Monday 31st July 2017

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The day volunteering at Demelza. Jack was at the Sittingbourne shop for the day and so Linda stayed on and Petro was with us for longer than he usually works. We were laughing at him because he was wearing his Demelza T shirt. I have one but don’t wear it! Then of course Linda complained because she doesn’t have one! This is our Petro.

We had a busy day so that was good. Linda and I cashed up together and muddled through. To be honest I don’t like doing it, I am only a volunteer. I only do it as a favour to Jack.

During the day Linda told me about the vegetables they were growing and she happened to mention, when she went to WI she told one of the younger women about her beetroot. This young woman didn’t understand as she thought beetroot came in bags at the supermarket! She had to explain how to cook them. How sad it has come to this. Mal blames the fact that around 1987 they stopped cookery in schools. 

Thought for the Day –  “A little thought and a little kindness are often worth more than a great deal of money.” ~ John Ruskin

Sunday 30th July 2017

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Today is Tariq’s 18th birthday. I have no idea what he will be doing as he is in the Marines, in their sick bay as he is still waiting to return to full fitness following his leg injury. Happy Birthday Tariq!

Mal and I went to Quex Park. We had tickets to go into the museum, the gardens and also the house. We hadn’t been in the house before as it isn’t open all that often. I can’t say I am too impressed with all the stuffed animals in the museum that Percy Powell Cotton brought back to the UK. However scientists are now getting a lot of information from their skins and as one of the guides told me he exchanged their meat to the locals for artefacts which he also collected. However I do find his anthropology very interesting. Percy was a hunter and explorer and embarked on over 28 expeditions throughout Africa and Asia between 1887 and 1939.

We also visited the 6 rooms in the  house which are open to the public.

I did enjoy ‘Wild Alaska Live’ in the evening. We followed this with World War One remembered with readings from Ypres, where my grandfather lost his life. Michael Morpurgo read War Horse, quite a coincidence as I have just read three of his books and now given them to Ollie.

Thought for the Day – “Spread kindness to one person a day. Imagine the amount of happiness you would dispense in a lifetime.” 

Saturday 29th July 2017

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Lou asked if we would like to join her and the kids at Dover Castle as they had a ” Peasant Life” event on. Trying to get to the castle was horrendous as obviously masses of people were heading for the ferries and stupid people just blocked the roundabouts. Then when we did get there they sent you to a field to park as all the castle parking they now only use for disabled. This meant most of the castle spaces were empty. Then of course from the field you have to wait for the bus to the castle.

We met Lou and the kids there and I have to say as with all the events, they make a great effort and they are always so informative. We stood and listened to a few of the talks. The one by the medieval surgeon was quite enlightening  and blood curdling. He had a lot of the instruments they used in that time. For instance I didn’t know if a soldiers brain swelled in the First World war they cut the top of their brain off!

We also went down to the tunnels including the hospital tunnel. We have been here many times as we are members of English Heritage and each time we learn something new. They even had grizzly face painting for the kids free! I’m not sure whether Ollie had the black death or the plague.

We arrived at 10, had a picnic lunch there , covering our food as the seagulls were swooping overhead but unfortunately at 3 the rain started, so we went in the cafe for a coffee. The rain didn’t stop and so we decided to go home. We did have a good day.

In the evening Mal and I watched ‘Dunkirk’, an excellent film.

Thought for the Day – “Life humbles you as you age. You realize how much nonsense you wasted time on.”   

Friday 28th July 2017

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Now we have two (ring necked parakeets)…….

They don’t seem to have frightened the smaller birds thank goodness. The only thing is that they screech!

I went shopping to Westwood and Mal went to the allotment as there is a lot of produce needed picking! I called in at M&S and bought their £10 meal deal which is ridiculously cheap, a whole chicken, a side dish, a bottle of wine and desert! I know I shouldn’t have chosen the calorie filled desert but I did!! 

Mal spent quite a while looking for our next camping destination!! I forgot to mention whilst in Sainsburys I bought a reduced price camping BBQ!! It looks as though we will be going camping again!

It rained in the afternoon and I watched “Hive Alive” with Chris Packham. It was really interesting. . 

