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Don’t count your chickens!

When I began my search for a small caravan at the beginning of February it was with the vague plan of living in it.

I believed I was capable of overcoming my hoarding instinct and being comfortable in a small space.

As I searched, my dream grew, but I was yet unaware of the looming dark cloud that might endanger my plan…….The Covid 19 virus. 


To buy a caravan with a limited budget means it will probably have to be, like myself, on the other side of twenty one.

So how do I ensure that it will not fall apart on the road or that the seller will not try to fool me by cunningly hiding leaks, damp, rust or maybe all three?

The answer is, I buy one from a country whose citizens take good care of their belongings and after been married to a dutch man for twenty years, I decide the Netherlands could well be that country.

I begin my search, spending my evenings scrolling through various websites.

Soon Speurders, Marketpltts and others automatically pop up on my screen and I peer longingly at photo’s of Eriba puck’s and pans, kip shelter’s and the tear drop shapes of the T@B.

There are lots to choose from, each different from the other except for one thing.

They are all very very tiny.


Now, as mentioned above, I am a bit of a hoarder.

An important consideration in my plan to live in a very small space.

And I also buy things, not because I need them, but because they catch my eye. My apartment is filled to the brim.  Baskets for my thriving house plants, a pretty enamel container for my paintbrushes, books, rugs, oh and of course bicycles.


I have inherited this hoarding gene from my parents.

Yes! We are ‘stuff’ gatherers.

Some stuff we collect is useful, some not so and some downright embarrassing.

March 1975.

It’s my first day of nurse training. No one knows me except for one girl who unfortunately (you will soon see why) lives on the road I grew up on.

As she didn’t attend the same school, I hoped I would escape her notice.

Here I was, starting my career with a bunch of strangers, so I had planned to shrug off any labels and start my new life with a fresh image.

The ‘new me’ would be glamorous and very conservative. (The exact opposite to the old me).

But no such luck.

‘Hi there. Aren’t you Gregory’s sister?’ The above mentioned girl approached me with a smile. 

I admitted I was.

‘He’s hilarious, always up to some mad antic’ She continued in a friendly manner ‘ Just the other day I saw him getting off the bus holding one of those plastic ‘porta potti’ thingy’s’

There was silence, a few of the ‘cooler’ girls gathered round.

I laughed (a loud false sounding laugh)

‘Surely not! Maybe it was some kind of box’

‘Nope’ She was adamant ‘It was a camping toilet and he had his arms wrapped tightly around it’.

‘Yuck ‘ One of the girls stared at me disdainfully.

Her friends giggled and wrinkled up their noses.

Red faced, I looked down at the floor.

The irony of their reaction was that first year nurse training, in those days, and bed pan washing went hand in hand.

Maybe they didn’t realize that yet, but they would soon find out.

However reassuring that thought, it was not much use to me now.

I watched them walk away as my new identity disappeared with them. 

‘I’ll never live it down’ I cried when I confronted my brother

But he just laughed.

‘I was at a car boot sale and I spotted it. It’s never been used. Mam was delighted with it. Come on! who cares what they think.’

I cared!  But I also had to admit it was a good buy. We had an old fashioned bucket affair.

‘You’re only mad because your camping days with us are over and you won’t get the benefit of it’ He teased.

It was true. Now that I had started my career those long summer holidays in the west of Ireland were over. I had to resign myself to a couple of weeks here and there at the hospitals discretion.

But returning to ‘Stuff’.

Yes, I have plenty of it

Sitting at my table, peering out in the winter gloom I note that on my balcony alone sits

  • three bicycles
  • four immense bamboos,
  • three over sized potted lavender plants
  • one large potted hydrangea
  • One maple tree, whose skeletal form stares at me accusingly (like a sheep who decides to lie down and die for reasons known only to itself, my Japanese maple has thrown in the towel. And even though I have nursed and cajoled it inside for long periods it soon became obvious that no amount of pampering was going to make it change it’s mind)

How will I fit all into my new tiny home?

But first things first!

I close the curtains and book a flight to Amsterdam.


Coming up next: Brodje harrings, Airbnb’s and Amsterdam.