Watlington Birthday Meet July 17

Birthday meet July 13th – 18th


White Mark Farm Watlington

Write up from Mary Searle (copied from the Bulletin).


Just looked it up in my archive Bulletins and this year is the 20th year we have been going to this site and we have always been stewards.
We live 10 miles, 20 mins, away on the other side of the Chilterns at High Wycombe, so we arrived there about 10am. The first thing you see is the notice that says the rally field is in use by the Lightweights. Joan, TJ, and Nye were already on site having arrived the day  before and there was also a new camper who had just decided to move from the bottom of the site to the top because he found that he had camped a little too near an ants nest. A warm welcome to Jim from Liverpool.
We pitched in our usual place by the entrance. We did try and pitch in other places on the field but found it a bit of a walk when anyone arrived.
Debbie and Ken, the site owners, welcomed us and warned us not to feed the red kites because they were becoming too numerous. It was hoped that by not feeding them they would spread out to other parts.
The event tent was soon erected and by the evening there were 13 units on site. The last to arrive was Bill who is 92. He had brought along some camping equipment to pass on. Simon has been bringing his dad the last few years. We spent the evening just Birthday socialising and relaxing. I always say that when I arrive I go into reverse gear as the week before can be a bit hectic getting everything ready.
Watlington is a very popular site as there are many places which you can visit. Besides Watlington itself, there is Oxford, Henley, and many other Chiltern villages. Some members like to cycle while others take the many footpaths from the site. Saying that, there are some people who just like to stay on site and chill out – it is that kind of place.
More campers arrived including Rob and Emma and the grandchildren. Emma’s mum was able to come this time and we were intrigued with her new tent which is a Vango Airbeam. The next to arrive were Roger and Carolyn who we had not seen for years. Then came Kim on her recumbent, then Phil who we thought had given up tent camping due to a bad back; he also brought his grandson. The last to arrive was Guy, making a total of 19 units.
We had 6 children ranging in ages from 4 yrs to nearly 12 yrs.
David returned home to collect the fire pit, some wood, and provisions. At 10am we adjourned to the event tent for a Council meeting. The strange thing was it was raining – very unusual when we have a meeting, it’s usually sunny.
In the afternoon the ‘family’, including Bella the new furry addition, decided to go for a walk – well, to take Bella for a walk really. We were joined by Steve, Carol and Colin. The site is practically on the Ridgeway – you just go up and across the road. The route took us
along a narrow path with steep sides much loved by the puppy.
Steve and Carol found clumps of wild strawberries and raspberries much to the delight of the children. The path was a steady climb to the top of the ridge where we joined the Oxford Way to descend back to the Ridgeway, then back to the site

The barbeque was then lit and being very careful of the red kites, food was prepared and
eaten. We did supply a separate barbeque for the vegetarians. Once the cooking was over we lit up the brazier, kindly hired for us by Jim. The children then toasted marshmallows over the embers. There was a lot of reminiscing especially by Emma’s mum, another Mary,
who found that Roger and she had been to the same (Hatters Lane) school, small world.

We had a stove lighting competition (next year I will provide some prizes).
I also slipped up with the birthday cake as Debbie usually has some in her freezer – sorry! This was followed by coffee/tea using the boiled water from the stove lighting.
While some stayed on ‘till Monday and Tuesday, the majority of campers packed up and headed for home.

As it is often the way, Monday was quite warm and humid. As we had made two trips to the site we decided to take home some of our surplus equipment, including the fire pit and the event tent as there were only going to be four units staying on ‘till Tuesday. Spent the
rest of the day just relaxing and generally tidying up, moving our chairs now and then to get what shade we could. I noticed quite a few flying ants around; I really do not like them – after arriving back to my tent once a few years back, I found it covered with them.
We were down to us, Mathew, Colin and Bill. Mathew left early on his recumbent followed by Colin after lunch. We texted Simon to see what time he was likely to arrive, and was told about 8pm. So we reluctantly left Bill in the sunshine and headed for home.
A really good meet, hopefully enjoyed by all.

Mary Searle