What does the last of the housewives do?

What I’ve learned about Camping. Part Two. Action.

Most people go camping to commune with nature, wander through the bush, live life in the slow lane. Not if you’re camping with my husband, though. He booked us into every activity Glenworth Valley had to offer. And here’s what I learned.

If you’re a middle aged woman going abseiling for the first time in a long time, the key is to stare at the top of your shoes, no lower. If you’re a small boy, you may need moral support.

If you’re a show off fourteen year old boy, you go down every which way.

Here’s how you remove a bush tick. You kill it first with some strong fluid, as it may be Aerogard Tropical Strength. You then grasp it firmly near the skin on your daughter’s neck an remove it with a firm twisting motion. That’s what Gosford Hospital told me, anyway.

I know diamond pythons are as common as belly buttons north of the Tropic of Capricorn. But they can also be found this far south.

There are about two hundred horses at Glenworth Valley, and I think the Muffet may have ridden or patted all of them. I learned that I really quite like riding. But my legs are entirely the wrong shape. It was a full twenty four hours before I could get them to cooperate again.

If you’re a very small boy, no relation to me, and you ride your tiny bike down a steep slope terminating in a ditch, like this,

you will, much to the horror of onlookers, go over the handlebars and break your bike clean in half. It turns out that one of the little boys in the audience wasn’t crying in sympathy, it was his bike. He was to be seen for the next two days forlornly wheeling the front half of his bike around like a pedal free unicycle. The young trick cyclist was essentially unharmed, you’ll be pleased to know.

The last thing I learned won’t be very surprising. It is that, after a hard day riding and abseiling and feeding people and washing up in a bucket, a glass of aged red served in a plastic cup under a sky full of stars, drunk while reclining on a grassy hillside somewhat dotted with horse pats, tastes mighty fine. Mighty fine.


What I’ve Learned about Camping. Part One. Setting Up.

Contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t my fault we’ve never gone camping. It just that in such an active family we’ve never managed to find a weekend that was completely and totally free of sport. When a long weekend loomed that had been reserved for a family event that was subsequently postponed the time seemed right. Ho for Glenworth Valley.

There appear to be two types of campers. One lot are after a cheap holiday, so they bring along all the comforts of home. A giant tent with multiple annexes. A folding pergola. Tables and chairs. Gas barbecues. Many lights. Flock lined inflatable air beds with pockets so they don’t fling you off if you roll over too incautiously in the night. Their own toilet paper.

And there’s the likes of us who are after the nature experience. I didn’t want to commit to camping too much in case we didn’t like it, so we made do with what we had. We hired a four man tent from reception and brought along a two man tent my husband has grimly retained since childhood in the unwavering knowledge that he would eventually have a family that he would definitely take camping one day. I’m not even sure it’s real tent.

Yes, the banana yellow contraption. It wouldn’t sustain the onslaught of a swarm of monarch butterflies, so it was lucky there was no weather to speak of.

As it turned out, there was a third type camping at Glenworth Valley this weekend. “What’s Confest?” we asked our abseiling guide, Dean, after we’d passed the fourth sign for it. “Well, I don’t know what the C and the O stand for, but the N is for Nudist”, he explained. They were put in the most remote field available, but they still had to ignore utes full of gawkers on their way to abseiling, or kayakers, or the odd string of horse riders. It turns out the Confest is slightly more nuanced than that, but it was definitely a clothing optional event.

To the things I’ve learned. I’ve learned that a child can sleep quite comfortably on ground covered only by a doona, but an adult attempting the same feat becomes rather aware of their hips. A Thermarest or equivalent is the basic minimum requirement for a half decent night’ sleep. I wonder if a yoga mat would work?

I can light a fire.

My dear husband took one look at that and said “that’s never going to light”. What would he know. Nothing. In under five minutes that was a blazing inferno. But apparently I wouldn’t have earned the Scouts badge because I used three matches instead of one. Pfft.

One can make proper coffee camping.

It was more a proof of concept than anything else. We got that pot as a wedding present or something and it has rather languished at the back of the cupboard. I was certainly not going to be drinking instant even if we were going bush. It did work, the handle didn’t melt, but to took ages and was very very very strong. I thought getting a latte from the Glenworth Valley cafe was cheating.

An ablutions block is a marvelous thing to have available while camping. The one in our field was constructed of green powder coated corrugated iron, you pushed one button for a one minute warm shower and that’s really all you need. It was light and well constructed and had three hooks for your stuff and a soap dish and you couldn’t ask for a nicer fit out.

And finally a hammock is an excellent addition to any holiday. A few people brought their own, but we set up within easy reach of an existing one.

I’ll get on to the activities in my next post. Suffice to say they were many and varied.