Parenting on the move

Autumn at this end of the country is much more dramatic and definite than it is where we are from. The trees are quickly a riot of all the rich autumnal colours and I can already see that they will fall just as quickly as they changed colour. Perhaps it is a bit more time spent inside on the not so nice days, but something about this change of season has had me reflecting a little on our journey so far and all the change it has wrought in my life. Not just the obvious change that is out there for everyone to see but the little ways that things have changed as well. I suppose it is only natural that big life change has a ripple affect on all the little ways you do things and the way you see things in life. I think perhaps for me some of these things were always going to happen but shifting out of our little comfort zone of house, community and support system I had built for myself has sped up the process a bit. One of the things in my life that has had a bit of an overhaul is the way that I approach and manage my parenting. I thought I would share a bit because I wish I had done some of these things years ago. So if you are just here for the bus and the adventures fair warning this one may not be for you.

Some of the things I changed was a concious thing. I was completely aware that I would now be spending all my days with Oliver. My two days a week where he went to kindy and I had a chance to focus entirely on things I wanted to were over. The weekends he would spend staying at his Nanas every couple of months where I caught my breath and we got some couple time were not going to be an option anymore. Here is probably where I should admit that since being a Mum I have never been good at making sure I get the things I need to keep me happy. I don’t know why because before Oliver I really was good at it, I took the time out for long walks by myself, fed my soul with music I loved, books I enjoyed, did the things that helped me give to the other areas of my life. So why once I had a tiny little human who needed me to give more than I ever had before did I drop myself off that list of people that need looking after? I don’t have that answer really. Perhaps it was partly because when Oliver arrived Wayne’s job had him working 70 hour weeks. I would kiss him goodnight on a Sunday everning and most weeks wouldn’t see him until late Friday night or Saturday afternoon if I was lucky. Out of neccessity I got really good at coping by myself.

Anyway fast forward to us buying the bus. I don’t want to end up stressed out, grumpy and not coping with the close living spaces. My current way of dealing with this is not 100% working for me and it’s got to change now anyway. So I did conciously decide we needed a strategy to try and avoid this becoming a problem. We decided that the healthiest thing would be to plan in times where each of us would have some time out from being with Oliver. As it turns out when we are all traveling together it’s not such a big deal, it tends to happen quite naturally that one or the other of us will take Oliver off to do something alone. It’s when we are stationary and Wayne is working that I really need it. Wayne is a night owl so would much rather take his time out in the form of a sleep in the next morning on a weekend. This works for me as sleeping in just isn’t something I do. But for me the last few months the little outings on the weekends that my boys go on are absolutely life changing. I love them both to absolute pieces but I just naturally like being alone sometimes. That time to read or write or go for a walk or do some baking without a tiny helper measuring my ingredients for me is the best present my husband has ever given me.

So the other things we changed were not such a conscious choice, they have just sort of evolved as we built our new life around the way we were now living. Most afternoons now Oliver will find something he wants to occupy himself with for an hour or so, get some toys out or puzzles. Anything that requires little to no input from me in regards to set up and that he can do entirely on his own. This took a little coaxing to begin with but now he often says himself that it’s time for some quiet time and asks me for what he wants to do that afternoon. My son has always been a helper, loves to do all the household chores with me and now at almost six he is actually a wonderful help. He dries the dishes most mornings, he does a great job of vacuuming or sweeping the steps and is always keen to help in the kitchen or fold the clothes. This is actually a great side to homeschooling, you can develop a real sense of teamwork around the work of everyday life. But that helper drive coupled with the fact that he is an only child mean I do need to make sure he plays independently sometimes.

The other things I do differently now are more about mindset really and I think they flow from the fact that I am taking more care of my mental health so I have a clearer head, more patience, less stress. I work quite hard now to approach everything positively, because it’s amazing how much the way you frame something can influence your experience. And on those days where for what ever reason my beautiful son does not have such a beautiful disposition I try to make the most of the fact that I have the freedom to choose what our days look like and go somewhere or do something that we both get a lot of joy from. For us at the moment in Gore that means a walk to the river, going to the pools for a swim, visiting the aviary at the gardens or a visit to the library. And on the wet days it might mean putting on some music for an impromptu dance party or putting on gumboots to go jump in puddles. Because being in those spaces we both enjoy can make all the difference in the world to how we both feel and interact with each other.

Thanks for reading today’s ramblings, I’m certainly no expert or perfect parent but those are not normally the kinds of parenting stories I like reading either. Do you have any things you’ve found that really work for your family? I’d love to hear what you do that helps your family keep ticking over.

