Vanlife, Why We Don't Like the UK.
It seems like such a long time since we left our 'normal' way of life to live a life of freedom travelling full-time on the road. In fact, though we have only just entered our 3rd month of travelling and we've crammed so much in, it feels much longer. Those of you following our travels will know we spent our first 6 weeks travelling to Portugal and then back up via the south of Spain before returning to England to visit my mum. We then went off to Yorkshire and Wales and are currently heading up through Shropshire for a further week in the Peak District before we head to Belgium, Holland and again Spain in Sept.
So what have we learnt in those first few months you ask? Well we've made many mistakes and learnt much which we'll cover off in a video, but suffice to say we dont like the UK as much as mainland Europe, here's why:
1/ The Weather
We all know us British like a whinge, in winter it's too cold, too wet, when we get a brief heat wave it's too hot, too humid, not enough rain to water the garden.....
BUT its been ridiculous, we arrived back into the UK from Europe on that last day of the heatwave, it was wonderfully sunny and 35 degrees, then came rain and LOTS of it followed by gales and in parts floods as we headed up to York it was torrential, thence came fog, lots of fog and in 2 weeks we've had barely anything you could call even an English summer. Apart from snow we've had all manner of frankly just really poor weather. Its the middle of August and we've had to put the heater on!
2/ Bins and Rubbish Disposal.
I'd not really noticed before but there are almost no bins anywhere in the UK. Park ups have none, supermarkets rarely have any and unlike Europe there are no communal town bins so its actually very hard to get rid of your rubbish. In Europe bins were everywhere, all our park ups even remote mountain ones there was always a bin on hand or one close by, bins on the beach, bins in the carparks, bins at every supermarket, but not so in the good ol' UK. We'd find ourselves driving round with days of rubbish trying to locate somewhere to bin it, which when you're in a small space isn't a great deal of fun!
3/ Internet and Wifi
We have an internet roof dome booster connected to a router in The Sub so we can either connect to this like traditional home wifi or tether off our phones. In Europe even in the remotest of areas we always had a reasonable signal, more often than not a great signal. We require the Internet for work, so its very important for us that we can access the Internet daily. In the UK its really poor in comparison, even in some less remote areas we had little or no signal. Im currently parked up in a pub car park in a town and the signal strength is zero to poor and drops in and out. We've been at several park ups that we've had to leave due to getting no signal, in 2 weeks in the UK we've had to drive to get better signal many times, whereas in Europe we had no issues with our signal at all. Up the Pyrenees full signal, on the Brecon Beacons NO SIGNAL! By the beach in Spain, full signal, by the beach in Wales NO SIGNAL!
We all know if travelling in a moho or van and not using campsites that the UK isnt really set up for us travellers or for van life, but again until we'd made the comparison not only are decent wild camps few and far between in the UK but even general parking is nigh impossible. Not a single supermarket even in more tourist hotspots have camper van parking sized bays, the supermarkets are also always very busy in the UK so as we require 2 to 3 car sized spaces to park our van often we'd travel some distance to get to a supermarket to then not be able to park. We visited some tourist areas such as Whitby where we wanted to go to the Abbey, it has its own car park but it has a height restriction/barrier so no parking for us, we drove round Whitby and the only car park without a height restriction was full so no Whitby for us, this was the same in many/all towns. Conversely in Europe everywhere has designated camper van sized parking, all supermarkets. all places of interest, beaches town car parks etc all accommodated us.
Finding water to fill up is easy in Europe, ridiculously easy, every garage has water, some wild camps had taps too and many town car parks did to. Additionally Aires were plentiful most with free water. The UK there simply isn't water anywhere, many garages just have air so unless we want to effectively steal water from a graveyard/church as some do we seriously struggled at times to get water resorting to finding farms or campsites so we could top up.
So whilst you cannot deny parts of the UK are incredibly beautiful it's much harder to get water, to park, to dispose of rubbish, get online, and Van Life is a much harder even stressful affair travelling in the UK. In areas of outstanding beauty in the UK there is often not parking or no overnight parking. Additionally I hadnt noticed or been aware just how busy the UK is, it feels overpopulated in comparison and the roads even the small ones are MUCH busier that mainland Europe even in the summer months. That's before you get back to the unpredictable UK weather, so much so that weve decided wherever possible to avoid it and stick to Europe. God help us when Brexit, if it ever does, kicks in if we are stuck with travelling the UK for 90 Days out of every 180!
I'll leave you with some of the best bits of the UK it's fabulous scenery. If only it were all that good and a lil more van life friendly.....