The Campervan. Are we there yet? Memoires.


When still in Holland we drove around in VW Campervan. Strictly speaking it was not but we made it a van that could be slept in. With some help from self-tapping screws, eyelets and wires, we fashioned curtains. We took the back seat out and with chipboard also made a bed-base of some 3/4 width, enough for both of us if sleeping in spoon fashion (or forks when amorous). We used the space underneath this bed for storage.

After our return to Australia I promptly bought another VW van but left it as it was with a backseat for the kids. What I forgot to check was the size of the engine. The one in Holland had a two litre engine, while the one in Australia that I bought was a 1600cc engine. A big difference, especially fully laden and towing a small trailer. The road that had to be turned left , to go to our favourite camping spot was still a dirt road and muddy after rain. During wet days it would almost take an hour to travel the 20km or so. There were some hills that were steep and it would not be difficult to find oneself almost unable to either go down or up those hills.

The adv. that had the young kid asking ‘are we there yet, daddy?’ must have been inspired by so many families travelling with children. The on-board DVD had yet to be discovered. Even that gadget has now been overtaken by I-Phones, pad and pods and heaven knows what else kids are now stooped over,  pushing buttons with a rapid-fire machine gun speed. Has anyone noticed how nimble the kids are with the gadget being manoeuvred with their two thumbs writing commands on that little key-board? Truly amazing. When I put my finger down, the whole keyboard follows or the English changes into Chinese.

We still try and engage our grandkids with the game of ‘ I spy, I spy, with my little eye’ and as yet, and most times, even the fifteen year old still respond during the trip to Sydney and back. Squabbling between young siblings inside a moving car is the stuff of family punch ups at the rest-stop, which can never come quick enough. Dear H is an angel during car trips and the punch ups usually prevented. If it persists we threaten a sound belting or an ejection from the car on an isolated bush-track. 😉

The usual squabble with grand-kids is the same as it was with our own kids forty or more years ago with…”Mum, ..mum, he has taken over my space and has his hands near me”. H. “Move back and try and stay there, you are annoying your sister.”  After five minutes of peace. “Mum…mum, she is laughing at me now, again.” The ‘again’ doubles the annoyance. H.” stop laughing at your sister, were are nearly there”. Again, almost immediately (and I am white knuckled over the steering wheel) Mum…mum.. She is yucky looking again and has her foot on my foot”, H takes out the expendable steering lock and swings it threateningly towards the back seat. It stays quiet for more than a whole twelve minutes. It starts again. Mum…mum…dad…dad… are we there yet?

Of course, the real cruelty is for kids to be locked up in a small confined space. Every time watching young kids, they hop and skip, move about constantly. They can’t even take one single straight step without doing gymnastics or somersaulting on the footpath. They are growing up and a car is not for kids. Even so, now there are electronic gadgets that seem to help somewhat.

Are we there yet?


Tags: , , ,

19 Responses to “The Campervan. Are we there yet? Memoires.”

  1. Yvonne Says:

    Oh, those were the days! Now, it’s me saying “Are we there yet?” Pay back time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dorothy brett Says:

    Another lovely story Gerard.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Julia Lund Says:

    Oh what memories you stir! You’ve just described all my childhood holiday journeys as well as the ones where it was my own children squabbling in the back and I was the one threatening: “Daddy will stop this car in a minute and you’ll have to get out and walk …”. What joy 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Carrie Rubin Says:

    “Mom, he’s touching me!”–Ah yes, I remember those days well.

    I wonder if anyone still plays the “Quiet Game” in the car. The game where whichever child is the quietest the longer wins a quarter. Of course, now it would have to be a few dollars. But it’s surprisingly effective… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Oh, we had all sorts of tricks to make the ride go smoothly, but kids got surprisingly inventive to exploit any loopholes and escape parental ingenuity. We had bags of lollies, games, even monopoly. Someone would win it over the other and some squabble would ensue. The best reward was the arrival at the camp side and they would just scatter, fall down a rock or get bitten by a bull-ant.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. nonsmokingladybug Says:

    I think everybody who didn’t own a VW Campervan at some point, missed an important part in their life. Don’t you think?

