Reliving the Past

Posted by Angela

Number 15

When we were in Blenheim a gentleman approached us while we were filling up with diesel at the petrol station.  It turned out he had recognised our bus as he had worked on its transformation when it first arrived in New Zealand.  To him our humble little home was known as Number 15.​​​​

Naming a Housebus - 'Forest of Arden'

This gentleman, Reece, proceeded to provide a rich history of our bus, detailing what it went through, how it used to look and a little information on the others in the fleet including humorous stories.  It was such a fun experience.  It turned out this little ole Plaxton arrived in NZ with 4 others (number 11,12,13 & 14) and were bought by DeLuxe.  Number 15 received a first class overhaul.  When it arrived it had the destination 'Forest of Arden' across the top.....its last destination in Britain before heading to NZ maybe?

It has been debated heatedly amongst all the Fraser bus experiment participants, on a number of occasions, as to whether the bus should have a name, and if so what, but nothing has ever quite been agreed upon. Thus, this name seems somewhat fitting....(but don't expect to see it plastered across the top any time soon.....as the debate still rages!)

Transformation from a Coach to a Luxury Coach

So the bus was stripped and cleaned both interior and exterior.  The rear windows were taken out and a new solid back replaced it.  The rear door changed sides.

Then some polystyrene filled sides, new alloy paneling, new tyres, and a new rear door and paint job.

A luxury new interior, a wash down, and there she goes, standing tall and proud ready for her inaugural coach tour of NZ.

How cool is that!!!!

Not only did Reece share the stories he also so very kindly sent us the photos. Reece, thank you so much we are truely grateful that you did that for us.  It is really special to have this history as part of our narrative now.

Posted by Angela

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Take a deep breath, pause, then exhale

Posted by Hamish

How we travel - Bus towing the car on the dolly. All we need for 4 boys and 2 adults fits in those two vehicles. (NO the Downlands deer trailer is not included in the ensemble!!!)

I'm now thinking we've got to much stuff on the bus

We received the email and we went very, very quiet.  Our tenants were moving out of our house.  Ange and I both looked at each other and knew what was required. We like this bus thing. We've done it successfully for 6 months, we had our proof of concept.

We wanted to side step that interesting concept of owning land for a while and become truly agile. Let's free ourselves from the mortgage payments, and for the pay-off spend more of this part of our life with our boys, far more focused on our time with them. Let's de-stress, de-stuff and simplify.   We had just watched Adam Bakers' TED Asheville talk 'Sell your crap, Pay your debt, Do what you love' and found ourselves nodding away throughout.  It was what we had planned.

As a programmer it's like that moment you get to rewrite the program you've been struggling forever to get working, except now you've got some brilliant libraries you can depend upon and the programs requirements have had all the sucky bits stripped out.

We didn't have to think twice. So we bought plane tickets, flew to Timaru and BOOM, our attempts to simplify our lives suddenly made it much more complicated. We painted and painted and cleaned and cleaned and we got rid of stuff. We got rid of more and more stuff. We started getting religious about getting rid of stuff. The more we got rid of, the better it felt, the better it felt, the more we got rid of. We just gave it away.

 It's not been easy though, especially running open homes with 4 boys who make mess just by getting up (harsh but true boys). Plus I've had complex contracts at work I've needed to complete which has involved a lot more programming than I'd like to confess to.

But we've actually done it and we're now sitting back in our bus up north leaving behind an empty shed (significant that empty shed is). The house is painted and looking beautiful and everyone who has been through it just loves it. We've got some interested buyers and we sure hope we get to sell before not too long. But most importantly we've got rid of our stuff.

As a programmer (yes I've said that before) it's like writing the perfect code, you have only the classes you need, the few exposed methods and everything is amazingly self contained and cross platform. I now want to run that code again and again and again just to see it execute.

