We were a bit late booking anything for holidays this year and were considering Scotland. We couldn’t face the long drive for 10 days so we hit upon the brainwave of going to Camping de la Bien Assise in GuĂ®nes just south of Calais in northeast France. We’d stayed there a couple of times before for one night whilst heading further afield in Europe and had said we should try a longer stay. The drive around the M25 to Dover is hideous of course but 3 hours is better than 6 and with the added excitement of a ferry journey to a foreign country too!

We had a fab time, decent weather (couple of beasty storms as well), nice beaches, good countryside, great campsite, excellent historic sites. Here is a cheesy video which sums it up (thanks to iMovies trailers).

Star Camp – Autumn 2010

It was time for the regular Reading AS Star Camp in deepest darkest mid-Wales. We’ve been running these for 3 years now and we’ve had mixed success with the weather. One camp we had snow, one camp we drowned. But a few have been amazingly clear.

We stay on a farm that has B&B and camping. It does breakfasts and evening meals so ideal for not having to be too self-reliant. When it’s clear it is fantastically dark but when it isn’t we have a bit of a social with several bottles of red wine.

This autumn it was the latter! I just went for Saturday night as the forecast was promising and when I arrived mid-afternoon it was pretty clear. But during dinner the heavens opened and it rained on and off until around 11pm. It stayed stubbornly cloudy thereafter.

We retired to our rooms/tents. I happened to awake at 4.15am and stuck my head out of the flap of my tent and it was clear! Orion was right in front of me and of course I was already fully dark adapted. The Milky Way stretched overhead and the Pleiades blazed. I spent about 20mins taking in the sights but 4.15am is not a sensible time to be setting up telescopes and it was cold, the outside of my tent crackled with ice.

The morning was uniform grey so I must have been lucky to see a brief clear spot, the ground was white with frost. Disappointing that I didn’t get any observing/imaging done but still a good sociable occasion.