My name is Sarah, I'm an artist, forager, and writer who used to be an office worker and I'm married to Ryan, a talented mechanic. We're both outdoor enthusiasts who love a chance to get out in nature, and have been camping and practicing survival techniques for most of our lives.
We were looking for a different way...
In 2011 we were facing the process of searching for another house to rent, again. What little savings we'd managed to scratch together were set to be eaten by credit checks and fees, our plans would have to wait. The trouble was, the cost of living was going up and for all we knew it could all happen again in a year. We were looking for a different way...
We chose not to continue the cycle and sold everything we had to sell, it wasn't much but we were a few hundred pounds richer. We reclaimed our initial deposit and moved into the spare room with Ryan's parents. A couple of months of saving later and with a lowly budget of just £3000 we drove to Wales, bought a dilapidated old motor home we named Waki and set to work restoring her as best we could - now our full time home. [Meet Waki the motor home]
We started the blog to document the process and to give others the information we never had, there wasn't much help to be found on the subject back then. Now our way of life is a popular hashtag (#vanlife) as more people realise there's a better way to live than spending your entire wage on just surviving each month... Along with the vanlife movement the site has grown into a place to help more people enjoy camping, to live more sustainably or simply connect with nature, and we invite you to join us for regular tips, recommended products, recipes and informative articles - thanks for visiting!
Come and follow us on Social Media for plenty more behind the scenes, useful links and positivity!
Check out our video telling our story so far; how we came to live in a motor home & taking Waki from 'compost' to cosy!
Head over to our youtube channel and subscribe for much more to come...
I know some people think naming a vehicle is ridiculous but we figured this one needed a name, like a boat. We decided on Waki, a Hopi word for 'shelter', and lets face it we were clearly wacky to be doing this in the first place...
Waki is a coach-built motor home with an aluminium body, a 1985 Dreamliner Vogue on a Fiat cab to be exact, with an ancient Citroen diesel engine that can be run on straight vegetable oil if needs must (and that we have!).
At 20ft long, 7ft wide and 9ft tall she's a big beast - the biggest we could find for the 3.5tonne weight category since neither of us have a licence to drive anything heavier.
It does mean she's a tight squeeze down a narrow country lane, a tad slow on an incline, and we have to forego some routes or parking areas due to height restrictions but we do get to enjoy swathes of space and storage inside which made the transition easier!
Originally a 6 berth, we tore out the rear bunkbeds to make way for a bigger kitchen and upgraded the over cab bed to a more permanent fixture with a memory foam mattress. It means we have very little head room for sleeping but we find it comfortable and it means we don't need to make/unmake the bed on a daily basis. Initially we left the L-shaped sofa as a spare double bed though it has since been replaced with a two-seater reclining sofa.
The passenger cab chair swivels around to face the living area & a sturdy stool gives us an extra seat plus a step up to the bed.
We have 4 over head cupboards in the living area for clothes (2 each) as well as coat hooks by the main door and additional hanging space in the rear luggage cupboard, taking up the awkward corner behind the kitchen.
We have a huge amount of storage in the kitchen itself; a large pantry cupboard at the rear (the old wardrobe); large pan, tubs & bakeware cupboards; overhead storage for our plates/bowls/glasses & cleaning supplies; and a set of hidden sliding bins for sorting recycling and regular waste.
2 more lockers can be accessed from outside for gas bottles, the generator, folding chairs and other outdoor or 'grubby' items as well as an area on the roof itself.
Early on we agreed the kitchen needed to be quite large for full-time living and it takes up almost half of the internal space! The main part is L-shaped housing the gas oven, gas hob, 3 way fridge and also the sink and drainer. On the other side of the kitchen I wanted a separate worktop without any surface-interruptions to be able to knead bread and lay out plates whilst cooking.
A wall mounted herb planter also keeps us supplied with fresh sprouted greens!
*UPDATE* We have since removed the gas oven and replaced it with a wood stove/oven combo.
Our bathroom is essentially a plastic lined wet-room with a shower tray floor, cartridge toilet and a corner sink. The sky light keeps it nice and bright inside along with an opening frosted plastic window to the rear.
Our towels are kept on a rail on the door, which is protected by the curtain, and we have a wire rack for all our shampoos and things.
On the road water is pumped from a tank under the sofa, sourced from petrol stations and whoever is kind enough to allow us access to a tap, and as we are currently parked here at 'base camp' we are plumbed straight into the mains water supply so no more hauling!
Waste 'grey' water drains into 2 tanks under the floor which we uncap whenever we're somewhere suitable to dispose of it. The toilet cassette can only be disposed of into an official sewer or septic tanks/cess pits.
If the weather is bad the bathroom doubles as an area to hang and dry clothes with the application of our telescopic cupboard 'keeper' poles, and the heating can also be diverted into the room through a vent at floor level to speed up the process.
Initially we made do with just a blown air gas heater fitted underneath our rear locker with vents throughout the living space, though before long Ryan made a wood burning stove from a recycled gas bottle. The stove is in use most of the time during the colder months making use of free fuel - most folks all too happy to get rid of old pallets and other awkward scrap wood so we take full advantage!
We find the dry heat from the wood stove much better for drying clothes etc indoors without suffering the kind of damp and condensation we'd get using other sources of heat. For times where the smoke from the fire may make us unwelcome and when on 240V hook-up at a camp site we also have a compact 450w electric space heater which does the trick on all but the coldest of nights.
During the refurb process we added extra insulation to the walls and ceiling to maximise it's thermal efficiency which also goes a way towards keeping us cool in summer. The walls have a layer of reflective emergency-blanket foil either side of a 4mm sheet of packaging foam - on top of the standard 25mm foam insulation. The ceiling has just a layer of the foil on top of the standard 25mm foam since the extra foam would have made nailing the cladding troublesome.
*UPDATE* The wood stove has since been upgraded to a combined wood stove / oven.
Check out the blog for the full story and refurb, plus our Articles page for tips on wild camping and vanlife in general. Follow us on Social Media for plenty more behind the scenes, useful links and positivity!
We introduce Kaa, dubbed 'the well travelled Corn Snake', an unusual, charming, and quite oblivious passenger to The Waki Way of life. He is a Californian phase approx. 18 years old, (named after the Jungle Book character) and around 5ft in length - he's a bit tricky to measure exactly...
Kaa lives in a vivarium in the living area which has nice deep bedding to burrow in, and also plenty of logs and sticks to climb on or hide under. He took well to living in a motor home and despite the odd period of vibration has maintained his laid-back friendly attitude and healthy appetite for mice (which we buy frozen). He's actually turned out to be a bit of an ambassador for snakes throughout his long life and converted many ‘haters’ to admirers with his striking colours, chill nature, (and I'm certain a little hypnotism like his fictional namesake) and I'm sure he will continue to do so on future tours.
Kaa the well travelled Corn Snake #vansnake