...for a while at least.
There's so much for me to do outside at Happenstance that I really don't spend much time on the computer any more.
I will continue to do the monthly YouTube vid showing what has happened and what I have done on the property.
Here is the latest vid for the month of August. Enjoy!
Below is a link to my YouTube channel (and all the monthly vids I have made)
where you can subscribe if you wish to keep following the story of the the Mouse House, the Tin Hut Tiny and the block of land called Happenstance .
'vancamerawoman' will also get you to the youtube vids if you'd prefer.
Photos taken during the month showing Marty and the veranda build and my trees and seedlings (click on any one to enlarge and scroll through)
Thank you all so much for your company as I 'blog the journey', and welcome to the new subscribers. I do hope to see you on the youtube vid comments from time to time.
This diary of the last 2+ years will remain for a laugh anytime you want to 😊 and feel free to share.
Wishing you all the very best, be well and enjoy the beautiful parts of your lives.
alone...but I can!
Honestly, for years I thought the only way to have a little permaculture property was to have a partner to do it with, as I had in the past, but you know what, after selling the house, divesting myself of 'stuff' and living tiny for 2 years in the Mouse House, my beautiful van, I realised I could do anything.
My time touring Tasmania, NSW and Victoria alone, facing fears on occasions, I realised I could have the life I want, the way I want. So here I am...
For months, since the onset of Covid 19, I have been on my block, working really hard, staying well and enjoying the tranquility. I have proved that 65 is still plenty young enough to wield a mattock, line a shack and be offsider at times for my bush builder Marty.
I don't have the physical size to hold up a heavy verandah post though. The post weighed more than I do!
I think I have also proved, in all the months I've lived here, that I can chop wood and carry water, I can also maintain a healthy and safe environment without all the 'necessities' of modern life.
Let's get simple, let's go smaller, need less.
If you noticed tea bags hanging by the fire, there is a reason 😊 I drink a lot of tea.
I then dry out the tea bags by the fire and then put them in a jar with mentholated spirits. They make great fire lighters. How's that for repurposing?
Last month I made a bed and I made a stool out of scrap wood. I got it wrong a few times but does that really matter? Try, try and try again. That's what I was taught. Every attempt makes the next one that little bit easier. As long as the outcome works well that's pretty good isn't it?
I've had another couple of goes at spoon carving and only one little nick so far, that's pretty good for me.
I had to have a couple of Cassurina (she oak) branches removed as they were hanging down too low for the van and that's what I'm carving now. Little by little a spoon will emerge and when they are finished they'll be off to their new homes.
The laundry tub that did contain herb plants has been reassigned as a worm bed. The dozen or so compost worms I was given last year have multiplied greatly so need more space and more food.
No cows around here so horse poo had to do. I went with my wheel barrow into the neighbour's stallion paddock. 'He probably won't even come near you', I was told. Well that was wrong, he came cantering up to see what I was doing. I do think he wanted me to put his poo back but I wanted it for my worms more so, in the best 'sootheahorse' voice I had I just kept collecting and saying, 'good boy, good boy', and I managed to get out with a barrow load without Major upending the barrow. I think the worms are happy but it's really hard to see a smile on a worm.
It has been cold, down to -4c a few days recently. Frosty mornings and the sheep graziers warning was correct, even my sheep had a frosty back. She's ok though - she's made of tough stuff. The veggies are doing well for winter and I'm eating something green from there every day. The Japanese turnip seeds did germinate and they're doing well I love those crunchy, sweet little veggies that I first came across in Tasmania.
I've planted a quince tree and two blackcurrants and a gooseberry this week and my neighbour gave me a container of 10 or more grape cuttings and 3 pots of grape plants with roots ready to plant when the verandah is finished.
I do love the colours of the grasses and the sky at this time of the year. Taken out the car window when coming back from shopping with a neighbour. People are so friendly here. (click on any to see larger)
My most recent vid, uploaded three days ago. (July 2020)
The beginning of Happenstance - one year ago!
I think that's about it. Enough maybe.
Enjoy, and stay well,
and made by Clare....with enthusiasm and not that many skills!
That's about the sum of it.
The tiny block, tiny parking spot for the Mouse House (tiny house in a van) and the Tin Hut tiny house (camp shelter) are collectively now called, 'Happenstance'.....things that happened and the circumstances that lead to it all coming together. A good name I think, don't you?
Lots of photos in this edition..enjoy!
A week ago a big backhoe, driven up the road by Geoff, made short work of digging out the little pond hole making it into a big pond hole. A frog and wild life habitat and also a source of emergency water should it ever be needed. Now I would just like some water in the hole!
As a result of the digging I now have quite a lot of old bricks for making a pathway. Some of them were even still in one piece! I'm guessing these bricks are old. They come from the old hotel that was built on this block in 1888
A couple of weeks ago I quite enjoyed the channel 10 live interview with Joe Hildebrand. I did it sitting in the Mouse House. An interesting experience with footage from Jordan Osmond, myself and the ABC. I loved seeing Miriam Margoyles in my mouse house van again. We shared some great laughs that day of filming for the ABC, 'Almost Australian'.
What a shame they spelt Jordan's name incorrectly. It happens to me a fair bit too 🙄
A surprise on the 19th June saw a lovely group of woman at Happenstance'. They came bearing gifts, fantastic home made food, chairs, tables and even a gas stove to make the coffee on. That's the way to have a nice surprise... everything came with them and everything (except some home made goodies) left with them too. A very relaxing, fun time. Thank you all so much. I have been enjoying biscuits, cake, cheeses, bread and bacon since you left.
I am yearning for another one (or 6) more of those fabulous home made sausage rolls though....yummmmmm!
You can see a bit of the frivolity in this most recent YouTube video...
Between working and having visitors I've had some time to take out the camera and take photos. My neighbour, Noel, took me for a drive recently along Long Point Road to the National park where we released a spotted Quoll that had killed all another neighbour's chooks the night before. It was humanely caught but it was still a very cranky little critter while it was in the cage. When released it did seem a little bit happier. Alas Margaret isn't, she has lost her entire laying flock of IsaBrown hens.
Here are some photos of that little excursion....
Here are some of the images taken on 'Happenstance' recently....The red moon in June, a visiting eagle and some images from inside the tiny house including the bed I mad ..with scrap wood... the kitchen sink unit and Scottish scones cooking on the stove.
(click on any to enlarge)
And then...2 days ago...Marty came with the poles and bearers for building the tin hut tiny veranda. Thanks to Jordan Osmond, who did the YouTube vid on the Mouse House in September (over 4 million views so far), I now have some funds to go towards building that. What a great surprise gift that was!
Thank you so much Jordan and Antoinette 🤗
It has been a very good month of lovely surprises.
I have also sold some of my images on items through RedBubble, T shirts, Stickers and 'Wallaby Teatime' (One of my all time favourite images) on metal. A big thank you to those who support me and my work.
There have been many cold, cold, windy days and nights here on the block but with the little 'Squirrel' wood stove I have been quite cosy. What a good buy that was 😊
I do all of my cooking on the stove top so, as well as the food tasting great, I have also saved on gas.
Here is the recipe for the 'Mediterranean soup' (as seen in the vid above) I made the day my visitors came.....as close as I can remember it 😊 I don't own cook books anymore!
