Biggin Hill doesn’t need bigging up… with exclusive use of a vast field surrounded by ancient woodland, the scene was set for this years gathering. Three cooking fires, manned by the stoker and the poker, produced a constant feed of bread, pizzas, soup and lamb.
The lamb was to die for. Flint stones, heated in the morning’s fire, were used to line a pit that we dug into the earth. The lamb, wrapped in fresh herbs and foil, was then carefully placed inside and buried. The lamb was then left to cook underground for the afternoon. Six hours later, we cautiously unearthed the packages. Inside the meat was unbelievably tender and delicious. Accompanied by home grown fresh potatoes and broccoli it was a meal to remember.
All these fires, of course, needed a steady supply of fuel and it wasn’t long before a team had set out into the woods. Equipped with wheelbarrows, axes and wire saws, and helped by the plentiful supply of dead wood in the surrounding woodland, they made sure the cooking fires were well cared for. Ruth even extended her run with some firewood collecting.
Little William soon cottoned on that he too could be put in a wheelbarrow and pushed around the field. Sure enough, the wheelbarrow was soon established to the only worthwhile form of transport and I must say he fit the part very well.
After everyone had settled in, the ropes and pioneering poles appeared. With the only goal of bigger and better than last year’s, we set about building ‘the’ rope bridge. The course was chosen, and the height questioned, including the added danger of the bramble patch that the highest part would go through. Barney and Ben were intent on getting it right and the bridge was re-worked several times throughout the afternoon until it was declared ‘just right’… well, ‘good enough’. Finn, our fearless tester, would jump at any chance possible to try it out – even if one end was not attached.
The bridges’ spectacular height, beautiful design (the cork screw tightening) and its beautiful setting, brought a steady chain of spectators. With time trials and races casually happening in the background, I was delighted to see the range and number of people who wanted to have a go. The most unexpected of which had to be Terry.
We had our fair share of rain, it being England after all. But leaning from last year, this time we were equipped with tarps. It wasn’t long before a huge structure was being rigged up in the trees above the log benches, shielding us from the gentle fall of rain as we sat around the fire. It really added something to the space and suddenly it had a much more homely feel. With the rain pattering down above us, and the fires crackling away, a cozy, blissful atmosphere set in.
Not to last however, ‘4040 it’ was in high demand. Reluctant to leave the warmth of the fire at first, it turned out to be a very enjoyable game. We had a huge age range in the game and it was great to see everyone automatically adapting to meet the other’s need. Although, having said that, not too much adapting was needed on my part at least: the age range had also managed to somehow raise the par of the whole game.
As parties began to leave, there was an emptiness left in the air. Discussions had already started up about next year’s gathering, and why we can’t have one sooner. There is something magical about the atmosphere that comes with such an event. It gives you the chance to get away for a few days and immerse yourself with good people, food and nature. It has always been one of the highlights of my year, and flying back from Berlin for it was definitely worth it.
Plans are already in action for the next events, so make sure you stay tuned and we look forward to seeing you then.