Tuesday, 30 May 2017

camping without wellies

The view sitting in the tent porch, looking out


If you look closely (to the left), you can see how close the bushfire got to the campsite, just two weeks earlier


Alistair when he is denied a pack of crisps.

Some wet moments


Jack doesn't like change much, he missed his house but enjoyed snuggling up with friends. 

on a gentle Sunday walk
This area is developed to be a native Scottish woodlands, as it used to prevail before settlement.


How was your weekend? If you were lucky - like I was - it was a long weekend. I took annual leave on Friday to make it longer still. We went camping with friends, an annual tradition I would hate to miss.

As the weather forecast was for sun and heat in our part of the world, we decided to set-off for our camping trip early, aiming to depart at 9:30 am. Believe me, this is quite an achievement, particularly since our camping trailer had to be completely emptied, sorted through and packed again and all this during a normal working week. All three tent dwelling families arrived at the same time, which was lucky because the campsite was filling up fast. The camper van family arrived a little later but could be accommodated, too. We were guided towards the beach, which was our hope. We like to arrange our tents in a circle of sorts so that all tents open towards a communal 'courtyard' but the space on a slope did not allow for this. We pitched in a row, facing the sea loch. No majors fights erupted between couples, which is always good. Putting up a big tent can be a tense affair. We put up the event shelter, too. The campsite was very busy but from our wee spot, this was not noticeable at all. All tents were on a slope, with the sleeping areas on a ledge. Calling it a ledge was a bit optimistic because really, it was more slope than ledge and there was considerable sliding downhill during the night....

We did what we do best when camping: sit together, chat, laugh and eat lots of food. The children were rarely seen. It is quite wild in and around the campsite and there are hills and brooks to explore, and of course there is the loch shore. The children all love the freedom and usually go feral. I was going to show you a photo of James and Alistair's feet to give you an idea of the relative neglect but I don't want to spoil your appetites or trigger a call to the local children's services. There was only one injury: James cracked his head, but all was well after cuddles and cleaning of the tiny wound. He sauntered off to do some more climbing almost before the antiseptic was dry.

Some of the campers went hillwalking on Saturday. I stayed behind with two friends, assuming the role of the responsible adult on site. The children all declined the offer of a breathtaking view on the Devil's Staircase walk (part of the West Highland Way). We all went for a short gentle walk on Sunday, which was lovely. The Glencoe area was very busy with walkers and less energetic admirers of the stunning surroundings.

The weather was a typical mixed bag. It was unusually hot and sunny on Friday, cooler with spots of rain on Saturday, cloudy but dry on Sunday and cooler with a little rain on Monday. We did manage to pack away the tents dry, which is always a bonus.

With the warm weather came the midges. Consider yourselves lucky if you have never experienced the Scottish midge, a mighty adversary that reduces even the strongest man and woman to a sobbing heap of itching flesh. Have a look at this video to get an idea of the extent of the midge problem. It was not quite so bad last weekend and for this I am grateful. Insect repellents may stop them from biting but does not stop them from swarming around you, which is extremely annoying. Smidge and Avon Skin so Soft are hailed as midge repellents that work but in my experience, they don't. Reach for the DEET instead, even if you don't like to expose yourself to it under normal circumstances. Antihistamines are useful, too.

Campfires are a must when we go camping. We brought wood to burn but also collected driftwood. I bought extendable marshmallow forks and magic fire dust, both of which were a great success with the children. The forks should come with a warning, the points are very sharp indeed but they extend to to about two arms lenghts', which keeps the little ones away from the flames. I don't see the attraction of a hot and sticky marshmallow (or any marshmallow) myself but I am content to help others find their inner oozy happiness. The kids also filled ice-cream cones with chocolate and other delights, wrapped these in tin foil and cooked them on the fire. They were in junk food heaven. Sitting around the fire was not as pleasant as usual due to the midges but it wasn't really cold and the fire was more of a tradition than a  necessity.

I have to admit that James and Alistair didn't eat much of what I would consider real food, even though it was on offer. Food is always the same on our camping trips: BBQ on Friday, curries on Saturday and fish supper on Sunday. Each family cooks a curry. I made a black pepper beef curry this time. This year's fish supper was not good, I suspect it was fried in oil that wasn't hot enough. Breakfasts are usually traditionally cooked ones. My favourites are potato scone and egg in a roll. For lunch we usually have a pot or two of soup. There was cake and more cake and even some fruit for those that were still hungry. Being outside all the time does definitely increase the appetite. Despite this abundance of food, I ate lightly because my tummy was and is still bothering me.

Washing the dishes is quite an undertaking when there is that much food... it is not exactly minuted anywhere but there is an unspoken rule that everyone has to do the breakfast dishes at least once.

It was a most wonderful weekend and many new memories have been formed. After many years of camping we have found the ideal core composition of families, give or take one. We know each other well. No doubt we'll be still camping when the kids have long left, reminiscing and talking about the olden golden times and helping each other apply antihistamine cream on the ankles when mobility fails. That's for the midge bites btw, not some strange way to pass the time.

If you are keen to camp in the Highlands, you should try Caolasnacon. I have still not figured out how to pronounce it but the website says it is Gaelic for 'narrows of the dog' . The facilities are basic but clean and the location is great. The owners always say that they won't turn anyone away but the really good spots on the shore of the loch are few and it pays dividend to show early.

