Building the Bus – July

So, just fyi, I have decided to keep the focus of this blog what I originally intended and that is: the bus (and also occasional family trips), but you won’t get too much ‘mummy blogging’ or ranting about my inner-life or my ideals anymore (unless it’s sustainability and ‘living small’ which is somewhat connected to our bus project), but hopefully the information will be practical rather than theoretical!

To that end, here are the latest series of bus photos, which are a little old, actually, maybe a month now (we are busy moving house). I will post more up-to-date ones very soon.

Bedford bus sanding

Filling these walls with insulation has been tedious, but we are hoping it will be well worth it!Bedford bus insulation

Henry is here working on a bespoke window frame. Marine ply, glue, screws and bog. Getting it ready for the router. Once the Alucobond is glued into place, using Sikaflex 252, it will be carefully routed along the window edge, so that edge must be super smooth.Bedford Bus insulation Bus work Bedford bus interior

This photos is exciting to me because you can see a finishing touch! The wood frame around the hatch. This needs to go in before the last sheet of aluminium (from Ullrich Aluminium in Canberra, can’t remember the thickness – I’ll find out!) goes on the roof. I’m not sure if you’ll be able to tell, the aluminium panel in the middle, just in front of the door, ended up being a little wobbly. Henry is pretty disappointed about it, I can tell you! His vision is for a smooth roof, no joins or even rivets in sight, just smooth and white. We are hoping that a flat white paint will hide the ridges (which are minor, but the light does reflect off of them, making them seem more wavy than they are).

To fill you in on more of the vision, LED strip lighting will hide behind pelmets on either side of the bus, reflecting off of the white roof, but completely hidden from sight themselves. We’ve tested it out and it is (going to be) beautiful!

In the next set of photos you will see that right hand side wall on, shower taps installed and a bed well on its way to being built (maybe even finished, fingers crossed!)

We also installed the last of the solar panels, Henry ummed and ahhed about bolting them through the roof, but wanting to avoid any potential for water damage we simply glued (Marine grade Sikaflex) the supports (which he made) for the panels to the roof, which we then bolted the solar panels to. He also constructed a mechanism to adjust their angle so that we can catch as much sun as possible. The wiring is also going through.

Funny, but the wiring and plumbing is what makes me feel like this shell of a bus is actually turning into a livable, self-contained home!

How to make your own doors

Ooookay. So this post has been a long while coming and I guess the only reason why I am putting it down now is that I am seriously procrastinating on my uni studies!

I think this is pretty important for me to share. In terms of Our Bus this has been the story of every single little thing.

Here’s how it went. Early on in the building process, probably a week after we’d set to building, Henry went out and bought two doors, they were 50mm deep doors, much too high and (it turned out) just a few cms too narrow for our needs on the bus. The idea was that we could saw these down, which we did, only to find that we could actually make the door frames just that fraction wider, meaning these doors were too narrow. In the end Henry was pretty glad about that because it meant he could make his own doors and save 25mm in depth. In a bus every mm counts and if we can squeeze a few of these precious things out of a door or two then that is that.

Building the doors turned out to be pretty straightforward. The first was slightly less than perfect and the design was changed. The second was a pretty good rendition of the second design and the third was a perfect turn out of the perfect second design.

However, the doors have been in the bus for, oh, well over six months now, and they are actually getting a little marked (not too badly mind you, but it grates on the mind of the maker). Perfection never lasts long it seems.

Bus Doors Low Res001 Bus Doors Low Res002

So we  managed to recycle the aluminum which had been used in the walls of the previous bus fit-out. We simply glued these in place onto a sheet of the ubiquitous (in this bus!) Alucobond (or Aluwell, which is the brand we are using – it is basically aluminum bonded to a plastic core). We then filled the space with a foam which we had managed to get from our local tip shop.Bus Doors Low Res004

It was most crucial to glue every join and bend – to add strength to these potential weak spots.Bus Doors Low Res005

We have mostly used Sikaflex 252 or 221 or marine grade glue throughout our bus.Bus Doors Low Res006

