IT has come to my attention that I am possibly the only person in Scotland who hasn’t yet gone camping this summer.
If, like me, you missed the memo, it is all the rage apparently. Suburbia is filled with folk packing their cars to the rafters with tents, sleeping bags, stoves, folding chairs, tin mugs and other assorted paraphernalia on Friday afternoons, before heading off to spend a weekend in the great outdoors.
Watching said camping accoutrements being crammed in is like witnessing a moonlight flit from a tenement close in the dead of night. Then, a couple of days later, they return to do it all again in reverse, albeit with everything looking a bit muddier and infused with a pungent aroma of mildew.
I feel like I am missing out on some not-so-secret club. In a bid to reprise some semblance of a social life I have been attempting to cajole pandemic-estranged friends to pencil plans in the diary.
No luck. They have all gone camping. I suspect it might be an elaborate scheme to eke out the hermit-style living to which I, myself, have admittedly become rather fondly accustomed to over the months.
Every weekend, like clockwork, comes a flurry of photographs on social media taken against a scenic backdrop of fields, woods and beaches around Scotland.
Snaps of folk running joyfully through sand dunes or toasting marshmallows over an open fire. These images are posted with witty captions and appropriately themed hashtags (I keep a close eye because if anyone uses #LiveLaughLove it will, mark my words, be an automatic block by me).
I am envious. But also, curious. Is camping fun? To be fair, I have no clue. I haven’t been camping in a long time. Well, not unless you count the rustic treehouse in Queensland but that was technically a hotel on stilts with an award-winning restaurant and luxury spa, so probably not.
My childhood camping experiences were not worthy of Instagram had that even been a thing in the 1980s. We had a second-hand tent gifted by a neighbour whose teenage son had outgrown it (or perhaps sensibly preferred to sleep in a proper bed).
Each summer it would be pitched in our back garden. The canvas was a rough cotton with a separate waterproof cover. You had to be careful not to touch the inside of the tent because even a thin layer of dew could have the cascading effect of what felt like being suddenly dunked in Niagara Falls.
Our garden was on a slope, and, by morning, I would awake in a crumpled heap at the bottom of the tent. My back would ache from sleeping on the hard ground. I say sleeping but, truth be told, I usually had a fitful doze having terrified myself with ghost stories.
I know that camping is a different beast these days. I should ask a friend to borrow their tent. Well, I would if they were ever home.
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