It’s Soft Soft Sunday, and here are my seven favourite cutest bunny pictures of my rabbits from this week. In the spotlight this week are Katie and Fifer because they did some really adorable things while I had my camera to hand for a change (usually they dodge the camera):
In the next four pictures, watch Katie eat a dandelion in realtime:
What did you think of Katie and Fifer’s cute bunny adventures this week? They had a lot of fun exploring places but all my cat-proofing (which has stopped the other 6 cats getting in) hasn’t stopped one persistent feline from trying to get at the bunnies when they’re out of their run (which is all the area behind that fence next to Katie in the final 4 pics), so I have to supervise them outside rather than from the kitchen window, which limits what I can do when they’re outside, so affects how long they can be out, which is a shame. Fifer is more timid and gets a bit scared about being loose in the garden if I’m outside, because he’s part wild and doesn’t relate to humans very well, so he hardly comes out while I’m there, but Katie will nose my legs and play chase with me sometimes. She’s come a very long way from when we first brought her home and she was too scared to come out of the travel box for over an hour, and Fifer was the bravest out of the two of them! I sometimes forget we haven’t had her for a full year yet, and that we’ve barely had Fifer for a year, they just seem so much like part of the family and I get bunnysick for them when we’re away from home, and they miss us too (all five of our buns usually won’t say hello for the first 24 hours when we get back from holiday just to show us that they are displeased that we let someone else come and feed them).
Travel Tuesday: How I Converted A Citroen Xsara Picasso into A People Carrier Campervan Conversion
Today I want to talk about ROADHOUSE (my car camper)
Have you ever dreamed of owning a car that fits comfortably into a parking bay and STILL lets you sleep in it, stretched out, comfy and flat? That was the plan when I sold my £7500 Golf to buy a £600 Citroen Xsara Picasso (it was a category C write off, and had just been repaired when I bought it).
I reviewed the Citroen Xsara Picasso in a previous article, to tell you all of its good and bad points. In a future article, I’ll talk about WHY I swapped my VW Golf for a Picasso. Here I wanted to talk about how I converted the Picasso, and what we actually do when we’re on the road and we want to use our car as a camper.
There were some big problems I needed to overcome in order to “convert” my car. Here are the things I did, in order (click to go straight to that section or scroll to read the lot):
Took back seats out – NOTE this gets you an MoT advisory because it stops them checking rear seat belts, so put seats back in for your MoT.
– NOTE this gets you an MoT advisory because it stops them checking rear seat belts, so put seats back in for your MoT.
They were pretty easy to take out. They have a lever at the back, then you tilt the seat forward, and jiggle it with brute force and ignorance until it comes out. Swearing at it is optional. Why did I say easy? They were VERY easy when compared to a lot of other cars I’ve looked at, and they are designed to be removable so it wasn’t anything like trying to get the seat pad of the VW Golf out. My husband custom-built a storage unit in one of our spare bedrooms to keep the seats when we don’t want them in the car. This also makes the car more fuel efficient because they’re slightly heavy at around 15kg (which is the same weight as a cardboard fry box full of frozen McDonald’s fries).
Made window blocking panels.
I bought some silver coated insulating bubble wrap, at £7.99 a roll from Homebase. One window at a time, I held the insulation up against the car window and drew the shape of each window on separate areas of the bubble wrap, cutting each out before moving on to the next window. I was going to attach it with sticky back velcro, but when we set off for Europe I realised I’d left it behind, so I ended up using gaffer tape (duct tape, duck tape, same diff) and that was an okay fix although the condensation in the car caused the tape on the back window to unstick a lot and the stickiness of the tape damaged the panels so we couldn’t use the same ones again.
Bought a memory foam mattress and stuffed it in.
I bought mine off Ebay, I literally went for a 3 inch thick “memory foam” mattress. I had investigated a lot of options including cot mattresses, inflatables and roll mats, and decided this £17.99 memory foam mattress would be the cheapest. They had a two inch option at £14.99 as well but we thought that was sacrificing comfort. We just folded the lower end so that it would fit in the car, and after we got back from Europe we took it out of the car and put it on our bed to make it warm and cosy over winter. Update: We had to chuck it out after 15 months because it started to stink. It was still pretty cheap but I’m looking into other ways to do the same thing. To be honest you don’t really need it in summer even in the Highlands, but in the Alps, or in winter, something like this is essential.
Added a ceiling luggage storage.
