Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How was the camping?

How was the camping, you asked?

You texted.

You sniggered and you giggled.

You Facebooked.

Yes, those of you that live here in Australia heard the news reports that this weekend had the highest April rainfall on record in the last ten years.

Yes, you delighted in telling me!

Yes, those of you who rarely ring for a "no reason chat" found time to pick up the phone to ask how we were!

So here we go. The Gina version of the Big Campout.

It rained, and rained, and rained. We got soaked, We cursed. We laughed. We drank. The end.

What? You want more? You want the miserable details? Where to start?

Friday 5pm. It was dry and the sun was shining in a blue sky. We pulled into the camp site to see clusters of immaculately put up tents and lots of familiar friends holding bottles of beer high with grins on their faces. Hurry up! Get the tent up! Get a beer into ya! And so we tried. Within ten minutes we had the inner tent unrolled and laid flat on the ground, corners pegged in and ready for the poles. That's when the rain started. It poured and poured and poured down absolutely saturating us and the inside of the tent. We stood under the BBQ shelters watching the puddles merge where we were hoping to sleep. Cue the cursing. Fast forward an hour. There had been a lull in the rain. It had eased to a gentle pitter patter and the tent was up. Beer was in hand and the kids were gone off with their friends. Cue laughing "Ho Ho How-we-will-laugh-at-this-in-the-future through gritted teeth!) Cue drinking.

Friday night it rained and after consuming a delightful selection of bubbles, red wine and Baileys we fell into our damp beds and snored through the gentle hum of rain and tarpaulins flapping in the wind. Saturday started early, 4.30am if I recall, and passed in a cycle of rain, clear, rain, clear, wet kids cycling and scooting around and around the camp-site having a whale of a time. Gareth got a magnificent black eye falling from the top of the playground. Sophie scared everyone by performing a spectacular crash off her scooter that required lots of cleaning and bandaging by a very well equipped resident nurse, lots of chocolate and hugs. We escaped home for an hour to swap sodden clothing for dry, we ate take-away fish and chips in the shelter of our kitchen and were grateful for the temporary solidness of the walls and ceiling sheltering us from the elements. We returned to the camp-site to start what was to be the big finale of weather dramatics. If only we had known maybe we would have stayed home!?

Saturday evening began innocently enough with cups of tea and dark chocolate TimTams under the rain shelter as we discussed the nights eating arrangements. We had been eating snacks all day and weren't particularly hungry but we were damp and chilly and the idea of being handed hot food and not washing up after was very appealing. We chose a local club that had just opened their all-you-can-eat-buffet. $10 per kid, $24 per adult. Normally you would starve yourself and skip breakfast and lunch to ensure that you were able to get your moneys worth. Despite everyone saying they weren't that hungry we made good inroads into the fresh oysters, crab claws, baby octopus, baked salmon, Chinese banquet, spring rolls, honey chicken, special fried rice, salad bar. Actually I lie. No-one touched the salad bar, they were too busy re-stocking on the oysters and eyeing up the dessert bar!

We returned to camp with full bellies. Put kids to bed in dry clothes with torches and books, had a glass of red and a wee nippy sweetie of Talisker from Byron's hip flask. Looked at the watches and called it a night.

Not much sleep was had that night because the biggest storm rolled in, reaching its crescendo at about 2am. There was driving rain and wind that hit the tent like a freight train. How the tents sprung back up after each time they were flattened to the ground is beyond me. I must admit for all the jokes now there was a part of that night that was scary. I couldn't hear my kids in their tent that was side by side with ours. I felt vulnerable and eventually braved the downpour in my pj's to run into them and check. 2 were sleeping like babies but Sian was sitting bolt upright looking a little terrified. I promised her $10 if either tent fell down and made sure she had a mobile under her pillow so we could ring each other and I went back out into the dark to find many of our friends also standing out in their pj's holding tent poles down and repositioning flapping tarps and hammering in extra pegs. One tent had flooded when the tarp above it had released a downpour of collected water straight into the doorway. Wet kids stood looking pale and green around the gills while parents rearranged soggy sleeping arrangements in the dark. The following hours passed in a haze but all I know is that we slept fitfully and woke to clear blue skies on Sunday morning and not a sign that the previous night had happened. If it were not for the cups of tea  steaming in cupped hands as we recapped the nights events I would have sworn I'd imagined it.

And so ended the second time the Baynham's have camped in Oz.

Will there be a third I wonder...?!

5 comments - click here to leave your comment:

  1. But at least you got away for a bit? :)

  2. Please don't ever go again! Poor Sian... what a nightmare! Camping is NOT for me on a good day. This June my husband, another couple and I have rented a big class c (like a bus) 34 foot RV~ we are headed out west to Yellowstone, Grand Canyon and home by way of the famous Route 66. This is as close to "camping" I will ever get!! You are a brave girl!

  3. Wow, you get major points for follow-through, that's for sure! Glad you guys all made it back alive. Dark chocolate Tim-Tams. Yum!

  4. I was there and even though it rained a lot it was great fun. Gina, your story about the rain on our camping adventure was certainly not exaggerated.

  5. Few vacation experiences are worse than rained-out camping, but few are better than a beautiful weekend outdoors. So ya takes your chances!