The Tent.

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In our efforts to become leaner and not willing to burden our family with the washed-up flotsam of our earthly but temporary stay, we undertook to try and ditch some possessions we no longer use. The clutter of our third bedroom, used as an office is where we started some time ago. All those papers stored, ‘just in case’ but never looked at again. Do we really want to look at old gas bills, or Water & Sewage rates and taxation notices? Out they went.

We had stacks of photo albums. Hundreds of camping trips when our children were small. Holidays on the South Coast dating back to the sixties and seventies. Many recorded by my Agfa Clack camera bought from my savings while delivering fruit and vegetables to embassies in The Hague just prior to my parents’ adventure migrating to Australia. That camera was indestructible. Colour films at that time were sent to Melbourne for developing and it wasn’t cheap. Later on a new camera was bought and recorded our overseas trips to France, Holland, South America and a still lovely Bali, with some of our best memories from Santiago de Chile post Pinochet, and Argentina. We kept the best of those photos now stored in a blue Dutch Verkade biscuit tin and chucked the  empty faded albums in the recycle bin.

We have as a matter of getting away from inside our house also made attempts at cleaning up our garden shed. It seems that order of things don’t last even without actually using tools from within the shed. Sooner or later things become disorderly again out of their own volution. We discovered a rather large and bulky bag that looked almost as if it held an assortment of cricket gear. Most unlikely. We are to cricket what a herring is to a seagull.

It was a tent!

The tent was used a lot on our previous life on the farm. We can still hear the echoes of laughter from our grandchildren who, with their mothers, slept in the tent on many occasions. They would take books and read with light from candles. Did we not all do that when young? We did. I had rigged up a battery with a small globe and read Jules Verne’s adventures under the blankets during winter’s nights with the windows all iced up with frost designed flowering shaped greetings in the morning. Dutch winters were still cold.

With our grandkids now almost young adults and us on life lengthening medications we are most unlikely to go camping again. How would we get up from the ground? I suppose by the help of a tent pole. Over the last few weeks we did leave useful items on the ‘nature strip’ at the front of our housing complex. The nature strip is a green grassy area reserved for Australian suburbs. It also sums up to me a kind of terrible dullness. The noise of the petrol lawnmower doesn’t liven it up either.  Anyway, it held our small enamelled barbeque and several still working electric fans. They were all soon taken. However, I did not want to abuse this nature strip too often, and decided on a different method for ditching the tent.

Last Wednesday morning I went to the Moss-Vale Returned Soldiers Club for my weekly indoor bowling event. I thought that leaving the tent in the parking area, no doubt someone will get the benefit of this still in very good condition tent. The tent is one of those spring loaded pole affairs and easily put up. It was also large, for six people and a shade sheet for over the top with a floor sown onto the sides. Years of designing this tent went into its production.

After arrival at 10am, I parked the car out of sight from other cars. I opened the door and gently lowered the tent on the bitumen next to our Peugeot. No one had seen me doing it. But…just before the start of bowling who would walk in with a large bag? It was Peter.

‘Guess what I found next to my car, Peter said’?  It was my tent. He had parked next to my car after arrival. Other bowling mates advised Peter to unzip the bag to see what it was. I acted just as surprised and even said; ‘perhaps it is a gun’! After unzipping, it was found to be a tent. I wasn’t surprised. He decided to hand it in to the office near the entrance where members are always asked to show their identification before being allowed in. When I left after the bowling was over, I noticed the bag with the tent at the back of the office counter.

It had found a good home.

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31 Responses to “The Tent.”

  1. Yvonne Says:

    I adored this little vignette!

    I am in the midst of packing, to eventually move to the Hypothetical Palatial Granny Flat, which is lurching towards completion. I don’t have many goods and chattels, but would love to cut back even further. Maybe a furtive night time strike at our local bowls club is in order!

    Hugs to the 3 of you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Here in Bowral the normal venues such as Father Riley, The Salvos and Smith Family all have signs only accepting small bags of donations. It seems that ditching excess possessions is getting fashionable.

      Our problem is that the farm in Holland included lots of very old furniture which we shipped over to Australia in 1976. It wasn’t a problem in our house at Balmain or on the farm but in our small town house, it just manages to fit in We have given much to our children, but… some of it came back again.

      I suppose, as we haven’t heard of any possibilities of celestial donations, (angels sit on clouds)we might just have to hang on to it.

      We are not going to leave any thatched chairs or Dutch armoires at the RSL parking lot.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Dorothea Jahnes-Oosterman Says:

    We had to laugh Gerard. You just ditched a tent. We just picked up 2 lovely tents from people in the village who were moving.
    We are ready to take the grandkids. The biggest hurdle is gathering them and convincing them it will be fun. They will each bring a friend now things are looking up.
    Wish us luck.

