Housework on the road

So, you’re a bit over housework. You’re considering exchanging your brick abode for a transportable home on wheels to get away from the repetitive grind. Think again! I’m about to burst your bubble….

A big house usually means lots of storage, so clutter can be hidden. In a caravan there isn’t a lot of storage, so the only possible way to keep on top of your clutter, is not to have any. For Paul and I, no matter how much we try to minimise our belongings, we still manage to accumulate ‘too much stuff’. The only way to be able to accommodate any new purchases is to either get rid of something, or re-organise. Re-organising is a common occurrence.

We came away with our short stemmed crystal wine glasses plus a set of water glasses. Recently found some stemless wine glasses that seem ideal as all rounder glass for caravanning, so we’ve purchased a set. This means we now have three sets of glasses on board until we get home and offload some. Two cupboards needed to be tidied and re-arranged to fit in the additional four glasses.

Caravanning means being parked often in sandy or dusty environments. One room, with roof vents, and lots of windows, most often all open, means dust finds it’s way in. Additionally, don’t forget, part of the reason you’ll be doing your road trips is to get out and enjoy what nature has on offer. More time spent enjoying nature’s bounty inevitably means you’re going to end up bringing home just a little bit more than photos. It may be sand on your feet from the beach, or it may be mud on your boots from the forest walk – whatever it is, some of it will find it’s way indoors. In a big house these little bits are hardly noticed. In the smaller confines of a caravan, without almost daily cleaning the sand and dust can become overwhelming if not kept on top of.

Your car and caravan isn’t going to have the protection of four walls and a roof to protect it from the elements. What nature drops on your rig is going to stay on your rig unless you remove it, and do what you can to stop it building up.

Some things are a constant, wherever you live. Laundry – in a caravan you’ll most likely have a small washing machine, and you won’t have an abundance of clothes with you.

Most caravans don’t have dishwasher. Without a dishwasher, and with a smaller kitchen dishes will need to be kept on top of.

In a house you most likely get away with a few daily chores, and a good weekly clean. In a caravan, you’ll most likely need to clean properly at least every other day. It won’t take you as long as a weekly clean in a house, but added up over the week you’re probably going to be spending almost an equal amount of time cleaning. No, you’re not going to escape the constant grind of cleaning, neither inside, or outside of your rig.

Here’s how we keep on top of things:

Paul will usually start his day with the ‘walk of shame’, as it’s termed in the caravan world – the emptying of the loo. We’re usually within the vicinity of some sort of proper loo at some point most days, so this job isn’t as bad as it otherwise could be. If you’ll excuse the literal expressions – the emptying of our loo is a bit of a pissy job, but it’s not a crappy job!

Laundry – we don’t have the luxury of a built in washing machine. Ours is a portable 3kg automatic Sphere which travels in our ute and is then set up under our awning. We manage to fill it with a load almost daily, sometimes even twice a day. We have our own little portable clothes line which we anchor into the ground at the rear of our van. We usually start our day by getting a small load of washing going prior to breakfast.

Our caravan interior is white powder coated aluminium. Spray window cleaner keeps it smear proof and clean. After the breakfast dishes are done, I grab a cleaning cloth and use the window cleaner to give the benches, mirrors, hand basin, and shower a bit of a clean, and attend to any marks on the walls at the same time. It all only takes a few minutes. Then a quick sweep of the floor, and a hands and knees job with a damp cloth to remove any remaining bits of dust, dirt or sand keeps on top of that.

By the time the bed’s made, the dishes are done and the caravan has had it’s daily once over, the washings ready to be hung out, then we’re done. We both share these daily tasks (except for the loo, emptying – I take care of most of the food preparation, so I figure I’m taking care of what goes into the loo, – it only seems fair than Paul should take care of it after that stage).

