Stories of the Covid-19 lock-down from a small-time salesman and his dog

Month: March 2020

Day 8, Tuesday 31st March

Last day of March. I have had quite a busy day speaking to my customers and being IT support for my colleagues. Tomorrow we have a big online meeting with our CEO via Microsoft Teams, so I have spent most of the day talking the guys through downloading/logging into the system. It will be carnage tomorrow so we have a little meeting between us all to prove it works. My boss does try to make some points and set out tomorrows agenda post the big meeting, but it quickly disseminates into a Mothers Union meeting. We have tours of people’s houses, some light hairdressing to watch and general chat; which is a real laugh and probably just what we all need. Tomorrow will be a different day.

Tomorrow’s meeting rather than the international calls to the entire workforce we have had previously, is directed purely at New Zealand Sales and Rental staffs. With as I understand it calls to other departments continuing throughout the day. The irony of it being April Fool’s day has not been lost on me, I have the distinct impression tomorrow is not going to be a good day for a great many of the Thl team.

So for a little light relief from the potential doom and gloom, I am going to introduce my next big build! Well big ish. My darling wife gave me this for Christmas and I had been saving it for the depths of winter, when we go to work in the dark and come home in the dark. I don’t cope well with this time of year and thought my build would keep me going. But know I need a distraction so out it comes.

LEGO Splity

LEGO Splity

According to LEGO®; this authentic camper van is a replica of the classic Volkswagen Camper Van from 1962. Every iconic feature is here! On the outside, the terrific detailing includes ‘V’ shape three-way colour split at the front, rounded roof and window frames, opening ‘splittie’ safari windshield, opening doors, iconic pop-up roof with textile curtain surround, roof rack, rear side air intake vents and lots more! The detailing is equally impressive on the inside, from the authentic VW air-cooled flat four cylinder boxer engine, front cabin bench seat, gear stick, angled dashboard and iconic spherical speedometer, to custom LEGO® features like folding rear bench seat, folding dinette table, closet with mirror and even a painting!
For everything I have read the 1,332 pieces will take about eight hours to assemble, so I am going to limit myself to an hour a day to prolong this a little and hopefully show you some interesting build pictures along the way.

Day 7, Monday 30th March

Back to the grind, it’s definitely been an odd sort of weekend but I guess every one of us can say that. I do have a little bit of work to do today, a couple of fairly warm leads to work with and set about my duties with enthusiasm. I genuinely do love what I do, like I have said before I actually do see it as just chatting to people and I do like a chat.
What’s really nice for a salesman is generally speaking at this time people are happy to talk to me, which does make for a refreshing change.
Come the afternoon, I’m running out of people who I can genuinely call without getting myself added to some nuisance caller list. So thoughts turn back to my emails that are now forming themselves into some sort of serialisation diary type thing. I have really enjoyed writing these extracts, I am not sure where it’s going to take us if anywhere but it will be fun while the ideas keep coming into my head. Some of the amazing feedback I have been receiving has been truly inspirational, thank you for taking the time to email me it really does mean a lot to me.

As I’m sat here starring out over the roof tops, dreaming of leaving the house for further than a walk with Lola. My thoughts wander back to my VW email and my travels around Europe.

I am sketchy on dates but it would have been early June 2008, myself and my then partner set out on our voyages. Not to long after these travels we parted ways. We are still civil and speak from time to time, both of us are now married so it was probably the best thing all round.

I won’t give you full tale of our travels as it took us a good few months; but over the next few days/weeks I will offer up a few of the highlights for me.

Our travels start with great aplomb. I have left the cooler plugged into the van battery. So we are pushed off the ferry by a team of very aggressive looking dock workers and jumpstarted off a nearby forklift. It won’t be the first time we have battery troubles on our trip, but it doesn’t exactly set my girlfriends mind at ease. Needless to say we do a fair bit of driving to charge the battery before we stop again.

