The last time the children and I went away in a camper van it was a small van, with a double bed, no toilet, and a two burner stove.
We went to a delightful little camping ground just north of Palmerston North, in the Pohangina Valley.
I thought we’d park up and the kids would start climbing trees and I would sit in my deck chair reading books whilst drinking gin and tonics.
Then, in the middle of all this camping glory, I got my period. Let me see a show of hands for all the women in the audience who have had this happen.
It hurt. The toilet was ages away. Sometimes, that shit is urgent. I was grumpy. The kids fought. The kids needed me, for everything. “Mum, there’s a fly on my hand.” “MUM!!! THERE’S A FLY ON MY HAAAAAAAAAAAAND.”
All I wanted to do was curl into a ball in the sun and have a little time to myself. Instead, we all pissed each other off, immensely. Joss was about 14 months old at the time. When I look back at the photos I think, “Naw!! how could I have been so grumpy at her??” But I really was.
One of the days I bundled us all back into the van and headed off to do a walk. I was determined to do something other than sit around the camping ground being grumpy. It actually worked. We had about four hours of pleasantness, and a picnic in the dappled light of some… I think the were gum trees. The photo of the three of us was taken on this walk.
If you’ve read the About section, you’ll know we’re planning on buying a camper van and taking off for the summer. This afternoon I was clearing out the kitchen cupboards – one of a long list of things to do before we hit the road. At the top of that list is Buy A Camper Van. Anyway, I took the sauerkraut crock out of the kitchen cupboards and checked it for mould – didn’t have any, Yuss! And then I thought about what I should do with it. I love my crock, it was made by a lovely friend of mine. It hasn’t had any use since… probably March. But, I thought, when we’re in the camper van, I’ll have so much more time! When the kids are off climbing in trees and chasing rainbows, I’ll be able to sit quietly at the table and chop up cabbage til my hands go wrinkly.
I’m ok if there’s sniggering at your end.
My other fantasies about living in a camper van for the summer are:
That I will have an endless supply of breezy linen tops
and cool, frayed jean shorts,
and gorgeous tanned legs.
I will be just the right amount of hot, and all the windows will open and there’ll be bug netting on all of them.
I won’t ever be kept awake by the whine of a (fucking) mosquito.
We will park next to a lot of waterfalls.
All the toilets will be clean.
All the children we meet will be gentle, and kind, and not freak out if my son has his hair in a French plait.
The children I bring with me will not fight.
We will enjoy charming adventures across swing bridges to see glow bugs and more waterfalls, and maybe an old artefact that will make such an impression on their impressionable minds that they’ll remember it for ever as “That time we went for that walk across the swing bridge.”
Dinners will be easy, and effortless, and the children will eat it all and be amazed at my culinary prowess in the face of a two burner stove and no oven.
The dog will stop shedding.
My husband will come and join us and we’ll sleep outside, naked under the stars. Still with no whining mosquitoes.
Tui Balms will sponsor me because I will basically bathe in their anti-bug cream, every day, several times a day.
2017-18 will be the most epic summer yet. I’d like about 32ºC please, most days.
That the photos will be fabulous, the videos legendary, and that by the time we get back to civilisation You Tube will have been trying to get in touch for weeks to ask where they should send the gigantic cheque.
That, in a way I’ve never been able to achieve in my life thus far, my tea towels, my duvet cover, my pots and pans and my crockery will all charmingly mis-match and yet look like it was all meant to be. And they’ll be perpetually neat. With no sand anywhere.
As you can see, this trip is all about exploring the natural world on our eastern-most doorstep. It’s about expanding my children’s world, and giving them a sense of place in it. It’s about them. Really.