Credit where it is due, Martin the footpath warden for Stelling Minnis replied. 

Stelling Minnis Public Footpath Problems

“Hi Malcolm

Sorry to hear you had a bad experience walking HE19. However, I’m afraid that the minimum legal requirement for stiles are the type that you have to climb over. Stiles are the responsibility of landowners and whilst I do recommend that they upgrade to gates that are more accessible, they can’t be compelled to do so and many can’t afford to do so. Many footpaths aren’t really made for people like yourselves who have large dogs who need to be lifted over although we are fortunate round here to have the Minnis to walk across, which has no such obstacles and there are a few footpaths with dog doors. HE19 passes through land owned by someone who isn’t keen on walkers, so not willing to improve their stiles. I’m not sure where you ended up in a jungle on HE19? It starts from Bossingham Rd as a track and then passes through two grass paddocks at the rear of the house and then ends where it meets HE18. Were you perhaps on HE18 at this point? I haven’t walked along HE18 for a few weeks but it was clear then. Unfortunately, due to the austere times we live in there is no longer any funding for path clearance where they get overgrown at this time of year and therefore Kent County Council have stopped this work altogether. Footpath Wardens like me are Volunteers. I work full time and haven’t managed this year to find any time for clearing paths. I am hoping that in a couple of weeks we may have a team of people on probation who will do some clearance of overgrowth.

Kent County Council are responsible for the footpath signs. I couldn’t in any case agree that signs on paths that aren’t accessible should be pulled down as there are plenty of hikers who quite like the challenge of stiles and don’t mind wading through some overgrowth.

Happy to hear your story about HE11/12″

Yes, we did get the message that many of the local wealthy landowners don’t want Joe Public crossing their land, so do their best to create obstacles. We will continue challenging them! I hope others do as well or we will have no walks left, with or without a “large dog” !

Mal’s reply……….

“Hi Martin

I know your job is difficult, if not nigh on impossible, but overgrown paths and stiles in disrepair that become dangerous should at least be reported in order that the situation is made known to whoever is responsible for rectifying the problem. Our local Footpath Warden took on the role specifically for that reason, it isn’t his job to clear the paths only to check them at a time when they are most likely to be used and to have become overgrown; in other words now.

There seems to be some argument about who is responsible for maintaining footpaths, although the chance of litigation is negligible in my view.

With the current atmosphere of austerity, needed partly to pay for much more important items (but I won’t get into that) I doubt if an offer to walk every path and document them on a website would lead to any improvement so I’ll forget Stelling Minnis and their footpaths forever. We will however inform other walkers on our website.”


Martin was obviously not impressed with this and replied…………

“Hi Malcolm

I can assure you that I have on a number of occasions raised issues with the landowner of HE19 but she has not been willing to take any action. She has also in the past been reported to KCC, who can take action, but this has not resulted in any action being taken. I feel there is little point in raising issues with her again or with KCC, who are so under-resourced these days, they can only deal with major issues. Stiles in poor repair and overgrown paths in summer are very low ranking issues.

You haven’t clarified where you ‘descended into jungle’ as I would like to ensure this is on the list to be tackled in coming weeks by the ex-offenders who are due to do some clearance.

The majority of paths in Stelling Minnis are passable for most of the year and the main landowners are good at keeping them clear. Where it is reported to me that there is an obstruction, I can usually get it sorted fairly quickly but I’m afraid I do have 3 or so landowners who are not good at responding. For instance, HE32 currently has a potato crop in the field and the farmer doesn’t seem to care about marking out the path. He has such aggressive dogs, I don’t feel inclined to pay him another visit.

I do however have some successes. You mentioned HE12. This path had vanished but I persuaded the landowner to reinstate all the stiles.

As a volunteer and the only person who has put himself forward to be Footpath Warden in Stelling Minnis for the last 6 years, I would ask that you be a little bit more respectful of what I can and do manage to do, in the limited time I have for the Footpath Warden role. Suggesting to other walkers and posting on whatever website you have that Stelling Minnis footpaths should be avoided is not helpful to the cause of walking in the countryside.”

