x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Sand for a bed, stars for a roof... camping can be addictive

Memories of camping holidays in rainy Scotland come back with the urge to get under canvas in the UAE before it gets too hot.

As summer creeps towards us, our window of opportunity to indulge in outdoor activities - such as camping - gets ever smaller. Which may be no bad thing.

My first camping trip was in Scotland, when I was about 10, after I stamped my feet and bawled my way into my father's "boys only" weekend by Loch Lomond.

The weather was perfect - and you can trust me when I say perfect, because we all know how low a Scot's standards are when it comes to weather - and that, together with the vast loch on one side and the picturesque hills on the other, had me hooked from the word go.

It helped that at one point during our three-day stay, I came face to face with a statuesque peacock, tail-feathers erect and the sun behind it; nothing could have been more magical - especially for a daydreamer like me.

Living in Scotland, however, meant camping trips were not so much sporadic as virtually non-existent, the result of living in a country where the conditions can change faster than the time it takes a Scot to wolf down a deep-fried chocolate bar.

The next outdoor sojourn I can recall, which took place in the middle of November about six years later, is memorable for two things: one, the weather, which was so cold and horrid that the thought of it still makes me wince, and two, my friends and I awoke to find someone in our group had very kindly arranged a number of twig figures, like those from the just-released movie The Blair Witch Project, outside of all our tents. It would be another six years before I dared camp again.

Heading back to Loch Lomond with a group of my closest friends, at the height of summer, we somehow managed to choose the warmest day of the year to set up camp. Sunbathing, swimming (it might not sound that impressive, but my mother was amazed we didn't get frostbite) and sitting around a cosy fire made it one of my favourite weekends - regardless of the fact that we were forced into our cars at 7am the following morning, thanks to both a torrential downpour and the swarm of midges that threatened to eat us alive.

Since moving back to Abu Dhabi, I'm ashamed to say I've been camping only once, which was just over a month ago, when a small group of us decided to go to Fujairah. Spending the day basking in the sun, chowing down on our crude versions of smores and jumping into the sea, nothing, I thought, could go wrong.

And then the wind came. Lying in my collapsed sleeping chamber later that night, the cold, hard, sand beneath me, my face full of tent, it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, camping and I aren't a good mix.

Which is why I have arranged to go again with friends the weekend after next. Somebody stop me, please.

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