Anna Burnside: In the opposite camp

IS THERE a concept guaranteed to chill the soul more than glamping? It is not just one of those horrible made-up double words - glamour and camping - but a conflation of two concepts which are mortal enemies.

The joy of camping, for those who like that sort of thing, is that it is done in a field, close to the elements. It calls for hearty skills such as tent pitching, fire building and persuading over-excited children to lie down on an air mattress and go to sleep. Ablutions are performed behind a handy bush, in a nearby stream or in a concrete block that smells like Barlinnie.

Glamour belongs in the bright lights of the big city, to the louche minority who stay out late, consider the Bloody Mary a health tonic and are skilled in the use of electronic hair styling equipment. It does not transfer easily to a family hatchback, never mind a caravan park. Glamour is Dita von Teese. Camping is John Noakes.

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Much in common? I don't think so. Yet, in the interests of having an economical, environmentally friendly, happening holiday, Noakesy and Dita are urged to load up the Honda and head for the hills.

A cynical person, one who last entered a tent when she was a Girl Guide and Mrs Thatcher was the milk-snatcher, might see this as a load of marketing hokum, designed to make the gullible consumers of cocktails and curling tongs buy a whole load of other stuff. By giving it a Grazia magazine-friendly name and throwing on some celebrity stardust, which usually means a picture of Sienna Miller at a music festival in very short shorts and Hunter wellies, a field in Argyll somehow becomes as desirable as a lovely, clean, dry, insect-proof hotel.

Camping may be cheap if you spread the cost over multiple trips but if you are starting from scratch it is anything but. The list of kit required for a rough-and-ready night under canvas is terrifying. And that is without any of the glamour element, which does not come prepackaged from Argos. Instead, you must source and pay handsomely for this season's essential Panama hat, a vintage crochet rug and authentic 1950s picnic hamper, complete with Germolene-pink melamine cups and plates. And do not imagine that a swoop on Morrisons for a crate of cooking lager and their barbecue for a fiver deal will take care of the catering. Once you have sourced the organic sausages and baked your own beans, to be transported to the campsite and reheated over state-of-the-art portable stove, you will need another holiday to recover.

Otherwise sensible people still think this sounds like an enjoyable way to spend the weekend. Only last week I had to admire a friend's new tent. I was trapped on the sofa as she popped up an enormous khaki dome that filled the rest of the room.

This was impressive, none of the weeping over colour-coded poles that I remembered from the 1970s. But with my knees touching hi-tech waterproof canvas, there was no escape as she explained, at length, about fitted groundsheets, inner skins and a complicated pod system whereby she bolts on further domes to create a luxury housing complex including a games room and patio with a Japanese water feature. I might have been hallucinating at that point.

My friend is far from the only one facing a summer of barbecue-scented laundry and mud in the car. Halfords is claiming that 50 per cent of families plan to camp on holiday this year, compared to 20 per cent in 2009. And while that figure seems unfeasibly high there is no doubt that many are falling victim to the siren lure of the Cath Kidston picnic rug. The pound may have rallied, slightly, against the dollar but three out of four Brits have booked a holiday in the UK this year and the Camping and Caravanning Club reports that advance bookings at their sites across the country are up 16 per cent on last year.

Before an unhappy glamper throws a Campingaz cylinder through my window, I know how much camping has changed since the old days and that tents now come with fitted carpets and electric hook-ups. I have seen yurts, wooden wigwams, Airstream trailers and beautiful reconditioned VW camper vans. I am sure, in a balmy climate and a pre-pitched eight-room carpeted tent, I could have an enjoyable, even glamorous holiday in one of them.

But what would be the point? What I enjoyed about camping, aged 12, was that there were no fitted carpets or fridges. There was certainly precious little glamour, as hair washing was impossible and cagoules mandatory on all outings. The campsite may only have been an hour away from Glasgow but it was a wondrous alternative universe where we toasted marshmallows, drank watery hot chocolate around a fire and made our own furniture - called "gadgets" - to store our rucksacks and bedding rolls. When it rained, which it most certainly did, we sat in our tent and told ghost stories.

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Sorry campers, but my idea of a glamorous holiday is hanging out with George Clooney on Lake Como. Not reliving Nuts In May in Burntisland.

• Dani Garavelli is on holidayz