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Rather than my regular monthly Digital Nomad update, I thought I would do something a bit different this month, because, well, everything has been different.
I have been in lockdown in New Zealand for the whole month.
It should feel weird to be staying in one place for so long, but it actually hasn’t – I guess I really needed the break after a full on four months in Asia.
When I arrived back I had to do a two week quarantine by myself, where I was only allowed to leave the house to go for a local walk. Dad did my food shopping for me during this time, dropping it outside the door of my brother’s apartment, where I’m staying.
The whole country went into the highest level of lockdown in New Zealand three days after I got back – level four. This has meant that we are allowed to go for local walks, to the supermarket or to the pharmacy – and that’s pretty much it unless you are an essential worker.
The lockdown was set for four weeks, and then it would be reviewed to see if we could drop a level, or if level four would need to be extended.
Living the lifestyle that I do, I am used to being adaptable so I have adapted to this new reality quite well. I find that if I don’t have a choice in the matter, I just get on with things and try to make the most of it. This month has allowed me to focus on the small things in life, and I have been getting a lot of joy out of them.
Getting fresh air and sunshine on daily walks, watching the seasons slowly change, hearing the voices of family and friends, eating delicious home-cooked meals, watching a movie and eating easter eggs with my brother, reading in my room under the covers with a scented candle lit. All of these things and more have made me feel mostly happy and grateful.
Along with the above, I have been spending a lot of time working on this blog, writing, and working hard for my clients, pivoting their accounts so that their Pinterest will still get traction in a time when no one is researching travel. I have learnt a lot and I have enjoyed learning it.
Despite the horror of this pandemic, and all the people that are sick and dying, I am hopeful that there will be good things that will come out of this – I can just feel it.
Getting Lots of Work and Writing Done for This Blog
One good thing about a forced travel hiatus is that I actually have so much time to work on this blog, write new articles, and update old ones. When I am traveling I have very little time to do this, as my client work has to come first, and I want to be able to enjoy the places I am in so I basically put off anything that isn’t essential.
I am feeling very creative and excited to be able to spend more time improving The World on my Necklace. I am actually amped to write completely new content even!
Loving my Daily Walks in Auckland
One of the greatest joys in my life other than travel, is to hike and walk in nature, or even around cities. It is meditation for me, as well as exercise. I have been making sure to leave time to go for a walk every day, and I have only missed a couple so far when the weather was really bad.
Luckily my brother lives close to some beautiful spots like the extinct volcano Mount Eden, the Viaduct harbor where there is a walkway along the waterfront, the Domain – a large park with tracks through native bush, and a few city beaches.
I have enough variety of places to walk that I haven’t got bored yet, and every day of walking is different, because I have different experiences and see different things.
I have been using this walking time to call my parents, and listen to podcasts too, and I look forward to my walks everyday.
Reading Way More than I Usually do
Another thing I am really enjoying is reading. I have always loved reading and read so many books when I was young, but it is something that has fallen by the wayside as I got older. I still read, just a lot more sporadically.
I am paying for a monthly membership to Kindle Unlimited and I want to make the most of essentially having an unlimited amount of books to read, so I have been reading every day for at least an hour. I want to try keeping this up when I am on the road again, because it has been so nice.
The books I most enjoyed were The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen, I am Watching you by Terese Driscoll, and One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow by Olivia Hawker.
Movie Night Every Night
My bro has a projector in his lounge so we have been watching movies and docos every evening after dinner. My favorites so far have been The Dawn Wall and Trumbo. I have also been watching a lot of TV shows, usually in my room later in the evening once we have watched a movie.
I’m still slowly making my way through old Gilmore Girls episodes but along with that I most enjoyed Why Women Kill, Billy Connolly’s Great American Trail, and The Stranger. There are so many travel shows and documentaries on Netflix I want to watch too.
Talking to Friends and Family Regularly
Now I have more time on my hands than usual, I have been talking and messaging with friends and family much more than I usually have time for, and I feel more connected to the important people in my life than ever.
I speak to both my parents every couple of days, I do video calls with Toby a couple of times a day, I message and chat to friends on the phone every day too. This is one of the best things that has come out of the pandemic for me.
Having a Routine
My routine has been a pretty simple one – sleep until I wake up, ring Toby, make breakfast, work for a few hours, make lunch, go for a walk, work more, write or read, make dinner if it is my turn, watch a movie on the projector with my brother, then finish the evening by watching my shows in my room, or reading. It may be simple but I have been enjoying it, and I have very rarely felt bored in the past month.
