27 May 2011 (Friday) - Off To Brighton

I woke feeling rough – I don’t usually get colds, but today I had a definite sniffle. But I wasn’t going to let that stop me. With the car all loaded the advance party set off for Brighton at 9am. Well, we set off at 9am. By the time we’d collected gas canisters and been for shopping that we knew we needed several days ago, it was 9.30am before we left Ashford. But we’ve been to Brighton before; we know the route well – what could possibly go wrong?
It turned out that road works could go wrong – we met so many sets of road works and diversions I began to wonder if we’d ever get there. But eventually we did, and we found that there were already a lot of our friends there. We exchanged insults with several people, and made our way to our usual spot half way up the slope. We spent a few minutes trying to find the flattest bit of a hill (not as easy as it sounds), and then started setting up camp. Our mess tent went up easily enough, as did the tables and camp kitchen. But we had a bit of a problem: the advance party didn’t have any of the catering staff along. We set up the kitchen area as best as we could, but I spent the entire weekend with a sense that the kitchen just wasn’t laid out right.

As the evening wore on, so more of our number arrived. We had eleven in our immediate camp, with six more family camped next door, and five more friends next to them. And dozens of friends in various places around the field.
And dinner arrived, accompanied by Terry and Irene. Whenever I mention that I go camping a lot, I am often told by many people that they don’t like camping. I would respond to this with the observation that people who say they don’t like camping have never actually done camping like I do camping. There is camping in style, and there is roughing it in a tent. The two are very different concepts. Take tonight’s meal – the goulash was wonderful. Why does everyone assume that camp food is burgers which have been cremated on a barbecue? It doesn’t have to be.

Having been fed, I was quite happy to wash up. There is a shower block in Stanmer Park with hot running water, which makes washing up much easier than at other kite festivals, and washing up didn’t take long at all. And very soon we were back at camp having a crafty pint of beer. In previous camping trips there’s been no denying that the beer bill has been rather high, and so this year I took along some home brew as an economy measure. I took the last gallon of the “Pickled Parrot”, and five gallons of a beer I’d brewed especially for the occasion – “Bright ‘Un”. They had both bounced around in the car during the drive down, but were both drinkable. So I drank them. Not all of it, but an elegant sufficiency. And everyone else had an elegant sufficiency too: as the evening wore on friends visited, and we chatted and drank, and drank and chatted. Some of us moved from our chairs onto the floor, as it is (apparently) very difficult to fall off of the floor.

I eventually staggered into bed at 1am, by now shivering with a full-blown cold.

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