 

Totaranui Bay

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At the end of a windy, narrow dirt road about 30 kms from Takaka is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been lucky enough to visit. Totaranui Bay is home to a gorgeous big Doc campsite, the most golden sandy beach I have ever seen, crystal clear water and tons of walking tracks. It’s the place where a lot of people start the Abel Tasman coastal track, a walk that follows the coastline along the length of the Abel Tasman national park and takes between 3-5 days.

We found a wonderful spot to set up camp, views of the water from the front windows, views of the estuary from the bedroom and most importantly just a short stroll down to that beach. Our first afternoon was filled on that beach. We built sandcastles, explored the estuary when the tide was out and even though it’s late april and the water is rather crisp we all swam.

Our second day here we were keen to do one of the walks that were on offer. So mid morning we headed off to Goat Bay, it was about a 40 minute walk with a stop off at Skinner point for some great views back to Totaranui Bay. I had packed Oliver’s togs knowing he would want to swim at Goat Bay but not ours a move I did regret a little after the climb over to the bay on a surprisingly warm autumn day. We settled for paddling our feet in the ocean and very quickly killed a couple of hours before climbing back over to Totaranui bay and finally having the swim we wanted.

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Another great thing about this camp is that they have fireplaces all around the camp so you can have an open fire. Toasting marshmallows over an open fire was a pretty great way to end such a nice day and I know it’s one of Oliver’s favorite memories from our stay here.

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The next day we opted for a bit of a quieter day, most of our morning was spent riding our bikes around the camp and the little area behind the carpark that has been made in to a little bmx track. Then we took a walk with the Doc ranger and fed some extremely big eels. And in the afternoon it was back to the beach, more sandcastles, more swimming. This day is the pattern many of our camping holidays normally take, it feels familiar in its routine no matter where we are and what beach we are swimming on. Perhaps this is why Oliver is taking to our new life like a duck to water? He seems very content with this new normal, in fact I would go so far as to say he thinks this new life is much better than the old. And I can see his little mind taking in everything around him, there are moments where I can see the learning happening right in front of me. It’s not in a so called conventional way but it is learning all the same and what’s more so much of it is self-directed. As he walks through the bush he tells me ‘tree starts with t mummy’ and then spends a good 15 minutes naming things around him and what letter they start with. We write words on the beach with sticks and he counts things constantly, sometimes even doing basic addition without even really knowing what it is that he is doing. It’s amazing how much a child can just learn all by themselves if you just give them a loving supportive environment, surround them with plenty of varied opportunities to explore the world around them, read to them on a daily basis and give them as much time to play as you possibly can. For Oliver learning seems to be an almost natural thing, always evolving, always growing, always searching for new knowledge. I hope he never stops searching, growing and evolving and I hope I always take the time to see it happening.

Goodbye Tauranga

 

The day I sometimes felt would never arrive is finally here! All the lists of jobs we had have finally been ticked off, a few things we never anticipated have been thrown in just for good measure to keep us on our toes. Everything we own is now inside our bus or our small storage unit. And we have said goodbye to all the people who made up our world and our lives here in Tauranga.

It was actually a lot easier to hop in the car and drive away than what I had imagined it would be. I suppose I have had so much time over the last few months to try to figure out all the details of this trip, to anticipate it and look forward to it, that now there is no room for nervousness and worry. Just a whole lot of excitement and a whole lot of wondering what it is we will find down the road. It’s also amazing how having Oliver along for the ride with us keeps it all in perspective, you still have to live your everyday life around the travelling and the exploring. Small children still expect to be fed at regular intervals, they still want a sense of routine and a sense of home even if it is a moveable one, they still create mess and washing to be dealt with. Oddly this is kind of comforting, this life might be a big leap into the unknown but the everyday of it still contains a lot of familiar things.

Leaving Tauranga makes me reflect a lot on the time I have lived here, all that has happened for me here and all the great memories I take with us. It also makes me reflect on the journey we have taken in the last twelve months, from living a pretty average life to where we are now. Living in a bus, unsure when or where one of us will next have paid employment, unsure even where we will be next week as we are purposely keeping our travel plans very vague in the hopes that will allow us to see as much as we want in each area. It feels like the changes we have made in the last twelve months are almost as big as the ones we will make in the next twelve months.