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, owners of VW Vans would dip headlights in recognition we were a special clan and approved of each other. There would be an understanding we were so ‘with’ it. Beards and bra-less were obligatory. The world was ours and we did not need Viagra.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. hilarycustancegreen Says:

    Very reminiscent. We had to make many long journeys. Our eldest had a 5 second tolerance for boredom. However, one halcyon day when she was about six we gave her the driving atlas and challenged her to find a particular town in the index. Then we taught her to find the town in the atlas using the co-ordinates. Happy hours passed thus. Our youngest was self-entertaining.

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      You are a genius, Hilary. We never thought of that one. ‘I spy with my little eye’ was the best of tricks and Helvi is very good at entertaining them. The kids love to hear tales of our own pasts, misbehaviours and naughtiness.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Patti Kuche Says:

    Are we ever there? You have brought back a fabulous set of pre seat belt memories when we had the freedom to play, wrestle, rest up against the back windscreen – a mobile chaise longue of luxury. My parent put us all to sleep on long journeys with the magic words “time to say the rosary.”


  8. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    The roomy van was not invented when our girls were traveling with us, so it was the back seat. Otherwise same scenario. However, when grandsons traveled with us it got hairy. Then real fighting sometimes took place, so we played musical chairs. I moved myself into the back seat and the other boy came up front with Dr. Advice. On one camping trip the youngest wouldn’t stop talking, so when we arrived at camp I put a gag on him and play-tied his hands behind him on a camp chair. We took a Polaroid of him and sent it to his parents. Our “prisoner”. One boy got so saucy with me on one occasion I climbed over the front seat and gave him a thrashing. A man in a following car gave me a thumbs up as he passed. No more trouble.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Our best weapon inside the Campervan was the ‘crook-lock’. It was a device that would hook around the steering wheel and the footbrake. There were competitions in solving the Rubik’s cube conundrum but also how to break into a car, hotwire it and drive away. The cars of today are almost impossible to break into and hot-wiring needs a computer hacker-geek.
      Anyway, the crook-lock was the best thing since sliced cake in keeping order in the car. Helvi would wave it around and there was no escape because you could extend it. The kids knew business when they saw it coming towards them,
      Good for you Kayti. We stand in awe.
      Now-a-days parents are such push overs and hoeing into them (kids) has long lost its strength and vigour. Instead they put them in boot-camps at great cost. Where will it all end?

      Liked by 1 person

  9. auntyuta Says:

    In November 1980 we travelled to Berlin for Peter’s mother’s 80th birthday. Daughter Caroline was not quite two yet. She was usually a good traveller. But on that flight in 1980 she went on strike. Because of a refuelling strike in Australia our jet had to fly different routes for refuelling. All in all we ended up on a 36 hour flight! This was too much for our little daughter. At one stage, after we had had to leave the plane again and again during various stops, Peter reckons it would have been in Abu Dhabi, we had great difficulties to get her back on board. She had had enough of flying. She did not want to go back on board!!
    Our twin grandsons easily got car-sick. When we were travelling with them up MacQuarie Pass, usually both of them would get sick at the same time. But they would always let us know when they felt sick. After various bends in the road Peter would have to stop the car at the side of the road. Luckily there was always enough time to stop the car before they both had to vomit!

    bu Dhabi

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Our grandson used to get car sick when we used to take him to his school at Gerringong via Jamberoo-pass. It did not matter if we went up after picking him up or down the pass.
      It was a very good primary school and our daughter sometimes worked at the tuck shop.
      Helvi went to travel to Finland once with two of our daughters by herself. A very long trip to Helsinki and then another small plane towards where her parents were living.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: