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Coronavirus

Parenting, Travel

While the world waits. Travel during Covid.

July 21, 2020
Travel during Covid Restrictions www.accounting4chaos.com #vanlife #travelnewzealand

While the world grapples with Covid, New Zealand is breathing a collective sigh of relief, that, so far, we have avoided the worst-case scenario. We have, we believe, stopped Covid at the border. We can only hope it stays that way.

New Zealand had the cases. There was community spread. Then we had lockdown. Level 4 restrictions, level 3, level 2, and now level 1. Level 1 restrictions mean we can get back out and travel in relative freedom. But the borders remain closed to non-citizens.

With our European holiday canceled, we have taken the chance to enjoy New Zealand. To explore the snow-capped mountains, enjoy the empty beaches, the turquoise blue lakes, and breathe the fresh alpine air.

Travel during Covid Restrictions

But there is an eerie feeling about it. It is quiet. The carparks are empty. You can wander around the stunningly beautiful and small township of Tekapo, and you know it is usually packed beyond its seams. There are countless carparks, toilets, and rubbish bins. There are playgrounds. And walks. And they are all but deserted.

In other popular tourist towns there are empty shops. Signs on the windows “closed due to Covid”. The lack of tourists is hurting.

When it comes to the best camping spots, the blogs and tourist guides all say “get in there early to get a good spot”. We wander in late afternoon and are the first ones to arrive. We get the pick of the best campsites, even at the prized freedom camping spot on the shores of Lake Pukaki.

Kiwis have issued a challenge, get out there and see your own country. #travellocal. Support the New Zealand Tourism Industry. And as a country, Kiwis have done a fantastic job. There were rental campers on the road everywhere during the school holidays and kiwi accents at every turn. It was incredible to see.

Travel during Covid Restrictions
www.accounting4chaos.com
Travel during Covid Restrictions

But now the kids are back at school, the place is again empty. Just a few of us vanlifers still wandering, or to ‘coddiwomple’ as the English would say.

Coddiwomple: to travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination.

When the time comes, we will welcome international tourists back with welcome arms, we definitely need them. In the meantime, the world waits. Waits for a vaccine. And for a time when we can all travel and explore new cultures, to meet new people from faraway places.

And while the world waits, we are loving having this eerie, snowcapped beauty almost to ourselves.

Join us on our adventures xx.

Travel during Covid Restrictions
www.accounting4chaos.com
Mt John, Tekapo

#Lockdowntravel #Travellocal #TravelNewZealand #NewZealand #CovidTravel

lifestyle, Parenting, Travel

Day One, Family Van-Life New Zealand 2020

July 6, 2020
#vanlifereality www.accounting4chaos.com #travel #nomadlife #newzealand #2020

When I dreamed of this moment, I thought I would write about the excitement of finally driving out the driveway, the truck loaded to the brim. Ecstatic children in the backseat talking non stop about what they wanted to do. Hubby and I still sharing our dream of traveling the world, spending time with our children.

I’ve been wondering how to write this post. The first post on the road, living our new life.

Well. The reality so far is pretty different from our dreams. And it’s not just the change of destination. So I’ve decided to write this post honestly, warts and all. I only hope there is a happy ending.

Leaving Home

We did finally make it out the driveway.  After months of delays due to Covid flight difficulties, the lockdown, renting the house out, attending to various medical semi-emergencies, and new business deadlines, we finally hit the road!

Leaving our lives behind

How am I feeling? Well guilty probably sums it up. 

Miss M(10), the homebody, had a meltdown this week.  She never wanted to leave home.  She didn’t want to be taken away from her friends.  And she definitely did not want to leave her pets.  She has become such an animal lover.  Hubby suggested we let her bring Gorge, her potted succulent, as a pseudo pet.  But we are still expecting tears this week.

On the other hand, Miss T’s (14) behavior has surprisingly improved.  She is looking forward to taking “Instagram” photos in amazing locations.  But overall she still says the trip around New Zealand isn’t worth it, she would rather be “at home”.  And any joy we feel in finally getting on the road is met with a firm stare, a teenage eye-roll and a snarky remark about it should have been Europe. 

And Hubby.  He has been hit with deadline after deadline and resents the pressure this is putting on him.