La Rochelle. La Rochelle is a coastal city in south western France. It’s been a centre for fishing and trade since the 12th century, a maritime tradition that’s reflected in its Vieux Port (old harbour) and huge, modern Les Minimes marina. The old town has half-timbered medieval houses and Renaissance architecture, including passageways covered by 17th-century arches. It is a beautiful place to walk around and take in the history and architecture. As is Nantes which is a little further North, we take in Nantes on our way though from our ferry drop off at Roscoff.
From here we wind our way through Bordeaux, following roughly the west coast of France in to Spain.

La Rochelle Harbour

La Rochelle Harbour

From here we deviate a little from our plan to follow the coast. Northern Spain has an area called Basque Country. Basque Country is an autonomous community in northern Spain with strong cultural traditions and at this moment they and the Spanish government aren’t seeing eye to eye. So we give them a bit of a wide berth and opt to shoot a more central path towards the west coast of Portugal.
Now the west coast of Portugal, (or at least it was then) is a pure unspoilt wonder and best of all there is no one there (how ironic that I think the best thing is that there is no one there despite the fact that I am stuck at home, craving company). Or at least that was the case twelve odd years ago. Go prove me wrong, its stunning; a little windy as its facing the full brunt of the Atlantic but aside that I could have stayed for ever. But it’s a little early in our explorations to be setting up base so after a few days we move on.

Windswept and interesting

Windswept and interesting

From here we wind our way down the coast, do the touristy bit in the Algarve and cross the border back into Spain.

Day 5 & 6 the weekend

This is pure novelty for me, having worked in sales for so long I can’t remember the last time I had the whole weekend off. The whole weekend but absolutely nothing to do.
Anyway; where ever I have worked and whatever day it is, as soon as I finish my shift before my days off, in my mind it’s my weekend. Be it Tuesday/Wednesday or whatever I treat it like a Friday and what do we like to do on a Friday when we finish work? Go to the pub.
Being the proactive chap that I am, I have arranged a group video call with some of my friends from the motor trade in our virtual pub. We chew the fat for an hour or so over a few beers; chat conspiracy theories, ask when this will all end and general talk the sort of rubbish blokes do when left to their own devices.

Nicely chilled from a couple of beers, I am quickly reminded that I am still alone in these 4 walls. Lola shows no enthusiasm for a walk but will be dragged out anyway, I need to at least to see other real people. It’s a pleasant surprise, there are a sensible number of people out and about enjoying an evening stroll. By and large all keeping a sensible distance but happy enough to wave and say hello.


So now I am quite chilled, I have found a couple of funnies on the telly to watch and eased the top of a nice bottle of red. Content in my own little world. Until the wife calls! Now we are lucky enough to have two bathrooms so for the foreseeable future I am in the ensuite and she gets to use the main bathroom. All uniforms etc. are stored in there and washed separately, regularly. All sensible stuff. There is no getting away from the fact that the chances of her having Covid contact are greater, so for as much as possible we are keep things separate. So here’s the cracker, now she is worried about the bedding! It’s like quarter to 10 and she’s lucky I am not already under the duvet let alone thinking about doing a full bedding change. But being the dutiful husband that I am off I go, nicely warmed by the earlier beers and a good slosh of red, I’ve got this. Stripping the bed is no problem, all straight in the washer. Well not all of it, I am not a heathen. For a bloke I am fairly well domesticated and can not only recognise the difference in colours when loading the washing machine, I know which end of the vacuum cleaner does what and I have been known to cook the odd dinner. Dusting still remains a mystery though.
Anyway the bed is stripped and now I am looking for a new set of linen. Now from my limited experience of the order of things, woman like it all to match. But mine doesn’t like to help this task by keeping each set together, oh no no no. We have different boxes for sheets, duvet covers and pillow cases, so now the hunt is on. I don’t really care what it is as long as it looks the same. After much sifting I find a set that looks like it fits the bill, only to discover now I put everything away again that this set isn’t your normal button up or pop together set. No I have managed to pull out the only set we have with little tassels on that you have to tie you duvet and pillows into, the faff begins.
I’m done the bedding is clean and all tied nicely with little bows, I am hoping there will be extra brownie points for that. I have had my shower. The program I wanted to watch has long since finished, I am off up that wooden hill to Bedfordshire.
Now I always like a clean bed and fresh bedding always seems like a treat every time, so I am ready for this. I have lifted off the fancy little tasselly pillows that I know from experience are just for show and not for your own personal comfort. Just as I am reaching for the bedside light I spot it. The bloody pillowcase on my side is different to the other! Too late, good night.

