Friday, November 04, 2011


It's turning into summer! This is great except I'm not really a summer person. Every year in about October people start making excited noises about going camping and I start ignoring them.

Despite the multi-faceted delights of running to the bathroom in the rain while every sandfly in a five-mile radius tries to fly directly up your nose, I kind of hate camping. Especially the bit where you arrive at the bathrooms, going 'ACK ACK THHBBPPT' and spitting sandfly bits everywhere, and suddenly there are four half-naked German backpackers who are determined to shower before you and use up all the hot water. And then you have to wear jandals in the shower and there is just something really gross about wet jandal.

Last time I covered myself in bug spray but forgot about that bit of skin that is exposed when you bend over and your t-shirt rides up (I believe it is called a 'muffin top'), and by the time we finished putting the tent up I had a sandfly bite tramp stamp, which more or less ruined my chances with the half-naked German backpackers.

Our family used to do annual camping trips! We don't any more. It is the combined fault of me and Gerry the Giraffe.

Our final family camping holiday was a) at Pakawau Beach Park and b) ghastly. My sister Kate and I, who were smallish, fought the entire time. We were little beasts* and I would not have wanted to go camping with us either. We were driving somewhere scenic when Dad announced that to get rid of the constant whinging from the back seat, he had created The Complaints Book.

It was several squares of paper stapled together. The idea was that instead of complaining out loud Kate and I would write our frustrations in the complaints book, and Mum and Dad would arbitrate later in the day (which did not end up happening).

I kept the Complaints Book - a lot of it is fairly standard stuff ("Kate hit me," "Ally pinched me," "Kate is writing lies in the complaints book") - but the incident which I suspect finally broke our parents' camping spirit is immortalised in its pages. It is the incident of Gerry the Giraffe.

Gerry was a small and faintly giraffe-shaped piece of driftwood that Kate had picked up on a beach during the trip and become peculiarly attached to. I did not immediately warm to Gerry, because he was a dick.

Grry's exploits are well-recorded:

"Kate hit me with her piece of wood."
"He is not a piece of wood, he is Gerry."
"Kate hit me with her piece of wood called Gerry."

Gerry was well-behaved for a bit in the middle of the book while a brief and ridiculous fight raged over who ate all the chocolate bits out of the scroggin ("Ally accuses Kate of eating all the scroggin." "Kate is scroggin hoggin." "Ally accuses Kate of scroggin hoggin!") but sadly he could not control his urges.

"Gerry hit me!"
"Gerry is annoying me."
"Gerry keeps hitting me."

At this point Gerry attempts to make some excuses -"Gerry was just being friendly!" and "Gerry does not hit or hurt, he only taps," but ultimately it was too late, because when you turn the page...

"Ally has thrown Gerry out the window!!"

I had! And we never went camping again. In hindsight I am very very sorry, but also Gerry totally had it coming.

Let's not ever go camping.

*Kate says I threw my breakfast on her, but I don't remember that so I'm pretty sure it didn't happen.


MitMoi said...

Agreed, Gerry is a jerk, sand-flies like nasal passages and camping sucks.

However, somehow I wasn't as clever as you - to throw Gerry out the window.

Oh ... maybe because my brother was 8-years older and wouldn't be caught dead with a Gerry-the-Giraffe in the first place. STUPID BROTHERS!

cerebral e said...

I know what "jandals" are but what is scroggin?

chris.dadness said...

Scroggin is what they call speed bumps. Pretty sure. (wv=emolve eg "early dinosaurs could only be happy or sad but later they emolved to also be capable of wistfulness"

hungryandfrozen said...

I love camping, but only the specific camping that has been happening in one place ever since I was a baby, not anywhere else and not anywhere where hiking would be involved. While we don't have showers in our bathrooms, we do have lots of gin and nice cheese and crackers and really nerdy wordplay games.

That said your story does ring true to what my cousins and I were like. Nowadays it's just gin and reminiscing and some light novel-reading.

Phil said...

I'm fine with camping as long as there is an ensuite and espresso coffee.

Elena said...

Camping and a fresh hot coffee in the morning. Yes!