Before I ‘hit the road’ there were some things that needed attention, including the ‘clunk’, the engine mount. That was sorted and then there was a different ‘clunk’, this time a gearbox mount. The engine mount was available in New Zealand, the gearbox mount was not! Some panic moments and dollar signs flashing before my eyes, thinking about importing from Italy and also the time it would take. (I had factored the cost of the engine mount into the amount I paid for the Ducato and the cost of both were within that amount). Fortunately we were able to source a very good second hand one and after a full service, we were ready to roll.
I had a few weeks at home, getting the things I though I may need (some of which I didn’t) and settling in without going away. I booked a night at the Palmerston North Holiday Park, set up Phee’s automatic feeders and off I went on what was to become a regular thing. It was 31 July 2015.
Palmerston North is a mere 50 kilometres (30 miles) give or take a few, from home, so not an arduous trek.
I chose to go there as there is lots to do in “Palmy”, walking into the city centre from the motor camp is less than half an hour (good exercise), it is by the river and is through the gate to the Esplanade. I remember going there as a child!
The official title is the Victoria Esplanade Gardens and it was created to celebrate Queen Victoria’s jubilee in 1897. It’s vast, with a huge rose garden (more than 5000 varieties), a cherry blossom trees lined entrance, there are many varieties of camellias, rhododendrons, spring bulbs, massive trees, both deciduous and native (which are evergreens), bush walks, a duck pond, a paddling pool for the children, a bird aviary (the same one I saw as a child), a fabulous children’s playground, a miniature railway that winds through the bush and open park, free BBQs and is adjacent to a large sports ground.
The motor camp is pleasant and has become my happy place. It has many older big deciduous trees, rhododendrons and other trees, lovely little gardens, a great children’s play area and accommodation of various types plus powered and unpowered sites. There are permanent residents too, maybe 30. Some are real characters! There are two sets of managers, husbands and wives (or partners, I haven’t asked) and all are lovely and so helpful. As I have continued to visit, I have got to know them well. Initially I got them to reverse onto my powered site, now I do it myself.
A new venture is about creating traditions and it is satisfying to consciously be doing this. Most of our traditions are those of our family or just seem to arrive; these new ones are mine!
One of these is to take food basics (or have them already in the Ducato) but visit the nearby supermarket and choose dinner and TREATS!! Dinner is often salmon, steak or lamb chops as I have two burners on the gas stove plus the microwave, so simple is the best. I also do one dish meals like beef stroganoff and chicken laksa. Treats are often from the bakery (much nicer than our local one in Levin), pate, dip (salmon is nice) and other tasty munchies to keep me happy. Dinner tonight is leftover beef stroganoff, homemade potato salad and cos salad with tomato and feta. I’m not starving. There is also a Chinese/fish and chip shop a mere 10 minute walk away, I don’t go often but it’s nice for a change.
I always managed to forget something. Once it was my FitBit charger, once leggings (which I wear in winter), my fleece (and it was cool that weekend) and margarine. I have, at the same time, learned to take less as space is at a premium and I am the sort that packs everything and more. I don’t use a list now so that a step forward.
Being mobile has also resulted in my having a mobile office. Friday is my full office day and it seemed a good idea to sometimes have it in Palmy. Although I have the mobile phone for contact I didn’t realise just how often the landline rings. In becoming mobile I now use iCloud, have bought myself a new iPad and a new iPhone. Initially I was buying an internet plan at the motor camp, with the new phone I have rollover data and I am tethering the iPad/laptop to the phone, I have fewer distraction here (even with the ducks, birds and lovely setting) than I do at home.
The satellite dish for TV was initially a challenge, it seemed so straightforward when it was explained by the expert. Thirteen turns, point the black arrow to the north, then line it up to 120 somethings and it was done. I didn’t have TV for the first two visits and didn’t miss it really, maybe the news but I have a radio. I have used the compass on the phone, bought a compass, looked at other campers dishes and now can manage it after 15 minutes of frustrating fiddling and getting in and out the van to look at that jolly thing! When I got it right I took a photo with the phone which helped a little but not a lot.
The satellite was one of the reasons that, until November, I stayed tethered to my site via the electricity cord, the other was that I was slowly gaining confidence at driving the Ducato in the city. Palmerston North isn’t a big city by world standards but in a country of 4.5 million people (half of whom live in Auckland) it is all relative to what we are used to. I live rurally near a small town! Returning home after my first visit I noticed I had forgotten to lock the LPG gas door 😦 I saw it in the wing mirrors and pulled over and shut it, feeling very embarrassed!
I know my way around Palmy well but it has taken a little time to get used to the size of the Ducato in comparison to my tiny granny car.