When we moved in to my parents house at the end of October our goal was to only stay 6-8 weeks, well five months later that clearly didn’t go to plan. Or as I am learning to see it, we made a new plan, not better or worse just different. You see I love having a plan and a goal to work towards and I am an avid writer of to do lists and the like. The downside of this is that sometimes when things don’t go to the plan it can feel like you are falling short in some ways. One of the things I hope to do while we embark on this adventure is learn how to let go a little and celebrate success whether it went to plan orĀ  followed some other more winding path. Because sometimes getting there anyway when things didn’t follow the plan is the biggest success of all!

 

And the goodbyes start….

When we first discovered we would have to wait until the first of february before anything could start happening with the bus it felt like that was an endless time to wait. In reality the time has gone fairly quickly, helped along by the busyness of xmas and end of year celebrations. But still we have had moments where we felt we simply couldn’t wait another day for things to start happening.

But that time arrived quicker than we ever imagined it could and on the day we dropped our bus off I woke strangely nervous. I have really fallen in love with this bus and it has already become home for the three of us. In a way that I really hadn’t anticipated it would, so the slight unknown of how it’s going to be feel once it’s altered is a bit nerve wracking.

So then we had a whole heap of decisions to make, which fridge to buy, what stove did I prefer. Picking tiles and choosing a vanity for the bathroom. All of this amongst the busy day to day of life, work for Wayne and keeping our energetic four and a half year old busy, active and challenged. So not surprisingly the time is flying by even quicker then ever and suddenly a day we have been dreading a little arrived. The day my parents leave for there summer holiday, a holiday they won’t get back from until after we leave.

I have been incredibly blessed in a lot of ways in my life and my parents and the great relationship I have with them is definetly one of the biggest. The fact that we have managed to live together since October, some of that time all sharing a modestly sized 3 bedroom house is a testament to that I think. We definetly would have found this stage of our journey a lot more difficult without them giving us a place to stay. And that is not even mentioning the complete support they have shown for a idea that some families would find more than a little crazy.

Thankfully we said our goodbyes and waved them off without any tears on Oliver’s part, a minor miracle considering how attatched he is to his Nana in particular and how aware he is of the fact that we won’t be seeing them for a very long time. And though it only took a few hours before he was telling me he missed them and wanted them to come home we are surviving this with lots of cuddles and lots of affirmation that I miss them as well. So the first and perhaps the most difficult goodbye is done and many more are looming in the next few weeks. This will be the hardest part of this whole venture and a hard life lesson for a little boy. But one I hope that will teach him resilience and how to make new friends in new places. And above all one that will teach him that no matter what as long as he has his Dad and I there with him everything else will be just fine.

Taranaki part two

DSC05709One of the things we are learning about travelling in a bus is that it is quite easy to just head off to a destination without to much of a firm itinerary for once you get there. Though I do think this is definitely something I will grow to love, the sense of freedom and flexibility, it is not something I have been used to the last four years since having a child to consider. Travelling has been quite carefully planned to ensure the most enjoyable trip and holiday for everyone involved. But the theory is in the bus that we can decide at any point in the day that we have had enough and simply find a spot to park up for the remainder of the day. This was our first time putting this in to practise as we woke at Okato domain with no firm plans for the day.

Over breakfast we decided that a visit to Pukekura park was our first stop as Oliver had been such a star on our big day of travelling he deserved to do something he would enjoy. Pukekura park is a huge gardens in New Plymouth, it has walking and cycling tracks and is also home to the Brooklands Zoo which was what we were going to check out. We arrived to the pleasant surprise that the zoo was free to enter and once we got Oliver past the playground in the center of the zoo we began to explore all the exhibits. There was a petting zoo area with all your standard farm animals, several different types of monkeys, meerkats, otters and a free flight aviary with several types of parrots. We spent several hours playing and watching the animals and with all the picnic spaces provided and huge gardens surrounding the zoo you could easily spend a whole day here with your family.

Wanting to check out part of the coastal walkway next we headed to the Waiwakaiho River mouth. The coastal walkway is 12.7kms of pathway that stretches from the port on one side of New Plymouth right through the city itself and quite a considerable distance along up the coast. It has several points of interest along the way and one of them is Te Rewa Rewa bridge which crosses over the Waiwakaiho river.

DSC05686DSC05719The bridge they say is supposed to resemble a wave or a whale skeleton, both of which I would say it does, it also in my opinion is quite beautiful. The large metal structure with its gorgeous curves somehow appears delicate against the rugged wildness of the coastline it sits beside. We spent the remainder of our day wandering the beach and playing in the river when we needed to cool off. Deciding that this spot was far to beautiful to leave just yet we stayed in the reserve beside the lake you drove past to get to the river mouth.

