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Van life in the UK and farewell 2020!

Well, Merry Christmas folks and all the best for 2021! It’s been a year like no other, and perhaps not the best time for van life in the UK. Hoping for better things in the coming year – stay positive and look after each other. A blast of snow this morning in County Durham, enough to get the cross -country skis out, so we’re smiling 😊

Van lifer and cross country skier Bev outside her winterised Benimar Mileo 201 motorhome enjoying the snow

After our adventures in Sweden – and the rare joy of playing live music to a live audience – we’ve made the most of our time in the UK, keeping an eye on the changing tiers and restrictions and local lockdowns…

  • A few days in Helmsley, a lovely town, motorhome friendly overnight parking, great walks nearby.
  • Enjoyed walking in South Lakes, near Kendall.
  • Saw the aqueduct at Pontcysllte and Tintern Abbey, in Wales.
  • Visited Church Stretton – which has campervan friendly parking in the middle of town. We avoided Long Mynd, the famously narrow road over the tops. Bev bought some wool and knitting needles from the prolific crafter craft shop and it has certainly kept her busy. Orders for fancy socks, gloves and hats have been pouring in!
  • Through Cheddar Gorge, then a lovely meal and pub-stopover at The Candlelight Inn, Bishopswood, Somerset

With shorter days and cloudier weather, wanting to avoid worrying about solar power to charge the laptop while I’m working, we booked into a site in Devon for a few weeks. Although much bigger than the sites we normally visit, Cofton Holiday Park outside Dawlish turned out just fine. They have a pool and we swam twice a week. Loads of apple trees and sweet chestnuts for the scrumping! Great walks and an excellent pub nearby. Then on…

  • I liked Baskerville country – visiting Dartmoor for a suitably bleak walk on Haytor Rocks.
  • A coffee at Jamaica Inn and a misty walk around Fowey, home of Daphne du Maurier.
  • A long awaited visit to the Eden Project
Van lifers How and Bev Askew with covid masks in the palm house at the Eden Project

Then the news of another national lockdown came in. For the first time in 20 months of van life in a motorhome in the UK and Europe, the concept of a ‘home address’ became a problem. We’d booked back onto Cofton, now in a ‘tier 2’ area, but because our home address was ‘tier 3’, we couldn’t stay. A shame, as we’d not been in a tier 3 area for months, but hey ho. We hoofed it back up North to get locked down closer to home.

Compared to some full-time van dwellers, we played it fairly safe – for the full lockdowns we booked a long-term pitch on a site. I needed to be able to guarantee power and mobile signal. One upside of 2020 is the huge leap forward organisations have made in enabling remote working. With tools like Teams, Slido and Miro, it’s easier than ever to work productively and collaboratively from wherever you may be in the world. A big plus for Digital Nomads.

We’ve been very fortunate so far in terms of the virus – family and friends have stayed safe – but we had our own tragedy in September, when we lost Marra. He was a lovely boy, our first dog and very special to us. We miss him terribly.

our whippet Marra enjoying van life on the road in Europe

No gigs of course, but I managed to finish a new song. With classic Askew timing, I released a song about travelling and freedom the very day after the UK went back into national lockdown and travel was restricted!

Huge thanks for all the support for my music – for Travelling Girl and my album Brass Neck! earlier in the year. To those that bought CDs and downloads, to the Spotify streamers and followers, and for the radio plays – Cheers!

A shout out to a few DJs in particular that have helped to spread the word up and down the country – Gary Grainger, Jimmy Carlisle, Richard Dunning, Sion Ap Gwilym, Dennis Roberts, Dr Wart Hoover, Paul Winn, Harry Simpson, The Geordie Hour, Pablo Stewart, Mark Hughes, Richard Harris, Tim Eden, Ian McKenzie and Steve Taggart.

And to my fellow musicians: Richy and Phil (hopefully we’ll get to gig next year), Lyndon, Phil Moore, Gary, Gav and Dee (on Brass Neck!), and Jen Stephens and BJ Cole (on Travelling Girl)…

Thank you!  

As for the new year, we’re hoping the vaccine roll-out will allow some aspects of life to resume safely. More travel and gigs are high on our list!

Categories
Music & Guitars News

Launch gig for European tour…?

Looking forward to the big changes coming up this year! It’s meant that we’ve had to think carefully about which gigs and festivals we can try to book in. I’m starting now to plan a route through Europe and looking for potential solo gigs along the way. Tops tips for Slovenia, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic anyone?

Plan is to be back in UK for late August and we have some band bookings already in for September. So, it’s likely that our 30th March gig at the Brandling Villa in South Gosforth will be our last for a little while – come on down and make it special 🙂

The Brandling is a superb pub – great beers, a unique grub menu, good crack. The original and best dog pub, always full of characters!