Art Studio and Life #41

Hello lovely family and friends

Summer has come to New Zealand!

“Now is the winter of our discontent

Made glorious summer by this son of York;

And the clouds that lour’d upon our house

In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.”

                   (Richard III, William Shakespeare)                                           

Well, that is us today, but the clouds may well lour upon our roof tomorrow, because this is Wellington, the Four Seasons in a Day Capital.

Isn’t lour a great word though? Meaning dull, heavy, sallow. I have been hors de combat from a stomach bug and am still feeling rather lour’d upon myself. So, I am cheering myself up by writing to you about random things.

But, ‘tis gorgeous summer, which has certain implications when you live in Hobbiton. On a glorious summer day there shall be Gardening, preferably with power tools (sawing down of trees, for instance), there shall be Sunbathing (they didn’t get the memo) and Swimming at the beach, and there shall be Camping.

Definition of Camping = spending a lot of money to live like a homeless person

New Zealand (= extreme weather conditions) + Tent (= flimsy / fragile / plastic accommodation) = big matata (aka trouble)

(This is a classy letter, Shakespeare AND maths! Just sayin’.)

I have camped in tents for eons, but that was in Africa, and even there, we had more than one weather event disaster.

On one notable occasion, we were camping with friends at a campsite an hour or so from Joburg. Set up tents, went for a walk and a swim, all good. Late afternoon, some purple clouds covered half the sky, but the sun was still shining. Then the clouds seemed to glow green. ‘That’s funny,’ I thought, ‘never seen cloud that colour before.’ Then as dusk fell, the wind rose, and the heavens did open, and stayed open all night. Within minutes, our small tent was flooded, our foam mattress floating in it like a sponge in the bath. The two gents somehow managed to cook a chicken on a wood fire under umbrellas (extreme respect and adoration) which we ate wetly huddled under the collapsed living area tent, where the kiddos were supposed to sleep. Our family spent the night awake, lying under the collapsed tent. The other family spent the night in their rooftop tent, expecting to be blown off any second. All around us, we could hear car engines start up, and then see car lights shining through the canvas as other families fled to their homes in Joburg. We were only visiting SA, so we couldn’t do the same, and wistfully listened to them as they drove off. The morning revealed a desolate wasteland of torn canvas and snapped tent poles. A few families came back to rummage for their possessions, but many didn’t bother. Well, that was fun.

Do I want to go tenting in New Zealand? Not even.  

I am prepared to sleep with sand on my mattress (because sand gets everywhere in a tent) in order to see elephants. I will cook on a gas stove, on a badly lit, rickety table in order to see zebras. I will eat from a plastic plate and wash up in a bucket in order to see rhinos. I am prepared to swelter during the day and freeze at night in order to see giraffe. I will get up in the night to wee in a box (if it is too dangerous to go outside the tent) or trek to the ablution block (because I have an ADHD bladder) in order to see lions. Yes Sir. Sign me up.

I am not prepared to live in a tent in order to see rolling green hills and the sea. I can see rolling green hills and the sea from the comfort of my own home, with electricity, a kettle and a toilet right there. It’s so lovely. I highly recommend it.

‘Ah ha!’ some of my camping friends will say, ‘What about a caravan?’

What about it? Like I said, I can see rolling green hills and the sea from the comfort of my own bathroom.

That is why I need my husband. He broadens my horizons. If, one day, he suggests we go on a caravan holiday, I will. If he doesn’t, I won’t. I will visit the zoo instead.

So, wherever in our beautiful world you live, may you revel in nature! May you see green hills and the sea! Or may you see foxes in the snow! Or may you see elephants in the sun! And may your tent not blow down!

XX Barbie


  1. Daniel Button

    What? Gardening in sunny Hobbiton with power tools? cutting, slashing, burning? Sounds more like the Orcs in Fangorn forest. You should be ashamed.

    Meanwhile, couldn’t agree more on the camping. We had the exact same experience camping in Uganda once, completely floating in our collapsed tent, waiting for the night to end. But still a worthwhile experience, for we were at a gorgeous place on the banks of the Nile, mingling with the wildlife. Camping in England?? Never.
    Although our children go out rough camping on Dartmoor. More power to ’em.

    • Barbara Podmore

      I know, right? Just as you settle down in your deck chair in the garden, some nearby orc starts up the lawnmower, weed eater, chainsaw…
      Give the kiddos time, they’ll learn.

  2. Helena Hatty

    I did laugh at your blog about camping, and husbands, our families having shared a camping trip or two in the past. Does ‘Desert Race camp’ evoke fond memories? (freezing, sand in everything and all night drunken partying-not by us) As I write this, dear hubs is actually researching prospective trips and there is a sodden rooftop tent perched vulture-like in our yard, the tarpaulin ominously flapping inbetween gale force gusts of wind. Such fun!!

    • Barbara Podmore

      YES! We are watching the Dakar and enjoying seeing Ross Branch in the dunes.
      Camping in England ! Jo! rain, rain, rain….