Vanlife, the first week. Day 5: Wednesday

Day 5: Wednesday

OK, I’ll admit it – I haven’t had a shower since Sunday.

Yes, the van does have a shower installed, but I’m cautious about running out of water; if I have to drive to get more, I may lose the cushty parking spot. Besides, there are well-equipped showers in my work’s swanky new premises – but I keep forgetting to take a towel in with me.

I can usually go a couple of days without a shower, but by this morning even I have to admit I’m getting a bit whiffy. So I actually remember to grab the towel on the way out, and purchase some shower gel which looks disconcertingly like semen from the Sainsbury’s by the station on the way to work.

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The new Cambridge Assessment building, imaginatively named ‘The Triangle’ after the shape of the plot it was built on, is big. Really, really big. You won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemists, but that’s just peanuts to The Triangle. Listen…

Anyway, Douglas Adams quotes aside, it really is a large building and even comes with its own mapping app to find your way around. Which is fortunate, as while I once saw the showers on my initial explore of the place, I can’t for the life of me remember where they were.

Unfortunately, the app isn’t much help. It knows where I am, sure; I can see the meeting room I’m standing next to on the map. I can also see that across the corridor is the back wall of the shower area. But nothing I can find indicates how I actually get to it.

Abandoning the map, I try random corridors in vaguely the right direction and eventually discover it. There’s even a ‘drying room’ for your towels afterwards, though it is apparently ‘out of order’. Not that that stops anyone using it, including me.

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Unsurprisingly for a spiffy new building, the showers are actually brilliant. There’s a row of lockers, benches and cubicles, kind of like at a gym, but the shower has excellent pressure and really responsive temperature adjustment. This is better than my current arrangement at the house, where the water trickles lazily upwards from the tap to dribble out of the shower head, and any temperature adjustment at the tap end takes minutes to be noticeable at the shower end.

In fact, these work showers are better than any shower in any house I’ve lived in for the last twenty years. I should have started using them as soon as we moved into the new building!

So, shower accomplished, a normal work day ensures, then I head back to the van. On the way, I pick up a four pack of Joker IPA from the station Sainsbury’s – luckily it’s already chilled, so no need for the ineffectual fridge.

It’s still a bit bright for the projector, so I decide to entertain myself with a bit of a trawl through Grindr. Well hey, I’ve been single for a year now, and a man has …urges. I’m fairly surprised to find quite a few people seem to think I’m quite attractive, and apparently “funny” too, as several remark when chatting. This is encouraging, and after much flirting a tentative arrangement is made to meet up with a rather cute young feller for “fun” the next day…

I’ve fallen into a nice little routine in just these few days, so as 8:15 rolls around it’s time for a couple of pints with Layla. The projector’s down to 25% power, and I’m up to date with Bodyguard, so I set a few things downloading from iPlayer and leave it charging while we drink. Sadly, the orangey IPA is a bit lacklustre compared to previous evenings – I guess we’ve drunk it down to the bottom of the barrel.

Back at the van, it’s starting to get a bit chilly. I guess autumn is starting to draw in, and unfortunately the heating is the one aspect of the van I haven’t figured out yet. It’s got a decent Propex heater, which so far as I can tell runs off the gas cylinder and uses the leisure battery for its electric ignition – hopefully that isn’t too much of a power drain. The internal temperature is regulated by a battery powered thermostat, taking two AAA batteries, which starts the heater if the temperature drops too low.

The previous owner showed me how it worked when I bought the van, but that day it was too hot in there for the heating to actually come on. So I’ve not actually seen it work, but everything else has so far (albeit ineffectually in the case of the fridge). The previous owner also explained that some quirk of the power system meant the thermostat drained AAA batteries really quickly, so you should always remove them when not using the heating. I, of course, nodded absently, and forgot all about it. Until time came to use the thermostat – flicking the switch brings no red power light, and the LCD display remains dead.

Oh well, I think to myself, it’s still fairly mild, I can probably live without heating for the moment. I’ll look into it as and when it’s really necessary.

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