Saturday the wife has a rare day off and we end up doing all the practical stuff you have to do when you have days off. We’ve cleaned, vacuumed, washed. I thought the place was pretty tidy but apparently no. I also get growled at for not doing the ironing which is now building up. I try to explain that although I’ve been at home, I have been working. It’s too late for that game though, she has read my diary!

I dodge the ironing a little bit longer by taking us all out for a walk. New Zealand is a beautiful country and I dare say you could walk almost anywhere and be astounded by nature. But up here we have nature and a golf course. The course is closed sadly but this does mean that like many other folk are doing, you can take advantage of some outstanding views and walks. I listen to the wife wittering on about the state of the health system and what will be the next stages, should the worst happen; while I play a round of imaginary golf in my head and Lola checks the hedges for the golf balls I will inevitably lose.

Made it to the golf course

We have planned a curry night, normally we like to treat ourselves to a little Indian indulgence of a weekend. If you ever make it up this way we are lucky enough to have one of the best curry house I have tried in New Zealand just around the corner from us, but we are trying to keep it a bit of a secret so please don’t all come and once.
I am gearing up to start preparations for this Indian banquet when the idea of a gin and tonic is presented to me, I mean what harm can it do? Its mid-afternoon the suns out. We have a very sociable garden to sit it, go on just the one! I should thank at this time the purveyor of said gin, you know who you are. We are very grateful and it’s very good. I don’t think the wife will be quite so grateful in the morning but tonight it’s the best thing ever! As always it’s never just one drink, especially when the neighbourhood spot as and join us for a social distancing drink from behind the fence. Maybe over the garden fence drinking isn’t so bad after all.

Social distancing drinks

Social distancing drinks

Sunday, amazingly enough tippy toe nurse has got up early for work. Last night’s gin showing no lasting effects. It also appears we have a new rule in this house; one up all up! So once my beautiful clodhopper wearing wife finally winds her way out the door and away, I am wide awake. The only one who appears to be immune to all this is Lola. When it all gets too much for the old girl she tucks herself in the back of our walk in robe and this is where I find her. Doing her very best sleeping and showing no signs action at all.

So now I am up. It’s still dark so I spend a bit of time writing this. Prior to popular belief this doesn’t come naturally to me. Talking rubbish, no problem; I have made a career out of that. But when it comes to writing it, I am not so sponny. I have never been tested but over the years I have come to consider myself slightly dyslexic. I came from the school years where dyslexia, ADHD and a like were not recognised. If you had a problem and the resolution couldn’t be beaten into, you sat at the thick table! Now I suppose with hindsight I never really sat at the thick table, but I got pretty close a number of times. This I think is why I couldn’t wait to get out of education. Over the years I have had plenty of opportunity to go back and do different things and each time it’s been met with the same reticence. I didn’t enjoy it first time around when I didn’t have a choice, now I have a choice so keep me away! Please don’t get me wrong further education has its place just not in my life. I watched with absolute amazement, pride and ore as my wife complete a Law Degree through the Open University. Five years of pure determination earned her an LLB with honours and I couldn’t be more proud of her. But that’s her and not me, we are all different and we all cut our cloth a different way.

