Truck life prep: Make your bed, change the world!

If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed

An oldie but a goodie! 

Most days we do make the bed, maybe 9/10 days – but we can say for definite that at the end of the day, heading to a bed that is made up is a lot better than when you have to tidy the mess before you lay your head to rest!

We have much to say on this matter, literally and metaphorically, but I think that Admiral William H. McRaven’s famous words sum it up best;

“If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right. If, by chance, you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that’s made. That you made. And a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.”

– Admiral William H. McRaven’s Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World 

Do you make your bed every morning? What other little wins do you have in your day?

Click here for more details and lots of photos of our Penelope’s journey so far!

Truck life prep: Tidy space, tidy mind?

Experience a calmer space

This one perplexed us a little as it encourages you to tidy your kitchen by putting your appliances into cupboards, which is something we already do, but is that not just hiding things?  Perhaps we missed the point, we’re sure the idea is that if it’s put away, you don’t use it, and if you don’t use it, you can get rid? 

It did encourage Kerry to challenge whether she truly needs two blenders and a soup maker (that also blends for smoothies) but mostly that we have a load of food in my cupboard that I’ve not even looked at for a long time – so side-challenge; what can we make with our cupboard basics? One pan if possible – now is a good a time as any to practice cooking as we will in the truck! 

Time to do something with that quinoa… 


Click here for more details and lots of photos of our Penelope’s journey so far!

Truck life prep: It’s how you use it…

Every possession should serve a purpose and bring joy to your life

This one strikes us on a day where we battle with the online world (ironic that we’re writing a blog about it for you to read online, no?) – but also the the concept that it is not what you have, but what you do with it. 

The internet, social media, your smart phone; good or evil? Productivity or procrastination? I mean, for us it depends on the hour! (the procrastination – never evil!) But mostly, the intention for the way we share our content and message online is one of inspiration, motivation and growth, personal and community. 

Yes, we can end up in a spiral of pointless investigation from time to time, or a place of negative connection and comparison, but I think as long as you can ask yourself what you’re getting from it and answer truthfully, that’s a habit you can kick! 

As for stuff in the house – as I looked at the image on the Month of Minimalism blog (a white mug sat on a white surface) I packed up all but 4 mugs, the saucers we never use, the ‘spare’ set of dishes we have and some of our other kitchen ware we never use and will take it to the charity shop next week.

So to pose the question from the blog – what are you holding onto that no longer adds value to your life?  

Let us know! 


Click here for more details and lots of photos of our Penelope’s journey so far!

Truck life prep: A month of Minimalism

This might seem a bit off-topic for a truck build blog, but this does fit very much with our plans, and aligns with our values! 

We’ve just rediscovered theminimialists.com and after starting their podcast (from 2016 – only a little bit late!) we’ve decided to take two of their tips on board;

  1. A Month of Minimalism (from even further back in 2015!) 
  2. Don’t wait – start right now – because ‘someday’ might never happen

And from us; 

  1. We’re soon to be selling our house to live in a truck! 

So day 1/31 is simple; Ask yourself a question: how might your life be improved by having less ‘stuff’? The idea being to challenge the idea that having ‘that thing’ will make you happy and help you evaluate what brings true value to your life (relationships included – but more on that later down the line).

As Kerry shared a photo just this morning from @thejunkyardjournals on Instagram about challenging our behaviours around this time of year (it’s the 19th December!) and normalising regifting, sharing experiences and time together over consuming more ‘stuff’, this couldn’t have come at a better time. 

Now we wouldn’t say that we own a LOT of stuff, in fact over the years with lots of moving around and travelling, we have de-cluttered a lot, or sold a lot depending on the finances at the time.  We also feel less connected to ‘things’ and more to adventure and experience the more we travel and explore. But we do still have a long way to go in terms of reducing the things we ‘own’. 

