Sunday, 11 December 2016

Say Yes to New Adventures

'Say Yes to New Adventures'.  That's what it says on Batty's keyring.  I don't know about you but I've been living in a bubble for a long time, years.  It happens a lot in a place like Whangamata.  It's beautiful, it's small, it's safe, it's miles from anywhere - and we get stuck in a nice little comfort zone (make that rut) and never get around to leaving it.  Of course your bubble can be anywhere, could just as easily be in the city, it doesn't have to be in a remote location.  What I mean is, it's easy to let life pass us by.  Maybe stress and worry has a lot to do with that.  We're too busy fretting and worrying about everyday life and the people around us to actually break out of our little bubbles and go off on an adventure; even just for one day; just to remind ourselves there's a much bigger world out there. For those of us who are natural worriers, or think that we are too busy and don't have time, sometimes you need a conscious reminder.  So when I saw that keyring on a shop counter shortly after I bought Batty, I snapped it up to remind me to make the most of each day and every opportunity.

So far it seems to be working.  You may remember me saying in the Heron Poo blog about going bush walking in Wentworth Valley.  This was the first time I used my keyring mantra.  There we were in this beautiful setting, surrounded by amazing scenery and as usual, I was procrastinating.  I try and tell myself that I am not a procrastinator, more simply a cruiser; however both Gareth and my mum assure me that I am actually a champion procrastinator.  And as usual I was procrastinating due to a combination of fear, guilt and worry.  Whilst we had not yet ventured far on our travels, there was every chance that we would not visit here again and Gareth had never seen the waterfall.  Now was the perfect opportunity to try out Minnie's playpen.  I should probably explain that for a dog, Minnie is a little old lady.  She has suffered from ill health for years and the vet always says it is a miracle she is even still with us, yet six years after she was first diagnosed with an auto immune condition, here she is travelling the length and breadth of the country with us, happy as you like.

Even so, long walks are totally out for Minnie, a short waddle is all she can manage so unless we can find someone to look after her, things such as long bush walks are pretty much off the cards.  This may well have turned out to be our one and only chance.  Our campsite was quiet, hardly anyone was even there and we were camped in an ideal spot with lots of shady trees and tons of space. Still, I was full of fear.  What if she got out and got lost?  What if some evil person stole her?  It was so quiet someone could snatch her away and nobody would ever see or know.  How could I leave my beloved wee dog alone in a forest campsite whilst I went off gallivanting and doing something for myself?

In the end, Gareth persuaded me that we really did need to try out the playpen and that this was the perfect place to do it.  Maybe we could just go for a little walk and then come back and check on her? Just for half an hour or so?  OK, I agreed, but that was IT.  So we set off and it was lovely.  In fact we were enjoying it so much we just kept going until we reached the waterfall.  But now here was another dilemma.  Now we were here we could simply turn back - or we could climb the steep track down to the bottom of that waterfall and really admire it in all its glory.  It would mean leaving Minnie for even longer.  Could we?  Should we?  I thought of my keyring and the words on it and as before realised that this could be our one and only opportunity.  For all I knew, I could go rushing back to the campground to find Minnie fast asleep and I would have been kicking myself forever more for not simply climbing down to that waterfall when we had the chance.

Bushwalking track in Wentworth Valley

So we did it.  We descended that steep goat track and stood in awe at the bottom of the massive waterfall and we were so glad we did it.  And we returned to the campsite to indeed find Minnie safely still inside, fast asleep in her little bed, quite unperturbed.  She hadn't tried to escape and no one had stolen her.  I had felt the fear and did it anyway!

It's a miracle!  She's safe!  :-D

Guilt is a big factor when it comes to stopping people from doing things.  Nobody wants to feel beholden to anyone else.  We feel bad much too easily.  Why is it, that we think nothing of doing something nice for another person and helping others out, yet we can't bear to have others do the same for us for fear of inconveniencing them?  This was the case recently when Corrina, the manager at Kuaotunu Campground offered to look after Minnie so that we could go and visit New Chum's Beach.  Even if Minnie had been up to the walk (which she most certainly would never have been), like many places on the Peninsula she would not even have been allowed out of the car as it was a wildlife reserve.  Corrina had a delightful old Labrador herself and knew that with Minnie in tow, New Chum's would be somewhere we would never get to see.  I was blown away by her kindness and would have jumped at the chance - if I hadn't felt so guilty.  Minnie was my responsibility, it was our choice to bring her on the road with us.  I didn't expect anyone else to look after her!  

