Tag Archives: home education

Busy, busy, busy. Work,, school and play!

Summer, huh?It was summer, right? Because right now it’s easy to forget we actually had one. Stupid autumnal weather and its precipitation!

But anyway, we did. I know we did because I have blue sky photos and memories of van trips away to prove it.

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We’ve been away twice, in fact, since I last blogged.

Firstly, we did the Lincolnshire Steam and Vintage Rally which was a great few days away and our first trip without electric, and we managed just fine. In fact, if anything we are much heavier users of our fresh water than we are mains hook up electric. We managed easily on our 12v system (even on a less-than-sunny weekend where our solar wasn’t getting as much as it could) but we had to refill our water tank by Saturday evening. How we’re using 66 litres of fresh water, I’ve no idea, but for our subsequent trip away, we took bottled for tea/boiling (which was so much nicer than tap/site water) and used a large bottle of site water for the dog. We managed better over a longer period then, so perhaps we have it sussed now.

The Steam Rally was good. Typically British weather (and particularly windy) but everything worked and held up and we got pitched (in the Caravan Club area) alongside friends which definitely gave the weekend something extra.

Sunset along the rows of caravans at the Steam Rally - August 2016
Sunset along the rows of caravans at the Steam Rally – August 2016

Only a week or so after the steam rally, we had a longer, 4-day break at Kidderminster. Jake, again, decided to stay home (being 16, he’d rather not “camp”!) so it was just the 3 of us and the dog. Weather was rain, sun, rain, sun (same old, same old!) but we had a great few days.

The first day was particularly warm and sunny and we made the 4 mile walk into Kidderminster along the tow path of the canal.

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We spent a good few hours in the town, with the dog who was absolutely no trouble whatsoever as we took turns to go into shops and he was good as gold while we ate lunch.

It was a good trip away, although we did find one van issue. Well, not a van issue but an issue we had at the site in particular: slope!

There’d been no mention of all sloping pitches in the booking details (and I’d already ruled out a different site because it DID mention it!) and we had real problems levelling. The fridge told us we were nowhere near level when it melted all our ice creams because it wasn’t working, and it took a good 45 minutes with 2 site staff and a lot of scaffold planks to get us somewhere near to level on day 2!

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We know now though: pack levelling planks as the ramps we had (visible above) were definitely NOT up to the job!

Since coming back from Kidderminster, the van went on hold for a while as we sorted Jake out for starting college. We did a few trial bus runs to check timing and walking routes (which, through Lincoln at the moment, are both a nightmare as the major roadworks of COURSE were scheduled to start right as the schools/colleges start back!)

All went fine though and, on the whole, his start at college has gone well. He’s even been nominated Class Representative. As long as he doesn’t have to actually do anything, I’m sure he’ll be fine!

Oh, and speaking of college, we had exam results, of course. Jake needed 2 C grade passes  (in Maths and English) for college and he exceeded these by getting a B in his English. Apparently though, college then made EVERYONE sit both a maths and English assessment anyway in case people had given false grades!

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Beats me why they did that. Jake was more concerned that he’d only got a C in his English one though (although he did better than his GCSE result in his Maths!) but he’s fine. He’ll still be one of the brightest ones in the class, I have no doubt.

He’s eagerly awaiting being 17 in December so he can start using his 125cc motorcycle for college instead of the bus. He’s still working at Pyramid on the days he isn’t at college so he still has some income even during the school term which is currently funding a motorcycle jacket and then trousers and, after that, fuel and running costs to get him to and from college and work.

They grow up too fast!

We are tentatively back to school with Eliot too, currently doing a bit of a maths recap with a view to slowly starting to look at GCSE programs. Hopefully, he’ll also take at least Maths and English GCSE/IGCSE to keep his college options open, but he has no clue really what he wants to do yet. He’s only 13, he’s got ages to decide anyway. Meantime he can learn life things and continue his passion for all things Japanese. We are learning some of the language and El regularly practises his sushi-making.

Eliot making sushi. The hat is just a teenager thing!
Eliot making sushi. The hat is just a teenager thing!

And obviously, he gets to learn geography as we travel in our van!

We’ve modded the van a little bit since our last trip actually. The kitchen cupboard was a pain, with the left door opening into the aisle and making it impossible really to reach over or around it to take anything out from inside. So, I requested a bi-fold option.

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It now hinges in the middle…
...and opens well out of the way...
…and opens well out of the way…
...for super duper access!
…for super duper access!

