Shoo, it feels like I haven’t written in ages. Truth be told, for almost the entire month of March, all my time was spent preparing for an exam (required by law) for my work. This took up a huge amount of my time and energy seeing that I only gave myself a month before I wrote it and it left me feeling exhausted and drained. Although I would have loved to have spent time writing – which I do love – I just didn’t have the time or the energy. The one thing that kept me motivated while I was studying was knowing that when it was done and dusted, my family and I were heading to Kleinmond for a camping weekend breakaway.
We are no strangers to camping. As a family, we try and camp every year over the Christmas holidays and most years we manage to stick to this tradition. Last month, we decided to add Palmiet Caravan Park to the list of our family camping experiences.
When we arrived in Kleinmond just after 4pm the Friday evening (because Noel had to work that day), it was drizzling and I was dreading pitching a tent in the rain. But it was only a soft drizzle and in no time the tent was up and we were ready to get our camping weekend on 😊. I actually think that the rain added a little something to this experience – we’ve always camped in summer and I don’t ever recall having to pitch in rainy weather. It really wasn’t half as bad as I expected it to be and honestly, the dreaded idea of a downpour happening at any moment gave us extra oomph to get it done in a hurry.
Once all the bags were unpacked and the mattresses inflated, it was time to relax. The rain didn’t last very long and before we knew it, the sky was clear. Nightfall came quickly and the heat of a heart-warming campfire was needed. We spent the rest of the evening around that fire. Comfortably nestled in our camp chairs while warming hands on the open flames – this is what camping is about. My dad told us some ghost stories, while we made delicious marshmallow treats for the kids ( and me of course). The men had their own treats – hot cross buns with cheese melted over the fire. Because the camping site is a mere two-minute walk to the beach, all you heard in the dead of the night was the ocean roaring below and the wood crackling as the flames devoured it. The stars in the sky looked like sparkling diamonds and because the caravan park isn’t too brightly lit, they seemed like we could pick them one by one out of the sky. So many childhood memories came flooding back to me. As a child, we camped very often and I remember so clearly lying on the ground at night in awe of the galaxy above. There is so much more out there – more than we can ever imagine 😊
The first night of camp is always the worst to retire from. We were all tired from the busy day, but so much wanted to make the most of our first night there. There is just something calming about the fact that we were far away from home. No television, no cars or taxis, no noise. With it being Autumn, the campsite wasn’t full at all, so it was fairly quiet. I loved it because we could fully enjoy each other’s company while allowing the sound of nature to remind us that we are far, far away from home 😊. I’m not sure what time my mind finally surrendered to my tired body, but I know that at 2.45am Noel and Peter were still standing outside, by the what was now an excuse for a campfire!
The Saturday morning was supposed to be for sleeping in – after all we were on camp with no alarm clocks in sight. But my three year old niece would have nothing of that. At 7am she woke all of us, including Ma and Pa with her version of Ba Ba Black Sheep. Although we were being pressurised to rise and shine by this “angelic” voice, we just laid there for a little while. Birds in the trees, seagulls on the beach and the ocean waves gently crashing on the shore – this was all we heard and it was absolutely breath-taking. I had a happy heart – grateful to be able to spend a weekend away with my family and grateful for the beautiful way nature reminds us to slow down.
Our morning started off with a delicious breakfast – made camp style of course – scrambled eggs, bacon, viennas, fried tomatoes, toast and a hot cup of coffee. With our stomachs fully lined, we were ready for the adventures that lied ahead. We decided to spend some time down at the beach because the weather turned out so beautifully. There was a slight breeze that gently brought relief to the warmth of the Autumn sun. I was quite surprised that the weather turned out that well seeing that Summer had kissed us goodbye a few weeks back already, but we were not complaining. Strolling along the beach, shoes off, feet in the icy water – it was now time to decide where were going to cop a squat for the day. This proved to be difficult – a choice between the beautiful and calm ocean on the one side and the serene Palmiet River on the other side…a hard choice in my book. Eventually we settled on a spot that was both close to the beach and gave us an uninterrupted view of the river.
