Cape Town – A friend – a women of strong views – is adamant: she will not go on holiday to any plac
e where she cannot plug in her hairdryer.
And I know what she means. The daily shower ritual is as essential to me as breathing. The day simply does not begin until I have stood in some hot water, done my face and put in some earrings.
And yet there is something to be said for unhooking oneself from the daily rituals.
One way to completely unhook is to go camping.
This coming weekend, we are setting off on our annual trip to the Limietberg Nature Reserve, just over the Bain’s Kloof pass from Wellington. It’s known to locals as Tweede Tol and it is gorgeous.
There are campsites next to a stream under big old trees, there are stunning rock pools for swimming in, there are hiking trails leading to waterfalls – and there are clean ablution blocks.
So our house is now full of camping equipment waiting to be loaded into the bakkie to head out of town. We’ll only have two nights there, which is never enough. (Mr Zuma – could you not arrange for there to be a long weekend in February, the one month we can be relatively certain of no rain?)
I’m looking forward to the rock pools and the hiking trails and the evening braais – they are why we go there after all. But I am looking forward more to something else. What I love about camping is the way in which your focus and your energy go to small and particular details. At home there are a lot of things to worry about, all the time. When camping, you worry only about the step you have to take now so that the day will be pleasant later on – or so that you are prepared for some natural event over which you have no control.
For instance, our unpacking drill is focussed on two things: getting the tents up, the beds made and the kindling chopped before it gets dark . Everything else can be sorted out in due course, in the twilight, over a cold beer. Which means there is time for the quick walk down to the pools to see what they are like this year. They are always beautiful – but we have been going there for so many years (for my husband and I since we first started going out, over twenty years ago and for our son Jack since he was three) that we take a proprietorial interest in their wellbeing.
The next morning means a kettle of water for coffee. Boil a lot of water because then the dishes can get washed… and they must be washed because otherwise there won’t be any clean plates later.
Every action gently builds on the next, a kind of meditation on housekeeping at its most simple. This can be among the most restful things I know.
So Mr Zuma how about it? I really need more than just these two nights!
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