It’s SOOOO much better and I can’t wait to trial it this weekend when we’re away at the Motorhome Show (child-free AND dog-free!!)

We also added a much-needed bathroom cabinet to the wetroom

Valuable storage in the bathroom
Valuable storage in the bathroom

And, although I don’t have a photo – shocking, I know – Nik fitted an external switch for the new water heater so we don’t need to reach under the seat to switch on the mains/240v supply for it. It’d have been in the original design except the original heater was gas only so we never planned to have a 240v supply needing a switch.

We’ve got another short break planned in mid October too. We’re taking the dog to the beach for his first “sand and sea” experience. In the two years we’ve had him, we’ve not taken him to the coast at all and now we can do easily, so we’ve booked 3 nights away. We contemplated going actually during half term but a) Eliot said he’d prefer to go when kids are at school and b) £60!

3 nights mid October was £30
3 nights two weeks later, during half term, £90!

We can spend that extra money on stuff to do, so it was an easy decision really. It’ll be fun.

Apart from that, nothing much else planned. I’d like to fit in another trip away this year, but I think we’ll wait and see how the van fares in the cooler weather in October first (although, if it’s anything like previous years, it’ll be nicer and milder than now!)

We’ll do a few winter trips anyway because that’s why we made the van: to use it all year round. It’s just hunting down those good sites that are walking distance to other places, rather than needing a car to get anywhere off-site, especially out of season.

We’d really love to do a longer trip, further away. Maybe a week or so. But that would mean partially closing the business for that period (and ensuring that the 16yo got himself to college from home alone) so it’s unlikely to happen.

We joked about closing down for November and driving down to Valencia for the final race of the MotoGP season. That WOULD be awesome, but it’s not too likely to happen.  It’s quiet season, admittedly, but still a scary idea!

Maybe next year…

 

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Quick trip away, new bike, no more exams and lots on the van!

Cor, busy, eh?

Since I last posted Jake has finished his GCSE exams. He thinks he did OK, and he seemed happy enough after each one, so fingers crossed he’ll have done what he needs to get the grades college are asking for. Time will tell, roll on August 25th!

Meantime, he’s hoping to get some extra hours in at work so he can start saving for his 125cc motorbike when he turns 17 in December.  He’ll be able to use a 125 to get to Lincoln at back (for college) and he much prefers this idea to the bus (personally, I’d rather he used the bus!)

Speaking of bikes, we’ve upgraded Jake’s! His original bike was great but a bit on the slow side to be riding on Lea Road (which is a 40 mph) so we upped it to a slightly nippier one which will allow him to ride WITH the traffic rather than holding it all up. It’s a nice looking thing now that Nik has done a custom sticker job on it!

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It’ll do him for work until he can up it to something suitable for his college run.
Nik, being Nik, managed to sell his old one within hours of listing it on eBay. Bonus!

I also had a quick weekend jolly to my sister’s last weekend. That was fun. She’s got herself a new job (after 6 months without one) so we had a bit of a celebration weekend. That and a belated birthday treat of afternoon tea in Folkingham which was lovely.

Yummy Yummy
Yummy Yummy (and yes, that’s my tea WITH milk!)

So, aside from afternoon teas, bikes and exams, about the only thing that’s been happening (aside from work being busy, but you really don’t want to read about that!) is, guess what? The van!

Nik got tons done while I was away last weekend. He made lots of lovely doors for overhead lockers and kitchen units; routing them with super curvy edges and knock-on trim.

Routing roundy corners
Routing roundy corners
Routing grooves for knock-on trim
Routing grooves for knock-on trim
Knocking in trim
Knocking in trim
Vinyl-covered door-y goodness
Vinyl-covered door-y goodness
The under-oven cupboard and the drawer above the fridge (as well as the fridge door itself) will all be covered/re-covered with silver. We're not liking the black vinyl here.
The under-oven cupboard and the drawer above the fridge (as well as the fridge door itself) will all be covered/re-covered with silver. We’re not liking the black vinyl here.

The fridge electrics were finished (12v and 240v) and the gas lines were fitted properly so we could, when we’re feeling brave enough, actually put some gas in the tank and try them all out.

Like I said, when we’re feeling brave enough!

Fridge connected to 12v, 240v and gas!
Fridge connected to 12v, 240v and gas!

