The start of something wonderful
Each year, a few days after Christmas, my family of five would pack our car and head up the coast to Depot Beach. The nine hour drive was a fine price to pay for weeks of freedom in nature with friends. Our days were spent swimming, playing, refuelling, creating inappropriate songs and singing them in the shower block, chasing the daily newspaper delivery van to purchase Killer Pythons and Nerds, and on the occasional rainy day, reading books in our tents. At night, we slept soundly, having exhausted ourselves in the great outdoors. I have fond memories of this time, and always imagined I'd offer my kids the same experience. Ben didn't camp as a kid, and if he's honest, would prefer to spend the night in a hotel, however I continued mentioning the idea, determined to show him how great it can be. I wanted our little family to begin creating precious camping of our own. Recently, when friends invited us on a trip, Ben immediately said, "Great!", and didn't hesitate when I showed him the tent I wanted to purchase. I think he did it for Joan. Like most children, she adores the outdoors, and the thought of making her happy was reason enough to agree.
The tent of my childhood was large, green and canvas. It felt secure, spacious and cozy, and I wanted the same for our family. My friend Vanessa, who had invited us camping, raved about her Canvas Camp tent, a big, bell-shaped beauty, so I followed her lead. The weekend the tent arrived, we assembled it in our backyard. The set-up was straight forward and didn't take long at all. As Ben and I secured the base, Joan skipped along the edge, announcing, "Hammer! Hammer!". I had forgotten how satisfying it is to hammer tent poles into the ground. When it was up, we lay inside and marvelled at our portable home. I told Ben I could imagine Joan having backyard sleepovers with friends in the coming years, which made him smile. We both agreed we'd made the right purchase. This tent is not a couple of hundred dollars, it's decently more than that, however we saw it as an investment in comfort and happiness, and a push to get out there and create memories - to camp often and to camp well. To help with the cost, I contacted the company and asked if they'd be keen to give a discount in exchange for some pictures here and on Instagram, and they kindly agreed. Well, upon Ben and my mum's encouragement I contacted them. I'm not in the habit of asking for discounts, and I don't enjoy doing it, but I asked politely and explained that I'd totally buy the tent regardless and they were casually cool about it all. I guess that's a sign to put myself out there more? Perhaps. Anyway, there's my full disclosure for you! If you're considering purchasing one of these tents, I want you to know that it is the bee's knees, and you will be thrilled. We bought the 5m variety, which is huge and gave us an incredible amount of space, even with our blow-up Queen bed from Aldi. I'm looking forward to making our tent even more homely on our next trip, perhaps with a little reading chair and table, and a cabinet for cups and pots.
So where did we camp? Vanessa found a stellar spot along the Blairgowrie foreshore that was an ideal mix of green, dirt and beach - the perfect, gentle introduction for our first family camping trip. On our camp stove, which we'd borrowed from my parents, we made meals of porridge (with dates and coconut milk), scrambled eggs (with toast cooked over the camp stove in one of these things) and pasta (with jarred pesto, spinach, canned chickpeas and tuna). We went into town for takeaway coffees and sipped them as our babes played in the sand. When the kids went to bed in the evening, we sat outside under twinkly lights with wine, cheese and chocolate. It was lovely. I'm pleased to say that Ben is now a camper. As much as I hoped he'd enjoy himself, I didn't want to force my passion onto my husband, so it was wonderful to see him "get it" on his own. Relaxing in a chair with a mug of tea that he'd made by heating water over the camp stove, I saw him watching Joan. She was soaking up every inch of space, exploring the bushes and running around the camp site in waterproof pants, a cup of water in her dirty fingernail hands and wet shoes from running in the water. She was in her element and we were happy. This is indeed the start of something wonderful.