I think I'm fitted with 12-month goldfish memory when it comes to the Highlands. When the days get long and our neighbours turn an alarming shade of terracotta, once more my thoughts turn to soaring mountains, campfires and snuggly sleeping bags. Twelve months is long enough to think that camping is a great idea. Twelve months is long enough to erase the memory of the most evil of all insects – the Scottish midge.
On Friday night we packed up the tent and the veggie sausages and headed back to Glen Etive. The weather forecast was good, with no chance of our campsite being turned into an island by torrential rain like last year. The sun was shining when we arrived and chose an extremely stunning spot.
Miraculously we managed to get the tent up before the midges arrived in a black cloud. I'd stuuupidly left my trusty Avon Skin-So-Soft repellent at home, but I thought I'd be okay with my gloves, long sleeves and had my jeans tucked into my socks. Best of all we both had these sexy new midge hats. Sure we looked like beekeepers in mourning, and we could barely see each other or the gorgeous scenery. But at least the bugs couldn't crawl up our nostrils or eat our faces.
Yet the midges were determined to ruin any enjoyment of our night. I'd never seen such a relentless swarm. You may be thinking, how can something so small cause such angst? I am telling you, they are truly the most maddening creatures on earth. We tried going for a walk, but they just followed. I tried to read a book, but the pages were soon smudged with tiny corpses. We tried to make tea, but as soon as we poured it they kamikazied into the cups. We fished them out, but whenever I dared venture from beneath my mesh hat to take a sip, they'd swoop down on my hands. I could feel them dive under the gloves to gnaw on my wrists.
You can see/hear the carnage for yourself in this stunning video that I made. Warning: video contains the word BASTARDS.
In the end insanity forced us into the tent. We zipped the door then spent five minutes swearing and slapping at all the midges that followed us, smearing them over the tent walls and over each other while screaming, "I WILL NEVER CAMP AGAIN!"
Despite all my protection, the little bastards managed to get me. Big time. Even worse than last year. My face may have been spared, but they squeezed past my socks and chomped their way around my ankles. And in my desperate scramble to get into the tent, my top must have got seperated from my jeans, so the midges nibbled a neat row all the way across my back. I am wearing a MIDGE BELT, people.
It's made worse by my severe reaction. Some people get tiny red dots that disappears after a few hours, but I get giant, red, swollen, festering insanely itchy sores the size of dimes. Speckled on my wrists. Tattooed right around each ankle. Circumnavigating my waist. And as a very special bonus, there's three bites forming an angry red arrow right above my BUTT CRACK.
I will spare you a photograph of my rear end, but you can witness the hideousness of my right ankle here from two different (but equally repulsive) angles.
I'm so freaking itchy right now I am ready to bite my feet off. My skin feels like it's on fire. I look like a leper. I'm never going outside again. Not without a full space suit, anyway. Same time next year?