How did my life reach this point? Is a question many of us often ask ourselves. It can be for positive or negative reasons but the question is generally prompted by some sense of the unreal. I write this as I lie on a sofa in a farmhouse cottage in the rural Catlins feeling rather cut off from the outside world. There is no internet here nor is there any mobile phone coverage for around 20 kilometres. Rain lashes against the big windows and a gale causes the front door knob to rattle. The nearest ATM cash machine is apparently 50 kilometres away and the closest thing that resembles a shop, a 20-minute drive down an unsealed track. My original plan for this day, conceived of months ago, was for a romantic stay by a gorgeous windswept beach with my then girlfriend. Instead, I find myself sharing this cottage, in a remote corner of New Zealand, with a bloke from Argentina whom I met a little over a week ago in an airport motel, a couple of hours after completing a 20,000-kilometre journey from the UK. That’s what I mean by ‘how did my life get to this point?’ I mean, I am only about 30 kilometres away from the exact same place I thought I would be today but somehow instead I am the temporary owner of a Nissan Sunny, which sits parked outside caked in mud, and I find myself occasionally throwing logs onto a wood burner in an attempt to keep the house, where myself and Alex have somehow ended up in, warm. I am not altogether sure why we ended up staying here. We just decided to take a left turn off the coastal road a few minutes after the yellow-eyed penguins failed to show up at Nuggets Point. I can hardly blame them. Every time we went for a brief hike today it was a relief to get back inside the car as promptly as possible away from the driving rain and gusting wind.
Of course, it is mentally therapeutic to cut yourself off from the outside world from time to time, and this cottage certainly scores highly for its cosy remoteness vibe, but I am just not sure how and why I am here at all. I know it won’t be the only time I will ask myself that question in the coming couple of months but I just felt the need to grab my netbook, start typing away and putting that thought down on digital paper now. I don’t know how the Soviets had 5- and 10-year plans as I don’t seem to be able to plan six months ahead successfully. Life can be strange and so randomly unpredictable.