There’s a slide out shelf, above the fridge, which can be removed (along with the drawer) for fridge maintenance.

Slidey outy shelfy thingie
Slidey outy shelfy thingie
Slidey outy drawer thingie
Slidey outy drawer thingie

While I was away (Nik gets a lot done when I’m not about because he has no one getting in his way. Apparently, at times it is like trying to “do plumbing with an orangutan”! His exact words which he is NOT allowed to forget he said!), Nik also sussed out fitting our kitchen taps which were proving to be a bit of a challenge because our worktop was deeper than the stem.

Oops. That's not gonna work!
Oops. That’s not gonna work!
Template time
Template time
More routing to make space underneath for the tightening nuts
More routing to make space underneath for the tightening nuts
Ta-da! Isn't he a clever sort?
Ta-da! Isn’t he a clever sort?

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Since coming back from my sister’s, we’ve not spent much time in the van until yesterday (Friday).

I did manage to paint the inside of the wardrobe walls though during the afternoons. We’ve just used a satin paint to take the wood edge off it and make it a bit lighter, brighter and more inviting for storage  – because, you know, storage needs to feel welcome!

First panel (the wardrobe/bathroom wall) was painted out of the van...
First panel (the wardrobe/bathroom wall) was painted out of the van…
... the second (wardrobe/bed) panel was done in the van. A much splatterier job!
… the second (wardrobe/bed) panel was done in the van. A much splatterier job!

While I was painting outside, Nik was tidying up electrics inside. It’s al much neater in the overhead locker “control panel” section now and, apart from the kitchen light which still has to be wired up to the switch, almost done and ready for trimming and fitting.

Additionally, he finished felt-lining the overhead lockers fully (I cut all the felts to size while Nik was in the van, and he glued it all in)

Felt-lined lockers and an almost-finished control panel
Felt-lined lockers and an almost-finished control panel

I also became re-acquainted with my sewing machine! We have 3 sets of curtains to hang and they all need modifying in some way or another.

Curtain cut in half and pinned ready for sewing
Curtain cut in half and pinned ready for sewing
Been a while since I've used this old girl
Been a while since I’ve used this old girl

Firstly, The ones for the rear doors. The 2 rear windows were going to use one pair of curtains: one curtain on each door, but we discovered that it wasn’t possible to open them fully to one side because a full curtain width took up too much space across the small window still. So, I halved each single curtain and hemmed the insides. The look pretty good now and will hopefully open better each side of the windows. We just have rails to make for the back doors first (we only have one “demo rail” at present)

Then, we figured out what sort of pole to use for the main living area window and test hung those. The length will be adjusted once the seating cushions are here because we’ll be better able to gauge how long we want them then.

Loving the colours though!
Loving the colours though!

Hanging a set on the sliding door is going to be more of a challenge and will probably involve 2 taut net curtain wires, one top and one bottom, to keep the curtain from flapping when the door is opened or closed.

Also, today, we’ve started on the dreaded bathroom! All walls have been built, including the passageway wall which we hadn’t previously constructed, at we’ve begun lining them with the waterproof shower/wet room wall finish. It’s a tricky process and everything will need silicon sealant around it to make it watertight enough to shower in, but it’s going OK so far.

The shower/wet room wall finish
The shower/wet room wall finish

Tomorrow will be a super-busy day, lining the rest of the walls as well as lining the hall/passageway side of the wardrobe and bathroom with the silver finish…and routing out door holes.

Full, person-size door holes.

That’ll be fun.

Any messy!

Yay!

 

 

A quick (probably not) update of stuff, things and whatnots

How’s that for no useful search engine keywords?!

It’s not even been a week since my last post, but we’ve been super-busy so I thought I’d update anyway.

Jake has had his first maths (higher) exam and he seemed quite pleased with how it went. There were some questions towards the end (the A/A* ones) which he said he couldn’t do but he was confident he’d done enough to pass the paper, which is the best we can hope for. Considering he’s only been studying properly since January, I’m super-proud of how he’s done. He’s got a short break from exams now (it’s half term so there aren’t any) before he has both English papers and his second maths paper the following week. There’s a bit of work to do before then, but I’m sure he’ll be fine.

Work is getting very hectic. It’s been pre-TT so everyone needs everything weeks ago (because, you know, their bikes won’t work without that sticker/screen/insert-random-vanity-trickbit-here)

We’ve started using “Drop & Go” at the Post Office which has definitely been a blessing. Being able to just drop the postbag in, rather than queueing, is AWESOME!