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      You are very brave, Dora. Our tent days are over but do remember the days when we, the Oosterman caravan would set off to Bendalong, kids and all during holidays. They were the golden years with days of wine and roses.
      And now,… I am pleased still to be able to put my socks on un-aided.

      The camping area at Bendalong is still in the shade of trees but the caravan section has been taken over by the council. Bitumen driveways, horrible week-enders with fibro-aluminium annexes. Sometime adorned with stone lions at the front. Week-ends filled with whipper snippers and lawn caressers.

      You take the grandkids camping, Dora. They will remember you.


  3. Dorothy Says:

    Another lovely story Gerard, but so true. We do have to prune our possessions as the years advance. But wouldn’t it be lovely if us and a few of our friends were able to go camping again. Can you imagine the giggles etc. I’m sure you can expand on this idea.

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, those were the times, Dorothy. In winter we would camp, heat red wine and infused with cloves and cinnamon, managed to wake up with massive headaches, but we laughed and loved wildly, abandoned ourselves.

      Now, I check and ask; how did you sleep dear? After the coffee we check rate of pulse and take our Pradaxa. I made a really fantastic lamb curry last night with spinach and lots of turmeric. This is as wild as it gets now.

      Liked by 1 person

      • auntyuta Says:

        We love to have heated red wine with cloves and cinnamon on a cool winter’s night. We call it ‘Gluehwein’. In Germany you can get it at all the Christmas markets. It really warms you up! 🙂


  4. auntyuta Says:

    What about your grandsons? Do they like to go camping? Maybe they do not have enough holidays or just not enough time or altogether not much interest for it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      The grandsons did camp on our farm a lot. It was a terrific adventure playground. Over 100 acres and twenty acres of eucalypt forest. You would not see them all day.
      Now that they are older they have different interests. Hopefully they might return to it as they get older.
      Even here at our townhouse the tent would be put up a couple of times for the grandkids to sleep in overnight. Camping has an aura of adventure, does it not, Uta?

      Liked by 1 person

      • auntyuta Says:

        I am sure camping can be a lot of fun, Gerard. Peter’s and my experience in camping is very limited. Peter always preferred to stay in a cottage or caravan when on holidays. 🙂
        But you are right, these days it is often difficult to hand on things even if they are still in very good condition. A lot of things charity shops do not want anymore.
        I am always amazed that a lot of perfectly good books are being offered at a drastically reduced price because nobody wants them anymore. Already, a lot of our books, that we did not want anymore, just ended up in the recycling bin.
        We still have to go a long way to declutter our home. I admire you and Helvi that you make an effort to do just this. I hope, one of these days Peter and I are going to do a bit more about it too. Maybe it is good to do just a little bit as often as possible. To me it is a very daunting task! There simply is still too much stuff we ought to throw out. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        There are more and more public book exchanges around, Uta. You bring a book and can take a book. A good idea. We give a lot of books to different charities. We also still buy books.
        I dream of a current passport, a house, a bed, comfy chairs, and table and some cutlery. That’s all. I can’t believe we have two vacuum cleaners!
        Camping is mainly for young people. My brother of over seventy is planning to go camping again. He bought a nice tent and has a fridge in the car to keep food in. As soon as the weather gets a bit cooler, he will take off. He also wants to try trout fishing. THis sounds nice.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. leggypeggy Says:

    We’re ditching things too. It’s a slow, but rewarding effort. Nice work disposing of the tent.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. gerard oosterman Says:

    By the way, Gerard.
    It is sewn onto the sides, not sown! Sew is up and down, Sow is for seeds.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Brett Stadelmann Says:

    Hi Gerard,
    I’m an ex-Melbournian currently living in NZ, and I’ve just started work on a new online project, a digital magazine focusing on sustainability and equality. Some of your posts would be a perfect fit, and I’m wondering if you would consider contributing an article. Let me now if you’re interested.
    P.S. Tried to make this sound non-scammy. Not sure if succeeded.
    All the best,

    Liked by 3 people

  8. freefall852 Says:

    Why does it not surprise me, Gerard, that you and Helvi drive around in a Peugeot…..I owned 5 Peugeots at different times in my life, one after the other..all secondhand..504’s and 505’s…lovely cars…and you could pick them up quite cheap in Australia…because, I suspect, the name was too difficult for the strine vernacular to pronounce confidently…the last syllable needing that suave “French swish” to finish it off….hence the shortening in many cases to : “Pug”… easy then to say as ; “Hold’n..or Ford…and probably explains why Renault never bothered importing their delightful : “deux chevaux”…