Thanks for stopping by and saying hello. Wishing you a lovely week. x

21 comments:

  1. what a fabulous weekend, great photo's, thanks for sharing.

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  2. Many years since we've been camping, use to really enjoy it. Sounds like you had a great weekend.

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  3. What an amazing place to camp, I can well imagine the children were in heaven. Sorry you haven't been feeling brilliant, I hope you're all better soon. I like the sound of a potato scone, I imagine they're rather delicious first thing in the morning. Glad you had a good time away. CJ xx

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  4. we had a camping weekend here with car loads of family arriving, no arguments so that was good we also had midges and marshmallows toasted on the campfire

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  5. It sounds like a lot of fun! The kids must have had a great time roaming free. I love camping. We'll be camping in about three weeks ourselves!

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  6. I loved this post, Christina! Such a wonderful time with family and friends. Definitely memories in the making. And yes, I have experienced midges a few times. Not many of them, but even one is more than enough. Nasty, awful things.

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  7. It sounds like you have quite a tradition with the other families and the meal plans and all. We go to Waldo Lake here in Oregon each August and meet up with my sisters and my brother and his wife and 5 kids and spouses and grandkids! We used to tent it but now we have a caravan in our dotage. :-) ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  8. Your weekend sounds and looks wonderful! Your little ones, or not so little ones, will have memories for life fuelled by times like these. So will you, of course! I watched the video link about the midges (twice) with fascinated horror - I am afraid camping in Scotland won't be for me - midges, mosquitoes and all their malicious friends and relations always make a beeline for me and, insect repellent or no insect repellent, I always get bitten and the bites come up in horrible swollen weals that itch for days. Interestingly some people are definitely more attractive prey than others - something to do with the chemical fingerprint of your skin, I believe, but I am sure you will know the detail of that better than I. Am wondering if there isn't something one could eat that might change that temporarily. If someone discovered that, they'd make a mint! Midges apart, I can't imagine a more wonderful camping spot than beside a sea loch with friends, freedom and food cooked outside. Keep it going Christina! Hope your tummy is OK now. E x

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  9. Sounds idyllic, creating some wonderful memories for years to come. I experienced the midges on a walk through some long grass sadly, despite walking boots and thick socks my ankles became their meal. Thankfully they are not as prolific on the Islands, the wind seems to keep them at bay. Hope you are feeling a little better.

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  10. I love your tradition and the group you go with. How wonderful for the children to experience this and just the freedom to roam and explore. That is not something that is even safe these days unless you are camping. The views look wonderful, I'd take it all but the midges of course.

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  11. Hey Christina,
    We are off to Brittany in a couple of weeks. Our first camper trip this year. No Alfie; Mum is coming to teen sit. It will be wierd with just Olly. I'm hoping he'll make some me holiday chums and allow me to relax a little. Marc has always been able to down tools on holiday. It's a dream of mine to do it too. One day.....
    Leanne xx

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  12. What a wonderful place to camp despite the midges. I'm remember resorting to Deet in Canada to put off the mossies. Love the idea of lots of friends camping. Glad you all had a good time :) B x p .s. Hope you feel better soon.

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  13. Sounds wonderful, the midges are the one thing I don't miss about holidays in Scotland. But they are worth it for the relaxation and tranquility :) Jillx

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  14. sounds like an idlyllic weekend - we are at the stage where they teens have zero interest in going anywhere with us oldies... oh well. We'll just go on adventures by ourselves, but I'm not sure I can do a tent....

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  15. Anyone who knows me will know that I don't do camping but I think I would have loved to have been on your trip... Even with the midges. You make it sound such good fun.

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  16. I enjoyed reading your post on the joys and trials of camping - it brought back many memories of camping on the south and west coast of England. I'd love to try the Highlands one day, and now I know to come well prepared for the midges - which, although they can be a problem down here don't seem to be as bad as up North. xx

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  17. That looks lovely, glad you all enjoyed the break mishaps and all. Children do love to go off and explore a bit, a lot of holidays these days don't allow for that. xx

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  18. Sorry to hear your stomach is bothering you Christina, I hope that resloves soon. Your camoimg teip,sounds perfect, apart from the midges. They were the bane of my life, living in Argyll, then Sutherland as a child, my summers were spent scratching til I bled. I have seen grown men reduced to tears by the midgies. When we moved to the Western Isles they weren't so bad, perhaps there was more of a breeze, and less of that damp, still, warm air that brings them out in their millions. X

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  19. I know how much you love camping with your friends so I am glad you had some dry moments. Andy and I once walked up Ben Nevis when our first girl was 10 months old and there is a picture in our album of her smiling in the baby backpack with four huge bites across her forehead but of course we were heading up hill so they soon filtered out but they are awful bloody things. Jo x

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  20. It all sounds wonderful - apart from the midges. They sound just awful! I think everything basically revolves around food when you're camping, which I like.

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  21. You have a wonderful tradition going and I enjoyed reading about this year's adventure. The setting was magnificent and your weather was much like ours during our week of camping last week. Midges are miserable and I am no fan of mosquitoes either. As a tween scout I slept with my arms out of my sleeping bag and got 30+ bites on each arm! xx

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Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment, I love to hear from you, I really do. I sometimes reply by email but I am not all that reliable... Christina xx