Much to the surprise of my friends, family, colleagues (basically everyone I know) and even myself, I went camping for the first time recently. One of my friends really wanted to go camping for her birthday and despite my hesitancy, lack of preparedness and fear of frogs, she insisted that she had everything and all I needed was my sense of adventure and something to sleep on.
Since then, I have discovered that I like daytime camping and night camping is well… Different.
Our camp site was around Berlang, 40 minutes away from Braidwood and yes, part of the allure of camping there was the promise of a vanilla slice on the way home. When the birthday girl and I arrived, it was getting dark fast and drizzling with rain- a terrific start!
We quickly set up the tent, threw in our sleeping gear and began to start a fire. The damp wood wasn’t going so well and our lovely camping neighbours came over to see if we needed any help. The birthday girl asked if they had any dry wood, they came back and started chopping up logs and wooden floor boards.
I laughed nervously and said “that’s exactly what I want my neighbours to have, an axe”.
The rain got heavier and the promise of sizzling steaks over the campfire were quickly extinguished along with the fire that we had just started. We had dinner inside the tent (cold roast chicken sandwiches with camp cheese which were very satisfying when you’re really hungry) and waited for our other two friends to arrive. They were only supposed to be an hour behind us but they arrived just after 10pm.
By then it was raining harder and we were very happy that they got there safely.At first I thought we could just all sleep together in one tent that night and figure out their tent in the morning, however it turns out that their mattress was huge and there was nothing to do but erect their tent at 10:30pm in the rain and darkness. It was a new tent straight out of the box so we had to figure it out where things belonged as we went, when it rains it pours. *hahaha*
It turns out that the wet weather brings out the frogs in the area… One of a few things that I do not enjoy being around so I started to get very conscious of closing the tent completely and was a bit jumpy every time there was movement. From then on, I brought a frog checker every time I went to the bathroom (my friends are very sweet to me).
I woke up in the middle of the night trying to rotate on a noisy air mattress on top of a stretcher bed. As I laid there, I thought about the bathroom even though I didn’t need to go and I felt I was psyching myself out. I contemplated finding reception, getting TimmyC to come pick me up from frogville and we could drive off into the sunset back to civilization with a vanilla slice in hand. Even if I really was going to do that, I would still need to wait until the morning so I told myself to go back to sleep.
The morning sunshine brought with it a new sense of hope. I could see properly now (my torch died on the first night), the rain dried up and we were preparing breakfast. My friends quickly found out how much I love prodding fire and burning things. I was like a little kid at Christmas when they said I could burn their tea bags etc in the camp fire.
You can take the girl out of the restaurant but you can’t take food blogger out of the girl. There I was, in the middle of no where rearranging my plate for a photo. Fried egg and sausages, soft bread roll with butter and a cup of tea.There was one cooked sausage left and it was pointless to store it. My friend said that if I reheated it in the fire for her, she would eat it. When I gave it back to her, I asked her ‘do you know what this is?’, when she replied with ‘what?’ I carefully chose my words ‘this is a twice cooked, flamed licked, tea infused sausage’.
There was a lot of tea drinking but in my mind I wasn’t going to go out of my way and drink anything that was going to act as a diuretic out in the bush.
The billy was constantly going to heat up for the next round of hot beverages and I decided I’d participate in every 5th cup with them.It turns out that ex-girl guides are the best people to go camping with. The birthday girl made a bivouac for us using fancy knots and a tarp, a camp oven and she also built a camp shower?! I started calling her ‘Macguider’, get it? Macgyver and girl guide, well it sounded much more amusing when you’re out in the bush.
For lunch we had wraps which I convinced the girls to toast in the cast iron pan so I could build up the fire again. Rice wraps with smoked chicken, avocado, tomato and cheese.Before it got dark again, the birthday girl made a camp oven out of a chip box, aluminium foil, aluminium trays and some heat beads. This was amazing to watch as I didn’t think it was possible to make a cake in the wilderness. Our camp cake was catered for multiple dietary needs; it contained gluten free self raising flour, Nuttelex, one egg, lactose free chocolate milk and a little bit of chocolate shards scattered through it. It was done in about 20 minutes and smelt really good.Shhh… The cake is baking.Ta da! All done!For our last breakfast, we finally ate the steaks that were supposed to be our dinner on Friday night. It was a hearty breakfast of sautéed onions and mushrooms, grilled tomato, steak and BBQed corn.
Cooking the old school way, on top of a fire and of course… The billy is on again!I could get used to these hot hearty breakfasts.BBQed corn is the best!Fast forward to the next camping trip (yes apparently I love her that much that I went twice), we made dietary needs friendly breakfast. This time it was french toast, gluten free pancakes with stewed apples, fresh berries and lactose free yoghurt.
People were getting creative on their plates.Beautiful plates styled breakfast using plastic plates and utensils.
Gluten free pancakes with lactose free yoghurt, fresh berries and stewed apples, who would have thought it made for such pretty breakfast.Gluten reduced french toast.
I was wondering if I could just go camping during the day, set up a fire, eat all day and then maybe return to a nice cottage or 5 star hotel at night, but someone pointed out that that would just be picnicking.
I was very lucky to have my first few camping trips with people who were so organised and excited about food (almost) as much as I am. Thanks for letting me camp with you ladies.