Sunday, 23 July 2017

Living on a shoestring in the Land of Giant Vegetables

Ugh, have got my first winter blah virus of the year!  'Tis my fault, I jinxed myself by getting all smug about how well I've been looking after myself and actually daring to say out loud, 'I haven't been sick all winter!'  Nek minnit, it's all on.  Ah well, I can't complain really; aside from getting knocked around by the paint fumes a while back, this is the first time I've been properly crook since the very start of our travels almost nine months ago!  Which is a blessing, because let's face it who on earth wants to be sick when you're stuck in a van?  Still, we have everything we need right here, including enough pumpkin to make a big pot of comforting pumpkin soup, thanks to Bevin and his wife Amy.  

Straight out of the Southland soil!

Enough to keep us happy for many yammy dinners!

They also gave us a huge stash of yams, which we love in any shape or form and have been adding to everything!  NZ yams are different to the yams you get in other parts of the world. They originate from the South American Andes and are also known as oca.  They might look a bit odd, sort of like short, fat pink caterpillars but they taste marvellous!  I've never seen as many of them as I have here in the South Island.  I kid you not, here in Southland they grown the crazy biggest vegies I've ever seen.  Parsnips, pumpkin and yams are all much bigger than their North Island counterparts and as for swede, holy heck!  I'm waiting for the local dairy to refill their basket outside the front door so I can show you.  Despite Googling 'Southland Giant Swedes' as accurately as I could, I was only rewarded with photos of large Swedish people so I guess I'll just have to wait until I can photograph the real thing. Seriously though, these things are the size of a human head!  For $1.80 you could eat it every day for a month!  I guess it's the perfect climate for winter vegies here.  Talking of climate, we've been extremely lucky in that we've only had a bit of drizzle this past week, compared to the devastating floods in other areas of the South, particularly Christchurch and Timaru.  We couldn't believe it when we saw a photo of the petrol station in the main street of Oamaru completely under water.  We were only there a few weeks ago!  We felt very fortunate I can tell you.  That's one of the good things about living in a mobile home though.  As long as there is enough advance warning, you can get yourself out of most situations.  Having our entire house on board with us, we're always prepared!  

Trust me, you really CAN have too much of a good thing...

One thing is for sure, we've learned a heck of a lot these past nine months.  It makes us laugh now, to think how green we were at the start!  We carted around way too much stuff and poor Gareth would have to climb onto the roof and unload a heap of things every time we arrived at a new place, then heave it all back up there again when it was time to leave.  Our worst area however was definitely food, which was both surprising and hilarious considering we were both lovers of real food and had always cooked from scratch.  For some reason we got it into our heads that we would no longer be able to eat properly and our entire pantry consisted of tins of tomatoes and salsa beans and two minute noodles.  As a result, I haven't been able to eat two minute noodles since December. Every campground kitchen we encountered in the Far North was full of travellers cooking packet after packet of the bloody things until I couldn't even stand the smell of them any more.  Even so, we persevered with the salsa beans and tomatoes for considerably longer until we were both so sick of them we can only bear to have them once in a blue moon these days!

We were also woefully disorganised, which you would think wouldn't matter in a life with supposedly no schedule but if there was a way to make anything harder, or take three times as long, we would find it!  Because of our crap eating habits we would also run out of food every two or three days, which would mean we would constantly be having to go out of our way to top up again.  Invariably we would also be limited to a random out-of-the-way dairy or corner shop, which cost way more than a supermarket and didn't carry much range either.  These days however we have it down to a fine art. We go shopping only once a week; even longer if we can stretch it out and that's literally the only day of the week we spend money.  Seriously, we have six 'no spend' days a week now!  We plan our week's worth of meals together before we go and make a list throughout the week of anything else we need, so we can get all our shopping out of the way in one go.  We walk to town and carry everything home again on our backs so we don't even spend anything on petrol!  Even the daily routine is like clockwork now, from the moment we wake up until the sun goes down.  That probably sounds dreadfully boring and regimented but it's not at all; we've just learned what methods work best and what tasks need to be done when.  All in all our total costs work out to around $200 every 10 days, so I guess you can say $20 per day.  That covers our food, campground fees, power, water, showers, laundry facilities - absolutely everything we need.  In the warmer months, when we don't need to rely on power you can cut that figure in half or even less.  The only bills that come in are for our phone and Internet. We eat really well and don't go without anything - well, certainly not anything important anyway!  I honestly can't imagine going back to a 'normal' life now.  The brilliant thing is, there are so many more people out there doing it than you think.  Honestly, you would be amazed!

Apologies for the lack of photos today, my brain just isn't functioning and I need to go and make my soup!  If you haven't already seen them, do check out our Facebook page for a couple of video compilations Gareth has put together in the past week or two.  The first is a bit of an intro to our travels, the second covers some of our recent adventures in Dunedin and Oamaru.   I was embarrassed when I watched the first one to find that I actually welled up and got a bit teary!  It was so wonderful to relive some of those special moments and places.  We really have seen a heck of a lot of cool stuff - and there's so much more yet to come!

1 comment:

  1. Another fabulous blog post Jackie. So impressed with your spending (lack of!). That's incredible.