New Year is a code word, in New Zealand at least. What it translates to is an event, often celebrated in a small town, which temporarily converts to a concentration camp of sorts. People flock from all parts of the country to a few little places by the sea. This often results in overcrowding of holiday homes, overused bathroom facilities, blocked toilets, bed shortages, and excess alcohol, must I go on? It’s a recipe for disaster.
For years I have faithfully packed my things, all too often it has been for a camping experience (sorry to let my country down but I’m about as loyal to a tent as I am to the All Blacks). I dutifully forget a key item without fail, spend loads of money on petrol, food and the like, then arrive to find the hype wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
One particular New Year’s camping expedition comes to mind. We arrived to find that not enough camp sites had been booked. Despite the setback, tent city was great, for the first five minutes. That was before we felt mozzies at our ankles and became rather daunted about preparing dinner with caveman cooking techniques. We attempted erecting the tent, then found that our air mattress purchased that morning was in fact a single, not a double. To top it off, the air did not like staying in the mattress and we were touching the ground before we knew it.
That was enough for me. The next morning, I secretly booked us the last available motel room across the road. I mysteriously vanished from tent city, along with my partner in crime throughout the day to watch TV, cook a meal on a real stove, and have a warm shower. Our large group of fellow campers were none the wiser. Needless to say that come New Year, we were feeling more rested and festive and had a splendid night. Not as good as the married women with children though. After angrily quieting us down earlier on, they were the last up while their husbands watched the children. I drowned their girlish laughter out with a sleeping pill.
When you’re young it’s a thrill to experience freedom and fun over new years. When you get to my age though, it’s all been done before. For the first hours of a new year, I now enjoy celebrations of the minimal fuss variety then happily I retreat to the comfort of my own bed. Most times, I even wake up without a headache. I think I’ve finally cracked the code.