by Gar Cole
Following a very busy Friday and the 'High Drama' in the evening (that the scriptwriters of Eastenders could only dream of replicating) it finished in a gentle manner with a few drinks.
Now a few drinks sounds innocent enough. I am Teetotal due to my arthritis medication, however I was thrilled to be on a month's treatment break so I could enjoy a drink. Unfortunately I now have the constitution of a 14yo and after a grand total of half a cider and a bottle of 'Girly' Smirnoff Ice I had to retire to my caravan to sleep it off, much to my shame!
I also have very little recollection of anything that happened after Cruella and her MGB fell silent that evening, however I was informed they had packed up and left in a huff first thing in the morning 😁
Slightly Soggy Saturday 😎
Saturday morning around 8AM I awoke to blazing sunshine, accompanied by an impressive hangover and quite severe pain in my left hip. Between the 160 mile wasted trip for that blasted gazebo and several circuits of the airfield on its uneven surface I had well and truly overdone things.
As I hobbled over to the communal area in my black shirt and trousers it occurred to me I probably looked like an overweight version of 'Herr Flick' from the Allo Allo TV series. 'You look rough' came the chorus of greetings, and I couldnt deny it, I was in a lot of discomfort. But I will say everyone was brilliant - offering to help in any way they could from cooking breakfast, carrying chairs for me and offering rides in the cars. Guys, if I sometimes refuse help its not I'm ungrateful, it's a mixture of pride and stubbornness but I was very grateful you were all there. You're a great bunch! Right - that's enough sentimental talk - back to the vehicles.
Mikes wife Anita and youngest daughter Emily had joined us, along with Eric Dalton all the way from Montrose in his Rover 216 VDP auto, a one way journey of 450 miles. Jason in his Harold was also camping and our club stand looked fuller today, situated next to the Land Crab owners club.
I had driven Erics VDP into the show ground and it is supremely comfortable with big leather seats, auto and a tiny 27k from new, it was a pleasure Eric and thank you once again.
The photos of the show illustrate the amazing diversity of vehicles on display, rare cars I'd never seen before such as Panhards, buses, coaches, military vehicles, classic caravans and of course dozens of steam traction engines and lorries. It's a cliché but there really was something for everyone and it's well worth a visit if you've never been.
Now Mike's daughter Emily is mad for classic Minis and wants her Dad to restore one for her just like he did for her Mum as a wedding present all those years ago. This is something planned for a few years down the line, so Mike asked us not to encourage her just yet. Of course we wouldn't, Mike 😈.
So, the first thing we did was take Emily to the classic Mini section which by coincidence was just opposite our stand. Her eyes glazed over at all the gleaming Minis on display, Mike looked on helplessly tapping his fingers together in best ' Oliver Hardy' fashion, Paul Cheetham then reinforced her desire to own one by letting her have a sit in his car to see if she liked it.
Mike now had steam coming out his ears at our blatant ignoring of his instructions and we received a curt 'Cheers chaps' for our disobedience. Thankfully Reagan didn't make another appearance or we would have run for safety.
Despite a very wet episode around at 11am where we were holding onto the gazebo in high winds and rain (well some of us were - Ian and Bernard retreated to their caravan for a late breakfast!), the weather brightened for the rest of the day and evening. Myself, Phil and Paul enjoyed a steady walk (hobble in my case) around the commercials and military stands, some amazing vehicles such as Scammels and Diamond T's to admire.
The show closed at 5pm and we retreated to the camping field as the Muggles queued for over an hour to get out. Paul Cheetham took me for a ride in his mini to get supplies for the evening BBQ. Now its been a very long time since I've been in a Mini and Paul drives it exactly as a 19yo should - flat out through the gears and cornering like we were being chased by that T Rex from Jurassic Park! I loved it and am not surprised the outside of Paul's front tyres are nearly bald 😉 .
Kev Thompson did a brilliant job of cooking enough burgers and sausages for 10 people on a small BBQ, while Phil and Anita used the caravans to prepare salads and spicy chicken. We may be camping but we don't go hungry in this group! Kev even took it in good humour when he was given a pink 'Fairy Girl' plate to eat from 😁
Following dinner we headed off to the steam fair ground and communal area that is reserved for those displaying over the weekend, this proved a highlight for many of us, we were up close with the steam engines in full steam, all lit up and powering everything from the Big Wheel, Waltzers, to the Carousel.