Well, aggressive dogs, potato crops, as I say wealthy landowners who don’t want people to use the footpaths which we are all entitled to walk. 

Mal’s reply…..

“Hi Martin

The jungle is to the right after two stiles have to be climbed.

As for your comment “little bit more respectful of what I can and do manage to do”, I shall ignore it as I did the two landowners’ comments – seems to be a local attitude.”

The two landowners were ones we encountered on our walk. Both were quite unpleasant to us and extremely unhelpful. What has happened to this country and our countryside?! We won’t be returning to Stelling Minnis.


Thought for the Day – “The most important decision you will ever make is to be in a good mood.” ~ Voltaire  

Thursday 27th July 2017

A much better nights sleep, something to do with the air bed staying up!! It was also sunny when we woke up which meant we wouldn’t be taking a wet tent home with us.

Mal cooked breakfast again and then we walked a long way over Stelling Minnis common and chatted to a lot of dog walkers who were all complaining about the state of the “public footpaths”.

Back to the farm and we packed everything into the car and headed home. We just arrived home when Heather who I work with on Mondays said she was at Wingham Wildlife, so I told her to call in and have a cuppa. She was with Colin, her husband and their grandson Fabian who was staying with them, so we had a nice afternoon with them in the garden. That was a nice surprise.

Mal then composed his email to the Stelling footpath warden………………………….

“Hi Martin

We’ve just had the misfortune to have followed the public footpath sign for the HE19 on the right off the Bossingham Road, from Stelling to Bossingham. We’ve never been to Stelling Minnis before despite living in Preston outside Canterbury. We took our large Golden Retriever (30kg) for a walk, essential to keep us pensioners in shape, but didn’t expect to find a route worthy of a Royal Marines assault course. We lifted our dog over the first stile and the noise of cracking joints and squeeling dog must have been heard for miles, at least it was heard by the owners of the dog kennels who greeted us with a cheery ‘clear up after your dog!’ and a warning that there were two more stiles to get over. We carried on, believing it would be worth it but it wasn’t. The path eventually descended into a jungle so we gave up. I suggest you pull the sign down until there are actually footpaths to walk. Perhaps next time I’ll tell you about out adventures with a grazing horse and a ‘cheery’ farmer on the HE 11/2.

Malcolm Channing”

I wonder if he will reply.

Thought for the Day – “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people just exist.” ~ Oscar Wilde


Wednesday 26th July 2017

Unfortunately my air bed went flat during the night which meant I didn’t have a particularly good nights sleep. However Mal cooked some breakfast and then we went off in search of the local public footpaths. They were rubbish, overgrown and we were fighting off brambles and there were no gaps by the stiles for dogs to go through which meant we had to lift Ellie over some really very high ones too.If you are in Stelling Minnis don’t bother. After getting torn to pieces and Ellie with a coat full of burrs and both if us fed up with lifting her over stiles, we went back and had some lunch and then tried later, this time on the common which was different altogether, a very pleasant walk but then it started to rain! Mal has decided he will write to the footpath warden when we are home.

We sat and played cards in the tent and decided to have our dinner at the pub!! 

That was an excellent decision, along with a couple of glasses of wine.  Ellie was quite happy, we had a very good meal. I had Garlic King Prawns and salad and so many…..I loved it!  

People always remark on how well behaved Ellie is especially around food, she just lies down and that’s it!

Thought for the Day – “The more I see the less I know for sure.” ~ John Lennon

Tuesday 25th July 2017

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So, a camping we went! Mal packed all the car up with everything but the kitchen sink “just in case”. We went to a farm in Stelling Minnis and we were the only ones there. We thought we would start off with something basic to begin with and this was. The sink in the loo was not what I call clean so we preferred to wash hands in the tent. You also had to pay a £10 deposit for the shower room key. We decided if the WC was anything to go by,it would be a strip wash in the tent and not bother with their shower room! Ellie loved it and the farm dog came to play with her. We went for a long walk in the afternoon ending at the pub which was just across the road. We had a drink and then wandered back for Mal to cook dinner. It was really pleasant sitting outside the tent, with dinner and a bottle of wine!

Thought for the Day – “There’s no time to be bored in a world as beautiful as this.”