Category Archives: Caravan & Outdoor Life Articles

Camping Chat: March 2011

This article appeared in the March 2011 issue of ‘Caravan & Outdoor Life’ magazine:

Getting the Set-up Blues

Do you also find that, sometimes, you arrive at a campsite and are struck by the blues, as you find you haven’t been allocated the site you wanted, the weather is nasty and things are just not as you imagined? 

You drive around the campsite, trying to find one that appeals to everyone in the family, and finally settle for one that isn’t quite right.  After the set-up is done, you discover you have neighbors from hell (two screaming toddlers, whose parents feel camping with a crawl-into tent and not much else will be fine, fits that category for me).

Once you are all set up,  and settled, you start to realise that the site is not too bad, the neighbours on the other side of you are great, and by the time you’ve had your first sundowner, things are looking up. Next morning, you awake to sunshine and find that the family with the unhappy babies has left. Holiday mood kicks in!

Sometimes, though, the campsite is just awful, and moving becomes a necessity.  Have you actually gone through the whole schlep of moving camp, because the one you’re in is so grim?  We have, once or twice.  A playground with a squeaky swing once had us moving – try waking to that noise at six in the morning, when you don’t even have kids with you! We moved to a quieter spot and left the playground to the parents with small kids. 

Of course, camping at crowded times of the year, like around New Year, is always going to be less than perfect.  As I write, I am sitting under our caravan-awning at Mahai, Royal Natal, in the Drakensberg, in a campsite facing the ablution block – I can’t even see the glorious mountains from our campsite.  The Reservations office assigned us an electrified campsite, which was already occupied, the one we really wanted had a Landrover parked on it and nothing else, but we were told it was occupied (really? are you sure??) and we ended up on a non-electric site, with two extension cords needed to reach a plug-point.

That said – the site has been great.  We have been entertained by the comings and goings of hordes of kids.  We’ve seen the antics of baboons on the hill above us.  We’ve watched the struggles of tenters with the rain we’ve had each day, while our non-site is grassed and shrugs off the huge amount of water that the heavens have hurled at us. 

We’ve considered moving, since our favourite site becomes available tomorrow, but will we?  Is it worth a quick pack up and trek to the other side of the camp?  Well – I’ll let you know sometime!