Toast lightly in a dry pan 1 tbs of cumin and 1 tbsp coriander and a pinch of cardamom.
Add a little oil and fry chopped onion and garlic.
Add chopped carrot (3 small) and then chopped potato (3)
Cook a bit and then..
Add 1 tin of brown lentils and 1 tin of crushed tomatoes with a tsp sugar.
Add 1 cinnamon stick, salt and a little chilli (if you like it)
I think that was it.
Simmer gently until potatoes and carrots are cooked.
Nice with toasted sourdough bread.
Leftovers make a good pasta sauce.
If you are still with me by this point, thank you. It's nice to know I have company as I sit in the Tin Hut, with the north sun streaming in, writing this on my laptop, powered by the sun and the solar in the Mouse House.
Until the next one...
Be well and Happy everyone.
oops..I nearly forgot!!
For the love of happy 'high country' horses....
On the 1st of June it’s windy and drizzling outside and warm, dry and cosy in here.
You’ll possibly be surprised to see the changes that have occurred in the past 4 weeks. I was quite amazed when I watched the last YouTube video - the one I did in May with Tigger.
Tin Hut is now free of workshop type ’stuff’ and, with the recently gifted pre-loved rugs, and the new outdoor stuff shed…yes, indeed….with shelving for the ’stuff’ she’s looking pretty darn fine if I do say so myself. I am very happy with my 20sqm.
Starting from the 1st pic (click to enlarge then just scroll through) this is how it happened.
I now have a dear little stove, the smallest, nicest one I could find. It was delivered and installed about a week ago.
I can cook one pot meals on the top (coq au vin at the moment) and it is the most efficient and best burning and lighting stove I have ever had the pleasure of using. One sheet of newspaper, a few sticks and she’s off and running. No need for fire lighters with this little ’squirrel ‘.
Many thanks to Ali who brought this (and the twin tub…more on that in a minute..) out for me neatly packaged and tied on the back of her ute.
After the installation Ali and I shared a lovely lunch and then put the timber around the edges of the cement fibre, 8mm thick, hearth that I painted slate grey the day before the stove came. It looks lovely.
😊'It's all too beautiful'..... hah!
Right now, with only the sound of my typing and the ‘singing’, well braced, chimney in the wind, I am plugged into the power from the Mouse House. An inverter and an extension cord are a very good idea. Typing as I am now won’t use much power at all but when I edit film clips and photos that usage will increase no doubt. Lucky the sun just came out 😊.
Withe the extra fold out solar panel I’ve managed quite well after 3 days of no sun last week.
The battery did get down to 25% but with a lithium battery that is still ok. Running the van for a while will put in 40amps per hour if I need to. Why buy a generator when the van, with DC to DC charger, is a generator of power anyway? I spoke with Andrew at Enerdrive, where my system came from, and he explained it all to me in a very clear way. I feel more in control now....as the panels currently get a decent wash from a downpour.
And then....The magical appearance of the outhouse/wood cover/garden shed. The outhouse has a 2nd skin and a higher roof....nice 😊
The best deterrent for flies is...a fly swat!
Honestly, you'd have to kill a fly by fatally chucking the can of fly spray at it for all the good spraying them does.
Look at that wonderful wood box I was just given. Fits the space and my wood size perfectly.
I have a confession to make here. The lovely neighbour that gave me the wood box also gave me a fabulous, really old bikky tin, a very unique one. I washed off the years of shed grime and put the pieces on the stove stop to dry. It was too hot and the pieces were all scorched. I wish I hadn't done that🙄
Things have slowed down with tree planting. I think I have enough now as they will grow quite big in time. A lovely neighbour gave me a red flowering gum tree he’d grown from seed and I planted that 2 days ago…maybe the last tree to go in.
The veggie garden is doing quite well and I eat something green from it every day. Mainly lettuce and kale. I’ve even made bread again, the first in over 2 years. I baked it in the gas pizza oven I actually kept from the sale of my house and possessions. I think it will come in handy after all. I know I have some artworks around the place, being looked after in different homes, but I can’t remember what or where. Won’t that be a lovely surprise when they come back and decorate this simple little home?
Back to the twin tub washing machine…
Yes, I succumbed. After hand washing in cold water for a couple of months, and suffering the painful splits in my fingers as a result of the cold wind and water, I decided that things were only going to get worse as the days became even colder so I bought, for under AU$200 a portable, low wattage, washing machine. Fair enough, there is still a tiny bit of work required, if water is to be be conserved, but it sure gets my clothes cleaner and the little spinner is great! With the sun on the solar panels I found that I did not deplete the battery at all by using 240v with this little 5kg washing machine.
Another ‘little thing’ that has made me very happy.
A gallery of photography...
Summer has come to an end and the insects are busy collecting the last of the nectar and pollen from the flowers. The birds are munching on the last few lettuce and Cosmos seeds that I didn't collect.
On the land itself things are looking good. Most of the 50 assorted trees are looking quite happy. The ones from last winter are not doing as well as the ones planted just before the good rain we had a couple of months ago and that was good luck as you never really know when your little spot is going to get rained upon do you?
Yesterday I was given some big box cardboard so I extended my little veggie garden to twice it’s size this morning and look what happened…..it rained this afternoon.
The fruit/nut trees are all looking good and I think they will be well established by the time they need to be.
I collected a lot of flower seeds last week to throw everywhere next spring. My mental image is of assorted trees (different shapes, heights and colours) with winding grass paths between them and wild flowers everywhere else. I know cosmos are not wild flowers here but they might be somewhere.
My vision is possibly a bit like places from my childhood, the anemone fields of Cyprus and the daffodils and bluebells in the English woods I played in as a kid…I’ll have no garden beds really except for veggies and even they may end up around the trees as they get bigger.
More enjoyment, less toil. That’s my aim.
(Click on any photo to enlarge and to scroll through the photos..)
View, vistas and fabulous skies...Day and Night
Here on the windy, rocky hill I have the best views and each evening I look out the van’s back windows onto stunning sunsets. I never get sick of saying ‘oh wow!
There's even been time to lay on the grass and enjoy the ever changing sky patterns.
The lush green grass is gone - it’s brownish now, about knee high apart from where I have mown the paths - and the landscape shows the results of the frosty mornings. Nice fresh organic vegetables are growing in a couple of little veggie beds.
I’ve been nice and cosy in the Mouse House even though there has been some quite awful windy and cold weather.
A couple of nights I actually had to close the white slider and the wooden inner door too. Although my van is stealth, I still have the bad k windows to watch the weather
It’s the wind - with gusts ups to 85 klm per hour, that actually made it so cold. Twice I used the diesel heater and I sure was happy that it worked well. I don’t use it very much at as the van is super well insulated but when it’s cold and really windy too it sure is a lovely little luxury.
Once the wind calmed down the days were much warmer even though there were frosts every morning.
Tin Hut Tiny House....
It’s so lovely to sit in my tiny house, (once called the Shack, then called the Tin Hut, now, today, called Tin Hut Tiny House), and watch then golden grasses swaying in the late afternoon light.
Which brings me onto that little and beautiful space.
I’m loving in there, making things, fixing things, so nice and warm, wind proof and very quiet.
I’ve finished with all the rock wool insulation and i’ve covered most of it (when I remembered) with more sisalation.
I've made one bench height drop leaf table.
