Who could have imagined what the weather could throw at us this year?
I can remember speaking to someone a few weeks before the event who said
that we could not have another one where it rained as it did in 2006, how
wrong he was. As always you watch the weather forecasts during the week
leading up to the Rally just to keep an eye on things, when around Tuesday
they announced that we were going to get very, very heavy rain in all areas
on the Friday. Well, being a bit sceptical, I tend not to believe them as when
they say glorious sunshine they are not always right. How wrong I was.
Simon and I as usual had to be in Didcot for 10am to pick up the tables
and chairs we borrow and the plan was to collect them, return home and pick
up the caravan to take over to the site. However it was absolutely lashing it
down when we met Ron Head. As we loaded the tables, etc, we were getting
wetter and wetter and when we had finishd we decided to go straight to the site
to start to erect the marquee so we would have somewhere dry to put
everything. Arriving on site I was amazed that members were already there
and the marquee almost up, everyone was soaking wet. Once the tent was
up and complete there was nothing else we could do until the rain let up.
Although it was mentioned in fun, never at any stage did we think of calling
the event off despite hearing of the conditions around the country as we
simply did not know who was coming. Our decision was proved right as
visitors started to arrive and we had to make a quick decision to have the
camping on the top field as the usual one was beginning to flood. Very soon
we had visitors from places like Birmingham, Colchester, Rugby, Nottingham
and Tiverton, all telling their stories of horrendous travelling conditions. It
says something about our society that they wanted to attend and not simply
turn around and go home. We did, however, not see our regulars Brian and
Margaret Remnant until the Saturday, as they got stuck in Worcestershire
somewhere. In the afternoon the rain seemed to ease a bit and we gradually
finished off what had to be done and at around 16.30 I thought I would make
the half hour trip home to collect the caravan. Anyway dressed in wet socks,
wet shoes, wet undies and a boiler suit I set off home finally getting there 2
hours later. The trip back to the track site only took 1 hour. As the evening
drew in, more and more visitors had arrived and we settled down to a bite to
eat and a couple of pints of foaming ale, absolutely wrecked.
Next morning we awoke to a dry sky and a hint of sunshine and as I
made my way over to breakfast and a cup of tea more visitors were arriving,
one from as far as Rochdale. Very soon locomotives were being unloaded
and getting up steam, the whole site was alive, and looking good, which is
why we do it. As evening started to fall I went off to collect the Fish and Chip
supper. That went down well and many of us retired to the marquee to chat
and enjoy a pint or two whilst the younger ones amongst us ran on the railway
with the club diesels, Florence and Abbey National, having to give up as the
rain started to fall well into the night.
Sunday broke with glorious sunshine and was a really peaceful day with
only a couple more visitors turning up. I can well remember sitting taking in the
sun talking to other members all saying we were right to go ahead. It had
been a good weekend.
All too soon it was time to pack up. Why could we not have had the
Sunday weather all weekend? OK, we were down on numbers this year, we
still had 30 or so locomotives, but on the Friday who would have thought
anyone would have come?
Thanks go to all the visitors who took the trouble to come, most of whom
said they will be back next year, to the Park staff who did a super job cutting
the grass earlier in the week; it looked a treat, only for the rain and wind to
mess it all up; and thanks for the flowers, to all our members who helped in
any way during the week before, over the weekend but especially on the
Friday, also to the members who turned up despite having problems of their
own at home, to the catering ladies, well done again. It was a good weekend
despite all, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.
Well, roll on next year, when we have two events.