What I should tell you is why she ended up doing said degree in the first place.
First of all my wife is a Facebook addict. You’ve read about me calling her my Facebook PA well its true, but she’s not trawling through endless tosh (well not all the time). She uses it to keep in touch with people and not just keep in touch, speak to. She has an absolutely massive friends list and I bet she talks to best part of them at least once a month. It might only be a little message on a post, but she is in contact. So when its school reunion time, she’s the girl to organise it.
Now this is no mean feat, at this time we are living down in the South West of England, she was dragged up just outside of Manchester and at this present time is working in London. So as you can imagine, it has its challenges. But with the help of a few of her old school friends, little miss hundred miles an hour gets it done.
The big day arrives, we’re all crammed into a room of the local working man’s club. With a cracking bar, bit of a disco, buffet and a draw. Everything you need for a night out in the North of England.
As you can imagine the drinks are flowing, everyone is catching up with everyone. I end up having a long conversation with a bloke who is convinced he used to sit next to me in maths and generally everyone is having fun.
I leave my new best calculus buddy to consider his next equation and am just pottering around looking for someone else to talk to. Generally speaking everyone knows everyone else but there are a few partners of classmates mingling round the edges so I head off to chat with my brethren. I talk to a few and end up talking to a nice German lady, we’re only talking rubbish. The normal polite chit chat people who don’t really know each other make at these forced social occasions. When out of nowhere her husband appears, I don’t know him. He doesn’t know me but it’s very clear he doesn’t like me talking to his wife. It an odd arrangement as the whole purpose, or at least for me of going out to these sorts of places is to talk to other people. Anyway it’s quite obvious this is a man of some substance, his whole demeanour is different to everyone else I have spoken to that evening and it’s at this very moment my lovely wife choses to wobble into view. Now there is a golden rule with my wife don’t argue unless you 100% right, it’s probably true for most wives but with mine its 1000% true. This guy clearly didn’t know the rules of the game or didn’t care and I think it was probably the latter. But proceeded to tell my wife she had wasted her education and would never amount to anything. Spouting “you always wanted to be a lawyer but you’re just a nurse”. This to the lady that has worked at the very highest level of nursing. Anyway for one of the few times in my life I have my mouth shut, I can’t see how this is going to play out but I don’t want to miss it. Then it comes an explosion of white wine, adrenalin and fury that would change the next five years of both our lives. The immortal words from my wife’s lips “Just a F@#*ing nurse and what the hell have you done with your life, your just a glorified pharmacy worker, I could get a law degree if I wanted” and so it’s decided. In a working man’s club in the North of England my wife is going to do a law degree just to prove a point!
Oh and our “glorified pharmacy worker” works for a multinational corporation that develops medical devices, pharmaceutical and consumer packaged goods. She knows how to win a fight my girl.

Day 4, Friday 27th March

The day that broke the camel’s back. One little email, well three I guess. A misplaced addition to the contact list and now I am writing a diary!

The day started well enough. I am getting used to the late rising and even Lola appears to have worked out the code. A quick shower a lap of Whangaparaoa with the dog and I am ready for anything! Well what I am really ready for is a cup of tea, we Brits can’t do anything without at least half a gallon sloshing about inside us. I answer a couple of emails in timely fashion so everyone knows I am up and about and pretending to be working. Then we have a livestream Teams Talk, Q&A – COVID-19 update from our CEO. These chats for the CEO aren’t unusual and I will be honest I don’t normally bother. But these are different times, I need all the information I can get. If there are redundancies around the corner I want to know about it before it slaps me in the face. As you can imagine, attendance is at an all-time high and not just from the New Zealand team. Thl is global and this effects all our sites from USA to Australia, UK to New Zealand. There has already been staff redundancies in the States but no plan for the rest of us yet. I am not short-sighted enough to think that there won’t be job losses brought on by Covid-19 and am realistic enough not to think I am above all of this. What I do know is that I can only do what I can do and what I do is talk to people. So after sending my latest email that is exactly what I do.