So on our first day on the road, on what was supposed to be the start of the ultimate family journey way back in April, the excitement has gone.  It has been replaced with a feeling of ‘blah’.  That’s a slightly technical term I know.  But every plan we have made for this trip so far has been disrupted.  And everyone is over it.  It appears everyone now just wants to be at home. 

What’s next?

I don’t know what I’m waiting on to decide how I feel about this trip.  When will the moment come where we know we have done the right thing?  Or when we say that’s it, we are going home?  Will we give up on Europe and sell the camper?  When?

Are we pushing this dream too far?  Should we have given up and stayed home in our beautiful house, with our comfortable bed, our pets, and our friends??? 

Living in the Moment

2020.  Coronavirus.  We can’t do anything but live in the moment.  And to be fair, this afternoon has been a pretty cool moment. 

We are staying at the Lake Taupo Holiday Resort. The hot pools are great, and you can’t beat a cocktail from the swim-up bar. The girls are excited about this holiday park and seem to be in good spirits about doing a little bit of school work in the morning if they then get to go for another swim before we get on the road to Wellington. 

So fingers crossed 😊

New Zealand 2020
www.accounting4chaos.com
Lake Taupo Holiday Resort
New Zealand 2020

Travel

The place I call home – a New Zealand Travel Blog

May 24, 2020

Covid-19 has been devastating across the world in so many ways. Here in New Zealand, we have been lucky enough that the virus is currently under control, and our lives have returned to a somewhat new normality. However, it hasn’t been without pain. The global pandemic has forced us to put our dreams on hold. Those dreams were to travel through Europe in a campervan with our children. Instead, we ended up stuck at home, in lockdown, unemployed.

But when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. So we have decided to follow the road where it takes us, in New Zealand. We have purchased a new caravan in the South Island, and are busy packing and planning for our “detour dream”.

In the meantime, I thought I’d write a series of New Zealand Travel Blogs on my favourite spots in New Zealand, from a Kiwi’s perspective. The inside word, the secret spots, the best sunsets, etc.

I’m starting this first post with a few highlights from my favourite travels. Each of these spots is a destination in its own right, and deserves its own blog which will follow in this series.

Northland

Our campervan trip around Northland marked our first family adventure in a campervan. It gave us a taste of the freedom it offered us, and the beautiful spots we could get to only in a home with wheels. And we were hooked.

www.accounting4chaos.com Northland
New Zealand Travel Blog

Northland is also the best place to experience Maori culture and to learn about the history of New Zealand, at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. Having grown up around Maori culture and its traditions all of my life, I still found the visit to the Treaty Grounds and the Wharenui (Meeting House) moving.

East Cape

www.accounting4chaos.com East Cape New Zealand Travel Blog

A trip around the East Cape of the North Island of New Zealand is like taking a step back in time to when horses and bareback riders roamed the roads and the cars are straight out of the 80s. Along the way you can stop to collect cockles (clams) from the Ohiwa Harbormouth and cook them up on a seaside bbq. You can sample macadamia icecream (and marmite if you are brave enough), relax with live music in wineries, visit lighthouses and historic churches and watch the sunrise in the first spot to see the sun.

www.accounting4chaos.com East Cape
New Zealand Travel Blog
Noma, our first caravan.

Rotorua

OK, so Rotorua was originally in my list of “don’t bother”. The “culture” that overseas tourists flock to Rotorua for is deceptively fake. The landscape is forgettable, as is the lake. However, it has grown on me. Rotorua has fantastic forests and mountain biking. Which can be followed by mineral hotpools and a dinner out, equals a fantastic family day out.

Rotorua is also home to the Redwoods Treewalk. This swing bridged walk is 20 metres up in the canopy of 115-year-old Redwood trees, and at night is illuminated by huge David Truebridge lights, artwork in their own right. Taking the treetop walk under the stars is majestic.

Martinborough

If you know New Zealand, you may have picked up by this point that my “highlights” mostly mirror the best wine regions in New Zealand. Martinborough was no exception. In fact, Martinborough is an idyllic little town with fantastic cafes and wine bars. Our campsite was within walking distance of the township, and surprisingly, wineries! No driving required.