We also have some new goals. We want to meet people who want to get entrepreneurial with us. We've got all manner of ideas that sit on top of (and separate from) our SaaS-model company Verb. We want to explore this country and we want to do so without generating any plastic waste. We want to completely reorganise our lives so we buy our food and goods without plastic, so we get to the point of generating zero non-biodegradable waste. We want to convert our bus to electric. Zero non-biodegradable waste is a start but zero carbon emissions beside it would be phenomenal. We can't do these things on our own, we're going to need help and advice, and when it comes to converting a bus to electric we're going to need to make some coin.

It wasn't our goal but we're ended up in a similar space to the Tiny House movement, (or while completely missing the point a dear friend recently posted in regards to the Tiny House Movement, "we called them caravans in my day").  I'm not much of a fan for being put in a box but having spent some time as an elected councillor I realise you can get put in a box for no reason at all so I try not to give much thought to that anymore.

Our decision to tackle zero non-biodegradable waste and zero carbon emissions is based on the best (apparently) science of our day. Science is not really supposed to be political, but it is.  However when you use the 'discoveries' to guide your own life, as opposed to making 'policy' then it is at it's least political.  Facts can be very difficult to prove, but some things are more obvious than others and I think plastic waste is one of those. Climate science is a much tougher ask and whilst the scientific community is mostly conclusive, the international level politics will never be. 

If we inspire some peeps to join us in our pursuits, that would be awesome.  But by far, my main reason for taking this path and talking about it on this blog is because I'm terrified of not teaching my boys of how to live life in all it's fullness. 

Posted by Hamish

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  1. Tania Savage on 10 Jul 8:08 p.m.

    Love reading your blog and totally understand the feeling of getting rid of all un necessary stuff.
    We un intentionally ended up getting rid of all our stuff when we sold up and moved to Australia. We ended up coming home 2 years later due to becoming grand parents, with 9 suitcases. Every one we knew thought it was strange that we had so little, but were happy.
    Now we live in a bus, haven't got to the traveling part yet, like you guys.
    But love our minimalistic life.
    Now just need to have job to travel more :)
    Good on you guys for living a life you love and giving your boys some awesome experiences along the way :)

  2. nina wright on 11 Jul 10:50 a.m.

    Green with envy at you guys living the dream! The trail you blaze is an inspiration to us. Love it!

In Sickness and in Health

Posted by Angela

Kapiti Island in the background at Raumati South.

Our park up in Tawa opposite Hamish's cousin's house.

Wild Child Bushcraft Day in Kapiti

'Seagulls trying to steal the Herons egg' game played at the Wildchild day at Kapiti Coast in the bush.

As my children play their game of hide and seek in the bus...

("Mummy, where should I hide?"

"Err um, well you are in a bus buddy, kinda tricky aye...but I do love your optimism...".)

....I contemplate the past 6 weeks of life parked up in the Wellington area.  Not actual Wellington, as it seems that is the height of impossibility in a bus 11m long.  I'm not sure that that much flat land actually exists in Wellington, other than the airport!

We spent 3 weeks up the Kapiti coast in Raumati South in our new friends driveway, which existed up a steep hill. I nearly embedded the towbar in the road once again, but recalled lessons learnt in Tekapo and stopped moments before impact. It also happened to be the precise moment a Policeman drove past.  The irony of it all!  I am seriously wondering if the new spy laws passed allows tracking of 11m buses that rip up roads?  He stopped, questioned whether we were stuck, "No sir (not yet anyway)", then moved on.  Phew!

I attended my first ever week of retreat, childless, husbandless, surrounded by pure Aotearoa beauty, ahhh bliss.  Then upon my return I was greeted by the assault of children with spew bugs.  Nothing quite like the reality of vomiting children to rip all experience of bliss out from under ones feet.

Moved to a new driveway in Maungaraki and bunkered down into quarantine.  10 days later came up for air, all sanity lost by this point.  The reality of home educating, no grandparents to babysit and hubby working ridiculous hours means when 1 child is sick, 3 others bounce off the walls as no outings are possible....and the walls in the bus are rather small.

