Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Mull: Notes from a small island

The Isle of Mull will forever be notable to me as being the first place that I camped as an adult. And also, given the uncomfortable, damp night I spent, possibly the last. I just really don’t see the point of tents when man has evolved to such an extent that we can build, you know, houses. With foundations. And double glazing. And central heating.

Picture the scene: it is Saturday morning, eight thirty. Rain. Wind. Me – grumpy, tired (having slept a total of about two hours all night), thirsty, cold, getting wetter by the minute. D – grappling with an oversized tent and a grumpy girlfriend. Smug couple in the tent next door cooking sausages on the camp stove, which smell is making my grump even worse. Sharp words may have been exchanged. Eventually, the tent was packed up and bundled into the car. We headed down the road for Tobermory, the largest town on the island, fantasising about a cosy cafĂ©, a pot of tea and something warming for breakfast.

Well, turns out that no such place exists in Tobermory at nine o clock on a Saturday morning. In silence we tramped the length of the high street – which, in all fairness, isn’t long. I think I may actually have been near to tears at this point and started asking, in fishwifey tones, what exactly the fun part of the whole camping experience was.

And then we noticed a local deli which was a) open, and b) selling takeaway hot drinks. And, oh glory, when we got inside they were also offering bacon rolls. We took our breakfast back to the car and ate in there. The rain continued to, well, rain, the windows steamed up around us and, I swear, that cup of tea and bacon roll may well have been one of the most delicious meals I have ever consumed.

The thing is, once you’ve had a weight problem and got on the “diet” treadmill, some of the joy can get sucked out of eating. I’ve tried so hard to maintain my love of food – it’s a mission statement that’s right up there in my explanatory blog blurb at the top of the page – but the truth is, sometimes the process of meal planning and counting points and playing tit for tat with food swaps just is not fun. I love eating out, and I never try to “count” a meal in a special restaurant, but I can’t deny that I sometimes get guilt pangs before, during and/or after. Sitting in that steamed up car, eating that simple bacon sandwich, for a brief period I did not wonder: “How many points in this?” or question whether it was “good” or “bad”, “naughty” or “nice”. I just had a moment of pure sensory pleasure – the sheer relief at being warm and dry and not shrouded in canvas, as well as the taste of the salty bacon and the scrunch of the crusty roll all washed down with hot, strong tea.

And later I thought back and wondered whether sometimes I need to consciously try and get back to the basics of what food is, away from points, away from a reward system, away from good and bad, but just basically – sustenance and nourishment. That bacon sandwich made me feel nourished physically and emotionally. It was exactly what I needed at that time and in that place.

I don’t quite know what I plan to do with this bacon-related ephiphany yet, but I just wanted to record it for posterity. Also, I want it well and truly noted that I DO NOT like camping.


  1. I am totally with you on the dislike of camping, I can't understand it at all!

    I also completely understand what you mean about the joy being sucked out of eating. I feel guilt whenever I eat anything not diet friendly (which has been a lot of late!)It's a difficult one, but without the confines of points, I am a disaster zone... I wouldn't know what else to do! Be interesting to hear if you decide to make any changes....


  2. Yep, I can empathise with both too (tents don't have loos and you have to trek across a field - how stupid is that?). A decent bacon sandwich is truly the food of gods at the best of times - and a soggy, uncomfortable night is NOT the best of times!

  3. Lol- love the story! I'm one of those annoying people who loves camping. Love love it! However yes rain makes camping NOT fun! But living in the UK it can't be avoided!

    Have a fab week xx

  4. haha i love this post! I love camping but equally can relate to what your saying. Once it was raining so much my dad insisted on sheltering in a greasy spoon cafe- where i had a large portion of chips as that was probably the healthiest thing on the menu lol