There’s much to be said about having a routine, and it is something that I miss in my nomadic life. It can help with feeling grounded, and it does wonders for my creative mind. I find that I can focus on the small things in life a lot better when I am not being wowed by all the things that I see when I am traveling.
In uncertain and worrying times like these, it helps so much to have some grounding and normality, and I think that is why I have been feeling pretty good despite everything.
Learning more with Pinterest and Pivoting to Different Niches
As travel content isn’t doing well right now, and likely won’t be for the foreseeable future, I have been spending loads of time pivoting my account and my client accounts more towards the Online Business/Entrepreneur, Lifestyle and Food niches.
This has involved joining other pin sharing Facebook groups that aren’t focused on travel, learning more about Lifestyle, Online Business and Food promotion on Pinterest, watching Tailwind videos about best practice at this time, and joining lots of new tribes and group boards. It has kept me busy and focused, and I have learnt a lot in the process.
Going forward, I want to find some new clients (hopefully I will be able to keep a lot of my older clients too!) in the Food, Lifestyle and Entrepreneur niches. So if you know anyone that’s looking for help in these niches – send them my way!
Hanging out with my Brother
In the twenty years since I moved out of home when I was 18 and my brother was 15, I haven’t spent a load of time with him. We have done some trips together, and he moved to London in my last six months of living there, but that was a while ago and I haven’t spent more than a week at a time with him in years.
Well now that we have been living together and only seeing each other for three weeks, I can’t say that anymore! It has been so nice to have this bonus time together even though it obviously isn’t under the best of circumstances. It’s another positive to come out of all this.
Watching the Seasons Change on my Daily Walks
It feels kinda crazy that I have only been back in New Zealand for a month, because when I arrived it was still summer with hot temperatures, endless sunshine for nearly two weeks, and I even swam in the ocean a couple of times. Now there is a crispness in the air, the leaves are changing and falling, and it has been raining a lot more – Autumn is well and truly here!
Because I have been walking nearly every single day, I have been slowly witnessing the change, and it has made me feel so much more in touch with nature and my surroundings – something that can be hard to grasp when you are moving so much of the time. I really love this about being in one place for a while.
Swimming in the Ocean
I was lucky that summer ran late this year in New Zealand, and the first couple of weeks I was back were absolutely beautiful, with blue skies every day. I even had a couple of beach swims at St Heliers and Herne Bay and it was glorious.
Then we were told we were not allowed to swim anymore under level 4 lockdown and that was the end of that, but I am so happy I got to swim a couple of times at least.
Bike Riding to Cornwall Park and St Heliers
My brother has a bike so on particularly nice days I have been using it to go a bit further afield, so far I have biked between the beaches along Tamaki Drive to St Heliers, and I also biked to Cornwall Park to climb Mount Eden and hang out with the sheep and cows that call the park home.
Both of these places are Auckland favorites for me, and they would have been too far to walk to. It has been fun to get back on a bike again.
Easter Eggs and Feijoas
The best thing about being in New Zealand in April? Easy – Easter eggs and feijoas!
I’m sure I have spoken before about my love for the feijoa – a guava-like, but completely unique fruit. It is originally from the mountains of Brazil and Colombia, but was introduced to New Zealand sometime in the past and it grows like a weed here in the autumn months. Well, it’s feijoa season and I have been eating them almost every day.
I also think that New Zealand has the best easter eggs in the world – I am particularly a fan of chocolate marshmallow eggs. There are so many different types this year including Buzz Bar, Pinky and even Pineapple Lump flavors. I’m sure all you non-Kiwis are probably wondering what the hell I’m on about – just trust me that these chocolate eggs are very delicious.
Getting to Cook and Experiment with Cooking
Me or my brother cooked everything I ate this month, except for a pizza and some Wendy’s chicken nuggets before the National lockdown. And I have really enjoyed cooking.
I have been making lots of my favorites like zucchini and corn fritters, fish cakes, tandoori chicken pitas, and chicken chilli with corn bread, and have even tried a couple of new dishes like a new cornbread recipe and potato gnocchi from scratch.
Although I miss eating out and I can’t wait to have Nandos and KFC (New Zealand KFC that is, my favorite), it has been mostly nice to be able to eat home-cooked food after eating out for every meal in Asia for the months previous.
Virtual Trivia and Family Zoom Parties
Over the past few weeks I have done a couple of zoom calls with Toby’s family in the U.S. and it was so nice to see everyone because I haven’t been there since October.
Me, my brother and my Auckland quiz team have been participating in a live stream pub trivia on Sunday nights too, and it has been a lot of fun. We came fourth and third respectively so far. I hope we can get back into the pub to do it again in person in the next few weeks.