DSC05708DSC05699This coast is very different from where we live in the bay of plenty, our beaches are all soft golden sands and waves that beg to be swum and played in. The sea is rough on this coast, the waves crash and warn you to be wary of their power, there are rocks and miles on miles of black sand and driftwood. But in all that wildness and energy there is beauty and they are beaches you could roam and explore for hours on end, always finding something new the sea has brought in or the waves have altered.

The next day we decided to head down the surfers highway with the goal of ending up in Hawera for the night. We stopped at a replica lighthouse that holds the old light from the Cape Egmont lighthouse, well worth a stop for the views from the top of the lighthouse alone. But very interesting with lots of information about the history of the lighthouse and how the light works. And for a few dollars you can turn the light on and watch it work for a few minutes.

After lunch at the pub in Opunake it was a short drive on to Hawera. The joy of small towns is finding ample parking close to the supermarket and the laundromat handily situated right across the road so we can restock on groceries and clean the mountain of washing we seem to have produced in just a few days. Yet again a taste of something that will become part of our everyday lives once we are travelling full time.

This nights camping spots has to be my all time favourite in the bus so far, a spot called Waihi beach reserve just five minutes drive from Hawera. It is just a parking lot at the top of the cliffs with a track that leads down to the beach below. But we got the prime parking spot with an uninterrupted view out to what looked like an endless expanse of ocean. The beach itself is another rugged beauty, stark cliffs, huge boulders to sit on and bathe your feet as the tide went out – really all you could ask for on a hot summers afternoon. And in the morning when I managed to sneak out of the bus before anyone else woke and headed for a morning stroll along the pathway back towards Hawera I was finally treated to spectacular views of Mt Egmont, gorgeous sunrise showing her off in all her beauty not a cloud in sight. Unfortunately by the time I got back, cleaned up and breakfast sorted the clouds had rolled in again and not a picture taken to share. Selfishly perhaps this moment feels all the more special because it was mine alone, my husband and son sleeping blissfully, to wrapped up in how gorgeous it was to think of whipping my phone out for a quick snap.

From here we started to slowly head home, we had one gloriously sunny day to explore Hawera a bit more and then the rain came back. So we took the scenic route home along the forgotten world highway to Taumarunui and then passed lake Taupo, we spent a few nights at DOC campsites along the way to break the travelling up as much as we could. Even more than ever we are longing for the day we head off, these little snippets of travel just confirm to us what we have hoped for. That this is going to be an amazing way to travel and we long to experience it without the time constraints and rush of a short little week long holiday.

Taranaki here we come!

With the first of february looming and knowing that we would be without our bus for at least a few weeks while it had its renovations done we decided on a weeks long holiday in the Taranaki region before that happened. It would be our longest trip in the bus to date and we would also be away on my birthday, brilliant timing really.

Keen to break the travelling down up a bit we set off after Wayne finished work with the goal of making it to a place called Lake Whakamaru. We had dinner on the way and arrived to find a very large tree filled campsite beside a lake with stunning views across the other side of the lake. Oliver was keen to explore so we crammed in a swim (for him) and a walk along part of the cycle trail that passes by the campsite before bed.

The next day was my birthday and we woke to rain on the roof of the bus and clouds that promised a very wet day. So it was an early start to our days journey and the decision was made that we would cover a lot of ground in the rain and make it all the way to New Plymouth. Our first stop was a little town called Piopio, we stretched our legs down the main street and found a charming little art gallery/gift shop to kill some time in. This of course isn’t of much interest to a four year old boy (or his father!) so the next stop needed to include a bit of adventure. Wayne had a spot in mind that he had driven past many times when he used to travel for work but never had the opportunity to stop at.

Not long after we came out to the coast we found it, the three sisters and elephant rock. We arrived at lunch time and on reading the signs realised it was a walk you could only do at low tide as you had to walk along the edge of the water. Deciding that the tide was on its way out but still had a long way to go we settled on having our lunch and a play on the small beach by the car park instead. But after an hour had passed and we watched how quickly the tide was receding we re-thought this plan and decided to just get in our togs, give the tide another half hour to go out and go for it. Most of the ten minute walk around the water was only knee deep so definitely safe. We got to a point where we could see the beach just around the corner and thought our plans may be foiled as the water looked to get considerably deeper. But a few metres through water just above my waist and we were at a delightful little sea cave.

