Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Sometimes decluttering means buying more stuff

Even though I am fully determined to carry out my plans and go travelling around Europe in a campervan with my dog Albert, it still seems a bit unreal to me. However, taking tiny steps towards my goal helps tricking my brain into believing that this is actually going to happen.

Old photo. I donated two full bags like this
full of things and half a bag full of clothes.

This week I donated more bin bags full of clothes, books and general 'stuff' to two different charities. I've also moved everything I'm not going to keep out of my office, to get an even better idea of whether what is left will fit in a vehicle or not. I should be ok now, but I'd still like to reduce it further. There are a few things in my bags that will be sold once I get to Norway (stuff for really cold climates), so I'm hoping to get rid of that eventually. But even though I am still decluttering and selling off possessions on eBay and Amazon, I'm also having to buy quite a lot of new stuff. I know, the mind boggles. It's a contradiction in terms, having to buy stuff to live a simpler lifestyle.

This is what I have bought so far:

a torch
I got a tiny little thing off eBay for £23 that Amazon wants over £100 for. It's a Fenix LD15 and it fits on a keychain, runs on one single AA battery and can light up my entire back garden. There is also a less bright setting that allows you to stand it on end on a table and use it as a candle. No need for various wind-up torches or Maglites or what-have-you, and one rechargeable AA battery will keep it going for ages. Genius.

a radio
I have an old wireless (not the retro ones, a proper old one) and I love it, but it's too big and too heavy. I invested in the Pure Move radio which is a combined DAB and FM radio that will work everywhere (the link is to Amazon but there are often better deals to be found on eBay). The radio is even smaller than I thought it would be from photos, and once the battery is charged, it will run for 60 hours. I've been skulking around on various camping forums and this was the radio that everyone recommended - I can see why. The new radio is just a tiny bit bigger than my old Walkman, and weighs even less. It has a little lanyard so you can even carry it around with you and use headphones with it so as not to disturb others. A great way to keep track of local events, wherever that locality should happen to be.

Stuff I'll be taking on the road with me.
I will get rid of the stuff in the dotted bag and
almost half the stuff in the blue laundry bag eventually.
In addition there is kitchen stuff and bathroom stuff
and 2.5 drawers full of clothes.
Oh and my duvet and pillow.

a Klean Kanteen
I've had a Klean Kanteen on my Amazon wish list for ages. They are super handy, particularly the wide ones, as you can even store food leftovers in there and they will keep warm. I've even seen people put these in the cinders of bonfires and boil water in them. Super useful - that is, if you order the correct one! ;o) I got the 18 oz regular one when the one I should have ordered was the 20 oz insulated one. I returned the 18 oz bottle today and have changed my order, and I also ordered the cafĂ© cap this time. This purchase doesn't replace something I already had, but it will certainly come in very handy on the road!

a bamboo tableware set
I don't want to bring heavy, breakable stuff, so I 'invested' (it was quite cheap, actually!) in this bamboo tableware set. Sustainable, recycled, ethical and organic - not to mention gorgeous-looking in the turquoise colour. Now I just need a stainless steel mug, and then I can give all my old crockery away to charity.

waterproof cases for my kindle and iPhone
I won't be reading in the bath very often once I hit the road, but I am hoping to be reading on many different beaches so I wanted a case that was waterproof and sandproof, as well as dog hair proof and dust proof! I ordered one from eBay for £2.75 that didn't really do the trick. I couldn't use my Kindle Touch inside the bag for long because the air kept escaping after 20 minutes and then the touch screen would go haywire. I have now bought SealLine E-series cases for my Kindle and iPhone. If I had researched the cases better on YouTube before ordering, I would have known that the SealLine ones work best for touch screens. They look like this, but I ordered mine from a German company in the end. Their website was in English so I didn't realise until I was about to check out, but the p&p was cheaper than from the few UK websites I found that also sell these cases, so I went ahead and ordered them anyway. I have returned the useless case to the buyer. I had to pay £0.79 to return the item to the seller and get my £2.75 back, more hassle than it's worth perhaps, but Tesco is right, every little helps. ;o) The cases arrived a few days ago and they are brilliant. You can even take photos with the iPhone inside the case and speaking on the phone is no problem even when the seal closed. I wish I'd found these in April, when it first started raining here in the UK... Again, these don't really replace something I already owned, but they were much needed - particularly the Kindle one as even reading in the house was becoming a bit of a problem with tiny dog hairs working their way in between the frame and the screen.

