"Home" for the time being is Marsden Valley, about seven kilometres south of Nelson City but a world away from urban life.
Suzi bus and the SoulPad (our canvas tent that is a cross between a tipi and a yurt) share about five acres with some sheep and the abundant birdlife, including kereru (wood pigeons), tuis, the curious-looking California quail and a family of swallows that have colonised the derelict shed on the property - reputedly the oldest shed in the valley.
Native bush runs along the Eastern fence line, which in turn abuts the Marsden Valley Conservation Area. This small section of forest is home to a wide variety of natives, which have been planted as part of a project involving almost all the schools in Nelson and Richmond. A thick carpet of crunchy leaves makes the walk gentle on the feet during our morning and afternoon explorations - the track is at times difficult to discern, but it matters little, as you can dive off in different directions when head room allows.
Near the entrance to the park, the track splits and heads up to the most recent plantings. The guidebooks say this is a no exit route, and that while you can walk up to the top and admire the views, you need to return via the same route. We disregarded this advice and returned off track. While its steep and slippery in sections, it's worth being adventurous.
We are enjoying sharing the land with the sheep, who are very wary of us and only venture close while we sleep although, unfortunately, the sheep have taken a liking to our "money trees". These are two succulent jade ('crassula ovata') pot plants we have carted around the country in the bus, and place to the left and right of our front door when we're parked up to bring prosperity into our lives, in keeping with the ancient Chinese feng shui practice.
As you can see in the photo below, this young lamb was game enough to come close early one morning for a nibble.
It only took a gentle knock to send the lamb scurrying away, but unfortunately this plant had already had a good pruning by the time we'd woken up.
The good news is that, a few weeks later, there is some lovely new growth on both plants, which is great timing, as I am slowly getting back into work mode. I have been extraordinarily lucky to get some studio space at Founders Heritage Park (which is home to a number of artists and the local community radio station, Fresh FM), where I am based three days a week (Mondays-Wednesdays). It is a really vibrant environment and, most importantly, has awesome WIFI. The other two days, I will be writing at the bus, which is a very inspiring environment and, most importantly, has terrible WIFI (so fewer distractions!!)