HOWEVER, I also remembered the stark realisation I made when going to (scorching) Greece in the summer, with my 9 month old daughter several years ago: The effort it took to keep my baba safe from the heat, staying indoors for hours in the afternoon with a kid that wasn’t familiar with the concept of siesta ( and never did do regular naps) and the late nights, made for a very exhausting time for mummy. Remembering this, together with my less than full bank account, now that I’m no longer working, were the reasons for a decision to stay on the British Isles this summer.
Often times, my Scottish friends and family talk about camping in the summer holidays. To me, camping is, or has thus far been, associated with memories of hot sun, whole days at the beach, The sound of tzitzikia (cicadas), eating lots of ice cream and turning a lovely shade of chocolate. So when my husband suggested going camping in Scotland a few years ago, I laughed in his face and point blank refused to entertain such lunacy… But then the years went by, and I spent more and more time here, I got used to the weather???.. (No that’s not actually possible. It must just be that I bought some waterproof clothing and shoes) My daughter camped last summer and loved it… So finally this year, I allowed myself to be pursuaded that camping in Scotland could possibly be tried… and even tolerated.
So, a couple of weeks ago we packed the car and travelled a few hours up north, near Aviemore to a campsite near the beautiful loch Morlich. We ( read Iain) set up the tent, and went to the beach. Had a swim even !!! It must be said that little compares to the envigourating experience of open water loch swimming. Once I mustered up the courage to get into that cold water, it was heavenly. The view of the mountains and the perfectly formed beach was enough to take anyone’s breath away. And it was warm enough to stay outside all day.
In the evening we had a little barbecue dinner, followed by a bath and bed time for our 10 month old, and bed time for our 7 year old. It was all very civilised, quite dry and rather pleasant. I went to bed thinking: “This is actually ok.”
Not quite the feeling I had in the middle of the night… Having been woken by my 10 month old I crawled around on the floor to find him, nurse him back to sleep and put him back in his cot. At that point I thought I could do with going to the loo. But since this demanded a little walk in the pitch black out doors, I decided to go back to sleep and wait till morning. No such luck. Very soon, an amazing illumination of the sky, coupled with what sounded like the 1pm Edinburgh canon, on repeat, followed. The tent was being blown into all directions, the rain was of the cats and dogs variety, and I was in my sleeping bag, almost peeing my pants. NOT FUN. Thankfully we did stay dry in the tent. I waited for it to get slightly lighter, put on my waterproof jacket (my most prized of posessions, even if it did cost the price of a ticket to Greece), and waddled to the loo, in quite a huff. When I got there I realised that the storm had woken up half the camp site, the toilets were as busy as they were during the day, and people were actually hiding in their cars. And as I stared at my half -way -through -the -night face in the mirror, I must confess I did see the funny side, and I had a quiet giggle to myself. It was all a bit character building, I thought, if not utterly ridiculous.
All in all I have to say that my camping experience was thoroughly enjoyable, with a few moments of intense stress. (One of them described above). I can’t say I’m a complete convert yet. I still would say I’d prefer to camp in the dry Greek summer and work on getting a chocolate brown colour. But I’ll be going camping in Scotland again. Why so? Well… when my friend Lanae (who also grew up in the sun, and also lives in the North now) asked me if it was anything like the Med, the only thing I could think to say was that it was “a different kind of lovely.”