Tuesday, 17 January 2017

It's a Hard Life - Yeah Right!

'I can't imagine living in a proper house again', I said to Gareth this morning, to which he heartily agreed.  'Me either.  In fact if you went to live in a house I'd still stay in the van!' he declared. Whilst some people think we are mad for not choosing a huge bus or motor home to live in, we like it that way.  Sure it's cheaper - a LOT cheaper - but mainly we like it because keeping it smaller means that we do more stuff.  If there is one thing we have noticed through our observations, it's that people in larger motor homes seem to do less; this being presumably because they already have all the comforts of a real home.  We see people park up for days at a time and all they do is watch TV.  But what the heck, it's still a much cheaper place to watch TV than paying rent or a mortgage and you can change the view to suit yourself at will too!

Even so, keeping our abode smaller makes us get out and do things.  And who wouldn't, when there is so much out there to do?  That's another thing we were talking about this morning when discussing our previous life in a house.  When you live in a house it's so easy to not do anything and not go anywhere.  There is always more washing to do, more weeds to pull, more episodes of MasterChef to catch up on.  In comparison, living on the road most of the time I don't even know what day it is.  I have no concept of time any more, there is no such thing as a routine or schedule.  For fear of sounding like a spoilt brat, I do what I want, when I want.

Saying that, it is a far from glamorous existence.  As a dear friend of mine says after more than 40 years living on the road, you never, ever stop learning and in our case never more so than the first few days after leaving Nawtypoo.  The first thing I had to do was overcome my aversion to using public toilets.  Let me tell you, when you ain't got nothing else you get over this very quickly!  Although I could write a whole blog on toilets I have encountered, but I shall spare you that.

Who says camping isn't glamorous? Without the mozzies anyway!

Our first night in Batty was spent at Whangamata Motor Camp and it all started very idyllic, sitting outside in our folding chairs toasting each other with a glass of bubbles.  We did it, we actually did it and now our new life was to begin!  We made up the queen size bed for the first time and while Gareth was in the bathroom I strung up the LED fairy lights which cost around $8.00 from Bunnings. If I say so myself it looked amazing!  Gareth totally agreed and the two of us lay there and marvelled about how fab it all was - until we learned the first golden rule of camping.  Never, ever leave a light on if you have the door open.  The next half an hour or so was spent madly swatting mosquitoes until the lovely white ceiling was covered in dismembered, winged corpses.  Suffice to say, lesson learned!

The following night we were well prepared for the mozzies and they were no problem.  We were happy during this transition time at Whangamata Motor Camp; it was a necessary place to stay while Gareth fulfilled his work contract and Minnie really liked it there too.  There were also several people who lived there permanently, local teachers, tradesmen and others who worked in the town who couldn't find accommodation.  As you can imagine, moving from a regular house to a campground after 9 years was a big upheaval for Minnie, so on our second day I treated her to a lovely juicy bone from the butchers.  For this she was most grateful and enjoyed it all day but understandably while she wanted to take it in the van with her at night I wasn't so keen to fall asleep to the aroma of manky beef bone so I left it outside, safely tucked underneath Batty.  Or so I thought.  Around 5.45am I heard the shrieking of seagulls, swiftly multiplying.  It got louder and louder until to my horror I thought 'Minnie's bone!  They're after Minnie's bone!  It's me who has caused this fracas!'  I gingerly lifted the curtain and my worst fears were confirmed; there were screeching seagulls EVERYWHERE, all after this bloody bone.  I cringed and wished the earth would swallow me up as I peered around at all the other campers trying to sleep.  Another lesson learned!

The worst night however had to be 'the night of the rain'.  Actually make that, 'the day AND night of the rain'.  As we soon learned, when you have a van with a sliding door, every time it rains your bedding is going to get wet.  And in our case, also a rather tubby Cocker Spaniel.  The first day it rained, Gareth was at work and Minnie and I were half way through a lovely walk along the beach when it just fell out of the sky.  The result was one drenched dog and owner, a pile of soggy bedding and half a dozen wet towels used in order to prevent the bedding from getting QUITE so wet.  There was only one thing for it; Minnie and I were going to have to pay our first visit to the local launderette.  Which turned out to be both quite a lengthy and expensive experience.  For us to wash and dry two loads of sheets and towels cost no less than $18!  Bugger that!  I swore we would never pay so much again, and we haven't.

Unfortunately our rainy pain was not yet over.  Gareth returned home from work (and bless him, this was a really stressful time for him, juggling a full time job and living in a campground with limited time and facilities) and the heavens just opened.  Too stingy to buy a gazebo we instead settled for an el cheapo tiny blue tarpaulin, which we thought would do the job of providing both shade and shelter just fine.  Suffice to say it didn't on either count.  We eventually got dinner at around 10pm that night, which consisted of Gareth the chef desperately trying to stay dry as the water pooled perilously on top of the tarpaulin.  In the meantime I sat inside, banished as I peered meekly through a crack in the door, helplessly watching him cook as he insisted it was better for just one of us to be out in the elements than both of us.  The next day we went to Bunnings and bought a heavy duty gazebo and never looked back.

What a lot we have learned since then!  But even with those initial teething problems, I would never go back.  Gone are the days of being thousands of dollars behind in my rates, or worrying how I'm going to pay next month's mortgage.  Instead these days my biggest worry is finding the cheapest way to do the laundry and remembering to clean my teeth!  Would I go back?  No way!

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