Monday, 5 July 2010

The Tunnel Rats reborn?

In order to aid the growth of new feet after yesterdays hike I’ve had the day off, not done much but I nipped into town to sort a few things out and did a bit of shopping, one thing I was looking for was a decent pair of walking boots. I really enjoyed yesterdays walk, and would love to do more, but the boots I wore were totally wrong for the job. They were bought so that I had some smartish black footwear for formal occasions, they do shine up really nice. So boots are the order of the day. I need to talk to someone in the know, someone outdoorsy and clever where that sort of thing’s concerned, so that’ll be Jim at work. Another area where he’s going to come in useful is sorting out some odds and ends for the return to Lydden Spout on the 15th of August, oh such plans.

I’ve also received some info on gaining access to the North Entrance lower levels, I just hope that the info is correct and we can get in. I’m fairly confident that the Detached Bastion is still easily accessible, although we may have to play at Indiana Jones to get through the undergrowth, but that should be fun.

It’s going to be great to be a tunnel rat again; it’s been so long since the last time I spent any length of time crawling into holes and disused forts and buildings. Yesterday bought back so many great memories. In my younger days I spent most weekends and the majority of the school holidays underground. I broke an ankle in part of the Northern Entrance; I bet that hole’s nowhere near as deep as it used to be. I expect that many of the holes I used to crawl through are much smaller now, I doubt I’d fit in the Western Outworks drainage pipe but at least I can say I did once, and if the weight loss keeps going as it is I may be able to again. So we have a return visit to Lydden Spout, the detached Centre Bastion and the possibility of getting into the lower levels of the North Entrance. I’m fairly sure that if I can find enough places I may be able to spark up and interest in tunnel ratting with more than a few of the guys that came out on the hike. I’m sure that they’ll get the bug fairly easily as most of them are completely bonkers and up for anything.

There was talk yesterday of a walk from Rye to Hastings in the not too distant future, whilst I’m not sure I’m fit enough to manage the walk, Trudes and myself could jump on a bus and meet the guys in Hastings. It would mean a bit of a trek for Trudes, but she’s going to need some outings and time out of the house when she finishes her hospital appointments and if we stay on the lower deck of the bus the journey won’t be too bouncy. If I can get Trudes to come up to Lydden Spout it would be fantastic. I’m not expecting her to crawl around the tunnels, but she can sit in the sun taking in the views and Little Molly Pops can have a mooch about on an extendable lead. I could probably rustle up tea brewing kit, there’s always a need for tea. This is the problem with not driving, it would be great to meet up with the gang when they do cycle rides and stuff. Sometimes travelling by bus makes it difficult to get to some places or you have leave at the crack of sparrow fart to meet people anywhere. One of the benefits is the fact that you can take in the view as the world passes by.

Well that’s about it for now, I’m off to bed with a head full of dreams of summer days on the heights and excitement over August 15th.

Sleep well world.

Sore feets and tasty treats

Sunday morning arrived and I arose to tend to the needs of Little Miss Molly, as I sorted missy out the kettle went on for the morning cuppa. Once all had been tended to I set about sorting out for the day ahead. 3 minutes later on went the telly for some mindless trite. Three members of the adventuring party arrived and we head over the road to await our omnibus, I went home again as I’d forgotten my bottle of squash. Back over the road for the bus which arrived promptly, that’s a novelty! I think the best way of getting to the top of a steep hill is on a bus, it’s so easy and not at all tiring. On arrival at the valiant Sailor, which was closed, we waited for Smiffy; He was nearer to the Battle SDC10749of  Britain Memorial than us so we set off to meet up with him since the memorial was our first port of call. I’ve wanted to visit the memorial for many years, but I’ve only ever gone screaming past it in a car or on a bus. I must say that it’s a fitting tribute to the brave men who defended our skies. It’s also very serene, a quiet seems to surround the whole site. We left the memorial and head toward Dover, however we were a bit peckish, that bus ride must have taken it out of us. Fortunately the cliff top cafe was open so we purchased tea and sarnies, yummo! After taking in the view it was time to head off properly and start our trek to Dover.

It didn’t take too long to find the path along the cliff top and some spectacular views across the channel and over to Dungeness. We passed through huge bushes that arched over the path making natural tunnels and in some places the cliff edge couldn’t have been more than two feet from us. The first historical building we came to was the sound mirror, a forerunner of radar. There are much larger examples of sound mirrors located at Dengemarsh but this one is a fine example, although I’m not sure that it’s as old as the Dengemarsh mirrors, I’m fairly certain it’s only been there for about ten or fifteen years. As we left the mirror we were on a tarmac pathway, this turned out to be a cycle route, we did notice some information points on the ground, one was in the style of a large open book and the other looked like a drain cover, apparently there are more of these things, but if most of them look like drain covers I think they don’t get noticed much. Continuing our trek eastward we headed down a path that was very close to the cliff edge and the girly types were thankful for the railing that had been installed.