After scratching up the aluminum and cleaning it with Methylated spirits (and letting it dry – Metho is basically the only thing which can remove this glue), we sikaflexed the aluminum, ready to fold the door over.Bus Doors Low Res007

You can see above where Henry has routed in the grooves in order to bend the door over. We were a little unsure as to how the door would bend and whether it would bend square, but it did like a charm, it was surprisingly easy actually. Henry also cut grooves into the aluminum for the door runner to sit. This was entirely his department and I just had to look impressed once he’d finished…which I did – and I was!Bus Doors Low Res008

Glued over. We left the back end of the door uncovered. There was really no need to cover here. One door used one sheet of Aluwell perfectly and the tail end would be hidden in the wall anyway. Sometimes it’s not worth getting into a tizz about something that will never been seen or noticed at all.Bus Doors Low Res009

And done! How neat is that fold!

Installing the doors was another effort, particularly as our bus is sitting on a slope and sort of leaning sideways as well. It is all kinds of not square! I left that, again, to Henry’s genius. He has them now sitting inside our walls, entirely hidden as the mechanism to open is a push-to-lock/push-to-open, all of our doors and drawers use this mechanism – makes sense really. No one wants to be walking into handles, something which is made more likely when squeezing through tight spaces.


A story about a trip to the snow.

We intended to go to the snow. The goal was set. It was to be a 7am departure.

We left at 8am. Tried not to make too much noise, so we wouldn’t wake my parents, and managed to evacuate the house with a bag stuffed full of random clothes – hopefully a match would be made, a few snacks and my camera. Very important.

The drive down to Corin Forest is one of Canberra’s wonderful hidden treasures. The ‘mountains’ of Canberra. We could see snow in the distance. That was Mt Franklin, the mountain of bottled water fame.

Around corners we twisted with frantic instructions not to brake (from Henry to me), as deceleration is an anathema to Henry, and braking around corners is a sign of a novice driver. Generalising freely and with an absence of philosophical discussion, which is a sign that we are not on speaking terms (just a phase), we still managed to keep things amiable until we reached the Corin Forest encampment where we spotted distinct signs of snow, but only on the southern side of the hills.

The gate was closed so on we went to view the dam.

A dam is a wonderous thing. Is there anything more of a testament to mankind’s assumed dominance over the earth than such schemes as the Snowy Mountain Hydro Scheme and, say, Hoover dam? A dam is violating the natural order of things and stamping evidence of civilisation all over the landscape, though the end result can be spectacular in and of itself. All that concrete!

Henry took the kids on a little adventure, climbing down escarpments, while I, ever the reluctant rule-breaker (even if the lines are fuzzy), took a different path. One child got stuck.

“Stay there”, I called, “I’ll come and get you.”

I climb back around  and look down to where she was. There is no sign.

“Sophia. Where are you?!” I say again.

“I’m here!”

“I told you to stay where you were!”

“I didn’t hear you.”

“Okay. Stay there, I’m coming down!”

I step over the balancing rocks and when I am almost at the bottom I slip. I put my hand out and it grazes over gravel. Part of my skin has come off. The pain (it is more annoying than painful) runs up my arm and into my brain where it turns into the most frustrating of angers. I am annoyed.

“Argh. Henry! Can we please just go to the snow! Come on. We’re going! Sophia! Come up here!”

“Mum, c h i l l  o u t!” Gunther calls back though I barely hear his small voice.

“Okay I’m coming.” I spot movement in the bushes as Sophia inches her way back.

When she reaches me I take her hand and we walk back up to the car. It is slightly cold.

Sophia cries as I buckle her in. “I just wanted to be with dad!”

“Daddy shouldn’t have taken you down there. Don’t you want to see the snow?”

“Yes, but I wanted to see the water with Daddy.”

“Don’t worry about it. He is coming back now.”

I see them slowly coming back up the hill, clambering over rocks. Gunther looks happy. He has a stick.

Finally they reach the car. I have bandaged my hand.

“Gee Tul, can’t we just have an adventure?”