The outside needs to be kept on top of too, and the inside often needs a bit of deeper cleaning. So, two or three times within a four month trip, Paul will give the exterior of the car and van a good clean, sometimes even applying a coat of polish, and I’ll give the leather seating inside a good clean, and deep clean inside all the cupboards.

Polishing the car.

Telescopic ladder used for accessing the roof for cleaning.

We’re currently parked under a tree which is sometimes inhabited by bats over night. Occasionally we’ll wake to a sea mist, not often, but it creates a problem when it happens. The mist accumulates in the overhead tree foliage and drops like raindrops onto the van, bringing with it orange dust laced with dried bat droppings. Left on, the orange dust will grind into the fibreglass, and the bat droppings will eat away at the coating. So, washing it off becomes a necessity if the van is to remain looking good. A coat of polish now and again makes future occurrences easier to deal with.

It’s all just had a good clean. Neither of us are fanatical about keeping it good, but we do manage to keep on top of it. It’s not uncommon for fellow travellers to comment on our van’s finish, and they find it hard to believe it’s been on the road for almost ten years now. Yes – there’s still housework and cleaning to be done even in a caravan there’s no escape unless you’re fortunate enough to be able to afford a daily cleaner. Is it worth it though? We don’t get away from the housework, but we do get away from the winter weather, we do get out and explore, we do meet new people. To us, it’s a dream life,  so is it worth it – you betcha it is.

Newly cleaned, and polished – note portable clothes line to the rear.

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The world of blogging

Recently I published a blog post titled, Words. It was the type of post I’m a little nervous about posting as it involves opinions, and I fear being labelled opinionated. However, as the post was about labelling people, or passing judgement, I posted it despite my reservations.  There were a couple of comments from a fellow blogger added to that blog that brought to mind the value of blogging.  Amanda stated that fellow bloggers tend to be supportive rather than judgemental. As Amanda rightly pointed out, the comments added to a blog post by fellow bloggers usually lack the sometimes less savoury tone that can follow thought provoking posts on Facebook.

Amanda’s comments caused me to realise how important blogging has become to me, and the reasons why. ‘The value of blogging’. Here’s what it means to me:

Firstly, it’s a big technological learning curve, and one I’ve barely started to conquer. But I’m working on it. I’m starting to learn to wrap words around pictures, but I haven’t perfected it yet. During this post I’m attempting to link previous blog posts. I won’t know if I’ve succeeded until I’ve hit publish. I’m also trying to get added comments following on from my post. Most of the blogs I follow use this format, and it works well. I’m still working on that one.

After I joined the world of blogging I started following a number of other blogs. It’s opening up my mind to whole world of different topics. My interests  are expanding, and I feel like I’m learning more than I’ve ever learnt before in my entire life.  Insprational travel stories (and a wealth of other topics) from leggypeggy.com
Some amazing photos, and photography tips from Susan Portnoy at theinsatiabletraveller.com                                                                      Thought provoking quotes from quiverquotes.com                                       And I just love forestwoodfolkart.wordpress.com , in which Amanda writes about all manner of things – Scandinavia, proverbs, recipes, crafts…. There’s so much to learn from so many people.

I look forward to receiving emails alerting me to one of their new blog posts. Often after I’ve read what they’ve written questions come to mind. A recent post was on Cinque Terre in Italy. I had no idea where that was, so I looked it up,  and now I know – another little bit of knowledge accumulated.  Or sometimes a photo of a dish someone has enjoyed in a restaurant will get my taste buds tingling and have me searching the net for a recipe so as I can have a go at cooking it myself.

Originally my blog was just about letting my close friends and family know where we were, and what we were doing. I never had any intentions of expanding beyond that. However, I’ve always enjoyed writing, and when people I’ve never met started to get value out of some of my posts, expanding my topics seemed logical. And so my blog has evolved from just being about our Australian road trip, to being about absolutely anything that stimulates my desire to write. It’s recommended that blogs predominantly stick to the one theme, but I tend to be a bit eclectic, so my blogs a bit eclectic too.