Martinborough was also a great base from which to take day trips – Wellington, Cape Palliser to see the lighthouses and seal colony, hike the pinnacles or spend the day sampling chocolates and antique hunting in the cute historic town of Greytown.

www.accounting4chaos.com Cape Palliser
New Zealand Travel Blog

Hawkes Bay

My love of the Hawkes Bay came later, and it crept up on me. The slogan says it all – Eat, Drink, Cycle and Art Deco. What is not to love? There is fantastic wine in unbelievable settings, tractor rides along the beach to see colonies of Gannets at Cape Kidnappers, fantastic parks and smooth cycle paths along the waterfront. And if that is not enough, the entire city was rebuilt in Art Deco style after the 1931 Earthquake and fires, making it a rare gem to explore in style.

www.accounting4chaos.com Cape Kidnappers
New Zealand Travel Blog
Craggy Range Winery www.accounting4chaos.com
New Zealand Travel Blog

West Coast, South Island

The rugged westcoast has also won my heart with its lush green bush, beautiful Nikau palms, stunning coastline and warm and welcoming locals. We will definitely be spending time in Hokitika again on our new detour dream trip.

www.accounting4chaos.com Hokitika
New Zealand Travel Blog

Missing…

There are some notable areas missing from my list of highlights. The areas you would likely see in a mainstream travel brochure – Auckland, Wellington, Queenstown. All beautiful spots. But i’m not a fan of visiting cities. And Queenstown has become overcrowded. Although i’m going to give it another chance, with overseas tourism shut down in New Zealand, it could suprise me.

I will be sure to include a post on where “not to visit” in this new series.

See you soon!

Ange

XX

#New Zealand #Detour #Dreams #Travel #NewZealandTravelBlog

www.accounting4chaos.com
New Zealand Travel Blog
lifestyle, Travel

What I love about what I do… and what’s next?

May 10, 2020
Accounting4chaos #travel #campervan #newzealand

In order to fly, you have to let go of the world you’ve been holding onto. Kurek Ashley.

I read a fellow blogger’s comments recently on what she loves about what she does. This got me thinking about what exactly “I do” now that I’ve resigned from my job as an Accountant. And as I resigned from my job to travel through Europe, what is my journey now that I can’t follow my dreams? What now?

A crossroads

I guess it is natural to question your journey when you come to a crossroads in life. We made the big life-changing decision to give up our jobs, sell property, enroll our children in homeschool, and buy a campervan in Europe. Then Covid-19 hit. And we were stuck in New Zealand.

In hindsight, it hasn’t been a bad thing to be stuck in New Zealand. I’m glad to be safe and that my family is safe. But the question needs to be answered – what now? Travel overseas seems to be off the cards for the next year or so.

So, to answer that question I come back to, well, what do I love? What makes me happy?

If you’ve been following my blog for a while you will know I’ve struggled with balancing my career as an Accountant with my need and desire to spend time with my children. I know that sometimes it is a case of be careful what you wish for. Now I’ve ended up without a job, essentially unemployed, and with nowhere to go, how do I feel about it? And what does this mean? What next???

Well, I can tell you I don’t regret resigning from my job! Sure, I’m $170k a year down, and I haven’t yet quite worked out how to fill that hole, but sometimes money can’t buy happiness.

What I love about what I do…

I’m loving being at home with my girls. I (mostly) love helping them with their homework and being involved with their education, with their planning and their dreams. I love learning what makes each of them tick. Miss T is cooking and architecture. Miss M loves plants and animals and creative tasks. Both of them have desires to follow their creative talents.

I’m loving the freedom to decide what I do with my day. I love that I don’t have to wake up to an alarm each day.

I’m loving the feeling of achievement when I do something simple, like doing the washing. Or sweeping the driveway. Weeding the garden. Things I would not have been able to do previously. Simple routines feel like a luxury.

And I love having my own new business. I love talking to my clients, developing real relationships with them. Having the autonomy to run my own business, the way I want to do it. And the freedom to NOT bill for every 6-minute unit I spend on clients (yes, Accountants do record every 6 minutes of their day and are expected to charge for these six-minute únits’….its not a myth).

But it’s not all roses. I don’t like that my husband has left for the South Island without us. A reality of the COVID-19 economic depression – he’s had to follow the work.