Busy work means that van business has had to wait until after tea or weekends mostly. This weekend, being a bank holiday (and, dare I say it, good weather?!) has been productive already.

We’re on lots of finishings at the moment. Wallboards, felting and suchlike.

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The overhead lockers that went in are now felted around the inner edge (and one at the back – just so we could see what it is going to look like!) and silver panelled both on the fronts and underneath. We need to run a trim along the back (wall edge) underneath and the front where the silver panels meet but it’s looking good, and we could finally mount those lights which sit above the sofa area.

As you can see, we’ve also fitted both wall panels on that side, the window trim and the inner window ledges and sides.

Wall panel with window cut-out and edging trim
Wall panel with window cut-out and edging trim
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And with its sill and inner sides
We also did the kitchen wall and window
We also did the kitchen wall and window
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Looks pretty darn awesome!

Can I just take a moment to say a little about routing?

Oh. My. Goodness! What a hugely messy job.

By our second window, we’d resorted to using multiple taped sheets, but it still got into every nook and cranny.

 

Messy, messy, messy!
Messy, messy, messy!
Man-at-work shot!
Man-at-work shot!

Routing these boards in situ is scary. One false move and the panel is ruined, so it’d be one expensive mistake if that router slipped!

Added to that, we’d had to build up the inner edge with plywood so that the cut-out was slightly in from the window itself, allowing us to add that edging on the wallboard. This also meant we had to create slightly more curvy corners out of cut wood so that the edging would go around the corners better. It was a tricky thing to do but it worked out really well in the end.

As well as walls, we also faced the kitchen unit. Another exercise in how much you have to cut out to make stuff look good!

Furniture board glued to the front of the kitchen unit
Furniture board glued to the front of the kitchen unit
and after routing!
and after routing!

Hopefully, the cut-outs will be useful for panelling other bits or that’s a lot of money sitting as leftovers!

As well as panelling, we also tested the water system. We filled the fresh water tank (mounted underneath the van) and checked that the water level registered on the gauge.

It did. Phew!
It did. Phew!

We fitted the kitchen and bathroom taps onto the pipework and pressurised the system. The pump worked beautifully filling the pipes and the hot water tank. Then we opened each tap, one at a time, checking they all worked and making sure we had no leaks.

Taps, pipes, buckets and sink!
Taps, pipes, buckets and sink!

There was one small leak on a joint in the (secondhand) hot water tank, but easily fixable.

We also tested filling the bathroom sink and draining it to see if the waste pipes worked OK. The bathroom sink and shower waste actually merge before going through the van floor to the waste tank and despite our efforts, we were worried that the sink, when emptied, would flow back through the shower waste and up the shower plug hole.

We were right to be concerned.
It did!

So, one non-return valve ordered and the problem will be sorted. At least we know now.

So we have a felted bed-end, walls, windows and overhead lockers.
So we have a felted bed-end, walls, windows and overhead lockers.

That photo was taken before the overhead lockers were done underneath, but it’s certainly starting to take shape.

And there’s a whole other day tomorrow!

Tomorrow’s plans are to finish the underside of the overhead (still with me!) lockers, to fit the kitchen strip LED lighting and to felt and panel the side sliding door. I insulated the sliding door today (which is why we’re working ’round the back of the van so the side door can be closed) so it’s ready for covering.

We’re felting it around the edges and into the window (because old work vans looks dinted and bumped!) and then we’ll panel where the van panels have been in the same board as the walls so it’ll all coordinate with our “lounge” area. The removable table will probably be stored here too so we need to sort out how we’re doing that too.

So much to do…so little time!

Maybe this blog should be called “when van is everything”?!

I’m kidding, obviously, because we’re not spending every hour on the van (chance would be a fine thing) but it sure feels like it’s the only thing I post photos of. That, in fact, is due to the kids not wanting their photos taken and the van doesn’t object.Eliot used to feature in most of the photos on my phone. Sadly, those days are long gone.

Fortunately, there's one who doesn't mind posing!
Fortunately, there’s one who doesn’t mind posing!

Anyway, apart from the usual work and school, there’s not much occurring, but I did want to post a quick van update before it became too long and I lost the will to do it.

We’ve kind of reached a stage where stuff is going in and staying in, and it’s all getting a bit real now.

