Van Vs London House – an adventure!

This week we wanted to bring you a bit more of a behind the scenes post. We know you all look forward to seeing what exciting places we have been visited and what crazy adventures we have been having but this week it has been a little different!

From looking after London house that kept breaking, exploring the UK’s capital city, to flooding a fishpond – it has been quite an adventure going back into a house.

Van Vs House sitting?

Garden Lights London House
Garden Lights

We were house sitting for a family member in the city of London. They decided to go on holiday and at the last minute we asked if they would mind us house sitting. They get peace of mind that the house is ‘safe’ and we get free digs! Win win! Well, not exactly… We arrived at the London house around 10pm on the Sunday night so after a brew and chill out we retired to bed. This is after we disabled half of their garden lights…

Honestly it is like Blackpool Illuminations with all of the solar lights – don’t get me wrong they do look lovely, however some of them emit a really high pitched noise that goes straight through me. This is nothing compared to the cat scarer he has – that drops me to my knees like Kryptonite! After an audio hunt around the garden and turning them all off we have to try and remember to turn them all on again just before we leave #nohope #pleaseremindme.

Aiming to have a few days to catch up on some admin we were all set to be productive and motivated. Monday started well with a relaxing morning and a spot of food shopping. That is when it all started to go wrong.

Builders are in!

Office London House
Mobile Office

All of a sudden, the noise of drills and building machinery penetrated through the wall, making all of the kitchen cupboards shake. It sounded like someone was building HS2 through the front room! Builders had turned up next door. They kindly co-ordinate their house renovations for this week to have their kitchen ripped out, walls knocked down, RCJ’s installed and all less than 10ft from where we were sitting! They continued through the day to bang, crash and hammer all the while we were so hot we had to have all the windows and doors opened so the noise was amplified. There was just NO AIR.

We tried to get a bit of work done even with the disruption. The week before I had purchased a new laptop and this was the first time I was going to take it out of the box! Within one hour, it was quite apparent it was faulty, the screen was really pixelated. It needed to be returned to the store. After a battle with London transport, the store advised they didn’t have that model in stock so they would have to order it and it would be a week. Back on the bus empty handed, but we did still have a spare so we could still work but have to share between us!

Random noises

Later that evening the builders left, advising a skip would be delivered early in the morning. After enjoying the luxury of trash TV, not having to worry about where we are sleeping tonight or the power left in the leisure battery, we thought about bed. Beep… Beep… Beep there is an alarm going off somewhere in the house! Possibly a fire alarm battery? No. It’s the intruder alarm telling me it has a fault at 11pm. Could it have done this earlier? Sure! But where is the fun in that?

After having a look to see if setting it and resetting it would work, and checking that all doors and windows were shut properly, we realised that trying to do anything tonight was probably going cause the alarm to start blaring out and potentially police at the door! We left the alarm beeping, every 30 seconds, safe in the knowledge that we could google it in daylight as the home owners were not contactable!

That was alarming

We had decided that if the builders were going to be noisy again the next day, we should use it to our advantage and head out for an adventure! But first we had to fix the alarm! We found the manual and proceeded to disable the ‘tamper alarm’ safety feature before touching anything. When we tried to change the battery, we quickly realised I was not successful in removing the tamper alarm safety feature and the whole street knew it too! We repeated this about 6 times until, defeated at the first hurdle, I asked Lou to stay by the panel and keep turning the alarm off!  While tried to switch the batteries over, I broke the case for the alarm and have stuck it back on with Sellotape.

We were excited to finally leave the London house and explore somewhere I had not been since I was a child and Louise had never visited. Full of apprehension – from travelling by London transport to whether the museum would be as good as I remembered, we boarded the train to London and changed onto the underground to Kensington South.

Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum London
Natural History Museum

From the second you lay eyes on the museum you are in love. The architecture is incredible and is also reflected on the inside in a similar fashion. From the ceilings painted with flowers and animals, to monkeys carved into the pillars it takes your breath away.  Built between 1873 and 1881 and by the architect Alfred Waterhouse. The Romanesque style building made of terracotta stands out along with those other brilliant designs of the 19th century. With its cathedral like grand hall and use of arches, large staircases and detailed side rooms, this space has incorporated fossils, plants, and animals in every imaginable place. Looking at this building is a treasure hunt and day out in itself.

Don’t forget the giant statue of Charles Darwin at the top of the stairs to! The exhibits were out of this world including the moon museum, a giant moon suspended, glowing in a cool darkly lit room and tranquil music enveloping you in mystery and intrigue. The Dinosaur exhibit was very busy. One of the museums best known attractions with a vast array or remains and replications. Other exhibits include the mineral gallery, the vault – with rare finds and the most expensive jewels and the David Attenborough wing where you can watch the scientists at work whilst discovering all about insects.

Refusing public transport at rush hour we walked two miles for our dinner. Dinner out at a Persian restaurant finished our day. Amazing authentic kebabs, fresh bread and salad for our main course followed our feta and mint starters.

