Carry on camping

LISE MOODY
Last updated 05:00 31/01/2011
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Happy campers: Lise Moody and family.

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Family getaways aren't always the relaxed, bonding experiences we hope. As the summer break winds up, Aucklander Lise Moody bravely shares her holiday diary.

JANUARY 6

It's my worst nightmare. I'm sitting on a long drop, the stench is unbearable, beads of sweat start to etch on my forehead, three days of not going but now it's needs must.

I take a deep breath, close the door and purse my lips tightly together. It's very dark in here, my torch is perched on a bog roll and a glimmer of light flickers through.

It's a long way down that bottomless pit, what if I fall in?

Someone is standing outside and I am convinced they will hear me, I can't even line the bottom with loo roll, convinced there would be a horrible thud and ...

Ten minutes later, still can't go. Mozzies and flies swirl around me and I pray the person still lingering outside will go.

That is it. I pull up my jeans and run for the tent, feeling so unsatisfied, a toilet phobic.

JANUARY 7

Dawn breaks, the waves are crashing, the kids are up early and we make frantic efforts to restrain them. My stomach is distended and I have a hangover, but the kids are relentless.

"Come on mummy! Let's go! Let's go swimming. Let's make a sand castle. Let's go play on the swing." Let's ... ahh ... my book ...

Relax, I say, take a deep breath. It is the only time you, the hubby and the kids get to go away camping, just once a year, it is all we can afford right now ($20 a night DoC site).

It has been a long, hard year full of ups and downs. We have moved twice, finally finding a new job after a year of trying, plus juggling two young children, so this year we made some resolutions determined it would be a better year and less of a struggle.

New Year's resolution one: To live in the moment.

Hubby has packed/unpacked the campervan three times, at three different camp grounds and he is stressed.

I can tell because usually he gets a little obsessive-compulsive when under pressure. So far we are only missing six pegs for the tent (we count four times).

11am

My daughter is bitten by a jellyfish. My hubby pees in a pot and tries to stick her finger in it, she screams blue murder, the whole beach comes running to our aid.

1pm

New Year's resolution two: Don't let anyone give up an addictive habit during a holiday.

My hubby has decided to give up a heavy smoking habit. He is very grumpy and is sweating profusely. He sticks on not one nicotine patch but three.

One falls off when he goes swimming and I laugh. He tells me I am not being very supportive.

5pm

We have a big, bellowing fight in the middle of the campground. Everyone pretends not to listen but the whole campground goes silent. We are struggling to relax and all I feel is more pressure. The kids are watching us, bemused.

New Year's resolution 3: Do not argue in front of the kids.

Finally we make up, the kids are happy, and we sit down to try to read our books in the overpowering humidity as the sun scorches down.

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We sit in our deck chairs proud that we are finally on holiday, a once-a year-event. But when we look around the campground we feel a little disillusioned that our dream of really getting away from it all – in the bush, no power, no people – is beginning to look more like something out of Camp America or Hi-de-hi campers.

Rows and rows of campervans are all neatly allotted, most of them with satellite dishes on the roof and big-screen TVs inside. What happened to marshmallows, candles and torches?

Next to us two bratty, obese kids are eating chips and slurping on fizzy drinks while playing on their iPods.

Our little camper – $4000 off Trade Me – is dwarfed by our neighbours' van, $40,000 worth of monstrosity that is bigger than our entire house.

I decide then and there that I really do not like camping.

New Year's resolution 4: Do not be jealous of people with money, be happy for them and understand they have worked hard for what they have and then money will naturally flow for you. Yeah right!

On the beach after a swim, hubby is checking out a blonde with big boobs. He pretends I don't see him checking her out but even though he's wearing dark glasses it's still painfully obvious.

I feel jealous: my boobs are really, really droopy and I feel fat. I want to leave the beach immediately.

New Year's resolution 5: Be comfortable in your own skin and don't compare yourself to others. (How much for a boob job?)

The next day or two go by in a daze. The last day it rains, our camper gets stuck in the mud, our towels are wet, we are cold and miserable and need a warm shower.

Driving home we stop to get gas and a woman at the BP station is rude to me. I did not show her my coffee card and she tells me next time to do it or else we would not get a free coffee.

I say, "Have a nice day, you sad git!"

New Year's resolution 6: Be nice to people.

We are home. I have a long bath with the kids, spend ages on my own loo. Hubby has a ciggie and a glass of wine, the kids watch a DVD.

New Year's resolution 7: Spend more time with the kids, spend less time on the loo/watching TV, and remember that holidays are overrated!

- Sunday Star Times

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