'Camping is not a holiday. The end.'

I just had four days off. Maybe you did, too.

Four glorious, unstructured, unplugged days to spend with my family and friends, playing, talking, eating, drinking, reading, relaxing…

So obviously, we went camping.

And today I am back at my desk scratching 20 fresh mozzie bites, with an aching back and a deep exhaustion seeped into every bone.

No, camping is not a holiday.

Don’t get me wrong, it was FUN. I got an enormous amount of pleasure from watching my kids tearing around the bush with a rag-tag gaggle of mates, free from the usual restrictions of school-bells, bedtimes, sporting activities and, you know, walls.

Small boy. Giant marshmallow. The sugar rush was a challenge.

And I loved sitting around at night with my friends, eating food we’d all taken turns preparing, drinking too much red wine and playing something called Cards Against Humanity. That was a dose of twisted family fun.

And it was kind of glorious to wake up each morning to the sound of the birds, step outside the tent to see the golden morning light trickle through the boughs of a majestic fig tree, a slight shiver on my skin as I cradled a warm cup of tea…

Yes, yes, camping has its upsides. BUT.

Camping is not a holiday. Because, with the best will in the world, a HOLIDAY should not involve any of the following:

1. A chemical toilet.

2. Lugging washing-up bowls full of dirty dishes up and down a hill to a communal outdoor sink where you will wait to scrub plates in luke-warm water before ineffectively batting them with a damp tea-towel.

3. Waking in the middle of the night to find a river running alongside your bed. Inside.

4. Towels that never quite dry.

5. A lack of a reliable cold water source on a hot, hot, hot day.

6. Standing in a queue for a shower with a screaming three-year-old who sees no reason he can’t stay salty and covered in sand for five days straight, as your toes squelch into someone else’s curly, black…

7. Sleeping on something on which you’d much rather be floating, sipping cocktails in an infinity pool.

My daughter Matilda and her mate Rosie embracing the great outdoors.

8. Walking over-excited children down to the toilet-block in the wet, cold dark night. Again. And again. And again.

9. Repeatedly fishing mozzies out of your warm, white wine.

10. Strangers hearing you snore.


11. A never-ending dance with a broom and a tarpaulin floor. The kids are just going to walk through it again, again, guys.

12. Your kids playing in a pile of rocks, and a man walking past and casually mentioning, “Just saw a redback there, love.”

13. An infestation of sandflies in the “pantry”.

14. More bags of ice than Walter White.

15. A sense of overwhelming inadequacy as you repeatedly pass tents festooned with fairy-lights, microwaves and lazee boys.

16. Perpetually black fingernails.

17. Being woken in the night to the unidentified sound of scurry-scurry scritchy-scratch.

18. Torch batteries that last 10 minutes at a time, tops.

19. Hearing the young people up the hill have energetic sex. Again.

I know, I am ungrateful. How lucky I am to live in a place of such natural beauty. Of easy access to the outdoors. Of camp sites in close proximity to bottle shops in case of emergency. How fortunate I am to have beautiful friends happy to spend four days straight with me and my insane children (well, until the whole snoring thing, at least).

How First World of me to be moaning about sleeping with a (borrowed) state-of-the-art, three-bedroom tent over my head when there are so many displaced people in the world.

I know, I know, I am a whiny privileged woman who just had four days off with her healthy, happy family.

But I tell you, these mozzie bites could push Mother Theresa to the edge…

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