Just Knock on the Tree
The Odyssey of the Coddiwompling Tortoise – Rozinante – and The Storyteller
(Coddiwomple: to travel in a purposeful manner toward a vague destination.)
For every story, there is a beginning and it doesn’t always start where you’d presume.
All set to go.
Greetings dear readers — to the first chapter of my first blog! A peek into my present life.
This morning, I found myself singing that old song that, as I recall, goes like this:
‘Tell me a story,
Tell me a story,
Tell me a story, before I go to bed
You promised me … you said you would,
You’ve got to give in so I’ll be good …
Tell me a story … before I go to bed.’
How many of us grew up with our parents telling us bedtime stories? I know I did. I realised that perhaps my factual story would be of interest to you. It certainly seems so as I have been encouraged by many people to write a blog about my life as it is now as it’s this specific time of my life that seems important to so many others. I hope you enjoy the blog and tell your friends as apparently, how I’m living is highly unusual.
Having been regularly huddled around the radio in the ‘old days’ (chortle, chortle, chortle), I seem to recall the opening of I think it was the serial, Squad Cars, that had the line … ‘Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent’. That’s what I’ve done too.
A friend dubbed me The Storyteller and these posts will tell my stories.
Of course, our lives have many different chapters and I can only tell you that this chapter of mine has been more interesting than I realised it would be. However, the seed of where I am now was planted at a very young age. I was encouraged to look at the world in a very different way – as a wonderful place full of mysteries that needed solving. The words ‘why’ and ‘what’ were very important in my household. ‘Why do you think the people in this country do that?’ ‘What is this place famous for? Do you know? The world expanded at a very rapid rate through my eyes. I soon realised people globally were different from us and we were different from them. Why? Oops … there’s that question again. My parents divorced when I was 13 but my father was giving me a taste of foreign lands and travel, nationally and internationally. It became the staple diet of my upbringing.
It was goodbye to the garden and my wonderful Zimbabwean sculpture.
I grew up in Australia yet the bedtime stories my father told me were frequently set somewhere in Africa. Today, I live in South Africa. Coincidence? Perhaps. However, maybe it’s really a serendipitous plan that we actually can’t explain. I felt very strongly drawn to the African continent.
Anyway … I decided to just change my life completely again – at the grand young age of 72. Turning my back on suburbia with all its benefits but also pitfalls, I set out to live on the open road. I don’t mean ‘beside the road’ but … this will all become clear in time.
The maintenance money pit — the three-bedroomed house on its large grounds, with its pool, garden, housekeeper, gardener and a lot of other things that didn’t quite make sense any more – were shunned in order to travel in a motorhome. As a writer, travel stories with photography would be my additional source of income.
Of course, it didn’t happen quite as easily as all that so perhaps I should start at the beginning.
I was becoming used to the familiar reaction from people in regards to my intentions. Informing them that I had sold my house and divested myself of most of my possessions caused jaws to drop. Living in a motorhome and being able to move around instead of being rooted in one place or even worse — horrors – vegetating in a retirement home — felt very appealing. With all due respect … I know some people have very stimulating lives in retirement homes, with libraries, exercising in the resident gym, classes in art and other things. However, it wasn’t for me.
I had spent a chunk of my working life travelling around South Africa and indeed, for leisure, overseas. Suddenly, the yearning for distant horizons beckoned again and it felt right.
Nevertheless, I slowly became aware that many people expected everyone to automatically live the way they did. For some reason, breaking the mould was utterly unthinkable. It just wasn’t done. According to everyone else, I was supposed to be stuck in one place, knitting bootees for grandchildren. Well, I didn’t have any grandchildren yet so that was out and knitting? I recalled learning how at school and it just didn’t grab me. That was for old ladies. I didn’t feel old yet and I had my health so while I did, I was going to move. I wanted to enjoy my life, doing what I wanted to do – just like the singer, Tina Turner, still strutting the stage at 80.
It all started back in 2019 … I flew from Johannesburg to Cape Town to see the motorhome that had been recommended to me. It was a good fit.
Rozinante and I during lockdown.
I swung up into the driver’s seat and for a split second, only a split second, mind you, I asked myself, ‘what have I done?’ This was such a large vehicle and I was a little nervous. However, the panoramic view of Table Mountain, seen through the large windscreen was a breath-taking one and I knew in my heart that I had made the right decision to live on the road.
Three days later and a lot of miles under my belt, I parked next to a large number of 16-wheeler trucks. It made my future home look like the size of a new-born baby. Now for the big adjustment – to actually do it. Turning my back on the three-bedroomed house and living in a very small space that would be my cosy abode.
I couldn’t swing a cat but I loved it.
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