Staying Sane




That’s what it does to you sometimes.

The Outpost.

It messes with your head.

So that – in the tiny space of the huge vastness that it occupies, unhinged – everything distills. Thoughts swallowed. And collected in the small void that home becomes. Where they rattle around in discontented irritation. Kicking their heels and sighing crossly.

Does that make sense?

It could be island fever. Except that this is not an island. Or is it? Not surrounded by sea. But by scrub and sky. And nothing. And miles and miles that stretch taut. To breaking point.

So my thoughts distilled to a potency that made me lose sight of sense. Lose my head. For a bit.

Trap too many thoughts and you will begin to obsess. You will. Unless there’s a way out. And often here, there isn‘t.

So Husband said, ‘let’s go camping’.




And let’s leave the worries and the frustration and the week’s disappointments (for there had been a few) behind in the Outpost where they can keep each other company instead of haranguing you and needling you to fretful wakefulness all night.

He didn’t actually say that. But that’s what he knew would be good for me.

So. We packed the car and the kids and the dogs. And we drove hours into the big blonde savannah that sweeps out in all directions and we struck camp and we built a fire and the boys shot a couple of pigeons for the pot and I walked and walked and walked and I felt so far away from the Outpost that I thought if I stretched my arms out wide I might fly.




Sometimes the Outpost keeps them claustrophobically pinned to my side so that I am straitjacketed by myself. And my bloody obsessive thoughts. Which go round and round and round until I am sickdizzy.

And at night all five of us lay in the same tent and giggled like school children.

I am worried, said Hat, (oh gawd, not you too girl, I wanted to say) that there may be a storm and if there is we will be struck by lightening.

And we laughed harder: Hat, have you seen the sky? Not a cloud in it. Sieved; a zillion stars.

But I heard thunder.

You heard the wind.

Which roared and buffeted and kept the mosquitoes away all night and tipped ash into our scrambled egg at breakfast time the next morning as I stirred it over hot coals.

Sunsets and sunrises that get caught, briefly, in the snagging embrace of acacias (or a girl’s curls) before struggling free (like me: I must go, really, I must) and big skies and the distant, gentle, rattle of cow bells and the call of doves and dust in my hair and the taste of woodsmoked tea.




Could there really be better balm for the soul?

When I got home, I found that some, not all, but some of those worries had got bored of waiting for me.

They’d hung around for a bit and then shuffled off to bug somebody else.

13 Responses to “Staying Sane”

  1. carol Says:

    Glad you got away. It looks wonderful. Even more glad that some of your worries have gone. Take care.

  2. Mud Says:

    Sickdizzy says it all. What a balm for the soul.

  3. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    thank you carol. it was wonderful. an escape x

    thank you Mud. balm indeed. I feel still today. as if a stormy sea has settled beneath me and I am no longer tossed mercilessly at its whims.

  4. janelle Says:

    ah pole sana babes…we’re just back from pangani. been a day or two and am already ready to pack up and hit the road again…sadly too many animals and things here to keep me on the hill….lots love xx j

  5. nuttycow Says:

    “Sunsets and sunrises that get caught, briefly, in the snagging embrace of acacias (or a girl’s curls)”

    I love this. What a great image.

    Am glad you’re feeling a little bit better.

    You know where I am if you need to dump your brain on me for a while.

  6. Grannymar Says:

    Like buzzing bees we need to ignore the worries sometimes, then they dissolve into the atmosphere or fly away to another field.

    I love the pictures you paint with words and those from your camera.

  7. Lindsay Says:

    I understand “Island Fever”. I lived in Bermuda for six years and us ex-pats found we had to return back to the UK once every year for a bit of a breather!

  8. Iota Says:

    Glad you could escape.

    People can be trapped by different things, can’t they? I’m not surprised you feel that way, in spite of all your space, and all your freedom. Even these things are relative.

  9. Tash Says:

    Sometimes your writing overwhelms me – sometimes, it’s not so much what you say, so succintly, so artfully, so poetically, as what you don’t say – in those yawning gaps between your lines which speak volumes, and that’s when can I feel how hard it all is for you. It’s so nice though, that husband hit the nail on the head this time and the camping helped. It always does, doesn’t it – somehow a kettle brewed over glowing coals, and the tea or coffee poured from it, always tastes better, and with it – so to does life. xx

  10. rosiero Says:

    Nothing better than camping to cleanse the soul. I ove being under canvas and particularly when it rains.

  11. R. Sherman Says:

    Your husband sounds like my kind of guy. Anybody who suggests camping as a balm for the soul is worth his weight in gold.


  12. Rummuser Says:

    Ditto Sherman.

  13. Mimi Says:

    Ditto again Sherman.
    I love camping, but at the moment have no accomplice. Hubby hates it, kids used to come with me for last week in July but now they’re teenagers they don’t want to.
    So I’m envious.

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 )

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: