Skip to main content

It's camping Jim, but not as we know it...

The more astute amongst you might have intuited that my rate of posting on here has dropped off just a tad lately. There was no shortage of  things to write about. The problem was, there was no shortage of things to write about and they took up all the available time.

Things quietened down a bit just before Christmas, and between Christmas and New Year Clemency and I went camping. For as long as we've known each other, that is about 40 years we have done this. For a while it was in our 1962 Volkswagen Kombi. In company with Megan our Rough Coated Collie we parked the Kombi on DOC sites and lakesides and remote beaches quite literally from North Cape to Bluff; sometimes because we liked the view, sometimes because I had to lie under the van and fix something. When the kids arrived we progressed to a series of tents, culminating in an orange and brown 15'x9' frame tent. Because we had been to so many places in the Kombi we knew a good number of out of the way spots where no-one was going to object to us parking up for a week or two; so we would load stuff on the trailer drive for a few hours, pitch the tent, dig a slop hole, build a fireplace, erect a toilet tent (where "tent" is used in the widest possible sense of the word) and put the solar shower in the sun to warm up. It always needed at least 20km on a gravel road, to keep out the undesirable elements (IE those who didn't like gravel roads). Kaiaua Beach on the East Cape was a favourite place, as was Eight Acres in the Urewera National Park. The Abel Tasman was great until it got discovered by North West Christchurch and utterly ruined. Pureora National park was OK (very cold but there were saddlebacks) and the West Coast of the South Island was always worthwhile. What was not OK was camping grounds with lots of neighbours and people with jetskis and a lounge with a TV set. Our daughter Catherine still thinks that it hasn't been a proper holiday unless there has been at least one meal cooked over an open fire and a cup of tea made in a thermette. There are standards to be kept! Lines which should not be crossed!

The last few days we were in Surat Bay in the Catlins. In a camping ground (blush). In a (double blush) caravan with a shower, a flushing toilet, a stove, and a flatscreen TV hooked up to a DVD player.  To mitigate things, I might mention that the camping ground was smallish and was at the end of a short stretch of gravel. Behind it was a beach about 3km long which ended in a notched headland. Climb over the notch and you arrived at the breeding ground of the Royal Spoonbills, and on the way to look at them you were bound to encounter sea lions and penguins. Most days, when I took my morning stroll, mine were the only footprints on the beach. On the day it rained we spent almost a whole day watching episodes of Ever Decreasing Circles, a British sitcom from the 80s which has dated pretty well except when it comes to gender issues, and catching up on Facebook via the camp's wifi connection. We sipped red wine and there was beer from a boutique brewery in the fridge.We didn't dig a slop hole. We didn't even take the thermette.

In a few days we will head to Nelson to see the whanau. Normally, we would drive straight up in a day, perhaps tossing a pup tent and sleeping bags in the back of the car in case we decided to stop on the way. This year, I think we will take a few days over the journey, both coming and going. And I think we'll probably take the caravan. 

Comments

Elaine Dent said…
Welcome back to posting. Hurray for camping (in its many variations). Hurray for summer (as I look out the window with snow on the ground). And blessings on traveling wise men/women. May you return home renewed and by a different road.
Zane Elliott said…
Happy New Year.Enjoy the journey.

I hope that craft beer was 'Stoke'!
Kate said…
Yeeesss! Camping! Childhood New Zealand summers. Off-milk, flies around the long-drop, sting of sunburn, sand in the groin, the murmur of adult voices and flicker of torches on the tent wall, first love's kisses, the feel of pipis with the toes, the hissing of the primus...
I will renew my acquaintance with that sublime form of existence some day.
Meantime I might sleep out in the garden in the compactavan again this summer.

Have a super holiday!
Kelvin Wright said…
What on earth is a compactavan?
Kelvin Wright said…
No Zane, the Stoke....er.... disappeared days ago. It was Bouncing Czech
Kelvin Wright said…
...but I think, after your generous contribution to the argument and after sampling one or two rather fine beers from small breweries that my original point still stands. There is nothing that can quite compare to real English ale, brewed in a real brewery and served in some ancient,woody, warm English pub.

No one makes bread better than the French (well.... alright, maybe some Italians and Spanish)and no one makes beer better than the English
Wynston said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wynston said…
Welcome back to posting and Happy New Year. May it be an excellent one in every respect.

