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For sale… Bessie the camper van

24 Mar

Sadly up for sale “Bessie”, my beloved camper van that’s been a huge part of my adventures recently! I have no idea why she’s called “Bessie” – she just is. I have some great memories of sleeping out with amazing views, waking up in the countryside and being able to move from place to place,

Bessie is a small (so relatively easily to manoeuvre) small (four seat/four bed) camper and ideal for spring/summer travels, festivals etc.

G Reg (1990) Renault Trafic 2.0 l diesel Camper Van with high top conversion by LeisureDrive. 100,700 miles, runs nicely, starts reliably. No tax but MOT to October 20 2012. Some bodywork rust patches, scrapes to fibreglass roof.

Accommodation: Upper berth slide out double bed over driver’s cabin plus single/double bed/sofa conversion possible in main cabin. Fully curtained (new). Rear seats comfortably cushioned in brown with grey throws (included) for style and comfort. Cabin is carpeted and kitchen has washable flooring.

Kitchen: Calor 3 ring cooker plus grill (Calor tank included), space (& 220V point) for fridge (currently used as bookshelf area), Sink/drainer with pumped water from tank. (Please note – I haven’t used the water tank/pump but believe it to be in working order)

Storage: underseat storage compartments, full length wardrobe (converts to changing area/ W/C area). Plenty of storage in kitchen area with cupboards, shelves and wall cupboard.

Facilities: Protex 1600 gas heater under seat, dual battery setup, 220V power setup including hookup cable. Both 12v and 220V lighting available. Includes 220v to 12v car accessory adapter.

Satellite navigation display mount. Fitted single bike rack. Awning also included in sale.

Looking for £1,700 – contact me on or 07808656115.



Big Water

28 Dec

Carsington Water (10)After a night parking near Carsington Water, it’s time to explore the reservoir. It’s been an interesting night – parking on a hill causing me to roll out of bed from time to time.


Carsington Water (11)This time of year the reservoir is only 1/3 full, and there are few visitors. A walk round a reservoir is always fun, and I am still working through my personal challenge to cycle as many of them as I can. But the bike is still in storage, so I set off on a 9 mile walk round the reservoir. One of the benefits of a reservoir walk is that, by its nature, there aren’t many hills involved… a fact that appeals to the leisure cyclist too. There aren’t too many of those out today, and those that are politely ring a bell to alert me to their presence. I’m overtaken by a power walking trio, the clatter of their walking sticks eventually fading into the distance.

It’s time to think, time to dream – time to let go of some things to allow the new to occupy me. Time to wonder what 2012 will bring, and to consider the changes that I need to make. Another adventure is ready to unfurl itself as I step into the new – even if some of that ‘new’ feels like a step back.

(By the way, I’ve decided to take a flat back in Oundle, Northants, for a while in order to create some stability and to get familiar with some of the things that have been in storage for a long time – time to get on and create while I also simplify my life and reconnect with my family.)

Carsington Water (1)But for now, the reservoir is a place of peace, the calm surface only occasionally disturbed by a yachtsman out for a quiet autumn sail. Meanwhile, the sun hardly tries to rise above the horizon, staying low in the sky and casting a wintry and feeble light over the landscape.

Eventually, the welcome sight of Bessie in the distance causes me to hurry back – time to explore the sleepy town of Ashbourne, and grab some power (although sadly no internet) in the library before dinner.

A Winter’s Tale

3 Dec

Nr Atherstone (2)Another night in the van – although I have a whole host of invites from people to stay, it feels important, somehow, to give myself space to be myself.. perhaps it’s been so long on the road that I need that independence, that looseness of commitment.

