A new campground

I haven’t been writing much (well, at all) lately. My blog is abandoned, my NaNoWriMo novel from 2017 remains just over 50,000 words worth of unedited scenes, my journals are empty.

I hope the pendulum will swing back to writing at some stage, but honestly, the past few months have just been busy. We’ve been busy job-applying, organising, packing, moving, and now learning a new job. We’re still The Campground Family, but quite a different sort of a campground. It’s in a bigger town, a town we adore and have always wanted to return to. It’s right on an amazing walkway, and right on the beach. In the summer, it’s going to be wildly busy. We feel so lucky to be here.

And in the two-and-a-half weeks since we moved, I’ve found a new(ish) creative outlet.

You see, the view from our (salt-covered) lounge windows is this:

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And it takes us just a couple of minutes to get to this:

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And it’s on the west coast, so the sunsets are amazing:

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And they’re different every night:

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And The Campground Kid just loves running on the beach:

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And we love watching her and taking photos and enjoying being in this amazing place.

(And also organising a new house and learning a new job is intense, and taking photos is pretty easy to fit within the little snippets of free time that we find).

I miss writing. I miss having more time for me. I miss quite a few things, really. But I have a feeling that this wonderful place will play a part in pulling together the many various threads of my life so far into something like no other.

And even though it’s tiring and difficult at times, that feeling makes it all seem worthwhile.

(PS: if you like the pictures, feel free to follow along at http://www.instagram.com/pictureanywhere)

Seasons (revisited)

A week ago, it was the shortest day of the year. We have had frosts almost every morning this week. The other morning I forgot to set the heat pump timer, and The Campground Kid and I had to snuggle under a blanket for the first half hour we were up because it was so blimmin’ cold. It is most definitely winter. Our first winter since 2012.

And I love it.

I don’t love trying to convince The Campground Kid to wear enough layers to stay not-freezing. I don’t love it being dark at 5:30pm and at 6:30am.  I probably don’t get outside enough some days. But I love it.

View of snowy mountains from an amazing chilly bush walk.

I love the crisp mornings and the sunny cool afternoons. I love cuddling up in the warm with the rain outside. I love soup and hot drinks and roasting everything. I love scarves and boots and woolly jumpers. I love walking through the cool bush and seeing my breath against the cold air.

I have missed winter.

Nearly three years ago, I wrote about Brunei’s seasons (or lack thereof.)  And I thought that once I was actually confronted with another winter, I would change my tune.  But NOPE. Even here in winter, I love seasons.

Living on a tropical island is so often touted as paradise. But it definitely wasn’t my paradise. My paradise has variety. It has changes that mark the passing of time. It has the cold that helps us to appreciate the warm.  It has a warm hot-tub against a freezing night and a dark sky full of stars. It has cold noses and woolly hats on frosty mornings, followed by a hot cup of coffee and woolly slippers.

(It also has good insulation and a heat pump. The winters of my student-flatting days? I definitely don’t miss those!)

Frosty mornings.

Uniform

The weather is quickly turning cold here. We had two frosts last week, and certainly made it into the negatives, temperature-wise. (And yes, I know that in a global scale of winter, this is not a big deal, but for two parents who haven’t had a winter since 2012, and one kid who hasn’t had a winter EVER, this is coooold.)

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Frosty family

This means it’s time to get our winter uniforms at work. I haven’t actually seen them yet, and although I’m more than ready for something a bit warmer, I somehow doubt they’re going to be as popular with our guests as the summer ones.

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Me and The Campground Kid in our summer uniforms

Seriously, you would not believe how often we get compliments on these shirts. Or maybe you would, I don’t know, but it has surprised me. I would say that on most days there is at least one person who comments, and 99% of the comments are positive.

But the reason I’m writing today is not about the specific uniforms, or about their relative popularity with our guests. It’s more just about the concept of wearing a uniform.

This job is the first time in over ten years that I’ve worn a uniform. If you’d asked me a few years back what I thought about wearing a uniform, it would have been a great big NOPE. I loved having a large wardrobe and creating fun outfits. I wouldn’t wear an outfit again if I’d worn it in the last few weeks. I had a serious amount of clothes, and I had fun with them.

But now that we’re here… I kinda love it.

I think there are a few things that have changed to change my mind on a uniform. 1) I became a mum. I have another person to dress in the morning. I have less mental energy, and I don’t really want to spend the energy I do have on choosing clothes. 2) I’m on my feet a lot. It’s way more important to me that my clothes, and particularly my shoes, are comfortable, so it’s just easier to have one casual outfit every day. And 3) I got fat. It’s not as easy to buy fun clothes, especially not cheaply. Clothes are less comfortable, and finding something that fits and looks good is just hard (I could say more, but availability of larger sizes and clothes made to fit fat bodies is a whole other post!)