I’ve let go of the frustration. I don’t feel it any more. I can kind of tell that they’ve had a fun adventure and I’m glad about that, but I am always aware of the time and the plan, and climbing over rocks down a steep hill was not part of this morning’s plan. Sometimes I’ve gotta let the plan go, but this morning I’ve been put out and my hand hurts. I’m being a wuss, but I’m going to put it behind me now, because we still have to go see the snow and it’s going to be fun (dammit).

“Yes, okay Henry, but I just want to go see the snow. We don’t have much time.”

Gunther pipes up, “Mum, I just wanted to climb down rocks and then we saw some water and I found an exploring stick.”

“That’s great, babe. Mummy hurt her hand.”

“You just need an esploorin’ stick.”

“Yeah, Tuli, you just need an esploorin’ stick.” joins in Henry.

“Okay, okay. Next time I’ll get an esploorin’ stick then.”

We are back on the road and heading toward Corin while Henry tells me how much I sound like a parrot when I’m cross and screeching. Well. I can handle that. It’s probably fair.

At Corin there are people. Where have they come from? The free, natural snow is cordoned off. The man made snow costs money, but our lifestyle does not involve living for money at the moment and so we can’t just throw it around, especially when a free option is available.

So we drive down the road and park just out of the mud to find our own patch. And we do. This sub-alpine Australian bush is beautiful. Gunther wades through a stream and his feet get wet, but we keep going. We find snow to throw at each other. I dive right into one of Henry’s shots. We climb higher. Henry finds a ready made snowman, Gunther loves this and bashes it up. Henry throws snow at Sophia and that sets her off, the cold starts to get to her. She puts on a brave face and stands under Henry’s snow throws. Meanwhile Gunther is now past it. His feet are cold. He is cold. His legs are hurting. He cries in the background.

“Alright, time to go home.”

I have to carry Gunther back over the stream and up to the car. Sophia walks, but is in tears. Our entire foray from car to snow and back again has taken up 30 minutes. But we did it. We saw the snow. That may be all we see of it this Winter. Perhaps.

This is real life.

Thankfully the car ride back is fairly silent with kids munching bikkies and carrots, and we just cruise through this beautiful scenery.

“So, did you enjoy yourself?” Henry asks

“Yes, I did. I’m glad we did that.”

“And you took lots of photos. That’s good. You can blog about it.”

“Yes, I’ll make it look super ideal and pretty and cut all the bad ones out so that people will think we live the most charming life and will want to live our lives.”


Oh. The irony. Oh. Blogging. Oh. Internetland. You are a fanciful place.

Low res Corin Forest003Low res Corin Forest006 Low res Corin Forest007Low res Corin Forest010 Low res Corin Forest013 Low res Corin Forest014Low res Corin Forest015 Low res Corin Forest016 Low res Corin Forest024 Low res Corin Forest031 Low res Corin Forest029 Low res Corin Forest034 Low res Corin Forest019  Low res Corin Forest041Low res Corin Forest047Low res Corin Forest025 Low res Corin Forest027Low res Corin Forest048

Winter Wedding at Gold Creek Station

Oh. I had the greatest time shooting Rob & Amelia’s wedding last month. They were both so relaxed and welcoming…and gorgeous…that it made my job just so much the easier.

I also was so thrilled to shoot a winter wedding. Why aren’t there more winter weddings in Aus? Our winters are so mild and our summers so hot you would think the usual wedding season trend would be reversed. Rob & Amelia got the most brilliant day for their wedding, with that bright, bold winter sun hanging low in the sky. Wonderful!

After the whirl of the ceremony, greeting guests and family photos, when we were able to settle in at Gold Creek Station for their photo shoot just before the sun went down, I was struck by how easily they just slipped into chatting together, from the get go it was just chat chat chat the whole time, it was clear they were great friends. It was lovely and obvious to me how well they sat with each other and how much they liked to be together. Being in the presence of a couple like that is a wonderful blessing. What a treat. Sadly we ran out of light pretty quickly, though maybe they were happy about that, I could’ve had them running around for all my shots til nightfall…well…I did, actually.

