First draft of the book! I felt the title was appropriate :)
I couldn't have done it without Gareth; for weeks he took care of almost everything from looking after campers and doing all the cooking, to trying to fit in his own work too. It was hard to stay on task and watch him rush around like a mad thing, doing all the jobs we normally shared together single handedly. But we got there and the result is a 300-page book, which hopefully people will enjoy reading. The feedback I've had from our proofreaders so far is that it has made them all cry! I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not! But it's made them laugh too, which is a good sign. Hopefully it will invoke a similar response in the publishing houses we have sent it to and one of them will like it enough to print it. If not, well we'll have to come up with another way to get it out there! For now, we have to play the waiting game, which can take up to four months just to see if it gets accepted or not. And we already have a second book planned to get written over the winter! But for now, I'm enjoying having my life back for a bit and enjoying what's left of the golden weather.
We still get out there adventuring!
Today's blog is just a bit of a catch up. We still have heaps to share from our travels with Liam, which was a crazy six weeks ago now. I have no idea where the year is going! We've also managed the odd day trip, which has been lovely and I look forward to telling you about them. It amazes me how much there is to learn about our beautiful country. We've visited some places with wonderful, intriguing and often sad history and I've learned more about Maori tales and legends in the past two months than in my whole 26 years in New Zealand! Some of the stories are truly beautiful and really make you think, I look forward to sharing those as best I can too.
Milford Sound is steeped in history and legend
You may have seen from our Facebook page that I've been doing a lot of writing about freedom camping too, mainly for news website Stuff. It seems the media can't get enough of freedom camping at the moment and I'm not sure whether that's a good thing or not. There's so much propaganda, the whole issue and the public's perceived scale of freedom camping - what it is and their imagined idea of how bad it is, compared to the reality - has been blown way out of proportion. All I can do, both as a writer and a responsible camping individual as try to counteract each negative story with a positive one and use our experiences of life on the road to show how things really are. To date, in 18 months on the road we have never witnessed any campers using the outdoors as a public toilet or intentionally dumping rubbish. The only people we ever have to clean up after are locals.
People think of freedom campers as being only young travellers from overseas. If they knew how many pensioners were also out there living the lifestyle, they may not be quite so quick to accuse us all of making a mess and leaving nasty presents in the bushes! Just the thought of it makes me laugh. I'm not saying it doesn't have its problems, there are always a few bad apples in every box but it is just a few, not every one. It's one of those subjects that nobody will ever agree on. The only thing they all agree on is that the current system needs to change in order to work for everyone and allow the thousands of us who live on the road to preserve and continue to enjoy the lifestyle we love. I've written about it so much lately I'm even dreaming about it, so that's all I'm going to say on the subject here!
It may have been almost 'all work and no play' around here lately, but fortunately not quite. When we haven't been working we've been having a very sociable time of things! Once the school holidays are over it was time for the Kiwi motorhomers to come out and play, and what a lovely, friendly bunch they are too. The last few weeks have been a neverending stream of invitations, happy hours and pot luck dinners and we have had the pleasure of making many new friends from all over NZ, as well as more far flung places like the US, UK and Germany. Some afternoons there will be just four of us for drinkies, others you can find 16 or even more of us sitting out in the sunshine sharing stories. We have a lot of laughs and it's such a great way to learn about different parts of the country or indeed the world, places to visit (or not to visit!) and generally just be around good people. I can't think of any other way of life where you get to socialise with a whole bunch of new and likeminded people every day. So to finish today on a warm, fuzzy note, here are just a handful of the new friends we've made lately. If you've met us recently and there isn't a photo of you here, you'll just have to come back and see us again so we can take one!
Blowing the 'bad freedom camper' reputation out of the water, we had the pleasure of the company of these awesome Americans for several days. Left to right we have Madi, TJ, Greg and Haydn
We had a wonderful afternoon of laughs with these travelling Kiwis!
Left to right: Corrine, John, Brent, Sue, Barbara and Wayne
Us dressed up for a change, celebrating the wedding of fellow road dwellers
Fiona and Steve, along with new friends Andrew and Annie
When John and Lynette came round for a coffee, we didn't have enough mugs or
chairs in our van, so they brought their whole bus with them!
It's Happy Hour again! With John, Wayne, Leanne, Lynne
Ross, Mark, Toni, Clive, Yvonne and Jan