The kids played in the shallow pools nestled between the rocks and even managed to catch a fish or two. It was so cute to watch them – they got all excited every time they saw a fish. They were learning while having fun – isn’t that the way it is supposed to be? My dad, being the true adventurer that he is, explored the huge rocks that protected him from the treacherous ocean below. I’m glad my Dad has this fearless spirit, it teaches the little ones to be adventurous and explore what mother nature has to offer – give that Xbox a break 😊. My Mom thoroughly enjoyed her “me time” on the soft white sands as everyone found something to occupy themselves and gave her some much-needed peace. I couldn’t get enough of watching the birdlife that frequented the river and then spent some time in the shallow waves. Jeans wet up to the knees, but I couldn’t care. The best things in life truly are for free 😊.
After spending the better part of the day down at the beach, we retreated to base camp for lunch. All the activities of the morning left us rather peckish. The kids played games while my dad was getting his fishing gear ready for an attempt to catch something for supper that night. Late afternoon, I went back down to the beach hoping to get some reading in while my Dad, Peter and the boys tried their hand at casting some lines. It was much chillier than it was earlier the day. The wind had picked up and a thin film of mist was now making its way across the ocean. This didn’t prove to be a deterrent for anyone there. People were walking their dogs on the beach, couples walking hand in hand, enjoying the freedom of nature and the refreshing ocean breeze. I witnessed one of the most amazing sunsets that night. The sky was a myriad of grey, blue, orange and yellow all blended together perfectly – a true ocean sunset. I didn’t get much reading done – the beauty of my surroundings captivated me and I was transported to another place and time. Soon it was time to head on back to camp, although no one was lucky enough to have caught anything. Still, sitting there witnessing three generations of fishermen casting their lines and hoping for the best, it’s a memory I’m not likely to forget. My Dad, he has the patience of an elephant. He was really looking forward to this fishing experience, but when Liam, Jarred’s friend, needed some help with his line, my Dad unselfishly left his own rod and imparted some wise words to the next generation. It was heart-warming to witness this.
When we arrived back at camp, Noel had prepared a feast fit for a king. Noel loves braaiing and so it was no surprise that we were in for a real treat. We all sat around the fire enjoying a delicious meal joking about the fact that no-one caught a single fish among the four fishermen! After supper, the camp seemed to have “come alive”. We could hear different kinds of music playing as people let their hair down and enjoyed the freedom that comes with camp life. We were no exception – some old-school jams were the order of the day at our camp. We all smiled constantly as the memories that each song brought back was different for all of us – it was good to reminisce. Jarred and Liam retired early that night for some games inside the tent, but Maddy refused to give the adults any peace and stayed up with us as we enjoyed another night at camp, underneath the stars, without a breath of wind. Noel and Peter and surprisingly my Dad too, went out with a bang seeing that it was our last night there. I was way too tired from all the day’s activities and said goodnight just before midnight. I fell asleep to the sound of the men joking around the campfire. Again – a happy heart. It makes me happy when my family is happy.
The next morning, we were up early again, but even if we wanted to sleep in, the sun streams into the tent and the sound of the ocean is just too inviting not to be outdoors. The sunrise that morning was magical. After all the packing was done, it was a sad goodbye to a wonderful camp weekend. Pleasant family memories were made and time well spent. My time out in nature was exactly what I needed after my exam and having the people I love and care about around me, well, that was the cherry on the top.
Palmiet Caravan Park, I found to be a pleasant place to camp and it will definitely not be the last time that it sees us. The sites are nicely spaced allowing just enough privacy to feel like “home” . The toilets are clean and well maintained and the fact that you can only gain access to the campsite through security controlled gates, put our safety concerns at bay. There is also a small park in the middle of the campsite providing activities for the kids and a small grass patch for soccer games, both of which the adults were most appreciate of. The beach is a mere two-minute walk down and boasts clean, untouched sands. But the best part is the Palmiet River is just a little further down. There is nothing glamorous about camping, but it’s not supposed to be. Camping allows you to let your hair down and just enjoy the simple things in life without the pressures of the world. That’s what I love about it! If you love being in nature as much as I do, you may enjoy camping in Kleinmond. I know that my family and I did 😊.
“Cold Air, Dark Night, Warm Fire, Bright Stars”. – Author Unknown