Gypsy Jottings #1

“Two drifters, off to see the world …
There’s such a lot of world to see.
We’ve after the same rainbow’s end,
Waiting ‘round the bend,
My huckleberry friend,
Moon River … and me.”
(Henry Mancini) 

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU OPENED YOUR EYES … took a good look around … followed the road less travelled … went off the beaten track … explored some unexplored corner … and let Godzone work its magic on you? When was the last time you noticed that we Kiwis live in one of the most gorgeous spots on earth?

If I’m honest, I had almost forgotten. I’d got so used to rushing from one place to the next – can’t stop, too much to do, gotta keep moving – that I’d become blind to the beauty that was everywhere. “One day …” I kept telling myself, “I will stop and smell the flowers, listen to the birds, wonder at the world that is New Zealand. One day … when I’m not so busy. But not right now. I haven’t got time …”

However, all that has changed (or begun to change) since my wife and I went barking-mad … sold our home … put our stuff into storage … and moved bodies, clothes and laptops into a motorhome. As a lifestyle-change it’s been HUGE … and our conversion from suburbanites-with-a-letterbox to gypsies-with-no-fixed-abode has felt quite weird at times. But whenever Mrs Cooney and I talk about it (i.e. constantly) we agree: It’s the BEST THING we’ve done in a long, long time!

We’ve hardly started, of course. Our new life as nomads is still VERY NEW. We’re still getting used to driving in/living in/eating in/sleeping in/working in our big, luxurious, nine-metre-long, state-of-the-art TrailLite. And we’ve barely had time to attempt more than a few short practice-runs to the Coromandel Peninsula and Auckland North, plus one longer ‘sea-trial’ around the Taranaki coast.

What’s more (believe it or not), we’re still VERY BUSY. Frequent hook-ups with kids and grandkids keep Robyn out of mischief – plus the 101 other things a good woman does (like gourmet cooking for her husband, vacuuming our gypsy wagon (takes forever!), plotting our next on-the-road route, and reassuring her worried/envious Facebook friends that, HONESTLY, WE’RE LOVING IT!) And it’s her job, of course, to feed the horse …

As for Yours Truly? Well, most afternoons and evenings (into the wee small hours) you can find me banging away on my keyboard, writing articles and fundraisers for Grapevine, helping Mike (our son, the editor) with the next magazine, and adding pages to a Big Fat Book (‘33 Years of Grapevine’). Plus we both keep busy (with our friend Roger Glynan) planning new overseas tours for our Midlife Madness friends.

The great thing about our motorhome is: WE’RE LIVING THE DREAM! We’re grabbing the chance, while we’re still fit, healthy and young (haha), to explore our special homeland … to snoop around, go places we’ve never been, check out some history, scratch around below the surface, ooh-aah-and-gosh-look-at-that to our heart’s content.

And I can tell you already: this is one seriously gorgeous country, populated (mostly) by seriously nice people! In just a few months, without even really trying, we’ve eyeballed breath-taking scenery, lush natural bush, awesome snowy mountains, driftwood-strewn coastlines, native birds, gushing streams, autumn hues, crashing surf, and superbly maintained parks and reserves with walkways/tracks/bridges that make it all so easy-to-get-at – plus lookouts/viewing-platforms/picnic spots that make it all worthwhile once you’re there. And each time we’ve stopped, we’ve met friendly, welcoming locals, and learnt a little more about their town, their district, their neck-of-the-woods.

We’ve been impressed all over again with how much our generation has inherited from previous generations of pioneering Kiwis … how much has been given to us and sacrificed for us and handed down to us and protected for us … and how privileged we are to be handing it on to our kids and grandkids and great-grandkids!

We’d love to sit down with you (over a frothy flat-white or a cup of gumboot-tea) and show you where we’ve been and what we’ve seen. But this occasional blog is the next best thing. It won’t be a travelogue (there are enough of them already). And we won’t go on and on (like this), I promise. Some postings may be deep-&-meaningful … but most will be short’n’sweet, random roadside ramblings … and some might end up mainly photos (Robyn’s and mine) like these.

Anyway, if YOU’RE slightly mad, too, and would like to follow this gypsy-trail – be our guest!

Yours (from goodness-knows-where) – JOHN & ROBYN

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