The overhead lockers were dug out of their storage place (where they have literally been for over half a year; they were done and stored by the beginning of November!) and the silver finishing board was cut and glued on and then the openings routed out.

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We had to remove a row of screws from the roof panels because these were along the line to which the top baton of the lockers fixes. We had to make sure everything was secure and solid and then screw back to the walls and up to the roof (no mean feat!)

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The white paper is just holding the silver board to the wood while the glue dries

We’ve tried not to use too much in the way of tacks/nails because they’re a bit visible (although inevitable) but they’ve actually come out pretty good.

The locker partitions are done and the bed end is on!
The locker partitions are done and the bed end is on!

The router is terrifying! These locker holes were done on the work bench but the windows have to be done in situ!

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Window cavities were panelled out before the wall board finish is added

It was a complicated process because we then had to add a temporary further layer of board and sound roundy corners to make sure that the router followed a nice line just inside the window line (so we can run an edging strip around it)

Wallboard glued and lightly tacked to the wall
Wallboard glued and lightly tacked to the wall
Routering it out
Routing it out
Looks good!
Looks good!

We also bought the kitchen worktop this week. Previous converters have laminated a thick piece of ply but we decided that a piece of 28mm worktop would do the job. It’s only a 6ft run and once the hob and sink and drainer and cut out, there’ll not be much weight left!

I initially looked at the B&Q 28mm stuff but our store didn’t stock it and we couldn’t be bothered to drive to the nearest store that did, so we looked in Howdens, borrowed a friends trade discount (thank god we did! They’re EXPENSIVE in there!) and found the perfect worktop to match our wallboard. It’s cut to length and currently being used as a workbench!

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There’s so much more to do though.

Nik keeps saying that we’re nearly there but it honestly feels a mile away! Still, baby steps, I guess.

We did get some garden work done over the last week too (by “we” I mean “Nik”, of course)

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He hoed over the veggie plot so the weeds done go all crazy wild!
He hoed over the veggie plot so the weeds don’t go all crazy wild!

The peas are all staked and netted now so they should be good to go, and the potatoes have doubled in size already since I took that photo!

The nice weather has been great for the garden but it’s a bit of a pain having to take away from “van time” to get the grass cut or the garden hoed!

The garden always looks good when the grass is cut though!
The garden always looks good when the grass is cut though!

Apart from that, nothing much is doing. Jake’s approaching his first exam so he’s concentrating on making sure he’s as maths-crammed as is humanly possible, but he’ll be fine. He’s a bright kid. He’s come on so much in the last 6 months that he’s almost a different person now.

He’s independently getting himself to and from work on his scooter and he’s come out of his shell a lot.
I’m excited to see how he grows and learns over the next few years.

I’ve switched Eliot’s school from focussing on Maths to concentrating  a bit more on English. He did some writing and currently we’re reading his book and every so often I’ll read out a paragraph and he’ll type it. We’re using it to develop (and test!) his spelling, and I’ve been surprised actually at just how reasonable his spelling is.
Usually, the only things I see him type are social media posts, so the like and it’s reassuring to know that he actually CAN spell!

It’s a big weight off my mind.

So yeh, all updated, I think… until the next time!

 

 

Summer lasted an entire weekend! Did you enjoy it?