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      We did have a Holden Cruze. It was fine. Many years ago had a Holden ‘special’ that broke down on the Harbour Bridge. It was not fine.
      We had two Peugeots and like them. We have never bought a new car. I also never wash my car. I so hard tried years ago, Jo. It is so boring. At least with vacuuming, it produces a bag of dust. I always show Helvi this bag of dust and she is then showing how proud she is of her man.
      Sadly, I am no iron man. Don’t do ironing…ever.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. doesitevenmatter3 Says:

    Oh, this makes me smile SO BIG! 🙂
    Tent memories are the bestest! I’ve always loved camping! With or without a tent! 🙂 As kids we didn’t have a tent, but we camped anyways. Even some backyard camping…snuggling in sleeping bags, telling stories, eating snacks, watching stars, etc. 🙂
    I am so glad you found the tent a good home! May the owners make many wonderful memories in the tent! 🙂
    We had a relative pass away last April. After spending weeks sorting through and finding homes for everything and after going through several hundred photographs to distribute among the family…when the weather warms up, I’m going to start pruning all of our stuff, so when I pass my family won’t have as much work to do. Ha. 🙂
    Great post, Gerard!
    HUGS to you and Helvi!!! 🙂
    PATS to Milo!!! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, if there were two school subjects I would make compulsory, they would be camping and the sport of outdoor chess.

      Camping brings us close to our primaeval beginnings. Seeking and making shelter, gather fire wood and provide food. It is no wonder kids love camping. It is the awakening of our instincts to survive.

      I thought you were a camper, Carolyn. It shows in your kind and giving nature.

      Helvi too is a great camper. As a small child she and friends would make snow huts in winter and even have a small candle fire within the snow-hut. She, even today, still talks about her forest adventures and camping days in Finland.

      Getting rid of superfluous stuff is also very satisfying, especially if others are getting some enjoyment from our pre-loved goods.

      Hugs, Gerard

      Liked by 1 person

  10. shoreacres Says:

    And that’s how you do it. A very clever maneuver with the tent, I must say. Sometimes, things aren’t quite so easy to dispose of, though. I have a teak audio cabinet — the sort of thing that has a lid that lifts up for access to a turntable, shelves for an amplifier and radio, and room in the bottom for LPs. It’s a lovely thing, with a black lexan front. But, I’ve not had a turntable and all that for years, and I’ve mostly been storing shoes and Christmas decorations on its shelves.

    So, I decided to get rid of it. Unfortunately, it weighs so much I hardly could move it out of the closet and into the middle of the living room. But there it sits, while a friend decides if she wants it, or if her children do. If not, I think I’ll ask one of our maintenance workers if he wants it. If not, there are various charities around who will pick up donations.

    I liked your decision to save the best photos and dump the albums. I did that with things like childhood valentines and report cards, keeping only a few for memories, and letting the rest go. I still have a couple of albums of my dad’s stamps — full sheets that aren’t really of any more than face value. I found a local dealer who helps Scouts who are working on merit badges, and who sets up a “beginner’s table” at local stamp shows. He’ll take them, and make good use of them. My dad would have liked that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      My stamp album still sits on the shelves together with our late son’s stamp album. My album was given by my parents when I was around ten years old. The pages are held together by small screws and nuts in a book form. I concentrated on Dutch and its former colony of Indonesian stamps and present Curacao .

      We will let our grandson Max deal with that after we are gone. Its funny how, as we get older the monetary value of possessions seem to get lost in carelessness indifference.

      Those Dutch thatched chairs, what will happen to them? All our crockery and so many spoons and saucers of forgotten gifts and pasts?
      We are determined to fill our yellow recycle bin each week with things we never use and can’t give away anymore either. I have lots of spanners and many tools. They will go to charity and the Salvation Army. An electric drill inherited from my father and still working!

      I have twelve pairs of trousers including blue jeans. They too will be thinned out.


      • freefall852 Says:

        The taking down of the calendars.
        Dropped in to the workshop to pay my mechanic’s bill a while back..about six months or so, in fact..anyway, it was on that day when old Peter..the mechanic..was taking down several of those “girlie” calendars that were almost a fixture on the office walls of such tradie shops like Peter’s garage.

        I like those old style mechanics know, those ones with an old busted engine block or gearbox covered in oil and rags by the big doors..the loose chain block and tackle hanging from a cross-beam in the rafters..and the racks of stored bits and pieces of “will be useful one day” stuff against the wall..the welding gear, the drill-press and perhaps a metal lathe for turning down that impossible to find part but this one will be alright with a bit of tweaking…and the peg-board with the shadow marks of all the spanners that go just there..and still with the old “pit” in the floor.

