Te Maika -17… BBQs and bed-times…. well, pre-bedtimes….

Have you built a fire on the beach and cooked sausages, damper, marshmallows?   A true Kiwi experience to be savoured…. Each year we would make the annual trek over the hills or around the rocks to “Barbeque Beach”.

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Looking down on Barbeque Beach.

Backpacks were filled with sausages, tomato sauce, damper dough, drinks, bread, butter, jam, honey, bananas, marshmallows, chocolate, paper towels, newspaper and matches and togs and towels. Barbeque beach was a sheltered little bay between rocky outcrops lining the coast.   If the tide was out we would clamber over and around the rocks, if the tide was in it was a trek over the hills and down a steep slope; the return trip home in reverse as the tide ebbed or flowed.

Once at the beach it would be all hands to the task bringing sticks and logs together to set the fire. The second most important task was to find suitable sticks on which to cook sausages and damper. Once that was all under control, the fire would be lit and left to die down until it reached the perfect heat on which to cook said sausages and damper. In the meantime, the children would scatter off to play in the waves, find caves to explore or check on the rock pools for swimming.

“Come and cook your sausages!” The call would go out and children would come from all directions. Sausages poked onto sticks, damper rolled around other sticks and tea would be served to oneself in five minutes or so – sausages inside damper and squishing out tomato sauce; or some would wrap the sausages in bread and save the damper for dessert – butter, honey or jam spilling out of the hot, freshly-cooked bread!

But our true dessert was something special…. Bananas sliced lengthways through their skins, filled with marshmallows and chocolate and placed on the embers of the fire. These would be left until one could see the chocolate and marshmallows melting and the banana skins turned black. Not everyone enjoyed the texture and taste of hot, soggy bananas but their contents were soon digested anyway! And then there were always the remaining marshmallows to roast on the fire….

Every evening …. games…  a card or a board game – no TV or internet or other such devices back then! And even when portable radios and CD players became the gift of choice for young people we banned them for a few years… “You might get sand in it and ruin it”….  Although the rule was not initially received very well and I was deemed not to be at all in keeping up with the times, any devices were soon forgotten!

The evening rule was “when you come inside you get ready for bed and we have a game.” This ensured the children stayed outside as long as possible to give the adults some peace inside and also to wear the children out as much as possible so they would collapse into a quick sleep without any shenanigans! A different game was chosen each night from the selection of cards games we knew or board games stock-piled on a shelf. And once during our week-long stay we must have a game of “Midnight” where torches were mustered and outside we would venture, under the stars. For the uninformed, in playing “Midnight” one person was “it” and the others would go and hide.  A spot was selected as “home” and the aim of the scattered would be to reach “home” before “it”. This game became a hilarious activity as ‘it” and the person running for “home” would trip and stumble in the dark sand dunes in their race to “home”.  It was not uncommon for certain children to forget to attend to toileting needs in excitement and amidst much laughter and having to take a quick break mid-game to change certain items of clothing!

The area around the bach where “Midnight” was played – under the stars.
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