Thursday, July 02, 2009

The Curious Incident of the Tent in the Sand

V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N! In the summer sun!
Put away the books, we're outta school!
The weather's warm, but we'll play it cool!
We're on vacation, havin' lots of fun!
From 'Vacation' © Connie Francis circa 1965

Could she have known?
It happened in a town whose name I've long since forgotten. Though I do remember that it was on the eastern coast of Australia, somewhere north of Eden and south of Sydney.

Friends had invited us (us being myself and husband #1 and toddler) to come for a vacation. The friends were a couple and I'll call them Mike and Molly, just in case they are reading this and decide to sue.

Although now I think of it, it is extremely unlikely that they have become internet savvy.

Mike had recently had an epiphany and had decided that all people needed was physical contact. He explained, quite seriously, that it was lack of contact that had driven modern man to have head-on collisions. Because of that, he'd given up driving his motorbike. Whatever ...

I was pleased we even HAD friends. Husband #1 was in the habit of "barring" people who didn't meet his standards. "He's barred," he'd say to me, about some previous friend who he'd recently discovered liked mainstream music, or drank instant coffee. Or had been five minutes late to an appointment. Quite disconcerting.

So when Mike and Molly invited us to stay with them near the beach on the New South Wales coast, I was all for it.

"Bring your tent and sleeping bags, but no cooking stuff as we'll all be camping in Molly's mum's backyard. We'll shower and cook in the house. We have other friends coming. You'll like them."

Sounded good. And so, come December we packed the tent, some summer clothes and drove north. We found Molly's mum's house quite easily as Mike, being a contact-kinda-guy, had written down detailed directions. We drove up and parked in the drive. I could see through to the backyard. I could not see any tents.

As I was lifting grumpy-from-the-trip toddler daughter from the car seat, a woman came out the front door. "Hi," I said, "You must be Molly's mum." "Yes," she answered "and you can't stay here. No one can. I've told them all to camp at the beach. We want our peace and quiet. Drive straight ahead. You can't miss them."

Back into the car. Silence from the staring straight ahead husband. Would Molly be barred? Mike? Both? I wondered.

Sure enough, we found them just as Molly's mum had said. You couldn't miss them. Four young adults attempting to set up tents in the fine white Australian beach sand. No sooner than they'd staked and pegged one side, than the other would collapse. Australian-style, the men stood around scratching their heads in puzzlement. The women kept digging.

We pulled out our tent and joined them. "Pity about Molly's mum," they said. "Bloody bourgeois what do you expect blah blah. Because of her we have no pots and pans." Or brains I thought, but said nothing.

We put up our tent - on higher ground. Were these people barred? I honestly can't remember. I do remember long nights as we tried to cook food for six adults and three toddlers, on fires made of twigs in the sand. I think we must have heated up cans of baked beans. Or perhaps we just ate them warm.

Fun in the sun.

Why has this long-ago vacation surfaced in my mind? Could it be because of my planned trip to Sweden which turned into Stockholm-Warsaw-Barcelona which turned into Stockholm - Riga? (Turn Left at Naypyidaw)

A lesson that should have been learned.

If something is too good to be true it's too good to be true.

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