7 June 2012 (Thursday) - Off to Camp


For the last ten years the second weekend in June has been Teston kite festival. But not this year. A greedy council was only prepared to run the festival in June if they could be assured to make hundreds of pounds profit. Attendance at the festival had been declining for the last few years anyway, and the decision to only have one kite weekend at Teston this year could well be the end of the event. Which would be a shame. A bunch of kite flyers had arranged a protest fly-in for the coming weekend, but that struck me as somewhat daft. The council has said that they won't pay for the kite festival so we put it on for free as a protest..... how does that work?




But we've got used to going camping during the second weekend in June. And so with Teston not happening we've arranged to camp out in Smarden. I was planning to be up at silly o'clock this morning, and to be loading stuff into the car. But I wasn't. I kept putting off getting up, and thinking I'd have another five minutes in my pit. I eventually finished packing the car just as the Folkestonians arrived, and together with Martin we set off to the farm. And rather than cracking on with the work we drank coffee. Eventually we got the camping gear out of storage and got it all to the camp site.

Last year "Daddies Little Angel TM" had labelled all the poles of our communal tent so that she would be able to put the thing up this time. It's all very well going camping mob-handed, but when only two of us know how the tent goes together there can be problems for the others. So "Daddies Little Angel TM" tested her labelling, and it worked very well. And with the communal "Brown and Smelly" in place we put up our personal tents. Not that we believed weather forecasts, but the good weather was supposed to give way to rain at 1pm. And as luck would have it we got the last tent up at 12.45pm, and the rain started at 12.50pm.





Finding that most of the day's newspaper had been used to line the guinea pig's cage (they come camping with us, you know), we salvaged what was left of the newspaper and did the crosswords over a cheese and bacon roll and a bottle of beer. And with little else going on we all dozed off. Apart from a minor episode when the Rear Admiral ran over his brolly with the car, all five of us were asleep for most of the afternoon.


During a lull in the rain "er indoors TM" arrived, and tea was cooked. Beef Stroganoff. We don't muck about when we go camping. Camping is about having an enjoyable holiday, not roughing it in a tent (!) And with the washing up washed up we played Jenga and drank blackberry liqueurs and port until the early hours.



8 June 2012 (Friday) Wind


Not a good night - the winds were terrible, and I lay awake for most of the night listening for the sounds of tents blowing away. I eventually got up about 6.30am, did my morning ablutions in the rain, and went round all of the tents checking guys and peggings. And I raided some rope from the farm and lashed the frame of "Brown and Smelly" to our forty litre water containers just to hold the thing down a bit better - the winds were that bad.

Having run myself ragged I sat down for a few minutes, and woke an hour or so later. People started getting up shortly after 9am, and after a leisurely brekkie (which wasn't over until gone 11am) we moved some of the tents so that they would be less wind-battered; the wind was still blowing at seemingly hurricane force.


"Daddies Little Angel TM" then had a driving lesson. The car concerned probably now needs new suspension; it was bouncing about the field quite impressively. And as Lisa arrived I tried the first pint from the barrel that I'd brewed for the occasion. Not too bad, really. Quite successful for home brew really. It washed down a light lunch quite nicely. And then a particularly strong gust of wind brought the toilet tent down. Three guy ropes snapped. Fortunately the stuff in the bucket stayed contained in the bucket, but for a while it was all quite exciting.



To calm my nerves I had another pint, and the girls got the air rifles out and took pot shots at various inanimate targets until Irene and Terry arrived. With the wind still excessive, all hands were needed on deck to put their tent up. Irene was sporting a very demure "Hello Kitty" T-shirt and somehow this sparked the comment that "Tits are horny". It was as well for humanity at large that I was there to take a moral stance.

The last of the residential campers arrived, and we had a spot of tea - curry. Very nice. Very tasty. And with tea scoffed, washing up done and collapsed campers put to bed we had a little go at the Madeira; cake and wine. Very nice.


And so to bed shortly after midnight....



9 June 2012 (Saturday) - Bit Less Wind





I had a mild guts ache this morning which woke me rather earlier than everyone else woke. After my morning ablutions I sat in "Brown and Smelly" and felt quite at one with the peace and tranquillity of the world. Irene woke me two hours later.

My phone rang - "My Boy TM" wanted directions to where we were camping, so I walked up to the road to find him. He arrived with a carful, and the four of them joined us for a spot of brekkie. Fudge seemed particularly excitable, and some dog-training lessons were started whilst some of us went off fishing. It would have been nice to have had a fishing pond on site, but there was one at the farm which was only five minutes drive away. We arrived at the farm to find a visitor had come to the wrong camp site; so we imparted directions and then had a pleasant couple of hours drowning maggots. "My Boy TM" eventually managed to catch two fish, which was two more than anyone else caught today.