We should at least be grateful it landed on a weekend though, eh? If it’d been, say, a Monday/Tuesday, we’d have been mightily peeved!
We did take the opportunity to get stuff done on the van though. If anything, it was TOO hot for such work, but we certainly weren’t going to let that stop us.
We’ve got several “main tasks” on the go at the moment. Firstly, the gas. We received our 4-way gas manifold so now we can get sorted with copper pipe and fittings and get the gas lines running through the van to the cooker, hob, water heater and fridge (yes, fridge. A 3-way fridge can run on 12v (leisure battery), 240v (hook up) or gas!)
4-way gas manifold
4-way gas manifold to isolate each gas line in the van
In the meantime, seeing as we didn’t have the manifold in time to make the gas our weekend project, we continued felt-lining, working on the bed end of the van. Unlike the main living area, kitchen area and bathroom, which all have finishing boards for the walls, the “bedroom” ends are going to be carpet/felt-lined for comfort. There are some big panels to cover, as well as around the already-covered back doors and, ultimately, the bed sides will be covered too.
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Doors, door surrounds and one side panel covered. The tops of the sides will also be done; the bottoms are in cupboards (why waste fabric?!)
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Of course, behind every panel, felted or not, lots of insulation is required. 
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The beds took a bit of getting back in! The bed ends will be rounded off before being felt-covered themselves (where visible) and the white area around the back doors is where the rubber door seal fits.
There’s quite a bit to cover with this grey stuff: the bed-side wardrobe wall, the main sliding door inner and the tops of the bed ends but hopefully we have enough carpet felt left!
We’ll probably be tackling the gas as the next project though. The fridge vents and flue are marked to cut out and we can get the kitchen built-in once the gas pipes are run.
That’s definitely a milestone!
Apart from that, we’ve not done much. Work is busy, business is picking up for the summer (which is both good for our business and good for Jake as it means there’s work for him at Pyramid too!)
Customers all want it yesterday though, of course. Despite our 28 day warnings!
Eliot has been practising his writing a bit. He learned how to use a dictionary in order to spell a word you don’t know, and he wrote a nice (and quite neat!) piece about Redstone (it’s a Minecraft thing!) which I was impressed with. He’s very talented with redstone and often takes hours and hours building contraptions that really require some thinking “outside the box”. It’s something I tend to encourage as it’s education without him realising it!
Shhhh, don’t tell him!
We’ve not renewed the Maths Whizz subscription.
I don’t think we have another 12 months use left in it, and Eliot does appear to have lost interest in the way it teaches. It was excellent while it lasted and I cannot imagine that I could have taught Eliot all that he has learned any other way. We’ve moved to workbooks but the improvement in 12 months is clear to see.
Yep, it’s really been 12 months since Eliot left school. In that time we’ve managed to rescue his “maths age” by 2 years. That’d never have happened in school. We also read quite regularly (Minecraft-related books – whatever piques his interest works for me) and that’s improving too. It can only help his spelling and vocabulary.
I had a discussion with him the other day about going back to school in September. He was sort of interested but didn’t want to and I think it would be a backwards step if he did (I didn’t tell him that, obviously!)
There’s so much that his peers will have been taught that he’d have missed that he’d quickly get behind again and unfortunately, once behind always behind in classes of 30+ kids in schools with targets to hit!
Anyway, we’re getting on OK. It’ll be all change again when Jake starts college in September so who knows where life will take us then!

It’s all go around here.

Well, the sun is shining, Nik is packing stock boxes in the garage and I feel compelled to post a blog update.Nik and Eliot are counting down to their Portugal holiday next week. They’re staying with a friend and visiting Jerez for MotoGP weekend as well as generally dossing around the area, catching up with friends and eating out.

They’re both super-excited. I’m less so because I’m left holding the work-baby, but it’ll be fine. It’ll be super-weird being in an empty house in the mornings though while Jake is at work….which brings me to Jake!

He’s been offered work during the mornings now that the biking season is getting underway (easier to believe with today’s weather than yesterday’s!). He’s working up at Pyramid on Monday to Friday mornings and then coming home and doing 3-4 hours of school work in the afternoons.

This works great for us because Jake has a tendency to spend his mornings in bed, so having to be up for work isn’t taking away any study time, it’s just much better for him to be out and about and earning.

And not only does my boy have a job, but he also got his college acceptance confirmation letter today. His experience day went really well (albeit running VERY late!) and the course tutor who interviewed him even commented that Jake’s high assessment results were unusual, and next time Jake comes, could he please bring 20 more Jakes with him! I think that bolstered not only Jake’s confidence and morale, but mine too. It’s awesome to think that he’s doing so well after what he’s come through. He just needs to knuckle down and get those two GCSE results now.

Not only has he got his college place, but he’s also decided that, as he’s working now, he wants his own transport.

Now, Jake is only 16 so he’s limited to one thing: a 50cc scooter. So we hunted about for a decent secondhand one, spent ages debating the pros and cons of a new one, and eventually found a proper COOL one secondhand relatively locally.

You'd never think that was a 50cc scooter, eh?
You’d never think that was a 50cc scooter, eh?

It needed a little bit of work: new levers, a new head bearing and a few niggly bits but we happen to know some someones in the trade! Helps, eh?

Jake’s CBT (Compulsory Basic Training) is booked for a week on Friday. It’s while Nik is away but if we’d waited until he came back, it’d just delay it. It’s a full-day, 7 hour course anyway so it’s not like he could stand around and watch (much as he may have wanted to!)
Then Jake’ll be able to use his scooter for work instead of us having to taxi him about (yay!)
When he’s 17, he’ll be able to get a 125cc which will be suitable to use for runs to Lincoln to college too. Even better!

