Tuesday, January 31, 2017

'I had a dream'---THE COAST!

The ‘Coast’ called, so-----I listened!
Every morning, come rain, wind, sun, storm---I take Perdy for her morning walk---along a coastline near where I live. It hasn’t always been that way. In a former life, there was no morning walk, just the crazy navigation of Auckland’s morning rush. Once at work, I was immersed in the events, stories and exuberant lives of my clients, in a school that never failed to keep me occupied. The ‘walk’ had to wait until the late afternoon, and by then---I did not feel like taking in the ‘not so fresh air’ and the noise of the nearby motorway---but I did.  When One is the parent of an energy implanted Jack Russell, the choices are clear: walk or face destruction of one’s living environment!
I had been a school guidance counsellor since 1988, working in two schools (and an alternate provider for a short time) plus slowly building up a supervision practice in the latter years. Time caught up with me, plus a few health issues, and I came upon a watershed in my life. Combine that with living in Auckland and the realization that I could not afford to live in the ‘city of sails,’ anymore----well, you get the picture.
I remember walking up Queen Street, at a time when I should have been asleep (Blame Madonna----for being so late for her concert!) and an ambulance trip to hospital and then the realization that things must change; all leading me to consider a new journey.
I became ‘busy,’ in another manner: the house went on the market, I purchased a home on the Thames Coast and explored alternate options re generating a small income to supplement the meagre ‘inflow’ from the NZ Superannuation. Why the Thames Coast? That beautiful coastline had been featuring in my dreams for a few years, so I simply responded to the vision.
My little unit sold at auction and I only needed to look at two homes in Thames to find the little 1950’s cottage, near the beach in Tararu, Thames. We both loved the simplicity of the home, plus the garden that was huge compared to the homes I had lived in previously. The Axminster carpets (yes----different in every room!) just had to go, but that was easy----people wanted it. The garden was full of fruit trees and there was a large backyard for Perdy to roam in.
We moved and out new life began; one so different, yet retaining some of the best of the last. We had moved from NZ’s biggest city to a town of less than 10,000 people. We still had ‘links’ to Auckland, in the form or family, employment and friends, more so re employment for my partner, who works 4 days a week re a house cleaning business. That is a common theme for new Thames residents, who hail from the big city.
I have now been in Thames for nine months. I do not enjoy the ‘journey’ re the traffic on the Southern  Motorway, that I must suffer one day a week, during the school year, but I love the work I do with the students at Homai. Add the supervision clients I see, plus the strong possibility for a few days a week work in my new ‘region,’ then I am satisfied re my new life. I have about four days a week where I can explore new possibilities, some old, others, new for me.
I try to have one slot a week at the Citizens Advice bureau, where I have meet wonderful people, who give so generously of their time. I was possibly the oldest staff member at my previous workplace, but now---‘I’m the boy again!’
Then---there’s the rocks! I had been warned by a friend that I could become a bit ‘compulsive’ ---about collecting rocks and ‘tumbling them.’ I did. Tararu, like other beaches on the Coast, has beautiful stones and when they are polished (in one of the two tumbler/oscillators, I purchased) become an object of beauty, ones I give to clients and visitors.
Then---the walks. Perdy has been transformed. She was healthy to begin with, but now---she is an inhabitant of ‘doggie heaven.’ Sure, much of the latter are ‘on-leash,’ but she does get off, to run like the wind, to explore nooks and crannies, chase God knows what and make sure I get out of the house—at least four times a day. Now, she has even trained me to take her out after dinner. Perdy has also been a ‘friend-meeting-tool!’ Her beautiful nature attracts attention and has helped me to meet so many people. I have much to thank her for—even the CAB job! Yes, it was on one of our ‘wanders’ that I was recruited for that position.
I was a little concerned that living in a smaller town, may mean ‘challenging attitudes,’ towards my partner and myself. Sure, we had ‘observed a few’ gay couples, but at the back of my consciousness, was a fear that I could meet a ‘non-acceptance scenario.’ Maybe things really have changed for the better. After nine months----I feel accepted. However, I maintain a ’watch stance.’ I remember my dear old Mum saying---‘join groups.’ She was correct. She also said---‘smile.’ It works. Smiles lead to ‘conversations,’ that in turn lead to engaging with people on a deeper level. They also cause one to forgetting where the car was parked!
Did moving to Thames cut me off from friends and family in Auckland? NO! One bother has moved to Thames, from Hamilton and my sister is about to make the jump from Auckland. She is about to become a JAR (Just another refugee!). My friends have kept contact with me and quite a few make the trip to Thames. No wonder my polished stone collection is diminishing. It also helps that Auckland is at most (other than at holiday weekends) only about 80 minutes away.
The garden: The fruit and veggies I grow make for cheap eating and an excellent ‘hobby.’ It pays for itself and as I become more knowledgeable about this new skill, my food bill goes down. Sure, I have much to learn, as this season has been fraught with difficulties re the weather. Thames, it seems can grow a vast array of produce, from apricots and cherries, to subtropical.
I have become a ‘swapper!’ Yes, I have hens, who provide excess that I can swap for fish from the neighbour who loves fishing, but doesn’t like fish! I also swap the jam and preserves I make for fruit, fish and other stuff I need. Remember that show---‘The Good Life?’
I have had more time to ‘write’ since moving to Thames. I continue to write blogs and I enjoy Facebook. OK---I am a bit random re my posts and I often ‘take the piss,’ and receive the inevitable ’push back.’ I like that! I have sold a few books and would love to pub lish more, but that is an expensive exercise. I out my link to my books at the ned of this article. Feel free to follow the links to Neils Books.
Finally---my move coincided with the discovery of a few health issues, all of which have become more manageable down here. Excellent management re the former and a few ‘tweaks’ re lifestyle, have made a real difference. Perhaps the over-riding change that helped was my decisions to make the change, before I became a victim of ‘staying too long.’ Get out people, while you can, before you MUST!