Over summer, I even took to having a casual “uniform” that I wore most days: jogger pants (which I also wore to work), a comfortable t-shirt, and jandals or Birkenstocks. It was pretty much the same as what I wore to work, but with more jandals (flip flops) and less tie dye. It was easy, comfortable, and looked good enough.

But for winter, It’s proving more difficult. I don’t have good layering clothes. I don’t have any pants that go with tighter tops. I don’t have the right shoes/boots. I don’t have enough woolly socks. I don’t have the right jacket. Winter clothes are more expensive, and there aren’t any shops nearby. And don’t even get me started on what I can wear if I actually want to exercise! The whole thing is just annoying me.

So, I’ll be really glad to have that work uniform soon. Provided it works with skinny jeans and sneakers, I’ll be pretty much sorted for five days a week. And maybe the other two days, I’ll just hibernate and live in pyjamas. That’s what I did yesterday, and it was pretty great. Totally solid plan… right?

 

Some things I miss.

It’s safe to say that in the last four months, we have completely changed our lives. We’ve gone from an Engineer and a Stay at Home Parent in a small town/expat community in Brunei to a team of Campground Managers in a tourist village in rural New Zealand.  The Engineer’s Baby has changed from a little baby 2 year old to a full sentences and complex ideas full on Campground Kid. We have a new house, a new routine, new habits, new everything.

Overall, we’re really happy with the change. Working as a team for a common goal suits our little family, even though it’s occasionally pretty full on.  We love love love New Zealand, and the climate, and being back home. We’re doing well at the job, learning new things, meeting new people, and getting a whole new set of experiences for our toolkit.

But as with any change, even the positive ones, there are things I miss.

One of the big ones is my toddler/parent groups and all the great friends we met in Brunei. We had a great routine going, and having a more-than-full-time job really interferes with my ability to find anything similar here. I miss hanging out with my friends watching my kid play with her friends. I miss having the time to see our friends so very often.  I miss coffee mornings and play dates and the whole full-time parenting deal.

Our last time at The Jungle House

Our last time at The Jungle House

In the stay-at-home parent vein, I also miss just hanging out with The Campground Kid one-on-one. We still spend a lot of time together, and we still have a great relationship, but it’s just not the same as being the one at home with her all the time. In many ways, I wasn’t a great stay-at-home mum, and in many ways I enjoy this relationship more (not to mention I love that she gets more time with her Papa), but I still miss the little adventures. I miss moseying off to a playground, wandering around town holding hands, and our random little chats. We had a little coffee date last week while Campground Papa was doing some shopping, and it was a good reminder about how much fun one-on-one time can be. (Goal 1: do this more often).

Visiting the kittens at our favourite Brunei food stalls/playground.

Visiting the kittens at our favourite Brunei food stalls/playground.

I also miss having a housekeeper. We went from all the time in the world (apart from the whole toddler thing) and someone to clean twice a week to no time at all and no help around the house. Our house is small and the chores are pretty manageable, but boy was it nice to not have to worry about them!

And speaking of no time at all, I miss my afternoons off. In Brunei, The Engineer (now Campground Papa) had Friday afternoons off work, and that was always my time. I used to write or read or watch crappy TV or go out for a coffee or get a pedicure or a massage. It was a few hours a week, but it was a really important few hours a week. With the change in pace, adjusting to new things, and a busy holiday season, it just hasn’t quite found a place in our new routine. But I miss it a lot. (Goal 2: do this more often too).

Afternoon off; writing, coffeeing.

Afternoon off; writing, coffeeing.

One more: I miss predictable weather. I didn’t like the weather in Brunei much, but I really really liked it being the same every day. I didn’t have to wonder what to wear each day, or how to dress The Campground Kid. I always knew that it would be too hot, and the only variable was how much it would rain (which didn’t make too much of a difference to most of our decisions). Here, the weather is all over the map. Hot, cold, wet, dry, all in one day. I change clothes and shoes in the middle of the day, I have to carry layers, and I’m just a bit confused by the whole thing after three season-less years.

I’m not writing any of this to moan. Life is good, and we feel very lucky to be here. But writing this list has made me realise a few things that I really want to get into our routine as soon as possible. And in fact, the two goals mentioned above are perfectly covered by a tip that I heard on an old episode of  World’s Okayest Moms (which, as an aside, is great;  you should definitely have a listen, especially if you’re a mum)  The tip was to have a day or two a month, planned in advance, where each parent has half a day off, and half a day alone with the kid(s). This is not rocket science, I know. In fact, it’s just basic family routine stuff. But it’s family routine stuff that I think would be great for us all. Some time hanging with The Campground Kid without distractions; and some time for me to be me outside of work and parenting. Win win win.

Conclusion: change is hard. The grass really was greener over here for us, but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss that slightly-less-green Brunei grass and the lifestyle that went with it.

PS – I also miss roti and year round watermelon and iced coffee without all the trimmings and cheap takeaways. But I definitely don’t miss humid heat.