Life overboard


To begin with it feels nothing but alien, its spaces clean and bleak and anodyne. Nothing is intuitive or familiarly located; every task requires conscious navigation. I feel weary beyond the physical, as if the sheer newness of everything takes effort to process; as if the energy of rolling with every minor adjustment and improvisation compounds into serious exertion. I’m a stand-up paddleboarder, making the countless tiny corrections just to stay upright that amount to a full-body workout. Continue reading “Life overboard”

Ready to roll… again


Toaster jug iron vacuum cleaner laundry basket laundry rack towels duvet inners x3 fitted sheets x3 duvet covers x2+ pillows x2 pillowcases mattress protectors mirror coat hangers kitchen bin bucket broom bedside lamp oven mitt tea towels dish rack dinner set cutlery set mugs water glasses salad bowl pasta pot frying pan grater potato peeler colander bread knife paring knife scissors bottle opener tin opener chopping board pepper grinder bread tin roasting tin baking sheet wooden spoons serving spoon fish slice ladle tongs masher.

We manage about half of it on the first trip to Ikea. We get in and out in under four hours, which includes lunch (though not the hour on the bus there), and we only lose one child once, for half an hour. Continue reading “Ready to roll… again”

Time-lapse sequence

The Free-Range Writer furiously hammers out the last third of her 103,000-word first novel draft, hands it in half an hour before the final deadline, necks a pint at the Old Government House faculty bar, collapses into exhausted sleep on beanbag on her own back deck. School holidays. The FRW takes a much-needed break from writing, survives Christmas, enjoys a fabulous summer free from deadline pressure, realises her children are actually really quite lovely, even manages to write a short story or two. Hapless, fed up with the poky Auckland job market, leaves for London. The FRW reluctantly re-enters her battery cage and spends three months working at capacity, an experience not enhanced by solo parenting, and remembering why she gave the whole lousy gig up in the first place. Late at night she shops on the internet for London flats and schools; during the weekends she packs up the household box by back-aching nail-breaking box. Four months after his departure, Hapless is reunited in an emotional scene at Heathrow with his family, rendered temporarily more adorable by distance.

Homeward bound


Here we go: last despatches from Hawea. The trailer is packed, the surfaces scrubbed, the last anchovy and scraping of margarine eaten. The crap that came with the house is all carefully returned to its original positions, down to the last stained, frayed towel and framed piece of wool art (tableaux of farm scenes made from artfully arranged tufts of unbleached fleece), not to mention the fugly plastic toad clock. Continue reading “Homeward bound”