Unlike last year when we had bad weather running up to the rally, this year we had days of glorious weather leading up to the weekend with the threat of rain, especially on the Saturday. I arrived on Friday morning to find the track site really looking at its best with the grass mowed to perfection and the flower beds and hedges looking an absolute picture. Well done to all concerned. The marquee had been erected and just the final bits and pieces were taking place.
As in most other years, we do not really know who is arriving as although we ask for overnight stoppers to book in, very few do, as they know we have the space to take them. It is therefore always a worrying time wondering if anyone will turn up other than the few who had booked in. Well around mid-day our first visitors arrived and soon a steady stream of camper vans, caravans and campers started to take up their positions in the camping field and begin to drop off locomotives, traction engines etc. in the track site.
Members of the society had really done well in getting the site ready in record time. We must be getting used to it now and come the early evening we were able to sit and enjoy our evening meal in the sunshine rather than rushing around sorting out the last bits to be completed. Soon Geoff and Helen from G and S Supplies/Western Steam arrived and began to set up in their usual location. As the evening drew on, a couple of locomotives took to the track for a Friday evening run as others gathered in the clubhouse for a natter and beer or two finally retiring to bed around midnight.
Saturday morning broke fine and bright and it was good to see so many enjoying an excellent "Cosmic" breakfast, (must admit I had to indulge in one myself) whilst visitors prepared locomotives and traction engines for running. However it was soon apparent that we were not getting the usual amount of visitors for the day on the Saturday and it appears that the weather forecast for most of the south was for heavy rain during the day and we suspect that this was the reason for the drop in numbers, quite strange really as we were all in shirtsleeves, but who would want to travel and get wet. However the lesser numbers did mean that life was a bit easier for all.
Late into the afternoon, I was dispatched to the usual fish and chip shop for the evening meal, again, down quite considerably on last year. Member David "Twinkle Fingers" Wilkins was into his first of two sessions on his organ. I arrived back with the food and soon it was all dished out but as we were coming to the end of the meal and David was about to start his second session the heavens opened and the rain that was due during the day hit us. Boy, was it heavy, I know as I got drenched putting all the locomotives and things away. Unfortunately that put an end to evening running but meant that we could retire to the clubhouse for a social evening ending in the early hours with the rain still coming down.
Sunday morning broke fine and bright and Fred and John, the "Shiny Metal Men" who could only be there on the Sunday joined us. Geoff and Helen unfortunately had suffered some water damage on their stand and were drying things out in the sun as again many of us tucked into a hearty breakfast. We did have a few more visitors on the Sunday, it was they that told me about the Saturday weather forecast. A couple of people came back for a second day. It was a good day with the sun shining brightly all day. All too soon people were starting to think about going home and we started to dismantle the marquee and other things. By about 17-00hrs all the visitors had left, again, they seemed to have enjoyed the weekend, well not many moans anyway, as we sat in the clubhouse over a brew to reflect on the weekend. Yes, the numbers were down, with 23 booking in on Saturday and a further 6 on Sunday. This included locomotives, road vehicles and traction engines and we all agreed that it had been a superb weekend, which is why we do it.
I would like to thank the following:- Fred and John, Shiny Metal men, Geoff and Helen of G and S Supplies/Western Steam, David "Twinkle Fingers" Wilkins, and the Chip Shop men, Most importantly, all the society ladies and gents for the catering, all the members for doing the gardens, sweeping leaves, setting up, running the event and knocking down at the end. A splendid job done and appreciated by all. I cannot mention you all individually so also thanks to anyone that did anything for the event, it was really worth it and enjoyed by all.