It's been another eighteen months since my last entry, hard to fathom really but life since the Eatery has been about recovery, rebuilding and re-imagining. Writing has been my main earner, being behind the scenes has suited me and I guess that's why the stories from Down the Road have been on hold.
Midway through 2020 - the year that stopped us all in our tracks, literally. Commentary about Covid is everywhere so I don't feel any desire to contribute with another online opinion piece here, except to say that the themes of recovery, rebuilding and re-imagining have never felt more relevant than now.
It's actually one of the silver linings of our recent lock down that has bought me back to the blog. We were finally able to cross off one of things that has long been on our 'fridge list', it's the bush valley camping experience and it took a Level 4 lock down to make it happen!
It occurred to us about a week into full lockdown that there was nothing to come between us and a couple of nights camping by the river at the bottom of our bush valley. Normally, if the weather is good the Orchard Cottage is booked and the valley is left exclusively to our guests. We were blessed with days of endless sunshine while in isolation so it was our time to pack up and go bush.
There were a few projects we had in mind while down there, every camp spot needs a bush loo so that was first on the list. We have future plans for a more permanent composting situation but this mission was all about getting the 'loo with a view' location and a structure fit for our first camping venture.
Miss 15 was roped in at all stages, digging out a flat site and helping with construction, some initial grimaces soon turned to smiles as we all pitched in and there was a sense of accomplishment as our little bush loo was moved into place.
The treetop view is great, beneath the Nikau and Punga, the rocky bottom stream flows so it makes for a very 'Zen' spot to do your business! The following day, some old building materials were used for adding sides and a roof to complete the structure.
That evening we cooked dinner on the open fire, and as the sun sunk behind the trees we chatted and played scrabble. The campsite served us well, dining at the big Macrocarpa table with bench seat that was hand-crafted over a year ago with exactly this venture in mind, and a large outdoor box that doubles as a seat housed our chilly bin and kitchen essentials.
The nights were so tranquil, we're accustomed to quiet country living but somehow the embrace of the surrounding forest and the gentle trickle of the stream below, carried us into a deeper dreamland.
Breakfast was the obligatory fry-up and while Miss 15 was cool to hang with us for a night, she opted out of the second night. So before she departed, we went for a wander. A steep side of the property that we hadn't explored before, we were guided by flitting, chatty fantails and discovered some beautiful big natives. Heading back down, we took the winding walk along the stream back to camp.
The next mission for this lovely little spot was to cut a new track and and pop in a new pew, that overlooks the stream and gets full water feature acoustics simply because of it's position. Perched into the side of the newly cut track, the seat was one of the easier tasks we took on, a couple of tree-stumps and a slab of Macrocarpa fitted perfectly into place.
Dinner that night was served on some vintage enamel plates that I'd collected at op shops over the years, they've been down there waiting to be used for far too long and somehow made the mushroom and sausage meatball pasta dish taste richer and more delicious than it maybe should have. Of course, that could also have been due to the two days of physical activity and clean bush air!
After dark that night, we took a torch-lit wander around to the new seat spot we'd created and just sat in the dark and listened to the water - it was quite magical.
Before we packed up camp and headed back up the hill, we discussed all sorts of options for creating a more permanent glamping getaway in this lovely spot. It truly does make for a great escape, nothing but the trees, birds and water to fill your senses... I'm pretty sure as we cross one thing off the list, there will be a few more grand ideas to be added.
The gratitude levels were, and remain pretty high after this little adventure. We are very thankful to have found this spot and to be able to call it home.💙