Swapping home for house bus

17:00, May 13 2012
Paul Ogilvie and Hope
ON THE ROAD: Paul and Debi Ogilvie quit their jobs and packed up their lives to join the Gypsy Fair. Paul relaxes inside the house bus with baby Hope, aged 8 months.

A former South Island police officer has no regrets about quitting his job, selling his belongings, buying a bus and "living life on the road".

Paul and Debi Ogilvie are the newest members of one of the country's gypsy communities and make their living by operating bouncy castles at weekly Gypsy Fairs over the spring and summer.

"I wanted to spend more time with my family ... I quit my job [as a police officer] the same day we bought the bus and it just happened," he said.

The couple lived in Wellington before moving to Omarama, near Twizel.

"I was in the police force for 12 years and life is so much easier this way, that's for sure. We're all together and the kids love it, too."

There were three other families with children and "lots of couples and individual people, too", he said.


Daniel, 6, has mastered the art of the fire sticks and performed in Hornby yesterday. His sister Lucy, 4, followed him on learner stilts while 8-month-old Hope crawled around happily.

The Gypsy Fair in Christchurch was the last one of the season. The community will take four months off over winter before starting their next season in the North Island.

Paul Ogilvie said his and Debi's extended family, whom he described as "quite conservative", were shocked when they learned about the family's decision to join the Gypsy Fair.

"But they're getting used to the fact that we choose to live life differently ...I don't regret anything. There's a great bunch of people here, just like any other bunch of people."

Today the family will pack up and hit the road again.

Ogilvie, who is also a qualified electrician, would be doing some part-time work in the Marlborough Sounds.

"We'll do some possum trapping, too, and spend even more time with the kids over winter," he said.

When asked if people compared them to the gypsies made famous by the British television programme My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, he said: "Well, it certainly hasn't done us any favours. It's not like that here."

The Press