"....paradise is where I am"
Dreams are good.
Acting on dreams is also good.
Surviving the aftermath of following said dreams ....can make for tall tales best shared over a glass or two.
Welcome to our search for the good life. Cheers!
We've all done it haven't we ? Shared dreams, talked about what we will do when we have enough time, money, energy, freedom and so on and so on.... often over another bottle of wine and usually during those moments of downtime when everything seems to be that little bit more possible .
Usually reality kicks in before we take any action but the comfort of dreaming keeps us going until the next time.
For years, M and I had been allowing ourselves to dream about a lifestyle neither of us knew but both of us wanted. We had lived in some beautiful areas of New Zealand but they were always within city limits - a necessity for work and schools.
Our last home was our most daring step yet towards our piece of 'God's Own'. It started as an acre of virgin paddock and became a stunning home overlooking a valley that had , since our arrival, changed from a sea of darkness when the sun went down to a mass of twinkly lights from the increasing city urban sprawl. We were happy there. We planted a small orchard, talked of chickens and enrolled in the Ponsonby Chicken Keepers course ( yes , that's a thing) and had several attempts at avocados. All small stuff, but there was no substituting the joy we got from picking the few peaches the birds left us and sharing them all over Facebook.
The week that our first avocado was picked was the week we left our acre behind.
We started the gut wrenching process of selling up several months earlier with nothing to go to but a very strong desire to settle in Marlborough, our original plan after moving to New Zealand. With an excellent agent on our side, we weathered the process and never looked back.
We had driven a car full to bursting with 'precious' things southwards the week before our move so on departure day, it was M and I, two labradoodles,4 cases and a massive amount of new found respect for Air New Zealand staff. If you were travelling that day and heard the sounds of two very vocal dogs reverberating through domestic terminal , sorry. Our stress levels didn't improve much when we saw only one of the dogs being boarded - after much urgent remonstration, and M's one man tarmac stand off, said missing dog was found still doing the circuits on the luggage conveyor belt ...none the worst for wear.
Being homeless or, more correctly, in transit, had many advantages. Life was simpler. We were lucky to find a delightful homestay to rent during their quiet season. We lived smaller. Used fewer things. Enjoyed the lack of clutter. It also strongly united us in our new task of finding a new home to match the new life we had committed to - similar to the feeling when we migrated to New Zealand many years ago. It's energising to have such a major common goal.
We had been looking at properties on and off for a few years but could not commit to any until ours was sold. This was a double-edged sword. We learned massive amounts about the property market, areas and lifestyles but it was also sad and frustrating when we found what we thought was 'the one' and missed out. It's scary how much you emotionally invest in a property way before any financial commitment. We lived a lifetime in each house we fell in love with, day and night dreaming, sketching and planning - only to swallow hard and move on as each became someone else's. So, we knew the only way to go was to be ready to act immediately.
Our main focus, apart from finding the house and lifestyle of our dreams was ensuring we were not buying a problem or being naive. Enter the lawyers, inspectors and agents . 3 of M's least favourite professions. M is smart, tenacious, meticulous and a fast learner so he quickly started to advise the advisors - let's just say, in a charming way we were the clients from (not quite) hell, but somewhere fairly close by.
We learned what it is like to be part of a small community. Everyone really does know everyone and their business, and their history and pretty much everything else. That's great when you are part of it, it's slightly more challenging being the interloper.Suffice to say, we had a few dramas and dark moments but the piece of advice that sticks with me, given by our wise and worldly estate agent upon losing out on yet another dream was , "whatever you get, you will never imagine being anywhere else".
He was right. And then we found paradise.
It was not completely love at first sight. Or to be fair, the house wasn't. The land however enchanted us from the first look and our love for it continues to grow as every day passes. It is Paradise ( and yes I've programmed that into my GPS to remind me every day when I have to leave).The house will grow with us, and I am already loving its quirks and history - a stark contrast from the ultra modern home we left behind
Our piece of paradise includes an organic vineyard, a 100 year old walnut grove, orchards with plums, pears, apricots,strawberries,damsons, grapefruit, figs and chestnuts, chickens, geese, bee hives ,cows and a soon to be established cheese and jam making room plus a 5000 bottle capacity underground wine cellar. The last item on the list will provide the sustenance to survive all of the others.
We have no experience in any of the above. Except wine. Drinking wine. I have a fair bit of experience in that. I think that will hold me in good stead for what is to come.
A bit about us : we are seriously enthusiastic amateurs with a shared passion for nurturing our little corner of the world, of being in a place where we can eat good food and drink good wine (and beer) that's produced in our neighbourhood , cultivate our own produce for ourselves and to share with others and enjoy the bounty of a simpler life. A good life.
We both have careers and businesses that are light years from this and our backstory is more city than it ever was country.Old habits die hard ( if at all). By way of example, today before mowing the paddock, I did my usual getting dressed routine including makeup, hair wash, dry and straighten and also a splash of Chanel Allure. Seriously. I actually stopped to look in the mirror and laughed out loud as I donned my Swandrii and pulled on my Red Bands - my baby blue Hunter's and Barbour that were , until recently, my city contribution to being 'country' just won't cut it !
As you'll see, we also don't take ourselves too seriously. We laugh at our inexperience but are thankful for strong wifi and a very useful internet, which fills in many of the gaps.
It's early days but we truly love it, and it shows. M has found a new happiness for fixing things ( which is very lucky as there's lots of fixing to be done) and is learning all there is to know about everything .He loves the sporadic respite from challenging clients and allows the pure air to unclutter his mind .He now owns a tractor. Every boys dream.
I am happy and relaxed, daunted but unbowed. Life will never be dull. We already have stories that keep our family and friends amused and horrified in equal measure.
Our journey in search of the good life is only just beginning.
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Searching for the Good Life
Kia Ora and welcome. Since we moved to New Zealand’s South Island, to our little bit of paradise , I’ve been regularly asked by friends all over the world – why we did it, are we coping, do we miss city life and when will we be back, amongst other things. So I decided to start a blog to capture some of the stories and funny things that happen on an almost daily basis – as well as share my interpretation of ‘ the good life’ – mixed in with recipes using what’s available in the gardens, and wine . Lots of wine. Thanks for joining us.