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Monday, 27 August 2012

Batcamp 25-26 August 2012

In preparation for a weekends camping, we took the tent down to the farm on friday evening. Thanks to many helpers it went up in no time. I think we got a  good tent as people commented how nice it was. We hadn't planned on staying tonight so we went back home, stopping for chinese food on the way.


Sarah woke with a stinking cold, so whilst I went off to the farm, she stayed at home. The plan was that she would have a day of rest then come down on Sunday. When I arrived the weather was pretty grotty, we spent most the afternoon in the 'Brown and Smelly' (the mess tent) chatting and drinking Dave's homebrew. We were joined by Sam, Chippy and the kids and it actually stopped raining long enough for the kids to play outside with a frisbee. Late afternoon we walked down to the ponds for a spot of 'maggot drowning'. I caught one tiddler.  After a great dinner (sweet and sour chicken) courtesy of Jose and Maria, We waited in the 'Brown and Smelly' until the rain had subsided again. The evening turned out quite pleasant, the fire pit was lit and we sat round it while Batty gave us a narration with a twist from 'Fifty Shades of Gray', including sound effects. We rounded off the night with cheese and port, just enough to make me sleepy...


I have to say it was a very comfortable night in the tent. I was awakened from time to time by the wind blowing in the trees, but at about 5am there was a cacophony of Sheep, Ducks, Crows and Geese. Only the Cattle were silent. I got up at 7am needing to use a tree, but I couldn't be bothered to get the wellies on, so I ran across the field barefoot, avoiding the cow pats. At 8am I joined Dave for another spot of maggot drowning, I caught sweet FA. After a hearty breakfast I went home to collect Sarah, have a shower and change clothes as I left the clothes out of my rucksack. We got back to camp about midday and I had yet another crack at maggot drowning. Still no success. As lunch was laid out we were joined by Andy and Julie, then Keith and his daughter Amy made an appearance. There was a job to be done on the farm this afternoon. The duck house on the pond behind the camping field had come adrift from its rope mooring. Batty needed volunteers to swim out and grab the Duck house, and the rope. Step forward Dave and Tina who braved the cold and murky water to get it.

We went back to the other pond for round four of maggot drowning, and yet again I caught sweet FA, I did hook one, but it escaped before I could land it so it doesn't count. We decided to get the tent packed up before dinner so with the help of Keith and Andy I managed to get it back in the bag without too much hassle.
Dinner tonight was Fajitas prepared by Lukey. They were lovely. We lit the Fire pit again and after a couple of hours chatting, the evening was all over too soon and we had to leave our friends and get back to civilisation. We had hungry Cats to feed. I now have to wait until Bat camp next year then...

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Now is the Summer of our Discount Tents 18-19 August 2012

Excuse the Shakespearean pun in the title, but I've been dying to use it and this weekend seemed appropriate.


Boy it was hot last night. I reckon that tonight we'll probably have the fan on in the bedroom, something I never normally do because the noise disturbs me.
We went into town this morning, Sarah bought a few clothes and I bought a new lock for the shed, exciting huh? We popped into Iceland to get a few salad bits, there was a very strong smell in there... and I mean REALLY strong, and it seemed to be coming from this little old lady. she must have been having serious gastric difficulties. 

This afternoon it was so hot that we spent it indoors watching 'Cool Runnings' on the TV and eating ice lollies. We were planning a barbeque, but our friends weren't too sure they could come. So we will have one tomorrow. It was Chinese food tonight instead. This evening we sat outside and tracked Bats with my detector, then watched the ISS fly over.

I recorded X Factor tonight. Why did I bother you ask? They showed some cheeky chappie who worked in Nando's and sung a Louis Armstrong tune...badly. Stick to burnt chicken mate. Then there was a girl who looked like Pink, dressed like Pink and sung a Pink song. When the judges said she was too much like Pink (except for the voice which was pants) she went off on one, assaulting a cameraman and trashing scenery. Staged? Of course it was!
Even the ones who could sing were annoying. I think there was one girl who showed promise. she sang her own composition, which was actually quite good. Get her off the show and into a record contract before they ruin her career. Mel B was the best judge on there. She pulled no punches and you could see some of the auditionees looked a tad upset at her comments. Good. These wannabees need to be told they are no good. I know very talented  musicians who work their butts off, performing live in pubs, clubs, theatres and festivals who will never get a record contract because its 'not what the public wants', which is a shame. So will I be watching it next week? I should not like it but I find it compulsive viewing.


It was hot again last night. We had the fan on in the bedroom which made it a bit more bearable, but the noise meant I was waking every half hour or so. Still, must not complain. Remember only a few weeks ago it was chucking down with rain every day.

After the weekly shop we set off in search of tents. Last weekend we were told of a place near Wildwood in Herne. Having had a look at the ones on display we asked if there were any offers, only to be told we were a week early for the sale but they could do us a deal on a couple. So we ended up buying the one in the picture, along with a carpet and footprint groundsheet. I bought an LED wind up lantern as well. I reckon I'm just about prepared for Batcamp next weekend.

We carried on to Herne Bay, and through it. The place was packed to the rafters and there wasn't a parking spot to be had anywhere. We then headed for Whitstable. The queue of traffic into the town was horrendous so we gave that one a miss as well.  Must be the weather...

