Thursday, January 17, 2013

Backyard Bivouac

Last night I had some fun with the kids in the back yard. We build a cubby house, or to be more accurate, a bivouac.
A bivouac is a temporary shelter made out of whatever you can find close by.
It's the middle of the school holidays and the kids have actually been playing outside and as human nature dictates they're obsessed with building a shelter... It's instinctive, if you leave a kid outside for long enough they will start gathering stuff and build a house!
I wanted my dinner but my eldest child started to throw a wobbly because I had to dismantle the tent we had in the yard. We thought about it for a little while, looked around the yard, and this is what we came up with.

- folding ladder
- 6 x 6 tarp
- two bamboo poles (taken from the veggie garden which was not doing too well anyway)
- 5 pieces of string 
- 3 tent pegs
- couple of cushions

Time taken:
6 minutes
Presto! The best bivouac we've ever made. Dad's popularity rating leaps from tolerated buffoon to beloved hero parent no.1 in record time. We actually had to call the kids into the house long after dark! I couldn't believe it!

Living in the  tropics I think this quote is fairly apt:

Bivouacking is miserable work in a wet or unhealthy climate, but in a dry and healthy one, there is no question of it's superiority over tenting. Men who sleep habitually in the open breathe fresher air and are far more imbued with the spirit of wild life, than those who pass the night within the stuffy enclosure of a tent.

The art of Travel.
 (Quoted by Tahir Shah in the book 'House of the Tiger King-The quest for a lost Inca City'. )

When I was young some mates and I used to sleep out in the bush a bit in a fairly makeshift shelter. Mostly made out of branches but we could usually find a bit of tin for the roof. It was a bit unnerving though when we discovered scorpions under our groundsheet!
Since then I haven't done much rough camping although I've been lucky enough to visit Elcho Island during the dry season to attend a Cross Cultural Mediation Program, where I much prefer to sleep outside under the stars than to share a tent with 4 other smelly participants. I've slept on the ground, It's pretty comfortable on the cliff edge or on the ceremonial beach sand after a few hours of dancing! Usually though once the tents are set up, I grab my fold out bed (Bloody luxury!) and set it up a couple of meters away from the tents and keep all my gear on top so it doesn't blow away when the dry wind sweeps across the island during the day. The nights are absolutely magic outside I don't get why the others don't do it. I always hear them complaining when someone farts or snores. From my bed I look up through the stars and into the eyes of God! True! Out doors is so much sweeter than indoors... unless it's the wet season.

Murray's bivouac - Flight of the Conchords
Bivoac.What a funny word. Kids love turning the house inside out and turning the furniture into tunnels, caves and of course bivouacs. I used to do this as a kid but if you're a fan of Flight of the Conchords you'll know that this even adults can have fun making a bivouac indoors. ;) 
Ever since I saw Series two, episode 4 of  'Flight of the Conchords', the word bivouac has caused me to break into hysterics! Actually if you're a fan this episode also has the song 'Friends' on it.

In this scene Murray senses that Jermaine and Bret aren't much into building bivouacs. He asks in all seriousness: "You think building a bivouac is childish?"
 They do but later you see Jermain perfecting the construction of the bivouac which they didn't dismantle when Murray left. I am lucky. As a parent I can declare the building of indoor bivouacs out of bed sheets and cushions as childish but still engage in the activity if I want to and even get points for being a 'Good Dad'. 

Ha! Happy bivouacking kiddies!

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