Tonight, the moon hangs low in the sky, framed by the branches of a wind swept tree, a skeleton of branches where only a few short weeks before the vibrant colours of autumn had drifted gently and softly to the ground. The moon itself is an icy cold shard of frosty white – gone is the warmth of the harvest moon, to be replaced by a crescent that gazes down with cold accusation, threatening to reveal hidden secrets in its dim illumination. Its counterpoint is a dark blanket of sky, not yet black yet scattered with the dim pinpoints of light from galaxies that are light years away – light that has fought its way through forbidding space to reach me. Tonight, the stars hold the promise that the moon refuses to bring – the promise of success against overwhelming odds, the certainty that even across impossible distances, light will always be light, and will always find its place, and the certainty that even if I was the only observer, that light would have still found its target.

Nr Atherstone (1)The sky itself is framed with the murky orange flare from a thousand streetlights, the warmth of the sodium flare muddied by the Black Country air as its light stumbles upward, only to finally fade away as it finally and inevitably loses the battle with nature’s overpowering darkness. The sky is beautiful tonight, and its savage chilly beauty wraps the fields and hedgerows in inky blackness. Yet strangely that blackness casts shadows that throw the details of the landscape into sharp relief – silhouettes that the brief blaze of a car’s headlights can only briefly wash with light before the darkness recovers its grip on the hills and bushes, the coppices and woodland scrub that pockmark the grasslands.

Steaming mug of coffee in hand, and beanie firmly on my head, I snuggle deeper into the sleeping bag as I read, looking up from time to time as the headlights of a passing car wash over Bessie and briefly light up the van – as the slipstream of the passing car rocks the van, as if attempting to lull me to sleep, and as the tail lights disappear into the distance as echoes of a brief moonlit encounter. More precious are the moments when I look up into a sky that seems only to echo promise and opportunity, and that glitters with a billion miracles that simply whisper ‘Believe’.

Lighting up the sky

1 Dec

Keele (4)Keele (6)

Having stayed with friends for a while, and having caught up with youngest son at Keele University, it’s back to the van. A night just outside Keele passes quietly, although the arrival of a LandRover which sits alongside Bessie in the early hours of the morning gives me some cause for concern until it simply drives off.

Nr Atherstone (1)Nr Atherstone (2)

Parking up in Leicestershire provides a surprise…The wind howls round the van like a scythe harvesting the last few ears of the harvest.. Bessie rocks in time with the gusts that tear across the Leicestershire landscape, carving their way through trees and over fences while an unexpected firework display lights up the sky with arcs of light on a thousand colours, each spark falling to earth as it lives out its brief life in an incandescent fury of brilliance and glory, light and flame, yet leaving a fleeting image on the retina while delighting the soul. Oh the unexpected joys of life in the road.. .

And then a peaceful morning near Atherstone gives me plenty of time to reflect on what’s been holding me back – disentangling myself from some of the dodgy thinking that has caused me to hold back from the next step. Certainly the uncertainty of the van hasn’t helped – but perhaps it’s now time to get traction and to make some things happen.

It’ll be good to get down to London to speak at the Conversations with God event on the 3rd… time to tell some stories, share some thoughts, and as ever, learn a little more in the process. So much to much fun to be had…

A Peak Experience

29 Nov

Why not take a few days to go and visit the Peak District, while I have chance… and the mobile living location for it. The last time I was up in Dovedale was when David was tiny, wrapped up in a blue jumpsuit and toddling down the path, a blond mane of wild hair framing a permanent grin.

DoveDale (19)It’s cloudy, first day, but I do manage to climb Thorpe Cloud before twisting my ankle. A sign reminds me that once upon a time this was an equatorial island set in an azure sea – it’s difficult to imagine that on a foggy English November day.

I still manage to walk from Thorpe to Milldale… the cold and fog keeping all but the hardiest trampers off the path. As I walk, the river bubbles and ripples beside me over rocks and weeds – seemingly unaltered by human impact. A few groups of schoolchildren greet me enthusiastically although their effusive exuberance soon disappears and quiet descends again on the valley.

