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Sunday, 3 October 2010

Space to think 30th September 2010

I’m sitting in Tania’s living room at the moment, on a sofa all to myself, Bilbo the retriever at my feet, sprawled on the patterned carpet which lies under a coffee table on which are the salt and pepper shakers and a dish cloth which we used to carry through the hot plates from the wood stove half an hour ago. A couple of candles of the night light variety are behind that as I look at them and behind the edge of the table in the corner of the room is Tania’s music collection. Mel has just put another Ti tree log on the fire, she’s reading another book, this time a Polish novel in between long episodes of gazing into the mesmeric flames of the red brick hearth. Tania is reading the free adverts on another sofa, her legs tucked up onto the cushions like a teenager might do when their mother is trying to do the vacuuming. The walls of this most bohemian room are decorated with Saris, paintings and book shelves and behind Tania’s sofa are 2 sets of bongo’s left here for safe keeping by her son Emmanuel. There are other candles dotted around, a tambourine, maracas and another drum. The light on the ceiling is the type you would find in most Moroccan cafes and it casts out many alluring shadows onto the walls and the surrounding ceiling. I wonder if we shall ever return to this place when we leave on Sunday.

There are some slight down sides to life out here, but not many. There is not Broadband connection and the insects feed greedily on our fresh skin. Mel’s poor feet have taken a real battering, swollen mounds of bites, worse than any she has had before are keeping her awake at night, scratching. They flared up last night after she had been paddling on Baylys beach in the dirty surf which pounds the West coast of this island. The beach itself is fairly sparse, except for a handful of cars and bikes which cruise up and down on the hard sand. The sea is always ruff on that side of the country, as it travels for thousands of kms before battering the coastline 8 kms east of Dargaville. We enjoyed some excellent fish & chips in Dargaville township last night on our way home from the forest walk, deep sea cod and chips with Mayo – nice!

Mel and I have been able to spend some quality time dreaming of the things we would both like from our next home, wherever that may end up being. We are not sure if we can afford to buy the perfect home, but it may be possible to build a house, especially if we were to make to jump over the earth and settle permanently in NZ. At this stage, we think we will go back to the UK, maybe to Scotland and set up a life there. We have time on our hands to make the right choice for us. We are only 3 weeks into our 1 year visa to be here after all. We spent some time last night, propped up in bed discussing the pros and cons of keeping chickens and a goat, a sheep and a milking cow. If we could figure out a way to generate our own electricity though wind or water, we could be ‘off the grid’ ourselves, in much the same way as many of the folk down here are. These things are all possible at home too. My mother lives in a house with enough land around her to be almost self sufficient I would think. It just costs so much more at home and so would take us so much longer to realise that ambition. Wouldn’t it be nice not to be answerable to the gas and electric people and to grow lots of our own crops and get free range eggs and home made butter everyday. All possible. We would be free from the many trappings of contemporary life. The only thing we would have to pay for coming into our home would be internet and perhaps a TV licence if we wanted to watch it. Our friend Ella has recently procured a bee hive from which 32lbs of honey can be gleamed every 3-4 weeks in the summer, not to mention all the bees wax, that is something we will also have to look into when we eventually settle again.

I think we have pretty much made up our minds which direction we are heading when we leave Tania’s on Sunday. Our intention is to travel up the old Russell road which hugs the east coast of North Land, before heading back through to Auckland. We intend to make our way down to Dunedin in the South island sooner rather than later. We expect we shall like it sown there and we can maybe find jobs for the summer which runs for around 6 months here, rather than the 2-3 months at home. There’s still so much that we haven’t seen though, so we have to make sure that we make time for places like Lake Taupo, some of the natural hot springs and at some point I want to catch some of the great trout that abound in the many lakes and river systems of the country. The trout are one of the few good things that the British brought to the islands and they thrive on the fresh, unpolluted water of this new world. 

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