There's not too much more to do in there now. 1/2 the ceiling is painted and the other 1/2 will get done when I shift all the stuff from one side to the other...it's a juggling act!
The good thing about re-cycled, repurposed bits and pieces is that I feel ok about giving something a go. If it doesn’t work, I’ll repurpose it on to become something else.
The little tiny is actually doing very well with solar passivity - the north facing windows and so much insulation. I guess that to have a little bakers oven is rather an extravagance but oh…wouldn’t it be lovely on those days when the sun doesn’t shine in the winter. Like right now for instance.
Out and about with my camera...
Last Sunday was a great day to stop work for a while and wander around my little village. You just never know what you'll see. The local Clydesdale horses were out and about. Old things are always worth a photo or two.
To see even more there's a YouTube vid I put up yesterday. Somehow I managed to delete the first one I did a week ago so this one very 'up to the minute'.
Even though I’ve been really busy here but have still taken time out for a wander with the camera. I hope you enjoy seeing what I saw.
see you soon,
...she'll be 65 tomorrow 😊
I'm still living full time in the Mouse House though, parked up and staying isolated like everyone else. Luckily, now I have my brother close by for an interesting conversation face to face. On-line is ok I guess but for us 'singles' it's lovely to have a real person to chat to sometimes. I came back to number 33 last week after spending 3 weeks at 108, the block where there was plenty to do.
Self Isolation was good....
For the first two weeks. Then there was a visit from a friend to look forward to and then there was a friend for a night and then.....then there was just me again.
I felt a little teary which surprised me.
Thinking about perhaps being teary for the next four weeks or more I decided to go back to my parking spot in Dorrigo.
A good move!
A few photos from 108, lush and green...
Ok, so now I'm back here in Dorrigo putting together a snapshot of the past 3 weeks. Where I've been, what I've done on the block.
I've been taking little bits of film and photos as things have been happening.
On this last trip to my block, now called 108, I took a trip with my lovely visitor to the Big Green Shed in Armidale for essential building supplies - sharing the entire building with about 10 other people. That was eerie but I did manage to get the things I need to continue with the next part of the shack build.
I bought more drill bits and other tools. We also came back with a wheelbarrow...in several pieces.
Putting that kit together was a laugh, the first attempt, even the second! The final attempt was super speedy and I love that wheelbarrow. So very handy for mixing soils and moving and collecting things. You never know how good a wheelbarrow is until you've lived without one for a while.
I was surprised to see in the Big Green Shed that there were no vegetable seedlings or seeds or much else associated with growing food. I was ok, I didn't need anything like that myself but it is good to see that many more people are seeing the importance of growing some food for themselves.
There's now a new garden on the east side of Tin Hut. The borders will stop heavy rain runoff from going under the shack so it has a twofold use. I've planted sugar snap peas, veggie seedlings and sweet peas which hopefully will protect the peas from frost - the whole lot is interspersed with Marigolds.
I scattered flower seeds all over the block some months ago and now there are flowers everywhere. Swathes of Cosmos are dominating at the moment with their height and brilliant purple and pink daisy like flowers waving in the breeze.
The rain last month has really changed the place. So green now and the little treelings are definitely alive and steadily inching up above the grass. To help them out I put cardboard around each one and then mowed down the grass around them so that they can breathe and see the sunshine. There's a mown path meandering from tree to tree and that's lovely for them and me. Plus, I'd be less likely to inadvertently stand on a snake.
No, I haven't seen any snakes!
The WinnerWell Nomad stove was a winner. I had water on the boil constantly, cooked soups and pasta and even cooked a rhubarb and apple crumble in the little oven that sits on top of the stove. It's pretty good. I'll keep practicing cooking different things in the oven. It may be quite ok for inside Tin Hut even though it's a 'bakers oven' I'd really like to have.
Being fully stainless steel it was ok when it rained overnight even though water did manage to drip through from the removable plate. All ok.
I did buy the biggest WinnerWell because it's going inside my shack.
Tin Hut will have a deck and a grape arbour one day. Inside It will be comfortable and welcoming. I haven't really worked it all out yet as there's still a way to go before starting on the internal decor.
I did find, staying on the block for three weeks this time, that I would love a shower that's not a camp shower out in the chilly open, and I would appreciate not having to hand wash my grubby working clothes. The wringing out jeans by hand is not much fun.
I have an idea though after listening to a recent Happen Films podcast where it became so obvious that self sufficiency is not really a singular thing, it can happen though as a community thing. So, I am going to see if a neighbour with a washing machine would like me to vacuum her place and do her dishes while my small amount of washing sloshes around in her machine. I'll let you know how that goes.
Here is the podcast. 'Community Resilience in a time of Pandemic.' I really enjoyed it and hope you will too.
Have a look at the other Happen Films documentaries, I think, especially in these current times of uncertainty, that you will enjoy them too.
I was so chuffed with myself when I managed to make a good carving block that I 'woo hoo-ed' quite loud when it was finished. This block has made a great difference. My poor paws were suffering from bad posture with a block that was too low. Carpel Tunel Syndrome is no fun at all. I ended up with both wrists in splints for a few days
I am still learning but I am getting better at carving spoons. It's a great mindfulness activity. We really do have to take care of ourselves. Who would rush to our aid if we hurt ourselves while alone and isolated?
Sometimes I just can't help myself and I carve inside the van too. Still it's not too big a space to sweep is it?
Here are a few photos (click on any to enlarge) taken around the vicinity of 108 during April.
Isn't it a beautiful area? Even more so since rain has started falling again.
All the very best to you all,
Firstly, at the beginning of this month there was the Vanlife Diaries gathering at Crescent Head, NSW.
How lovely to see friends again. I may have only spent 6-8 days in total over 3 different gatherings, but I feel I have new friends now. Friends that also live tiny in their vans.
(Photos from Crescent Head Van lifer gathering) click on any to enlarge
There are always interesting new people to get to know at these events and this time I parked this time next to Ronny in his Sprinter and got to know him a bit as we shared coffees, music and stories. That's the lovely thing about these gatherings...time to sit and chat. I carved a spoon while we were there and gave it to him. I think he really liked it. I gave a dear little spoon I'd made to Jared for feeding his babies when they arrive and carved another long handled rosewood spoon for ... well I don't know who it's for yet, it's new owner has not appeared.
I enjoy that peaceful pastime of spoon carving, it suits me fine to be quiet by myself when other van lifers are out 'catching waves'.
The only downside to a perfect weekend were the mosquitoes. The happily received rain brought them in their thousands and nothing seemed to deter them. These tough little buggers bit my bum through my chair and jeans!!
The mozzies won the battle and I left the gathering early. I travelled home from Crescent Head, via Hat Head (too busy for me on a Sunday) and Scott's Head (gorgeous), back to my mountain spot in Dorrigo.. 3 heads in one perfect sunny day! Guess what? when I arrived back on the mountain it was raining! It always seems to be raining here on the mountain when I return from anywhere. I don't mind. I'm happily in the van, feeling all cosy, going over what happened in the weekend and thinking about what's next on the Cat Shack 'to do list'.
Scotts Head and the road home (click to enlarge)
The Mouse House was recognised by quite a few people on the weekend who had seen Jordan Omond's YouTube vid - now 1.4 million views - and quite a few had a little look inside while we were there. One or two even came to visit the Mouse House when I was back on the mountain. Who would have thought that the van I designed, and have lived in for going on 2 years, would now have been seen by so many?