Thank you, Rob & Amelia, for allowing me to photograph your day, it was a wonderful privilege.

Click on the images for the larger version.

Blogs. This Blog

I saw a trailer for a movie about bloggers and…I’ve become a little blase about it all.

One thing the husband and I have been talking about (over the last several years – it’s been an ongoing and continually developing conversation) has been the quality of our lives on this earth. In a world where noise is everywhere, where the number of people currently making their lives here on this earth is growing, where addictive consumerism is everywhere, where mind numbing, brain dulling tools are numerous and at the tips of everyone’s fingertips (tv’s, phones, the internet, addictive computer games, food-food-food, fashion) what is it that we want our lives to count for?

The run through of most of these bloggers proved they were mostly women who blogged about ‘fashion, food, kids, craft’ and all of them, all of us I should say as…I blog…are contributing to the noise that exists on this wonderful world wide web, which is one of the final bastions of freedom, where, unlike the struggle of buying a house you can acquire a ‘page’, an online home, for free! Expression is relatively unfettered and it is a place where ideals seem real and attainable due mostly to the magic of photography, a medium which thrives within the four walls of a computer screen.

The thing is that I don’t know if I want to be contributing to this noise.

One reason I dropped craft oh so many moons ago is that I just couldn’t stand the thought of churning out thing after thing, maybe buying completely unnecessary bits and bobs from el cheapo craft stores in order to fulfill some fantastical ideal of being the mummy that makes things. How could I utilise junk to create more junk all for the sake of crafting for the sake of crafting. No. It’s not good enough. The days of sitting down to make a doily or paint dipped cutlery or adding ‘pops’ of colour to the back of a kitchen cabinet or sequining up a frock, these days are over for me simply because I am much more environmentally conscious than I was and I am sick of the treadmill of consumerism, which crafting can be a subtle cousin of.

Not that I am against making things, but my position is more: QUALITY

In a world where there are billions of people we need to forget about achieving simply many things in our small, short lives, need to stop rushing so much, need to back off the attainment of many things and instead seek to acquire very well made items which will last many many years. There needs to be fewer things of greater quality.

Working on our bus-home has been influencing me this way. I realise so strongly that I would rather our bus be completely beautiful and very strongly built and be a joy to live in for the next several years, even if it takes us a year or two longer to build than we thought. Later, I would rather build just one very good dwelling place (and a small one, not a waste-of-ground-space-mansion) instead of buy my way through several badly built excuses for houses. If I wrote books I would rather write just one worthwhile work than several money-spinners. If I were an artist I would rather paint (or insert medium) five masterpieces than churn out many works or unextraordinary forgettable nonsense. If I were in the business way I would want to build just one small, caring, high quality business without any thought for ‘taking over the world’ for fear the quality of it would be compromised. Think chain stores vs a local cafe.

You see where I’m going with this.

As a people we can’t afford to waste any more. The other 6 999 999 999 people deserve for my life to be one of quality not quantity, just adding to the noise, the chaos, the insipid waste of it all, this planet which is groaning under the weight of our garbage also deserves better.

And so, because I blog, instead of blogging up billions I have to stick by my values and refuse to contribute to the noise of all those mummy/fashion/food/craft/lifestyle blogs out there and instead stick to something which could be of more value. The idea is: less noise, more depth.

The 15 months we’ve spent in Young simply building are coming to an end. We are still going to be building, but we are just juggling things around a bit so that we can have a better quality of life while we (slowly) build. While this is happening and while I am beginning to invest in my photography business, and while I am studying, this blog is going to receive a bit of an overhaul as well. I’m not dropping it but I’m going to focus things so that they reflect some of these values which I’ve just mentioned.

I’m inspired by such blogs as Aurajoon and mnmlist, and my wish is to approach blogging without such a frenzy to post frequently or meaninglessly, to generate hits or cash or anything like that. When such things become the focus the things that really matter suffer.

Don’t worry. I’ll keep you in the loop.