Many of us grew up at airshows and steam fairs and the nostalgia and memories came flooding back, good company, great atmosphere, laughs, cider and that wonderful smell of coal smoke and steam, great fun watching Mr and Mrs FB have a ride on the Carousel. I was the only one there high as a kite on painkillers, but I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did.
Back at base camp, I introduced the new campers to my log burner, which is in fact just a washing machine drum mounted on a stand made from its pulley. The usual scepticism soon vanishes when flames leap out of it! It's the many drain holes ya see, gives it lots of oxygen at the base.
I also displayed my party trick of chopping up a candle and letting it melt around the top rim of the drum, as it ignites it flares up in an impressive circle like the olympic rings. You have never seen 10 adults so mesmerised and I'm afraid we then raided Phils caravan for the rest of the expensive citronella candles his wife Lorraine had purchased from the garden centre.
Before you knew it we had close on 2 foot flames beautifully smelling of citrus. This I fear may have had a slightly narcotic effect as everyone stared wide eyed into the flames without speaking a word. In my defence we had the best smelling fire on camp and I never saw a single bug all night 😯
Sunday was a beautiful day weather-wise. We were joined by John Malley in his Piper and Andy Perman in his VDP Allegro. We filled every space on our pitch and it looked good. Mikes daughter returned to the show, despite us all being middle aged it seems we are just cool enough that the youngsters want to hang out with us, praise indeed.
Sunday was by far the biggest day of the weekend and it was packed with exhibits and show goers, the steam engines were giving a full display at 2pm and myself and Phil headed over to get some photos and video footage; see the video below for how spectacular it was.
The event finished with our group joining the official parade around the main arena. This was great fun and I was in the Harold with Mike shooting video, his daughter with Paul in the Mini and wife with Bernard in the Moggy.
The commentator praised Bernard's beautiful Moggy, then cheekily described Paul's Mini as 'bottom of the range' before describing the 'low slung' Herald as Mike and I rolled past in Poppy! I could go on and on about everything I saw that weekend, but I'd rather just encourage you to come along and see for yourself in 2018 - oh yes, we're booking to go back again 😀.
I bet you think that's all folks? Well the show did shut at 5pm, but that was far from the end of the fun and games for that day........😨
We had all gradually packed up with the intention of leaving around 6pm. Mike and family were going on holiday to France the next morning and the rest of us had some way to go, however the public were still queuing to get out the gates at 6pm and we resigned ourselves to getting home late. I was due to be working at midnight but thought I had plenty of time as we enjoyed a tea at Ian's caravan, laughing as Mike and crew took 45 minutes to get off the field, down the runway and out the gates. Bon Voyage, family Peake 😀.
Ian, Bernard, Phil, Paul, Kevin and I left at around 7.30pm. We tried to stay together but the marshals were separating cars from caravans in who they let out first. Eventually I got out and headed for home towards the M5. After a few miles I caught up with Phil and the P5b + caravan.
I could smell it before I saw it - a very strong smell of petrol and he was struggling along at 35mph. I phoned him and we pulled over into the next layby. It turns out Paul who was following Phil home had already got lost and broken down himself and Phil was understandably stressed.
Kevin pulled in as well in his pink Reliant and we set about trying to help. The V8 was over fueling badly - black smoke coming from the exhaust and spluttering when revved. Kev had been a big help all weekend and once again produced tools and feeler gauges. The points were checked and set and we very carefully backed the carbs off to weaken the mixture. We had it ticking over beautifully with no more smoke but still hesitant to rev. Phil pronounced it good enough to get to the next Services where he would call the AA. I bid the chaps farewell and headed home.
After getting to the Services, Phil and Kev went to Paul's aid some 14 miles away in the Reliant rescue van. It seems the Mini had just cut out and refused to start with a flat battery. Of course while doing work on it before the weekend Paul and his mates had remembered to reconnect the plug to the alternator hadn't they??? 😂
The boys then stayed with Phil until gone 1am when the AA finally showed up. I believe nobody was home much before 4am that night.
All stories told in this blog are based on completely true events and only the names have been kept the same to cause maximum embarrassment 😄
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