Before I begin, I wanted to send out a public apology to Claire McFall. If you know me, you’ll know that I LOVE Claire and her books. And for her blog tour I was super excited to be a part of it and then got my wires all crossed and ended up not posting. This is the post that SHOULD have gone up at the release of the book. It is amazing and I am still so sorry that it didn’t go up. Hope she can forgive me!
Okay… so as you can tell from the gist, I have a guest post for you today by Claire McFall to celebrate her most recent release, Black Cairn Point (which is amazing btw and a review will be up on here soon!)
Camping: A Horror Story
Black Cairn Point is a horror story: five friends go camping. The end. (Not really.)
Seriously: for me, that constitutes a horror story. I hate camping. Hate it. I don’t understand the appeal. First of all, tents are uncomfortable. You can’t stand up properly, they are freezing at night and roasting as soon as the sun comes up. You can’t help but track dirt in and then it gets all over your stuff. If it’s raining, half the time they leak.
What’s to like?
In actual fact, Black Cairn Point is based on a camping trip that I took with my then boyfriend (now husband). I wouldn’t have agreed, but he’s quite an outdoorsy person and at that point I was still trying to impress him. (Note: now that we are married, we no longer go camping). We went down to Ardwell Bay in Dumfries and Galloway, the beach that became Black Cairn Point. Darren’s Volvo? Yeah, that was my boyfriend’s car. We already knew about the dodgy alternator because the stupid thing had died the week before in the middle of Great Western Road (pretty much the busiest road in the West End of Glasgow) and the kind RAC man explained to us what was wrong, before whacking the engine with a hammer and giving us a jump. So when the radio died on the M77…
Anyway, just like Heather and her friends, we pulled off the motorway. Just like Dougie, Martin and Darren, my wonderful boyfriend – why did I marry him? – sent me in to the industrial unit to beg for help. And just like Emma and Heather, I came back with a dungaree-clad eighteen year old girl with a jump battery in the boot of her battered Ford Fiesta.
Now, at this point I did say to my other half, “What if the car dies down there?”
His answer? “It won’t.”
Right. For some stupid reason, I got back in the car with him (I was really trying to impress him it seems) and we carried on our merry way. The beach is just as I described it in the novel. Beautiful. Rugged. Empty. The ruins are right there at the top of the hill, and the cove is just along the cliff path. Guess which other detail I didn’t make up? The rotting fish. There is was, just sitting on the wall that separated the car park area from the beach. It was rank. Personally, I took this as another sign that camping was a bad idea, but we were there by then and, to be honest, the car had worked so hard to get us down from Glasgow, I had my doubts as to whether it would have gotten us home at that point anyway.
Camping it was, then.
Luckily, said boyfriend was pretty dandy with setting up the tent and my assistance wasn’t really required. Which was good, as I was busy working out the “bathroom” situation. You see, we planned to stay for four nights. And the beach was… isolated. So there would be no nipping in to a civilised pub to do the business, because there simply wasn’t one. Lovely. I found two rocks that made a semi private little cubby between them and declared it the pee-pee (and, urgh, “other”) spot.
From this trip on, I have refused to holiday anywhere that a toilet isn’t included. Even if it’s only a wooden hut with a plank over a hole. Why? Well, if squatting in the sand isn’t awful enough, I had the hideous experience of being hunkered down, ready to pee… when a dog walker meandered into view, Labrador happily splashing in the waves. Now I wasn’t expecting a soul given that we’d already been there for 48 hours and our peace hadn’t been disturbed in all that time. What did I do? Well, what do you do? I stayed put, scarcely dared breath, and the man wandered on, none the wiser. Phew.
All right, I confess, lounging on the beach in the Scottish sunshine was nice. We barbecued, wandered the coast, played in rock pools like children. At night we had a campfire, roasted marshmallows and shared a bottle of Jack Daniels. Those bits were enjoyable… but they just weren’t enough to overshadow the lack of toilet facilities and the hideous grossness I felt after four days without a shower. I even went into the NORTH SEA to clean up.
Note number two: the North Sea is not clean and it will not make you clean.
Note number three: the North Sea is friggin’ FREEZING even in the middle of summer.
There is also the fact that the sun rises at, oh about 4am in Scotland in the summer. Without my black out curtains, that meant that I woke up at 4am. Every day. I have a 6 month old baby and I don’t even get up at 4am. When the time we got back from our four night “holiday”, I had to sleep for three days!
When I look back at my trip to Black Cairn Point, I smile over the nostalgia of our first “romantic” holiday, and I ooh and aah over the beautiful sunset and campfire pictures that I took. And I shudder at the memory of my first experience of roughing it.
It turns out I’m not really a roughing it kind of girl. Now we holiday in hotels. Nice ones.
And I write horror stories about camping.
Two survivors, one terrible truth.
Heather agrees to a group camping holiday with Dougie and his friends because she’s desperate to get closer to him. But when the two of them disturb a pagan burial site above the beach, she becomes certain that they have woken a malevolent spirit. Something is alive out there in the pitch-black dark, and it is planning to wreak deadly revenge.
One year later Heather knows that she was very lucky to escape Black Cairn Point but she is still waiting for Dougie to wake from his coma. If he doesn’t, how will she prove her sanity, and her innocence?
A chilling and atmospheric thriller from unflinching and award-winning writer Claire McFall.