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DSC05618Once we had explored that it was just a short wade through waist high water to the beautiful black sandy beach. Strewn with drift wood and rocks, turbulent surf ahead and high cliffs gouged with small caves at the base to the side, it was a wonderful beach to explore and hunt for treasures as we made our way around to the three sisters.

DSC05643It was just a short and easy walk around to where you could see the three sisters and elephant rock and with the beach all to ourselves it only added to the sense of adventure and discovery.

DSC05656The three straight pillar like rocks are the three sisters and the rock shaped like an upside down v is the one called elephant rock. Maybe it was the rain or our imaginations working very well but while we were there we all could see a vague resemblance to an elephant like creature. Something I now fail to see in any of my photo’s, but for a brief moment on the beach it was there! So we headed back exploring more on our way and enjoying the relative calm and much lower water to wade through on our way back.

DSC05626It was a pleasant drive through to New Plymouth from there and that night as we settled in for a night of freedom camping at the Okato Domain we all agreed that this is exactly what we signed up for when we brought the bus. The time and opportunity to share these little treasures with each other, to explore and enjoy the beauty our country has at pretty much every corner of the road. And to expose Oliver to that sense that he can step off the footpath, wade through the water and find a beautiful little spot hidden just around the next bend. To top off a pretty amazing 36th birthday the clouds lifted briefly off Mt Egmont and we got a glimpse of the beautiful Maunga before bed. This holiday I knew already was going to be everything we had hoped and more.

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Revisiting an old favourite

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Before we head off to explore lots of new places we really want to spend time at some of our favourite local spots while they are still on our back door step. So after spending a wonderful xmas day with my family having a picnic at the beach we decided a quick get away was in order.

Roughly an hour and a half from where we live is a campsite beside Lake Tarawera at a spot called the Tarawera outlet. It’s a spot we have camped at many, many times and is a spot that never disapoints. Stunningly beautiful lake, crisp clear swimming water in the lake and in the river and a relatively easy walk to a nearby waterfall. Really what more could you ask for?

It is a little bit of a drive in through unsealed forestry roads and was quite late by the time we arrived. But the joy of our new way of travelling is that within 15 minutes of arriving I was serving up xmas day leftovers to my tired wee boy and with no real set up of camp required we had time for a stroll down to the lake before bed to wind down from our very busy day.

We woke the next morning to rain and a learning experience of having parked sideways on a sloping site and spent the night slowly sliding out of bed. So after breakfast we shifted to a slightly flatter spot where we could park where the front of the bus was pointing downhill and not the side. A much more comfortable position. With the bus sorted we decided to head off for a little walk along the river.

DSC05610There is a track that follows the river until it goes through an underground tunnel and comes out at the Tarawera Falls, very beautiful with a neat swimming hole enroute but for this walk we decided just to go until Oliver had had enough and wanted to turn around. It’s rather lovely walking through the NZ bush on a rainy day, cool and damp but sheltered from the worst of the wetness. We found a spot for morning tea on some mossy boulders and hung out for some photo’s.

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Luckily in the afternoon the weather cleared and we managed a crisp but refreshing swim in the lake and the river. It was the perfect little getaway after the excitement of xmas day, a great way to shift the focus from presents and over indulgence to family and nature. And the start in a way of our farewell of to our old home and old life as we ease our way into our new one.

A semi wandering Christmas

DSC05485From the moment Oliver came into our lives we started building little traditions around all those special times of year. Birthdays, Easter and one of Oliver’s particular favourites xmas. For us those traditions involve a lot of time with family and knowing that next year our family won’t be so close at hand it has made this xmas extra special.

Even though we are both completely sure that what we are doing is going to be an amazing experience for our whole family and a wonderful learning time for Oliver in particular, it doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes have doubts and worries about what we are doing. I worry that he will miss his life we are leaving behind, his kindy, his friends, our family! I worry that perhaps this is just something I want to do so much that I have convinced myself it is great for Oliver as well. I worry about him not starting regular school when he turns five and any impact that could have on him long-term.

Then I start to remind myself of all the wonderful things I believe he will gain from this experience. I remind myself that my family are amazing and they will make sure Oliver’s bond with them stays alive from a distance and he still feels their love for him no matter where we are in the country. I remind myself that he will have the invaluable experience of making new friends where ever we go and that this will be an asset to him in later life. Then most importantly I remind myself that for him to see his parents chasing a dream of there’s and striving hard to make an incredible life for our family is a very powerful lesson in itself.

So then I do what I have found I have to do many times as a mother. I push the big picture long term worries to the back of my mind and I focus on the little things, the day to day things that I actually can do something about in the moment to make a difference.

