The Journey Continues

Daffodil the DAF lorry home

In my latest blogs, that have spanned both in and out of the various lockdowns, plus the guest appearance from my wife, we’ve shared our approach to life and the changes we have both had to make to take this journey for me to be a Woodland Ways Bushcraft Instructor.  As with any journey forks in the road and obstacles sometimes crop up but as I’m often told by friends and colleagues, I seem to have a way of seeing the route that never seemed to be there when you first looked – the phrase “I wish I could be more Barry” is said to me often.  So, it’s with this mindset that the next step in the journey has been taken and I’d like to share it with you.

As Sue told you last time in “The path less followed” we’re moving to Derbyshire and that’s a massive leap of faith for us but one based on a connection with Woodland Ways that now spans 8 years.  I started as a customer on the Sahara Desert Survival expedition, joined the 2-year Woodland Wayer and the apprenticeship.  This culminated in me achieving my Instructors shirt in November 2018 which lead to 3 years of working as a self-employed subcontracted instructor working exclusively with Woodland Ways.  I thoroughly enjoyed this seasonal approach of busy spring, summer and autumn followed by quiet winters, but my goal had always been to be full-time, so I continued to look in that direction.

Throughout 2021 things looked to be heading that way and a whole lifetime of skills, knowledge and learning seemed to be merging and all the forks in the road disappeared with one clear route to take – the role of Head of Courses was offered.  This position would see me balance my love of teaching in the woods with my ability to understand technology, design, marketing and managing a team; like I said a lifetime of skills merged.  The catch was Sue and I had to uproot and relocate from Essex to Derbyshire to be based out of Woodland Ways HQ in Rowsley.  I’m sure most would think long and hard about this decision and you’d be right to, and, on this front, we were no different, even the answer of yes let’s do it is one I’m sure most would conclude as well, the difference is in how we chose to do it.

The original idea was for me to start the role in November 2021 and simply rent a small house as my base while we sold up our home in Essex.  There were layers of complexity as we had one last adult offspring still living with us and between me accepting the offer and starting, she got a job based in Essex so needed to stay behind but obviously not in the house we needed to sell.  I quickly scrapped the idea of renting in Derbyshire as it was proving impossible to do viewings in Covid restricted times and I instead diverted the funds to finding accommodation for our daughter to start her on her own journey and find her financial feet – but that didn’t solve the problem of where I was going to live.  Now it’s not every boss that would simply say stay with me while you get sorted but that’s exactly what we mean when we say Woodland Ways is a family business, we have each other’s back no matter what.  It was a kind offer but I wanted my own space, one that Sue and our dog Willow could also visit with ease and that led me to buy a converted DAF 7.5tonne lorry.

Daffodil the DAF lorry home
Daffodil the DAF lorry home.

I’ve been based from this beast, in various locations, since November with weekly visits back to Essex to sort the house sale and see Sue but the time is almost here when the sale completes and we’ll be in it full-time.  The thinking behind this approach was that buying in a chain is hard enough but doing it over a 200-mile distance in strange times and properties selling fast it seemed impossible.  So instead, the house will sell, we will be mortgage free, bills gone and money in the bank ready to find a new home when the right one pops up.  It’s not been easy, there have been challenges including the lorry being caught up in the recent floods caused by the quick succession of alphabet storms D, E and F with engine, fuel tank and batteries fully submerged but it is what it is – how can you regret something you consciously chose to do?  All you can do is handle the outcome, wishing it didn’t happen is a useless drain on energy and creativity and stops a solution appearing.  Thankfully the living area was spared by just a few inches. The lorry itself is complete with a good-sized kitchen, compost toilet, dining table, settee, double bed, garage area and a woodburning stove so what’s not to love.

The aftermath of the flood
The aftermath of the flood.
Fully kitted kitchen
Fully kitted kitchen, woodburner and dining area.
Sleeping area
The double bed, settee with garage area behind them.

The world is a strange place at the moment, with lots of uncertainty, but if you can be certain of your own mind and abilities, the little part of the world you live in can be a calm and positive place to be.  As the saying goes… I live in my own little world, but it’s okay they know me here.  Go forth and create your own little world of adventure, whatever that looks like to you.  Until next time let the adventure continue…

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