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Life is full of distractions for Mandy Neugebauer, and she has made it her business to turn every one into an art form at home and at work. Mandy collects everything from vintage fur coats, dresses, shoes and handbags to kitsch pineapples, the tikis adorning her American-style Tiki Bar and Perspex jewellery. And there are her horseshoes as well. "That's not an 'official' collection," she explains. "That's 'unofficial'."

The Point Chevalier bungalow in Auckland that she shares with her husband Goetz Neugebauer is a picture that happily defies style labels. "Our lives are symbolised in this room," she says of their lounge. "I have 60s moments. I have 50s moments and I have 80s moments. I call it 'Tiki Mod'. It's eclectic, and it's like this in the workshop."

The workshop? Goetz lost his upstairs office above their Eden Terrace business, Scooter E Motion, last year. Or rather, he generously gave over the space to Mandy's Modesty Boutique where all the glorious overflow of satin, silk, chiffon and vintage fur - shoes, coats and party dresses and retro collectibles included - delight the women who call in.

Her customers are women who live and work nearby, and an increasing number with an eye for the elegance of the globally iconic step-through Vespa (it's Italian for 'Wasp') designed in 1946 for stylish women going places in their full skirts.

They're also the women who tag along reluctantly while their men are downstairs eyeing up the latest import or talking shop with Goetz, a German who was twice placed 4th in the European scooter racing champs - and who can put a face to a bike model before apologising for forgetting your name.

The boys who strip the carburettors sit upstairs among the beautiful clothes and memorabilia during their tea break. Mandy is less out of place downstairs - changing a light bulb or tightening a mirror. "I'm the `clean' mechanic," she says.

If ever there was a lifestyle that blurs the boundaries between work and home, then this is it.

Growing up in Melbourne, Mandy had the best of both worlds - life in the city and on the family's big farm 400km away. "I had a pet lizard, rode bikes, caught tadpoles and poked sheep's guts with a stick." She also loved beautiful things around her.

She says she's a tomboy; Goetz reckons she's a real "girly girl" underneath.

When she moved here five years ago, she bought her first scooter, a black and tan Vespa ET 200 to get herself mobile. She wasted no time "pimping" her ride, adding chrome accents to the headlight covers and the horn cover. "I called it 'The Magpie' because I'm attracted to shiny things too. Anything shiny distracts me."

But the great two-wheeled love of their lives is the Vespa GT 200, aka The Pickle, because, says Mandy, "it's green on the inside. It really is!".

It was tired and a little dented, so they painted it with matt blackboard paint for fun. "It's the extreme of understatement," says Goetz of the bike that, in 2003, was the first automatic 200cc Vespa registered in this country. With her blonde hair trailing beneath her helmet and her shopping bags loaded on board, Mandy is a distraction of the loudest kind.

"People hear us before they see us. It sounds like a chopper. We get huge smiles when people see us go past and I love smiling when I'm out on my scooter. It's about feeling free and independent and just having fun. When we're out on the road it's just My Vespa and I."

There's chalk in the glove box that lost its lid years back and Mandy is never short of a topical one-liner to scribble on her bike every day - "$15 to fill. And you?" and "Did you get stuck in traffic? I didn't" are two examples.

Her favourite one-liner defines her perfectly. "I shop, therefore I am." It was a measure of her commitment to the man she calls "Mr Vespa" that she agreed to forgo last year's Melbourne Boxing Day sales to get married among friends and family gathered for Christmas.

"When he suggested Boxing Day I started to twitch and flinch," she recalls. "I mean it's the biggest shopping day of the year!" She did the sales the next day instead before returning home where they live with Dotti, Goetz's 13-year-old daughter.

Mandy may have free reign inside, but in the rambling back yard, the couple's two free-range chooks, Desert and Nora, have charmed the neighbourhood children into getting their own.

"I was outside the other day feeding the chooks and the end of a French stick came flying over the fence for them," she laughs.

Their chooks sleep up in the mandarin tree and the scooters are parked in the garage beyond the gate with its letterbox that is actually a 1960s toaster.

It's a taste of the country in suburbia that defines a life well-balanced, with weekend social scooter rallies and a working day that begins with a ride the long way round. "We call it the scenic way, because we love noticing all the little things. That is what this is all about," Mandy says.