Tag Archives: Camping

A Visit to Chalke Valley History Festival

We finally managed to get to the Chalke Valley History Festival at the beginning of July (once again too much life has taken over and writing has very much been on the back burner). It started in 2012 so is still relatively new in the summer festival line-up. Chalke Valley itself is an area of outstanding natural beauty stretching from Salisbury, Wiltshire in the east to Shaftsbury, Dorset in the west.

Low flying aircraft over the Chalke Valley
Low flying aircraft over the Chalke Valley

It is breathtakingly beautiful (even under leaden skies in torrential rain…) and despite being on our doorstep, we have never visited the area. Usually very peaceful, during the festival the skies are alive with vintage aircraft while on land there are battle reenactments from Danes v Saxons to an incredible WWII battle with one side up high on the hillside with tanks, artillery and infantry while the enemy was in the valley below. So, instead of taking the Tribe to a hip music festival, I take them to a history festival ….

Not quite wild camping, but beautiful all the same
Not quite wild camping, but beautiful all the same

We had decided to camp as it had been sold to me as ‘one of the most beautiful camp sites in England’; it was also to be our first time camping since our glorious wild camping in the Middle East. As we drove towards to site the heavens opened and heavy rain bucketed down. Meanwhile in the valley itself, the rain fell as hail, churning the saturated ground into mud. Glorious. By the time we arrived at the site, the sun had reappeared and we could see the festival just below us with the striking site of old aircraft flying low across the valley. The tent up and the Tribe were dressed as war evacuees (Saturday = 1940s theme) with labels around their neck and the Eldest as a land girl.

The Tribe, 1940s style
The Tribe, 1940s style

Everyone was in wellies.

Footwear of the weekend
Footwear of the weekend

The camp site was just a beautiful 10 minute walk to the festival itself, along hedgerow lined lanes.

You meet all kinds of people at this festival!
You meet all kinds of people at this festival!

As we hadn’t booked any talks for the Saturday, we just wandered about enjoying the spectacle and atmosphere as we passed Celtic Tribesmen, Vikings, soldiers from the American War of Independence and both WWI and WWII. There was so much going on and visually it was fantastic!

Arriving at the Festival
Arriving at the Festival

My favourite pop up talk from the first day. Was about Maurice Wilson, an eccentric Englishman, who attempted to climb Everest in 1934, despite having no climbing experience. A war hero and sporadic cross dresser, the story was brilliantly told by a pair called The History Tellers – Mr Abs and Mr Alex – Mr Alex at one point becoming Mount Everest by draping a sheet over himself. An extraordinary story with plenty of twists and turns, about a brave, if somewhat naive, adventurer.

At the Chalke Valley Tap
At the Chalke Valley Tap

The campsite was, as I was promised, quite perfect and later, we had supper with a clear view of the valley and festival below, beneath a gradually darkening sky.image I think that I have been persuaded to camp again!

Sunday we had booked to see Christopher Lloyd and ‘The Complete Works of Shakespeare’ – in an hour. Utterly compelling, very funny and rather terrifying parallels to the world we live in today; this was just over a week since the EU referendum and there were a few similarities suggested between Julius Caesar and the shenanigans within the Conservative party. ¬†Even Father of the Tribe thoroughly enjoyed this, despite a certain amount of muttering beforehand!

The Eldest becomes part of the show, playing Hero in Much Ado About Nothing!
The Eldest as part of the show, playing Hero (and getting married!) in Much Ado About Nothing

We watched air displays, battlesimageimage

Knight in shining armour??
Knight in shining armour??
More battling
More battling

and I waited in vain to hear Dan Snow at his pop up talk – he was stuck in the huge traffic jams getting into the site due to the quagmire of mud in the car park.

No Snow either!
No Snow either!

However, I know someone who did manage to go to his Reflections on the Somme – his thoughts and perspectives on the battle and the 100th anniversary commemoration in France – and she said that it was excellent and insightful.

Just beautiful
Just beautiful

We stayed later than we thought we would and were one of the last to leave the campsite. I would thoroughly recommend a visit. It is extremely family friendly and we all loved it; just remember to bring your wellies!

Feb 2012 School & Beaches

The Eldest
The Eldest

The crazy sporting schedule continues this month. I feel as if I am chasing my tail most of the time and the littlest is dragged to what, at times, seems like every school in Dubai, for the various sports tournaments. But it is fantastic seeing the eldest of the Tribe doing so incredibly well and with the other children all cheering on the school teams, the atmosphere is always great fun and I am very proud Рshe has now officially broken the record for the British schools in Dubai for the Year 5 hurdles!  However to assuage my guilt (for dragging the littlest everywhere!), I decide to take her to the beach for a walk after dropping off the Tribe at school and Father of the Tribe at the metro.

Continue reading Feb 2012 School & Beaches

Discovering a Paper Nautilus, Khor Kalba & Al Ain – January 2012

On New Year’s Day we take our traditional walk on the beach. However, this year there is no need for thermals and layers of warm clothing. The beach is beautiful, the sea calm.

'Gerald Durrell' with Paper Nautilus
‘Gerald Durrell’ with Paper Nautilus

Our intrepid 6 year old is off beachcombing as normal and makes the Tribe’s most exciting discovery to date – a paper nautilus. I had read about these and had learnt that they can be found (if you’re lucky) on Dubai beaches in February and March. They are beautiful, delicate, paper-thin shells made by the female argonaut octopus. The argonaut octopus is extremely rare.

Continue reading Discovering a Paper Nautilus, Khor Kalba & Al Ain – January 2012

A quick history lesson and our first Dubai Christmas – December 2011

On 2nd December 1971, the United Arab Emirates was created in a ceremony in Dubai at a site on Jumeirah Beach Road, not far from where we currently live. The UAE is made up of seven Emirates that we are now able to name – you will probably not recognize some of the names – we didn’t. Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah, Umm Al Quwain and Ras Al Khaimah, although at the 2 December 1971 signing, Ras Al Khaimah was still in negotiations, so it was just the 6 Emirates signing. They joined 2 months later on 10 February 1972. Bahrain and Qatar decided to remain independent states although they had originally intended to join and Oman decided not to join but would consider joining in the future. Queen Elizabeth and the PM at the time, Edward Heath, were amongst the first global leaders to congratulate the new state.

Continue reading A quick history lesson and our first Dubai Christmas – December 2011