I got some of that fabric that net curtains are made out of, and sewed it over some elastic at either end, then tied the elastic together and attached this to the handles above the rear doors. If there had been somewhere to attach it front centre this would have been a great storage idea, but as it happens it was mostly in the way and didn’t fit an awful lot in because it didn’t stay on the ceiling at all.
Removed it again after Europe.
I scrapped that idea for now, so storage is still an issue.
Scrapped window panels after Europe.
I decided that storing them in the car when you’re on a long journey is far too much hassle (you can’t legally have them in the windows when you’re driving which means you need to put them somewhere), so I looked at other options.
Put curtains in.
Basically I was SO squeamish about permanently damaging the car, because there were NO tutorials for how to put curtains into your car, so I used the thinnest drill bit available and drilled very thin holes into the plastic either side of the back windows, then screwed some eye hooks into the holes. I tied string to the eye hooks and sewed some curtains out of cheapass satin material that I had hanging around after I made a dress. I also used some nice ribbons as curtain ties to keep them out of the way as they tend to blow around the car if either of the front windows are open and you’re driving. I keep the bottoms of the curtains attached to the windows during sleep times by using the sticky back velcro that we forgot to take to Europe. It doesn’t stand up to a lot of force but if you open and close the velcro pieces carefully they’re a great solution to this problem.
Added a shoe holder for storing smaller items:
I dangled it down the back of the driver seat. It’s basically a fabric thing with loads of pockets, so we keep gloves, deodorant, binoculars etc in the little pockets, helping us to stay organised in a small space.
(the Citroen Xsara Picasso car campervan tragically died due to a gearbox failure on a busy set of traffic lights – I was very ill at the time and had to force the car through the traffic lights so the damn engine seized up. We are currently driving the hilariously inappropriate Rover 75, where I have installed the behind-the-seat storage just as it was in the Picasso, and the picture above is a photo of the back of the driver seat in the Rover 75).
Fitted the memory foam mattress
For Scotland, I had to change the shape of the mattress because we had to fit a kayak in there as well as our usual luggage. So I cut some of the length and width off the mattress so it also didn’t need to be folded at the foot end, giving us more foot room and making it more manoeuvrable if we needed it out of the way for any reason.
Draped a blanket over the two front headrests.
When we went to Europe we used one of those silver reflective panels in the front windscreen but it kept falling down and then people could see into the back of the car where I often needed to get dressed (I’m a chick. Sleeping in underwire gets uncomfortable after a couple of days. I also physically cannot sleep in socks). On our Scotland trip I realised that a fleece blanket or a microfibre towel does the job just fine. They can be easily removed when we want to pass through to the front of the vehicle or for when I’m driving so I still have full visibility.
Future plans for our camper:
1. Proper ceiling storage. I’m still not sure what to go for here, having exhausted every search term to try and find some inspiration, but once I work it out I’ll do an article on it.
2. Ventilation. I want to drill wall vents into the side of the car (on the non-petrol side) but since I drove the car through a wall on the petrol side a couple of months ago, I’m not sure if it still has the structural integrity to withstand more damage to the body.
3. Other storage. I need more storage solutions, although we fitted all our luggage and a kayak in with us when we went to Scotland a few weeks ago, it could still be better organized.
4. Rear window curtain – I was most recently using that silver sunshield gaffer taped to the back window because I haven’t made curtains for the rear yet.
For years I’ve had a getting out of bed problem. A mixture of broken sleep due to iron deficiency and before that, severe insomnia. At one point I had to limit myself to only staying up for more than 24 hours one day a week, because I was doing it two, three or sometimes 4 days a week.
I don’t really know what fixed my insomnia but I’ll tell you if I work it out.
My inability to get out of bed had been ruining my life for years.
Here’s what I did that solved it:
1. Set a regular bedtime, something that gives you the eight hours you need. If you use one of those sleep apps that tells you that you need 7 hours and 24 minutes and 12 seconds of sleep, make sure you’re feeling rested when you wake up – you may want to consider sleeping for longer. If it’s working for you – great!
2. Start going to bed at least an hour before you plan to be asleep. I start going to bed at 9:00pm to get up at 6:30, that way I’m guaranteed to be asleep by 10:30, which is the cut off point to get my eight hours. I played around with half an hour but it wasn’t quite long enough. Anyway, unless you fall asleep within minutes of lying down, you’ll need to be in bed a little bit early to definitely be asleep by your intended time.