Sounds like a great camping holiday simply upgraded to meet the needs of an older body.
Anonymous said…
Hear Hear!!
Kate said…
This is my compactavan...
http://delphine-angua.blogspot.co.nz/2008/12/my-bedroom.html
Zane Elliott said…
I suppose I have to accept your original point, BUT is there anything in England that compares with the experience of a gorgeous February day sitting out in 30 degrees sipping on a hop packed life-changing beer brewed by two guys in garage-like set up, and almost tasting the new world approach to beer?

Popular posts from this blog

Turn Sideways Into The Light

David Whyte speaks in his audio series What To Remember When Waking of the myth of the Tuatha De Danann. They were a mythical race from Ireland's past who were tall, magical, mystical people devoted to beauty and artistry. When another more brutal people, the Milesians invaded Ireland the Tuatha De Danann fought them off in two battles, but were faced with a third, decisive battle against overwhelming odds. So, lined up in battle formation and facing almost certain defeat, the Tuatha De Danann turned sideways into the light and disappeared. Whyte's retelling is, to put it mildly, a gloss, but I am quite taken with the phrase and with the phenomenon it describes. Turning sideways into the light is the realisation that there are some encounters that are damaging to all involved in them: no one wins a war. Faced with such an exchange, to turn sideways into the light is to seek another, more whole form of relationship. It is to reject the ground rules of the conversation as they

En Hakkore

In the hills up behind Ranfurly there used to be a town, Hamilton, which at one stage was home to 5,000 people. All that remains of it now is a graveyard, fenced off and baking in the lonely brown hills. Near it, in the 1930s a large Sanitorium was built for the treatment of tuberculosis and other respiratory ailments. It was a substantial complex of buildings with wards, a nurses hostel, impressive houses for the manager and superintendent and all the utility buildings needed for such a large operation. The treatment offered consisted of isolation, views and weather. Patients were exposed to the air, the tons of it which whistled past, often at great speed, the warmth of the sun and the cold. They were housed in small cubicles opening onto huge glassed verandas where they cooked in the summer and froze in the winter and often, what with the wholesome food and the exercise, got better. When advances in antibiotics rendered the Sanitorium obsolete it was turned into a Borstal and the

The Bell and the Blackbird

Nikon D7100, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G, 1/400 f8, iso200 A couple of weeks ago Clemency and I drove to Queenstown to hear the poet David Whyte. I think that people resonate with writers when they articulate for us the doings of our soul, and David Whyte has done that for me several times, as I have mentioned here and here and here and here .  I had seen that he was in New Zealand to conduct one of his famous, week long walking tours, which I would dearly love to have joined, but my budget didn't stretch to the $US5,000 a head ticket price. But I saw  A Day With David Whyte advertised and decided that whatever the cost, I was going. Turns out it was only $95 a head, so Clemency, despite the fact that she was only vaguely aware of who he was,  came too. We left home in the dark and arrived in plenty of time for the 10.00 am start. The venue was a kind of back packer type place on the shore of Lake Wakatipu. About 60 or so people were there, mostly women, all of them looking l

Centering Prayer Retreat

    A 3 day taught retreat in the practice of Centering Prayer.   Saturday October 2 2021 - Monday October 4 2021 Centering Prayer is a form of Christian silent contemplative prayer. This retreat is suitable for beginners in silent prayer, or for more experienced practitioners wishing to refresh their practice.  The retreat will be held in the En Hakkore retreat centre in the hills above Waipiata in the Maniototo. There will be daily sessions of silent prayer, instruction and discussion. The venue is spacious and set in an expansive landscape. there will be some time for personal reflection.  The cost is $175 per person which includes 2 nights accommodation and all meals.   Since the beginning, following the example of Jesus, there has been a tradition of silent prayer in the Christian Church. Over the centuries this tradition faded from the popular view and became confined to monasteries. It was kept alive by a largely ignored, but never fading lineage of Christian contemplatives.  

Camino, by David Whyte

This poem captures it perfectly Camino. The way forward, the way between things, the way already walked before you, the path disappearing and re-appearing even as the ground gave way beneath you, the grief apparent only in the moment of forgetting, then the river, the mountain, the lifting song of the Sky Lark inviting you over the rain filled pass when your legs had given up, and after, it would be dusk and the half-lit villages in evening light; other people's homes glimpsed through lighted windows and inside, other people's lives; your own home you had left crowding your memory as you looked to see a child playing or a mother moving from one side of a room to another, your eyes wet with the keen cold wind of Navarre. But your loss brought you here to walk under one name and one name only, and to find the guise under which all loss can live; remember you were given that name every day along the way, remember you were greeted as such, and you neede