Bel’s bed is going to be. The bedroom is going to be walled off from the main room so this view will disappear. Annabel is going to have her own space but alongside our bed.
Right now, as I type this, more unspeakably exciting things are happening in the truck. I’ll give you a clue. It is not the walls or ceiling.
Tune in next time, for more build progress!
Part of our reason for moving into our tiny new home is slowing down. Not having to work so much and rush around. Being able to enjoy every minute of our lives, our meals, our walks, our daughter growing up, each other.
The same with cooking. Sometimes you want to make a stirfry that takes five minutes, and sometimes you want to make bread that takes three days. Sometimes you want to take some rum and shake it with lime and ice, and sometimes you want to mix some vodka or gin with some tiny fruits and put them in a cupboard and forget about them for a year.
I picked a billion sloes. I have already made some sloe gin, but wanted something a little different, that lets the characters of the sloes take centre stage. If you prefer you can prick them all with a pin, but I whack them in the freezer. We are slowing down here, but we’re not made of spare time. Then, whenever you are ready, gather your things!
Here is what you need:
-1 Litre of Vodka (or gin, of course)
-600g (1lb6oz) sloes
-200g (8oz) sugar *This is a bit lower than the sugar content in a lot of recipes, but you can’t do it with much less than this or the osmosis that gets out all the sloe flavour doesn’t work.
-A good quality jar. *This is very important. If you buy the cheapest jar you can find you end up with sloe gin/vodka all over your hands which means you waste your liquor, and have sticky hands. Don’t ask me how I know.
Combine first three ingredients in last ingredient. Shake. Shake again a few minutes later and repeat until all the sugar is dissolved. Put in a cupboard. Shake every few days or whenever you come across it. Eventually stop shaking it and force yourself to forget about it. It will be beautiful and dark purple and ready in three months, but the longer you leave it the better. I am hoping we can hold off ours for a year (yeah right).
Am taking a brief nursing break from packing boxes so thought I would one-handedly write some thoughts on moving, I have moved house more times than I can remember (I lived in three states by the time I was two) and, although the packing gets more streamlined (kinda) it still always makes me sad. It is exciting because its the start of something new, but it is always the end of something too, Sitting here in the room where our baby was born and knowing that after tomorrow I will never sit in this room again is especially emotional.
It is an important lesson that I am always learning, but never finished with- all of the physical stuff in our life goes away, and having emotional attachments to it only brings us sadness and a feeling of trying to hold onto things that goes away. I will always always have my daughter, and will always carry the feeling of birthing her and the joy of meeting her for the first time, and whether or not I sit in these four walls again will make no difference to the strength and importance of that memory. So we pack in the reverse order to which we unpacked, and tomorrow morning will be left with only a mattress and coffee making facilities, like our first nights here.
And it is impossible to be completely sad, because new adventures are right around the corner.
We are coming down to the crunch over here; we need to be out of our flat on Tuesday. We are very lucky to have family nearby(ish) so we won’t be on the street clutching our dog and a bucket of cloth nappies, but most likely Henry will stay down here to finish the truck and Bel and I will head up to my parents’ house for a week or two.
This is a huge undertaking, and Henry is doing it pretty much all himself. Most of the work isn’t very compatible with baby wrangling, so there is only so much I can help with.
Anyway, the point is- working… working… working… PROGRESS!!
We have walls!
And the framework of a bathroom!
And gas pipes and electric wires to all the places they need to go!
It is really exciting to be able to start picturing it and really getting a feel for how the space is going to be. It is making me excited to start thinking about decorating!
Up next- bedroom and floors. Fancy fancy floors.
If we are comparing our truck to a human body (and really, why wouldn’t we?) last week we built the skeleton, and this week we have added a system of veins and a little bit of subcutaneous fat and skin. Is this a gross analogy? I’m going with it.
Anyway, we now have the outline of our wiring and plumbing, insulation and (most of) a ceiling. We used spray on foam insulation for most of the walls as width is at a premium, and rockwool for the roof where we can afford to lose a few more inches. Our bedroom area was already insulated, which is nice. The windows are totally sealed, and have been thoroughly tested for leaks by the week of horrible rain we’ve had. The truck had its MOT yesterday which it did not pass (“failed” is such an ugly word) but luckily it is all minor stuff that Henry can fix. So progress marches on, and every day we are closer to moving in!
We can’t talk about our inspiration without mentioning George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces, which we have loved watching since this project was just a tiny jelly like dream and we didn’t know if we’d be living in an Airstream, shipping container, or horsebox.
There are a lot of places, properties and things that have inspired us, and a big one is this-
We found these pictures a long time ago, way before we bought the truck (they are not my photos, they are from a now defunct Canopy and Stars page) and before we had seen the Amazing Spaces episode that features this place.
It sums up a lot of what we’re after- warm, wooden, cozy, decorative and also functional.
Because we are working on the truck on the side of a road, a lot of people walk by and have a peek. One day as we were working a man passed with his little boy and stuck his head round the corner. He asked if we were converting it, and said he had done several trucks himself. We chatted for a while about insulation, mechanics and electrics and then he mentioned that one of his conversions had been featured on the show.
It was none other than the one pictured above, the one that we had grabbed screenshots of on our phones and been looking at and dreaming about for months. Sometimes serendipity tell us we are following the right path.