Electrickery is very much not my area of expertise, so as well as my vague descriptions for the systems we decided to install in our van conversion project, I have also asked Mr. Wombat to draw out a circuit diagram. This is included at the end.
When we scoped out how we would use the van, a few things stood out as being necessary to make it work for us when it came to electrics:
Sockets to charge phones, tablets, and occasionally a laptop (when on and off grid)
Heating of some kind for year round use. We decided that we would probably be on campsites most of the time out of season, and it was much cheaper (and simpler and quieter) to install electric underfloor heating than a diesel heater.
After much research and weighing up of options, this translated into a shopping list that looks something like this:
If you are a collared dove, apparently September is nesting season. The collared doves in our garden always seem to spend most of the year working out how to build a nest and then finally work it out about 5 months after every other species, and 2021 was no exception. If you are a collared dove, it is apparently perfectly reasonable to expect a few sticks balanced in a tree to support an egg. We notice these hair-brained attempts at home-building when sticks start appearing on the patio in the same spot under a tree for a few days in a row. I suppose if you look at the size of the bird’s head, the brain to body size ratio can’t be large. After 3 or 4 failed attempts at nest making, we managed to take the above photo at the start of the month in a rather wobbly rose arch.
I am now 5 months into semi-retirement and September saw the start of my first consecutive 4 non-working week period. When I renegotiated my contract at work, one of the stipulations was that I was able to take 4 consecutive non-working weeks at least once per year.
As the month progressed, August shaped up to be a good pressure test for whether the monthly income from our investments at a 4% withdrawal rate would hold up to an ‘expensive’ month. It seemed like every day there was a new expense, so I was wondering how it would balance out when I came to write this post. We have been comfortably within our hypothetical income from investments every month so far this year. So, how did we finish up…..?
This month brought a tragic reminder of why we embarked on this FIRE journey in the first place; why we wanted to make time for the things we want to do, rather than the things we have to do to earn money, while we are still healthy enough to enjoy them.
We have chosen to convert an H1 (low roof) van to ensure we have access to all the places we might want to go in it – from carparks to small country lanes etc . This means that there is not a lot of height to play with inside the van and we want to maintain as much of that height as possible during the conversion. This also means that a lot of thought has gone in to how best to insulate and fit the floor and ceiling.
Two months into semi-retirement and I have only worked one week in June! The weather has been decidedly changeable, so it has been great to have the flexibility to get out and enjoy the sunshine between showers.
The next instalment in the tale of the van conversion involved cutting more holes. After the nerve-wracking experience of making that first cut in a perfectly sound panel in order to fit the window, we were a bit more confident this time. There was still a lot of measuring and cardboard template making involved though!
My first full month of semi retirement went by incredibly quickly, despite only half of it being spent working. It is far too early to tell how this version of semi-retirement will work for me, as right now it just feels like I’ve had a 2 week holiday, with the month being divided with the first 2 weeks working and the second two being ‘non-working’ weeks. The first of those non-working weeks was spent in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales, and it did feel great to get outside of a 30 minute radius of home for the first time in months. We even ventured out to a local pub for dinner for the first time since last October.
What is likely to be my last month of full time work ever, went by in a flash. It doesn’t really seem real yet – especially as I will be starting May with 2 weeks full time in the office!
I have agreed a schedule of working weeks with my boss which totals half of the remaining year and allows me to take up to 4 ‘non-working’ weeks in one go. This schedule has me working more during key periods for the business, and working less during less busy periods (at least that’s the theory). I expect there will be some swapping of weeks by mutual agreement as the year progresses, but it is a good place to start.
Semi-retirement at 43 is a pretty big milestone in my life, and the numbers are looking similarly momentous this month. I have no idea how long this upward trajectory can sustain, but we’ll enjoy it while it lasts.
If you watch 5 different You Tube videos on how to insulate a panel van, you will probably see 5 different ways of doing it, and plenty of opinion on why any other way of doing it is flawed. We decided to do what made sense to us, and have settled on a combination of 3 different materials.