Friday, December 9, 2011

Dad Camp

It's time for The Husband's column...

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ll be aware camping has become somewhat popular in our household.

Very civilised and amusing friends are keen campers and described the many and varied joys of sleeping rough in nature’s splendour with only a campfire and glinting glass of shiraz as comfort.

The Author was intrigued by this but also not a fan of being cold, dirty or uncomfortable. Crocheting on the couch with The Cat is more her thing.

However, discomforts countered by clean shower blocks and warm duvets and a morning coffee brewed over a flame by yours truly, we now have a tent, a natty camp stove, some chairs and a table that folds out and various baskets filled with campy stuff.

Camping has indeed proved a rare pleasure and we’re very grateful for being introduced to it.

Last weekend, The Child and I went camping with the usual suspects … well, not all of them. The Author did not come on account of The Cat being very unwell and, suddenly, when other female members of the camping posse realised they could didn’t have to go, they ducked out too, citing attending the Finder’s Keepers market at Sydney’s Carriageworks, as well as a weekend without kids and husbands, as more appealing.

The female members of the camping posse are also the foundation quorum of The Little Marionette Coffee Club, where many a grand plan takes flight, many a candle-making evening planned and many a husband’s less than exemplary behaviour dissected.

Suddenly, it was just dads and teen kids on an expedition, a prospect everyone was very pleased with. “Sa-weet!” said The Child, “We’ll be able to do whatever we want!”

We went to the gorgeous Mill Creek, near Wisemans Ferry in NSW. It was stunning, our own little paddock with a barbecue, fire pit, goannas and wombats ambling out of the towering bush.
So it was just dads – The Cameraman Who’s Always Right and The Truth Sayer and me – as well as four kids aged between 12 and 15. What could possibly go wrong … ?

Engulfed in a Ball of Flame
The Truth Sayer has a camp stove which he alleges is a family heirloom. No wonder none of his ancestors have any eyebrows. On the first morning I fiddled with its various sticky knobs, admittedly while holding a lit match, when I was suddenly in the middle of an explosion. The Cameraman Who’s Always Right, who has worked on Mythbusters and knows about such things, says the correct terms for the experience is Engulfed in a Ball of Flame. The Truth Sayer, attempting to show how safe the stove of death was, also become briefly engulfed in a somewhat smaller ball of flame. How we laughed.

Leech Attack
Reeking of burnt hair, we set off on a bushwalk that was 11km and marked on the map as strenuous. We did not tell The Teens this. About 4km in, I heard The Child screaming rather enthusiastically. I was hiding behind a tree, getting ready to leap out and scare The Teens but eventually backtracked to find out what all the fuss was about. I was confronted by the sight of The Cameraman Who’s Always Right scraping a leech off the, er, upper rear thigh of The Child, who, with good reason, was fairly uncomfortable with the situation. Her ankle was bleeding from where he’d got the other one. Closer inspection showed our socks, boots, and in some cases, legs, were writhing with leeches. We turned back, rather than brave the wall of bloodsuckers. Later, I attempted to put a dying, dusty one on my thigh while The Cameraman Who’s Always Right filmed the experiment, but screamed and mashed it instead at the last moment.

Angry Possum
Possums will take revenge if evicted from a roof cavity by coming back in the night and pushing over pot plants. This is true. We caught a possum in torchlight, climbing a tree and laughed at its angry little face and glinty eyes as it glared around the trunk at us. He jumped down and ran away. Then he came back and did it again, looking even madder. We laughed at him even more.
In the night he came back and pushed the stove of death off the barbecue, gas bottle and all.

Stick in The Eye
One teen, the Apprentice Graphic Designer, fell over and a fairly decent stick poked him in the eye. He snapped his head back, as you do, breaking the stick off. With his eye! He removed the remnant and a swoosh of water rendered him (dad medicine at work) … not blind.
Snapping a stick off with your eye was looked upon as a pretty cool thing and was described in tones of awe as “fairly Ninja”.

I’m So Cold, Dad
The Author offered me various duvets to take with us, all of which I declined, unaware the start to this summer is the coldest in 50 years. When I went to bed on the first night, The Child was hunched in a foetal position, barely breathing, whispering “It’s so cold, dad,” through her little blue lips. The application of most of her clothing and all of the towels fixed that. The next night she had a spare duvet, an extra blanket, and a “space blanket” supplied by The Cameraman Who’s Always Right, the sort of chap who actually owns things called “space blankets”.
I cleverly utilised a picnic blanket to avoid death by hypothermia myself.

Is That Yours?
When it came time to pack up, no-one had any idea who owned what cutlery, except for The Truth Sayer, who puts a red dot on everything he owns, including his underpants. That didn’t stop him trying to steal my good tongs, while I bagged a nice jar of homemade blackcurrant jam.
To sort out the mess we plan to deliver a box of assorted and badly washed cutlery to members of The Little Marionette Coffee Club to sort out.

Dad-camping. What could possibly go wrong?


  1. This made me laugh, but after years of camping with my parents and siblings then later my sons, I know all of the above is possible.

  2. Sounds like a hoot, and very similar to our camping adventures. Although we had the angry kangaroos that ate all our food, as well as opening the decor container and eating the dogs food, while we huddled in our tent too scared to come out till they were finished ( they were large and angry!!!)