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Saturday 31st May dawned bright and sunny. On the roads of Kent, cars containing Kettle Bridge Clogs dancers and musicians could be seen making their way to The White Horse pub in Claygate on the outskirts of Maidstone. This was to be the centre of a celebration of the side's 30th Anniversary.
Once everyone had arrived, we all gathered together to receive our instructions for the day. But it wasn't our Squire, Val nor our Foreman, Margaret, who stood in front of us encouraging us to give of our best. Instead it was none other than our Webmaster, Steve. No, he had not decided to give in and become a performing member (he is not partial to fuchsia tights). The event of the day did not involve us dancing. Instead, Kettle Bridge Clogs were going to undertake their first ever car rally which had been devised by Steve and Pom.
Instead of organising themselves into sets of 6 or 8, as we do for the dancing, Kettle Bridge had formed smaller car-size groups of 2, 3 or 4. I was with Sue, Tony and Peter. Final instructions were given, we were provided with our first clues and suddenly everyone was off. We all hurried away and not even the offer of tea and cake would have delayed us.
The rally (or "treasure hunt" as Steve preferred to call it — it wasn't a race, after all!) had been designed round 6 Kentish villages of Goudhurst, Marden, Horsmonden, Laddingford, Brenchley and Yalding, with each car taking a different route.
Our first stop was Goudhurst. We soon solved all the clues but our biggest problem was finding the designated car park and David who had our next clue. (I gather we had the map upside down — that didn't bode well for us really!). That problem solved we were soon on our way to our next destination. By now, the competitive spirit had kicked in!
We made our way to each destination (all designated car parks now found successfully). Our team found a good way of working. We read the questions and studied (well, except for the driver) the picture clues whilst driving along. Then we worked together to find the answers. This proved very effective until Sue sent Peter off to check what was missing on a picture of a village sign. As the driver, Peter had not seen the picture he spent a happy 5 minutes just looking at the village sign, not seeing anything missing. Fortunately reinforcements soon came along and found the answer!
Each group was busily engaged solving clues — looking at the shape of door knockers, reading names on park benches, identifying phone numbers and much more. The bemused residents just watched as different groups of clipboard-clad KBCers ran around the villages. Some of them even helped with some answers. Tony had to be helped to escape from one group of residents in the local pub who were trying to answer one question. Occasionally, we would spot another car load running round the village looking for answers, but mostly we were unaware of how others were getting on.
After about two and a half hours we had completed all the clues. Time to get back to the starting pub, The White Horse. We had all been advised that we needed to be back within 3 hours or incur penalty points. We knew we were going to make it in time so had a leisurely drive back.
Here we found Steve patiently sitting with his laptop waiting for our return, a benign grin on his face. One can only imagine what must have been going through his mind for the last 3 hours as he contemplated what we were all doing! Our car was the first back. We handed in our form and waited for the others to return. One by one all the cars arrived. Everyone had had loads of fun and all had their stories to tell.
You could feel the nail-biting tension rising as Steve and Pom totalled the scores. It was very close but who would win? Soon the scores were in..... And to our surprise, our car got the highest score. We had won and soon were awarded our trophies.
This was followed by a meal at the pub, organised by Val who valiantly coped with a last minute change of landlord. The food had all been ordered in advance and arrived very quickly. The traditional silence fell on Kettle Bridge as we devoured it. This was only interrupted by the good news (and subsequent cheering) of the birth of Tim and Carolyn's second grandchild, Arthur. Congratulations to all of them!
Then a wonderful birthday cake appeared. The cake had been made by Sue and expertly decorated by a friend of Pom. It was brilliant and made to look like a Kettle Bridge boater decorated with a garland. It was a shame to cut it. But, we did and, despite being full, everyone enjoyed it very much.
All too soon, it was time to go home. We had celebrated our 30th birthday in a different way but it had been such fun. Thank you to all those involved in the organisation of the day and making it a celebration to remember. Thanks also to The White Horse for allowing us to descend upon them and for providing such excellent fayre.
Article and photos by our very own Sally Forth — although she actually came first!