In praise of being outdoors

The last time I went camping, it was 2009, Leeds Festival, and I SWORE I would never do it again, until last week.  My darling sister has taken to camping. She bought herself a tent, a really posh BBQ, and a kettle that whistles and there is no stopping her, and to be honest, I have now caught the bug too and am making plans to do the North Coast 500.

Posh grown up camping is nothing like festival camping.  Gymnasium standard shower and toilet facilities, surrounded by other tents and motor homes to drool over, and most importantly, a very strict no noise after 1030pm rule.  I swear to god, I slept like a baby.

I think that it doesn't really matter how long you sleep, but how deeply you sleep that has the most positive effect.

It just took me back to how simple life really can be, sitting outside till all hours of the evening, playing scrabble, losing at scrabble, no TV, crap phone signal, and just being outside in Scotland.  It was just breathtaking.

The big thing for me was that I, like many other people, had had quite a period of hearing bad news, and other events that had culminated in me having a very busy head, not being able to sleep, and being stuck in a bubble I couldn't get out of.  The answer to all of that was, get outside, sleep outside, be in silence, and be with my family who are quite frankly, the joyful side of a little bit crazy.

'Stress' is a word I don't actually like.  It is a word that get used a lot though isn't it?  I wonder what word we could use instead to describe that feeling of being so  consumed by and issue or a problem, so that you literally can't see the trees for the forest?  Answers on a postcard please...

Being outside in Scotland is the best thing ever.  Here is my camping 101 list. If you have never tried it before, seriously, it could be the best thing you've ever done.

  1. Do your tent research. My sister got a hum dinger of a tent with inflatable struts instead of having to negotiate tent poles, it was so easy to assemble.

  2. Inflatable mattresses for the win, along with a wee electric pump to inflate them. Alison got hers from Aldi. What’s not to like.

  3. Weather appropriate sleeping bag, a spare quilt, a pillow, and a cosy blanket. I was so warm, it was great.

  4. Jammies and cosy socks.

  5. towels

  6. Flip flops to use in the shower block

  7. Citrus candles to keep the beasties away

  8. Camping chairs

  9. Scrabble or a deck of cards

  10. Don’t wear your outdoor shoes in the tent so it stays clean

Do your campsite research as well.  I've only used the one in Ballater, and it was FANTASTIC and really close to the village where you could get world class bacon rolls and coffee.  I've also be advised that the campsite in Aberfeldy is good too.

The next time I feel like I have a busy head, I know what to do, get outside, run away for a night or 2.  What's your 'thing'? Do you have back up plan to make you feel a bit better about yourself?

Here's how I know that camping cleared my head a bit:

  • I was outside a lot more than normal with more exposure to daylight

  • I had a fixed sleeping schedule and was in bed earlier, and got up earlier too

  • I exercised without putting much effort in (Although Alison and I did go for a run out the old railway line at Ballater and it was wonderful)

  • I powered down, no TV and a dodgy phone signal

  • I spent a lot more time talking to my family, I am so lucky, we get on really well, what a hoot.

I hope you enjoyed this little insight into what I got up to at the weekend.

The big message here thought is to have a  backup plan. Whatever you are going through, what is your back up plan?  Fallen out with someone, ask them out for a walk, get out of the city. Got a chummy not feeling too good about themselves? Do the same thing.  Plan something lovely, a walk on the beach and fish and chips somewhere ( I love the wee hurrie down in Troon).

Be the light