a Swedish army mess kit with an alcohol stove 
I know you must think I've completely lost my marbles now, but this actually makes a lot of sense. Most campers cook with gas, and I will probably also get a gas cooker. However, gas canisters can vary from country to country and sometimes it can be difficult to get hold of the right type. Apparently you can buy adapters, but it all gets a bit fiddly. Denatured alcohol or methanol you can find everywhere, and these little kits will boil a pint of water in 7 minutes. Oh, and they have a little built-in windbreak as well. So clever. So I ordered an old, used, stainless steel army mess kit from eBay. They are normally very difficult to get hold of, particularly the stainless steel ones (I am SO not prepared to cook anything in aluminium!), so I was over the moon when I came across one for just under £20 including shipping. Here's a video that shows you how to use them (there are lots of videos about them on YouTube):

This guy is using the modern aluminium ones, but they look pretty much the same. If you'd like to get one for yourself, type "Swedish mess" (without the quotation marks) into eBay or YouTube. Odd search string, I know, but people call them different things and this way you're more likely to find what you're looking for. I might have to get one additional pot for the gas stove, I suppose, but then I should be all set!

four pairs of Smartwool hiking socks
Smartwool socks have been on my Amazon wishlist for ages, as well. Everyone's raving about them - they stop you from getting blisters, they cushion your feet, they don't ever smell, they last for ages, they can be washed in the shower and dry quickly... the list goes on, but they cost A LOT. I couldn't justify spending between £15-20 on one pair of socks, that's just ridiculous no matter how good they are. But then I suddenly remembered that my feet are small. Not ridiculously so, but they are a UK size 4.5, which I found out is a size L when it comes to children's Smartwool socks. So I found an online shop that had a sale on and sold 2-packs for only £7 - reduced from £20 AND with free shipping! Well, that was an offer I couldn't refuse, so I ordered two packs. They fit perfectly, and the funny thing is that the socks are much prettier than the ones they sell for women! The sale is still on, so if you're interested, you can find the socks here.

stainless steel measuring jug and bowl
Random, I know. But less so when you think about it. I need measuring jugs, I often use them as bowls to eat out of, and the stainless steel ones can even double as pots if need be. Also, they're not breakable and they weigh much less than the Pyrex glass bowls which I seem to use constantly. I found a 500 ml stainless steel measuring jug on eBay - they seem to be a bit rare here in the UK and this one was being sold as a "retro Scandinavian measuring jug", lol. It looked just like my mum's one (except this one is Swedish), so I decided to bid the amount that a bus ticket to town costs, and won the auction for far less than that. The jug arrived about 2 weeks ago and is exactly what I needed - it's been used a lot already. I've also just ordered a 1.25 litre stainless steel measuring bowl from Amazon, but that one hasn't arrived yet.

Stuff I'm definitely keeping but don't need to take
with me - will find somewhere to store this, I think.

an Olloclip 3-in-1 lens for my iPhone
I first heard about the Olloclip through Tammy Strobel's blog I really wanted to get one too, but I struggled to find any in the UK at first. But I had another google search before I sold all my photo equipment, and found that they are now available here for roughly £60-70. I was really lucky and found a brand new one in an eBay auction for just £39 including p&p. I hate carrying stuff and since I got an iPhone with an 8 megapixel camera, I always left my Canon 350D and even my Canon Powershot camera at home and just took pictures with my phone. Now that I have the Olloclip I can start playing with my photography again! It has a macro lens, fish-eye lens and wide angle-lens, and it just clips on to the corner of your iPhone. Simple but ingenius. If you want to see some of my Olloclip photos, you can have a look at the photos tagged with #Olloclip on my Instagram profile. I'd love an iPhone zoom lens as well; I've seen some for sale in the US so I'm keeping my eyes open.

On top of these purchases, I also have a wish list with nearly 60 items on it... I need a lot of stuff to drive legally in various European countries, such as replacement headlight bulbs, a hi-vis jacket, a breathalyser kit and various other thingummyjigs, such as a waterproof doggie bed that you can actually hose down. The biggest purchase will be the sat nav, which normally costs between £319 and £399. My eBay sales are hardly going to cover that, so I'm still scrimping and saving. Saying that, I just cancelled a service for my business the other day that saved me £230, so I guess in theory I'm almost there... ;o) I think I'll hold off buying it until shortly before I leave though, just in case they release an updated version!