27 August 2010 (Friday) - Off to Camp




Sometimes it bothers me how disorganised we are at Bat-Camp compared to how slick we are when setting up for kite festivals. Despite having delivered a car full of stuff to the farm yesterday, this morning the car was overflowing with yet more stuff to go to the farm. Martin and Daddies Little Angel TM ” arrived at 9am with more luggage (and guinea pigs) and by the time we’d been to Asda for the makings of lunch there was hardly any space in the car at all. And we still had to fit Tony and his gear in. When we arrived to get Tony I was expecting to tell him there was no room at the inn, and he’d have to walk. But totally out of the blue a wasp appeared from nowhere and stung me in the neck. Tony applied Savlon, and so we made space for him (somehow).


We arrived at the farm (with a throbbing neck) and having excavated the passengers out from underneath all the luggage, we loaded a tractor trailer with said luggage and made our way to camp. We got the guinea pigs into their home for the weekend and then a few minutes were spent fiddling about laying out sleeping bags, finding jim-jams and torches and sundry boring but necessary tasks. It’s so easy not to do these jobs but do “fun” instead, and then find yourself trying to find a sleeping bag whilst rather drunk and in pitch blackness at 1am. (Been there, done that!). Having set up “Green and Smelly” (the toilet) we washed our hands at the tap (running water at camp – how posh!), and settled down for lunch.






I looked around: “where’s the plates?” A quick search revealed they weren’t on the camp site. A quick trip to the farm house revealed they weren’t on the farm at all. And then I remembered looking at the box of plates and cups in our shed and thinking that I needed to pack it. So I drove home quickly to get it whilst dinner was got ready. Whilst shopping yesterday Batty had described what he wanted to do for our mid day scoff, and I must admit I don’t think I was paying much attention at the time. But it was great – Halloumi is a kind of cheese, and when it’s fried it goes really well in a sandwich with bacon and tomatoes. And even better when you’ve a plate to eat it off (!)


And then to the pond for a couple of hours fishing before Terry and Irene arrived. Or that was the plan. With no fixed arrival time, I had this vague idea that they would phone on arrival, and then we’d come down with the tractor to load up their kit. And in the meantime we’d do fishing whilst waiting. We cast out, and started getting tiddlers. The father and daughter competition got quite intense, and a good time was had by all; especially when the Bat caught a whopper that didn’t get away. But all the time I was rather conscious that my phone hadn’t rung, and that time was getting on. We came back to camp to find Terry and Irene had arrived to find the camp all set up, but no one home. With no phone signal and no idea where anyone was they decided to make a start on cooking tea. An idea which was heartily supported by all.


With the arrival of er indoors TM , the “Rear Admiral” and the landlord, dinner was served: a truly wonderful curry. Eleven of us had a treat. I was very happy to do the washing up after a bit of tea that good. And then we sat around chatting and drinking too much till too late….




























28 August 2010 (Saturday) - Camping





Early morning fishing is traditional (for me) at Bat-Camp, and I was at the pond doing my thing by 6am. But (like a twit) I’d forgotten to bring either my camera or my phone, so I have no record of the first fish I caught today – the biggest fish I’ve ever caught out of the Bat-Pond – a carp weighing three pounds. As carp go, that’s only small stuff, but when you bear in mind that all the carp in that pond are either those that I put in the pond as tiddlers over the last few years, or fish bred from those tiddlers, I think that a three pound carp is quite respectable. After a while the “Rear Admiral” joined me, and we fished for a couple of hours, catching nearly a hundred fish between us.



Back to camp for brekkie, and then we moved the toilet tent. We’d put “Green and Smelly” close to our communal cookhouse tent because the bigger tent acted as a windbreak. However because the toilet tent was so close, there was little in the way of privacy; and some very odd noises were emerging. So for the sake of everyone’s nerves (and decorum) we moved the loo a little way away. And then we did something we’ve not done for ages - we got the bow snarrows out. Having spent a small fortune on archery over the last few years, it’s become something we rarely seem to do any more; which is a shame. So with the arrival of Chippy we spent a couple of hours taking pot shots at assorted targets, and “Yours Truly” came second in the knock-out round. I didn’t gloat much (!) We were reminded of the need for bracers as both Irene and the “Rear Admiral” received quite nasty bruises on their forearms from the bow strings. I didn’t point and laugh much (!)



Daddies Little Angel TM  then did the bread and cheese for her dad (good girl). Washed down with a bottle of old peculiar it was lovely. Tina and Jason then arrived and came fishing with us for a bit, before leaving us to fish whilst they took pot-shots with bow snarrows. And then Molly, Trudy and Steve arrived. Molly seemed to enjoy all the amazing smells of the farmyard, and even found a new doggy treat. Before long fifteen of us (fourteen hoo-mans and one fellow blogger) sat down to dinner. A new addition to the camping menu – pork and apple braise. Very good, and much appreciated.