So this christmas season is being filled with special visits with our good friends. With making the most of the time we have with our family. With a picnic at the beach on xmas day. With enjoying all the local christmas activities that we have done in the past because next year we will have new ones to discover and new traditions to start. And of course with trying so hard to just slow down a little in the mad rush that this time of year can become and truly enjoy the precious four year old enjoyment of that special christmas magic.

Lovely Lake Arohena

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My husband and I have long had a passion for camping and exploring in places a bit off the beaten track. We have done plenty of it in the eleven years we have known each other and though the addition of Oliver to the mix slowed us down a little it never stopped us. Luckily he has just as much of a love for it as we do. So naturally we were dying to take the bus somewhere we had never been before.

The opportunity presented itself this week when we had to head to Hamilton to see if we could have a towbar fitted on the bus so we could tow a car with us when we head off on our big trip. We convoyed over to Te Awamutu after work and spent our first night freedom camping in the carpark at Lake Ngaroto, our first experience of what will probably be many at freedom camping. Unfortunately our trip to Hamilton didn’t give us the answer we wanted, to fit a towbar to our bus would be a very expensive job if they could do it at all, so the dream of all travelling in our bus together just has to shift slightly and we will convoy together instead.

A short scenic drive from Hamilton out to the Arapuni lakes and around to Lake Arohena was enough to cheer us up. Oliver informed me as I was following behind Wayne in the bus that I shouldn’t lose sight of Daddy because he was our ‘favourite friend’ and we did not want to lose him. On seeing him manoeuver the bus down a winding, steep and narrow dirt road to our campsite I agreed that he was rather a handy chap to keep with us!

We secured a park right by the water as the camp only had a few other occupants and fairly quickly enjoyed an afternoon dip in the lake. After years of tenting the ease of travelling in the bus feels very luxurious, within minutes of arriving and unlatching a few drawers, moving a couple of containers we are all set up. No tents to set up, no cars and trailers to unpack. A part of me fears going back to tenting will be very hard after this experience is over.

DSC05568.JPGBest view so far from the bus windows, not bad at all to wake up to this.

Lake Arohena was far more picturesque than I had imagined. It’s a DOC (department of conservation) campsite so fairly basic, this one had the luxury of flushing toilets, a small shelter with some sinks and running water probably intended for cleaning fish as we were told by other campers it was a great spot for trout fishing and a few picnic tables and fireplaces for outdoor fires. definitely a great place to forget about the disappointment of not being able to tow our car and truly begin to appreciate how wonderful this new life in our bus is going to be.

The next day one very excited Oliver had his togs on and his Dad in the water with him before I had even washed the breakfast dishes. We didn’t have to go far or do all that much before it was time to tidy up and leave this little slice of paradise with a promise that we will definitely be back.

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Early morning swims are the best

Freedom

Since around April this year my little family have talked, planned, dreamed and hoped for the day we could go away in a house bus. Unsurprisingly the last week waiting for our bus to be finished at the mechanics has been very, very long. At first we were optimistic it may be done by the Tuesday. Then we thought Wednesday would be great as it was Waynes first day off work. By Thursday my patience was all gone.

But finally on Friday we got the bus back and after a long boring day for Wayne sitting at the VTNZ testing station we were legal and more than ready to hit the road. Unfortunately with only one night left before Wayne had to be back home for work, but we were definetly not going to let this opportunity pass!

We headed to Mclaren’s falls just outside of Tauranga for our first night away in the bus. Oliver and I arrived in the car slightly ahead of Wayne. We had plenty of parking places to choose from and found one that definetly ticked our two main boxes, flat and with a nice view.

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Not a bad view while I cook dinner.

The local ducks and geese who currently had all there babies in tow gave us something interesting to watch while we ate dinner. And after a little stroll down to the water it was time to tuck Oliver into bed.

Mclarens falls park boasts a delightful cafe and an animal park. Both were on the agenda for our saturday. So nice to walk out the bus door and along the walking paths by the water to have breakfast, followed by a stroll around the animal park then back to the bus for a bite to eat, a rest in the shade and a quick tidy up so we were ready to leave when we wanted to. And as I tidied the bus I watched my two boys sitting watching the ducks and talking to each other. These moments are one of my big reasons for doing this, the peaceful togetherness we seem to find when we disconnect a bit and head off into nature is something I want more of for my family.

And just like that our first trip in the bus is done. The more time we spend in her, the more we put our own little stamp on her I can truly see us living and enjoying ourselves in her. Now we are home, planning the next trip away….

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