A little frog came home with me from Crescent Head - the pig just took my fancy 😊
So 2 years have passed and what do I regret? Nothing! Seriously, nothing.
I have the Cat Shack (5x4m bushman built shelter) on my own little piece of debt free land and that land is already growing trees, vegetables and herbs. Most of the 60 or so trees I've planted have fought to stay alive in drought conditions and are now, after rain, finally growing a bit. All is well.
Sure there's heaps more work to do on the shack and a new outhouse to build but Oh happy days...I have a friend with a big ladder and she's going to help me for a day to finish two of the walls in the shack - the parts I can't reach as my ladder is too short. It hasn't even been a year yet since I've had the land and the transformation is quite amazing. I love that the little birds are so friendly.
Wishing you all Good Health and Happiness,
Living in a van I spend far more time outside, breathe far more fresh air and do daily 'step exercise' as I go in and out of the van oodles of times every day. I wander around more with a camera and really see my surroundings. I may not go to a gym for exercise but I certainly feel well.
With a 52ltr fridge and no freezer I believe I eat better than I did when I had a huge pantry, a big fridge and another separate freezer. How could one person have had so much food storage? I manage well with staples of rice, pasta, tinned fish, sauces and spices and and veggies.
Wherever I am I grow food. Sometimes not much but always enough. Even at the 'shack' near Armidale I have a little herb garden and have even harvested a couple of fair sized cucumbers there!
Living the mindful life, as you must in such a small space, is good for the body and for mental wellbeing too.
Peaceful, mindful, whittling seems to be good for my soul too - now that I have stopped cutting myself!
I've taken the iMac down and now the space has more plants, also good for health and wellbeing, a mirror, so I can actually remember to comb my hair before I go out and a tidier 'bits and bobs' space.
Change is good especially when it gives you a sense of space and beauty. If it doesn't look good.....change it 😊 Van spaces become ever changing art galleries and that has to be good. The spoons hanging in the window make a lovely sound in the breeze and deter flies too.
I'm not the only one who likes my van. Jordan Osmond of 'Happen Films' did a little doco on me and my van at the last vandweller gathering in November. His filming and editing, not to mention his lovely friendly, unassuming self made this a very watchable video. Here it is.
It seems that a whole heap of people, all over the world, like my little Mouse House and don't mind my 'non rehearsed', natural self either.
As a result of a couple of the many comments on this film I have moved the fire extinguisher to a more accessible place and also drilled more holes in the cabinet where the fridge lives.
Jordan's documentaries are fantastic and well worth watching. I'd watched many of them before I even met him or knew of him as a film maker. I met him as a fellow van dweller when a dozen of us went walking with our cameras at the last gathering.
I spent 4 days and nights out at my little block recently and really enjoyed the silence and the cooler air. I sealed the gaps in La Shack and fixed up (a bit) a broken window.12 new trees got planted and I'm happy to say that there is plenty of water in the tank to water them.
The drive out a few days before with Ali, her ute and some 'saved from the tip' timber was lovely. It gave me a chance to take a few photos as we drove.
Click on any one to enlarge
See the smoked trout sign? It got well and truly smoked as the fires went right through this area. Green has returned thanks to the lovely rains we've had recently.
It was so beautiful when I awoke early one morning that I just had to wander around and film a bit to share with you. Here's a little film I made.
Fortuitously, back in Dorrigo, when I went to see if I could get a replacement window for the shack from the demolition team dismantling the Service station, I was offered a whole wall of mahogany siding boards fo free. No window.
'Oooh yes', said I.
'You have to take them away by this afternoon', the big fella said.
Ahhhh!!...it was already 2pm. I called Pie (he who helped me with the corrugated iron a few months prior).
'Meet me there', he said.
I went straight there and he was already loading it onto his ute. Brilliant! Next day at 7am we left with a ute full of great timber for ‘La Shack'.
There is enough to clad all the internal walls.
I am very happy with that!
Before I go today I would like to welcome the many new subscribers to this this little blog/story. Welcome one and all. I hope you enjoy the journey and maybe there are a few useful or amusing bits and pieces for you in here.
Red sun afternoon.
What's new so far this year?.....
La shack out on my 1/2 is finished to 'lock up'. 5m x 4m with 2 doors and 5 windows. Apart from some new timbers everything has either been donated, scrounged, repurposed and re-used. I'm proud about that and sincerely thank everyone who has been a part of this journey with me. From the ute owners who have carried things out for me that were too big (for the Mouse House van I live in) to the children who willingly mixed soil or planted a tree with me and my dear friends who occasionally drove me out to water the little trees.
It has rained a couple of times and the tank is 2/3 full which means there is enough ash tasting water to water the trees. At the moment it is very hot out there when there is no breeze and the little trees need tender care until they get established.
I love being out on the block and am always thankful that I have such a lovely van to live in while I am there. The shack itself needs insulation and lining before I (or a special visitor) could sleep in it. There is only sisalation at the moment and it's rather like being in a space ship. There are gaps to fill and the floor to paint. A couple of the windows need the glass re-puttying and outside sun shields of some kind - especially the western window. Eventually there will be some kind of shower screen in front of the tank which might help keep some sun out from that western window but as yet I can't see how to do that.
I do wish at times I had the strength and endurance I had when I was 30.
64 is not the new 30...no matter what anyone says 😢
The night skies are huge and with no light pollution it's a great thing to be out at 2am to take photos. These photos (click to enlarge) were taken with 'light painting' on the shack on a moonless night.
The shack itself seems very big at 20 sq m after living in the van at under 8 sq m for so long. Room to dance 🤓
I enjoyed being in there recently making new leather strops for my carving knives, looking out at the huge view. I can understand why vandwellers like to have a little somewhere to park and a shack for storage or, like me, room to create.
I will say though that it can be all consuming, both of time and money. Even being mostly re-cycled I still have labour costs to pay.
If you are young and there are two of you I expect it can be done very cheaply so 'go for it'. Make yourself a nice place without a mortgage. That's a great aim. Travel, have great experiences and then come back to your own little place to rest up and save again for the next adventure.
last pic is a small child's whistle - minus head - quite possibly 1930 Germany.
The things you find !
Wishing you well and safe travels on your adventures.
Hope to see some of you soon.
Until next time,
are right next to where I am parked, here in Hillgrove. The sound of the bees in the Hawthorn is very loud. There must be loads of them! That’s nice to see isn’t it? There’s not much here yet but what there is is attracting some wildlife. There are King Parrots and Black Cockatoos in the nearby trees and a few demanding, noisy young Magpies. Tiny birds nest in the Hawthorn too. They are not at all worried by me being here.
Even the rabbits and hares are useful, they dig holes which I enlarge to plant in - making sure it’s not a burrow of course!
So far this visit I have planted out several Rosella bushes and have also planted a Tagatasse (tree lucerne) next to each of the oaks for company and for the nitrogen they produce. I’ve sprinkled various seeds around each treeling and shrubling. Maybe the strength of the flowers will protect the little trees.
Alas one of the Pear trees has died and 3 of the baby oaks I transplanted. Most others have been ‘taste tested’ but are still alive. The poor Lemon tree has been well nibbled. I need a spray bottle with some chilli mix to spray the vulnerable plants. That should deter the rabbits from nibbling. They can have the grass...that was the deal!