So what next?

Well, I think we should join my husband. Our house is almost rented out. He is picking up the caravan. I am finalising the girls’ homeschool enrolments. And we are about to head off on our (amended) adventure. Exploring New Zealand’s South Island with a caravan.

As for that $170K hole every year? I don’t think I’ll ever fill that particular hole again unless I join an established firm, which is certainly an option. But it’s an option I don’t think I want to take. At this stage, looking at my lifestyle and considering the ‘things that I love’, I just need enough to get by. So this means running my own business, on my own terms, and part-time. Based in a ‘mobile’ office.

Fewer clients that I can develop REAL relationships with. Helping real people. For less pay. More time with my children, and more happiness.

Watch this space, this blog is about to turn into a full time travel blog!

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lifestyle, Parenting

Life-changing Lockdown Lessons

April 29, 2020

New Zealand has been in Lockdown for 38 days as a result of the Covid-19 Pandemic. We have been at Lockdown Level Four, one of the stricter Lockdowns across the world. Essentially – stay home. But along the way, there have been a number of life-changing Lockdown lessons.

The easing of Lockdown

We are now on the eve of the Lockdown easing to Level Three. This will mean a few more freedoms. Some can go out to work if it is safe. You will be able to get takeaway food and real coffee! Retail remains closed, and many businesses will continue to struggle. If you are not at work, getting essentials, or exercising locally, you must remain at home. In your ‘bubbles’.

New Zealand has done well. Our “team of five million” has drastically cut the number of cases, our death toll stands at 19 to date.

But on the eve of easing Lockdown, its a time of personal reflection for me. I wanted to write not about the virus, and the terrible things it has caused. Instead, I want to remember both the time we spent in Lockdown and what I have learned. To consider how the Lockdown has changed me personally, for the better. About how it has been a period of personal growth. And about how those lessons learned in Lockdown have been life-changing.

A Life-changing Lockdown Journey

Lockdown has been a strange time. A time with highs and lows.

The low points came quickly, with my teenage daughter’s confusion and stress at being forced into a different life. A new and different routine caused her anxiety to spiral. I know in my heart that inside is a scared little girl, but on the outside she was an out of control teenager, taller than me, breaking things and threatening to kill her little sister.

Then she settled down. Settled into a new routine. A relaxed routine. Away from the pressures of her normal life.

And our family started to settle into lockdown life. Sleeping in, every morning. My morning run. A lazy coffee in the sun. Breakfast around 10. Work and school for a few hours. Lunch. Yoga or a bike ride. Free time. Wine time. Dinner. Netflix or a family movie. Sleep. And repeat.

The nightly driveway wines, our neighbors in their drive, us in ours. The kids playing in the culdesac. Tennis, riding bikes, skates, scooters. Reading books.

Board games. Teddy Bears in windows. Exploring the golf course. Collecting pinecones and mushrooms.

Starting a business.

Celebrating milestones

Along the way we celebrated and remembered life’s milestones. We celebrated my birthday. Remembering a year ago the amazing time we had with our closest friends, touring wineries in the Hawkes Bay.

We celebrated our wedding anniversary with a vintage pinot we had collected from a small Queenstown winery. With a cheese board. In front of a roaring fire.

www.accounting4chaos.com life-changing lockdown lessons

Easter arrived and we made hot cross buns and had an Easter Egg hunt around the garden. Miss M’s pet rabbit Minty decided her Easter Egg (rabbit) smelt pretty yummy. And ate it. With the family in fits of laughter, we decided Minty had a streak of cannibalism in her when it came to chocolate bunny rabbits.

Then there was Anzac Day. A day of remembrance for those that fought for our freedom in the World Wars. To remember those that did not grow old. And to be grateful to those veterans, now the most at risk in this pandemic. I rose at 6 am, stood in the driveway, and watched the sunrise as a Bugler in our neighborhood played The Last Post. Along the street, our neighbors stood in solidarity. We will remember them.

Lockdown Life Lessons

Before Lockdown there were two main pressures in my life. Work was the first. The second was my daughter’s behavior, and the stress it put on the family.

Whether it was leaving work, my daughter’s unexpected relaxation, or being forced to stay in one place, I have remembered how to stay still. I have found peace. And contentment.

