Kent and East Sussex Canal Restoration Group

Wey and Arun Canal July 22nd - 29th 2006


A dog’s life…

Hello my name is Cam, I am a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and this year Loz and Rosie are helping me to write the camp report…

Well where to start, I arrived at Kirdford Village Hall on Saturday and to my joy discovered about 30 beds laid out for me; so much more comfortable than a basket. Everyone asked my name first, ahead of the human I own, Nic; and indeed before that of anyone else on the camp. After a delicious dinner of chicken and rice (ha-ha, yes I managed to sneak some!) we visited the site where the humans would be working all week under my excellent supervision. I was delighted to discover vast quantities of mud to roll in, everyone else strangely was less so and seemed relieved to reach the wonderful dryness of the Onslow Arms.

Sunday dawned warm and sunny, after chasing my tail for a while I tucked into a hearty breakfast (thank you Eddie for volunteering to get up, we’d have gone rather hungry without you). On site I entertained everyone with my curious staffy noises, keeping their morale up whilst they got on with fascinating things like… block making under the direction of the Queen of Blocks (Loz) with Claire and Sam; the return of Mk II’s comedy carpentry making shuttering, Jenny and Rosie learning the art of mortar mixing from Kaz (whilst poor folk like Andrew, Gerallt, Nick and Alex got to barrow it all away). During lunch break people were occasionally distracted away from fussing over me to eat vast quantities of food and listen to Claire’s philosophical views: ‘To a giant you’d seem tiny, but to us you’re normal’. Later on my circle of admirers was sadly diminished by the departure of Gaz and Kaz and Mark, but it meant more roast pork for me at dinner. At the Forresters that evening some were dismayed by there now only being one swing on the children’s playground, but fortunately it didn’t distress me too much.

Work continued on Monday (fancy that), more blocks were made and large quantities of concrete was mixed to go in ‘the hole’. Eddie began his arduous task of teaching all the girlies to use the stihl saw beginning with Jenny and Rosie; whilst the DofEers, Jess and Roz were put to work breaking under Nic’s tutorage. The planned evenings entertainment was swimming; foolishly the DofEers declined to go, failing to realise that the alternative was to stay slaving away on site. As the merry band departed poolward bound, I watched in bewilderment as Nic walked away leaving me tied underneath the portacabin. I couldn’t believe it when they drove away, the traumatic feeling of abandonment overwhelmed me. Didn’t he want me anymore? Fortunately my kind uncle Ian had not forgotten me and took me back to the accommodation, where food helped me to numb my pain. When they returned, marginally cleaner than before (sadly the same cannot be said for the pool water) all was forgiven over a dinner of steak and ale pie.

It’s fortunate that I’m here to help Loz and Rosie writing this, as their only recollection of Tuesday was ‘Shepherds Pie’. I however, could tell you a plethora of technical information for this day, but I don’t want to bore you, so… I made a new friend at the pub called George, sadly George wasn’t allowed friends so I was whisked away, while everyone else got to continue downing their pints of Tanglefoot and Badger.

Wednesday saw Rowena and Steve continue their dangerous vehicles training, on the small excavator and landies, and the dumper respectively. Perhaps due to this Steve forgot the flight case yet again, leading to the creation of the post ‘flight case attendant’. This distinguished honour was bestowed upon Rosie; who was going to hide the case the next day but was reminded by Richard that it was highly unlikely Steve would notice it was gone. Jess, the ‘breaking bitch’ continued her fine work along with Roz, now known as the ‘saw whore’ after a lesson from Eddie. The beautiful blocks made earlier in the week, having got the Queen’s seal of approval were laid in ‘the hole’ by Roy, Chris, Lew and Phill for paddle culverts (I think…). Despite having an early start to avoid the midday sun, Loz cracked her whip and made her block team work through lunch (mwahahahahaha). Attention was rudely diverted from me in the evening by the arrival of the youngest WRGie, Samuel (sadly not resplendent in a KESCRG baby grow) accompanied by Ruth and Steve. They had joined us for a journey aboard the Zachariah Keppel and a scrumptious picnic tea.

The next morning I discovered myself and Rosie were the only ones to have slept peacefully through the arrival of Jem (“the nasty yappy little dog” – Loz, “sweet adorable thing” – Rosie) during a thunderstorm that night. Disappointed as I was not to make another friend I suppose I must be content with George. On site I sat on my chair (aren’t I a clever boy?) and posed for pictures, whilst I surveyed the multitude of work going on; su doku, crosswords… Construction began on the second Great Wall of China (see last years camp report), Loz having finally torn herself away from her beloved blocks, leaving them in the safe hands of Roz, Jess and Graham. Comedy carpentry continued apace, producing fabulous shuttering for the insitu casting of coping stones. At dinner that evening some were disappointed that Maureen and Brian had left early, as it meant going without Maureen’s famous ‘lightly breaded garlic’. However Dr Liz did not disappoint and everyone tucked in happily to a delicious meal of lasagne and garlic bread, before abandoning me at the accommodation for an evening of bowling.

To everyone’s amazement it was suddenly Friday without even Andrew being broken, despite Steve’s best attempts. To her delight Jenny managed to find a new job that was neither barrowing nor mixing, helping Mk II lay the coping stone. Alice and Andrew kept up a steady stream of concrete and mortar to ‘the hole’, ably barrowed by Amy (newly returned), Alex, Nick, Richard and Mark (taking a rest from breaking). Ian taught Jess and Roz surveying, whilst Loz and Rosie invented a new song, which is included below for your pleasure.


‘The level on the wall is straight, straight, straight,
    straight, straight, straight,
    straight, straight, straight,
    the level on the wall is straight, straight, straight,
    all the way along!’  (to the tune of the wheels on the bus)

Oh dear, and people thought my staffy noises were strange! There were many more verses, but don’t worry, they shan’t be inflicted upon you. The last day ended with the traditional water and mud fight, with orange squash being replaced by vegetable oil as the weapon of choice. Somehow the kit ended up clean in the trailer, if only the same could be said for the humans… After showers and a beer run the end of camp party began with a barbeque courtesy of Ian. Dr Busker provided the evenings soundtrack, while awards were given out to Gerallt, Jenny, Roz, Jess, Nick, Alex, Andrew, Eddie, Loz and Rowena (apologies if I missed anyone, I was enjoying a rather tasty bone at the time). Giant Jenga returned, along with the cereal box game; honestly I don’t know why they think it’s so hard, for a dog it’s terribly easy to eat from the floor.

A cooked breakfast, with the choice of an accompanying salad, provided a good start to the final day, though obviously not as good as pedigree chum would have done. More kit was sorted and goodbyes were said before handing over guardianship of the canal to the next camp group.

And now I will bid you adieu until next year, there is a cat that needs chasing so I must leave you.




A very big Thank You to Rosie and Lauren once again for a brill camp report!





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