I recently spent some time away at St Martin’s Plain Training Camp. I was part of the team training cadets on aspects of cadet skills. It was the second time that I have gone through this particular process and I have to report that it was definitely better the second time.
This picture shows what the view was once the weather had cleared up. It’s always interesting weather on the top of the hill next to the body of water. In the distance in the picture is the channel looking across to France.
Overall, I had a good weekend. Looking forward to the next one.
Just had a really good weekend down at lovely old Saint Martin’s Plain training camp, part of the Cinque Ports Training Area. I was involved with training the cadets certain skills and I was very busy all Friday evening, all Saturday and then most of Sunday. To give you an idea I was teaching from 08:30 Sat morning until 21:30 that evening. It was hard work but thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding.
The above was my teaching space. It was quite suitable and we made it our own space. I had a good group of cadets.
While I was at SMP, on the Friday evening at 23:00 the UK left the EU. Kinda. It was a sad moment especially as I could see France from one edge of the camp. Kinda. There was a subdued sense of failure around the staff room at that moment. We then got back to annoying each other because it’s a good distraction from the utter shit this country has to face over the next year.
France is hidden in the mist. But it’s there.
We currently have to abide by the EU rules but have ZERO say in any of those rules. We used to have a veto. Not now. This was what the Brexiteers pushed for and got.
For the next year we are going to try and negotiate a trade deal with a bloc that currently is 60% of our global trade. We are going to negotiate with them using a team which has no experience at negotiating. All our negotiations for 40 years have been completed by the EU team, but they now sit on the other side of the table. We also have to negotiate all the existing trade deals the EU has with other countries too as we won’t have our own deal with them.
The chaos is only just starting and it’ll reach its peak when we leave the transition period on end of 31 December 2020.
I just spent a weekend of good fun at a training camp near Folkestone. I was on my K qualification it involved spending some time at the Hythe Ranges run by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation and they are part of the Defence Training Estate. According to the DTE website:
An area of low lying, slightly undulating land adjoining the foreshore. Hythe Ranges is one of the oldest ranges in the country and has been used for live firing for nearly 200 years. The whole area is steeped in military history. There are two Martello Towers on Hythe Ranges, and a “Grand Redoubt” fortification at Dymchurch. These were built in the early 1800s to resist potential invasion by Napoleon.
On the Saturday there the weather was somewhat changeable! We had moments of delightfully warm sunshine and a few minutes later we were in a hail storm. We had to do our job in all weathers because there’s only so much time you can be booked onto the range.
I love the clouds and colours in this picture, the light was stunning. In this picture you can see the bullet catcher, one of the Napoleonic Martello Towers and in the bottom left there is part of a Hythe Frame. The Hythe Frame is used to raise and lower targets on the shooting range. It is a manual device and I really enjoyed using it although the sound of bullets passing overhead was a little disconcerting.
I spent some of the time at the weekend being the controlling officer of my first range. I ran the SMP DCCT range with cadets teaching them about marksmanship. It was good fun, the cadets learnt a lot and I learnt a lot. I’m looking forward to running my first live range soon.
Last weekend was pretty busy. My cadets were taking part in the regional heats of a national competition. We decided to have a training day before and so headed to St Martins Plain on Friday afternoon.
Above is where the officers stay. The blocks are warm and good enough for a couple of nights. I wouldn’t really want to spend much longer than that there. To give you an idea here’s the inside view of a two-person room:
Yes, I do take a suitcase with me on these trips. It’s for holding stuff. I rarely have to carry things over distances so it makes sense to use it. The yellow lump is my boot polishing kit. You can’t see the carpet in detail but it is hard wearing stuff that also happens to be really sticky to fluff and stuff. Hoovering the carpet is a real chore! There is normally a single electricity outlet in these rooms so a multigang extension lead is a must.
After one night at SMP we got travelled to RAF Henlow in Bedfordshire. It was a journey of about two hours and Henlow was a place I hadn’t been to before. That Saturday night was spent in the Officers’ Mess which is a slight step up from the Army camp.
Quite a few messes around the country look like this. They are lovely buildings with decent rooms and dining and drinking facilities.
The room comparison is obvious. I wonder where I’d rather stay?
