Living in a caravan fulltime for a year – the dampness and the crampedness!

So here we are about a month or so away from having lived in our 25ft caravan for a full year now.

It’s been a strange year really, nothing much changed in our lives throughout 2010, but then it turned 2011 and all hell has broken loose.

I’ll stick to writing about how we’ve coped with living in the caravan throughout the last year and leave the other stuff for later posts.

The plan in April 2010 to buy and live in a caravan full-time was down to the simple fact that we couldn’t afford to rent a house in an area that was as peaceful as the orchard or didn’t have many people living around us.

We thought that we would do it for a year, see how much money we could save and then see where we were in April 2011.

And here we are, April 2011 is about a month or so away, and to be honest we’ll both be glad to see the back of winter, not that it’s been particularly hard, but it’ll be nice to see some proper sunshine – it’s funny being in the caravan and being near the elements so much we have gotten to appreciate the weather more I think.

Anyway, the first 6 months in the caravan were great – anyone who has spent time in a caravan will know that during the warmer months it’s a really good experience.

We managed to cope with our decision to get a dry caravan – e.g one with no sink, washing facilities etc.

Walking up to the yard with containers to fill up with water was fine when it was warm and sunny – and washing outside was fine too.

During the summer months we hadn’t thought much about the colder months, we had just enjoyed the sun and the warm days, being outside as much as possible, things outside the van without much thought of them getting wet or ruined from the weather.

We lived comfortable in the van as most of our possessions from our house living were in a storage container – anything we had in the van was kept to a minimum, mainly because of the obvious lack of space.

Anything we did have in the van and wanted out of the way, off work tops etc, was stuffed into nooks and crannies, of which a caravan has a number!

Then our thoughts started to turn to the colder months – we realised that we would need a wood stove, so we asked around locally to see what we could find, and came up with a guy who made some lovely stoves and within a few weeks we had brought and installed one.

The start of winter was very cold, with some of the coldest temperatures I can remember for a long long time, and lengthy snow fall to go with it.

I think at the coldest it was -13 for a number of days, which I can’t say I have ever experienced, and even on the warmer days during the cold spell it was -5/6 everyday for a few weeks, so it was certainly the coldest start to a winter we have ever known.

And we were very thankful for having the wood-stove that’s for sure!

Once the cold and wet had set in we soon realised that we should have tried to insulate the walls around the bed as the walls were wet most evenings when it was cold outside.

The only thing we came up with was to buy some cheap blankets to put between the bed and the wall to absorb the dampness – which seemed to work as long as we washed it once a week, that way any mold never had a chance to set in!

A number of things got left in nooks and crannies, and we realised that these along with anything that was left on the floor or in cupboards close to the floor got cold and damp quite quickly, simply because the heat from the wood stove just didn’t get down that low.

We brought an eco fan to push the hot air from the stove down to the bedroom area, but it didn’t help with pushing the hot air down to floor level, so we just had to make sure that nothing valuable or perishable (caused by cold) was left on the floor or put into the storage cupboards low down.

This had it’s flip sides though in that we could keep most food stuffs that needed cold to prolong their life, and it was good for anything that we couldn’t keep in the fridge – our lower cupboards almost became larders!

The 2nd half of winter has been more wet then it has been cold, we’ve had cold days here and there, but nothing like the beginning – instead we’re getting lots of rain which makes it really boggy around the caravan.

The rain has been so hard at times that I’ve had to make trenches out the front of the caravan because the ground tilts towards the van and it helps direct the flow of water away from the van.

We also built a porch outside the caravan door so that when it did rain we had somewhere to take off our water proof jackets and wellies etc before coming into the van – the idea was to try and keep the van from getting muddy … it was a nice idea at the time is all I’ll say!

So, it’s been a steep learning curve this winter, one that I’m definitely glad is coming to an end.

We could have planned things a bit better but we were able to improvise when we needed to and we also learned to compromise when things didn’t go as we wanted them to.

One thing that was more important than anything was that we learnt to live with the crampedness.

At first it was quite hard keeping on top of being tidy all the time – coming home from working our nuts off at the orchard, then cooking dinner in a small space, then washing up in a small space, then washing ourselves in buckets in a small space and repeating this day after day.

Sometimes it goes to plan other times we just leave the dishes or don’t tidy up after ourselves, and this is where the crampedness comes into it’s own.

If we don’t wash up or tidy up every single day it gets on top of you pretty damn quickly, then it only takes a little tiredness and you trip over something or knock something over and you can very quickly become frustrated and angry with the situation.

So it’s been a big learning curve and it’s not to do with being tidier it’s been to do with learning to live with a little mess!

It takes a certain type of person to be able to live with someone else in such a small space, and both of us were not sure we could do it, but alas here we are, and we’ve done it for what is probably the worst time of year for living in a caravan full-time.

Once the warmer days come back it’ll seem like a breeze living like we do, we’ll have the shower set up outside, stuff will be able to be kept outside without the fear of it getting damp, there will generally be more space in the caravan but most importantly we’ll be able to use the out doors space.

It’ll be like getting a new extension!

Anyhoo, hope anyone thinking of living in a caravan can take something from this post – if anyone has any questions feel free to ask away!

Until next time…

WeeMike

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