Man’s best friend

February a year ago I would often see these two having a rest at the New Norfolk boat ramp. The elderly dog of indeterminate breeding would have eyes only for his master even when having a shallow dip.

They would linger for a while oblivious to the boisterous youngsters creating general chaos nearby, and finally saunter off jauntily back to town.

Sadly, this year I have spotted neither.

For the want of a nail …

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

At times I felt like I was living that nursery rhyme.

Take Madam Plush’s first makeover, for example. When I bought her off eBay, she was in basically good nick, but needed a bit of TLC. It started with ripping out the existing carpet in the back lounge, a weary, stained excuse for a floor covering.

As I lifted the first corner I noticed a big damp patch and had no clue as to its origin.

Most of the carpet came off fine, until I tried to unscrew the eight Phillips head screws holding the raised base that originally held a table long missing in action. The first four unscrewed with ease, the remainder seemed welded to the floor and the base.

Regulation fluids

WD40 initially held promise, but these screws were rusted solid. Pliers, hammers, curses … and other tools of the home handyman finally broke them loose, but left some unsightly holes behind.

Soon after I found the source of the moisture, it was the built-in Porta-Potti. Apparently it had not been used for so long that every bit of rubber had perished or turned into a rigid mass. And when I had topped it up a week or so ago with the regulation fluids [not bodily, but as recommended by the manufacturer] the water simply bypassed the bottom collector and pooled underneath, and over time found a way to seep out into the lounge area.

Luckily the Porta-Potti had not yet been used as intended, but the existing floor needed a couple of days of airing and heating to dry out.

Because of the leak I could not put in the new flooring, because of that, I could not start building the ‘office’, because of that I could not build in filing space and shelving, and all for the want of a bit of rubber.

Morning mist

On my travels I have a predilection for water views — lakes, rivers, billabongs, oceans or vibrant mountain streams.

The Gwydir River, east of Bingara, offered just that and I settled in for a couple of weeks of overdue work and bus maintenance (although housework might be a more accurate description).

There I soon embraced a new ritual of waiting for the dawn’s rays to hit the top of a nearby small tree to signal time to open the curtains and let me bask in sunlight until warm enough to start the day. An occasional light frost made it even more endearing.

Beautiful warm days followed and the cool to cold nights were a welcome contrast.

Daily rituals

My neighbours were experienced travellers, long retired and enjoying life on the road to the fullest. Experts at setting up camp for simple comforts, and enjoying the daily rituals of collecting firewood, checking the fishing lines, or simply enjoying the views.

A cold beer and a yarn at the end of the day did not go astray either.

‘Home Sweet Home’ on the banks of the Gwydir River

I would have loved to linger longer, but I was being called south by the slowing warming days and the threat of heavy storms coming from the north.

Travelling reality

“He who would travel happily must travel light.”
Antoine de Saint Exupéry

When I began this full-time nomadic journey more than five years ago, I was perhaps, like most neophytes, obsessed with having the ‘right stuff’ and the early versions of this site reflected that. Now, the time has come for a literal spring clean. Over the past 18 months lots of ‘stuff’ has already been discarded, much of it collected and purchased in the year before the full-time journey began in 2009 as I frequented various forums and web sites while waiting for takeoff.

In the process, while still being anchored to my city dwelling, I bought ‘essential stuff’ for the journey ahead. Stuff I was sure I would need to make life on the road comfortable.

Oh dear, what a waste of time and money. These days, when I’m asked for advice from would-be full timers I tell them to pack some basic supplies — bedding, clothes, food and wine — and simply get moving, and buy what they really need along the way.