DoveDale (30)DoveDale (32)

The river has carved its way through the rock over aeons, leaving behind ridges of rock and smooth walled valleys. Wild spires of bare, harsh rock rise into the sky like the outlines of megalithic skyscrapers, or the spine of some ancient reptile, sleeping soundly in the silent landscape, lulled to sleep by the chatter of the river.

DoveDale (42)DoveDale (43)

DoveDale (16)A heron gazes into the stream in search of breakfast before laguidly unfurling its wings and wheeling away with the slightest of leisurely wing beats.



DoveDale (34)DoveDale (37)

Meanwhile, the coolest of cool ducks surf their way down the river, bobbing in the waterfalls as they glide effortlessly down river. How they get to the top is a mystery.. do they fly, or swim against the current.. do they walk, or is there an aquitidean travelator or button lift to take them to the top for another run?

I could live here, you know. Not a million miles from things.. yet peaceful and tranquil enough to calm my heart and soul and allow the voice of the Universe to speak.

Whoa there, Bessie….

28 Nov

For some reason, I have a scene from Mulan in my head… you’ll have to do your own research on that one…

So, back on the road again. It’s been 16 months since I had a place of my own, since I had access to the rest of my stuff – I’ve been living in a suitcase, in and out of hotels and hostels, other people’s homes, nights on buses, planes, in airports, and even, on one memorable occasion, out on the streets of Mumbai.

DSCF6837But we’re back on the road again. It has its moments – especially before I managed to get the heating and cooking sorted (thanks, Andy). Avoiding camp sites has its upside (saving money, mostly) and its downside (no electricity, no showers, no facilities). Drawing a rapid veil over the latter, and grabbing a shower or a swim where I can, it’s down to raiding electricity from coffee shops and libraries.. likewise the internet. DSCF6838Although McDonalds and KFC have internet, they often don’t give access to power – and since the battery on my laptop now gives me around 10 minutes of useful charge, access to juice is vital. My journals have moved to my phone, which has also become the viewing platform for video and podcasts too. Android is a wonderful thing – and it has internet and sky maps, ideal for those quiet, cold yet starlit nights under the stars – and games of Go to challenge my tactics and strategy (I won one, once, but I think the computer was taking pity on me).

So finding a home for the night is about finding a space that’s sufficiently away from traffic to be quiet, and isolated enough to be peaceful. Under trees isn’t too bright, and being awoken by a herd of mooing cows is to be avoided if possible. And I would rather not be moved on at 2am by the local constabulary, thank you very much….

DoveDale (9)But there are some beautiful locations to be found, just off the beaten track. When the stars come out, and the moon rises, casting a dull orange glow over the landscape as it hangs, as if my magic, just over the horizon and close enough to touch, when quiet descends over the fields and the only sound is the distant sound of traffic, the rustle of leaves and the occasional cry of an owl or the squeak of a bat… that’s when I lay the bed out, tuck myself up in a sleeping bag and bury myself deep inside snuggly warmth – perhaps to watch a bit of downloaded TV or a few more pages in a book before the battery dies on the van (must fix that sometime).

I haven’t quite managed to secure the bookshelves, so a hard turn sometimes results in a clatter and crash from behind as Terry Pratchett and Stephen Fry join Joel Osteen and Michael Beckwith on the kitchen floor. Forgetting to secure a cupboard carries an even higher penalty, launching a combination of rice and shards of china across the galley.

But the heater is welcome, cunningly placed to toast my cold feet before gently warming the cabin. Warming coffee (in a spill proof mug) is another welcome warmer, and I am working my way through own brand soup.

Keele (6)There are moments of excitement – getting myself up at night to answer the call of nature, then throwing myself back into bed and missing, coming to rest sprawled behind the driver’s seat; discovering that that quiet, peaceful and isolated country lane turns into an Indianapolis racetrack for gigantic John Deere tractors at 6am. The moment that a fast fix on the radiator hose turns into a ball of smoke and flame half way up the M42.

So where will the latest adventure take me. Let’s see, shall we . . . . ?

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