So, in answer to the day one question – as well as a good old clear out, our motivation is more the contribution to the concept of recycling, borrowing, lending and the community that this brings.  Although this also brings about connotations of free loading or being ‘cheap’ – that’s quite simply not the case (and usually something suggested by the people who want you to buy their things!), why own all the things, when you can borrow something, or let someone borrow, something you’re not using right now anyway!? 

So it’ll be a work in progress all the same, we do still have a LOT of things that won’t come with us to the truck, that will be difficult to part with sentimentally, but there are also a lot of habits and attitudes that we still want to challenge along the way. 

Fancy joining us? Read The Minimialists post on their Month of Minimalism here. and let us know – we’d love to hear about it.

Kerry, Craig & Penelope


Click here for more details and lots of photos of our Penelope’s journey so far!

We’re taking a break from the build…

… but ramping up the travel planning! 

Our living room walls are plastered with maps, pictures and goals – Kerry has been listening to Big Ideas for Small Business on Audible (highly recommended) so we have 90 day goals, broken down into monthly goals – it’s great to have a vision for the end of February!  

If you fancy a free trial of Audible, use this link, we will get a tiny kickback!

She’s come a long way in the last 12 months, from Army Green to Adventure Orange, she’s travelled from Doncaster to Oldham and home to Warrington, with a brief trip to Norfolk for her crown and she hasn’t faltered – she’s a warrior is our Queen P! 

The cab has been stripped right back and treated, painted, sound proofed, carpeted and had new seats, seatbelts, lights – you name it, it’s almost unrecognisable!

Before…
After!!

She’s also had a new fuel tank, fuel lines and sediment filter and of course, her crown – the roof rack made by Jonathan of J H Engineering… we’re heading back there soon too for something exciting!

We think we’ve already blown the projected budget, we’ve yet to do the math – when we do we’ll let you know…

We’re excited for this next chapter, we’ve learned a LOT so far already and as we approach this next phase of the build we’re calling on all of our friends and family for advice (and to borrow their tools!); we’re about to learn a whole lot more. 

Stay tuned, follow us on our socials for the small updates and we will be back on YouTube properly with Season 2 in the new year! 

That’s it for now, but we will leave you with or motto;

Follow your dreams – they know the way! 

Kerry & Craig

Do you want exclusive content and early access?

We’ll be updating our Patreon only feed every few weeks with updates on the build, travel plans, remote income stuff, what’s going on with us, the odd discount code for some of our awesome partners and just general feel good vibes!

Kerry & Craig’s North Coast 500

With all of our travel plans for 2020 completely cancelled and our Penelope Plans having to  slow down, we decided to hire a van and spend a week driving, parking, walking, camping in the UK. 

We had two options – North or South, but with children likely to be off school – we felt that the north would have less children running around screaming (don’t get us wrong, we love kids, we just choose not to spend our holidays with them) so we decided to take up something Craig has wanted to do for a long time – the NC500 (that’s North Coast 500 if, like me, you didn’t know), taking in the sites of the North Coast of Scotland. 

FAST FACTS

  • Distance: 516 miles (ish – we’ll be going a little ‘off path’ – as per)
  • Trip length: 7 days 
  • Accommodation: Various (camp sites and Park4Night)
  • Transport:  VW T5 (for now – See the van on GoBoony.co.uk here)

The Camera equipment is still basic in that we use our iphones, but we also bought ourselves a drone the day before we left (the credit card is still warm to the touch!) so we will be able to do the stunning highlands some justice.  

Day 1  – Inverness – The Gateway to the Scottish Highlands

A 6am start to go pick up the van from LGF, then we brought it home, threw in the bags and hit the road… for 7 hours!  We’re both on the insurance so we took it in turns, just the one stop for a vegan sausage roll from Greggs on the way.

We did a food shop at Tesco in Inverness, planning our one pot meals ahead meant we could save money on eating out and last minute buying.  

Back at the van we had a big old pot of easy pasta with tomato and roast veg sauce and even treated ourselves to some violife ‘cheese’ on top.  We shared our dinner straight from the pot rather than put into bowls – less dishes (life hack or just lazy??) and with a glass of red wine tried watching an episode of Down to Earth before crashing right out. 

