Gypsy Jottings #3

“The most dangerous risk of all: the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.” (Randy Komisar)

THIS GYPSY LIFE IS AWFUL, IT REALLY IS. We’ve been forced to spend the last three days parked up on a choice site at Russell, in the Bay of Islands, while the July sun rained down upon us. Each morning we’ve had to listen to the constant chortling of tuis. Each evening we’ve had to put up with wekas scratching in the grass around our motorhome and almost eating out of our hands.

I’ve been dragged away from my much-loved work and made to comb through the museum (in what was NZ’s oldest capital: Kororareka) … revisit some early NZ history (including the signing in 1840 of NZ’s oldest Treaty) … turn the handle on NZ’s oldest printing press (the Pompallier Mission painstakingly turned out nearly 40,000 Maori-language books on this ancient contraption) … walk the aisle in NZ’s oldest (and still used) church … climb the hill to NZ’s oldest (and, thanks to Hone Heke, most-frequently-chopped-down) flagpole … and overeat at NZ’s oldest licenced restaurant (the Duke of Marlborough Hotel).

See what I mean? Awful!

And today, to cap it all off, after rising at dawn to ferry our hefty TrailLite across the flat-calm harbour, I was pushed into a waterfront café. And (here’s the worst bit): just as I was forcing-down some yummy eggs-benedict, two shiny-backed orcas (I kid you not) swam leisurely past, their fins breaking the surface just metres from where we were sitting!

It doesn’t get much awfuller than that – right?

YOU MIGHT BE WONDERING WHY Robyn and I swapped our home-in-the-suburbs for this anything-BUT-awful life-on-the-road as gypsies. What on earth made us embark on such motorhome-madness?

Well, it started one Saturday morning last August. Robyn had nagged me previously about getting a (small) campervan-cum-motorhome: “It would be such a fun way to see New Zealand!” – and I, being sensible, had always put her off: “Sure, Darling, but ten/five/two years from now, when we can afford it, okay?” However, several friends had recently been hit with some rather nasty medical stuff (warning: it starts happening to friends around the time you get your Gold Card!) … and one healthy, fun-loving mate had died suddenly, shockingly, from totally unexpected complications.

I’d woken early that Saturday morning, thinking about corners and what might or might not lie around them. It occurred to me: If we really want to do this, we should do it NOW – not wait until it’s too late. And then, just as quickly, in an unusual flash of brilliance, I had worked out how to do it

I nudged Robyn awake. I asked her to sit up in bed and concentrate. Then (for the second time in my life) I proposed: “I’ve got a crazy idea! Let’s sell the house … put our stuff in storage … and buy a motorhome big enough and nice enough to live in and work in!”

And she (who has loved me and put up with my crazy ideas for 45 years, and is at least half-crazy herself) looked at me and said “YES!” 003-21 motorhome THERE ARE TIMES IN LIFE WHEN you need to act on an impulse … when the best thing to do is hold each other’s hand and jump! And, thankfully, that Saturday, we jumped! Instead of overthinking the idea, picking it to bits, finding fault with it, scaring ourselves to death with it, and talking ourselves out of it … we applied one of my favourite mottos: “If you want something bad enough you’ll find a way to make it happen!” To cut a short story even shorter …

  • Two days later, we’d shared the idea with our family, and got their unreserved thumbs-up (plus offers of help).
  • Two weeks later, we’d offered ‘Big Blue’ (our family home for 30-plus years) to our young next-door neighbours, and shaken hands on the deal – just like that.
  • Two months later, we’d looked at so many motorhomes we were going cross-eyed, and signed-up at last on our TrailLite.
  • Then, just days before Christmas, having sold, stored, dumped or given away most of our stuff (more on that later) … we downsized (more on that later, too) … from four bedrooms/two bathrooms/two lounges/and a big office to a six-wheel, eight-tonne, nine-metre truck! (More on that later, as well.)

Some people, I’m sure, thought we were BARKING MAD! But they waited in vain for us to come to our senses, change our minds, act responsibly, lower our sights, and settle for something less-risky. With our NZ Motor-Caravan Membership Card in her purse, and my Heavy-Traffic Licence in my pocket … Robyn and I were off on our gypsy-adventure!

She’s learning how to make trinkets and beads – and I’m doing a course in tattooing. Yours (from somewhere up north) – JOHN & ROBYN

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7 thoughts on “BARKING MAD?

  1. What amazing photos! You are making the most of this wonderful new lifestyle. Long may it continue. Looking forward to seeing you down our way before too long!!


  2. Just love your travels and enjoying all those places with you. Reliving our own travels there and so glad you are finding New Zealand ! It is a fabulously beautiful country and your pics are lovely. You will like the South Island even more as on the straight roads you have time to see the scenery!! Barbara K, Queenstown


  3. Congratulations on having the strength of character to do what many of us wish we had done. Val and I did the campervan trip around OZ which is totally unforgettable, 4 months of comradeship and delight. More strength to your elbow, Regards Dave and Val Murrie


  4. Hi Robyn & John

    We have recently been north for 4 days – and refreshed our acquaintance with that beautiful & historic part of our country. Your descriptions and photos capture just some of the wonders to be found there. Be sure to do the Dargaville museum if and when you get there.

    Go well while you can.

    Love and blessings – Claire & Caith Mitchell


  5. Yes I totally understand how bad it is for you two. Shit life really. You want sympathy well you’re just NOT gonna get it. Are we jealous? YEP Would we do it? YEP Do you inspire us to be just that little bit more impulsive and daring? YEP Wish we were there with you? YEP.
    Love the pics – stunning. Love the blog and your sharing of the adventure with us. Taa heaps.
    Love n hugz xx


  6. Feel really sorry for you guys!! What ordeal to go through! Did the same trip a couple of years ago! A must see is the Waiwere Boulders, if you are going over to the West Coast..
    Rob & Kathleen H


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