Monday, September 03, 2007

Great Dorset Steam Fair

We had a lovely time at the Great Dorset Steam Fair. It’s an interesting experience because it is an absolutely enormous event with hundreds of things to do and see and eat and drink and ponder. It’s quite expensive to get in (cheaper if you pre-book on the Internet) and you really feel that you have to spend hours there to get your money’s worth and to make the trip down to Tarrant Hinton (near Blandford) worth it. There’s a sense in which I prefer the smaller local fairs. They’re only a few pounds to get in and you can just stay for a couple of hours without feeling that you’ve wasted anything. But it must be said that you can’t beat the Big One for atmosphere and variety.

We went down on the Friday after work and stayed at Barb’s. Also there were her brother Greg, who was there all weekend and her friend Sophie who stayed for dinner and then left. It is, mind, a bit disconcerting when you are listening to The Builder telling Barb a story about the inadequate repairing of the Vixen and she (Barb, not the Vixen) suddenly bolts to the kitchen having been abruptly and unexpectedly been taken by an urge to throw up! Left her feeling quite queasy on Saturday, but fit enough for the steam fair.

Saturday dawned with what was really perfect weather for a day outside in huge great big fields. Warm, sunny but cloudy enough for it to be pleasant. I went prepared with insect repellent, sunscreen and my Akubra. And a fleecy jacket for later, tucked into my back pack. It might have been warm and sunny at 12:00, but it was likely to be much less warm and sunny come dusk! Off we went along narrow, winding roads, Barb driving so The Builder could have a drink or two in the course of the day. We split up once we got there, Barb and Greg wandering about together. The Builder and I had a look at some of the steam fairground organs and a variety of traction engines. Then we espied a HUGE plume of smoke and went to investigate – there were some of the biggest steam haulage engines I think I’ve ever seen in an enormous paddock with two steep hills at either end. That was fun! Then I remembered that I had seen a small tent selling English wine near the entrance gate. We went off to investigate. There is something deeply civilised about watching steam engines trundling about while sipping (us, not the engines) on cold, dry, sparkling wine in the sunshine!

Mostly, we walked. We looked at the trash and treasure stalls - and bought me a walking stick (for my poorly knee and its companion ankle were complaining about the uneven ground), Tabitha’s Christmas present, a new pair of binoculars for me, and a miniature pair for the house, a new torch and various other things. We went to the Food Hall and found a sugar free stall and had a merry time choosing a present for The Builder’s father who has diabetes. We looked at the craft tent, the farm craft exhibitions, the military vehicles – oh lots and lots of things. Then I decided that my legs really didn’t want to walk any more and I was thirsty and I’d had enough of huge great big enormous steam fairs. We went to the real ale tent for a pint. Though mine was a pint of real cider rather than ale. As we supped, it became apparent that a (small) Big Band was about to entertain us. It was a mixed age band from Bath – Just in Time Band. The drummer, who played as though he’d been born with drumsticks in his hands, was only 13. It was absolutely fantastic. We supped our pints and bopped along – and sent Barb a text message summoning her and Greg to join us. And we had another pint. Apart from Barb who had a half for she was driving!

We went for another wander about, then Barb, The Builder and I left all our possessions with Greg and went for a ride on the Ferris wheel. I had a lovely ride. The views were great, the ride was fun and I was nice and toastie warm in my fleecy jumper. Barb and The Builder, who had not had the foresight to think that the evening might turn chilly and had, in the case of The Builder, made a determined decision not to take a jumper or jacket, were a tad chilly at the top of the ride. They looked longingly and lustingly at my fleecy jacket. But no, no, no. I had Been Prepared. I had carried this jacket around all day in the warmth – and I wasn’t sharing it with anyone at all!!!!!!!!!!

And so back to Barb’s place, home made pizza for tea, and off to bed. Slept the sleep of the just, I did!!

On Sunday we visited The Builder’s parents, bearing our sugar-free present from the fair, some runner beans from the garden and some potatoes from the allotment. We returned to Barb’s place and had roast beef and taties and veg from her garden and rhubarb crumble. Barb was feeling better and was able to enjoy her lunch. The rest of us were still fine (and remain so - I wonder if it was some form of food poisoning) and really enjoyed our lunch too We pottered about. Then The Builder and I came back home. It was a good weekend. We will definitely do it again.
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