By Mike Peake
For the 3rd year running, our group had a stand at this truly huge and fantastic vintage fair and oh my, did we have some fun this year. If I included all the material I have for this weekend, I would still be writing this when we turn up next year. Oh Yes, there will be a next year. (Well, if they let us back there will).
So, where to start? Well let’s start on Thursday evening and introduce you to the intrepid, first-to-arrive campers.
As always, the Brooks family were there to support the group. This time, with Apollo the P5B camper van that we all know and love. The Brooks Family this time consisted of Tosh and Allison, Bella and Jake, Gus, Gus’s daughter Julie, her husband Kurt and son Seth.
Gus had also completed work on our scumbag project Wolseley WD8 stationary engine/generator.
Young Paul Cheetham arrived in Tosh’s MG Midget.
Irritatingly, Tosh has re-sprayed both these vehicles and renovated a house in the time it has taken me to mess up Poppy, who won’t be joining us yet again because I can’t get painting right.
Also present were Windy and Breezy Woodward and Bernard Owen with the Zephyr and Maxi.
Jason Wright and Watson had joined us too, but had forgotten his Herald due to welding and painting issues.
So it was just Old Mother Cole and the Williamsons to arrive on the Thursday evening. No disrespect to the Williamsons, but Gar Coles arrival was most keenly anticipated as he had promised to open “Old Mother Cole’s kitchen” and feed us all chicken and bacon stew.
Imagine our horror then, when we received a text message saying that he wasn’t coming on Thursday because he had driven his modern through a river and burnt out his coil pack! Shouts of outrage abounded and many an abusive text was sent as we sat in our field, miserable and starving to death. We did manage to scrounge up a pack of digestives but competition for them was fierce.
Not long after, but just as the hunger pangs were truly starting to bite, the group chat received another message, this time from Team Williamson.
The Bedford CF had broken down too. Were they going to be pathetic wusses about it and go home? Were they heck! No. They called recovery and came on towards us anyway. See, Gar? Some people don’t let their mates down.
We cheered up somewhat on learning that Kaz, Daz and Carl were on their way. Maybe, just maybe, they’d have another packet of biscuits.
We whiled away the hours until they were due to arrive, chatting drinking and playing “I Spy”, although we abandoned the game after the 25th outing of “F” for food.
At midnight, the group chat “pinged” again. Hooray!! Dazzer was at the gates and asking for spanners. Now weak with hunger, we gathered tools, jumped in the Zephyr and hurried down to the gate to rescue Team Williamson and to see if they had any biscuits. They didn’t.
Daz changed the battery in an effort to get the Bedford camper running. As you can imagine, Tosh was incredibly helpful during the procedure but despite this, Darren got the task done quickly. It didn’t work and the engine still failed to turn over. The decision was made to tow the van back with the Zephyr.
We abandoned the CF near our pitch and all went to bed in the hope that sleep would overcome the starvation stomach cramps.
Friday morning dawned to the smell of bacon frying. Obviously we couldn’t have done this last night as we were too focused on the fact that Old Mother Cole” had let us down so badly and obviously bacon is for breakfast not dinner. Funnily enough, Gar arrived just as the bacon was ready. He’d stolen a coil pack from his neighbours Corsa. I’m not sure why he couldn’t have done that last night and rescued us all from starvation? No consideration I guess.
Our bodies revived by the miracle that is bacon, we set off over to our group stand and soon had it all set up and ready for the 1st day of the show.
Friday is always the chilled day of the 3 show days as a lot of exhibitors and visitors are still at work. So a pleasant day was passed listening to the soporific chuff puff of the Wolseley as this mid-20th century technology kept our 21st century phones and Gar’s Jaguchair alive, interspersed with the odd wander around the massive show ground.
Yes Lorraine. Bet you feel Silly now!
After a very pleasant day in the sun, it was back to the campsite. During the day we were joined by some more intrepid campers in the form of our group sponsor and top chap Phil Allin of Alvaston Press and his lovely family with Big Rov the stately P5B Coupe and Chris Ball in his Johnny Cash “one piece at a time” MK1/2/3/4/5/6 MGB Roadster.
It was time to settle around the Coleman and FINALLY enjoy Old Mother Cole’s chicken and bacon stew. It was delicious, filling and lovely. I’m sure it would have been even better last night but it was lovely all the same. Thank you Gar.
As we were settling down with our stew, Phil grumpily went back to his caravan to get a bowl and eating irons as Lorraine had only bought for herself. Whilst Phil was gone Lorraine admitted that this was a deliberate omission as Phil is quite fat enough already.
Two minutes later, we heard a call from Phil saying “Errr, my caravan is full of black acrid smoke” but as we were only on our 2nd or 3rd spoonful of stew, we merely gave each other raised eyebrow looks that said “mmmm, that’s odd? This stew is really delicious. We’ll investigate when we’ve finished.”
After another couple of minutes had passed, we heard Phil’s voice again, this time with a slight note of panic in it. “Actually chaps! My caravan is on fire! There’s proper flames and everything!”
This spurred us all into action. Well, after we’d calmly placed our almost full bowls of stew carefully and securely in various safe places, this spurred us into action. You’ve never seen five fatblokes move so fast as we heroically rushed back to our respective vans to collect various fire fighting equipment. I got a fire blanket and a camera.
Tosh was 1st to arrive, leaping dramatically through the door whilst ripping the pin from his fire extinguisher in a very manly manner. Letting rip in all and every direction, he quickly covered the entire caravan and Phil (who was in there frantically turning off gas and electric) in white powder.
Phil, looking very much like a snowman and wiping powder from his eyes, said “It’s the fridge Tosh. The fire is behind the fridge. You just need to squirt through the vent!”. “Oh” said Tosh, before sheepishly leaping back out the door and giving another good squirt of powder through the vents.*
My contribution was to make sure I had plenty of photos for the blog.
Once the fire was out, our band of heroes returned to their stew where we found Lorraine, still in her deckchair, calmly eating her stew with a knowing smile on her face. The lengths some people will go to, to get a new caravan!
Once the stew was consumed, Old Mother Cole served up a delicious pudding of meringues, chocolate rolls and evaporated milk. I love evaporated milk! It brings back loads of happy memories of childhood camping and parties. I had rather a lot and all washed down with Merlot.
Once tea was complete and washing up done, the contents of Phil and Lorraine’s fridge re-distributed and the fridge deposited unceremoniously in the skip, we decamped for the wonderful vintage steam fair where we all had lots of fun but absolutely nothing blogworthy happened. Nope. Nothing at all. Nothing to see here people. Please return to your normal humdrum lives. Nothing happened. Absolutely nothing at all. **
Oh OK. Maybe, just maybe, something blogworthy happened. Not saying it did, but if anything were to have happened, you’re going to have to wait for part 2 to read about it.
To be continued …
* Actual events may have been changed slightly for literary convenience.
** Actual events may have been changed slightly for literary convenience.
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