This trip featured a lot of grey skies so making interesting landscapes was a challenge. Solutions to this ranged from framing the shot with trees to using gradient filters and black and white to create balanced compositions.
Soon after waking up we got a visit from airport security. He kindly asked me to move on as traffic control thought that I was too close to the runway! Errr ok sorry about that. To be fair to me there were signs saying where you couldn’t go and I hadn’t crossed that line. Quickly looking for another place to park we happened upon Sopley Woods and this turned out to a nice wood to get some shot of so out came the camera gear.
I tried to fly the drone in this wood but the software in the control system wouldn’t let me take off. Restricted airspace. Too close to the airport. I had only planned to fly it at about head height in amongst the trees as I was aware of the situation. I paid a lot of money for this drone and it’s great that it has such technology. DJI Spark if you are interested.
After that it was on to find another place to spend the night. I am realising that it’s going to take a lot of planning to find good places to park. It doesn’t help that I have so many pre-requisites. Phone signal, dog safety, dog exercise, photograph opportunities and van security to name a few. It’s not easy. I need to find and make more use of online maps and information.
However I lucked out and found a small car park leading onto Castleman Trailway. Presumably this is a very old by-way and it goes for many miles. Rivers, bridges, nature reserves all accessible by foot or bike. Out came the drone and a good walk for Lupa.
So far the trip has been going well if a little uninspiring in terms of locations but I reluctantly called my vehicle insurer to inform them of my new situation. Self-employed photographer living full time in a van around europe for a year. “Oh’ they said. They also said “sorry but that means that your current policy is not longer valid and we will cancel it in 7 days”. Just like that. 200 quids worth of insurance cancelled. Thanks a lot. It gets better then then gave me a new quote of £1400! So one thousand more than it was!
It seems that it’s the self-employed photographer part which is the problem. I have friends who full time in their campers around europe and they pay £350 ish. This is a real problem. It’s a lot of money.
Today we went to a caravan parts shop in Wimborne. The fridge isn’t cooling as well as it should and I worked out that this is due lack of ventilation at the rear of the fridge. So I needed some vent grills. This shop had some old items on the shelves. I get the feeling that camper van/motorhome industry has been around for a long old time.
Unable to resist I succumbed to the desire of fish and chips. This trip definitely has a budget and takeaways can’t be a regular thing but I’m still celebrating starting the trip so.
Looking for somewhere interesting I remembered an industrial estate on the east side of Bournemouth International Airport. I used to go there in the trucks. Seemed like a good place to go, maybe even get some night photography of the planes. Once we got here however the usual parking spots had been fenced off so we had to go into the estate itself and found a spot with a view of the runway. Sort of. Funny thing was not one plane landed. For the whole evening. Nothing.
With still a few things to sort out and the possibility of meeting up with a good friend on the 31st, before I leave the country, I decided to go and find a nicer place to stay for a bit close by. I knew that the eastern edge of the New Forest would have something and we found a place called Smuggler’s Road near Ringwood. This turned out to be a good move with space for Lupa to roam around and the weather is excellent to these days. Spent the day organising the van, I brought way too much stuff, and later got the drone out for some practice and filming.
A few walks for Lupa and soon enough the day is done.
So the journey begins…After 2 and half years of working and saving and then 3 months of converting the van and planning the whole trip the day finally arrived to leave. With the emotions of saying goodbye to everyone, the apprehension of what lay ahead and the blatant excitement of it all I have to admit i feel a little overwhelmed. Honestly as well there is more than a little “what the hell am I doing?”. Spending a year or more in a LDV Convoy with my dog? Are you deranged?
Despite that we went to Avon Beach near Christchurch, Dorset where Lupa had a swim and I rode the emotional rollercoaster. Quickly it came apparent that we couldn’t park in the Avon Beach car park overnight so I plotted a route north in the sat nav and before long we found a lay-by with no restrictions and also no view. But I don’t care. It’s the first night on many and it’s just brilliant to finally be on the trip.
I was in the workshop on Friday and looking over the evolving campervan I could see it was coming together. Still a lot to do but there is light at the end of the tunnel. There will be many tricky stages to come with the conversion but I feel like I can overcome those situations now.
The thought then occured to me that pretty soon I will be packing in the last items before climbing into the driver’s seat and heading off on a year long trip around the whole continent! Culture shock is a phrase that springs to mind. I have been so focused on getting the money saved and now getting the conversion done that I need to stop and think – “you know you are actually going to do this?”
Travelling through Europe and wild camping is going to be such a huge change from the life I am living now.
So I returned from a weekend in Paris yesterday and have edited the best shots that I took while I was there. The weather played nice and we actually had really nice skies on the sunday so we went into the old part of Paris.
This city has an incredible amount of character and history…
A couple of years ago now, I decided that I needed/wanted to do a photography adventure tour of Europe. The problem I had was that I needed money to do this. The fact was that the photography wasn’t quite paying the bills…yet.
My solution to this problem with simple. Get a job. I trained to be an HGV driver. Soon I had my Class 1 license. Class 1 are the long articulated lorries you see on the roads.
Soon after that I had a permanent position driving container lorries out of Southampton Docks. A year later I was operating lorries with trailers that could actually lift fully loaded 40ft containers on and off and therefor deliver and collect from all corners of the country.
This turned out to be the hardest work I have ever done but it did the trick and after organising minimal rent, I wasn’t there 5 nights a week, I was able to save the money needed for the trip.
This adventure would need a campervan. Winter in the Alps was on the cards and looking through classified ads and eBay I soon realised that most reasonably priced second hand campers were NOT designed to be used in the winter. Minimal insulation, large single pane windows and small condensation producing gas heating systems at best.
So I thought I would do my own camper. Buy a van…convert it into a fully insulated winter proof camper. Soon after quitting the truck life I found and rented a workshop to do the conversion. I also found a blogger who had written an ebook on how to convert a van to a camper, VanDogTraveller, and he’d used the same van as I have..
Easy then, just copy him.
Having spent the last 2 years driving trucks and getting some money saved up it is now time to get back into my favourite game. Photography.
Going back out with the camera I soon realised I was badly out of practice. A few outings later and it’s starting to come back...