19 January 2017

Camping Solo: A Summer Adventure

Caming Solo and Other Summer Adventures

There was a time not so very long ago when I stared at the blank canvas of the summer holidays and worried how on earth I would fill it for my kids this year - me, a mum on her own.
I prayed for miracles, a way to go on holiday, provision - and lo and behold, miracles happened. Somehow dollars stretched and opportunities opened up, and here we are, in the middle of a very busy un-boring summer, where the kids have had a ball and I've learned, once again, that I CAN DO HARD THINGS.

Hard things like facing New Years Eve without a party (gulp), but still managing to toast marshmallows and let off fireworks. Like driving for eight-hours-straight with a car full of kids and a dog to visit family down-country (sustained by $1 frozen McD's drinks). And like squeezing all our camping gear into the car, setting up a tent with not a bloke in sight, camping for a week and then packing it all down again and squishing it all back in the car, with only the kids to help.

This summer has been like an endurance test - a test of my mettle. Especially THE CAMPING.
I wouldn't say it was the most fun, relaxing camping trip we've ever been on but I did it. WE did it.

Heading to Martin's Bay, New Zealand
Camping holiday

Somehow I managed to squeeze the essentials - plus the four of us - into our people mover, and get us to our favourite campground. Then we set it all up - and it stayed up!

That's our tent there in the middle - the grey Kathmandu palace that is so easy to erect even me and the kids can manage it. (We had a different spot this year to our usual - look how close we are to the beach!)

Beachfront campsite - Martins' Bay New Zealand

There is a kitchen at the campground, but we prefer to wash dishes and cook al fresco (and this beautiful girl is my best helper...)

Doing the dishes isn't such a chore when you do it here
Bacon and eggs for dinner, cooked al fresco on our camp stove

You might be wondering how we fitted everything - plus four people - into a people mover. Yep, I was wondering that myself! (Very. Carefully.)
Tent, tarp, fridge, mats, chairs, camp stretchers, mattresses, sleeping bags, pillows, bags, food, chilly bin, tables - somehow it all fitted.

How on earth did we fit it all in???

Ahhhh, Martin's Bay. that view never gets old.

Heading down the hill to Martin's Bay
Camp kitchen

This is our cooking/living area - fridge with food, chilly bin with iced drinks. Electric jug and toaster; a carton of drinking water on tap; collapsible shelves to store food. Moon chairs for relaxing in; fairy lights for at night (practical AND pretty) and a low table for playing games and cards. What more could you want? (Um, my coffee machine? Too bad there wasn't room.)

moon chairs for comfort
Gorgeous Riverside cafe - Matakana Market Kitchen

Poor Ab Fab got an ear infection in the middle of our camping trip (poor thing), so it was off to the doctor in Warkworth. While we waited for an appointment, we headed to our fave riverside cafe (Matakana Market Kitchen) where the sparrows are pretty darn cheeky and the cakes are divine...

Cheeky sparrows want Miss fab's cinnamon Brioche...

We were lucky to have friends who have a permanent caravan here - they're the ones who introduced us to this spot when Scrag was a baby and we've been coming here every summer since. This year our friends had a new toy - a jet ski and sea biscuit! What an adventure that was.

(And yes I did go on. And yes, I did fall off. And then fail to get back on again. And then had to be rescued by a guy on a jet ski. And yes the kids did laugh. hahahahaha.)

Martin's Bay beach, New Zealand

Ahhhhh, this view. You just never get tired of it. It's like soul sustenance, and makes all the hauling of gear worth it, to be camped right here, being greeted by this every morning.

Like I said, it was not the most enjoyable restful holiday I've ever had. Being the only adult in charge of everything when you're living in a tent is not easy! That could explain why everyone else at the campground seemed to come equipped with both a mum AND a dad - I didn't see any other sole mums camping there. (Is that a thing? Do people think camping is just for dads? Do sole mums go camping other places? I don't know.)

Sole-parent camping is not easy, but it is do-able if you can cajole your offspring into working like some kind of team, instead of thinking they're at a hotel - no room-service or chamber-maids here!

Endless rounds of cards by candlelight
Coca cola, on ice, at the beach because SUMMER
Chair vs tide: the chair challenge (we did not win)
Packdown awesomeness (we beat the dad next door)

(Awwwww look at that - packing up the tent like a boss team!)

The verdict on sole parent camping: would I do it again?
Yes, I would - in fact we're already booked in for next year.
But next time we're going with friends, another mum and kids, camping beachfront,
It will be loads more enjoyable for me with a friend along.
Half the load and twice the fun, right? It's even in the Good Book...
"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down,one can help the other up."

{Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, NIV version}

OR in other words...
"Two are better than one, because if one tent falls down the other mum can help her friend put it up again; if one mum's kid is refusing to help with the dishes, the other mum can back her up; if one mum wants a glass of wine but doesn't want to drink alone, the other friend can keep her company and they can sip Pinot Gris as they watch the kids playing on the beach at sunset together..." 
{Ecclesiastes-ish, Simoney Version}
Yep, sounds good to me. Roll on Camping 2018.

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