Hits and misses ­– 3½ months on

When we published our original ‘Hits and misses’ post, listing the things that we thought we would most enjoy about our new lifestyle, and what we anticipated missing the most, we promised to revisit our lists in three/six/12 months’ time, to see whether the reality of our new lifestyle matched our expectations. So, here are our reflections on those lists with the benefit of 3½ months of living on the road…*

Hits

Didn’t think we’d be needing gumboots in summer; Milton (NSW), January 2015

Kim: 1) Spending most of the day/night outdoors – Did I say that?! Hmmm…That was when I still believed all of those travel bloggers who claimed they’d seen rain once or twice in a year of travelling; clearly none of them had ever spent summer on the south coast of NSW! While I do still love spending so much time outdoors, there’s no denying that living your life exposed to the elements brings its challenges! And by ‘the elements’ I mean wind, rain and lightning; to date, we’ve managed to avoid extremes of heat and cold. The wind – and we are talking crazy, unpredictable wind like we’ve never seen before (even in Melbourne!) – is obviously an issue because of its tendency to blow away anything and everything that isn’t weighed down…. Or even things that are weighed down: during one recent, particularly violent wind ‘event’ (as they say at the Bureau), the corner of my chair lifted off the ground, while I was sitting on it, INSIDE the trailer (where the three of us were huddled to avoid the lightning that was cracking quite literally right over our heads). As for rain…well, I’ll let the pictures do the talking, but I think we’ve seen more rain in the past two months (since we’ve been on the south coast of NSW) than we saw in eight months in Melbourne last year! But it is only weather, and the sun always comes out again…sooner or later!

This muddy kitchen floor took a week to dry out; Milton (NSW), January 2015

2) The freedom to go wherever we want to, and to stay somewhere as long as we like – While technically speaking we have the freedom to move to a new location whenever we want to, and to stay if we like it/move on if we don’t, the reality of the past few months is that we’ve had to move according to our need to work, which at one point took us to within 65km of Sydney! Even once Paul had landed the job that would enable us to fulfil our aim of spending summer on NSW’s south coast, we’ve had to move around a lot in order to be able to stay here. We’ve also been pretty cash-strapped, so, to be honest, on more than one occasion I’ve felt somewhat ‘trapped’ by the constraints of our financial situation. Money may not buy you happiness, but it does give you options, and our options being restricted by limited finances hasn’t always felt like freedom to me. That said, we have chosen this lifestyle, and we of course have the ‘freedom’ to change it again at any time…So would I go back to living in a house, in the one place, with a ‘secure’, continuing job? No chance!

Campfire cooking; Police Paddocks (Vic), October 2014

3) Campfires under the stars – Well, there haven’t been many campfires for the past couple of months, since we haven’t been free-camping, the weather has been warm (and often wet!) and fire restrictions came into force. I still recall how special our first campfire on the road felt, though, and miss campfire cooking (our campfire barbecue plate is one of our favourite bits of gear). As for the stars, well, there have been a LOT of cloudy/overcast skies since we’ve been on NSW’s south coast! But I never forget to look up at the stars every night that they are on show: this is one of the best things about spending so much time outdoors…and having to walk to the toilet!

Female Gang-gang cockatoo; Jervis Bay (NSW), December 2014

4) Passing time just watching and listening to nature – This is most definitely the greatest thing about spending so much time outdoors (and having so much time to spend this way); I will never, ever get sick of this! Whether we’ve been at a free camp, a caravan park or a showground, there’s always so much going on around us to see and hear, day and night. And although we’ve seen plenty, I don’t mean only native wildlife: one of my favourite, recent ‘nature’ experiences was watching a group of calves chasing each other around a paddock, kicking up their heels and seemingly playing ‘tag’ – their apparent joy for life was a delight to see!

Male Gang-gang cockatoo; Jervis Bay (NSW), December 2014

5) Meeting people from different places and all walks of life – Being an extrovert, I’ll talk to pretty much anybody, so have met quite a few people to date; it’s always interesting to hear where people have come from, why they’re travelling, and where they’re going. Other travellers are also a great source of information, and inspiration! Much useful advice has been exchanged even through the quickest of chats, and hearing others’ stories has provided us with plenty of food for thought about how we might make this travelling life a long-term thing. By the same token, we’ve shared our experiences and knowledge with others, so have hopefully inspired them too.