Oh, and I nearly forgot, he had ANOTHER driving experience this week: his Easter present from Nik and I (he got that, Eliot got weights!). This time he chose to drive the Ferrari and LOVED it. The instructor/co-driver was really encouraging and Jake really enjoyed it. The fact that Nik took him up to the track on his own CB1000R probably added to the day’s fun!

Work has been getting busy so non-work stuff is very much confined to weekends (well, Saturday lunchtime onwards) only right now.
We have managed to get a few hours on the van though. Nik fitted the solar panel to the roof on Saturday and that’s now been keeping both batteries (the vehicle battery and the leisure battery) fully charged, which is great!

All fitted and working - excuse the grubby roof!
All fitted and working – excuse the grubby roof. It’s not usually on view!

There’s room for more panels if we decide to expand too. We might not, but it was a consideration when it was positioned anyway.

As well as being on top of the van, Nik has been underneath the van this weekend. He’s fitted both underslung water tanks under the van body. That’s a job we’d been dreading and, while it wasn’t as complicated as expected, it certainly wasn’t as straightforward as it should have been.

Both tanks are tailored to the vans specific chassis so the fittings that came with the tanks SHOULD have made it simple to fix.

It wasn’t.

But it wasn’t any great feat of engineering to get them to fit either so, meh.

Next thing to fit under there is the LPG gas tank which we also bought with vehicle-specific fittings. Fingers crossed that project is simpler. There’s a lot less space left under there now!

Anyway, I think that’s about it. What with work, the van, and being “back to school”,  (and can I just mention ANOTHER phenomenal MotoGP race last weekend?!) there’s not much time for much else.

By the time Nik and El come back from Portugal, it’ll be ME whose ready for a holiday!

 

Busy, busy, busy. Van stuff, work stuff, school stuff, MotoGP stuff

I don’t even know where to begin!

Firstly, the campervan blog has broken ALL my images (thanks, Facebook, for making your links non-permanent!) so I’ve taken it down for now. I have neither the time nor the inclination to re-do every broken image. Maybe someday, but not now.
I’ve also posted a notice on our Portugal blog to say I’ll no longer be posting there. It contains a few home education updates which are probably more relevant to here than there, but hey ho. Maybe I’ll merge the two someday. Or maybe I won’t!

So this blog will now contain campervan build updates, as well as life updates, school update and work updates.

Because, you know, we’re everything all in one place round here!

And boy, did we have a work update recently!

For the past 6 years or so, a third-party has handled the incoming goods and dispatch for our business. It worked particularly well while we were in Portugal (obviously, we couldn’t do it then!) and we’d continued to use it after moving back because it freed up considerable time for us to concentrate on other work issues.

However, time came that we felt it was time to reclaim this part of the business and it’s most definitely been “all change” since then. In the past 2 weeks, we’ve had to find space in our huge, but cluttered garage to store and handle the stock until we decide what to do next. We have the opportunity to take up a business unit at a very good price, but we’ve decided to find our feet first before committing to something like that.

Stock arriving back at the house for stock-checking and sorting.
Stock arriving back at the house for stock-checking and sorting.
Then it all had to be karted down the garden to the garage.
Then it all had to be carted down the garden to the garage.

I love how Zac makes an appearance in both of those shots.

He’s a nosey little so-n-so.

It took an entire weekend to ready the garage for this stuff! Units were moved, kitchen units were dismantled, work benches were dragged half-way across the garage and racking was assembled! It was a lonnnnggggg week!

This is about a third of the garage stock (and about a 10th of the garage space, but you wouldn't know it to look at it!)
This is about a third of the garage stock (and about a 10th of the garage space, but you wouldn’t know it to look at it!)

The garage, of course, is chock full of not only general garage stuff but also most of the interior of a campervan! The van is currently empty because our next project is to remove the floor panels and fit the water, waste and gas tanks under the van floor.

The van has had a bit of time spent on it lately though, which is nice. A few nice weather days have meant we could get the roof panels lined as well as the two rear doors.

Full covered roof panels
Full covered roof panels. Actually, that’s a terrible shot of the full covered roof panels!

 

There’s about 2 inches of insulation between the outer van roof and the ceiling panels.
Layers and layers of the stuff! Both double-foiled bubble insulation and a layer of 10mm dense insulation foam.
Layers and layers of the stuff! Both double-foiled bubble insulation and a layer of 10mm dense insulation foam.

