Many months ago, during our lovely lockdown near Hurleston Junction, I reported to the COVID-19 Symptom Study I was experiencing a headache. A couple of days later, I received an email from the research team asking me to go for a test. I tried every which way I could to do so. Not having a car made things challenging – there was no chance of a drive-through test! It stated we could use an address near our lockdown location, but for whatever reason, I wasn’t able to. It was incredibly frustrating.
I strongly suspected I didn’t pass whatever ‘test’ the English government had chosen to be able to do this, due to our itinerant lifestyle. Fortunately, it was a one-day-wonder, and no other symptoms ensued. It was most likely hay fever. It happened again when I had a sore throat and still couldn’t access a test. I’ve emailed the team more than once since then and even spoke up at one of their webinars – to no avail.
So when I scrolled through the daily ‘Coronavirus’ email from the UK government and saw an article called ‘COVID-19: guidance for those leading a nomadic way of life’, I was intrigued. Talk about token gestures!!
“If you are living on a traveller site, in a vehicle or on a canal boat and become unwell with symptoms of COVID-19, you must self-isolate for 10 days and arrange to be tested, either online or by phone by calling 119 (in England and Wales).”https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-those-leading-a-nomadic-way-of-life/covid-19-guidance-for-those-leading-a-nomadic-way-of-life
The links around testing have no bearing on someone living on a canal boat with no access to mail or a car. I guess we should be grateful for small mercies. At least there’s finally been some sort of recognition that some people, like us, live differently to ‘the norm’.
Leading Nomadic Lives
I was a bit of a nomad even before meeting Barry. Having had my two daughters when I was young, I’ve had a ‘life after kids’. I chose to grasp the opportunities available, rather than sit in a well-paid job climbing the career ladder accumulating ‘wealth’ through purchasing property. Which I had the opportunity to do. It may backfire in a few years, but boy I’m so thankful I chose this road. When I first met Barry, I wasn’t sure he’d be able to let go of his ties to accumulated ‘stuff’ and his home-town. Little did I know it seems …
On my first nine-month visit to Gisborne and New Zealand, I devoured a number of inspirational books. One of which was ‘Tales Of A Female Nomad‘ by Rita Golden Gelman. Here’s a beautiful quote from her website about why she wrote the book:
“Every time I tell people about my life, they tell me I’m courageous. Now I have to admit that I like the fact that people are impressed with what I’m doing. I mean it does set me apart from the run-of-the-mill, seventy-eight-year-old, overweight woman next door. But there is always a part of me that is whispering in my ear, Tell them how courageous it is to walk along a path in the middle of the rice fields of Bali, flirting with the farmers and waving at the dragonflies.
Or to move into a village in New Zealand and join the Kiwis in their community activities and volunteer-teach in their schools. Or even to blow bubbles with a mother and son in the swampy jungle of Irian Jaya. It is in fact glorious, gentle, and not the least bit dangerous. It is most likely infinitely less courageous than dealing with many of the life situations that the run-of-the-mill woman next door is having to face.”http://www.ritagoldengelman.com/tales-of-a-female-nomad/why-i-wrote-the-book/
I realised I wasn’t alone in my quest to travel and ‘be myself’ amongst the crazy materialism and greed surrounding me. Mostly in England I might add, but also sadly pockets even here in Aotearoa. Probably brought in once again by ‘the white man’. Anyway, whatever, I was inspired by Rita and it has never left me. The urge to not be a ‘box-ticker’, to follow my heart, and live fully each day. I’m so thankful I met Barry and our philosophies of life are so similar.
Enjoying The Time In Gisborne
We’re heading out of Gisborne on Tuesday 29th September, the day after my 61st birthday. The lump sum from my pension funds came through on Thursday, so our camper van is all paid for and waiting for us in Auckland. We’ll stay overnight with Bev and Blair, who I stayed with after release from Managed Isolation, so we can make sure we have everything on board we need. We’re then driving (well Barry is!) up through Northland to the Far North to Cape Reinga. We’re as excited as a couple of teenagers!
The sky has been blue as blue can be most of the week. I’ve relished more coffee dates (including at The Verve Cafe owned by Barry’s brother Ray), and a gorgeous morning at the Farmer’s Market today. Look at the size of that beetroot!
I’ve begun celebrating my birthday. On Friday lunch I met with ex-colleagues from the Maternity Unit, at Peppers Beachfront, where I was given a gorgeous ‘pin-cushion protea‘. It reminded me of pictures of COVID-19! I know it’s causing havoc around the world, but it does look like a pretty thing.
This morning Barry and I sat at breakfast, and I said “26th September“, out loud, as it felt like a significant date. Barry suddenly said, “It’s our wedding anniversary!”. Flipping heck. eleven years ago today we had a Humanist wedding ceremony on the roof of Northern Pride at The Dog and Doublet Bodymoor Heath. We’re so busy making plans here we completely forgot.
My younger daughter Kimberley, with us since 23rd March after being evacuated just in time from Lagos, Nigeria, finally managed to return there last Saturday. After we left, on 19th August, she’s stayed on board at Debdale Marina. The other boaters and all the staff have been incredibly supportive and helpful to her.
Barry and I want to say a massive THANK YOU to everyone there. Especially David, Jim, and a man with a long beard whose name Kim can’t remember! We’re confident our floating nomadic home is in good hands while we transition to an even smaller travelling vessel …
Tune in next weekend to start seeing some superb scenes from the north of the north island 😉