3. Don’t look at the clock once you’re in bed. It can start your subconscious doing maths, which will keep you awake.
4. Make sure your room is a good temperature and that enough air is getting in – I have found that sleeping with the door open helps me get up because I get more air, and therefore I get a better sleep.
5. Consider iron tablets. If you find yourself waking up groggy (when you finally awaken), and suffocating at night, you might not have enough red blood cells. Iron and protein can help here.
6. Get out of bed when the alarm goes off. Don’t go back to sleep for “five more minutes.”
7. Make a thing you do in the morning that’s important to you. For me, that’s blog posting. So every morning my motivation to get out of bed isn’t work or days off, it’s that I need to post on my blog (or check my stats, if I’m not doing an article that day). Some people find a shower or exercise is more motivating. I like to do them a bit later in the day.
Well that’s what I’ve found works for me. What do you do to get up in the morning?
How do you build an igloo? With all the Boxing Day snow we’ve been having, I am going to show you how to build a functional igloo; we built this igloo in our drive in 2013, at a guess it was about 12 feet (3m) in diameter.
We built this igloo that lasted several days (until it melted in some heavy rain) and we were able to camp in it with sleeping bags and roll mats. I always wondered if it was true that igloos were warm and dry inside. I don’t know how it’s possible, but it was actually pretty cozy camping in our igloo!
It took us about 4 hours to make this igloo, mostly because I didn’t have a lot of energy at the time and working on this was manual labour.
1. Get some large plastic boxes: Recycling boxes or storage boxes will do just fine for igloo building. A packing crate isn’t very good as it’s not very strong and the sides are full of holes so the snow falls out instead of making solid igloo ice blocks.
2. Fill the boxes with snow. Pack the snow down in the box to make giant bricks of ice. You will need to repeat steps 2 and 3 a lot to make an igloo.
3. Tip the boxes upside down in a circle (leave room for an igloo door) and pat the bottom to get the snow-bricks out (see picture):
4. Once you have a complete layer, do the same above – but don’t line the bricks up (think about how brick walls are built), and make sure the ice blocks are facing slightly inwards so your bricks eventually meet at the top.
5. At the top of the igloo, you have two choices – some people prefer to build a capstone out of ice, to stop everything from falling apart. Otherwise, leave a hole in the top to let air in. We left a hole in the top of ours.
6. We used polystyrene and wire mesh to support the door of our igloo because the size of our ice blocks (and the ambient temperature being only -5 or so) meant the whole structure may have collapsed if we hadn’t used any support. Smaller boxes (than 70 litres) or hardening the blocks of ice using cold water would have both prevented this problem, but it wasn’t cold enough for water-hardening the ice blocks and they just melted when we tried it. For the amount of time we put into building this igloo, I was very happy to complete it and didn’t worry too much about it being 100% Eskimo-worthy. Whether you end up with a perfect building made only of ice or not, you will feel damn proud when you go inside your finished igloo.
7. Now admire your igloo. Can you sleep in an igloo? Definitely! We camped out in ours with some roll mats and a double sleeping bag and it was surprisingly cosy (although we did this wearing serious layers). It also confused the neighbours which was hilarious.
8. Take plenty of photos and share them with me via Twitter @mamaadventurez so I can see your awesome creations!
How long will it last?
An igloo can last for weeks in the right weather conditions. If it’s dry, snowy and subzero (celsius), your igloo will only give up when it’s been subjected to too much wear and tear. Rain, as we found out with our igloo, will basically kill an igloo.
Does it need a roof cap?
The traditional (i.e. boy scouts) thinking is that you do need one, but leaving the roof open improves ventilation and the shape of an igloo means very little falling snow will actually get in. If you’re concerned about rainfall or snow, you would be best off sticking an umbrella over the top of your igloo.
Making a roof cap that balances properly is a complete faff because you either need to build the bricks higher, and the top is hard to reach from the outside due to the curvature of the igloo, or you need a really big, solid and sturdy block of packed snow which is difficult to make without the right shape of container.
We left ours open at the top and found it warm enough but not stuffy at all, because the air was able to circulate.
Can you really sleep in an igloo?
It’s worth noting we stayed in ours in dry conditions in temperatures of -3, you may find the blocks are prone to becoming weakened in warmer temperatures, especially once you hit positive numbers on the thermometer.
Have you built an igloo? Share your igloo pics with me on Twitter! Who needs an expensive package holiday to Iceland? You can do this in your own front garden!