It's been a while since I posted a blog or a video to my YouTube channel.
Over 3 months since I released a video in fact.
Van life, as I've learned in my 16 months on the road so far, has it's physical challenges, like vehicle breakdowns, work that needs to be done etc, and then there are the emotional effects.
The reason I have been rather quiet for the last quarter of 2022 is that mentally it's been a bit of a challenge.
Frustration at not living the van life
One thing that started getting me down around July of 2022 is being tied to a place. I had accepted a job on a campsite for a large UK Club, for a 4.5-month contract. The contract ran from May until end of September. Basically, most of Spring and all of Summer.
In the UK, it is these months during which most large events, concerts, festivals etc take place. And in 2022 there were 2 significant historical events. The Queens Jubilee and the sad passing and funeral of the Queen.
Both of these events are significant in British history, and the whole point of my long-term photography project is to document the UK, it's history, its people etc. Missing the opportunity to attend those two events as a photographer was extremely frustrating. I really did enjoy the job, my colleagues and the campers I got to interact with daily. But I was very aware of all the photography opportunities I was missing.
Impeding 50th birthday
My mind then turned to my upcoming 50th birthday. Since I turned 30, I pretty much stopped caring about them. They were just a number. Even my 40th wasn't significant for some reason. Perhaps it should have been! But the realisation that I was turning 50 and the implications of that really hit me like a bag of poop.
The realisation that you have lived the majority of your life is scary. Of course, for all I know I lived the majority of my life at 30. One simply doesn't know. But when you turn 50, you KNOW. You know you've enjoyed more days than you're going to in future. It was a dark time in my head for a few weeks.
Being on the road meant that I didn't have a get-together with my friends. I was too far away from the area in which I lived for 20 years, where several of my friends live, and as it fell on Guy Fawkes Day, many had plans for the night with their children/friends. Instead, I had a quiet night with my sister, niece and nephew at the campsite I was at. To be honest, not having a party was upsetting for a while. Not to celebrate my birthday as much as catch up with friends, some of which I haven't seen for a year or more now.
Unexpected contract termination
I had accepted a 0-hour contract with the Camping and Caravanning Club for the Winter. It was due to run from the beginning of November and mid-March 2023.
Somewhat surprisingly, but at the same time, somewhat expected, my contract was terminated by the Club on grounds of 'there being no work available.' I will not go into detail in this post about all the things wrong with that statement as I will be writing a separate blog post about my experience working with the Camping and Caravanning Club I think it's important that people thinking of working for them and indeed, the public know how the Club chooses to treat its site staff.
I was given 10 days to move off the site where I was based at for the contract. So it then became a mad panic to try and find somewhere to go. A very frustrating and unnecessary situation to have been put in a few weeks before Christmas.
Sciatica then decided to come say hi
Just before leaving the site, I was based on for the 0-hour contract I started to experience sciatic pain. Over the past 4 weeks, it has not improved. It's not gotten worse, but I think that's mainly down to it not being able to get worse! I'm still suffering with the sciatica however, having suffered with it before about 5 years ago, I know there is nothing much that can be done unless it persists for several months. So I'll seek a medical inspection in the new year.
A week before Christmas I was invited to go and meet a potential house sit opportunity. The homeowner had kindly invited me to lunch as I was only a 15-minute bike ride from him. When I turned up he was very clearly in a bad way. Runny nose, also complete loss of voice, eyes watering, sneezing, coughing etc. My first instinct, which I really should have stuck with, was to turn around and leave. I'm asthmatic so I try to avoid unnecessary exposure to clearly ill people. Especially strangers. Yet, despite my gut, I stayed for lunch as it was ready to be served when I arrived.
About 4 days after this meeting, I started having symptoms of an infection. Having had asthma all my life, I know very early on when things are heading South. When I get a chest infection it triggers my asthma which leads to increased difficulty in breathing. So I tend to act as early as possible if I feel things are going to get too serious. Whilst I did get the necessary medication (steroids and antibiotics) I, fortunately, did not have to resort to using them. I put this down to having had the flu jab in the Winter as whilst I did suffer for 5 days, I never got to the point that he was when we met and I didn't have to resort to the 'rescue pack' medication.
Christmas is not a time I look forward to, especially so this year. Due to having accepted the Winter contract, which was then unexpectedly ended by the Camping and Caravanning Club, I was facing a Christmas alone. My sister, her family and my mother were going to Seychelles. They did invite me earlier in the year but due to my commitment to the Camping and Caravanning Club I had to turn it down. But by the time the Club terminated my contract, it was then too late for me to arrange everything to allow me to go to Seychelles with my family. There are other personal reasons why Christmas is not a favourite time of the year for me which I will not go into publicly. It's not a festive time for me.
Renewed focus and determination for 2023
During these last 3 months and going through all the above, I have realised many things. Things that I'm going to put all my efforts into in 2023. I want to travel. I sold my house and most of my belongings to travel. I didn't do much travelling in 2022. Instead, I committed to working for the Camping and Caravanning Club which in turn destroyed my plans at their whim without genuine justification. In 2023 I cannot make that mistake again. I cannot commit to being in one place for several months.
To that end, I have rebranded myself slightly. You may have noticed that the website is now called Tech Handyman UK. This is an intention brand change to cover the fact that I provide photography AND IT-related consultancy services.
I am going to back myself in 2023. It's basically going to be the year that makes or breaks my van life experience and my long-term photography dream to travel and capture the world.
So in 2023, you're going to hear a lot more from me. This will also include some more 'salesy' type posts and videos because let's face it, I have to tell people what I do or they won't know right?
So do come along and follow me on my socials and get involved with what is sure to be a thrilling year of ups and downs.