It is nearly the end of August and we are back on the road after a lovely summer spent enjoying our Suffolk home. We usually spend large parts of the summer travelling around the UK but Kate wanted to spend more time at home this year, making the best of the garden and conservatory.
August Bank Holiday weekend means Dunsfold Wings and Wheels, one of our favourite shows and one where we can camp on the airfield, so early Friday morning we left home for the drive on the usually busy roads to Surrey. Our 7am departure meant that the traffic was much lighter than we anticipated and even the Dartford crossing didn’t delay us for too long and so we were the first to arrive at Dunsfold. Very soon the rest of the set up team started to turn up and once Bob and Isi arrived with a trailer full of kit we could get cracking.
In the past we have had contractors build our marquee for the Vulcan Village but that costs large amounts of the money we are trying to raise to keep our Vulcan flying. Now, for medium size shows, the Trust have purchased some self assembly Gala Tents that just slot together. In a short time we had two 8x4m and one 4x4m tents erected to make a large U shaped arrangement. Once Mark arrived with the van full of stock and tables we could dress out the inside and get the stock laid out ready for trading on Saturday.
A chilly but sunny start to Saturday and with the gates opening at 9am we were all ready to go in plenty of time. Dunsfold were hoping for a really busy weekend with a number of ‘star turns’, including the worlds only two flying Lancaster’s, the usual BBMF ‘Thumper’ and the visiting Canadian ‘Vera’, the worlds only flying Vulcan, our XH558, and on Sunday the ever popular Red Arrows. Saturday was a fairly busy day and our new Vulcan Village layout worked well. Vulcan arrived with an escort of three rather small jet aircraft, the Gnat display team from North Weald. Sunday was packed and for the first time the organisers had to stop selling tickets on the gate and turn away anyone without prepaid tickets. We heard that the traffic jams went on for miles as thousands of people tried to get onto the airfield.
By the time the show closed on Sunday evening we were all pretty exhausted but then the stock had to be packed away, banners and flag poles taken down and the tents dismantled and carefully packed away and loaded for the trip back to base in Leicestershire. It was well after midnight when some of the volunteers got home but for us it was just a matter of climbing into the motorhome, opening a beer and popping the pizza into the oven. We spent a third peaceful night on the airfield rather than have to drive a long distance in a state of near exhaustion.
On Monday morning, as Dunsfold was slowly returned to normal, we drove south to spend a few days close to Chichester Harbour on a small but perfectly formed C&CC Certified Site. The weather had changed from the sunshine we had enjoyed over the weekend into rain that became heavier the further south we went. Fortunately the grassy site was firm and our four ton van didn’t sink in.
The weather stayed ‘iffy’ for the next few days so our usual days of walks around the shoreline, sunbathing and barbecues turned into reading or just sitting inside the motorhome relaxing. Even so, we still enjoyed our stay at Cobwebs with its pleasant views over fields and the peace and quiet that comes from being well away from busy roads.
By Friday morning we were ready to do it all again as we left Cobwebs to head east to Shoreham for the RAFA Airshow.