On the road again.

We’re back at it again – after we each went our separate ways last week for a much deserved rest, we assembled in Cork Airport on Monday, fresh as daisies and ready to start up again.

Hanna arrived back with us on Tuesday morning, after a lovely time in Texas, and with that, we headed off to our next location, Clonakilty.

Just a heads up, this one is quite van-heavy.

Steering us in the right direction

Clonakilty is a lovely town. Really beautiful, welcoming, friendly.

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See look, so pretty.

My experience of it, however, was a little bit mixed. Please excuse the lack of photos as a result.

We arrived at our planned performance venue (the Clonakilty Agricultural Showgrounds), and after a little bit of confusion, decided that we should head in to town to see if there was anywhere else that we might be able to perform. Not too much of an issue.

Then, the valve on one of the tyres broke. It started leaking. Fast.

I hopped in the van to take it to a tyre shop. Worst-case we’d need to buy a new tyre.

As I got in the van, the arm on my glasses broke.

I drove to the mechanics with the glasses half hanging off my face – going about 10km an hour down what was probably the largest road in Clonakilty is not a particularly good way to endear yourself to the locals.

I dropped the van at the mechanics, and they fixed the whole while I went to a shop and bought some superglue.

Tyre fixed, glasses fixed, sorted.

At that point, I realised that there was a wet patch underneath the van – directly beneath the bonnet. You see, the steering on the van had been a little stiff for the last few days – I thought it was just because we needed more steering fluid, so I topped it up before we left Cork.

But nope. It was leaking.

Great.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t something that could be fixed that day, so I parked up the van and headed in to town to join up with the rest of the team and do some flyering/try to work out where we were going to perform.

Sitting in the square in town, we were at a bit of a loss – green spaces weren’t immediately presenting themselves to us, and the town seemed quite built up.

“Should we go ask in there?” Hanna pointed to a doorway that had the words Clonakilty Community Arts Centre printed about it. That was how we met Sam and Thaddeus – Clonakilty, as it turns out, has an incredibly active and fairly large community arts group. Over the next few days, they were so incredibly helpful both in helping us find our performance space and in helping us pull together an audience for our shows.

Thaddeus took us on a little tour around the town, pointing out all the green spaces that we might be able to use – but in the end, we settled on our original space, after we ironed out the kinks.

We drove up to Desert House camp-site where we stayed for our time in Clonakilty, and had our first camp-stove dinner in a long time. Would you believe me when I say I missed it?

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Sometimes living in a van is quite nice really.

Getting fixed up

We spent the next day running from mechanic to mechanic trying to work out what was wrong with the van – the long and short of it was:

  1. The steering pump (the thing that pressurises the fluid for power-assisted steering) was looking very worse for wear. It’s not completely dead, but it needs replaced in the next 500 miles or so.
  2. Every mechanic in Ireland was busy at the moment.

Especially because we needed to catch our ferry to Wales on the 9th, this was a bit of an issue – every mechanic that I called was totally fully-booked. I think down to the amazingly hot weather that Ireland’s been having at the moment.

After some advice from our breakdown-cover providers about how soon we needed to repair the van, we called a mechanic in St David’s, our first stop in Wales, who said that he should be able to get it sorted while we’re there.

So for now, the problem was solved, and we headed back to the performance site to get ready for the show.

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What a pretty tent we have!

Despite a week long break, it went off without a hitch – I think that was in part because we had a fairly large audience that was also super vocal and responsive.

Clean me up, Scotty

So I’m not going to lie to you, living in a van for a month and a bit has it draw backs – probably the largest of which is the lack of a washing machine. I’ve been recycling clothes for weeks now. Everything smells. Send help.

Anyway, Hanna and I decided that enough was enough. We packed up all our gross, smelly, mouldy laundry, and found a fantastic laundrette/biohazard clinic in town that would wash and dry them all before we left the next morning.

I was uncertain that anyone would be able to clean these clothes – I don’t know what she did to them, but I now smell like a daffodil at all times. Which makes a nice change to however I smelt before.

We dropped our laundry off, and then found a café so that we could order…wait for it…OUR MERCHANDISE. Photos will be available when they arrive, but it’s basically a white baseball shirt with blue sleeves and the tour logo on the front. We’re actually going to have a few spare, so if anyone is interested in buying one, please hit us up!

We got to flyering, and then met up at the showgrounds again for our last performance in Clonakilty – we had a special visit from a kid named Lyle, who brought his family to see the show for his birthday. Of course, that was heart-warming, and it gave us the boost that we really needed to put on another fantastic show.

There was an open-mic night in town, and we had planned to go, but by the time we got back to the camp-site, I think we were all pretty tired. It was time for bed.

And that was it – our time in Clonakilty was done. Overall, a beautiful and friendly town.

Oh also, I almost forgot, totally over-run with roadworks at the moment. Like we were frequently in traffic that was at a total stand-still. But they’ll be finished by the end of the summer I believe, and I imagine the town will be even nicer when they’re done.

Yesterday, we drove out to our next and final location in Ireland – Crosshaven. I’ll let Grace tell you all about that next time. Spoilers, it’s pretty beautiful too.

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