Sunday, May 27, 2012

This has nothing to do with writing, really...

...except inasmuch as any unfortunate experience undergone by a writer always ends up on the page somehow.
This weekend we went camping at Badaguish, near Aviemore, with the Strathearn Harriers running club. My husband and daughter (our "resident techie" on account to her near-surgical attachment to her computer) are both members of the club, hence the trip. Husband was very keen, so was small son, the resident techie less so. As for me, I have nothing against camping, and have in fact camped many times, including living in a tent for 17 weeks in 1992 during an Overland trip. All the same, it is one of those things a little like visiting an irascible relative, that seems a worthy idea in principle but somehow there is never a specific weekend when you really feel like doing it.
Husband had an appallingly busy week at work and was much later home on Friday night than planned, which probably goes to some way to explaining his oversight when it came to the packing. Having thrown everything into the car and left several hours later than we'd intended, we were about three quarters of the way to Aviemore when he slapped his forehead and said, "I've forgotten the sleeping bags."
I suppose I can't really complain too much about this because I am also a responsible adult and could perfectly well have checked what went into the boot and what didn't. However, since Hubs is one of those square-jawed keen-eyed outdoors types who loves nothing better than sorting through equipment and saying "Aha, I'd completely forgotten we had that spork/inflatable pillow/viciously sharp multi-tool" it never really entered my head that he would leave out something as fundamental as the sleeping bags. As we were already very late and it would have meant another three hour's driving to go back and get the bags, there was nothing for it but to go on.
Unfortunately, the resident techie, who had her ear-phones in and missed the exclamations of horror, happened to look up and see the forehead-slapping. "What's wrong?" she asked, ripping out the ear-phones. We did our best to make light of the situation but since she was not 100% thrilled with the prospect of a camping weekend in the first place, the discovery that her sleeping bag was still in the closet at home provoked a pyrotechnic display of hysterics. In vain did we try to persuade her that she would manage perfectly well if she went to sleep in all her clothes with her campfire blanket wrapped around her. To be fair, I wasn't entirely convinced of that myself, having half frozen a couple of years ago at a camp in Grobbendonk in spite of fleece trousers and a down sleeping bag.
When we arrived at Badaguish we were relieved to discover that there was a wooden "wigwam" free, so we abandoned the plan to use the tent and moved into that instead. Both kids had their campfire blankets with them, so they curled up in those in relative comfort. Husband and I, however, had to forage amongst the things he had remembered to pack, for something to wrap ourselves in. Eventually he came up with a "group shelter", which is basically an enormous orange nylon thing of no discernable shape. Outdoorsy types seem to be very keen on these group shelters, which are supposed to enable a group of people to huddle together out of the wind and rain. In my experience it is always a struggle to stop the thing being blown away altogether by the wind and the resident techie always takes more than her share of space, so everyone else has their bum hanging out. Whatever its merits as an outdoor shelter, it makes a rubbish duvet: it is thin and unpleasantly shiny and every tiny movement makes a loud rustling noise.
The resident techie was not amused by any of this and complained vociferously for a long time after lights out, in spite of repeated pleas for her to "stop gurning and let us go to sleep." At one point I happened to make an unconnected remark and she snapped, "That's not relevant to the gurning." I suppose we all fell asleep around 1am, and managed a mere three hours before the first person woke up at 4am and decided to trek the 300m to the loo, waking the rest of us up in the process. It seems to be a rule of camping that if you know the loo is 300m away on the other side of a stream you will inevitably have to get up twice in the night, even if you can normally sleep for 18 hours at a stretch...
The following morning we crawled out of the wigwam feeling and looking like death warmed up. Things could only improve, and I'm glad to say that they did. The kids spent the morning swinging over a pond on metal rings and dropping into the water in all their clothes, and I lazed around reading Flashman and Scotland's Best Churches. After lunch we all went to the beach at Loch Morlich and swam in the icy waters. It was a very hot sunny afternoon and it was quite strange to swim about looking at distant mountains with the winter snow still on top of them! This morning there was a run (well, it was a Harriers' weekend) and Husband took part. The rest of us went to see about ices. We found the cafeteria closed but a very nice man who was creosoting the outside wall let us in and sold us  a Fab each. By the time we left, the resident techie admitted to "quite enjoying it" and talked about "next time." I think there will be a next time, but I have learnt my lesson. Next time I will check the sleeping bags are in the boot!

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