A friend of mine recently spoke to me about her camping trip and the day she first smoked shisha. I thought I'd repeat it here!
I'd been at university for only three months when I'd already got friendly with a lot of people out of my biology class. There were six of us, four girls, two boys and we tended to stick around together most of the time.
The tutor had mentioned the idea of field trips, and so we decided that to get a head start, we'd arrange our own trip. Dave had a big car. His family were pretty wealthy, and they'd bought him a people carrier. Not sure what it was now (I was no good at recognising cars), but it had seven seats, so we'd be fine.
We got to planning the trip.
We decided to go for a weekend and as it was spring and the nights were getting shorter and warmer, we thought we'd head off on a Friday night to make the most of it.
A campsite next to a river was found and, to the relief of most of the party, it had a pub and a shower block. No slumming it for some people!
And so the Friday came round and we all started to get our equipment together. Jim turned up with a box that rattled, but we thought nothing of it. We assumed he'd bought some cooking equipment.
After a three hour drive we arrived at the campsite. It was pretty small, but we managed to get a pitch under a tree by the river.
The car was unpacked, along with lots of beer. We got the tents up, and as the sun went down we started opening beers.
And then Jim got his box out the car and opened it up.
He pulled out various bits of glass and metal and pipes. He set down some boxes, what looked like charcoal and some tin foil.
At this point, Emily called out "Hang on, nobody's doing drugs here, we'll be kicked off the site!!"
Jim looked perplexed. "It's not drugs! It's a hookah pipe, the strongest thing that goes in this is tobacco, and I've brought herbal stuff, it's fine!"
At first, everyone was a little sceptical. But as he put the hookah pipe together and explained the various parts of it to everyone, it was clear this was more than just about smoking, it was about the experience.
He'd even bought extra tips and disposable pipes, so we could all have a go.
Over the next few hours, with the beer flowing and the pipe being passed around, we had one of the best nights ever.
That was three years ago. I've now left university, and I'm living in a flat in London, and I've also got my own hookah pipe which I use probably once or twice a month when I have friends round, some of whom went on that camping trip.
Nobody seems to discuss the good side of shisha and how it can forge friendships, so I thought I'd let you know about my experience!