I love it when something stimulates my interest enough to write about it. Take for example my post on Bower birds last year, https://lifeofrileyow.com/2016/09/14/the-spotted-bower-bird/

The lilac crest displayed on a male Spotted Bowerbird.

or my more recent post in Broome Tides, https://lifeofrileyow.com/2017/07/20/broome-tides-explained/

The tourists have arrived, and so has high tide.

I knew very little about both, but my interest had been tweaked enough that I wanted to do a blog post on each of those topics. I needed to know more though, so I spend several hours both researching, and observing. In the case of Broome tides I spend several weeks observing the ebb and flo of the tides before I could begin to write about them. Now I have a good basic knowledge.

There are times when I’ve realised I haven written anything for a while. With the realisation that I haven’t written anything comes the realisation that it’s because I’m not doing anything. That then prompts me to get motivated and do something, or to go somewhere. I’ve always loved learning, loved reading, loved writing, loved cooking, and loved my garden. There’s so much to do, so much to learn, so many things to write about. Somehow blogging keeps me motivated, keeps me stimulated, keeps me moving, keeps me learning…

So for anyone considering starting a blog, I’d thoroughly recommend it. For me it’s taken my life to a whole new level I’m sure it will be for you too.

Words

A friend recently posted on FB that she hates judgemental people. It brought to mind something I’d heard sometime ago – the minute you label someone as being judgemental, you are being exactly the same. Yes, I’m as guilty as the next person of being judgemental. I think we all are. We all have our values that we live by, and when someone does something that doesn’t sit right with our particular values, we can become judgemental.

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Reality TV has a lot to answer for

I’ve just arrived home from Wednesday’s walk with my local walking group. The topic of conversation whilst we enjoyed our morning coffee was a further scathing restaurant review published in last weekend’s newspaper. On behalf of Amelia Park Lodge, we’ve all taken umbrage at this second review. None of us could relate to it, and we all found it to be not only completely unjustified, but cruel and malicious.

You’ll remember last week I wrote about the lovely lunch we had ALL enjoyed at Amelia Park Lodge. Our visit had followed on an unfavourable review by another local restaurant reviewer, so we hadn’t known what to expect. Not one of us could relate to that review, and now this second scathing review has us more than slightly annoyed.

In this latest review the baby Kale Caesar I had so much enjoyed had been given particular mention, the ingredients listed as an ‘improbable combination’, and given the pompous summary of, ‘Jesus wept’. The only thing that seemed to receive any sort of favourable commment in the whole review was the commercial seeded  mustard.

Reading this latest review, I’m sure,  if there is a Jesus, he would indeed be weeping. Not, however at the the menu, which John Lethlean summarised as, ‘a collection of dishes with no common thread’. I suspect Jesus would be weeping at how pompous and insensitive society is becoming.  Jesus would be weeping that people such as John Lethlean and Rob Broadfield are being paid good money to write what to all of us amounted to virtual libel. What is the world coming too! Has common decency completely gone out the window?

All of the ladies from the walking group live in the South West. We dine out regularly, including places that offer both good honest food, and fine dining amongst our choices. There’s no shortage of both in the region, and none of us are by any means country bumpkins that don’t know the difference.

Where has all this insensitivity come from? Why are these restaurant reviewers so scathing in their reviews? There was absolutely nothing any of us could relate to in either review. Even if there had been, we all agreed that a little constructive criticism would have been far more appropriate.

Reviewers seem to be following in the footsteps of the judges on reality TV shows. I think the contestants in such shows are screened, and groomed, and counselled to help them deal with possible psychological damage from the insenstivity of the judges. Sadly, nastiness seems to make for good TV ratings. The question arises in my mind as to how the chefs, staff, and restaurant owners are dealing with the maliciousness of such written attacks that are now commonplace.  Reviews such as these must surely be impacting the businesses, and the lives of all those who work there. How many people out there are in need of counselling to help them deal with the repercussions of reviews such as these.

