29 April 2017 (Saturday) - The Kent Mega

I slept well, but woke with my right elbow in some pain. I damaged it at Brighton Kite festival a couple of years ago, and now any physical effort (like yesterday’s gardening) sets it off. What with that elbow, the inflexible bunion joint and the rheumatic metatarsals my entire right hand side is in constant (if low-level) pain these days. But (as always) I had a choice. I could sulk about it and spend the day moping in self-pity, or I could get up and get on with life.
I got up.
I hobbled downstairs; what was pain eventually subsided to a dull ache. Over brekkie I had a look-see at the Stan Laurel archive. Over his life and career the comedy genius Stan Laurel received thousands of letters from fans. He replied to pretty much every single one. There is a project to compile all the letters he wrote; it makes for interesting reading.

We took the dogs into the garden and fed the fish. The new little fish seemed to be holding their own at feeding time. We were mean with the amount of fish food we put in to the pond; the pond is (at the moment) clean and clear. Here’s hoping it stays that way.

Pausing only briefly to drive over to Willesborough to collect my car (I left it there last night) we drove out to the Hop Farm at Paddock Wood. The Kent Mega was taking place. A Mega-event is one of the biggest things that happen in the geo-world; there’s probably less than a dozen happen in the UK every year, and we are rather lucky to have one within an hour’s drive of home.
We arrived and met Karl and Tracey in the car park. We walked the short distance into the Hop Farm and were soon chatting with friends. Pretty much everyone in the geo-world was there today and whilst the ladies went into the building to have a look at the various stalls I stayed outside with Karl and the dogs and chatted with loads of friends.
We then did a dog-swap (dogs weren’t allowed inside the buildings) and left the ladies with the dogs whilst we looked at the stalls. I won three caches on the tombola, and then bought some raffle tickets and some bisons and stuff, then we wandered over to play on the lab caches.

Lab caches are great fun – a serious bit of silliness. We played counting crayons, and bursting balloons. We dived in ball ponds with frogs and waved at E.T. flying through the trees. We played with the Three Little Pigs, and with Wall-E. We even saw Inspector Gadget (My contribution to the event was that I’d supplied Inspector Gadget’s coat). The people who’d created the Lab Caches had clearly put a *lot* of effort into making them. Lab caches are fun; it is a shame they are so few and far between. In six years and eight thousand finds I’ve only come across forty-one of the things.

We had a spot of lunch from the burger van. For all that the event had been really well organised it was a shame that the Hop Farm people couldn’t have sorted out their catering. One van wasn’t enough for a thousand punters. But with a burger scoffed we teamed up with another friend and half a dozen of us went for a little walk. You can’t go to a caching event and not walk.
As we walked Fudge was looking longingly at the water in the river. It looked clean but he seemed reluctant to go in. So I gave him a little shove. Then I saw why he was reluctant to go in; he couldn’t get out again. I nearly (but not quite) fell in trying to retrieve him from the water.
My dog then took his revenge for being pushed in; having come out of the water dripping wet he then rolled in dust, mud and fox poo. He’d never been so filthy.

As we walked my phone beeped; a text message. I’d won something in the raffle. We finished our walk and made our way back to the raffle stall. I’d won a collectible coin, Karl had won something similar, and Tracey had won a truly awful toiletry set.
We then adjourned to the nearby pub to celebrate our fortune.

Karl and Tracey then had to go home; teenage daughters needed to be taxi-ed here, there and thither. We said our goodbyes and then walked across to the camping field; we had an invitation to dinner with the campers. More friends to chat with. When we arrived at the camp site I rather wished we’d camped out too. It was a beautiful evening, and a beautiful location. But as time wore on I was glad we were going home. It was rather cold; too cold to be in a tent overnight.

We came home; the dogs slept as we drove. We’d all had a rather busy day. Mega Day was a good day…

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