Feeling so Proud to be a Kiwi During this Crisis
Although I miss Toby, I am otherwise very happy that I am in New Zealand for this crisis, because Jacinda Ardern, our Prime Minister, has done an incredible job in dealing with the pandemic, getting organized and into lockdown early, and constantly reassuring Kiwis and making us feel safe with daily briefings, and even casual Facebook live updates.
Because we don’t have a massive population – just under 5 million – New Zealand has a friendly, small town feel about it, and that is exactly the kind of place I want to be when it feels like the world is ending.
Our numbers of new cases has already dramatically decreased, and it looks like it might actually be possible to eradicate the virus here, rather than just flattening the curve. We only had 3 new cases on the 23rd April, and we have only had 17 deaths so far.
It’s been amazing to see the decisiveness and humanity of this government in action, and I just feel so proud to be from this very special country. Now more than ever before.
Losing a Client
I’m actually really lucky that I have only lost one of my clients so far, with another client switching to a cheaper package. I am worried that over the next few months I will lose more, despite pivoting their Pinterest accounts, as any big results for Pinterest usually take a while to be seen.
Uncertainty Around the Future
Although I have been mostly staying positive, that doesn’t mean that I am completely free of worry for the future – I don’t think anyone is. My biggest worry is about getting back to the US, because I don’t know which carriers are going to be operating, and I don’t really want to go back there until their cases have peaked.
I have been hesitant about booking anything for at least a couple more weeks, or when New Zealand drops to level two.
I am also concerned about making money in the future, as all my current clients are Travel Bloggers, and also about the future of travel, and when we can travel internationally again.
And of course I am worried about whether anyone I know and love will get this dreaded virus so badly that they are hospitalized, or even die from it. Luckily that hasn’t happened yet.
A Little Hair Dye Incident
I have been dying my hair at home for years, and usually it goes smoothly. But this most recent hair dying did not. This only seems to happen when I try a new brand, so I think I just need to stick to my regular brands from now on. The dye was runnier and I managed to flick some on the wall, and on the floor. Luckily it came off the floor easily, but not so much for the wall.
Then I was in the shower washing it out, and kind of cleaning the shower at the same time, when the shower door came open. I shut it again and didn’t think much of it until I got out of the shower, and saw black hair dye water everywhere! Even though it was diluted with water it still stained the wall, with little black spots everywhere.
I was worried about telling my brother but he wasn’t too concerned, and suggested I try using turps to get it off. Thank God that worked, although it took a bit of scrubbing.
It was a nice cheap month due to the lockdown, my biggest (and only) splurge was deciding to try Better Help online counselling for a month. It’s going good so far.
I have been staying in the spare room of my brother’s apartment the whole month, and I wanted to contribute something as he is only getting the government pay at the moment as he works in tourism, so I gave him some money for rent.
Food and Drink $242
Very low because other than one delivery pizza, all the rest of my food has been purchased at the supermarket, and my Dad paid for my first two weeks of groceries because I was in a stricter lockdown where I wasn’t allowed to go to the supermarket. This will probably be at least double next month because I will be buying all my food.
The first time since I have started these recaps that transport costs have been zero. Crazy!
- Toiletries $6
- Phone $23
- Hulu $6
- Patreon $5
- Kindle Unlimited $11
- Five Weeks of BetterHelp online Therapy $205
Website Costs $12
- Monthly payment for Keysearch $12
Van Costs $0
What’s in Store for Next Month
More of the same, pretty much anyway. We are in the level four lock down here in New Zealand until Tuesday 28th April, then we have at least two weeks of level three before the Government are going to decide whether we can drop down to level two – which will feel much more like regular life – or if we need to stay at level three for longer.
There isn’t a lot of difference between level four and level three – we can extend our bubbles slightly so me and my brother will be adding our Dad to ours, and restaurants are allowed to open, but only for takeout and deliveries.
I will definitely be getting a couple of takeouts a week to give us a break from cooking and to support local businesses (OK – and KFC and Nandos), and I am excited to have my favorite portobello mushroom burger from Better Burger and alllll the vanilla lattes and flat whites, because New Zealand does coffee like nobody’s business.
The last week of next month we may possibly be in level two, which will change things a lot and give us so much more freedom. If we do drop to level two, I will probably spend a few more days in Auckland catching up with friends I haven’t had a chance to see, then will head down to Mum’s in Papamoa.
But, either way, the month is going to be pretty similar to this past month – chilled, productive and simple.
To read additional Monthly Round ups, you can find them here