Still, Corrina insisted it wasn't a problem.  In fact as a former spaniel owner herself she would LOVE to have her.  And I realised, she really was offering.  It really wasn't a huge inconvenience for her.  So I did it.  I said thank you very much and we drove to New Chum's Beach and we climbed over rocks and up over bush ridges, far off the beaten track until we were rewarded with the most beautiful, perfect beach we had ever seen.  The fact that the kindness of someone else had helped us to get there made us appreciate it even more and we made sure we walked every inch of the beach from one end to the other so we didn't miss a thing.  When we returned to pick up Minnie more than three hours later, we found her blissfully sitting on the couch with Corrina's daughter, enjoying a belly rub.

New Chum's Beach

Once again we were so glad for the opportunity to be able to go, but what struck Gareth and I more than anything as we drove the many winding roads around Coromandel and admired the scenery with its many beautiful bays and lush forests was that amazing place, this place where Hollywood directors come to film blockbusters, was barely more than a couple of hours away from where we had  both been living for the past six years.  How and why had we never got around to exploring all the incredible places that were literally on our back doorstep all this time?  Apart from the petrol to get there, everything was free!  What the heck had we been doing all these years?  Just working. Working and cleaning and gardening and worrying about when the lawns were going to get mowed; exciting stuff like that.  It was about now that I really began to be grateful for taking the plunge and having the courage to change my life.  

Before leaving Kuaotunu there was just one place I wanted to visit and that was Opito Bay.  Judging by the map it was a little out of the way but only around 20km or so and by now I was becoming used to telling myself to seize the opportunity whilst I had it.  Who knew when we would ever be up this way again?  And I had heard it was beautiful so off we went.  What I had also heard but had somehow forgotten until it was too late was that the road to Opito Bay is also rather challenging.  As in gravel. As in it has blind corners marked with 'EXTREME CAUTION' with a sheer drop over the edge and no fencing.  As in bloody well vertical.  With one lane wide to accomodate traffic coming both ways. I don't mind admitting, I shat myself.  This was hands down the scariest road I had ever driven in my whole life and here I was trying to do it in a bloody great campervan.  

Opito Bay.  I can laugh about it now!

'I love these hills!' Gareth said gleefully as we climbed.  All I can say is he must trust my driving a lot as he was the one on the outside, perilously close to the edge.  He didn't appear to notice that I was so terrified I was literally almost vomiting.  Somehow we arrived there safely and I have to say it really was worth the drive, Opito Bay was stunning.  We had the beach pretty much to ourselves and Minnie had her first swim of the summer in the glistening water.  'I might have a swim too', said Gareth.  'Anything you want to do while we're here?' He was relaxed and happy as Larry, whereas I on the other hand was far too busy being paralysed with fear at the thought of having to drive that same road back again too enjoy myself.  There was only one thing that was going to get me out of there without having a coronary - Robbie Williams.

I have no idea why but I have always loved Robbie Williams' jazz album, 'Swing When You're Winning'.  It always puts me in a good mood and leading up to the move Robbie got me through all manner of mind bogglingly boring tasks such as scrubbing walls and cleaning the top of the fridge. Seeing how petrified I was, the heavy metal loving, jazz loathing Gareth knew better than to object and soon I was happily wending my way back down that horrendous road, relaxed as anything, singing along to likes of Mack the Knife and Mr Bojangles.  We did it, we did it, we did it, YAY!  And as always, I was very glad that I did.  As an added bonus, my nervewracking experience also proved to stand me in good stead as we have travelled our way further up the country.  Every road we have encountered since has been super easy in comparison!   

Which brings me back to the message at the beginning of this blog.  Don't waste too many precious days living in a bubble.  Say yes to new adventures.  Even if you have to get Robbie Williams to help you!


  1. Wonderful Outlook Jackie, the idea of doing something is always worse than actually doing it. Well done.

  2. Woohoo, well done Jackie.
    On the driving and on the move. I too sold up this year and am travelling Oz in my Mazda bus. Great minds!!!