This land and climate are very different to anything I have grown on before. Perhaps Nanango in Qld is the closest - land type and climate - and things grew really well there with some good mulch and tons of vermicast. That reminds me, I must feed the worms.
I’ll collect more bricks, while I’m here, for another row or two in front of the tank stand - it will be the outdoor shower area soon. It looks quite nice I think. Maybe I’ll get some sand to fill all the little spaces. That would work I think.
Ok, that’s two more rows of broken bricks collected, some about 100 years old. There are not many whole bricks, they’ve been snaffled from this block a long time ago, but the broken bits look ok to me. I'll make some kind of screen for a bit of privacy, maybe woven vines of some sort, maybe a timber frame with more of the corrugated iron - mixed media of some kind you can be sure. It's all about the art!!
I see on the photo that the bricks slope down a bit from the shack wall. I bet that turns out to be a good thing! If not, not hard to adjust - they are not cemented in.
I still whittle and carve spoons and find find being here in Hillgrove the most conducive…it just seems the perfect thing to do, between other jobs, when living in a super quiet space without (by choice) internet for a few days. My spoon collection grows and decreases depending on who I see and which spoon they seem to really like. That spoon becomes theirs. I do hope they use them.
Unfortunately, due to the thick smoke and wind on my block on and off this month, nothing has happened on my ‘camp shelter’ since the erection of the tank stand and the delivery of the tank. La Shack is still only 2/3 finished but everything is close by to finish it. Maybe next week! At least when there is a shower of rain, some water is actually collected in the tank. Gotta be Happy with that! I’m using the time to clarify what I actually want in the shack. In a small space you still have to think of space, even the tiniest living space need to have a sense of roominess somewhere. If I put too many things in it, it’s just going to look like a backyard garden shed and I don't want that.
Hillgrove Museum is closed at the moment so here's a few photos of what you are not able to see right now. A few 'trucks in the paddock' pics too.
What else has happened? Well, fires of course. They are still burning all over NSW, at times they have been pretty close to wherever I am, at times I’ve been surrounded. Coming here on the 13th, I drove about 15klm along the Grafton Road (towards Armidale) with burnt land and trees on either side of the road. It’s been a hard couple of months and, for many, great tragedy and loss. Fuel for many a discussion by all.
For quite a lot of this month I've been parked in Dorrigo so here's a few photos from there.
And finally Here’s a little recipe for every vanlifer (and others :)
Easy, inexpensive and nutritious
Throw the whole lot into a processor or chop and mash everything. Make little balls, flatten slightly and deep fry a minute or two on both sides. Lovely with a garlic/parsley/yogurt dip and salad.
Until next time……Love and Magic
Clare - in The Mouse House x
Between vanlifer gatherings, planting and watering at Hillgrove and parking in Dorrigo I've been on the road lot.
The Mouse House is always lovely and everything I need, wherever I am, is in the 'house'. I have noticed one thing though, and I'm guessing a few of you van dwellers have found it too, and that is that the timber lining boards react to the weather. Two months of dry, dry weather and the boards in my van have moved apart - slightly in some places, merely cracking the paint, and wider in one spot on the ceiling. Rather than 'bog' it up with filler, I have experimented with a piece of split bamboo cane. It seems to have worked well and looks pretty good too, hardly noticeable as it's almost the same colour.
Photos of the Mouse House in her two permanent parking places
In Dorrigo I'm parked in my 'spot' with pot plants and flowers right outside the door and the sound of the waterfall.
On the block at Hillgrove. No rain, no grass, dry as a bone!
I have a tank on the shack now so I really hope it does rain soon. The tank, 5000 litres, came a few days ago all the way from Dalby Qld, (I liked the profile) and the fellas were fabulous. Scott, across the road, brought me 1000 litres of fresh water in his cube tank to pump into mine (to make sure the tank wouldn't blow away), Marty, my bush builder, gave his all despite being really affected by the smoke and not feeling the best and the truck driver put on the fittings, just where I wanted them, right there on site. It all went as smoothly as possible. Timing was everything on the day!
I have started putting down bricks as a floor for an outdoor shower.
Should get the shack to lock up pretty soon.
I've just heard the there was a storm today (Sunday 24th) at Hillgrove. Water is running down the street. Woo Hoo!😃
There are 40 little treeling/shrublings on the block now. I go out every week or so to plant more and to water those already in. I've lost a few to rabbits and/or hares. 1.5l milk bottles seem to be the best as tree guards as the bigger ones, despite rocks and stakes seem to get blown around too much. The smaller surface area of the milk bottles, cut down - from the neck and then cut 3/4 of the way around the bottom, making a strong flap for a big rock, seem to work well so far. When the treelings are taller I'll have to protect them with mesh to keep them safe from rabbits and hares I think.
Things have changed quite a bit in the 8 months I've had this block of land. Even though it's very dry, and planting isn't very easy, I still love being here - the silence of the place and the amazing views and sunsets.
Here's some photos taken at Hillgrove - a great place to whittle 😊 The little birds seem to like the music I was playing in the van. (click on any photo to see bigger)
I’m just back from a vanlife diaries gathering near Newcastle, NSW. I travelled through smoke almost the entire way on the highway and thought it was bad until I came back the inland way. The birds could barely fly the wind was so strong and I could barely see for smoke from Tamworth to Uralla NSW. It was pretty scary.
The vanlife gathering was my second this month and I have found a wonderful community of gentle, thoughtful, artistic people. A lovely ‘clan’ to be a part of.
During the weekend I spent a few hours, and cups of tea, with a lovely young film maker from “Happen Films” and perhaps we will see the outcome of that in a few months. There are not many films or documentaries about women in their 60’s + living a full-time van life in Australia so I was happy to say my bit about living full time in less than 8 sqm.
A few pics from the Vanlife Diaries weekend camps in October - click on any photo to see larger ands to scroll through them all.
At the Byron gathering three of us went exploring with cameras. At the most recent gathering near Newcastle there were about twelve of us wandering with cameras.
Van dwelling and photography seem to go hand in hand 😊📷
Here are photos from my cameras taken over the weekend.
Here’s a YouTube clip I made of my journey to the Byron Bay Area gathering.
Back on the block in Hillgrove after a full weekend. A fair bit has happened. The ‘shack’ is 1/2 built. Two windows and a door fitted. 1/2 the floor is down and today, 29th October, I helped Marty with the tank stand. It’s ready now for the 5,000l tank I’ve ordered.
The Magpies are friendly and love the little bit of water I leave for them.
My new stainless stove works very well - hot enough to use the Atomic on and I’ve even baked a cake in the folding oven that I bought with the stove.
The 2nd hand door needed painting so I took a bit of the tin cladding to Bunnings and bought a colour I thought worked well. I’ll use this colour to paint the outside window frames and the floor too.
I enjoyed working on the tank stand a little bit, drilling, running the nails through a soap bar and even hammering in one or two. I’m a good T.A. 😀
Even though the trees and shrubs are doing well the winds had made a mess of the green plastic tree guards, even blowing some away completely so I made hare/rabbit proof tree guards with steel gutter guard for them, gave them a couple of good drinks and wished them luck!
