We are two weeks into living in Vincent and thought I should record the first moments of free camping. As you may have read we are quite used to living in a tent and spent four months in the North of Australia tenting our way around, sometimes wild camping and the rest in camp grounds. I believe the general feeling of the three of us is that it is easier in Vincent than in a tent. We decided to camp our way through our adventures as we are used to this life and think we are very good at it. It is also a lot cheaper to park for free than stay in hotels and as we are on a very strict budget there really is no other option.
We learnt a lot from Dave and Lauren, Vincents previous owners, who had just completed basically the same journey we are just beginning. They gave us some excellent tips and encouraged us to ‘wild camp’ as this was all they did. It was an excellent help to have Lauren tell the girls that they had gone 18 days without a shower and survived it. As soon as the girls saw Vincent they loved him and with Laurens encouragement they have embraced the experience.
The first step when wild camping is to choose the spot, this is not as easy as it sounds and comes with a complicated set of rules. Firstly we look for a flat spot, most important so we don’t all roll to one side or things fall off the table or the water won’t run out of the sink. Next we consider the lighting, right under a street light is not good to sleep. We are also looking for a little privacy and shelter to look after the necessities of life and to not be too obvious within a town. All this sounds easy but when you add into this darkness, now trying to make sure we have a spot before the sun sets, and other traffic it is not always an easy task. Though saying this we have managed some amazing vistas. Our first night in France we found a quiet little car park and tucked ourselves in the corner. In the morning people turned up to go to work and parked right in front of Vince, a little embarrassing but managed to get out. Since then although we have sometimes been stressed finding ‘the spot’ we have found in the morning everything is just fine. Some of our favorites have been on the coast especially Luc-sur-Mer and Omaha Beach, just beautiful. I expect you have read the post about getting Vincent bogged in the mud, while looking for the perfect spot. All my fault and realize that he is no 4WD and must stay strictly to hard surfaces. The reason we were behind the church is because they often are quite good places to park but the bells ringing till 10 and starting at 7 can be a little annoying.
Once the spot is chosen the night time set up begins. I must say that we have done a very good job at fitting out with all the essential items and everything has its place. After a few days we had fine tuned the set up and within 5 minutes we can have the bed set to jump into. Our bed is really comfy and warm and we all enjoy a good nights rest. Before bed set up we have a good system of setting up to cook and eat and clean-up. None of this is that quick as have to pull out boxes to retrieve the necessary items but has provided a few laughs as we have all managed to hit our heads somewhere, getting used to our boundaries now. We then have to take care of washing us. This also has provided many laughs as the girls embrace the ‘top and tail’. We often think of nan at this time as she is the only person the girls have heard this expression from. We now have this down to a fine art as well. We have managed to not have to go more than 5 days without a shower as have used public pools, and a campsite in Paris. Pool was a Dave tip and great as you get to exercise and shower. We have even managed to wash hair in the van which was a lot better than I expected. You can imagine it is a little bit chilly when wet but can jump into bed and soon thaw out.
Although we have been walking miles most days we were quick to realize the need for exercise so now we have started doing sit ups and push ups on the bed modified to the best we can and various stretches and resistance work. Going for a run is not as easy as we thought as none of us wants to sweat too much for obvious reasons. Doing the best we can and will be easier when it is not raining and cold.
Washing of clothes is also yet to be perfected. Did wash out some underwear in the sink and was drying it on the dashboard when we pulled up at McDonalds to use the Wifi. We couldn’t work out why a group of young guys was laughing at us until we realized our ‘smalls’ were in full view. Laundries are easy to find but not all our clothes can go in the dryer so will also be a lot easier when the weather improves a little. As we have packed more than enough clothes we will not run out of clean things to wear so don’t worry we do not smell.
The last issue but certainly not the least important is the ‘toilette’. We have made regular use of any available, if there is one we use it. Though some are not that pleasant they are better than nothing. This is fine but once parked for the night can be a little more difficult. Have managed to find a few places near a public toilet in walking distance. When all else fails have a funnel, yes sounds a bit basic but works quite well, no splash and a quick clean up. A last resort but so far so good.
It is very lucky that we all know each other so well, as Dave and Lauren said there are few secrets possible when living in Vincent. It is a small environment but we are all enjoying the lifestyle and what it lets us see and do and learn.
Sorry no photos for this post!
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