The Campground Family Loves…

The school holidays are over! This marks the end of the busiest 6 weeks of our year (although there’s still plenty of busy to come). We were very lucky to have a Campground Aunt and Campground Uncle hanging out with us for a good chunk of the holidays, as well as a Campground Babysitter and a gymnastics holiday program to fill some childcare gaps and make it all a bit more bearable for the Campground Kid. But, still, with an average of 250 people in The Campground every night for the last month, it has been tiring. And busy. And just really tiring.  

And busy tiring work means lazy blogging.

So today, a list of things we’re currently loving in our house:

  • Our new e-bike (more on that later…) and driving our car less often
  • Watching TV (Shimmer and Shine for the Campground Kid, The Good Place and Sex Education for Campground Mama and Papa)
  • Subway sandwiches 
  • Making alterations to the Campground Kid’s playhouse and our backyard to make it more fun and functional
  • Summer fruit (nectarines! cherries! plums!)
  • Reading (so much reading!)
  • Raspberry-Lime Frujus
  • Snack plate/platter dinners
  • Movie nights (soon to get even better now that Studio Ghibli is on Netflix)
  • Second-hand shopping (recent finds include cotton Moana PJs for the Campground Kid, bikes for both me and the Campground Kid, and some amazingly good value tramping boots for Campground Papa)
  • The drawings of Marc Johns

    An on-theme selection

Did I mention that I’m tired? Oh, I did? Well, still true. And now, I’d better go and put some stickers on the Campground Kid’s school books, pack some togs for her, and maybe eat a whole lot of chocolate.

A new campground

I haven’t been writing much (well, at all) lately. My blog is abandoned, my NaNoWriMo novel from 2017 remains just over 50,000 words worth of unedited scenes, my journals are empty.

I hope the pendulum will swing back to writing at some stage, but honestly, the past few months have just been busy. We’ve been busy job-applying, organising, packing, moving, and now learning a new job. We’re still The Campground Family, but quite a different sort of a campground. It’s in a bigger town, a town we adore and have always wanted to return to. It’s right on an amazing walkway, and right on the beach. In the summer, it’s going to be wildly busy. We feel so lucky to be here.

And in the two-and-a-half weeks since we moved, I’ve found a new(ish) creative outlet.

You see, the view from our (salt-covered) lounge windows is this:


And it takes us just a couple of minutes to get to this:


And it’s on the west coast, so the sunsets are amazing:


And they’re different every night:


And The Campground Kid just loves running on the beach:


And we love watching her and taking photos and enjoying being in this amazing place.

(And also organising a new house and learning a new job is intense, and taking photos is pretty easy to fit within the little snippets of free time that we find).

I miss writing. I miss having more time for me. I miss quite a few things, really. But I have a feeling that this wonderful place will play a part in pulling together the many various threads of my life so far into something like no other.

And even though it’s tiring and difficult at times, that feeling makes it all seem worthwhile.

(PS: if you like the pictures, feel free to follow along at

Looking in the mirror

(Today a wonderful Facebook group that I’m a part of hosted a five-minute writing challenge. The theme: the last time you looked in a mirror. I liked what I wrote, so I’m sharing it here, along with a couple of related stories.)

“Okay my dear, here you go”
As I pull pink flowery sleeves up to sweet chubby elbows, I catch a glimpse of a face that looks just like my mother’s. I see my messy bun. And I see my eyes rolling.

I realise that she, too, sees my eyes rolling.
She, too, sees through my false patience.
She, too, knows that her Mama feels overwhelmed by her big feelings and loud demands.

So I stop my eyes, mid-roll. I grab a big fluffy towel. “The towelosaurus is coming to get you! Rrrooooarrrr.”

Her giggles echo through the bathroom as I catch her into a big towelosaurus hug.

I’m not perfect, but we’re going to be okay.

Speaking of being imperfect, I’ve been finding the adjustment to our first winter for aaaaages quite difficult. I’m staying inside too much. Spending too much time online. And The Campground Kid is following my lead too much for my liking. She’s like a little mirror, and all too often she shines a light on all the habits that I’d rather keep in the dark.

So when my little homebody asked me to take her on a walk to the digger (we were having some work done on the park), of course I said yes.

She brought her teddy too.

We walked around the park. She climbed the digger. We ran down hills. I took photos.

It was simple and wonderful and exactly why we came home.


Sometimes her little toddler mirror shines on the things I don’t want to admit. Other times it lights up the things I didn’t know she had noticed.