It’s quite a thing, and you can tell it’s there. It’s noticeably warmer in the van than out. And hopefully, it’ll be the reverse in the summer.

We’ve also covered the two back doors in the stretchy felty-type stuff that you use for such things. Horrid stuff. A nightmare to cut, but looks good when done.

One covered back door. Both are done now though and it looks pretty good, I reckon!
One covered back door. Both are done now though and it looks pretty good, I reckon!

As well as the roof and the back doors, we’ve finished feeding all the electric cables. It’s amazing just how many wires you end up using for lights and switches and suchlike. There’s not much on the mains (hook-up) circuit but there certainly is on the 12 volt system!

Pretty. huh? Don't worry, it's all hidden in a seat box!
Pretty. huh? Don’t worry, it’s all hidden in a seat box!

Anyways, van aside, work is super-busy and school has been getting that way. Jake is gearing up to finish his courses ready for exams in a couple of months. He had his college assessment day which he passed with ease, and he has an “experience day” coming up in a couple of weeks. He’ll be fine though and he doesn’t seem too worried about it. He’s more looking forwards to some days working at Pyramid Plastics again over the Easter break!

Money in his pocket! Or hopefully mine. We have quite a hefty IOU going on!

He had another driving experience day (which he’d got for a Christmas present but March 21st was the earlier date he could book) up at Blyton. He was expecting to drive the Ferrari 458 but, on the day, the Nissan GTR was there. The GTR is Jake’s DREAM car, so all thoughts of anything else went out of the window. He loved it!

There's actually a photo where Nik has edited out the co-driver, but using that seems a bit wrong!
There’s actually a photo where Nik has edited out the co-driver, but using that seems a bit wrong!

School-wise, Eliot has reached a bit of a point where he’s really had enough of Maths Whizz so we’re giving it a bit of a break in favour of maths workbooks instead. We’ve also been reading Minecraft story books which he enjoys. It’s good practise for both his reading and comprehension, and he wants to write his own now.

As well as doing some art sessions, he also decided he wanted to learn Japanese! (Thanks to Attack on Titan anime for that one!) We’ve done a bit online and he’s spent a fair bit of time working from apps and practising the writing and pronunciation. It might not be a terribly useful thing to learn but the discipline is what counts so I’m running with it for now… although I can only ever remember how to say hello!

What else, what else?

I finished my beginners sign language course. It went well, I thought. I learned far more than I expected to and I enjoyed it a lot. I’m fairly certain I’ll enrol for the improvers course in June, once I’m sure I can make all the sessions. I’d hate to miss one!

Thanks to the good Good Friday weather, the garden even had a bit of TLC. As well as getting the lawn cut and strimmed (a long overdue task) and some soil transplanted from the veggie patch to try to level the grass out a bit (it’s horribly uneven), the veggie plot itself was dug over and the first crop of potatoes and peas has gone in.

Two types of peas and two of potatoes.
Two types of peas and two of potatoes.

Last year, we grew loads of different things alongside peas and potatoes. We had carrots (which should grow well but always fail, so we’ve given up), beetroot, lettuces, broccoli, runner beans and probably some other stuff I’ve forgotten.

Nothing really did well apart from the peas and potatoes and you can NEVER have too many of those, so that’s what we’re doing this year. We’re easy us!

Starter rows of potatoes and peas. We'll sow a second crop in a month or so.
Starter rows of potatoes and peas. We’ll sow a second crop in a month or so.

Nik and Eliot are looking forwards to their Portugal trip in 3 weeks or so. I’ll be left holding the business (not sure if that’s better than worse than the proverbial baby!) while Nik and Eliot galavant off to sunnier climes (no doubt) and across to Jerez for the MotoGP.

Ahhhh, MotoGP.

How we missed you so over the winter break!
It’s a long 4-5 months between seasons and the opening round at Qatar did NOT disappoint.
I’m excited already for round 2 in Argentina next weekend!

In fact it’s two-in-a-row with Texas the following weekend (and we’ll gloss over the following one again because that’s Jerez and I’ll be stuck at home watching it on the TV!)

Actually, I don’t really mind. I didn’t want to go back to Portugal so, while the GP would have been nice, I’m fine watching it while milling about my house.

It’s a good job I like my house really. I do spend almost 24/7 here!