Whilst the washing up was done, the pyromaniac contingent made the camp fire and the rain started. I watched the camp fire from the comfort of our cookhouse tent, and occasionally shouted sage advice whilst listening to the sound of the rain thundering on the tent’s roof. But the rain came and went as quickly as it was heavy. Within half an hour the clouds were parting, and we all adjourned to the camp fire where we saw off a few gallons of ale. Another Bat-Camp tradition is that port is passed round the campfire circle so everyone gets some. But sometimes the bottle is slow to move round the circle. To remedy this, we opened another bottle. At one point there were three bottles of port on the go, and once we’d cheered the International Space Station as it came over we had a quick rendition of my party piece: “Foo-Foo the Bunny Rabbit”. If any of my loyal readers have not yet experienced “Foo-Foo the Bunny Rabbit”, in all its glory, they should consider themselves fortunate. And then we chatted, told knob jokes, and generally stayed up far too late drinking far too much; eventually falling into bed at 2.30am.




29 August 2010 (Sunday) - More Camping





The trouble with drinking ale by the gallon is that it has to go somewhere, and so at 6am I was forming a queue for the tiddle tent. I chatted for a bit with Molly’s Mum who was also up, and then I decided that since I was up anyway, I might as well go fishing; sleep is for those in bed. The fish were biting this morning; I was catching loads, but I was getting peckish. I kept fishing until I’d had fifty, and then I wandered back to camp at 8.30am. It would seem that I was unusual in being up and about after having had far too much to drink. I gathered up those other brave souls who were up and about and we all (me and the “Rear Admiral”) went back to the pond for a bit more fishing whilst everyone else slept it off.

We wound up having brekkie at about 11am – and a good old-fashioned fry-up seemed to do most people a world of good. We washed up, drank coffee, lazed around for a bit, and all too soon it was time to say goodbye to those of our number who had to go. So we loaded up all their bits onto the tractor trailer, and rode down to the road where we loaded their cars and said our goodbyes.




The piscatorial amongst us went to the pond to fish for a bit. By 2pm we were all feeling a bit hungry, so I was dispatched to get lunch for my fellow haddock hunters. And after lunch, er indoors TM came up to the pond and had a go at fishing, even going so far as to catch a tiddler. Not unhooking it, or even touching it. Just catching it, and then catching herself.

As the afternoon wore on Chris had to depart, taking the Folkestone contingent with him, and then there were eight of us. As the weather took a turn for the worse, we all sat in our communal cookhouse and resorted to the emergency fall-back plan used whenever events conspire against us: have a crafty pint. There are those who will say that I spent this time fast asleep. And I will admit that to the uninitiated it probably looked like that. But it was most odd. I could hear every word of the conversation, and also my own snoring too.



We had a late dinner – fajitas are always popular, and always good. And then it was suggested that the leftover mushrooms from brekkie might go well in fajitas, so we all had seconds. And we all sat there feeling very stuffed. As the weather was clearing up we walked down to the farmhouse to help put the baby ducklings to bed. The ducklings seem to lead a pampered existence, and had to be tucked into bed. Or that is tucked into bed once caught and cuddled. I would have thought they would have put up a fuss, but they seemed quite happy to have been held and stroked.

Back to camp where the “Wounded Archer’s Cookery Club” had prepared a treat. Those who had sustained bruises from yesterday’s archery session had spent some time gathering fruit from around the farm’s hedgerows and had prepared a blackberry fool for everyone. Oh, that was soooooo good!! And by this time it was dark: trying to wash up in the dark is a daft thing to do, so we decided to leave it and have a camp fire instead. Compared to the previous evening’s revelry, tonight’s camp fire was a modest affair, but none the less enjoyable. We spent a very pleasant hour or so drinking beer (and assorted fluids) whilst spotting shooting stars and satellites, before going to bed before midnight (for once).






30 August 2010 (Monday) - Coming Home


I had a very good sleep, and woke up bright eyed and raring to go. The only problem was that it was just after 1am. Too dark to go fishing, I tried to get back to sleep, but the wind was picking up. In fact I got out of bed a couple of times to check the toilet tent and gazebo hadn’t blown away in what sounded like hurricanes.

Last night I received orders that people wanted to come early morning fishing, and I was to rouse people. So following my morning’s ablutions I wandered round the tents, shouting the code-word “HADDOCK!” For some reason I didn’t get much response. Over the years I’ve found that people are far keener on the concept of early morning activities at 6pm than they are at 6am. Undeterred I fished alone for half an hour until the Bat joined me. But my heart wasn’t in it this morning; it was cold and very windy. After an hour or so we packed up and went back to camp to do the previous night’s washing up. Or that was the plan. We got there to find Martin had done it all. So we fed the guinea pigs instead. We’ve never had the piggles at a camp before. I must admit that I’d had reservations about the idea, but in the event they were as good as gold.



And then we realised that the wind which was so strong this morning wasn’t entirely a bad thing; it had blown the tents dry. So whilst the breakfast team cracked on, the rest of us started to get our bits and bobs packed and our tents down. A late brekkie – omelettes with cheese mushrooms and bacon. Very nice! And then we continued packing. But I’m not quite sure what went wrong. The time was racing away. At Brighton Kite Festival earlier in the year three of us had the campsite packed away by 11am, and it was raining then. Eight of us were on the case today (in ideal packing away weather) and we took till 2pm to do the job. But that’s Bat-Camp; and that’s the way we love it (!)

And so home where I’ve stashed most of what I’ll need for the forthcoming camping trip into one of the lock-ups. And then I had a shower. Heaven. Much as I like camping, I like a shower too. We need to camp in places with shower blocks. I shall smile sweetly at the farm management…






There is an album of photos from this camp that you can see by clicking here.


And there’s another album here.