The clock was going backwards in the room where I was born, in 1960, a sure sign that I would live my life back-to-front - studying for a degree in my thirties, having children just before forty, going travelling twenty years later than most people...

I'm a person who endeavours to be organised but usually ends up rushing to appointments and trying to juggle too many balls, struggling to finish one project before I've started another. I'm a strange mixture of a slow, careful perfectionist and an impulsive risk-taker.

Aged 19, I chucked in a perfectly good job as a library assistant in order to start a market-stall business, being dropped off at the local market with a suitcase of stock as I wouldn't even pass my driving test until a few weeks later. I built a thriving business, trading in jewellery, and later ran other businesses selling handbags and picture frames, including my own photographs and my mother's paintings. I am a bit eccentric, why else would I have set up an astrological introduction agency in my mid-twenties with my brother?

By my late twenties I'd met my partner Henry through a nature conservation group where we were both volunteers. A couple of years later we had started a landscaping business together. Sometimes jobs involved other workers. I was always the 'token woman' as a female manual labourer and got used to comments from co-workers such as: 'I don't mind women as long as they can keep up with me', and from passing members of the public: 'Hard going is it, Love?' 

When I became pregnant with Joe I had to give up the manual side of work and Henry and I employed as many as ten people. I switched to being the wages clerk. By the time I'd had Freya things got really tough as Joe had challenging behaviour. I discovered home education which was a life-saver.

This is really where the story that is the subject of my book begins. Freya was two when Henry and I had a joint mid-life crisis and made a sudden decision to sell our home and go to New Zealand because we liked a film. Crazy? We had mostly positive comments about our intended move. But one or two people said: 'You're brave.'


Our Story

My family had a modest income, some debts and faced a crisis. Henry and I felt we had too little control over our lives. In an effort to regain a sense of freedom to make our own choices and have room for self-expression, we sold our house and bought a caravan and took to the road...

Home educating Joe gave us the flexibility to travel, first around Britain, our home country, (satisfying a longing to see people and places previously denied due to lack of time) then New Zealand. Attracted to the country after watching the first two of The Lord of the Rings films, we structured some of our trip around film sites and witnessed the parade for the film premiere of The Return of the King in Wellington, part of a crowd of 100,000 people. On our travels we met others who liked to be 'gypsies' and felt ourselves to be quite conventional in comparison!

Family relationships changed during our travels, and not always for the better. Our story also portrays the ups and downs of our journey.