Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I love not tramping

I'm a girl.

I’m a girl and I have a dirty, shameful secret and writing this post feels a little to me like how I imagine laying my head under a guillotine might feel.

But I'm just going to say it:
I love not tramping.

There. I’m a Kiwi, and a girl, and I love not tramping and I don’t understand why everyone loves the bush so much and I’m sorry that I have brought shame on both my gender and my country and can you please stop judging me now because I just can’t take it!

[p.s if you are not a New Zealander, then for the record "tramping" means something similar to "hiking" (it's nothing to do with being a homeless street person) and "the bush" means the woods. The forest. The wilderness... basically anything that is a vast area crammed with vegetation).

And yes, I feel appropriately embarrassed. But here’s how it is:

Number 1:
It all begins by packing a tramping pack.

This wouldn't be so bad if you got to pack fun stuff.

There is a rule in the secret tramping code that says you must pack it without any of the items that you rely on to look...well... good. I'm just going to say it........  makeup. Or the lack of.


Some of you are already snickering. "What do you need makeup for?!" they ask (or shout) in disgust. "You look fine. What the hell is wrong with you women. It's only a few days."

Here's what wrong. You have probably never seen me without makeup. Ever. You don't even KNOW what you are getting yourself in for.

If I don't wear any makeup, I can't even walk from my bedroom to the kitchen without being accosted by my own family about how tired I look, and am I coming down with something?

See that? And then we are told that we can't bring it into the bush? And we are just supposed to go and spend days without it, feeling naked and ugly compared to the wild deer with their lovely long lashes? We are competing with Bambi here.

Number 2
After you have packed the afore-mentioned tramping pack with boring nessesities such as food, you then have to carry the pack.

Carry it from the house to the car?

No. Carry it through the bush. The scratchy, scrawny, mostly-always-uphill-by-default, bush.

Why are you carrying it through the bush? Because that's where the tramping is. Why are you tramping deep inside the bush instead of next to the carpark on the edge???
Because that's how you do tramping. You carry heavy things into the depths of the bush. For hours. That's just what tramping is. Stop complaining.

Pack to Human ratio must be no less than 2:1
Number 3

You have now successfully entered the dark foresty depths of vegetation.
Where are you? Who cares - you are in the bush. The bush is the same here as it is there.
Come to think of it, are you going to be able to find your way back out? It doesn't matter, because...

...It's time to set up your tents!!!

Oh and it's probably raining now, which feels nice on your sweaty face, but not nice on your pack. Your pack is soaked. It's not waterproof because apparently professional-campers-who design-tramping-things have made it so that if you want to keep your stuff dry, you have to buy an extra bag thing that goes inside or over your pack. Did you know that you needed an extra bag thing? The other campers in your group did.

The incredulous faces of people with dry belongings

Anyway, it will take you about 10 minutes to wrestle with your wet pack enough so that the tent-bag is extractable. Now that you've got it, simply take it out of the bag and watch all the little bits fall into the barky ground. Whoops! Forgot to tell you there are tent pegs in there and if you lose one you are in deep trouble! Did you know that all campers feel highly protective of their tents? They usually brush them down before folding them away and get angry if you wear your shoes inside. But you won't know that because you are borrowing someone elses tent of course.

Whatever you do, don't get grass in the tent

Now simply follow the 50 simple steps to get your tent up.

It can smell the incompetence.

All done?

Now turn it around and put it inside out and it will be correct. :)

Number 4:

Your tent is up and you are envisioning a cosy night ahead, inside your damp tent near the spittering fire. (It is spittering because it's still raining. It took you several hours to get the fire started because of that).

Someone who is more into tramping than you has served up some soggy mash that tastes like vinegar and tomato sauce onto your plastic plate.

Typical camping fare but usually with slightly less hair growing off it

You eat it with a creepy utensil that is a spoon, knife and fork all in one, have a stretch and, exhausted from carrying heavy things deep into the bush all day, you begin to head to your tent - but first things first - teeth and toilet.

Toilet. Toilet. Hang on a minute...

Number 5:


(or pants)

Ok. You will know soon.

There are some things that penises just do better.

Oh yeah, and this is your toilet:

Possums don't like sharing

Number 6

So, you've got bits of bark on your bum and have dragged your sneakers through a few rain-puddles on the way back to your tent to try give them a rinse.

It took you a good 5 minutes to actually go pee because of the intensely strange sensation of being bare-bummed in the wild forest, in the pitch black, with possums lurking nearby. What if a possum bites your rear? Or some kind of lizard? (Not to mention the complications of trying to use any sort of female sanitary product in the bush. We've all heard of the risk of attracting bears...)

But the important thing is you are now finally empty-bladdered (if you managed to go) and can crawl into your smelly nest to sleep (smelly because all tramping things always smell like old soccer boots. Fact.). Or so you think.


Do you know what I'm saying? Of course you don't because I'm speaking Possum. Do you speak possum? No I didn't think so. Possum is the strangest language that exists, even for an animal.

You will probably lie there believing that a deranged hermit had come out of his home-inside a hollowed-out tree-trunk and is wielding a rusty axe over your tent. He climbs trees because he has been away from civilisation so long he thinks he is a native bird. Infact he was probably even raised by wild boar. And he is standing over you tent making loud angry guttural screeches.

It's probably just a possum but it could also be this.

Number 7

Ah the sweet sight of sunlight sifting through the trees in the early morning.
Moments like this make you almost understand why people go tramping.

Except that you need to pee again. This time without the cover of darkness.

Number 8

Breakfast is served cold because you can't make a fire out of soggy wet branches. It is served on top of the leftover cold slop from last night.

