Marie-Louise Garratt

Where it all began.

Hello and welcome to (yet again) another start to my blog. This time about travel, van life and everything that happens in between, my diary to be. I’m 25 years old, soon to be 26, and life hasn’t been as generous to me as I thought it might be - It’s been a struggle to say the least. The experiences I’ve had, good and bad, have made me who I am and that’s pretty cool, I guess. I’m a little human history book made and written by me.

One consistency in my life is traveling. I was insanely lucky to be able to see the world from a very young age, thanks to my wonderful dad and his line of work as an incredibly passionate railway photographer, documenting the last steam locomotives of the world. So, growing up, I traveled to a lot of far-flung places where these old locomotives still existed, whether they were still in use or left to rust in the landscape across Britain, Ireland, Portugal, India, Eritrea, Alaska and China. Although I didn’t have a fascination with steam trains I loved seeing these remote worlds, experiencing different cultures and meeting different people. A completely new way of life, the ways they dressed and lived, and how the things that were the norm for them and were so foreign to me. My whole childhood is made up of dreamlike memories. The food, the saltiest fried beef that I couldn’t get enough of, the octopus my mum wouldn’t stop playing about with on her plate. Spending Christmas eve on an overnight train, jumping for my life over streams because of ‘bloodsuckers’, swatting mosquitos between your hands, gazing out of a car windows watching life pass by, and making best friends with hotel staff that I would never see again. I was very young, but it was so exciting and different to what I was used to. Those memories, sights, smells and sounds have all created my passion for travel today and drive my desire to see more.

Living in a van may not be your first choice for traveling. It’s small and can differ greatly with the lifestyle you’re used to; not using as much water for cooking and cleaning, not being able to shower every day, and the daunting fact of toilet time, not to mention the manual labour that comes with all of this. And there’s also the worry of anything going wrong on your vehicle in the middle of nowhere, which definitely does happen and it sucks. But all of this is massively outweighed by the amount of freedom you have. You can drive anywhere, see anything, do anything. So if that means not washing my long hair every day and wearing the same clothes a few times, sod it, count me in! I’ll be writing about all these experiences and inconveniences and how I’ve managed to navigate them for anyone who is interested in life on the road. My beloved Border Collie ‘Bolski’ is also tagging along, so any questions on traveling with your pooch, fire away! (Bare in mind the requirements are looking to change due to Brexit if we leave without a deal). I’m currently in France, making my way down to Chamonix in a self-built Iveco campervan made by my wonderful fella, who is filming our journey over on youtube ‘ashpollard1’, fun are times ahead! 

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Just cruising along with my dog - Eritrea 1998

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