Email 3:

As we hunker down for the long hall, my mind has drifted back to my own motor homing history. Or more precisely campervans. Not many of you will know but I have a deep love for old tutt, more precisely old VW tutt. I have been lucky enough to own and be involved in the restoration of a good number of these iconic beasts. What you guys know as a Kombi is in my world very different. These vans are all VW Type 2’s the Type 1 is the VW Beatle, back in the day VW kept naming things very simple!

The iconic split screen like the picture below, is easily recognisable and the first of a long line of great vehicles. The very early ones (1950 – 1956 I think) had the barn door (double opening doors to one side).


The van below is a good friend of mines, who bought it blind online after too much beer; but that is another story. It is however quite a rare 1963 Sundial. In this picture sporting the rat look it is now probably three quarters its way through a ground up restoration. Once finished it will be a show winning vehicle I am sure and I am very much looking forward to seeing it when I am next back in the UK.


The old girl below is a more modern T4 (I say more modern I think it was a 1992), this beast battled it way round Europe with me in 2008. We travelled pretty much the entire coastline anti-clockwise before we came to Italy where we turned north to take in Austria, Germany, Luxembourg and Brussels before all the botched repairs began to take its toll. I managed to get it back into the UK before the head gasket blew in a most spectacular fashion about 20 miles from home.


I still dream of one more of these busses, but it’s a specific one. I want a 1968 Early Bay window deluxe. These where only built between 1968-71, just before I left the UK I found one but sadly the rust had taken too much of a hold for it to be viable for me to repair. These for me are the epitome of VW busses and one day I will have one just like this.


I would love to hear tale of your motor homing history and travels and if anyone should know of such a van please do let me know. I have one more big build left in me, in fact I have two but I will share that with you all later.

Stay safe and if you have any questions or queries regarding your own motorhome or even your next one I am here for you.

Oh and if you think you’ve got it bad, now we have no water!

Day 3, Thursday 26th March

Like I guess most homeworkers I realise I have been playing at it a little bit so I make a concerted effort to speak to my customer and explain where we are as a company. This last till about lunchtime when I hear the PlayStation calling me. The PlayStation by the way is my equivalent of panic buying. On Tuesday I think it was, the wife and I have a ride out to pick up a few last minute essentials. My essentials are a new games console to keep me amused and two boxes of beer, for similar amusement. It’s fair to say I am much more accomplished on the beer than I am the PlayStation but it does while a way a few hours in painful irritation.

After my so called lunch break and a beer to settle the frustrations, I do complete my calls to my clients and even find a customer who may look to put a deposit on a motorhome to secure one of the last of this particular model. Feeling a modicum of success I treat myself to another celebratory beer.
Those that know me best will testify that I do like the occasional beverage. But now with all the time in the world for a drink, the wife at work and only Lola to entertain I understand that it’s not the drink that I enjoy most but the company. Company that has been taken from me.
Now I find myself franticly trawling Facebook looking for people to talk to. My UK friends are still sleeping and my Kiwi friends all appear to be having fun with their own families, it’s tough for an Isolated Salesman. I do reach out to one of my neighbours who like me has an outgoing personality and as it turns out a distinct loathing of being kept in doors. He joins me for a beer and a chat over the fence, keeping ourselves the prerequisite 2 meters apart. But it’s an odd arrangement, both of us seeking company but neither of us satisfied to have it over a garden fence.

Day 2, Wednesday 25th March

I am trying to embrace the idea of homeworking and rather than just sitting on the sofa with my laptop on my knee I set up my own little office area in the corner of the lounge. It’s not the most comfortable place to sit; on top of a chest of draws but I convince myself that work isn’t supposed to be comfortable, so email the team to show what I have done. If you look closely at the picture you can even see one of the team waving back from her home office.

