21 August 2008 (Thursday) - Preparing for Bat-Camp



August Bank Holiday is traditionally Bat-Camp. Another tradition is to intend to set up on the Thursday afternoon. Not to actually do so, but to intend to do so. Martin arrived at mid day armed with some of the KFC’s finest, and once that was scoffed, I had a little bit of shopping to do before setting off for Smarden. I wanted a beach shelter for the weekend’s fishing. £8.99 in the Argos catalogue. But every Argos in Kent had sold out. Pretty much the same thing was in stock in the fishing shop  - £49.99. They can stick that.


We then popped to the scout hut for a camp toilet to go into the toilet tent (or “turdis” as it is known - Words were said about the 99p bucket at Teston kite festival !) And then to Martin’s to get his luggage. Making a brief detour to Biddenden vineyard we arrived at the farm at 3.15pm to find the kettle had just boiled.



I don’t know what went wrong this afternoon. At a kite festival we have all tents set up, personal gear & cooking gear organised, air beds inflated and half a dozen banners flying (to say nothing of a certain rainbow flag) all in three hours. We lost things up trees, couldn’t find the turdis, and we’d been there two hours before we got the first tent out of its bag. After five hours we’d got tents up (but nothing organised inside them), everything chucked in “Brown and Smelly” just in case it rains, and a poo pit dug. We’ll try again tomorrow. And try harder.

I can’t help but wonder what happened to the turdis. That thing cost over thirty quid, and I have yet to christen it….


22 August 2008 (Friday) - Off To Bat-Camp



The turdis came to light under a pile of gazebo fragments in one of the lock-ups this morning. I can’t help but suspect the thing was hiding. Bearing in mind what’s planned for it over the weekend, I for one can’t blame it for trying to hide. Whilst rummaging for it, I found a beach shelter. Exactly the sort of thing I’d been looking for yesterday. “My Boy TM” had declared it to be rubbish. It will do for me!

The plan was to get to the farm at about mid day, but by 10am I was bored, (and so was Martin) so we set off for Smarden. This morning we got ourselves sorted quickly, and all was done within half an hour. So we went fishing. There was a minor hiccup in that I would seem to have lost a third of a fishing rod somewhere. I expect it will turn up at some point – these things usually do. Fishing ! - an epic battle of man and beast, pitting your wits against the leviathan of the deep. And when the leviathan falls for your bait there then ensues a gargantuan battle of physical prowess. Or that’s what I told Batty, who only caught one. Martin and I had a dozen tiddlers each.

Following some light comic relief watching Bernie trying to get an inflated airbed into his tent there was a quick Barbie and then I left the happy campers to it and came home. I’m expected in at work tomorrow, and I’d rather not go from the camp site. You never know what might go west overnight……



23 August 2008 (Saturday) - Beer and Smoke




I was feeling that I was missing out not being at camp as I was awake from 4am. Work was dull (as usual), and I was back at the farm by 1pm. Pausing only briefly to get a bandanna, it was soon time for another Bat-Camp tradition – pub lunch. Stilton ploughman’s and a couple of pints of mild went down very well. On the wander back to camp we found the village fete where I won a coconut on the coconut shy. I feel I must point out that it wasn’t won in the traditional way. I was given it because I was so rubbish that they felt sorry for me.





On arrival back at camp we found we had a couple of visitors – and after showing Andy the correct use of the turdis, it was time for a spot of fishing. (Fortunately for piscatorial science, I found the missing fishing rod fragment in the shed) A dozen or so tiddlers succumbed to “really skilful angling TM” and then back to base. A super tea of tacos was scoffed, and we adjourned to the camp fire (or camp smoke to be precise) where after a protracted session of drinking to excess, port and cheese was enjoyed (how posh) until rain finally stopped play around midnight.



24 August 2008 (Sunday) - Camp (ing) in the Rain



Bat-Camp is rife with traditions. One of them is that I go fishing at 6am and take the blame for waking the farm animals that actually wake up on their own half an hour later. But not today. It was raining so I stayed in bed. A late breakfast followed by an even later dinner. The weather forecast led us to believe the weather would be iffy to begin with, but would cheer up as the day went on. The rain didn’t stop until about 3pm for which time we re-scheduled the postponed fishing.

After a good scoff of chicken curry, the evening was spent drinking and star gazing, until the clouds hid the stars.




25 August 2008 (Monday) - Reflecting on Bat-Camping

This morning wasn’t raining. But it was on the cold side. So much so that at 6am I was seriously considering staying in bed. But, much as I like going fishing, it’s something that I rarely (if ever) do except at Bat-Camp, so I braved the elements. Fishing was dull for the first hour, but it perked up after a bit, so much so that I had to use the landing net for one of the fish. It was a shame that there was no one there to see the thing. It was far bigger than the one pictured above. Mind you, that’s an impressive fish. Last year the pond was stocked with tench about the size of my little finger, and you can see how the things have grown.

As the morning wore on, it became a lovely day. The sun was shining, and there was a gentle breeze. All the tents were dry and ready to be packed away and just as we finished breakfast so the rain started. A fine drizzle that soaked everything. We brought home our personal gear but we’ve left the tents where they were. One of the advantages of Bat-Camp over kite festivals is that if we have wet tents we don’t have the problem of drying them. We can leave them where they are and worry about them later. The current plan is to worry about them on Wednesday evening.


And so home to unpack. As we finish the ninth Bat-Camp, I’m wondering what we can do to make the next one even better. In all honesty, the main thing which could have been better this year (and last) was the weather. But we’ve had fun with the weather in the past. The first “official” Bat-Camp ever was in September 1998, and that was cold and wet (!). The next one was early in the following July, and whilst I don’t remember the weather being overly iffy, a July date would clash with other camping commitments in Brighton. (I wonder if we could persuade Brighton Kite Fliers to re-schedule their festival?) The millennium year saw two Bat-Camps, one in June, and one at the August Bank Holiday. The June one must have been good to prompt us to have another one the same year, and there’s photos of people swimming at that August camp so it must have been warm. We liked having the extra day camping because of the bank holiday, and that has been the reason why we’ve chosen the August bank holiday for the last six camps. But bearing in mind we’ve had rather substantial rain in three of them, perhaps a re-think is in order. Trouble is, when would suit…..



There’s a gallery of photos from this camp that you can see by clicking here.

And there’s another gallery here.