Tips and tricks in the van.... my tricks anyway 😊
What to do when the piston gives up - use a bulldog clip. Always make sure the fat bit is to the top. Mine were fitted upside down and so dried out. Now I need to replace a few of them.
Inexpensive air cooler - a wet cloth hanging under the Max X Air. Air in or out.
Don't wast the left over pea, potato and smoked ham soup...
add an egg and some flour and make breakfast fritters.
Ta Ta for now,
A few days ago I was on my 'block', enjoying the silence and the fact that my fruit trees (and even the rhubarb next to the compost bins) had actually grown and burst into leaf. I planted a few more natives and even had enough water to give them all a drink.
Hopefully I'll have some guttering on the camp shelter and a water tank of some description soon so that I don't have to bucket water from 'down the road'.
When I popped in to water on the 10th Sept. there were some tiny patches of grass. When I called in again on the 17th, just one week later, the 3 fruit trees had leaf growth, the rhubarb had leaves and the herb garden was still alive but there was no grass at all. Just dust and rocks. Since then it has rained -18mm to be exact.
There was some movement on the shelter build. There were some beams for the floor. The fabulous rustic corrugated iron sheets I found for the external walls of my camp shelter have been delivered. It’s exciting.
It was super windy on my second day on the block this weekend (end of September) and fires were pretty close so, after watering the new plants, and a little explore of the Hillgrove Cemetery and the lagoon, I decided to high tail it out of there and see if I could get through to Ebor on the Waterfall Way. No luck!
So, as directed, I took the Wongabinda (dirt, bumpy) Road detour crossing countless cattle grids to eventually come out on the Gyra Road.
It's always interesting to take a different road in life isn't it? 😊
But before this this adventure on my 1/2 acre, there was another, bigger, one!
I drove to Orange, NSW, 'free camping' in a couple of spots on the way and then spending three nights at Macquarie Fields, near Orange, NSW, where I did meet some very interesting people.
I camped at Premer, NSW, on the way home. The 'light' was photographically perfect that evening 😊
My next experience is to join a gathering of van dwellers on the Gold Coast hinterland on the first weekend in October. I may catch up with the young family I met in Orange again. I may even get to see and hug some of the gorgeous people I met at The Tiny House Expo in Bendigo in March. That will be really good.
At the moment I'm back in my parking spot in Dorrigo and it’s always lovely to be here. My brother has mown my spot and he makes lovely food and often invites me to share.
The plants outside my door are flourishing including the sprouting of three oaks - acorns that I collected from Victoria on March and planted months ago. They can go to Hillgrove and maybe they will grow.
All in all... life is good!
There's a new page called 'My art on great products'. Have a look, I'd love to know what you think.
and being right handed typing is not so easy at the moment so I am going to write with pictures this time.
How did this happen you ask. Well let's just say there was an 'incident' that caused an 'accident' at the theatre. Yes there was pain..still is...but life goes on does it not?
Anyway, I've been lucky enough to have some help and a couple of times I've been taken out to the 'block' to plant some trees and then a week later to water them. I can't drive and that is a real nuisance.
What a surprise on the second visit! The trees planted a week ago were still green and there was a roof on my 'will be one day shack'.
So here's the story, photo by photo of what is happening as far as the bush built 'tiny house' goes.
Sore hand now 😢
....and what a year it's been!
A whole year? Really? Has it really been that long?
Yes, it has.
I have lived in my van, The Mouse House, for an entire year. 365 days and nights. I have slept in the Mouse House every single night and not surprisingly, I have woken up in many different places but always in the M.H.
The journey started even earlier...in March 2018. That's when I sold my house, paid off the mortgage and divested myself of almost everything. I've sold, bequeathed and given away almost every treasure I ever had. I passed on my favourite things (art, antiques and instruments) to my children and grandchildren.
This past year I've been very well but I've also been unwell, I've had a stay in hospital with shingles (and visited there a bit with knife wounds as a beginning spoon carver too) I've had several physio appointments for various aches and pains and at times I've been worried and depressed.
But...even more often ...I've danced and sung, met amazing vandwellers from all over the place. I've been excited, amazed, and super happy.
Lucky for me, when I'm not travelling, I share a bit of land with my dear sweet brother who is very kind and a great (and generous) cook too! Here I can relax and recharge.
This year I've grown...and shrunk!!
I've moved from a 3 bedroom/office house to a pretty small Mouse House.
I've learned how to use a GoPro camera and I've made loads of YouTube vids of my adventures - to share with other 'would be' vandwellers and also to help me remember just what amazing journeys I have been on.
Here's the latest one....what tools to have in a van.
This is what the Mouse House really looks like from day to day....
I've been asked lots of questions during the last year of Van Dwelling. Here are some answers to the questions I remember being asked.
To end this edition of the vancamerawoman blog here's a slideshow of a few photographs.
Thank you for your company this year.
Until next time...stay well, be happy.... Clare x
To see a lot more of my work (on all manner of fabulous things) please go to...
First things first..
Well this was actually the third thing.
First there was a gate...so I could actually get onto the land.
Next there was the surveying... so I knew where the fence would go.
And then this week there was the fencing to keep the feral goats and horses off the block so that the grass could grow and cover the bare dirt.
Now I can begin to get ready for the spring planting of native trees, shrubs and grasses.
It was hard work being a fencers 'off-sider'. There was 1500m of fence to erect - three sides of the 1/2 acre block. We used five strands of high tensile plain wire, seven strand goat mesh and about 1000 hog clips - one on each of 3 wires about 300mm apart....that was a lot of bobbing up and down and squeezing the pliers.
No wonder my hands were swollen and sore.
It drizzled the whole time making the grassless dirt (can't really call it soil yet) wet enough to fill the grooves in my boots and soak every coat, pair of boots and beanie I own. Eventually I remembered I had a raincoat rolled up in the cab. Doh!
A couple of days before this Sandra and I went down to Bellingen to pick up some corrugated from Rah's place. It was bucketing down in Bello and there's only so much a Driazabone jacket can handle. We were saturated!
Thank you so much Sandra for bringing the tin out to the block. It will be so useful for the camp shelter. As soon as my hands stop hurting i'll be over to your place to help with the weeding.
Next thing to do on my little 1/2 acre is to build a 'camp shelter'. Somewhere I can stretch my legs a bit and hang up wet clothes if I need to.
I've really missed cooking so a bit more room will be fantastic. Might even have a bookcase, a couch even.
I like the Mouse House, I really do, but after a year of 'super tiny living' I would like a wee bit more space. Marty (the fencer) and I are going to build a 5m x 4m shelter in the way they were most likely built in the late 1800's when this village was the pumping, thumping, gold rush town with four pubs, shops, schools and an oyster bar!
Tomorrow I'm off to 'The Dorrigo Men's Shed' to build a door. I like to be involved in every aspect of this tiny space build so a front door it is. I figured once the door was made, the shelter can be erected around it.
Last week, with Graeme, I made a 'humanure' compost toilet. Despite the fellas all telling me it wouldn't work it seems to work just fine. No smell at all and now, with the outhouse in place and a wooden floor in, my visitors can enjoy the view while contemplating and adding to (eventually) the fecundity of this poor old piece of land.
One day it will be a little Paradise...just you wait and see.
Until next time, all the very best,
although at times I think it might with all the information I've stuffed into it since I bought my little bit of land.