Email to the team:

Good morning All,

All set up here to, pretty close to the tea bags and even closer to the bar 😂


My home office

Keep in touch guys, it’s going to be a long old drag.

I also send another one of my now infamous emails

Email 2

So last day, as we step over the threshold of our own front doors for what could be quite some time.

Thank you for all the lovely feedback from my previous email, it means a lot to hear from you all. I am sure over time these little messages of support and good wishes will come to mean even more. But please if you don’t want to hear my utterances drop me a line and I will cease and desist.

For all those wondering about Lola; she is a 9 year old collie cross springer. No longer a pup as many of you thought but still as lively as ever. I have been waiting many years for her to slow down and I get the impression I will be waiting a good few more yet. A couple of pictures of our early morning walk, Lola likes to go out early and being the responsible parent it minimises our risk of contact too. Sorry no pictures of Lola this morning, the sharp eyed amongst you may spot her in the second picture speed testing rabbit’s 😁

Sunrise over Shakespeare Parkview out towards the city and Rangitoto

I will leave you all to you finial preparations, please keep in touch and stay safe.

Day 1, Tuesday 24th March

So first up to confuse everyone, day one for me was Tuesday 24th. Following on from Jacinda’s announcement Monday that New Zealand would be moving to Alert Level 4 at 11.59pm Wednesday 25th Thl as a group made the decision to close RV Super Centre with immediate effect and for all but essential staffs homeworking would take effect.

And so it begins, the Government have spoken. An action plan against Covid-19 has been initiated and us as good citizens must stay at home. In any other circumstance this almost sounds like a dream scenario but not for the “friendly bloke who likes to talk to everyone”. I thrive on social contact. I am pretty good on the phone or with an email and even do the occasional Facebook posting. It is occasional to, I have my own Facebook PA (the wife) who gets very upset if I have beaten her to the posting of whatever it is we are doing. But take people away from me and I don’t like it. So now I have this to try and keep my sanity, but maybe not yours!

This really is how all of this came about; I write a little email to all of my customer and inadvertently manage to add my manager to the group. I don’t notice she’s was in the chain of email so after about my third utterance I get held up on some pedestal as some communication god. The rest as they say is history.

Email 1:

I am quite sure motor-homing is not at the forefront of your minds. The decision to close all unessential services will obviously impact a great many of us, not least the RV Super Centre. The RV Super Centre is now closed to the public. All staffs like myself are in self isolation and in a work from home scenario. During this time I will remain available to you via email or mobile phone if you have any pressing queries or concerns. I am sure as the days and weeks drag on a social chat will also be very welcome.

The only good to come out of this is my little dog Lola thinks all of her Christmases have come at once, having Daddy home in her mind is the best thing ever.


Before these tails start its probably best you understand a little about me. First up I am a pom, I count myself very lucky to be living and working in New Zealand but without my beautiful wife I wouldn’t be here. Startled as you maybe to hear this, friendly bloke who likes to talk to everyone isn’t on the skilled migrant list, but a nurse is. So while the better half is out doing her part to rid the world of Covid-19 I am here like all of you climbing the walls with just a small dog for company.

Going back to that point “friendly bloke who likes to talk to everyone” is exactly how I see myself. I will never been that clever salesperson who can twist your words or that smarmy sort that can bamboozle you with science and get you to the place where your grateful they are letting you buy their product. Over my years I have worked with some really great salespeople and don’t get me wrong I know how to ask the question, but for me; having a chat enjoying other peoples company has brought me the same rewards as the other type of salesman I have described and it allows me sleep at night.

So why motorhomes? Put simply; it was time for a change. I have been selling cars for many years, mostly Honda but other franchises too. I landed a job with Honda New Zealand almost as soon as we got here, love the brand and the company but sometimes you just need a new challenge. So a chance contact via LinkedIn put the opportunity of selling motorhomes in front of me. I love traveling and motor homing as you will read so it seemed a logical next step.