Accommodation: Bunchrew Caravan Park, a tad pricey at £25 for the night, with an electric hook up and hot showers, but after that drive, we weren’t all that fussed and the view pretty good too…

The view from Bunchrew Caravan Park

Day 2: Inverness to Port Mahomack

After a quick breakfast, coffee and a hot shower at the camp site we took a short drive today after the long one yesterday, we wanted to stretch our legs!  

Our camp for the night is an hour and a half away from our first (our second and final camp – it’s ‘wild camping’ from there on in – though I don’t like that term – that’s for when we’re in the tent).

We stopped at Munlochy Cloothie Well on the way as it was close by, such an eerie pace! 

Clootie wells are wells or springs, almost always with a tree growing beside them, with an assortment of garments or rags left, often tied to the branches of the trees surrounding the well. The tradition is that if you are ill you need to tie a piece of cloth that belongs to you to the tree near the well after it has been dipped in the water of the well. 

After this, and a little chat with two ladies passing by who were interested in the van and very excited to hear about Penelope (we gave them a sticker – obv), we hit the road again and took the one hour drive up to Tarbat Ness Light House, and we were so very glad we did!  The clouds parted and the sun shone down and it was stunning up there, we spent a little time wandering around the cliffs and down to the waters edge before heading back to the van for a brew with a view.

Tarbat Ness Light House

Craig to to play with his drone too – video coming soon! 

After a little lunch – a Mexican bean wrap with some Sheese and Onion crisps (game changer!) – we went back down the road, literally, to our camp for the night. We met the lovely owner John and hooked up our electric.  This is our last night with an electric hook up so it’s time to charge everything up and settle in (and update this blog!).

Tonight’s dinner is tofu and mushroom curry with rice and another glass of red wine – we are on holiday after all! 

Accommodation: Port Mahomack caravan site, £10 per night, with a little meter for the showers, which we are happy to pay.  

We enjoyed the luxury of a hook up and hot showers, as well as supporting a few local businesses, we were also looking forward to the solitude of a wild park up for the rest of the trip!

Day 3: Port Mahomack to Reiss Sands

Today we took a leisurely drive to Kerry’s personal highlight of the trip; Castle Sinclair Girnigoe via Dunrobin Castle and a little wander to Carn Laith Broch – as well as a little surprise location! 

Dunrobin Castle isn’t our cup of tea really, and half of it was closed, we paid anyway and had a mini tour of the castle (one of the guides told us about the bit that was closed off and it does sound quite interesting tbh) but the real treat was in the walk around the outside, through enchanting woodland and around to a little bay where we were treated to a quick sight of a seal pup and it’s mother nearby – we didn’t get a photo so you’ll just have to believe us!  Some things are meant to be for our eyes only after all.

Just down the road, and quite randomly by the side of the road, we had to stop at Carn Liath Broch, an ancient structure and with lots of them dotted throughout Scotland in various states of ruin, this one had a guard cell and a stairway running up between the two walls, which would have led to upper floors and although only the base remains now, it would have been around 3 times as tall at least.

Read more about Broch’s here at NorthCoast500.com

After this, we hopped into the van and headed for Castle Sinclair but on the way, Craig made a seemingly random right turn to find somewhere to stop for lunch, we followed the signs for ‘harbour’ and came across a true hidden gem – Lybster Bay, where we had lunch of ‘Cheese’, hummus and salad wraps followed up with vegan magnums we bought the day before (yay for that little freezer compartment!).

On to Castle Sinclair Girnigoe, perched precariously on a cliff edge this stunning ruin is in a critical state of dilapidation but wonderful efforts have been made for it’s conservation and even some restoration.  With great information and illustrations of how the castle would have looked, you can really get a feel for how this place looked and thrived throughout its history.  