6) Learning new skills – professional and otherwise – by having a go at a variety of jobs/experiences – Although I haven’t worked since the start of October, during our time staying with friends in Tatura (before we hit the road ‘for real’) I had a couple of temp jobs: one with a legal firm, where I learned a new (legal administration) program and honed my audio-typing skills; the other working in HR at the local TAFE, where I used a new (to me) payroll program and gained some useful data-entry practice. Temp work has always appealed to me for the opportunity it provides to learn new things, so I’m looking forward to doing some more in the near future!

Paul: 1) Stars – Between cloudy/rainy skies and early nights due to work, haven’t seen many stars lately. 2) Campfires – What Kim said. 3) Freedom – Although, yes, I’ve had to work for the past couple of months, there’s a certain freedom in knowing that as it’s a casual, on-call job, I can choose to walk away at any time! 4) No TV ­– Still OK with not having a TV, though it has been good to be able to watch Game of Thrones on the laptop! 5) Less work – Having worked six- and seven-day weeks for the past couple of months, I’m hoping that this will prove true over the course of a year, if not sooner. I’m looking forward to having a break while Kim works! 6) Endless summer – Summer has to start before it can be endless!

Banjo: 1) Being with Mum and/or Dad lots 2) Going to lots of places in my car 3) Lots of naps by the campfire 4) Getting to meet lots of people 5) Getting lots of pats from people 6) Lots and lots and LOTS of sticks! – All still AWESOME; and can I add ‘7) Lots of new smells’?

One of Banjo’s favourite new people, Sue, could never resist his kelpie mind tricks; Camden (NSW), November 2014

Misses

Oh, to have clean feet just for one whole day!

Kim: 1) Doors with handles instead of zips 2) My Electrolux front-loading washing machine 3) Electricity, heating and water available ‘on tap’ 4) Toilet that doesn’t need to be emptied (enough said!) 5) Drinking wine out of a glass 6) Fortnightly, or otherwise regular, income – Out of all of these, numbers 2 and 6 are definitely the things I miss most! Although most places we’ve stayed have had washing machines handy, and we’ve otherwise used a laundromat (or hand-washed using a collapsible bucket – more challenging than you might think!), I miss the convenience of being able to throw on a load of washing at any time. And I hate what these generally overworked and poorly maintained machines have done to our clothes (of which we have very few to start with)! As for the income: it’s not only for the money that I miss having a regular income – I have really struggled with not being the person going to work, and have felt quite vulnerable in my ‘dependency’. The other things haven’t yet bothered me so much, but I would add ‘7) Not being able to stay clean for longer than half a day’; it’s amazing how quickly clothes and self become grotty when living outdoors!

Paul: 1) TV – Don’t miss TV per se, but it’d be nice to be able to sit back and watch the cricket on my days off, rather than just listen to it on the radio. 2) Pub – Don’t really miss going to the pub; we (tried to) cut back on this quite a lot over the past couple of years. 3) Food delivered – Kim’s been doing all of the cooking while I’ve been working, so I have my food delivered! 4) Air-con – Don’t miss this at all! Have acclimatised to humidity, and it hasn’t been hot enough otherwise. 5) Beer in glass – As we’ve been staying put for weeks at a time, have been able to enjoy beer in glass (we just don’t carry it when we’re on the move). 6) Mortar and pestle – Haven’t had a chance to miss it yet, as the two batches of curry paste I made before we left are still going!

Banjo: Nothing; as long as I’m with Mum and/or Dad, I’m happy! (Editor’s note: Although Banjo says this, he is rather fond of creature comforts, so is probably secretly missing sleeping on the couch!) – Ditto (though I didn’t realise how much I missed my weekly bone until I got one for Christmas)! (Editor’s note: While Banjo does seem to be pretty happy sleeping in his swag, on his camping bed, in his mobile den, he recently stood on the steps of a neighbouring fifth-wheeler, looking longingly inside…at the couch!)

A bloke and his dog: Paul and Banjo enjoying some quality time; Jervis Bay (NSW), November 2014

*It’s been just over five months since we escaped city living, but we spent seven weeks staying with friends before hitting the road and living in our camper trailer full time.

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