Marcel and Victoria Koning are a melange of cultures, skills and experiences – from being practical hands-on problem solvers, to working with online media. They share a love of Land Rovers, camping, nature, good beer and trying to live simply. Our story began back in November ’99 …
You know how life can blindside you when you’re totally not expecting it? You’re just going about your business and ‘fate’ lends you a hand? That’s how some of the key moments in life happen for most of us, right? And we were no different… A poetic collision of circumstances which saw Vic being rather disillusioned at the time by following society’s norms and reeling from a broken marriage, while Marcel wasn’t looking for a romantic relationship at all – but rather someone to hang out with and perhaps a good travel buddy… But the more we got to know each other …
We were soon saying ‘I Do’ in a little forest near Hartebeespoort’s Dam, South Africa, in March 2001. A small intimate affair that we rustled up together in 2,5 weeks!!! Perfect – even though Vic sobbed pretty much the whole way through 🙂
Then the obvious decision came to give up our steady jobs… to become scuba diving instructors in the Caribbbean. As you do!
Cool, let’s get training! So while you’re diving three times a day for over a month racking up the hours…
…reality and common sense prevail when you start to learn that the ‘paid hobby’ is not exactly going to stretch to pay the bills long-term (as nice as the Caribbean is) and you’re on 24hr standby to the guests (which did not sit well with Marcel). So, yeah, (in as much as it appeals and is very succesful to some) let’s leave the diving as a (really nice) leisure pursuit and…. move to the Netherlands! Good move right?
Talk about a culture shock! From a vibrant cosmopolitan Johannesburg to a town in east Holland with staid, locals-only-mentality and unwelcoming of strangers. That was tough! However, the goal was to build a future for travelling and for Vic to learn her husband’s culture and language. We stuck it out in a freezing cold cabin on a campsite for 3 years until we could get a rental flat (don’t ask about waiting lists), and then bought a place near the Oostvaardersplassen in Flevoland.
While we were building our (rather succesful) flooring business, we delved deeper into the online world. Experimenting with websites and SEO, we registered Tours and Tales.com in 2003 with the aim of doing something in travel. We wanted to eventually create an income with our passion and hoped to share the spirit of adventure with like-minded adventurers – it certainly takes a special kind of person to get out of their comfort zone.
12 years in Holland gave us invaluable insight into the cultural difference between the laid-back “warmer climates” and work-focussed “colder climates”. It’s like night-and-day, maybe day-and-night…. We tried the “huisje, boompje, beestje” (dutch expression meaning – suburban life) in Holland, and found it quite unfulfilling having come from the African continent (a totally different vibe).
We took a 4-month sabbatical in November 2013 to look after an auntie’s farmhouse in the idyllic village of Cotignac, Provence. Whoo boy! Even though we were there mid-winter – the outdoor lifestyle, landscape, nature, laidback-ness (is that a word?) … It didn’t take long for the decision to move South!
It took about 4 years to sell our house in Holland while living in France (luckily we had an amazing tenant). Our second ‘upheaval’ and permanent relocation was also filled with amazing, and not-so-amazing moments. Change is always challenging. Like French! Learning Dutch was a walk in the park compared to “la belle langue”!
Our varied skills proved useful, and we’ve managed to integrate pretty well, having met some incredible people and making good friends. Whenever we are asked: “So, is this it? Happy to be here forever?” Vic replies with a laugh, “It’s difficult to answer really… when you have gypsy blood…”
@asimplyfablife focusses on following life’s adventures, with all its ups-and-downs, living as simply as possible.
If you enjoy suburban life – great, but maybe this blog isn’t for you 😉 Some people enjoy the outdoors in whatever form, a simpler existence or some freedom to explore… Stick around though…
You’ll learn about Dakota, our beloved Land Rover 110, and discover some of the wildly crazy stuff we’ve managed to get up to with our old LR 90 ‘Muddy Boots’ – playing a key role in us becoming amateur mechanics.
Also featuring is Pepe? – our fab little (big) bus that we are renovating into a (for us) cool camper, or what’s affectionately known as a #freedomvessel. Insert hashtag here: #vanlife #buslife … did you know there are so many people out there whose veins pump with the same sense of adventure 🙂
We hope you enjoy the blog and “Keep rolling!”