You can read a great story of the castle’s history here including it’s interesting demise and even deliberate ruin – https://www.northlinkferries.co.uk/caithness-blog/a-trip-to-castle-sinclair-girnigoe

The original plan was to camp here for the night, but something said that we should carry on a little further, so with a brief stop at Tesco for some unnecessary but essential supplies (chocolate) we pushed on and found Reiss Sands, only an extra 10 minutes away but well worth it! The beach here is gorgeous and there is an awesome remains of a shipwrecked trawler! 

We parked, we had dinner (tofu chilli and rice!) and a glass of red wine then off to bed – we had an early start planned for Day 4! 

Day 4 (Thursday) Reiss Sands – Port of Droman

Day 4 was a day of winding roads and ticking a few more things off the tourist to do list!

We started our day early with a wander up to Old Keiss Castle, another ruin not far from where we had parked up.  It was so much smaller close up than we imagined it would be but it was still impressive nonetheless.  

Then we hit the road up to Duncansby head to see the sea stacks and we were not disappointed.  The weather had turned today from bright blue to moody grey skies, no less majestic though as we were treated to some stunning views and surrounded by more bird species than we could think of – the sounds of hundreds of birds in one place on the cliffs was incredible.

Back on the road now, our next stop was Castle Varrich (via John O Groats for the obligatory photo!), another small structure, more of a tower than a castle, approached by a nice little stroll from the village of Tongue.  We didn’t actually get a great photo of this one so you’ll have to read about it here; www.thecastlesofscotland.co.uk

“There is a cave in the rock upon which the castle [Varrich, near Tongue] is built called Leabuidh Evin ALaruich, i.e., John of Lochaber’s bed, whither he is said to have retired in time of danger. A family of Mackays is descended from him, and are reported still to have in their possession his banner, with the motto wrought in golden letters, Biodh treun—Biodh treun, i.e., Be valiant.” – The Book of Mackay by Angus Mackay (1906)

After a little drone footage and another magnum, we went on to our accommodation, just beyond ‘the usual’ Sandwood Bay car park and just up the road and a little left turning, down a questionable, definitely less than single track road is a little place called Port of Droman and it was lovely and quiet – perfect park up for the night. 

On our way here we found an awesome waterfall by the side of the road, you’ll have to see our YouTube video for that though – it was truly gorgeous.

Next up is a little change of plan as we make a spontaneous stop roadside to climb a mountain and then head up to our final true stop of our trip at the Old Man of Store.

We will be posting a vlog of our trip on our YouTube channel soon but in the meantime you can follow us on our socials for regular updates on our adventures!

Instagram: Penelope Truck

Facebook: Penelope the Truck

YouTube: Penelope the Truck

Truck build set back?

So, as with everyone else, our lives have been massively disrupted by the current world health crisis we are experiencing at the moment.

We started this year with a wedding, a honeymoon in India and plans of travel to Nepal (where we got stuck when they closed the airport) followed by work in France, Morocco and Tanzania and of course, building our tiny home on wheels – Penelope the Truck!

Then things changed and everything, well, stopped.

We find ourselves now with all of the mountain events cancelled and Kerry’s events work in France also cancelled, which also means a massive loss of income. Not only that but the DVLA still has Craig’s driving license and of course no HGV driving courses are taking place so that’s also on hold.

But we also find ourselves with a truck load (boom boom) of TIME! We have had the opportunity to step back and reassess our plans, with financial restrictions we have broken our build into smaller phases. Once the box is built, we will fit the fixed bed frame and then add the rest as and when we can afford to!

We have fortunately had a bit of a brainwave with a slight adjustment on the layout too – which might have already been committed to otherwise since it involved where we have the door to the box!

Kerry’s work was a sad loss, mostly because she really enjoys the team she was working with and being busy running around doing 15 hour days is when she’s happiest at work. But the opportunity here is that perhaps we can focus more now on the remote income structure with her Virtual Assistant work, which we need to build in order to bring some income while on the road. Her illustrations are taking off though and we’ve had a couple of commission requests!

Atmosphere Mountaineering will be back next year with a whole load of rescheduled charity fundraising events and we are both very much looking forward to getting back out into the hills!