I've just put together another youtube vid showing the journey to and from Dorrigo and what my land is really like. It's a challenge that's for sure but I've never been afraid of a challenge or an adventure.
This is what it is really like!
The journey is just beginning. One tree has been pruned (the only tree on the property) and holes dug and filled with manure ready for spring planting some apple and cherry trees.
I have a gate into the property. I have had it surveyed. Fencing is next to keep out the feral goats and horses! This poor land needs a rest!
It also needs water so I hope to build a shelter soon so that I can collect some precious rainwater.
One of the other reasons I bought this 1/2 acre - apart from the quietness, the great views and the friendly people - was because there is no power nor water on the site.
I want to stay off grid, solar passive and sustainable - so it's perfect for me.....and I won't be paying rates for services I wouldn't be using anyway!
I haven't stopped travelling. I love my van. I just want another challenge 🤔😃
As a Tiny Space consultant, I need to be able to look at different types of tiny places. My van is one, the shelter on the land will be another type of tiny space.
Stay tuned ...there is much to do,
Have I got news for you?
But before I go there I'd like to thank those of you who have personally supported me through this journey of being a home owner (with mortgage) to becoming a full time vandweller without mortgage, power bills or 'stuff'. I've been a vandweller for 9 months and, yes, there are occasional stressful moments but mostly it's been good fun seeing places that I'm sure I would never have ever seen otherwise.
I travel from beautiful 'free camp' to the next one allowing Apple Maps to be my guide - always avoiding the highways - always an adventure 😊
I've travelled on nice smooth roads and some bumpy, single lane roads leading who knows where!
First and foremost I am a photographer and getting the Mouse House was a way of expanding my photographic horizons and capturing with my various cameras and now, with the GoPro also, what I see and experience so that I can share these adventures with you.
These photos were taken at the Escher/Nendo exhibition in Melbourne. It was a special evening by invitation to past and future art students of Melbourne Universities. How wonderful to be granted permission to photograph the pictures and installations and to have room to see it all so well - not to mention canapés and drinks.
Here are some more images from the last leg of the (Bendigo and back to Dorrigo) journey. Number 7 in the series.
The last of the Tiny House Expo films. The other 6 can be found by clicking on the little girl 🤗 Each of these films shows the roads I travelled as well as the 'free camps' I stayed at.
Temperatures ranged from 32 deg to 2 deg on this last leg of the journey. I've loved it all. I hope you enjoy it too!
Back to the news...
I have bought a block of land in the quietest place you could imagine. I am now the owner of 1/2 acre of land with views and a Rural Village classification 1/2 hour's drive from Armidale. I saw the block before I went to Bendigo and it was not only quiet....it was also very dry!! (It has rained there since these photos were taken and is now nice and green.)
So many rules and regulations! This council, like most, I am sad to say, are not geared up to help those who wish to live tiny, off-grid, sustainable, solar passive so it looks like, for a while at least, I have bought myself a camping spot with great views, feral goats and not much else.
I've read so much, all the rules and regulations, and I've spoken to countless council employees and the rules are the rules apparently. Mind you, when I was about to withdraw my offer, a very lovely man said I could have a compost loo and grey water dispersal system and then the next person, once I'd signed, said I could not.
I can have a shed but I cannot live in it.
So... I am at a bit of a standstill with this and have yet to find the 'right' person to talk to.
Any useful thoughts on this will be much appreciated.
That's all for now.
Today is Sunday the 31st March and I am at a little tiny place called Cathcart where the locals look after an area for travellers. The bathrooms are brilliant! There are even HOT showers... a travellers best friend 😊
I arrived here yesterday and spent hours downloading vid clips and creating youtube no.6 on the journey to the the Tiny House Expo in Bendigo - the Final!
1-6 YouTube vids The Mouse House goes to the Tiny House Expo in Bendigo
I hope you enjoy the journey too.
...so where to next?
Well next weekend i'm off to Corindi Beach to share the weekend with a group of women who have vans of various sizes and types and who love getting together in different, beautiful places.
C'van parks are not my favourite places but I can see that for some who have pets, it's a better option for them than my favourite places which are 'domestic animal free zones', the National Parks.
I like National parks because they are much quieter, often have a billy/BBQ plate construction for each spot and there are clean (long drop) toilets and off cut wood, free to use. They cost about $7 a night as oposed to $30+ a night for a caravan park unpowered site.
Still...that's where I'm going next weekend. I like the women and love seeing the clever van set ups they have.
After that I'm off to a friends property to see it's it's feasiable for me to stay there while her farm partner is ill in hospital and she's away visiting him in Tamworth hospital. She's looking for someone to mind the place while they are both away. She thought of me.
All I need is a flat spot and some water. I wouldn't mind a shady spot to sit and read and whittle. It's hot and dry at her place. I'm not sure I can do it but at least I can look can't I?
I've done another little YouTube video this week about living full time in the van now that it's been 6 months. It takes me quite a long time to do a video so I've also looked into doing a Cert IV or Diploma in Media Studies (film and TV) so I can learn to make better films.
March will be here before I know it so I've been looking at maps again trying to find a way to Bendigo (for the Tiny House Expo) on roads that I haven't been on before.
If that's not possible - and highways are not an option for this little Mouse House moocher, at least I'll go via places I know I can camp and relax for a day or two on my way.
A chance to take more photographs.
Speaking of which, two of my cameras are going in for professional sensor cleaning. Hopefully I can get my favourite lens cleaned too. Cameras that have an assortment of lenses, that get changed from time to time, do run the risk of dust spots on the sensor. This is ok most of the time but you sure can see them when shooting the sky or when shooting in low light with long exposures. Removing spots can take a really long time editing when there's lots of them. So off to the camera doctor they go!
I don't quite know yet what I will talk about at The Tiny House Expo but I figure I know a little bit about quite a few aspects of Tiny House/van builds so i'll just wait and see. I've written some notes. Here they are... 11 words so far :)
Already I know of a few women coming to the Expo so that will be great. I do hope you come and say 'hello'.
Ticket Sales for Australian Tiny House Expo
23 and 24th March 2019
My set of super sharp , hand forged, carbon steel, carving knives arrived here today from The Ukraine. They are lovely and as soon as my finger heals (from the little mishap I had while reaching beyond my skill level in trying to carve a wizard into my walking stick) I'll give them a go.
Only one more visit to the hospital for check up and dressing I think.
Yes, it was pretty bad, but that's how some of us learn isn't it?
The cut proof butchers gloves should arrive next.
If I were smart, I'd wait for them to arrive before I tried to carve anything else...wouldnt I?
Well I think that's it for today.
A Big welcome to all the new people who have joined the blog in the past week...
Lovely to see you all and thank you for the great comments you left for me to read.
Conservation tip for today....
Conserve gas by boiling a bit more than you need and then put what's left after you've made your cuppa into a small thermos. Use that hot water next time and it boils really quickly - saving time and gas :)
And I’m sitting in the doorway of The Mouse House, in the cool shade of the awning and the breeze from the waterfall, whittling witches wands.
I started whittling in Tasmania and it’s such a wonderful relaxing thing to do while listening to my entire music collection on shuffle. Hearing old songs again is such a delightful surprise.
It has been quite an amazing 6 months of van living.
I’ve travelled 10,000klm and seen places i’d never even heard of.