A few months ago, in an effort to encourage The Campground Kid to talk about her day, we started a little dinnertime routine. We take turns talking about times that we were happy/sad/scared/frustrated/excited. It’s new, so mostly Campground Papa and I take turns and The Campground Kid just gives her stock “What did you do today?” answer of “Played inside and outside!”

But the other day, in the middle of dinner, she turned to Campground Papa, and with a quizzical little face she asked “What made you happy today, Papa?”

And after he answered, she turned to me and said “Nice curry. Thanks, Mama!”

We may not be perfect, but we’re going to be okay.

Working through.

On Christmas morning, we woke up early. But it wasn’t because of an overexcited kid. Nope, The Campground Kid didn’t really know about Santa, and actually had a sleep in. It was because we had to start work at 7:45am. Yep, this year, we worked on Christmas Eve, Christmas, Boxing Day, New Years, and quite a few days in between. Welcome to the campground business!

But actually, we didn’t mind, and for the most part, it was totally fine. I love the holidays. I love big celebrations with my family. I love Christmas music. But for various reasons (divorced parents, mother who’s a minister, living far away from family) I’ve never been too wedded to a particular day or a particularly traditional celebration. 

Christmas Day swim

We managed to have Campground Papa’s parents here for Christmas Eve/morning. And on our working Christmas, we enjoyed spreading a little cheer around the park, a swim, some presents, and my first ever glazed ham for dinner. We had a Christmas Shrub (TM) set up, a lot of Christmas music in the office, and for the first time The Campground Kid was actually interested in opening presents. There was plenty of Christmas cheer to go around. Then we had a couple of days off where we saw a bunch of my family and celebrated Christmas (Observed) at a glorious bach. We ate, drank, played backyard cricket, and watched the kids be loons. We had a little Secret Santa. We had strawberry cheesecake chimichangas and gingerbread coffee as the kids tore into their gifts. We did a post-Christmas tramp on the most amazing day in Tongariro National Park. It was, quite simply, great. 

Christmas (Observed) matching socks.

But it was also hard. We had to get everything way in advance to make it happen. We rushed from work to bach with very little packing time. We rushed from Christmas (Observed) to tramping. And then we went from a hot morning tramping to a windy drive home straight back into work and followed it up with the busiest day of the year. We were go go go go go. 

Post-Christmas tramp with our Campground Kid

It wasn’t working Christmas that made it hard. It was not having a summer holiday when all of our family and most of NZ were having a summer holiday that made it hard. It was trying to fit a week of celebrations and travelling and activities and fun into a weekend. It was having to be so much more organised than ever before.

So when we finally had a breather on January 3rd? First we sighed a big ol’ sigh of relief. And then I decided that I need a planner. Planners have often failed me in the past. And now that my week is non-traditional, I felt like a premade planner would be even less successful. So I’m diving into the (amazing, but rather more intense than expected) world of the “Bullet Journal”.


It’s not the prettiest, and it’s not entirely “bullet”, but I’m guessing no one really cares about that. In fact, probably no one cares about my journal at all. But I’m hoping that posting about it publicly means I stick to it more than I have in the past. And I’m hoping that it, along with the extra year experience, means I’m a little more prepared for working through the holidays next year. Maybe it will help me work through some other stuff too? I can only hope! 

The Basics


This is us; The Campground Family.  We recently moved from an expat assignment in Brunei, back home to New Zealand to manage a holiday park. We’ve never done anything like this before, but we’re all figuring it out together.

The star of the show is the small one with the banana. She’s two, she’s funny as hell, and she’s the boss in this house. She’s The Campground Kid. Her favourite parts of living at a campground are the cleaning van, checking people in and out, the trampoline, and riding around in the little truck with her Papa.

Speaking of her Papa, he’s the beardy one on the right (which I suppose is obvious.) He’s an ex-Engineer with a practical mind, and an all round good guy. Campground Papa’s favourite parts of living at a campground are the chill vibe, the outdoors work, and chatting with people as he does the rounds.

And then there’s me: Campground Mama. I have done many different jobs in my time, but most recently my job was staying home with The Campground Kid. My favourite parts of living on a campground are the flexibility, working as a team with Campground Papa, and figuring out how to solve the different problems that arise each day.

We are all loving being back in New Zealand. We missed the New Zealand bush and the New Zealand attitude and the New Zealand seasons. And we’re excited to be involved in what we see as a great part of New Zealand culture: camping.