Friday, 9 December 2016

Riches Have Wheels!

Where oh where do I start?  We've been living in our campervan for exactly one month today and what a month it has been!  I am writing this from Russell in the Bay of Islands as we wend our way towards the very top of NZ.  It has taken a lot longer to reach here than planned, as in typical style we have had our fair share of obstacles on the way but we have finally made it this far and I wouldn't change a thing.  Besides, when you live on the road, there is no such thing as a schedule!

Even so, a heck of a lot has happened since I last wrote.  I'm still the same person but my situation couldn't be more different! I think the best way to bring everything up to date is to write several blogs according to their location, as each stage has its own story I guess, and you can decide for yourself how much or how little you want to read.  Not that it's overwhelmingly exciting, mind.  Just so that it brings us up to here.  Which starts with:


My home for the last six years until now.  This time last month, I was standing on my front deck, looking at a worryingly large array of essential possessions and wondering how the hell we were going to fit them all in our new home - a 2005 Nissan Elgrand.  'I don't know what to do!' I said to Gareth, casting my eyes around in blind despair.  'To be honest, neither do I!' came his frank response.  But somehow, thanks to a combination of Tetris and Jenga like skills, he managed it bless him and we drove away from the dear little house I had just sold with a rather bemused Cocker Spaniel in the back.

I didn't look back.  I had no problem leaving Nawtypoo Cottage.  I was more than ready but I think a lot of that was to do with its new owner Mary; a lovely lady with a beautiful, peaceful soul.  I knew my house was in loving hands and I couldn't have asked for anyone more perfect to take my place. Even so, moving day would still go down as being one of the worst of my life.  Unfortunately I ran into someone early on in the day who I did not expect to encounter.  That person told me that I was a failure as a person, that I made him sick.  That I had f**ked up the past four years and ruined everything for everyone.  I guess losing my home, my son and my pets all in the same day already wasn't enough for him.  I already felt like a failure, I didn't need anyone else to tell me that.  Some people just can't help kicking others when they're down though, can they?  If I never see that person again it will be too soon but at least now I don't have to.  Unfortunately that exchange just ruined me for the rest of the day.  That and seeing Ali hugging his beloved cat goodbye.  He never wanted to leave Nawtypoo and even though in the end I had no choice but to sell and really hadn't had for a long time, I don't think I will ever forgive myself for having to do that to him.  I cried watching him leave the house, I cried when I left Whangamata, leaving my boy behind and I was still crying three weeks later.  I'm even bloody crying all over again writing this!  I miss him every day.

But let's be honest, leaving was never going to be easy, was it?  And 24 hours later I was no longer a woman hopelessly drowning in debt and endless bills, who's card had been declined $18 for fish and chips the day before.  I was debt free!  Everyone was asking me how it felt - and the answer to that is a lot different to what I expected.  I did experience a few brief minutes of euphoria when I returned to my van after leaving the bank - and then I saw a chap walk past me down the street.  He bent down, picked up a cigarette butt off the ground, looked around furtively to see if I was watching, then put it in his pocket.  That put things into perspective, I can tell you.  And then I thought of a friend of mine who has been struggling for as long as I have known her.  For so long she didn't have a roof over her head and even though she finally has one every day is a constant battle.  Nothing ever seems to go her way.  In many ways we are very alike.  The difference is, I was able to sell my house to get me out of my situation.  She doesn't have a house of her own to sell, for her there is no end.  So in answer to that question, I felt lucky.  Very very lucky.  I wanted to go and give her some money.  In fact I wanted to go and give money to all the people I cared about who I knew were struggling like me. But I couldn't, I had to remember my bank manager's words.  'Promise me one thing Jackie', she had said.  'Don't go giving it all away!'  And I know that I have to do what she says.  I may not owe money to the world and his wife any more but I have to make that money last for the rest of my life.  I have to get it right this time.

Minnie at Whangamata Motor Camp.  She has her own special tent!

So now we were of no fixed abode, where to first?  Um, nowhere actually!  We were stuck in Whangamata for the next 10 days whilst Gareth had to finish fulfilling his work contract.  I won't lie, this was a very hard and challenging time for us both.  Poor Gareth was absolutely exhausted dividing himself between work and wherever we were staying.  I'll never forget one morning when he turned up to work in his flip flops instead of steel capped boots!  Not ideal attire when you're carting around timber and concrete and the like!  The main problem was that everything had happened so fast between selling the house, finding our camper and moving out, and with Gareth working throughout that we had spent absolutely no time prior to the move actually in the van, sorting out what we needed, where things were going to go and so on.  It really was a bloody nightmare.  Even such simple things as getting showered or making a coffee or toast before work was a huge hassle and often just didn't happen.  In addition to putting in a long working day, the poor bloke also had to come home to a very grumpy missus!  Every day whilst Gareth was away, Minnie and I were stuck in absolute chaos, barely able to move in our cluttered, hopelessly disorganised vehicle.  To make things worse, it rained constantly and blew a gale almost the entire time.  We weren't eating, sleeping or looking after ourselves properly and as you can imagine this soon caught up with us and just as Gareth finally finished work for good, we got sick.

In the end, it took a whopping 19 days from the day we moved until we were finally able to leave Whangamata!  We divided our time between Whangamata Motor Camp and Gareth's poor mum, who thought she was only getting us for a night or two and ended up being landed with us for a week as we both recovered from our various illnesses!  But in many ways it was a good thing, as the extra days gave us all the time we needed to work out exactly what we needed and what we didn't and to find a place for everything.  By the time we left, we were nowhere near as hopelessly green as we started and if anything the whole trying time had made us stronger.  After all this, we could pretty much survive anything!

When your car is also your house you use your noggin to 
make the most of every inch of available space.
This cute little pantry, custom made by Gareth maximises the gap under the
bench seat and the sliding door, so our dry goods are always easily available!

So here we are a month later, almost at the top of the North Island.  There are still many more stories to share to bring us up to date, and no doubt countless more to come as we scour the country in search of a new patch of paradise on which to build a tiny house.  For some of you, this may mean the end of the road.  I know that I no longer live a conventional life and you may no longer wish to follow me in this new change of direction.  However despite being debt free it will still take hard work and effort to stay this way and I will still be living off the smell of an oily rag, in fact more now than ever!  I shall leave that decision up to you.  But now, it really is time to leave Whangamata behind.  On to the next instalment!

1 comment:

  1. Thankyou Jackie, I will be following you through your new journey in life. I would love to do something like that here, but WA is far too hot to contemplate living in a campervan permanently. Also I don't drive! Wishing you well and lots of fun.