Who would have guessed the food loving French would have so many Macdonald’s? Whatever the reason, we’re glad of it as they provide free WiFi, which we’re currently freeloading on while parked in the car park of one of their places near Bergerac. France seems to have an awesome cellular data network, with 3G or better almost everywhere, but unsurprisingly perhaps all the WiFi hotspots are locked down so we’re rationed to our 25MB a day on the phone. We can’t tether to the laptop or we’ll get charged £1000 a day or some such, hence my usual poor standard of grammar as I hate typing on the phone’s tiny keyboard (Ju has far more patience).
Speaking of rationing, and as it’s taking hours to upload video on Macdonald’s network, I thought I’d add a few thoughts on how much our behaviour is changing as a result of things we have with us being limited. For example:
1. All of our water and air heating, cooking and (most of the time) refrigeration, comes from the LPG gas bottle bolted to the side of Dave. I now know I need to run the water for around 5 seconds to get enough water in the kettle to just fill a cup of coffee. We heat only enough water to wash in and do a load of pots. In France LPG is widespread, so it’s only convenience and cost driving behaviour. In Spain it’s almost nowhere, we it’ll be necessity.
2. We have a 100 litre fresh water supply, which can be filled up for free or for a few euros at thousands of aires across the country (again, at least this is the case in France, we expect other countries to more much more of a challenge). We’re now able to shower in less than a minute, adopting the wet-stop-lather-rinse approach.
3. Unless we’re on a campsite (not needed one yet in 25 days), there’s hardly anywhere to hook up to the 230V electrical grid. All our power comes from an alternator (when the engine’s running) or a 100W solar panel. We store this in a leisure battery, which should hold 110Ah. These batteries shouldn’t be discharged to less than 50%, and are unlikely to get more than 95% charged at any point, so the best you can hope for is 50Ah. That’s about 10 hours just charging the laptop, without running any lights, pumps, heater fans etc etc. Our battery is over 3 years old and I’m thinking it’s getting pretty tired, so electricity is very much restricted. We now charge the laptop during the day, when the sun is shining or the engine running, and we pretty much restrict ourselves to just the LED lights at night.
Despite of, or perhaps because of, these limitations, life in the van is fun and interesting. I wonder how much the experience of so many months living like this will affect us when we, finally, return to ‘normal’ life?
**Finally**, the video’s uploaded, and I’ve realised I’ve uploaded the wrong one. Ah well, it took so long I’m going to publish it anyway and get started on the actual one I wanted!