8tracks.com...ear food!

I am one of those people who like to listen to music while they work, but hate my listening to be interrupted by advertising or DJs inanely babbling (so can tolerate very few radio stations), and also easily tire of listening to the same music (so downloading/buying music is a bit pointless).

Recently I stumbled across 8tracks, and my ears feel as if they have come home.

Any genre/mood/activity catered for? Check.  Total lack of advertising/chatter? Of course.  Super easy to entirely avoid any track I have ever heard before?  You bet.  And they also have an Android and an iPhone app (not that I have either of these...but if I did I would definitely be downloading it!)

And it even looks pretty and is nice to use.

Nice work 8tracks.  I like you.


Choosing foam for your campervan mattress

The mattress in situ
The only point so far during my van conversion journey that I have found it difficult to obtain the information I needed from a quick bit of Google searching or an email to a suitable product supplier or expert was when I was looking for a mattress for the van bed.

Now this was an item which I particularly wanted detailed information on, as I have a bad back and am therefore completely unable to sleep on an unsuitable mattress, yet am totally clueless as to what determines whether my back is happy or not.

So I discovered that there are no shortage of foam selling outlets on the internet, but unfortunately the vast majority seemed to have very little understanding of how foam works or what the specifications of their products were.

There was however one exception to this rule - Classic Upholstery and Foam .  Graham helped me to understand how density, fatigue and hardness work in relation to foam, and that it is critical to obtain this data in order to know whether a foam is suitable for the job you need it for.  Most of the other companies I contacted with had no idea of this data for their products, if they understood what I was referring to at all!  So thanks to CU Foam alone, I now have a Reflex 400X foam - which I can confirm my back is well and truly happy with.  This is not the cheapest source for foam, but for the confidence that my first purchase of foam would be my only purchase was more than enough to convince me.

I literally cannot recommend this company enough.  Sweet dreams!

How to make a campervan bed

Evolution of the van bed project...

Initial design
Firstly, plan out how your entire interior is going to look.  You want to minimise the amount of wasted space in your conversion while ensuring it has everything you really need.  Don't be afraid to ignore all the conventional wisdom on how vans should be built, this is your conversion and it needs to meet your needs.  I wanted a double bed while not sacrificing cupboard space or the ability to use the back doors of the van, so my layout is pretty unusual but it suits me perfectly.

Metal working is completely beyond the skill and toolset of either myself or anyone else who was helping me on the project, so I sourced a custom-made folding frame to my size requirements.  But it is a super simple design so if you have the knowledge I think it would be fairly easy to make yourself.

The folding frame in bed mode...
Each section of the bed was then fitted with a piece of plywood and then the non-moving section of the frame bolted through the van floor.  Note that when you do this, you need to make sure that you do not damage anything that is attached to the underside of the vehicle - probably best to check this out when planning your design!

...and in chair mode
I then sourced some foam for the mattress (more detail on this to follow in another post and made an internal (to protect the foam) and external cushion covers for each section as per the rough (very rough) plan below.
Finally, pop the cushions onto the bed et voila! Bed...done.

The finished bed....comfy!
Want some advice on how to create other aspects of your van conversion?  Take a look at my other How-tos for a kitchen, wardrobe or curtains.

Sally's Swan Song

Last Saturday was Sally's last ever agility competition, and yes I cried after her last ever run.

Images courtesy of http://debsdogphotos.wordpress.com/



This sport, these places, these people and these dogs have been a massive part of my life since I was about 15.  Saying goodbye was harder than I ever thought it would be.

video

Update on the Master Plan

A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life. Einstein.

Me and The Boy


So, it has come to my attention that my last explanation of my Master Plan was…
  1. A very long time ago
  2. Not exactly what you would call definite

…so here is an update on the current (still somewhat fuzzy) plan for the foreseeable future

  • November – get the van back on the road, find volunteering projects to get involved in and finish work on 30 November
  • December – pack up my English life into various boxes, relocate my blog to my own hosted site, get my exam results and (hopefully!) my Psychology degree classification, say my goodbyes to family and friends and set off on my travels between Christmas and New Year.
  • January & February – drive through France and Spain to Portugal.  I aim to spend at least a month doing voluntary work in Portugal, the actual project I am going to join is as yet unresearched!
  • March – A one week visit from The Boy in Madrid and a two week visit from my Mum in Seville will pretty much fill up March I think.
  • April & May – drive up the Spanish coast from Seville into southern France, probably doing some more voluntary work on the way.  End of May will hopefully be another visit from The Boy in the Nice area.
  • June & July – travel up through France and Germany, doing voluntary work and general explorations.
  • August – Final visit for the year by The Boy either in Berlin or Bremen depending on where I have got to by then!
  • August – October – More travelling and volunteering, probably going up into Denmark then back in a UK-wards direction via Germany,Netherlands, Belgium etc.
  • October/November – A roughly one month visit home to England to see family and friends, MOT the van etc etc.
  • November – head off to Italy for a lovely warm winter of sunshine!
  • 2013 – Some kind of lap of Eastern Europe…again the Master Plan dissolves into fuzzy inadequacy.
  • 2014 onwards…who knows?!?!

I am currently swinging uncontrollably between terror and excitement, happiness and grief regarding what lies ahead.

Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less. Marie Curie


Final exam...done

I have never been more exhausted.  Soon I will be back properly, right now my desire to write has been well and truly beaten into submission.

My brain aches.  But.  I did it.  4.5 years of study and a full-time job, no social life for zero debt and maximum savings.

Was it worth it... I neither know nor care.  All I know is, it is done.

Freedom is mine. 

Me on top of Helvellyn the other week

Fall Colours

Pennsylvania, USA

Another point of view

South Beach, Miami

Spot the lizard

Iringa, Tanzania

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