I am present in the ‘now’. I no longer half-listen to conversations going on around me. Nod, aha, yeah, yup, ok. Until someone asks me a question. Usually my husband. And I can’t remember having the conversation.

I am happy. I’m content. And relaxed. I can enjoy the company of my husband. And love being around my children.

I feel confident again. The anxiety has gone. I can breathe.

Lockdown has been life-changing.

Take care.

XX

#Lockdown #NewZealand #Covid19 #Aspergers

lifestyle

And People Stayed Home

April 6, 2020
www.accounting4chaos.com And the people stayed at home

And people stayed home,

And read books and listened,

And rested and exercised,

And made art and played,

And learned new ways of being,

And stopped,

And listened deeper,

Someone meditated,

Someone prayed,

Someone danced,

Someone met their shadow,

And people began to think differently,

And people healed,

And in the absence of people who lived in ignorant ways,

Dangerous, meaningless and heartless,

Even the earth began to heal,

And when the danger ended,

And people found each other,

Grieved for the dead people,

And they made new choices,

And dreamed of new visions,

And created new ways of life,

And healed the earth completely.

Just as they were healed themselves.

Kathleen O’Meara’s poem, ‘And People Stayed Home,’ written in 1869.

lifestyle, Parenting, Travel

Life in lockdown – the end of a dream?

April 4, 2020
NZ in lockdown www.accounting4chaos.com

If you have been following this blog, you probably know that late last year my husband and I made a big brave life decision. We resigned from our jobs. Sold a rental property. And purchased a campervan that is sitting waiting for us in the Netherlands. Then there was the lockdown.

We were set to fly to Europe in April. The plan was to travel for the rest of the year and return in time for Miss T to start her High School exams next year. Really now or never on the timing.

Then the world started to fall apart. Just as I was finishing work, the kids were enrolled in the correspondence school, and our house was listed for rent, Coronavirus started to hit hard in Europe. The borders started closing.  

With a campervan in storage in the Netherlands, we started looking for a backup plan. We worked through our budget and started looking at caravans to travel around New Zealand. Although we have traveled much of the North Island, traveling around the South Island was definitely on our bucket list. We were grateful and excited to have such an amazing ‘backyard’ to explore in our own country.

Lockdown

Then, quite unexpectantly, and with only 100 coronavirus cases in New Zealand, we were all put into lockdown for at least a month. We must stay at home. Although my husband had work lined up (he is now self employed), with the lockdown in place he cannot go out to work, and cannot get paid. We can only leave the house for exercise, to get food, and for essentials.

When we dared to follow our dreams, when we decided to quit our jobs and travel the world with our kids, there is no way we could have ever guessed this could happen. A global pandemic. That we could end up both unemployed and stuck at home. A recession kicking in. Not even able to travel our own country. Living on our savings for our European dream.

The end of a dream?

So what now? We can only take this day by day. It is ultimately going to depend on how long this lockdown lasts, and how far our savings can take us.

I remind myself daily, it could be much worse. I am grateful we live in an Island nation, where we have managed to keep the virus out long enough to learn from other countries. Whereas other countries have suffered immense losses to human life, we have entered lockdown to regain control of the virus, hopefully before it is too late. My family is healthy and happy in our lockdown paradise.

Will we get out on the road? I doubt we will get to Europe anytime soon. But hopefully, we can get out of lockdown in New Zealand, buy a caravan and travel our own backyard.

As for Europe? Well, we own a campervan in the Netherlands. I hope one day we can get there. However, first, we will need to come up with a way of working while we are traveling. And we will need to find a way for our daughter to complete her High School exams from Europe.

One of my clients said to me when we first verbalized our European dream – when you get back, you will fall back into work and the chaos that is life, it won’t take long, but the thing that will change in you permanently is when you look at that horizon. You will look at the horizon and you will know you can pack up and reach for that dream, you will not be stuck in the everyday rat race. You will know you can walk away, you can achieve it. And that is what will stick.

That is what I want to learn, and for my children to learn. To be brave.

And in the meantime, I remind myself that when we traveled to Canada and the US for six weeks, people asked me what my favorite part was. My answer was ‘spending six weeks continuously with my children’. And I can do that right here at home.

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