Given these surroundings it’s hard not to want to live in a place like this. Lovely sofas and lovely prices.
Sunday morning we zoomed to RAF Halton for the cadets to take part in the Royal Air Squadron Trophy. They came second out of the contingents in the South East and so will represent the SE at the national finals in about a month.
Well, that was a busy week. Even the bonus of sleeping in my own bed for most of it didn’t really help!
So, back to the beginning. We traditionally have a cadet camp around this time and spend a week on an air force base doing loads of lovely stuff. The RAF couldn’t accommodate us when the school expects us to go so we organised our own things.
Our plan was to have day trips locally along with an overnight at Wittering before a day of Air Experience Flying. We looked into visiting many places and the programme was quite fluid until the last moment but we succeeded in delivering a great experience for the cadets.
Day One was spent at the Swattenden Centre near Cranbrook and we had the climbing wall, low ropes / assault course, a raft building challenge and the telegraph pole of hell. It was a hot day. In fact, everyday was hot. We were quite lucky with all the dry weather.
The second day we visited St Martin’s Plain near Folkestone. We had all day inside the DCCT building along with cadets learning how to cook ration packs. Kent Police came to visit and showed us all their armed response weapons from the BMW X5.
Middle of the week and we had numerous visits planned: a few hours at IWM Duxford, a few hours at the RAF Regiment Heritage Centre and then on to RAF Wittering to overnight there.
As we were approaching the Duxford exit of the M11 two Mustangs flew overhead in formation. They then proceeded to practice their display for the weekend airshow. It was incredibly impressive and great fun to see. If nothing else exciting happened all week this would have made the week worthwhile.
After a while to soak up the rays at Duxford we drove to RAF Honington to visit the RAF Regiment Heritage Centre. This was particularly interesting and there was a lot of pretty impressive kit on display. We even managed to bump into the Station Commander and SWO. They gave us permission to have a photo taken at the gate guardian, which we duly did.
After time looking and playing with kit we drove to RAF Wittering and booked into our accommodation for the night. The showers here were very welcome as spending four hours driving a minibus with no air conditioning took its toll. We had a lovely evening meal in Stamford at the London Inn.
Our original plan was for a day’s worth of AEF with No.5 AEF but this failed for reasons that we don’t know. Fortunately, and with good contacts, we managed to see 5131 Sqn, the Harrier Heritage Centre and then spend a few hours with the Fire Section next to the runway.
The firemen a great at showing off and also managed to effectively cool us down on this baking day.
5131 had some curious stuff including this:
Finally, we reached Friday and we had sorted out some rocketry for all to enjoy. The morning was spent building the rockets and lessons on the physics and then we flew the masterpieces in the afternoon.
Overall this was a good week. Not quite as good as a proper camp, but we did well and I am pretty sure everyone had a really good time.
While taking a jog from SMP near junction 12 of the M20 here in Kent I noticed the gorgeous curves of a water tower. I like this design because it clearly is a DESIGN and not a “let’s build it as strong as possible” clump of bricks. Most water towers are inelegant, this one is gorgeous.
I have a suspicion that these curves are catenaries, Gaudí uses them a lot in his cathedral.
Along with the lovely curves of that delicious monster the sun was rising over the sea. Here’s a view.
I’m quite proud of that last picture. I do think I’d be quite happy living is this home:
Just had quite a jam-packed weekend. Spent a little time at three establishments while the cadet team succeeded in their competition. Here are a few photos of the sights.
This place was built for the First World War transition of troops across the channel. Don’t be impressed by the aluminium cladding, just inside are wooden framed original buildings that smell and creak with history.
The above is an unheated literal brick out-house that has three urinals and three proper toilets. There are a few toilets in heated buildings but too many people for them!
I love a nice Gate Guardian. This one is very pretty. It guards the helicopters at this base.
This room is part of the SNCO Annex. It’s about 10ft by 8ft with a small en-suite. Can’t grumble, it was dry and warm. The wi-fi helped make it more like home.
That door is an illusion, it’s a thin door to make the rest of the room look bigger!
I would to have a go in this and drive it around. It would be great fun!
Next time I’m out and about I’ll take some more photos. Sometimes I can give information about it all and sometimes I can’t, it’s just not sensible to do that.
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