We clawed our way out of that hole, then onwards and....sideways.  Snotty noses next.....agh!  New island, new bugs it seems, not cool.  We then moved on to our next park up in Tawa, pulling out all the home remedies to treat the colds, and build the immune systems once again whilst trying to make the most of time with extended family.  

We then moved on to Newlands, ahhhh Newlands, boy is it foggy in Newlands!  So after experiencing several weeks of cabin fever due to sickness we were then faced with days of rain on end.  

However, despite this and amongst it all, there have been many moments of new fun.  Days spent enjoying the company of many new home educating friends, a superbly exciting day spent in the bush with the "wild child" group.  Many, many visits to a number of libraries, museums, parks and beaches. (My library card collection has grown greatly!).  We have navigated trains, buses, rush hour and life in the city; a far cry from little ole' country town living.  Each has been a learning experience in its own right.  Governance and 'who is in charge' are themes of interest at present so I am guessing a trip to Parliament would seem appropriate soon.

Our little home on wheels is serving us well as we push the boundaries of living in a small space as a family.  I did manage to snap my drivers wing mirror off and smash it thoroughly, (due to rust, not bad driving) thus having to drive without it. Suffice to say this was very disconcerting and was a priority to be fixed.   But other than this we have been warm, dry, and still immensely happy.

Posted by Angela

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  1. Mark McGuire on 13 Apr 2:52 p.m.

    I just bumped into Hamish on Twitter. So, you're home(bus) schooling? How's that going? There must be NZ-wide organised effort around that, but I'm not in that loop. How do you manage your internet connection? How will (Will) you ever be able to take the wheels off, once you've gotten used to this (are you used to it yet)? Also, I'm not a CommentBot (I had to say that, 'cause my blog attracts mostly #SpamBotPoetry).

  2. Hamish on 13 Apr 5:50 p.m.

    There is a NZ-wide organised effort around that. In fact it seems there are quite a few because the home-schooling category is an exceptionally varied one.

    Cellular data and friend's wifi. It's the new fiver, can you loan me some wifi?

    Thoughts of taking the wheels off are not given much time at the moment - other than when considering smelly teenage boys.

    I think we are used to it, you get used to the small space quickly, maybe now getting used to the "this weeks new place" the last few weeks stuck in wellington has us getting itchy feet to carry on.

  3. Tracy on 14 Apr 2:36 p.m.

    Inspiring stuff.... no really.... I mean it! I have a husband who is becoming obsessed with the Tiny House Movement and gave me a suitably tiny frame at Xmas with the message inside it "Go small to live big" I'm starting to feel afraid. All is good on sunny days when everyone is well, not always the case though eh?

  4. Angela Fraser on 14 Apr 7:22 p.m.

    Hi Tracy. Fear not! I reckon I have the perfect cure for your husbands growing obsession......a weeks free stay in our bus perhaps specifically at a time when we have sick kids......what ya reckon? perhaps on second thoughts, 24 hours should cure it!

  5. Lulastic on 14 Apr 8:35 p.m.

    Oh wow, sounds like you've had a few trials and tribulations! But what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, eh? :D
    Awesome update x

  6. Tracy on 15 Apr 9:58 a.m.

    Great idea Ange! I'm thinking he can have his Tiny House, AKA a man shed on the back lawn!

  7. Lawrie on 24 Apr 1:03 p.m.

    Hi Hamish and Angela. Spoke about you guys with our good friend Leyla Neilsen from Masterton last night. Hugely admire what you are doing at the moment - a great (and probably life changing) experience for you all. We recently became interested in the tiny house movement and would love to offer you space to park up at our rural rental property just out of Masterton and chew the fat about 'tiny living!' I have added my business website URL to your form on the left of this text box. Feel free to have a look at it, find my email address or phone number and get in touch if you like. All the best, Lawrie and Ali

  8. Angela Fraser on 24 Apr 8:55 p.m.

    Hi Lawrie - Thanks so much for contacting us - we would love to 'meet up, park up and chew the fat'! Will definitely grab those details and be in touch!