13 June 2011 (Monday) - Bayham Old Abbey

I went to bed last time, listening to the rain in a rather smug sort of way. Camping is all good fun when it’s warm and dry. And you can cope with a degree of cold and wet. And this morning I awoke to find it had rained seriously hard overnight: the water level in my fish pond had gone up a couple of inches. For all that it was mostly dry today, the grass in the garden was still wet at midday. If I had any doubts about the sensibility of packing up camp early yesterday; I’m now convinced we made the right decision.
Talking of decisions, I’ve told my nephew not to bring his idiot friend camping again. Over the years we’ve had no end of kids and teenagers camping with us in various places, and this is the first time there’s ever been a major problem. My immediate reaction yesterday was to ban all under-18s from our mess tent. Which would have been utterly unfair on the vast majority of under-18s because they are (99.9+%) decent well-mannered people.

People like my nephew’s idiot friend annoy me. Not so much because of their behaviour, but because the actions of one idiot spoil everything for everyone else. He made me (nearly) tar everyone of his age with the same brush when I know full well that not all youngsters are like that. And I don’t like that!
Take for example the contingent that “My Boy TMis currently with. A gaggle of them set off to France last Friday for a week’s fishing. They will have a beer or two (like I do), but they will have fun without causing upset. And catch a fish or two along the way. When they go fishing they might not shout “Haddock!” as often as I do, but when they do it will be for a fish worth catching. So far I’m reliably informed that “My Boy TMhas had five fish over twenty pounds in weight, two of them being over thirty pounds.

I woke rather early this morning very conscious of all the wet tents needing drying, and seeing how it wasn’t actually raining at the time I thought I’d get some of the tents on the line. After all, if it should start raining they were already wet. I got my tent’s groundsheet on the washing line…
How easy it is to type that: I wrestled with the thing for forty minutes, covering myself with day-old mud from the groundsheet. And having got it on the line I realised that having fought like that with a groundsheet, there was no way I could do anything else on my own. So I went back to bed. After a bit of a lie-in and a bit of brekkie I enlisted the help of ‘er indoors TM. The groundsheet was dry, but the grass was still very wet, so we got the groundsheet in without letting it get near the ground, which is another thing much easier said than done. And then we pegged out our tent on the washing line and left it for the day.
We mucked and fiddled about for the morning putting the last of the bits and bobs from camping away. And at midday I went out to see our tent. Not quite dry. I then noticed my feet were wet. For all that the rain had stopped, the grass was still sodden. Again feeling vindicated for packing up camp early we decided to do something with the day we had taken off work.

We started with McDinner. There were a whole load of soldiers at McDonalds. Soldiers all have their names emblazoned on their uniform chests. I sniggered at Private Sergeant; I don’t think he saw me. It’s odd; for all that soldiers have guns I felt somehow reassured that there were a gaggle of squaddies in McDonalds.  I know that I would have felt most uncomfortable if there was a similar contingent of police in their place.
And then we went on to Bayham Old Abbey. The official line is that Bayham Old Abbey makes “a fascinating day out on the Kent Sussex border. The impressive ruins include much of the 13th to 15th-century church, the chapter house, and a picturesque 14th-century gatehouse”. My personal view is that it’s not a bad place to waste half an hour purely because I get in free with my English Heritage membership. It’s not worth the fiver (near enough) that the general punter would have to pay.

We came home via the caravan shop in Hurst Green where they had the same chair that he Rear Admiral used this weekend. For ten quid cheaper than he paid for it. I did snigger. And then on to John’s Cross. I wanted one or two camping bits, but we found ourselves spending about an hour looking at the motorhomes. We can’t afford one yet, but one day…..

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