So here is a brand new video update explaining the lack of new videos on my Vanlife TV YouTube channel this year. If you follow me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, then you'll already know the reason I haven't been making videos - so for those of you which aren't on social media, here is the reason.
It's because my father passed away earlier this year. He was instrumental in helping me build my van, and over the years has taught me everything I know about mechanics, DIY, electrics and engineering. To say his passing has left a massive hole in my life is an understatement.
If you have watched all the van build videos you will have noticed dad pop up on occasions - usually the bits which I didn't trust myself to get right, like cutting the metal to fit the windows haha 🙂 He was there when I needed the help, or when I got frustrated that something wasn't going right, he would calm me down. I'm going to miss having him around.
But his lasting legacy is in the van with me every day. As I look around the van I remember the brainstorming to come up with a solution to a tricky part of the build, or of having a laugh because I messed something up (the hole in the worktop for the sink for example!).
Portugal - July 2018
Aside from the death of my father, rather a lot has happened since I last made a blog post. I've been abroad to the Netherlands in February, France in May, and then in July I headed off to Portugal to go to a festival in Lisbon. This trip had been planned for over 6 months, and dad told me from his hospital bed that I must still go to Portugal whatever happened.
However it was a very tough decision to still go, just weeks after my dad passing. I was still having doubts whilst driving to the ferry in Plymouth. But i got on the ferry, and started the long drive through France, Spain and then into Portugal. I took my time, called in to see a few friends on the way, and finally arrived in Portugal where I had a few days to chill out before I had to pick up some friends from the airport.
The festival was amazing, it is one the biggest festivals in Portugal, and Pearl Jam were headlining this year on the Saturday night. We were also treated to the Artic Monkeys on Thursday and Queens of the Stone Age on Friday night.
A few of the other notable bands playing at the festival were Snow Patrol, Nine Inch Nails, Alice in Chains and Franz Ferdinand. Overall, it was an amazing experience and helped to take my mind off everything that had been going on in the weeks and months before.
I wont lie though, I was still grieving - and being in the van on my own, combined with the long hours at the wheel, was really tough so soon after my fathers death. After I left my friends in Lisbon after the festival I had plans to meet up with some friends at a surf competition on the coast. But I woke up the following morning and just knew I wanted to go home to be with the family. So I cut my trip short, and started the journey home.
To give you some idea of of the frantic nature of my drive home, on the Monday evening I was on a beach in Lisbon, by Wednesday evening I was at my parents house in Devon. I managed 4 hours sleep at Hossegor in France to break the journey up, but the rest of it was driving! I must say though, the van performed brilliantly - racking up approximately 3000 miles in 2 weeks, and sitting at 80mph on the motorways through France and Spain.
So here I am, back in the UK and spending some time with the family as we all come to terms with what's happened. I don't have any concrete plans, I just know for the rest of this year I will be getting out and about in the UK. I will go abroad again next year, and most likely return to France, Spain and Portugal to explore a bit more - and return to Lisbon for the festival! Who wants to join me?