Gareth collects hire car for the big camping trip. We'd booked a Vauxhall Corsa Or Similiar on the internet, it turned out to be a Nissan Micra in an embarassing pastel shade, designed to appeal to old ladies who want their motor to match their blue rinse.

Check weather forecast on the BBC. Here is an approximation:


SHAUNA:   Hmmm.

GARETH:   Do you think we should still go camping?

S:   Looks a little bit cloudy.

G:   Looks a little bit Scotland.

S:   Well… I'm sure we can handle a bit of water!

G:   Of course we can!

Quick trip to supermarket to pick up a disposable barbeque.

1PM Finally leave supermarket after wading through aisles full of mothers screaming, "JORDAN! I'LL NO TELL YA AGAIN! YER NO GETTIN' SWEETIES!".

We head north.

Essential ice cream stop at Tyndrum. It's the last place to get ice cream for bazillions of miles. THE LAST!

S:   Ooh. Ominous.

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Arrive at Glen Etive. We unimaginatively decamp at the same spot as last year. It's a nice big flat bit surrounded by a stream with no other people in sight. There's a chunky stepping stone path over the water that seperates the camp from the car.

G:   Right, we've got exactly one hour to get everything over and put the tent up before the forecasted rain.

S:   Allez!

Rain arrives early.

Tent erected after much swearing. Our fingers are red and numb. Our jeans are drenched and cling unpleasantly to our thighs like icy toddlers.

Retire to tent to sulk.

Legend has it that Avon Skin-So-Soft moisturiser spray is used by Royal Marines to ward off Scotland's notorious midges, the teeny tiny biting insects that are on a perpetual mission to destroy any human enjoyment of the brief summer. There's a sudden break in the rain, so we slather ourselves in the stuff and seize our chance to crank up the disposable barbeque. A cloud of midges descends immediately.


G:   ARRGH! This Avon stuff is BULLSHIT!

S:   But they're not biting us! Sure there's millions of them in your face and up your nose but they're not biting! It's a miracle!

The sky starts to spit again, just as the vegetarian sausages hit the grill. We huddle around, trying to figure if it's better to keep your head down and get a faceful of charcoal fumes, or heads up for a mouthful of midges.


I rearrange the sausages with a fork. They look juicy and brown, which is remarkable for pretend meat cooked on a cardboard box filled with charcoal. You can hear the raindrops sizzle on the plate.

S:   Almost done! Fetch the sauce and rolls. We're going to eat our meal outside if it kills us!


S:   This tent is going to stink of pretend meat all night long.

Wild, crazy, tent-rattling rain.

G:   Got any jokes?

S:   Nup. Do you?

G:   No.

S:   I could tell the Stevie Wonder one again. What did Stevie Wonder say when he got a cheese grater for his birthday?

G & S:   It was the best book he'd ever read!


G:   So this was all your idea, wasn't it?

S:   Oh YES. I had the brilliant idea that after sleeping on a crappy futon on the loungeroom floor for the past week while the Mothership visited, we should go camping and sleep a night ON THE GROUND.

G:   Ahh, you're always having great ideas!

S:   Even better, I thought we should go camping on the day of the women's Wimbledon final, the World Cup play-off AND the season finale of Doctor Who!

G:   Genius!


S:   I'm just going to close my eyes for a minute.

G:   Me too.

We awake from a surprisingly deep sleep.

S:   It's stopped raining!

G:   Quick! Let's go outside and make a cuppa.

10.15 PM
The kettle boils just as the last of the sun is sucked from the sky. Stupid camp stove that unlights itself. We barely have time to add the milk before it starts to rain aaagain. We retreat to our quarters.


S:   Know any ghost stories?

G: No.

S: Oh.


[Then it rains all bloody night.]

Arise to find our dainty wee creek has swollen considerably. As in, completely drowning the stepping stone path. We are now stranded on an island.

S:  Camping RULES!

Midges swoop as we dismantle the tent.

G:   Why are those little bastards up so early?

S:   We forgot the Skin So Soft!

G:   Arrgh! My eyes!

S:   Arrgh! My ears!

I volunteer to carry our stuff across the water. My shoes were best sacrificed as they were old and crap and Gareth was driving home, which would be most unpleasant in wet boots. The water is knee-deep and icy cold. Right on cue, the rain cranks up again.


S:   Righto! I'm going to chuck my shoes over to you! Put them on and keep your Docs dry!

G:   Okay!

S:   Are you ready? I'm going to throw them now!

G:   Yes!

S:   Are you sure you're ready? I'm chucking them now! Get ready! Here they come!


S:   D'oh.

We drive through Glen Coe then down the coast to Oban where we stop for a traditional Scottish breakfast of chips and brown sauce. Which seemed nutritionally sound compared to the gigantor deep-fried haggi.


My midge bites swell into giant, festering, itchy sores so I spend the week surreptitiously rubbing my flaming limbs against furniture until I fork out for some antihistamine cream. Remember kids, Avon WORKS!

drookit (droo·kit) Dialect, chiefly Scot ~adj. 1. drenched, soaked through.

About Shauna Reid

Ahoy there! I’m Shauna, an author, copywriter and content mentor. I love telling stories about life and helping others to tell theirs.

