It is Easter; it is raining; and we are living in a makeshift canvas shelter somewhere in Jervis Bay. We are cold. The children are unhappy. I am unhappy. This is camping as most Sydneysiders will experience it this weekend.
We should have learnt our lesson many times over.
Our camping history is a litany of disaster.
The first time, as we drove up the hill away from home in Balmain, the boot of our stationwagon opened and all our food tumbled out to leave a trail of culinary destruction along the main street. We didn’t even stop.
The next time my wife grabbed the black case containing the camp stove but when I opened it discovered she had brought the electric drill. It rained and we got bitten by red ants and everyone except my wife got into the car and refused to get out till she had packed up.
Or the time my daughter lost the torch as we were halfway through setting up the tent in the rain in Kangaroo Valley. There was no dinner that night. I sat alone in the drizzle forcing open a warm beer with a 50¢ coin. I can rarely remember feeling more miserable.
Or when we found a nice spot and pitched the tent with our two little girls thinking … finally, this is OK. Of course, it wasn’t and to confirm that 15 young men with beer kegs and a loud stereo arrived to keep us awake. We got them back that time – we woke up at 5am and let the kids play and scream for two hours.
We got so sick of campgrounds and their loud, drunk teenagers we decided to try a farmer’s paddock. Big mistake. When we arrived he said, “Gee, I better move the cows out.” It rained and the whole paddock turned into a cow-shit bath. Our four-wheel-drive got stuck
The worst was the murder. As we lay sleeping, a couple of kilometres away some poor kid was bludgeoned to death with an axe.
After that, we took a break for a while, but this summer the rest of the family tried again (I refused). That ended in the a trip to hospital for another daughter, who had glass embedded in her foot.
It is a masochistic tent-ency that we can’t get out of our system. We know that one day we will have the perfect camping trip and then we can give up. Failing that, I’m buying a bus.
We arrive on Good Friday as night falls and the rain is getting worse. As we start unpacking my wife lets out an audible gasp. We have left behind all the tent poles.
The rain gets worse as we jerry rig the tent. Luckily the rain washes away my tears of despair.
Eventually we get in and find we also forgot the pots. But, then, in the night, possums sniff at the door and the next day , Easter Saturday, the rain holds off and the kids get to pat a kangaroo. They play on the beach and quickly make friends.
I head off to Nowra to buy a pot and contemplate how much nicer this might be in a cabin.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.