        It reminds me of the days of steam locomotives when I was a kid. I would like to walk close to the edge of the platform next to the huffing/puffing locomotive just to get a whiff of that rush of steam from the front wheel pistons…that moist steam that had that slight scent of lubricating oils..whoosh!..lovely memories…Christ ..they’ve taken all the fun out of a young boy’s life with the beigeing of things.

        Which brings me back to old Peter taking down those calendars.

        I stopped in the doorway of the garage office..a small cluttered room off the back corner of the workshop..Peter had his back to me as he examined one large poster of an attractive young woman clad erotically and holding a pneumatic implement…the poster was an advertisement for a well-known tool company.

        I looked to the wall where this calendar, along with several others had hung for many years. The wall was now cleared.

        “Hello, doing a spring cleanout?”

        “Wha!..oh..hello young fellah…no.. no..” and he seemed to reflect for a moment..” I’m just moving with the times.” And he rolled the calendar he had in front of him up, with a sad..” Goodbye ‘Sadira’…” (the poster had scripted under the pinup ; “Sadira always uses a S….”and the brand name of the company).

        “So what are the new ones?” I asked..”A Pirelli calendar?”
        Peter sighed wistfully…

        “ new ones..or at least none with women on them…perhaps one from the grocery store..with pictures of kittens or flowers or more females…But I will miss ‘Sadira’…god..she was Vern would say ; more curves than a box full of Sidchromes!”

        I offered to pay my account and he slumped wearily into the swivel chair behind his desk. He pulled out the ledger and flipped the pages open with the red ribbon. He sat silently staring at the empty wall..and he sighed and leant back…a tad misty-eyed.

        “ I never got married, you know..nearly!..but not quite..That first one fair took my heart away..threw me for a while when she left and then I guess I never really got back the momentum to get serious with another girl until I suddenly woke one day and realised I was so much older..and I no longer had the hunger…or felt the need for’s the damage on that docket?”

        I paid the account and Peter rose and followed me out into the cool, darkened workshop..the brilliant Mallee sunlight outside razor-sharp in contrast. Peter and I gazed into the empty floor space.

        “ But times change…’cause you see, back in the early days, the only people used to come in here were the farmers with their tractors or the other blokes in the district..rarely a woman, and then only grudgingly as the place has that smell of dirt and grease and oil…so it was just par for the course to get those calendars from the travellers and such..and I’d put them up on the wall on top of the other as the years go by..just par for the course..But now women do so much more of their own business..arrange the repairs, discuss the mechanical problems, pay the bills..AND argue the toss on the cost of repairs!..and it don’t look good to have those calendars there any more..and besides, many of the companies themselves have stopped making those sort of calendars…they know as well…times change.”

        I didn’t have much to add to his I just grunted a kind of affirmation..and he started to walk away…then he stopped and continued..

        “… an’ I suppose a fellah gets too old to have such things on his wall…wouldn’t want it to get about that I was a dirty old man..women don’t like that sort of thing…but by jingo..I’m gonna miss that “Sadira”…just the sight of those lovely blue eyes at the start of the day was enough to kick me along..ah…women..beautiful creatures…( and he shook his head) ..more curves than a box full of Sidchromes…”

        And he went over to fix a flat tyre.


      • gerard oosterman Says:

        I remember those calendars well. Some of the factory workers had those pinned up on their lockers as well. Good tale well told, Jo. Thank you.

        Oddly enough, Australia was very puritanical at earlier times. When the play ‘Hair’ was on, the nude scene could only be performed if no body part would move. The undressing on stage was only allowed below a large canvas sheet.

        It would have been around 1965.66 and it was shown at the local King’s Cross theatre. At that time we were living nearby that theatre.

        At the opening night there were police on horseback with batons at the ready, in case of over-excited patrons unable to contain themselves.


  11. rangewriter Says:

    That is hilarious! A well-told tale if ever there was one. Getting rid of photos is like tossing lives into the garbage. I have a very hard time doing that, even when I don’t recognize the subjects in the image.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I have a good partner in getting rid of things. Helvi keeps the nice things of the past in her head but is unsentimental when it comes to chucking out photos that we rarely look at. She is unsentimental but yet full of feelings that are golden genuine.

      However, she does like to keep solid things such as vases, ceramic pieces, saucepans and the like, she loves, but…they have to be well designed and beautiful. That is the Finn in her.

      A teapot has to be functional but also beautiful.

      Liked by 2 people

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