SDC10764We then arrived at a disused rifle range, apparently metal detectors will find used shells and bullets even after all these years, and a point on the walk known as Lydden Spout, this was a military installation that had three large guns and served as part of the coastal defences during WWII. We found a hole that may be just wide enough for me to squeeze into but decided against any exploration and pulled the girly type out of said hole and continued walking. The girly type then wanted to have a look around the building that are still standing. However, given the fact that the building are now used to keep cows in  and didn’t smell too nice we chose not to explore them and returned to the path. Just before reaching the buildings Dave had a call from Batty asking where we were, he was told how to find us and then headed off in the opposite direction. Whilst we waited for him to back track we found another hole. This one had slightly better access, and remembering the stand on this sort of thing I had when I was younger, we had to go in! We had to trip down the hole, the second when Batty finally caught up with us so that he could have a look see. After the hole we headed on to Dover with short stops to investigate various look out posts and gun emplacements. Like me, Dave seemed quite shocked that places that were vital to the nation’s defence are simply being forgotten, vandalised and left to rot. I don’t want to sound disrespectful, but I feel there’s more to remembering the people who served king and country than wheeling out a few veterans every November. Whilst many of the buildings are beyond saving there a quite a few that could easily be restored to their former glory with just a little effort and help from the national trust. Like the veterans, when these places have gone there’ll be nothing to show how hard these people worked. But maybe that’s what the people who have a say in these things want. If the buildings are gone then we can forget it all ever happened.

We ran out of building to explore and were soon on the final leg of the cliff top path, Shakespeare’s Cliff, so called because there’s mention of a high cliff in Dover in the play King Lear. As we climbed the path to the top I started to flag a bit and was thankful for a rest stop at the bottom. We headed over to the south military road to walk up to Saint Martin’s Battery which overlooks the western docks, after a few photo ops and a bit of a wander we walk down the site of the Grand Shaft Barracks and up to the Drop Redoubt Fort. We walk around the base of the fort, sadly access is impossible as the place is sealed and padlocked, and the only time that access is by special permission of the English Heritage or when the preservation society has one of the two annual open days. Finally we walk down from the fort and in to Dover town where we decided to hit the eight bells on Biggin Street for SDC10780 a well earned pint and a bit of scram. Steak and chips never tasted so good.

We ended the day on a bus back to Folkestone, my feet are very sore, they almost feel bruised, but not being one to sit around, I’m about to help out with some house work and then head into town to do some stuff and then into Hythe to see Sue to go through some last minute planning for Sunday.

There’s plans afoot to head back to the hole in August and possibly exploring the detached bastion, oh happy day. I think I shall be taking a camcorder for the second visit.

So there it is, I walked almost 7 miles with some very good mates, I had some lovely grub and I have very sore feet and aching legs, but it was worth it. Photos of the day can be found on Mankey Badgers and my facebook pages.

See y’all.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

life, the universe and other things that conspire against us!

It’s Saturday night, well very early Sunday morning, and the end of an interesting week. Work has been, well, odd. I’m not exactly sure what my job title is any more and I don’t have a current job description. When I do get one, I think it will read something along the lines of “anything and everything we tell you to do!” I had myself weighed on Wednesday; surprisingly I’ve lost a few more kilos and if I continue to do so I may actually managed to rid myself of the diabetes and high blood pressure. My doctor told me that he’s only had one patient who managed to achieve that goal so I’m determined to give him a second. OK I may slip now and then, but whatever I’m doing I must be doing it right as I’ve now lost just under 2 stones since Christmas, yay me! Another piece of good news is that little Molly Pops has been to see a new vet after the abysmal treatment by her previous one; all seems to be going well with our little miss. Not only were the nursey types cooing over the divine one, but the vet was impressed with how well her fur is growing back. He mentioned to T that it’s very difficult to get a dog with Cushing’s to re-grow fur, so whatever we’re doing we should keep doing it. Yay us!

On Thursday I got home from work and herself said that the Virgin Media box had started misbehaving, oh poop! I switched it off and back on, no joy. A phone call to the customer services told what I already knew and a tech was arranged to call on Saturday between 12:00 and 16:00 to replace the box. Hang on a mo, I thought, that means that I’m paying for something I’m not getting and I will have lost everything I recorded. Another call to Virgin got me a 50% discount on this month’s bill. Today the tech arrived with a new box, he had a bit of a struggle getting it set up, once he had got the thing connected to the telly correctly he more or less just cleared off, saying it should be set up in about twenty minutes. Two hours later the box was still in its diagnostic mode. Yet another call, half an hour later the box was sorted and working properly. The lass on the help desk had me reading numbers out to her, which she repeated back to me completely wrong and then had me looking for numbers that were nonexistent. By this time yours truly had become more than a little miffed and asked said girly if Virgin Media were going to reimburse me for the cost of a call that should never have happened. Initially she avoided answering my question, but after some prompting she relented and said that my next bill will be further discounted for the inconvenience. It seems that the problem with my original box is not uncommon, and after a bit of web surfing I discovered that both Virgin Media and Samsung, the STBs manufacturer have been aware of the problem for some time, but neither were prepared to take blame for the fact that faulty boxes were being sent out to new customers. Still, it seems that the issue has been resolved and I can get back to watching tat on the telly box again.

On Tuesday I went out to the garden to see if i could spot the ISS going over, I did and I was rather chuffed. so I printed of times when it and other bright satellites could be observed, gathered up my binoculars, went into the garden Wednesday to be greeted by thick fog, on Thursday it was cloudy on Friday I missed it. I saw other satellites but they weren’t as bright as the ISS was. still it was good to get some naked eye observing done.

Not tonight though, there had been a plan afoot, before the death of my box, for T and myself to head to Hythe for an evening out, starting with dinner at Torbay, a rather fine chippy in Hythe, and then maybe a stroll along the canal. Sadly T wasn’t up to going out, so we spent the evening in with the prearranged dog sitters. We made up some nosh and then settled into a friendly game of trivial pursuit, which I won! We then watched 10000 BC not a bad film sort of along the lines of apocolypto but in English and considerably less gory. Friends then headed home to get plenty of rest before the walk to Dover tomorrow. I’ll post pics and a report on the event either Sunday evening or sometime on Monday.

Until then, goodnight all.