New Experiences by Kim Robyn Smith

by Nov 3, 2020 | Past Writers in Residence

‘Well, aren’t you going to help me?’ Gennene cried. She wrestled with flaps and folds of the lightweight tent.
‘Why the hell not?!’ Gennene said. ‘And by the way that’s a rhetorical question!’
Phil answered anyway. ‘You know I hate camping, Gennene. You can put the tent up on your own!’
‘Grr,’ Gennene grunted as she tried to hammer a peg into the hard earth. Maybe he’s right, she thought. She’d gone ahead and booked the site without consulting him. Five Star Phil definitely wasn’t into camping. The kids had scoffed at her suggestion that they join in a family weekend away on the Rosebud foreshore. They suddenly had too much Uni study to catch up on.
Phil slumped in the fold up deck chair and sulked.
Gennene ignored his petulance and got on with the task.
Success at last. The tent stood proudly despite being a bit saggy on the left back corner. She carried sleeping bags, air mattresses and the overstuffed duffle bag from the car.
Phil decided he had punished her enough. He relented and removed the heavy Esky from the boot.
‘Thanks,’ she said with a smile.
‘I love you, you know,’ Phil said with a grin.
‘Yeah, I know,’ Gennene said. ‘I thought this was the perfect solution. Noosa was out with the state borders closed so…’
‘We could have booked into a fancy hotel instead. Enjoyed a nice meal,’ he said.
Gennene moaned.
Phil blew up the air mattresses. Breathless and puce faced, he glowered at Gennene.
‘Sorry, I forgot the foot pump,’ she said meekly.
With setup complete, they plonked onto the cheap fold up deck chairs.
Gennene cracked open a bottle of wine and handed Phil a filled plastic mug. ‘Here’s to new experiences,’ she said while clicking with enthusiasm.
‘Yeah, great,’ Phil said dully.
Gennene offered Phil the opened packet of salt and vinegar chips.
He accepted without thanks.
‘Well this is nice,’ Gennene said as she lapped up the sun’s warmth.
‘Yeh, how we gunna sleep tonight with that traffic on the highway. If we really had to camp, why didn’t we go bush?’
‘Shut up, Phil,’ Gennene muttered.
‘Nothing…At least we’re next to the amenities.’
Phil sighed.
A little girl with ponytails emerged from the toilet block. Freckles were splattered across her nose and cheeks as if flicked on by a loaded paintbrush. ‘Dad!’ she hollered. ‘Mum needs some toilet paper!’
‘Bit louder! I’m not sure they heard you down at Portsea!’ Phil belted out.
‘Phil!’ Gennene scolded.
The little girl marched off in search of her father.
‘Let’s go for a walk,’ Gennene said.
‘If we must.’
‘Snap out of it, Phil!’ Gennene stormed off towards the beach with Phil at her heels.
The bay glistened as waves rolled in and tickled the shoreline.
Families spilled out of beach boxes. Kids raced towards the water dragging boogie boards behind them.
A couple smothered in sunscreen, shared an oversized towel and sipped on bottled water.
Gennene and Phil headed up to the trail. A young woman struggled as her English staffy strained on its taut lead. An overweight runner in knee high socks and baseball cap zoomed past.
‘How about we head back?’ Phil said.
‘Just a bit further,’ Gennene said. ‘A walk won’t kill you.’
A relaxed Gennene and a blister-footed Phil returned to camp.
A tanned man appeared from the toilet block. ‘Hi, neighbours! I’m Darren.’ He pointed to his family sized tent. ‘We’re camped over there.’
‘Nice to meet you,’ Gennene said. ‘I’m Gennene and this is my husband, Phil.’
Phil held out a hand. ‘Nice to meet you, mate. Get dragged along for a fun weekend too?’
Darren laughed as he shook Phil’s hand. ‘We love it here,’ he said. ‘Missus is a bit crook though. She’s got the trots.’
‘Yeah, we heard,’ Phil said as he stepped back.
‘Not contagious. Dodgy servo pie on the way down.’
‘Poor thing,’ Gennene said.
‘With Sue laid up, I was wondering if you’d like to throw out a line after dinner.’
‘Oh, thanks. But didn’t bring the fishing gear.’
Gennene smirked as she thought of Phil’s non-existent fishing gear.
‘I’ve got a spare rod,’ Darren said.
‘Oh, umm, okay then,’ Phil said. There was no getting out of this. ‘Thanks, mate.’
‘Great! We’ll head down to the Dromana Pier. Meet me over at my tent after dinner.’
Phil rolled his eyes as Darren departed. ‘Think I’ll have a nap before dinner,’ he said. ‘Could be in for a long night.’
After polishing off a nice drop of red, Gennene rose to prepare a simple meal on the camp stove.
She whipped up a tasty concoction of baked beans, eggs and bacon. She grabbed out a few slices of bread and wiped a smear of butter over each. ‘Dinner’s ready!’
Phil materialized from the tent dressed in a puffer jacket and every article of clothing he brought worn underneath.
‘Sure you’ll be warm enough?’ Gennene chuckled.
‘Very funny. Something smells good.’
‘Nothing fancy, but as least it’ll fill us up.’
They chowed down after Phil whinged that it was breakfast food.
Gennene waved him off as went to join his fishing buddy.
Gennene marvelled at the magnificent sunset then curled up in her sleeping bag and got stuck into her paperback with the aid of the torch. She devoured the women’s fiction and was surprised when she noticed the time on her phone.
The tent flap swung back and a silhouette stood in the gap.
Phil stumbled into the tent. Armed with three large flathead.
‘Wow! Fantastic!’ Gennene said. ‘You had a good time then?’
‘Loved it!’ Phil said. ‘I’ll just go put these on ice and grab a shower.’

Phil took his left hand off the steering wheel and patted Gennene’s leg. ‘Thanks for the weekend. Our camping adventure was the best.’
‘You’re welcome.’
‘Oh, I’ve booked the camp site for weekend after next.’
‘Yep and I rang the kids… They’ll be joining us.

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