Snailshell Syndrome – How to tell if you’re on holiday or not

One such sit, with display-cat

One such sit, with display-cat

As alluded to in my last post, I’ve struck gold, with lovely people offering me house-sits for 3 weeks solid! I’m currently in the 3rd glorious week, writing from the duck-viewing-platform at a beautiful housesit on the river in Exeter. By the time I’m back in the van it’ll already be spring.

Many things have changed in the past few months since I moved out of a house. Constantly moving and only being in one place for a few days at a time has felt right. But it’s tiring too. It’s great to be still for a few weeks, which is exactly what the universe has delivered. I feel lucky. I’ve been doing a lot of recording (or “tracking” as it’s known) whilst mobile. But now, having a base to set up speakers and edit all the material I’ve recorded is ideal. Rest is important too. I hadn’t had a proper day off since I became houseless. Without a normal working week, or living with other people who have one, I’d forgotten about weekends and time off.

Which brings me to an interesting point – how does someone who lives nowhere go on holiday?

My home is a van. Let’s call her “Snailshell”. That’s not the name for that particular van you understand, just for any van acting as my Snailshell at any given moment. When I house-sit or borrow a living room for the day, I take my belongings from the Snailshell to the house to use them. Then it’s all packed up and put back in the van so it goes everywhere with me – Snailshell Syndrome.

Cooking in the van, but does this mean I'm on holiday?

Cooking in the van, but does this mean I’m on holiday?

The point of going on holiday is not only to go somewhere different, but to have a break from your life and it’s context. Mine comes with me – it’s too portable and vanshaped. You would think that having a van to sleep in I could go anywhere I wanted at any time. Kinda true, if it weren’t for my personality. I’m a workaholic in case you hadn’t guessed. Enforced “play” is my nemesis, even though I know I need it. Without time out, my mind becomes clouded and sluggish and clarity is rare. If I went to Dartmoor for the weekend then I’d still be effectively “at home” and the temptation to get on with some work in the evenings would be too great.

So if Snailshell is my home, then I’d only be on holiday if I was away-from-the-van, and away from everything that makes up my normal life now. I guess I’m lucky because my life is made up of what most people would consider to be “holiday activities”, such as staying with friends or going traveling in a van and sleeping at the beach/in the woods/by the river. Most people don’t need a checklist to see if their on holiday – my life has become a bit unusual.

Making any space into a recording studio.

Making any space into a recording studio.

Ironically, having housesits for the next 3 weeks has given me the opportunity to go on holiday in a field. Getting wet and living in a van don’t mix, but having a housesit means I’ve been able to go camping, knowing that there’s a place to come back to, potentially soaking wet, to have a bath and wash clothes, then sleep for as long as needed.

It’s been counter intuitive to go and sleep under a tree when there’s a house available, but hey, I guess I’m a nutter. Hopefully, once these housesits have finishes, I’ll be back on the road with absolute clarity on how to make the next album and change the world for the better (separately or combined).


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