Number 9

Pack everything up. All of it. By the rule of physics, it actually is physically impossible to fit everything back into your pack this time, even tho there is no food anymore.
Just tie stuff onto your pack and let them hang off and swing into the backs of your thighs while you walk. Bruises are all part of the fun of tramping!

Number 10

Walking walking walking! Your favourite!

Again defying physics, your pack seems to have swollen

Oh and the heavy things. Carrying carrying carrying.

Number 11

Still walking. How come it was uphill when you came in and it's still uphill now?
This, also, is because of physics. Most areas of bush defy normal gravitational laws - a sort of bermuda triangle if you will.

This can actually happen in the bush

Number 12

Someone asks you if you are sick. You look reeeealllly tired and have huge bags under your eyes and blotchy skin. Everyone stops to have a good squiz and they all agree that yes, you look really under the weather. Usually you have such a great complexion and now you just look awful.

They should have listened about the makeup

Number 13

Hah. As if you are going to pee again! Holding....

Number 14

One of your friends who loves tramping will say "Almost there!" cheerfully.

Number 15

Walking walking walking

carrying carrying carrying

Number 16

Holding holding holding

Holding whilst dragging anvils and sand bags uphill in the rain, that is.

Number 17

Another person in your group will say what beautiful scenery you are passing. You will actually make an effort to see what they are talking about, but will genuinely not be able to see it. You can see lots of brown tree trunks and lots of mushy brown ground. Shrubs and spiderwebs. Crowds of leaves high up. Mostly you just see bush. Because that's what bush is - just lots and lots of bush.
View to the left

View to the right

View over the valley

View of the mountain you just climbed

Number 18

Your car.
You can see your car. It is a glorious, beautiful, shining haven of dryness and civility.
You remember there are minties in the glove box. And tissues. And even a cushion in the back seat. Best of all it will carry your heavy things for you and do all the walking.
Forget eco-systems, your car is the very image of all that is good and human-friendly

Number 19

You don't even remember what happens after this point because you are overwhelmed by the previous paragraph.

Number 20

You find yourself in the parking lot, your tramping pack somehow strewn across the gravel and it has stopped raining because nature is rewarding you for being back where you belong. You use the old concrete public toilet that has wet floors and no locks on the doors and no toilet seats, and you feel like the luckiest girl in the whole wide world!


I can't even be bothered writing number 21 - you know what happens next. So long bush. I'm going home and having the longest hottest shower known to man followed up by a dry towel, some PJs and a cupboardful of creams and lotions. And seeing my amazing, incredible, out-of-this-world-comfortable bed



Sweet dreams campers.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

B is for Eggwig

My parents walked in looking sheepish. "We've got something to tell you. Can you guess?"

They didn't usually make this kind of announcement so probably it was going to be something amazing. I had been gloriously spoilt throughout my 6 years as the youngest child  and got over-excited. Whatever it was, it was going to be something that revolved around me! I loved surprises! We were going to Candyland followed by a teddy-and-sylvanian-shopping rampage, and Mum and Dad had invested in a giant-marshmallow factory and we were all going to move into a house made out of a soft powdery pink marshmallow with squishy walls and I was going to eat the walls whenever I wanted just like James and the Giant Peach but without any fuzzy stuff or vitamens!

I was also going to wear an Eskimo suit made out of Eskimo lollies in all my favourite flavours.
And then Dad said "I'll give you a clue. It's in mummy's tummy."

Oh it was a game! I wanted the prize! I saw my older brother begin mouthing a "B" word and I was determined to win the prize and steal it off him, so I beat him to it. No-one could stop me getting what I wanted. I began repeatedly screaming the only B word I knew at the time.

The answer was obvious.

 I would WIN! I was so absorbed in eardrum-bursting squallor that I didn't hear my brother saying "A baby."

"I TOLD YOU IT'S A BANANAAA" I smeared it in his face. I could see the candy mountain now...

"No it is a baby"

"No it's not. Mum doesn't eat babies. There are no babies in her tummy"

"It's a baby. Dad said"

"It's a BANANAAA."



This went on for some time until my parents got through to me that yes, it was a baby. I was very confused and probably started crying. What on earth had they done to get a baby stuck in there?

The face of someone who needs candy
 And I continued for pretty much the next 9 months, because I was robbed of my amazing mother who instead spent all her time puking her guts up, or in hospital. There was no-one to do my hair in the mornings and my hair-to-Amy ratio was absolutely massive so I couldn't do it myself. Dad sent me to school in my pajamas because he thought they were my clothes, and fed us cereal, with or without milk, for sustenance...
He thought the pajamas looked nice

And then, one day, he was there. Eggwig. A pink shrivelled monkey with runny yellow poop and an ugly brown growth on his belly button. Wearing nappies that covered pretty much his entire body.

Guess what!

But it only got better - in a couple of years he was keeping us entertained with toddler renditions of "Pavarotti" and the interesting name that he gave his toy chameleon...

His favourite game to play was called "Infomercials"...

Bubblicious-o-matic 3000
  ...and "Uncle Edward" where I was forced to walk my teddy bears into his room one by one and make them pretend they were going to see their Uncle, who was the "Cool Uncle"

Being highly extroverted meant that having so much attention (even from stuffed bears) was pretty much the height of his existance.

I could go on but the actual point of this post before I got sidetracked discussing the quirks of a little brother, was that he was totally worth it and I forgive him for having runny yellow poop and chasing me around the house with BB guns.

Especially since he is moving to Japan tomorrow and the house is freakishly quiet without him. I hope he will come back speaking Engrish.