As we prepare to evacuate I thought I’d give you a little look around the caravan and the place we’ve called home for the past 14 months. I’m not sure how or why I ever agreed to living in a static caravan, and I wasn’t sure what to expect, but somehow I am still here to tell the tale, still married (just) and another little addition welcomed into the family who has only ever known life in a caravan.
It was never the plan to be in the caravan this long, let alone with a newborn, as we knew that’s when things would start to get tricky not just because of all the paraphernalia they bring along with them but because the winter would be tough and not ideal when there’s no double glazing or central heating (but luckily no leaks!) But Eskimos do it, however I think their igloos were probably a few degrees warmer than the caravan at times. The thermometer hit minus in here during the winter and there were actual icicles on the outside. Thank god for blow heaters!
One thing everyone said was ‘at least you’ll save lots living in the caravan’. Yes that’s exactly what we thought. That hasn’t been the case. Not when our electricity bill started creeping up to £305 a month and we were in debit of £1,500! That is not a typo. I called the electricity company to explain our situation and tell them there was no way it could be accurate, thinking it must be some sort of mistake. So we had a smart meter fitted, and there it was on the screen. Your estimated next monthly bill is £1,500! So we turned absolutely everything off and one by one started testing the cost of every appliance thinking something must be faulty. Turns out blow heaters and oil filled heaters are up there with the cost of some new tyres on a Porsche.
But it’s ok, because when you’re doing up a property which is inhabitable you are given 12 months grace on your council tax. So we are making savings there. It’s just unfortunate that the 12 months lapsed in September 2017 so we are also paying empty property tax.
I don’t think you can ever really put a figure on how long or how much it’s going to cost you to renovate a property, but you can only hope it’ll be worth it. I’m pretty confident it will be for us, it has a really nice feel about it, homely. If that’s even possible when we haven’t actually moved in yet but It does already feel like home. The garden is a really good size and wraps around most of the house. It’ll be amazing once we’ve cleared it up. It’s currently a jungle.
I’m also looking forward to saying goodbye to the caravan altogether as it does take up quite a bit of space, and it’s not the prettiest of sites. Externally it’s surrounded by insulation (the silver and yellow foam boards) held up with wheel narrows, bits of wood and metal. We get a lot of dog walkers down our lane, and I often watch people walking past with intrigue (and horror!)
The caravan is a two bed, with a bathroom (cupboard) which is basically a sink and shower, there’s a separate toilet, lounge/kitchen area and Luke’s nifty little extension which houses all our shoes, coats, washing machine, tumble drier, a wardrobe and chest of drawers.
The kitchen consists of 5 cupboards. Sounds like a lot, and I call them cupboards, they’re more like cubby holes with a door. Seriously!
Not quite a Range. The cooker is gas and you have to light it with a flame. To light the oven part it requires you partially putting your head in the oven to see what your doing. Surprisingly I still have a full head of un-singed hair, but this may be because I avoid cooking with it!
To save space we put up some hooks to hang the mugs on, which fits in really well with the rest of the interior, which I’d describe as cluttered meets umm, tacky?
The living room, next to the kitchen is just about large enough for one two seater sofa, a nursing chair (completely accidental addition, but has been a godsend as an extra chair and feeding Wilf), a sideboard, (which is literally ‘stuffed’ with stuff, and a chest (also stuffed with toys).
For us clever storage has been key. Toys have been stored in big storage bags and a wooden chest. Food, in plastic storage boxes, Kilner jars and baskets, which have all been life savers.
The dining table, homemade by my very clever husband, with scaffolding. This has been so useful, it’s worked well with Arthur’s high chair as it’s the perfect height. And I think it looks quite nice! (And that’s a serious comment!)
We recarpeted throughout, which was one of my ‘conditions’ to agreeing to living in the caravan. The living room carpet was from a local carpet shop, cheap as chips but has served its purpose well. It was a light cream, but still looks pretty clean, even though it’s a very small area and has been very well used. I am an obsessive hoover’er though!
The bathroom lino was left over from one of Luke’s jobs and the bedroom carpets we bought off a Facebook selling group, brand new which someone didn’t want.
The Bi-fold door, (the side door to the caravan) caused a terrible draft in winter but great in the summer to let some air in. Not so great when you have a toddler and there’s a 4 ft drop. We put a stair gate up but would still never leave it open with him out of sight.
The family bathroom, aka the cupboard consists of a shower and a sink.
We are particularly fortunate with the shower as you have the feeling you are showering outside as it has an open roof (the extractor fan). Although there is a mesh sheet covering the (purpose built) hole in the roof. Quite refreshing during a torrential downpour, not so good if you’re scared of spiders.
The shower boasts a comfortable seating area if you have had a long day at work and need a rest whilst applying your shampoo. I joke but it was very useful post-surgery from a c-section!
The toilet has never been anywhere you want to stay in for long and look at your phone.
The curtains throughout were a real steal, free with the caravan. I washed them about 50 times and boiled them. I REALLY wanted to buy some more but we had other things we needed to spend our money on… like the house!
The bedroom is a squeeze. We managed to fit in our own double and a bedside table, and use the existing vanity desk and overhead cupboards for towels and some of Luke’s clothes (the rest of his have had to go in boxes under the bed) as all of my clothes are in the wardrobe, and cupboards.
Arthur’s room is small. Basically a big cupboard. But somehow we managed to fit a cot, wardrobe and a kitchen (a toy kitchen) because everyone needs a kitchen in their bedroom.
All his changing stuff is in baskets or plastic boxes, nothing matches or coordinates but I just turn a blind eye and keep telling myself it’s temporary. Oh how naive I was.
There’s a few areas that were just impossible to turnaround and look in anyway homely. So I have tried to just turn a blind eye and avoided spending any money on it where there was no need as we wanted it all to go on the house.
One thing that made a massive difference though was the extension. Yes Luke built an extension on the caravan, but it meant we could have a washing machine, tumble drier, extra wardrobe space and somewhere to hang up my five million coats and store shoes. We have encountered a few issues with condensation from the cold weather and heat from dryer (we found mould on all of our coats which resulted in a £150 dry cleaning bill!) but Luke added in some air vents which have helped.
One thing this whole experience has taught me, is just how much ‘stuff’ we have and how much stuff we don’t need. I am a real sucker for buying things we don’t need. I’ve also realised that as long as you have plenty of plastic boxes and baskets, you can live anywhere!
My advice to anyone thinking of taking up residence in a caravan is, don’t buy one without central heating and double glazing! And if you’re going to be living in it for a while, I’d get one with a proper bathroom, and an oven that you don’t have to light with a flame.