Staying groomed on the road – Our Europe

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Staying groomed on the road

Gone are the days when life in motorhome meant bathing in a bucket.

Some of the new, very expensive vehicles have bathrooms worthy of a 5-star hotel.

Our 21 year-old Hymer is slightly less luxurious. The bathroom turns into a wet room with the swish of a shower curtain, but the facilities are more back-backer’s hostel than boutique B&B.

The WC is a Thetford cassette, which works a treat (most of the time), the hand basin is ample and there are not one, but three, large mirrors, with great lighting, perfect for plucking stray hairs from chins (and shaping eyebrows).

The shower is less useful. The water pressure is pitiful and the enclosed shower curtain claustrophobic. I am not a great fan of showers, anyway, preferring a deep, hot bath filled with rose oil and Radio 4 on full volume.

So how do we stay groomed while living in a van and travelling round Europe?

Bathing is simple. We use showers when parked up on a site. They vary from first class, with heated floors and gushing hot water, to the down right miserable, with the occasional trickle of lukewarm water and spiders.

When we are wild camping I bathe as I do when staying with friends in Malawi, or as campers used to.

I fill a bucket with hot water, and get scrubbing. I wash my hair over the sink, and dry it by shaking my head like a demented terrier fresh from the sea.

Hairdryers eat up too much power for our off-site electrical system, and to be honest I have never been much good at styling my hair.

Keeping my locks golden was a big worry for me when planning this trip.

Over the years I have spent thousands of pounds hiding the natural colour of my hair (it’s very mousey brown, now sprinkled with grey), and I couldn’t bear the thought of going back to nature.

Clairol came to my rescue. I haven’t used home dye for twenty years, so was very nervous when I unpacked my first pack of Nice ‘n Easy in Natural Dark Cool Blonde. (2 for £10, Boots online).

But I need not have worried. Technology has clearly improved hair products over the last two decades, and I am very happy with my new look.

And it was £50 cheaper than my last salon colour.

Haircuts were another worry. It was obvious we both needed a Christmas trim.

Nigel’s naturally curly hair was spiralling out of control, and my shaggy bob, was well, shaggy.

We are both a bit nervous about explaining what we wanted using nothing but our Google Greek and sign language, but we need not have worried.

My hairdresser run her hands through my hair and said: “I can see what you need”.

Twenty minutes later I had the best haircut I have had for, well, years.

Nigel struck lucky too. His female barber, who has to earn 450 euros a month just to pay the rent on her tiny salon, gave him the best hair cut he has had for, well, years.

Total cost: 25 euros. Mine was 15 euros, £40 less than my last hair cut, and Nigel’s was ten.

I was so happy with my new look that I splashed out on some berry red nail varnish to complete my new look. (3.70 euros, Hondos Center, the Greek equivalent of Boots).

With my gold ballet flats (£5, Asda) and my berry red dress (£19, M&S) I am almost ready for our Christmas barbie.*

I just can’t decide between my Mountain Warehouse fleece, or Craighoppers rain jacket.

Who said van life wasn’t glamorous.

* We are joining our camperstop hosts, the Pantazis family, for roast lamb and other Greek delights on Christmas Day. But more of that later.




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