To all the reviewers out there, please, please start to make this world a better place. You are not ‘reality TV judges’. The people suffering the repercussions of your cruel insensivety are not ‘willing contestants’ in reality TV shows. They’re just real people trying to make a living. The businesses have clientele who are being influenced by what you write. The staff of the businesses have friends and families who read these humiliating reviews. The reviews could literally spell the end for a restaurant, or the uncalled for sacking of a chef. The repercussions of both could go on to have further devastating consequences for the individuals involved, or their families. I’m not saying reviews should be dishonest, but constructive criticism would make for a far better world to live in than the destructive reviews of both Mr Lethlean and Mr Broadfield.  One Gordon Ramsay in the world is more than enough!

If you want your life to change, change your life!

I love quotes and proverbs. The one above is one I read a good few years ago.

There’s been times in my life since, when things haven’t been going as well as I’d like. It’s so easy to wish and hope that, at such times, things will magically change without any input by me.  Experience tells me though that ‘magic’ doesn’t ‘magically’ happen. Experience tells me that, ‘ if I always do what i’ve always done, i’ll always get what i’ve always got’, (I love that one too). When the changes have happened, it’s been me, myself, I, (or me and mine), that’s caused the changes. We’ve made the changes, and the changes we’ve worked at, have changed our lives. No magic involved.

It’s easy to hear someone be-moaning their bad fortune and to clearly see the changes they need to make. I remember well a person I used to work with . He never had a cent to his name. He used to tell me how lucky I was to be able to afford holidays.

Our place of work didn’t supply tea or coffee, but they provided a good kitchen with fridges and microwaves. My colleague always arrived at work with a take away coffee and a takeaway toasted penini from the local cafe for his breakfast. At morning tea he walked around the block returning with his second takeaway coffee, and often a muffin. He  went out for lunch daily too.

I had my breakfast of yogurt and fruit before I left home in the mornings.  I kept a jar of Nescafé at my desk, and a litre of milk in the work fridge. I either cooked extra dinner at night and brought in left-overs to microwave, or I made a salad the night before for my next days lunch. Once a week I treated myself to a takeaway coffee and muffin for morning tea, and once a week I treated myself to a takeaway Greek salad from the local cafe – they did make lovely coffee, muffins, and the best ever Greek salad.

My holiday money didn’t come by luck, or by magic. It came because I went without things through the year, saving the money for other things. It was easy to see that my colleague could easily change some simple things that he was doing, and his financial situation would ‘magically’ change accordingly.

There’s a couple of things I’d like changed in my life now. Nothing major, and certainly nothing that’s out of my control. But I keep doing what I’ve always done, just waiting for the ‘magic’, to magically happen. If I mentioned the things I’d like changed,  anyone who knows me will clearly be able to see the changes I Should be making. It’s easy for outsiders to see the glaringly obvious….. it’s not hard for me to see either. Perhaps it’s time. Time for me to took ownership, time to take control, time to ‘change what I’ve always done.’  With one of those things being a greater level of fitness, – I guess it’s time for me to get off my butt and go for a walk.

Website tidy up

Finally I’ve touched base with grandson Tim and picked his very clever technical brain for some tips on tidying up this website. As a result, the clean-up has begun.

I’ve started quite a few new classifications and have re-classified most old posts – previously most posts were lumped together in ‘unclassified’. I really am very technically challenged! but I’m working on it.

It’s by no means up to the standard of organisation I see in some of the wonderful blogs I follow, but it is organised better today than it was yesterday.

I’ve created categories for Tasmania, The East Coast, Northern Territory, South West WA, and WA The Kimberleys. I imagine the Kimberleys will shortly expand considerably when we’ve completed the Gibb River – wow, we’re only two weeks from setting off for this years trip north. It’s scary how quickly the time has flown by. I think that will be the most exciting to date.