Shopping List

Here you will find all of the items we have (or will shortly be) purchased for our truck build, cab and box fit out! Any questions on any specific items please reach out and ask – always happy to have a chat!

Vitrifrigo DW180 BTX – 144 Litre Stainless Steel Double Drawer Fridge / Freezer

Click here to buy

Victron Energy Inverter

Click here to buy

Victron Energy ORI241270020 Orion 24/12-70A DC Converter IP20

Click here to buy

ALMAREN Kitchen mixer tap w pull-out spout

Click here to buy

LANGUDDEN
Inset sink, 1 bowl, stainless steel46x46 cm

Click here to buy

RACOR 200 SERIES FUEL FILTER/WATER SEPARATOR

Click here to buy

PARKER RACOR SPIN-ON FUEL FILTER / WATER SEPARATOR ELEMENT R20P

Click here to buy

CL Tyre Air Inflator Gauge 0-174PSI 

Click here to buy

DEWALT 18 V XR Brushless 1/2 Inch High Torque Impact Wrench (950 Nm)

Click here to buy

Premium Steel Pocket Hole Jig

Click here to buy

TYRES!
12.00R20 (330/95R20) Pirelli TG85

Click here to buy

SIA GHG301BL 30cm Black 2 Burner Gas on Glass Domino Hob & Cast Iron Stands

Click here to buy

Sikaflex 512 – Twin Pack 300ml Sealant Adhesive

Click here to buy

MaxxFan Deluxe Roof Vent & Shade/Blind

Click here to buy

Silent Coat 40 Sheet (375x250mm) Sound Deadening/Proofing

Click here to buy

Silent Coat 20 Sheet (375x250mm) Sound Deadening/Proofing

Click here to buy

Inex CTK Roll Roller for Sound Deadening Vibration Proofing Application

Click here to buy

Nature’s Head Self Contained Composting Toilet

Click here to buy

Defender 75w LED Driving Headlight

Click here to buy

Milenco Superior Van Door Deadlock Black Twin Pack

Click here to buy

Thule Door Lock Van Lock

Click here to buy

Thule Door Lock Frame

Click here to buy

Bahco BH4S12 – Bottle Jack 12T Screwed

Click here to buy

Tseipoaoi Air Diesel Heater,12V 5000W LCD Monitor Parking Heater 10L Tank

Click here to buy

Bahco S138 Metric and Imperial Square Drive Socket Set

Click here to buy

Bahco S138 Metric and Imperial Square Drive Socket Set

Click here to buy

Draper 41817 Digital Multimeter

Click here to buy

Garmin Camper 780 Advanced Camper Sat Nav 

Click here to buy

Draper 83635 Torque Multiplier Kit

Click here to buy

Bahco BAH59S54B 59/S54B Bit Set 54 Piece 

Click here to buy

Bahco 808050 Ratchet Screwdriver and 6 Bits

Click here to buy

Air pre cleaner – raised air intake 

Click here to buy

Wide Angle Mirrors

Click here to buy

Air pre cleaner – raised air intake 

Click here to buy

Ratchet Crimping Tool

Click here to buy

Milwaukee M12JS-0 M12 Naked Compact Jigsaw

Click here to buy

Toggle Switches

Click here to buy

Sikaflex 221i – Black adhesive

Click here to buy

Onyx Cab Light

Click here to buy

Hycote XDPB905 Matt Black Spray Paint (6 Pack)

Click here to buy

Hycote XUK03015 Grey Primer Fast Drying Spray Paint 400ml X 6

Click here to buy

Egg Foam (for the cab roof)

Click here to buy

WOWLED 2 Pcs 27W LED Work Light Offroad Flood Beam Driving Lamp Truck SUV UTE 4WD 12V 24V

Click here to buy


WOWLED 2 Pack 7″ LED Light Bar, 12V 120W Offroad Driving Lights Work Bar Lamp IP67 Waterproof Combo Beam LED Lights Truck 4×4