I’ve been buffeted by winds and storms and been very safe...awning in of course, I don’t want to end up in the river or the paddock next door if it should act as a sail.
After they had walked in the Dorrigo National park they called in for tea and cookies.
It is possible to have 3 adults in my tiny house in a van.
Recently I heard from Darren who, with his partner Lisa, founded Tiny Houses Australia.
I've been invited to take the Mouse House to the first ever Tiny Houses Australia Expo.
It's in Bendigo, Victoria, Australia on the weekend of the 23rd-24th March. https://www.facebook.com/TinyHousesAustralia
Camping is available nearby and tiny houses of all descriptions and their builders/creators will be on show. There will also be panel discussions and Q&A.
I think I can do that....talk about living in a tiny house van and what it is really like.
It will be really great to meet some of you there.😊
Love and Best Wishes to you all - vandwellers and wanna be vandwellers one and all.
Thank you for your kindness and support while I travelled around a bit of inland NSW, a little bit of Victoria (including Melbourne) and a heck of a lot of Tasmania earlier this year. It was an adventure that's for sure!
Now that I don't live in a 'big' house and I live in my tiny house in van things are a bit different.
No longer do I have a huge stove in a big kitchen with masses of room, no longer do I have a pantry full of provisions for making the xmas cakes, the mince pies and all the other bits and pieces. This year, in my much smaller space, with a tiny fridge and small pantry, I have made a batch of festive muslie cookies (that means there were cherries in the usual ones).
I've had visitors to the Mouse House and the bikkies went down well with a cup of tea.
I have had 3 adults plus myself in the van. Fancy that!
Since I have been back in Dorrigo the weather has been varied to say the least. From torrential rain to hot sticky days - which never last long in Dorrigo 😊
Magic on the road.....
A few days ago I met a lovely couple at Dangar Falls in Dorrigo, Dirk and Chrissi from Germany. Dirk was flying a Mavic Pro Drone and generously he showed me what it could do and even let me have a try. Do I want one? Well if there was one in my Christmas stocking I would be very happy. Is Santa real? Sure hope so 😃
The next day Dirk and Chrissie called in and shot some footage of the Mouse House in it's present parked spot. Dirk sent me the footage so I have included it with more photos in another youtube clip.
Welcome Mimi in New Zealand with her new tiny house on wheels..A Ford Transit.
Looks fantastic Mimi. May you have many, many adventures in this van.
If you want one...get one (if at all possible)! Life as a gypsy traveller is very good😊
To see my other youtube chats ..... https://youtu.be/2aiNv_x97WA
...have I done?
Back in Dorrigo now after 3 months travelling as a gypsy in NSW, Victoria and Tasmania. I've hit a bit of a 'flat spot' and I'm not absolutely sure what I'm doing.
Once again I am parked in a lovely place with bird and water sounds but for reasons I'm not sure of, I don't feel my brilliant self. I have a little garden outside my door and I'm sure, when I get some kind of wind break, I'll enjoy being outside more, cooking, painting perhaps, writing, reading.
When the garden is gone, the house is gone and you're not travelling there are a lot of hours in the day to wonder....'what will I do?'
Anyway, enough of that, I just wanted to let you know that it isn't all 'beer and skittles' living this life of a gypsy in a tiny house in a van....beautiful as it is.
I still have the vision of women sharing land - each with a space for their 'tiny' mobile dwelling and sharing a common kitchen/laundry/chat space.
My trip home from Melbourne was fast! Good ole Apple Maps got me out of the city and back onto country roads quick smart and without any problems at all. Good job I had the E Toll thingy though as it did beep a couple of times. Well worth it though.
I love country driving, the quieter the road, the more I like it.
I stopped for one night at the Showgrounds of a very small town, paid my $5, had a cold shower and then slept in 30 degree heat - and it wasn't even summer!
No wonder it was a small town.
I camped by a lovely river in Cambelltown on the Midland Highway. The bridge was built in 1838!
On the road (slideshow)
and before all that...
I drove via the lakes area of Tassie. That was cool..literally..brrrr
The following (slideshow) is ...somewhere in Tasmania. Not quite sure where.
I will have to go again.
I have seen a lot in the past 3 months...
I have seen wedgetail eagles up close - they are huge!
I have seen trout leap out of the water - after the fishermen left!
I have met lovely people and shared food
I've walked in graveyards where families were buried together in the mid 1800's
I've been brave loads of times and a little scared a couple of times.
I've been very cold and hot at times too.
I've been in quiet places, noisy places, busy places and places of solitude.
I've spent many $100's on fuel and driven through..
busy highways/cities and country roads
I taken over 1000 photographs
I've been gifted.....
award winning olive oil
USBs of movies
garden fresh vegetable three times
Phew!! No wonder I feel a little strange at the moment. It was a BIG 3 months!
Sometimes I have felt like a duck...
calm on the surface and paddling like all **** under the water!
So 'Vancamerawoman' can now move on into 'vancamerawomen'.
I would like to add short stories, with a photo or two, from any gypsy women who would like to share.
If you have travelled, camped out, had an adventure as a single woman, please send me your story and I will include it in the next monthly 'blog'.
All the very best,
For more of my photos from this adventure, available to buy if you'd like to, (from postcards to posters), please go to:
...Apples. Stewed with a cinnamon stick, 4 cloves and 2 allspice berries is a very lovely breakfast on a rainy, cold day.
Fantastic crunchy, juicy and sweet apples are $1 a kilo from roadside stalls. I just can't resist. So every now and then I have to stew the ones that leap out of the basket as I drive over the occasional bump or stop quickly. Little bruises don't matter when you stew them!
So, where am I now? I'm just outside a place outside Ellendale (I Think). I was going to camp at the beautiful little town called Hamilton but the caravan owners, with their generator running, did not make that a place for me. That turned out to be a blessing in disguise didn't it? Now I am 15 minutes further on at a lovely free camp donated by the land owner.
And before I went to Russell Falls I was briefly in New Norfolk where I wandered around and bought a few food essentials. I should have gone to the chemist then instead of backtracking the next day to get some knee strapping stuff. The knee strapping seems to work though so it was well worth it. And...I called into a berry farm and bought the most delicious of 'first of the season' strawberries which are 3 bites each of yummyness.
Almost all gone😊
I visited a fantastic farm in the Huonville Valley and was lucky enough to stay the night and share fantastic food with the owners, the gardener, the chefs and friends.
Woodfired pizzas and delicious ribs all cooked outside in the big brick bread oven. Wine, champagne laughter and good conversation. Brilliant!
Then, after going back to Cygnet for the second time, this time for the markets, I moved on again and stopped at Gorden by the waterfront but it was way too windy for me. Took some nice photos though!
Next I headed for Hobart where I met up with a friend who took me to Salamanca for lunch and then for a drive up Mt Wellington.
I found myself a nice little spot near the Glenorchy sailing Club and stayed there two nights. I even managed a sunrise shoot and a trip to Bunnings for glue and sandpaper...well you never know do you?
Sunrise, my view from inside the van and David (legs) and his Puli, a dreadlocked dog
And last but not least a slideshow .... join me on the road.
From where I was last episode to where I am now. Sometimes the windscreen is grubby, sometimes it's raining.
all the best,
why do Wombats shit square poos?
Is it to make building little wombat mud brick houses easier?