We got home just in time for the ice cream van to pull up down the road. 99s were the order of the day and very nice they were as well. Tonight we sparked up the barbeque, just for us two, and after a fine meal of lamb chops, bangers and salad followed by strawberries n cream, we settled down for the evening.

Until next week then...

Monday, 13 August 2012

Pastures New and Kite Festival 11-12 August 2012

1994 and my 'debut' with Allen Taylor
Check out the carts top left!

Firstly I have a bit of an announcement to make. Most of my readers know that since 1994 I have been a presenter on Hospital radio in Dartford. First at Radio Joyce Green, and when that hospital closed in 2000 we set up Valley Park Radio at Darent Valley Hospital. Since moving to Ashford in 2006 I have been finding it increasingly difficult to juggle my time between my membership requirements and my other commitments. My weekly show is the only time I have been there. To this end I have recently Joined AHBS in Ashford as it will be easier for me to commit my time. The station is on the 'up' and I want to be part of it. So now is the time to 'Hang up my headphones' at VPR. My last show will be on 30th August. It has been an absolute pleasure to be part of the team there. I have made some great and lasting friendships, which I hope will remain. I will still have contact with VPR as I aim to retain associate membership. I want to know what is going on behind my back. I will have to dedicate a blog to some of the stand-out moments from the last eighteen years, of which there have been many.


We were shopping early today, making the most of the last early opening of the supermarket due to the Olympics. Once completed we headed off to Teston Park for the kite festival. The Badger contingent are camping there so we thought we'd pop down to see what this kiting lark was all about. 'Not a lot' as it transpired. The weather, although glorious meant there was a distinct lack of wind, which a kite needs to get lift. There were other activities including tasting Manky's homebrew
(most palatable) and taking part in his new found hobby geocaching, which seemed to have plenty of converts. I also brought down the solar telescope, which attracted some interest. After a most pleasant afternoon We said our goodbyes and headed back for Ashford. After a bit of dinner we settled down to watch the Olympic closing ceremony. It started a bit dodgy, but soon picked up and I thought it was brilliant. I did miss a bit though. Just as George Michael came on, and I swear it has nowt to do with him. I suddenly felt ill. Next thing I know I was talking down the great white telephone. It was like a scene from the Exorcist! I don't know what I've picked up but its knocked me sideways!

Until next week then...

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Camping and Castles 4-5 August 2012

I like three day weekends. Friday morning was spent with friends, where we had breakfast at the Foundry cafe. I had the biggest full English I think I've ever eaten.  Then we went for a walk to try and recover from all that food. Victoria park is a place I rarely visit. But walking through there this morning made me realise it is actually a nice place. The River Stour looks clean of rubbish with plenty of fish, and I was impressed with the large fountain. Just a pity they only operate it at weekends. Then it was home for an afternoon of watching Olympics, napping and taking stuff down the dump.


We had to go into town this morning. So while Sarah went off for a chat with the bank I sat in the cafe with a frothy coffee. When I finished that I went and had a chat with Andy and Julie from Dexterity, who were peddling their motorbike training courses in County Square. I must admit I've neglected the motorbike for a while, it needs an MOT so just sits in the garage looking dejected. 

I have been thinking about staying over at Batcamp* later this month. This involves buying a tent and some camping equipment. We went to Cotswold in Maidstone this afternoon for a look around, and although we didn't buy any camping stuff,  we did buy new waterproof North Face jackets as my old one leaks. They were in the sale as well so I thought they were worth getting before winter sets in and the prices go up. 

A round of lawn mowing was in order when we got home. I managed to empty the grass box three times, that's how long the grass was. Normally I only have to empty it once. Then after some Chinese grub from the freezer we settled down for an evening of Olympics. Wow that was the greatest sporting achievement I've ever seen, Well done Jessica, Mo, Greg and of course all the other Team GB medal winners. It makes you proud to be British!


We were in Asda by 9:30 this morning, and on the way home we dropped into Halfords to have a look at their tents. They sell one with 4 sleeping bags, 2 air beds, electric pump, lanterns the  lot and you can stand up in the tent. A pre-requisite as far as we are concerned. I still want to shop about though as this offer gives us more kit than we need.

After a spot of lunch we decided to make use of our English Heritage membership. Walmer and Deal castles were our destination. I've driven pass these on several occasions but never ventured in. I reckon everyone must be watching the Olympics as there weren't many people at either castles, apart from a few foreign tourists.  Walmer Castle is more of a stately 'ome. According to our audio guides the Duke of Wellington died there apparently. The trouble with these guides is they last longer than your interest in the room. You just want to move on and are not all that bothered about the history of the statuette on the sideboard. We strolled into the gardens and had a  quick game on the giant connect four, which I lost. Then stopped for a quick cuppa before moving on.

Then it was back on the road for the five minute drive to Deal Castle. This castle obviously hasn't been lived in as the interior is sparse, save for a couple of paintings and displays. The lower ramparts were also a bit flooded, so we couldn't get all the way round without getting our feet wet, but I liked the way they have not lit the passageways, so its just natural light in there. EH tend to rely on these audio guides so there is not much visual information around. Unless you buy a guidebook of course.

I see Team GB have won more gold today, absolutely brilliant and all these people who were slagging off the Olympics before they started are strangely quiet now. Having watched a helluva lot of the Olympics on TV I feel that the experience is passing me by. So we are seriously thinking about trying to get tickets for the Paralympics, just to say we were there.

Until next week then...

* If you have never been you won't appreciate how good Batcamp is.