Click here to buy

WOWLED Wiring Harness Switch Relay Kit for Connecting 2 LED Truck Driving Light Bar SUV 4WD ATV

Click here to buy


Under Cab Engine Sound-proofing & heat deflection

Click here to buy

Aluminium Foil Tape

Click here to buy


Telescoping Ladder

Click here to buy

Air Conditioning System (fans)

Click here to buy


Trim-Fix Carpet Glue

Click here to buy

18 AWG (various colours/sizes)

Click here to buy


Milenco Caravan / Motorhome Door Frame Lock Inside & Out VERSION TWO

Click here to buy

Sealey AK6403 Oil Filter Strap Wrench 300mm Capacity 3/8″ & 1/2″Sq Drive

Click here to buy


Silverline 598531 Rubber Strap Wrenches Set, 2-Piece, 500 and 600 mm

Click here to buy

Gasket Sealant

Click here to buy



Sealey IS3433 Impact Socket 33mm 3/4″Sq Drive

Click here to buy

Sealey SX0041 Impact Socket 33mm Bi-Hex Deep 1/2″Sq Drive, Black

Click here to buy



Car Phone Holder

Click here to buy

Tie Down Cargo Lashing Rings Trailer Anchor Piont Load

Click here to buy

Iconica 3000W 24V Hybrid pure sine wave Inverter

Click here to buy

Tape Measure Van Build

Lights, Camera…

Action Movie Clapper

We are still very much beginners and the filming currently takes place on our iPhones (Kerry has an 8+ and Craig has an 8) but we have invested in some equipment recently!

Drone!

We treated ourselves to a DJI Mavic Air 2 recently, we invested in the full kit with spare batteries etc and purchased the annual cover, you know, if we crash it or plonk it into the sea…

Steady as she goes…

To steady our walking shots, we invested in a DJI Osmo Mobile 3 – Combo 3-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer Kit

The Reading List

We have quite the library at home and we are firm believers in read it and pass it on, but there are a few that we keep behind!

We can wholeheartedly recommend the following books for your Van or Truck build and Vanlife inspiration!

Build your own overland Camper

This is a great all rounder if you’re thinking of building a van or truck. Practical ideas and solutions, well documented and with great images throughout – you can’t go wrong with this one in your library!

Click here to buy

Don’t Go There. It’s Not Safe. You’ll Die.

Planning on travelling to Mexico and Central America? This book offers practical planning and on the road advice written by overlanders, for overlanders.

Click here to buy

We Will Be Free

Join the Bell family as they set off in their Land Rover on an African adventure which would ultimately afflict them with the overlanding addiction!

Click here to buy

Overlanding the Americas: La Lucha

The sequel to We Will be Free, Overlanding the Americas is the story of one family’s determination to travel the world as professional interational overlanders. Picking up in Equador, the family continues with their drive up to Alaska and across the Americas, from tip to tip, coast to coast.

Click here to buy

Europe Overland: Seeking the Unique 

The third instalment in Craeme Bell’s series – taking their Land Rover defender through Europe, this family of four giving everything we have to give to achieve their goal of living the explorers lifestyle.

Click here to buy

Overlanders’ Handbook, A Route & Planning Guide: Asia, Africa, Latin America

Chris Scott and his band of globetrotting contributors and specialists have put together the definitive manual for planning and undertaking a vehicle-dependent overlanding adventure across the wilds of Asia, Africa and Latin America. The Overlanders’ Handbook is written in the same entertaining yet clear jargon-free English for which Chris’s other books are known – it doesn’t assume you know your plug gap from a radiator cap.

Click here to buy

Morocco Overland Route Guide – Southern Morocco from the Atlas to the Sahara

For the independently-mobile traveller the mountains and deserts of southern Morocco are a year-round destination offering a thrilling variety of experiences. Now in full colour throughout, this new edition covers over 10,000km from the High Atlas to the Mauritanian border. Morocco Overland features detailed GPS off-road routes for 4WDs, motorcycles, campervans and mountain bikes as well as scenic byways suitable for any vehicle.

Click here to buy