Friday, 13 October 2017

The Good Old Days

Good grief our campground has been busy this past week!  We're not used to having so many neighbours after the peace and relative solitude of winter but everyone's really coming out of the woodwork now.  There's a lot of people in cars, a couple of brave tenters and it can take an awfully long time to take Minnie for her morning waddle by the time we've chatted to everyone on the way round.  It's cool though, I really enjoy watching people living life so simply.  Our set up is so luxurious in comparison after almost a year's experience that I feel almost guilty watching them standing outside cooking on impossibly tiny stoves on the ground and constantly packing and unpacking everything into overcrowded car boots.  It's a fantastic way to see the country on a budget though, I wish I had thought of doing it years ago! 

Living the old fashioned way is easy when the weather is this good!

My dad, God rest his soul told me before he passed away to keep it simple - life, that is.  He's been gone 20 years and it's taken me this long to truly achieve that but I think I'm finally getting there.  Life IS simple, if you let it be so.  We live on so little these days it's crazy.  To be honest I've forgotten a lot of the things I used to do when we lived a regular life, it's been so long but I liken it to going back to the good old days of our grandparents.  I wash by hand whenever I can (which is a hell of a lot easier now the water is no longer freezing!).  We have a sink which works perfectly well but I prefer to do my dishes in a bucket outside and leave them to dry in the sun.  I also wash my hair outside over a bucket and pour a jug over my head, like my mum taught me when I was little.  We save all of our vegetable scraps to make stock and even make free fertiliser from banana peels to water our vegetable plants with.  We make all our own cleaning products, same as I have done for years (incidentally it made me chuckle this morning to read a news story which said a recent test by Consumer magazine on the country's most popular cleaning products revealed that plain old water did a better job than most of them!) and despite having a working vehicle constantly at our disposal we choose to walk everywhere.  Sometimes it makes me wonder how much of the things I do today stem from my years at Simple Savings, or whether I would be doing them anyway.  I do think Simple Savings has a lot to do with it; it taught me always to think outside the square and to look for a smarter, cheaper way.  I don't know too many other campers who do all the things we do!

Both Gareth and I got through the entire winter and beyond with no more than four changes of clothes.  We wore our snow boots until we had to throw them away and with bikini weather already here we'll be dragging our summer clothes out for the next six months.  So far I've worn make-up just twice in the past year; once at Christmas and again recently when we went to see Liam. On both occasions Gareth said 'What are you doing that for?  You don't need that stuff!'  to which I replied 'I don't want Liam to think his mother has gone completely feral!'  Life is simple and we spend our days doing simple things, just like people used to do years ago before they all felt they had to be doing fifty-million things at once, and before the media started bombarding us with articles telling us what we needed to do to be happy or successful. 

It's a simple life for all three of us!

It's a rare thing these days, having a truly simple life.  A lot of people never manage to achieve that; or if they do, not for very long.  I thought I was going to be one of those people, yet now I live the simplest life of anyone I know.  It goes without saying that once you have that, you want to hold onto it for as long as you can.  Which is why we have decided to stay put for a while, rather than travelling back up north for summer as we planned.  There are several reasons for this which I won't bore you with now but the main one is that it will be a lot more comfortable and economical for us to stay in the South Island over peak holiday season than up in the North.  As we discovered last summer, finding places to stay in the North Island which are a) dog friendly, b) not overcrowded, c) don't cost $50 a night and d) offer more than two nights' freedom camping can prove very expensive and stressful.  It's no fun living in a camper van on a scorching hot day when you can't take your dog to the beach to cool off for the biggest part of the day, or for a bush walk in the shade when so many areas don't allow dogs.  It's even less fun when your poor dog is sweltering for hours in a hot van whilst you can be driving around for hours, searching in vain for a suitable place to stay!  Nope, all things considered, we would rather wait and make our way back up the country when we can do so for $20 a night rather than $40 or $50!

Minnie's already feeling the heat!  At least here we can keep her cool.

In comparison the South Island is so much more laid back.  We can stay here for as long as we like for $5 a night (and have MORE facilities than the other campgrounds charge ten times as much for!). We have 40 acres we can wander around on with Minnie, lots of shady trees for us all to keep cool and there is far more space for fellow campers than there is at any other campground we have come across.  Plus it's beautiful here, it's like living in a park!  Much as we want to see our loved ones, it just doesn't make sense to travel up that end of the country at the most hectic time of year.  Better to wait until the hordes have gone and we can make our way up in comfort and for far less cost, when the campgrounds aren't all full.  I guess it goes to show how much we have learned about this lifestyle after four seasons!

'It wasn't me!' says Dudley the lamb!  Who is in fact a girl...

Don't worry though, just because we will be based in the same place, doesn't mean we will be resting on our laurels!  We both have a lot of work to do, and new opportunities cropping up, which will mean plenty of road trips and checking out new places here in the South.  Our to-do list of places to visit is still very long!  We'll keep you posted as we go along.  For now we are still busy playing farmers and greeting fellow campers.  Although the two unfortunately don't always go hand in hand.  Last night we met a young Asian couple as we were going to feed Casper and Dudley, the two orphan lambs.  'Did you say you have baby LAMBS?' they said, excitedly.  'Yep, do you want to come and see them?' we said.  They were beside themselves when we gave them a bottle each to feed them and took a heap of videos and photos.  'Time for bed fellas!' Gareth said when they were done, and we each picked up a lamb and carried them to the barn for the night, followed by the young couple.  Casper is the smaller of the two and is 'my' baby, who always snuggles into my neck when he's being carried.  Unfortunately when I went to put him down on the ground, he wriggled out of my arms, causing me to fall on a large wire gate leaning against a wall.  The gate came crashing down with me on top of it (mercifully the lambs had the good sense to run out of the way in the nick of time) and caused me to do a spectacular face plant in the straw, right in front of our very concerned new Asian friends.  Aside from a few bruises and grazes the only thing that was hurt was my pride.  I'm just glad they didn't manage to video THAT too!

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