With the novelty of standing by a pond fast wearing off we made our way back to camp where the O'Latas had arrived to visit. With our numbers swelled to over twenty on site we had an enjoyable lunch of cream cakes, and then got the kites out. The wind had subsided from yesterday's hurricanes to a mere tornado, and we played with power kites and delta kites and one lined kites and all sorts. The NASA power kite wasn't right. I had a theory, so we brought the thing down and measured the lines against each other. I was right: the lines had stretched. But all had not stretched equally. There was a good eight inches difference between longest and shortest lines. Ideally the lines should be no more than a millimetre different. We lined up the lines, re-strung the kite, had another go and again failed miserably. Untangling the bridling worked wonders, and I even went so far as to get my harness out to have a go with the power kite: it's been a while since I had my harness out. It was fun. "Daddies Little Angel TM" had a go with the kite and nearly knacked herself. It's easy to forget that power kites are not children's toys and they do bite.


Tea was excellent - chicken and bacon pasta. I am always happy to wash up at camp when someone else is cooking up such excellent food. And we spent a few hours playing Jenga whist drinking a wonderful orange-coloured passion fruit flavoured 25% abv jollop. Very nice. A drop of port would have been nice at that point. We had at least two bottles in the kitchen. After an hour we gave up looking they had vanished. Which was probably for the best as we staggered to our beds at midnight.



10 June 2012 (Sunday) - Hunting and ....


With the wind having subsided to nothing overnight it might have been possible to have got some kip; but for whoever it was shooting shotguns in the distance from 4am onwards. So I again got up, pootled, and fell asleep in "Brown and Smelly". I was woken by the sound of a car arriving at 9.15am. "My Boy TM" and the So-Fudge-Possee had come back for another day. I was really pleased that they had. I've been trying to convince him to come camping for years. Hopefully he's getting to see it my way now.


With most people emerging from their pits we had a spot of brekkie. In a novel break with tradition I did some of the cooking. And with washing up done, "My Boy TM" produced a tin of sweetcorn. He was feeling good about fishing - we could try again. So we did. We had a handful of tiddlers each; nothing special. And then the Rear Admiral caught a whopper. Four and a half pounds is probably not huge when compared to those that "proper carp anglers" go for, but for a duck pond that was only dug out ten years ago it was quite impressive.




Back to camp where we made sure that the pups were secured safely, and we spent a pleasant afternoon playing "Hunting and Killing with Jimbo and Ned". The girls supervised the air rifles; I tried (and failed) to look knowledgeable with archery gear. Eventually the rain put paid to our fun, so we retreated into "Brown and Smelly" where we played Hangman.

As the afternoon wore on so people had to leave us. There are so many people in my life that I don't see anywhere near enough of. Parting was sad; a shame that people had to go, but the next camping trip isn't that long away.


Tea - fajitas. A camp favourite. Usually on one of the first nights. For a change we had it on the last night. Very nice. And as the washing up was finished and the So-Fudge-Possee sailed off into the distance we got out the Blokus. And we found the missing bottles of port. It got messy. I went to bed shortly after midnight but was reliably informed that the party was still going at 2am..



11 June 2012 (Monday) - Home Again



Normally at camp I go fishing when I wake at silly o'clock. But with no pond on site this hadn't happened so far this weekend. The Rear Admiral had suggested that he set his alarm for 5am and that we got a couple of hours fishing in. I was game, and was dressed and standing waiting outside his tent when his alarm went off.

We were at the pond and fishing by 5.15am. We stayed for a couple of hours; catching a dozen between us. But the fishing was slow, and it was a cold morning so we went back to camp. Me to generally start packing away my own gear, the Rear Admiral to his bed.


One of the disadvantages of camping at organised events and festivals is that there are deadlines for getting off of the camping fields. At such a festival we would expect to be packed away and driving off of the field by 11am. Being on "home ground" we had no such urgency and were still cooking brekkie at 11am this morning. and as the rain started we realised another advantage of camping on our own turf - we can leave wet tents up indefinitely. There is no need to take wet canvas home to try to dry it later.


With the cars packed we set off home. Or tried to set off home. My car wouldn't start. I felt sick with worry; it's been a good car over the years. But a jump start did wonders. The consensus of opinion was that not having started the engine since Thursday and having been in and out of the car for all sorts of things, the internal lights had been on far too much and the battery had gone flat. I was reliably informed that the drive home would charge the battery.

I got home. Let's hope the car starts tomorrow.




There is an album of photos of the weekend's camp that you can see by clicking here


There is another one that you can see by clicking here