Nomadic folk couple back in Shropshire after nearly two years of being 'happily stranded' in New Zealand

A musical couple are back in Shropshire after nearly two years of being "happily stranded" in New Zealand during the pandemic.

Folk Duo "Good Habits", Pete Shaw and partner Bonnie Schwarz, have recently returned home to Shrewsbury from nearly two years of being "happily stranded" in New Zealand after the pandemic hit whilst they were on their debut international tour
Folk Duo "Good Habits", Pete Shaw and partner Bonnie Schwarz, have recently returned home to Shrewsbury from nearly two years of being "happily stranded" in New Zealand after the pandemic hit whilst they were on their debut international tour

Nomadic alt-folk duo Pete Shaw and Bonnie Schwaz came back to the UK on Monday and are heading off to the Manchester Folk Festival this weekend before a gig in Shrewsbury the following Friday.

"In January 2020 we had 24 hours to make a decision whether to get a Government flight back to the UK or stay in New Zealand," said Pete, 24, from the couple's temporary home in Cruckton, near Shrewsbury.

"At that time we didn't know what the future would be, whether that was the end of international travel and whether we would have to stay in New Zealand for the rest of our lives."

But they have family and friends on the other side of the world, which gave them some security. And they met and made friends with scores of friendly New Zealanders who would put them up after gigs. Together they are known as Good Habits and play folk music which draws on other musical influences.

Bonnie, 23, added: "I don't regret staying in New Zealand at all. We did over 200 gigs and did a very special kind of touring. We also did all kinds of jobs and were performing in the street and at farmers' markets.

"Being back doesn't feel very real, and even now it feels a bit like it was a dream."

Accordion player Pete and cellist-singer Bonnie bought an old van, painted a moustache on the front and called it Brian for their tours around the antipodes, and playing some of New Zealand's biggest festivals.

"It has all given us lots of new material," said Pete. They are releasing a new album called Antipody at the end of November.

After a nearly a couple of years together in close proximity in the back of a van, Pete and Bonnie say it has been a great test of their relationship.

"We passed the test!" said Bonnie. "We'll be continuing."

As for Brian the van, he's reached the end of his days after clocking up a total of 400,000 miles.

"We had him dismantled for parts," said Pete, who hails from Shrewsbury. "That was the life of Brian!"

But they are thinking of getting another van for their continuing UK adventures and calling the new vehicle Brian 2.0.

On Friday, October 29 the couple will be playing at In Good Hands Cafe in Frankwell.

For tickets to the album release gig visit goodhabitsband.com/live

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