This was it! First step, get Frank the 12 miles home. Journey 2, 1000 round trip to Scotland – the perfect test. With hindsight, errors were made, distances misjudged and timings went out the window.
Mistake 1: Setting off at Midday
I mean logically, setting off on a Tuesday lunch time should be mean no traffic, right?
An hour later, stuck in stop-start slow moving M25 traffic, not only had we set off 2 hours late, but it had taken over an hour to get round to west London – about 16 miles as the crow flies.
Mistake 2: Passing Birmingham
Not only is the by-pass always frightful, but you run the risk of picking up the accent (bit of UK banter for you there).
Mistake 3: Scotland is FAR!
Having driven to the Northern Netherlands a few weeks previous, I expected the journey to be a doddle.
Looking back on it though, that had been considerable different. Split over two days, the ferry and the sleep had broken up the journey.
Early and late evening traffic on motorways far from cities had been fast driving, and of course, we were in a car doing 70mph, not a van doing 60mph.
Lesson 1: Fuel Economy is huge thing
Perhaps I’ve never paid much attention before, and with 500 miles, we had plenty of time to experiment, but there was 30-40 mile difference per quarter of a tank between travelling at 70mph vs 60mph.
Excellent thing to learn, bit shitty as we’re scrapping 26-28mpg and you can kiss goodbye to your sat-nav journey prediction by a good few hours!
Our First Night Wild Camping
Around 5pm we popped through the Peak District. Around 7pm with made it pass Gretna – in my mind were 16 year olds go to get married – so we must be getting close to our destination of Fife, a wee bit north of Edinburgh and we’d be there in no time!
Come 2330 we’re just west of Edinburgh, Amanda’s been sleeping for an hour or so now (selfish – wish she’d bloody learn to drive).
0000 we’re on the final b-road to our destination tonight.
The avid Camping and Caravan Club member that I am, I had read an article about must-have apps, one of which included Park4Nite, a community based app with wild camping locations around the country.
So off we were to the Loch Leven RSPB carpark. Perfectly as described, it made for a perfectly woody, horror movie-like setting for our first night in a slightly moist van – some water had gotten in the back some how, possibly through the blue tac bung in one of the roof holes?
The Real Reason for our Scottish road trip
Even though this was a great opportunity to test out Frank, we were actually in Scotland to design and handover production of our compostable tents, the Comp-A-Tent – find out more here – so much of our days, 7am-6pm in fact, were spent in fluorescent-lit factory spaces, arguing, designing and defining as fast as humanly possible.
Nights of Fun in Scotland
The second night we spent in at a caravan park, the shower a lovely extra to have (somebody hadn’t showered in a few days) and exploring the local Indian restaurant.
Night 3 took is to Kirkcaldy and Pan Ha’, kind of castle thing by the sea, next to which sat a wide open car park, with a few convenient bushes.
Early in the morning as we slept at Pan Ha’ the rain truly kicked in and, bearing in mind even the lightest of drizzle sounds like rain, I woke in a panic as it felt as if Poseidon himself had crashed through the top of van on a watery thrown, as a scrabbled around at my feet feeling for the salty waters.
As clarity regained its grip over my dreamy, sleepy mind, I realised that actually it was raining so hard that the floor of the van was vibrating profusely, and this was what I thought was the thrashing ocean swathing me in my slumber.
Night four we took Frank into town, stopping at the train station to take a ride into Edinburgh for the fringe. After exploring the Royal Mile, we ended up 4 shops down from the station exit, watching a handful of free shows of varying merit, but nethertheless, we had gotten a taste for the fringe before heading back at the unearthly hour of 2237 to catch THE LAST TRAIN to take us back North of Edinburgh, picking up Frank and returning to the familiar Pan Ha’.
Finishing at lunchtime of Friday, the product and handover of production going better than I had dared hope, we were on a tight schedule to reach my sister’s house, a 6 hour drive away. 8 hours of you add a couple of stops with food.
Of course, that was 6 hours at 70mph, factor in somebody needing to post some biodegradable glitter (more here) and suddenly our eta was 2230, with an 8-month pregnant sister who goes to bed at 2100!
Needless to say, somebody was a trooper, pushing on for a 3-hour stint, only stopping for 10 minutes at a shitty fuel court before closed roads and a shitty detour added another 45 minutes – cry.
With another 4-5 hours driving ahead of us the next day, I was NOT sleeping in our prototype tent – call it driver perks!
Living the #VanLife
The sunlight fresh in our eyes, I took the opportunity to check the tyres’ pressures before setting off – turns out we’d been riding the rear tyres at 47 and 50 psi instead of 67 psi! Reading online, that could affect the mileage by around 7% so around an extra 28 miles per tank, enough to improve my crumby MPG a bit!
Setting off from my sisters, my friend had seen our travels on Facebook and invited us to come round as see her new place on our way home.
Finally I was getting a the taste of the van life I had imagined; short relaxed journeys, stopping by friends’ houses and saying to hell with work…
Digital Tyre Inflator
First Aid Kit
FM Headphone Jack Transmitter
Cigarette Light 2xUSB Adaptor
Camping & Caravan Club Members Card
Double bed 1-inch futon
2 x Sleeping bags
3 x Battery Powered Fairy Lights
2 x Camping Chairs