“THERE must be easier ways to have a midlife crisis …”

And so began the weary mutterings of my husband as I dragged him around yet-another outdoors shop, armed with a checklist of must-have equipment.

He’s not wrong. Somewhere between the turn of the year and now, I have morphed from someone who wouldn’t be without her creature comforts, to signing up for a camping trip as part of a running adventure in the Highlands.

There is only one hitch: I haven’t camped since circa 1986. Hence my nerve-wracking foray into the realms of the great outdoors - or in this case, the cavernous warehouse-style stores which sell all the gubbins you need to stride forth into the great outdoors.

Things have certainly moved on since I last went camping. As a youngster, I owned a second-hand tent gifted by a neighbour. Every summer through the 1980s, it would be pitched in my back garden.

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Cutting-edge it was not. 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 being doused by a thundering torrent of water.

Our garden was on a slope which meant waking the next morning in a crumpled heap at the bottom of the tent. Every muscle and sinew would ache from sleeping on the unyieldingly hard ground (much like happens now in middle age despite my fancy orthopaedic mattress).

Not that much sleeping ever went on. I usually only managed a fitful doze having terrified myself with ghost stories read by torchlight.

The camping enthusiasm never lasted more than a couple of nights either. Without fail, the family cat would pee in the tent (she liked to sleep indoors, round my neck like a scarf, and the urinating was perhaps her way of putting paid to all that daft nonsense of sleeping outside like an animal).

I haven't been camping since. Well, not unless you count a rustic treehouse in Queensland’s Daintree Rainforest 20 years ago, but that was technically a hotel on stilts with an award-winning restaurant and luxury spa, so probably not.

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Which brings us to the present day and me wandering the aisles of Decathlon perusing stoves, sleeping bags and other camping paraphernalia on a Saturday afternoon.

I had already researched tents in advance and knew the one I wanted, selected because it was a pop-up variety and had the words “two seconds easy” in the name. I reckoned packing it away afterwards could prove trickier, but I had a cunning plan: I would request an in-store demo.

The sales assistant was brilliant and talked me through all the steps. I then had a go myself. There is a definite knack to it (if you happen across a TikTok video titled “woman fights tent in Decathlon” chances are that will be me) but after a few rounds of WWE-style grappling I eventually conquered it.

I chose a plush camping mattress and only realised when I got to the till it was treble the price I had initially thought. Even so, I refused to relinquish it. “You can’t put a price on comfort,” I told my husband, who swiftly replied that you could and in my case that was clearly in excess of £80.

It seems I might need some creature comforts after all. Anyway, despite several anxiety-fuelled nightmares about packing three tent mallets and no clean socks or knickers, I think I am almost good to go.

The only bit I remain fearful about is the dreaded midges. I have multiple nets, a gadget that claims to create a “force field” to repel these flying brutes and, not to forget, the essential weapon in my anti-midge arsenal: a giant vat of Avon Skin So Soft.

I shall report back in due course. If I am not eaten alive.