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Rupert’s Rough Guide To ‘Roughing It’

By Rupert Truscott-Hughes on February 20, 2014 in Other

Picture: Con Jola

Picture: Con Jola

Over the New Year period I thought it would be a great idea to shun the standard brochure-friendly beachside holiday and book a cabin in the middle of nowhere in order to escape for a little bit of ‘me time’. It’s easy to argue that I rarely think about anyone other than myself, and I’m not disputing this, but it’s not often that I get the chance to get away from it all and really connect with my own thoughts. I now know why I don’t make time for this.

To begin with, log cabins in the middle of the bush, ‘off the grid’, are all good in theory, but clichéd romantacism aside, there are a number of bloody good reasons we humans have gravitated towards the sanitised, organised, systemised ease of civilised life. Thinking up ways to perturb a wily black rat from chewing through hard plastic to get to my dwindling supply of brown rice is not my idea of a holiday. Nor is having to stoke a furnace and tend to its unreasonable and unpredictable needs for over an hour in order to enjoy a hot shower.

Worse still, when I arrived at said cabin it wasn’t until after nightfall that I realised there was not a solitary match or lighter within the whole premises. What was I expected to do: rub two sticks together? Literally every f**king thing of use in the cabin required fire. Candles, cook top, oven, furnace, mozzie coils, lanterns. I can only assume that the owners were worried that after a little too much time with one’s self the temptation to torch the joint could become way too overwhelming. My only saving grace was the fact that I’d opted to have a cigarette lighter installed in the Porsche when I purchased it, which was good enough to spark up the gas cook top (the eternal flame as I dubbed it from there on in).

My discomfort was further compounded by the number of creepy crawlies that crept their way in from every crack and crevice towards the only light source in one hundred miles. Never have I seen so many insects in such a small space. All I can say is thank heavens for mosquito nets. My bed was the only area in the house not inundated with invertebrates, and so there I stayed for the vast majority of my vacation.

Lack of creature comforts (and excess of uncomfortable creatures) aside, spending seven days with little more than one’s self, a couple of books and a growing number of dark thoughts is far from healthy. I quickly realised that I love living in the middle of a big city, though I’m still unsure if it’s the joy of being surrounded by people worse off than me or the need for the constant ambient noise to dull out the incessant murmurs in my mind that makes it so appealing. Whatever it is, I craved its absence.

Needless to say, I didn’t last the whole week in the bush for which I had paid. After three days I was forced to evacuate after swallowing a flying critter the size of a small swallow and accidentally taking a sip from the cabin’s undrinkable tap water. And when I use the term ‘evacuate’ I’m not only referring to my hasty departure from my holiday abode. If you must know, neither end was thanking me for my decision to rough it, and I doubt I’ll ever make the same mistake again!