Article Title:My Vinegar Hill diary
Category:Events
Author or Credit:Calum Bennachie
Published on:6th January 2009 - 09:32 am
Published by:GayNZ.com
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Story ID:6941
Text:Vinegar Hill stalwart Calum Bennachie reports back with notes and gossip from his eventful stay at the Manawatu's annual LGBT New Year's camping hotspot. Getting there Calum, Carl New Year's Eve The 31st dawned clear and sunny, and stayed that way nearly all day. Towards evening, it began to cloud over, and by the time the fire was lit, it was hard to see the sky for the clouds. I missed the beginning of the entertainment as I was lighting candles to make it safe for those men who wanted to take a, ahem, gentle stroll around the bush later that evening. I got there just before the first round of prizes were given. Best Campsite 'Lindy Lane' went to John and Shane from Auckland, while the tackiest went to Richard and Nigel, also from Auckland, and resident in Too Tacky Alley. Best use of Technology went to the display of best use of solar energy by Toni Farrow at Lindy Lane. More entertainment followed, followed by the announcements of the Miss Hospitality Awards. This year, the Camp Slut award was given to two guys, one from Auckland and one from Wellington.Brett and Matt, although I'm sure neither actually met each other, though they never appeared for their prize. However, the one who was most, ummm, hospitable, was Shorty, and she was named Camp Whore, although she never actually got paid for it. Unlike the two men, she was available to collect her prize. Some more entertainment followed, then the New Queen was Announced. Rise, Queen Daniel! Daniel Corney was crowned Queen of Vinegar Hill, and the mantle of organising the event for the next year falls on his shoulders. The Queen of Vinegar Hill is elected by the council of Former Queens, taking into consideration the length of time people have been attending and the amount of service they have provided to the camp. Some people provide a lot of service, and are helpful every time they come to camp- people like this would be in line for election. Others have been coming for years, but have provided little, if any, service. Such people would never be considered for the Queenship. Daniel has been of service for a number of years, since he first started coming to Vinegar Hill. He had provided, without being asked, prizes of L'Oreal products, and other goods, as well as provided services to a number of queens over the years, including this one as well as Marc, Toni, Jenni and others. However, he has always kept his help in the background, not expecting help or consideration. As a result he was elected Queen. Nevertheless, around 10 minutes after the coronation, a light shower developed, and by midnight had settled in- not heavy, but enough to be annoying. Mal Vaughn, elected Queen in 1986, and having attended nearly every camp since, cannot remember it ever raining on the party in the History of Vinegar Hill. I made my way to bed around 1am after a few Stellas and a few Carlsbergs, and the rain kept going until I fell asleep around 2am, though had stopped by morning. Hunterville's finest Hunterville Police were, for the first time, present on foot at the party, and stopped any trouble that may have happened. One person, not a camp camper, and not a local, was caught stealing a wallet from a tent (in Too Tacky Alley), was cornered and held until the police arrived, who carted him off to be a guest of Her Majesty, QE II, overnight in Marton. The Morning After The 1st day of 2009 dawned bright and sunny, drying out the results of the overnight showers. It was a rest day for most, needfully, though some were packing up and leaving. I convinced a couple of Vinegar Hill Virgins to go rafting with me. They had gone before, but only from the bridge, as there was a sign on the gate on the other side saying No Entry. They hadn't seen the writing under it though, which said day picnickers, fishers, and river access welcome. So we went almost right up to the furthest point we could go and floated down, over parts more tranquil than they had seen before, and over rapids rougher than they had seen before. Much more beautiful, and much more exciting. That evening we had another film night - Mama Mia - which was very funny, even the 2nd time round, but there was a little added excitement in the middle. Toni Farrow, a former queen, marched in and put the player on Pause, to the dismay of some. She flashed a search light around, allowing it to land on a young guy called Shane, who had been to the camp as a child, but was now around 21. He had accompanied his mother in previous years, and is not gay. He had brought some mates in, and they had stolen two bottles of Lindauer and some other alcohol from Toni's camp. They tried to deny it, but the evidence was held up by one of the happy campers behind them. Caught red handed, they left, to the jeers and applause of those watching. The movie resumed. But we don't know what happened to young Shane and his mates. Perhaps they too spent a night with the Marton Constabulary! The 2nd was also bright and sunny, and by the time I awoke at 8.30am, Carl and Val had demolished the maze, and were tidying things up. We had to wait on the grass drying before we could fold things up to pack, and we got their tents and the dining tent down without problems, although it had begun to threaten rain before clearing to sunnyshine again. If I had thought about it at that point, I would have taken the kitchen tent down as well as pack everything unnecessary up. I had not heard the forecast, and being all hot and sticky, decided to go swimming instead. I had dinner with the people from Too Tacky Alley, and slept well. Alas for not knowing the weather forecast. When I got up at 7.30am, the sky was overcast, and cool, but it did not feel like rain. I got a little more packed into the trailer, and had breakfast. Just as I finished breakfast, a light shower fell, lasting just a few minutes, but 10 minutes later, it fell in earnest. The green Gazebo and my tent were soaked through. Between really heavy showers and clear patches, I struck the rest of the campsite, and packed the car and trailer, finally leaving at 1pm. I travelled back to Wellington, after lunch in McDs in Bulls, where I again met the lovely Shaun, (who I had met earlier, and knew a cousin and uncle of his as well), and he served me with that delightful smile of his. The rain was left behind in Foxton, and Wellington was bright and sunny on my arrival. I slept well that night, and hung the tents out the dry over the next two days. What was of interest though, was the str8 family that camped where I had been last year. They were locals, from Marton, so knew what the situation was. They did, however, think the maze really was someplace to get lost in, and would be good for the kids, until I told them. They were also told about the adult entertainment, and there may be some nudity, yet they stayed. Afterwards, they said they had really enjoyed themselves, far more than usual, and it had opened their eyes, and broken a lot of stereotypes. Despite reports in the Dominion Post, there were only two pink lilos, and there was no skipping- talk about reinforcing stereotypes without basis. They said their son would have fun explaining his holiday at school, when they had to do a report of "What I Did On My Holidays". He goes to a catholic boy school. Wonder if they'll accept it without any problem, or if they will start indoctrinating him with the "those people" are second class citizens not deserving of rights, and the "homosexuals are intrinsically disordered" and the "homosexuals are worse for humanity than global warming" crap the pope has exclaimed about over the past few years. I wonder how much damage that would do to a child who was happy and enjoyed his holiday?     Calum Bennachie - 6th January 2009
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