There’s now also categories for family, friends, and our places (our homes in both WA and Tassie), as well as categories for England and other travel. And there’s categories related to ‘Our Rig’ detailing how it’s evolved over the years including repairs and alterations.

So now if you’re reading a post and want to read more related to the same topic, you’ll be able to click on the hyperlink at the conclusion of the post.

I’ve still to work out how to get a proper menu listing of categories at the top of the home page. I’ll be catching up with a Tim again when we pass through Perth in two weeks time, so I’ll pick his brains again then. Watch this space for an even organised web site….

A stitch in time…

Don’t you just love proverbs, I know I do. One of my favourites is, ‘A stitch in time, saves nine’.

Taken literally, I think this refers to the odd little stitch that’s needed for repair, the hem on trousers that starts to unravel, the button on a shirt that’s coming lose, the side seam on a skirt thats starting to separate. As we all know, if we take action immediately it’s only going to take a minute to repair, a bare stitch or two. However, when ignored, it can become a momentous task, sometimes with undesirable consequences – the trouser hem that completely unravels and you end up tripping over it, the button that completely falls off and gets lost rendering the shirt unwearable until time is taken to find a replacement matching button, and the embarrassment of the side seam on a skirt extending beyond decency.

Reflecting on how ‘time poor’ people  seem to be today despite all the wonderful time saving devices now available, leaves me wondering if it isn’t time to bring back some of the age old proverbs that used to be mantras to live by.

Extending the idea of ‘A stitch in time…..’ to everyday life beyond a needle and thread, I can think of a few time saving ideas that could go a long way to creating a few more minutes in a day to spend doing something wonderful, or perhaps, having the luxury of a few minutes in which to do nothing at all!

Here’s a few that come to mind:

Laundry: Don’t overload your washing machine (it’ll screw up your clothes too much), and use a gentle spin. Hang clothes on the line carefully with thought to minimising ironing, or better still negating any need to iron at all. Fold and hang clothes immediately they’re taken off the line, even if it’s something that does need ironing.  Less time will be needed to iron a blouse that’s been hanging on a hanger,than if the blouse stays screwed up in an ironing basket. You may not have time to empty your clothes line completely all in one go. Decrease the line load – each time you go past the clothes line grab just a few items, perhaps a shirt or two that can be hung up immediately, or a few tea towels that can be folded and put away. Three such trips will make the final unload so much easier to deal with. If you have space, perhaps in the laundry or a spare room, leave your ironing board set up. It’ll make it so much easier to iron a couple of items without having to set up and take down the ironing board repeatedly.

Meals: Cook in bulk and freeze. Line plastic containers with freezer bags for the frozen left overs and when frozen, remove from the container, label and stack in the freezer. You’ll fit considerably more meals in your freezer in freezer bags than you will in plastic containers. Reheating a frozen meal in the microwave is not only more time saving that going out to purchase takeaway, it’s better for both you, and your bank balance. If you need to make sandwiches for lunches, make them in bulk with meat and pickle, or  cheese  and chutney fillings and freeze in sandwich bags. A small salad container can be packed in the morning to go with the frozen sandwich if time permits, if not, perhaps a stick of celery and an apple and you have a reasonably healthy lunch that’s taken no time at all.

Dishwashing:  Rinse and reuse your cups and glasses until you’re turning your dishwasher on, that way you won’t end up with an empty cup drawer and a dishwasher full of dirty cups. Stack the dishwasher as you go, and teach other family members to do the same. Consider if the dishwasher is going to save time – sometimes it can be quicker to do a sink full of dishes by hand that to spend the time filling and emptying the dishwasher. When emptying the dishwasher, use the same principle as clothes from the clothes line – if you haven’t time to empty the whole dishwasher, whittle away at it. A few items removed while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil will make the full load smaller to deal with later.

That’s just a few things I can think of. I’m sure you can think of many more. Care to share…..