My favourite newspaper feature of all time is the Sunday Times Magazine’s A life in the day where the subject, usually a celebrity, tells their life story through a glimpse at their daily routine.
This is our life in a day.
We have quickly fallen into a routine of getting up every morning just after eight, when the Today programme starts. We are in Greece for a few weeks, so are two hours ahead of the UK.
One of the primary motives for our journey was to learn more about the countries that make up the European Union; that and to explore a new pace of life, but we can’t quite kick our Radio 4 habit. Thanks to a new roaming deal from EE, I can get it loud and clear on my iPhone.
Breakfast is the same every day. Eggs, scrambled or fried, depending on our mood, and I have recently discovered the joy of tiny pickled green peppers, a Greek staple. They work wonderfully with eggs.
I make toast on my trusty cast iron grill pan and I spread it thickly with homemade mandarin jam, made by me from a gift bag of mandarins.
I was inspired by the jam I buy from a stall a few kilometres down the road, and while my effort is not nearly as good as the original, it’s not bad. And I will make more.
We have a cafetiere of strong black coffee and Nigel always has Greek yoghurt and honey, and a glass of fruit juice. We are creatures of habit.
We have access to a shower, with oodles of hot water on our site here in Ancient Corinth, but if we are wild camping we will shower when we can.
There is a shower in our van, but we have learned to conserve water by washing at the sink. So far no-one has complained…
Managing our water supply, fresh, dirty and sewage, is a major part of van life. We fill the fresh water tank daily if we can, so that our bathroom and kitchen have a constant supply. We use bottled water for drinking.
Nigel empties the toilet cassette every morning, if we have access to a dump. Every three or four days if we don’t.
Motorhome toilets are simple. A plastic WC, not unlike the one you have at home is attached to a removable cassette, and it has a water pump for flushing.
It is kept hygienic either by a SOG system (which we have) or a blue liquid, that dissolves waste. We use both. And I go to real toilets as often as I can.
Housework in a motorhome takes a maximum of 30 minutes, and that is for a full spring clean. We inherited a new – cream – carpet with our Hymer, which I brush every day on my hands and knees.
It is great in cold evenings and mornings, but is impossible to keep clean. We will swap it for some new hard flooring in the spring, when we reach Germany and a Hymer workshop.
The van clean, we then walk the few hundred metres up a very steep hill to the village to buy fresh bread and vegetables, and to enjoy another coffee in one of the two cafes that have fast wifi.
When planning our trip, wifi access was number one on my to-do list. Keeping in touch with our family, which includes four beautiful grandchildren, was essential.
I thought I had got it cracked when I bought a mifi router and wifi booster, but early into our journey the booster broke, and for some unfathomable reason the router eats data.
The 12 GB card we bought with the router was used up in less than a week, and the 6 GB one we got in Greece disappeared before you could say “download The Daily Show”.
I was so embarrassed constantly emailing our supplier, who clearly thought I was an IT illiterate, that I gave up on the two products.
We now use the great roaming packages we have on our iPhones (Three and EE) and log on to outside wifi when we need to use our Macbooks. So far the system works.
Our days here in Ancient Corinth are completely different to a typical day when we are on the move.
Then we don’t stay in one place for more than two days, unless it is very special, so much of Nigel’s time is spent researching our next stop.
He brings the same analytical skills and attention to detail to this task as he did to West Yorkshire’s economic data.
He uses two reference books – the ACSI Camping Card book and Camperstop Europe – along with maps, to find our next free pitch or paid-for campsite, depending on our requirements.
If we need hot showers, a washing machine and electricity we head for a campsite.
If we just need somewhere to stay for a night, or two, we look for the most picturesque stopping place we can find.
On driving days, we leave by 11am, and aim to stop by 2 or 3pm if we can – partly because Nigel doesn’t like driving all day, but also to make sure we get to a parking place.
Even in the winter months, Europe is full of intrepid couples – young and old – living in vans.
We have two solar panels on the roof which provide our leisure battery with enough power to last a few days off-grid.
Our refillable gas tanks heat the van and power the hob, and our fresh water tank holds 100 litres.
Afternoons are for relaxing. After all, we have had a busy morning!
If we are in a new place we will explore our surroundings, whether it is a tiny village or a capital city. We walk, or use public transport.
Many motorhomers carry bicycles, or even motorbikes, but I can’t ride a bike, and Nigel didn’t show much enthusiasm for one.
We eat around seven. Cooking is one of my great passions in life, and I have discovered a fresh enthusiasm for it on this journey.
I get fresh produce every day, to supplement our weekly shop from Lidl, and cook up a storm on our hob.
Tonight we are having stir fried cabbage with peppered mackerel (thanks for the recipe sis) and fried potatoes.
Our evening meal over, we delve into our DVD cupboard, which holds a few box sets and a hard drive with several more.
We started the journey with series 1 to 5 of Veep, the hilarious story of a female US Vice-President, who could have been a role-model for Donald Trump.
We are now re-watching the West Wing, the story of a male US President, who was clearly not a role model for the Donald.
BTW Nigel and I have met Mr Trump, but that is a story for another day.
I go to bed around 9 pm almost every night. Our bedroom is a double bed on a hydraulic system that sits snugly above the driving cab until Nigel pulls it down into place.
I fall asleep listening to one of my US political podcasts or the most recent episode of the Archers.
Nigel says my snoring doesn’t disturb his me-time when he enjoys his newly-found enthusiasm for reading novels – he just moved on from Charlotte Bronte to Zadie Smith – and I believe him…don’t you?
Where to stay
ACSI: Everything you need to know about camping and campsites in Europe. And their ACSI card gives you a great discount on sites (except in July and August).
Camperstop 2017: Vicarious Media publish this great guide to free and cheap camperstops and pitches across Europe. We have found it invaluable.