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25 thoughts on “Drookit

  1. Oh, you warm my grumpy old English- teacher heart with your writing, and particularly that fantastic simile – your jeans clinging to your legs “like icy toddlers”. Ah, see me smiling happily as I toddle off to have my bath.

  2. Hi Shauna.
    As a fellow Australian, I feel your pain.
    Until reading your latest entry I have never heard of the horror of Midges. I decided to look them up on the internet, and, guess what?! I found a song about them! :O
    Here’s the link, enjoy 😛



  3. Ahahahaha. Cool. This has nothing to do with camping per se, but was so wonderful I had to share it. It is to do with ‘disposable barbecues’ or perhaps just barbecues you want to have not at home. You know the problem – heat it up, cook the food, damn thing is hotter than a thousand suns so transporting it home is a beast. I found that some students in Hull had used their tertiary education skills to come up with a solution. I saw it as I jogged:
    You know the Tesco ‘wee’ trollies for the single person? Line ’em with tin foil, fill ’em with charcoal and wheel that baby through the streets of the town. I nearly wept with joy. Once you are finished you do the normal thing and abandon it somewhere obvious. Disposable, portable and wonderful.

  4. Donalda, that is very resourceful indeed 🙂

    Polx, thanks for that 😛

    Emily, that song is hilarious! Thanks for that. Definitely one to file under, Funny Because It’s True!

  5. Oh man, I will never complain about waking up to a damp tent in the mountains of california again.

    If you go back next year, you’re officially hardcore Scottish nutcases.

  6. That was BEAUTIFUL. Sob! Snotter!
    I’m sure it shows some dreadful defect in my personality but this sort of disaster stories of suffering and grit REALLY hit my funny bone.

    I think I love you. B#gger, that was funny.

    And yes, those midgies…

    Have I ever told you about the night spent in the car with my boyfriend and his severely smelly whale of a mother… and all the windows shut because of the midgies? Ahh, those were the days….

  7. Anyone else start itching when they listen to that song? I can confirm there are no midges in London town

  8. Avon’s Skin-So-Soft so does NOT work! What a scam that is. Having fallen for it myself I know. And I’m Canadian so we have mosquitos the size of small birds and the black flies… well, let’s not even think about it. It’s part of the reason I have to live in California now.

    Muskoil is what we used to swear by. Or anything with more than 50% DEET. Sure it melts plastic but it keeps the bugs away.

  9. I am in the pro-DEET camp, myself. My husband and I hiked Ben Lomand wearing DEET socks and had nae a problem with the midges. However, when we were in Port Appin eating a very lovely dinner while looking out on the loch, we were eaten alive all because we weren’t wearing any DEET.

  10. Vanessa – It may not work for Canadian beasties. which sound hella evil by the way! but it does seem to do the trick for the Scottish midge 🙂 I’ve tried all sorts of highly toxic shit but the SSS was the first time they didn’t bite me. They only bit me the next morning when I went out unprotected… aaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrgh…

  11. Midge repellent

    I remember reading the directions of my first ever tube of midge repellent where i stumbled on the strangest tidbit of info.

    “CAUTION:-Harmful to fish”

    Surely the fish are safe from theses wee bastards?

  12. Hey, you’re so lucky. Dan won’t come camping with me.
    Maybe you should try camping south rather than north?
    Thanks for the Avon suggestion – we are planning a Scottish sojourn next year. Probably not camping though.

  13. Snort!

    I find it highly amusing that you were stalwartly looking on the bright side, while the Scottish Companion resolutely was not…

  14. Hey K! I was looking on the bright side as I always do! It was my idea to go camping so there was no way I was going to let Shauna know I wasn’t having fun! I actually quite like being in a tent when it’s windy and raining, it makes you feel like Ray Mears! 😉

  15. Hee hee. Thanks for the laugh. My husband and I went hiking through the Shenandoah Valley this past weekend (in Virginia). The mosquitoes FEASTED on us. By the time we got to bloody Dark Hollow Falls, we didn’t give a rat’s ass about the view. And now I am sitting at my desk, rubbing my limbs against every sharp corner. Yay nature.

  16. Ohh you were doing SOOO well up until breakfast. Didn’t you know it’s traditional to stand outside (rain or not), and have a bowl of cornflakes?

    There is nothing quite like a bowl of cornflakes, drenched in ice cold milk (cos you left it in the burn overnight) with a top layer of midge. Just adds to the flavour.

    And yes, Skin So Soft works for midges and bugger all else. My own field trials in Scotland and Spain back up this theory.

  17. No Shauny in six days *sob* Did you eat some bad haggis? Did the loch ness monster gobble you up? Where is Shauny!!!

  18. Hot damn, Oban!
    I used to live on the side of Ben Cruachan (just down the A85)
    Before I became all Englandised.

    Midgies, I don’t miss. Mountains and actual green things I do.
    Rain seems to be about the same.

  19. I know this will not have appeared on your itinerary for Oban, but if I recall there is a night club there called


    Didn’t go in, but admired the name which was second only to The Cattle Market.

    Oban, good for Langoustine and seals.

    Only eat the former.

  20. You guys are the bestest, and I admire your stick-to-itiveness for staying out there and camping despite all odds, and despite the fact that camping is stupid.

    I hope your midge bites are better.

  21. Skin So Soft ROCKS. Been using it since the early 90’s down the beach to ward off the fierce New Yawk Moskwitos.

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