A Window

London house

Arriving back at the London house late in the evening we were thoroughly shattered! We went upstairs and tried to open the windows as it was so hot, only they wouldn’t open. This house is like fort-knocks and no one is getting in or out tonight! A search for the keys, again late at night, yielded no response. A hot night with no air ensued! Things are not going well!

It seems that either we have been out of a house for so long that things have changed far beyond our ability to relearn, or this house is trying to tell us something! At that point we got the fan from the master room. Held together with cable ties and making a sound that was not healthy, we turned it off again very quickly and will be having words with someone on his return home!

Wednesday morning, we try and have an admin day today. Writing and researching the next post is fun but the building work is still going on. The cupboards have become booby-trapped by the vibrations and opening the doors is a risk to your life! Things keep falling out on us like a friendly poltergeist is having a laugh! On the plus side, we eventually found the key windows!

End of Alexa and start of another problem!

The London house is still standing but only just – the internet is up the creek! For some reason, Louise’s phone is telling her the password has changed – it hasn’t. My connection is hit and miss, it keeps dropping out. We reboot the phone and same issue. Troubleshooting the problem, we try to reboot the router. We broke Alexa. It was a sad day. Alexa kept telling us to look at the Alexa app – but we don’t have one and the home owners phone is somewhere in Europe.

Thursday – we were woken with a bit of a shock. Voices. 2 males. A clatter, a bang and the sound of a ladder.  I quickly glance at the clock. 6:45AM. “Is the London House being burgled?” I think?  “No, surely they would want to be quiet? Maybe that’s their cover, be so loud that they don’t look shifty?” The windows are both open and we can hear everything they are saying – luckily the curtains are drawn but we lay still in bed. The window suddenly gets pushed closed! SPLOSH! Ahh! It’s ok – window cleaners! Panic over.

Kitchen Catastrophe

kitchen london house
Kitchen Catastrophe

After the startling and early wake up call, Today the Dishwasher decided to break. We google the make and model and try to fix it! Torn between leaving it for their return or dismantling it on the lawn we opt for the first option.  After a hard day at the computers, we fell into bed and slept like babies… For a couple of hours at least! Until this… The local foxes were holding auditions for the next performance of FAME and had us awake all night as they rioted up and down the road screaming! We did check out of the window and they were not in harms way or looking hurt – they were just being territorial, possibly over some scraps of food.

Fish Pond Fiasco

Koi london house

As you can imagine by Friday – we were rather scared to touch anything! However we still had a duty to look after the London house. The fishpond is a rather nice feature and it is enjoyable watching them swimming about. Due to the warm weather we noticed that it could do with a little bit of a top up so set the hose going and went inside for a while.

As you can guess, we forgot it was on and by the time we remembered and ran out there, there was a little bit of water just starting to cover the edge of the patio. The fish were all perfectly fine however if they wanted to escape they could possibly have beached themselves so I found a bucket and started to scoop water out the pond and relocate it out of the back gate. I really hope they are not going to watch the CCTV back!

It was at this point that the rather large black cloud above me decided to break. It came down like bricks! Cold wet bricks. As fast as I was scooping, it was being thrown back on me and into the pond. Finally, after a lot of fighting with the elements, I got the water level back down to where it should be.  

Resurfacing

london house resurfacing
Resurfacing preparation

If that isn’t bad enough in the catalogue of failures, we received notification that they were resurfacing the road that night, directly behind the London house and diverting all the traffic down the front of the road! Starting at 8:30 and carrying on all night, the noise of the heavy machinery and smell of tar filled the air. With that happening out the back, and the cars being diverted out the front, at least we wouldn’t have to worry about the foxes tonight! Wrong. 4am they re-appeared for their next rehearsals!

Although sometimes it is nice to stay in a house and have those extra comforts like a bath, a tv, a dishwasher – this week has been a real reminder of how much we have complicated our lives over the centuries. From not being able to ask Alexa to play music or for the weather forecast, to using a machine to clean our plates, clothes or provide us with entertainment.  Why have we made things so complicated? None of this happens in the van – well, ok, the door has got stuck before and locked us IN but on the whole it is uncomplicated and simple. No technology to go wrong and no manuals to have to refer to. It’s time to leave this place.  

A simple life

After thanking our hosts and walking them through everything that broke whilst they were away, we gladly got back in the van and we are now ready to hit the road again. Back to a simpler life, with just a 2 ring gas hob, a leisure battery and my favourite person in the whole world to share the experiences with.

We don’t want much in life. Just some peace and quiet, to explore this stunning country full of history and beautiful landscapes, and a donated smallholding full of pets, with a wood burning stove, hot water, central heating, no light pollution, roses around the door, a vegetable garden and enough room to have family over. No gadgets or gizmos, no overly complicated fandangled equipment, just a calm tranquil life without manuals!

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