LAST FRIDAY, 5PM
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:
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.
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.
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?
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!
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.
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?
[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!
S: Are you ready? I'm going to throw them now!
S: Are you sure you're ready? I'm chucking them now! Get ready! Here they come!
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.
MONDAY, TUESDAY, WEDNESDAY, THURSDAY, FRIDAY:
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.