Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Memories - Camping days

Before we left South Africa, we decided that the odds on us being able to afford holidays were rather remote, given that we were starting from scratch and had to buy a house and exchange control regulations in SA meant we couldn't take our money with us. So, in a moment of madness, we thought camping would be a great idea. So we bought a large tent.


I can say in retrospect that never ONCE did Geoff come camping with us. He was always away for holidays. Clever man. Anyway, nothing daunted, we went camping in Bains Kloof  just outside Cape Town to try out the tent. We went with a large group of friends, which was just as well because I did not have the foggiest idea how to set up that wretched tent which was enormous. This was in the days before the newfangled tents which pop themselves up.

Bains Kloof is beautiful - a ravine in the mountains, with a river running through it for swimming and paddling and general cooling off, because it was HOT. Thankfully, I had lots of assistance getting that brown thing up in the air, and we were all set for a lovely weekend. Walking miles to toilet facilities at all hours because kids do that, don't they.

The first night was fine. The tent stayed up. The second night......oh my Lord. There was a strong wind. Think hurricane speed wind. And that tent started losing its pegs. The 10 inch pegs. Long strong pegs. And I spent the entire night, while my children slept blissfully on, crawling round and round and round that tent on hands and knees with the mallet hammering pegs in. As soon as they were in, they popped out and the tent started lifting.

Again, and again and again. I had visions of watching my kids fly off over the mountain in that tent, so I kept going round and round. I was heroic., I saved my children from flight. By dawn, when the winds dropped I was a wreck and put off camping for life. All the smaller tents had no problems, but that huge monstrosity (what possessed me to get such a huge one I will never know) was a disaster. Then there was the packing up. That took forever, because it had to fit into a bag which needed 2 strong men to lift in the first place, and the poles weighed even more.

So, when we arrived here, camping was not anywhere near the top of my "to do" list. We could stay home for holidays, kids. How exciting.

Until we had a church camp at a nearby camp site, and my friends promised to put it up if I would have 6 girls sleeping in it. As well as David and me. It was a big tent, remember. So off we went, and I did nothing except hammer in those ultra long pegs, because heaven knew I had loads of experience in wielding the sledgehammer thing.

Then I sat down in my chair and relaxed with a fortifying drink or two. No wind this time, but sleepwalking girls who thought that the door to the tent was at the back, where there was NO door, and spent all night trying to climb through the canvas while I manhandled  gently lead them to the entrance so they could be escorted to those toilet facilities miles away. By me. Rinse and repeat. All night. Does anyone get to sleep at all when they go camping????????? I have yet to experience sleeping (as a parent) when camping.

My camping duties were over, people. I do not do walking through the dark looking for a bathroom. I do classy hotels and room service. In my dreams. And in my genes. Sigh.

That would be why I don't go away on many holidays.

It was different when I was a teenager and a student. We camped with our church camps, but I did not have to organise things. When I was a student, I went camping with friends (including my boyfriend at the time) and that was fine. The guys sorted the tents and the girls sorted the cooking and the positioning of the loo roll on the tent pole. And the males could investigate any strange noises too. That was different. And fun.

It was all Geoff's fault, wasn't it?? I am sitting here wondering if my camping life may have taken different turns had he been around to do the warding off of any wild animals (especially in Africa where there are snakes and I do not do snakes either) and the tent peg duty. Maybe I would have slept on blissfully unaware of any impending disaster, and he could have done it all. Hah. That is why I loathe camping. Or maybe I need to have one of those motor homes. Preferably the ones with armchairs and bathrooms, and every home comfort including doors which lock.

A winnebago. That would be more my style. Maybe I will sell the house and buy a motor home and become a gypsy. Hmmmmmmmm................................


Needled Mom said...

It does not sound as though you have had the best experiences with camping. We have done the tent thing for years and love it (except for the bears this year). I think it is something the kids need to experience because it is such a grand adventure for them, but I would prefer the fancy hotel too!!!!

Sandra said...

LOL Linds.

We used to go camping at the Kruger Park in South Africa and I always loved it and we did both sides of it, with tents (which my dad HATED), and with the caravan which was so much better. But yes, the bathroom thing was a pain in the behind.

I have yet to take my children camping, they are terrified of bears and wild animals so I keep putting it off, but I love camping and think it's definitely something we'll be doing this summer.

MotherT said...

Our family has had some interesting times camping, including piling into our small car at 2 a.m. because the waterproofing had failed in the middle of a horrible storm!

I am willing to camp in a Winnebago, but otherwise, I'm going to go look for a hotel.

Crystal said...

I don't do tents either but our kids and their families love it all - even Naomi who had a month old baby for one summer adventure! We love our camper on the back of the truck now. It's a little mini home and it's all so easy to move, not the long ordeal of packing up (usually) wet gear. I'd love to do the fancy hotel thing - but then I'd be staying home much more! When you come to visit you can use the camper:)

Becky said...

As you know, we love camping, but I've done my time in tents, camper vans, and tent trailers. We're loving the new camping trailer we got this summer. There's no set up or take down involved other than unhooking it from the truck. Love it! I wish you could go camping with us sometime.

Janine said...

I don't do camping - am too fond of my indoor plumbing! On the few occasions that I have been obliged to stay in a tent I've had sleepless nights - not because I am up and down to the ablution block but simply because when everyone else walks past the tent, I wake up!
Years ago, we knew some people who went camping for their honeymoon - on the wedding night, the tent blew away and was never seen again!