A year for the RCSMC would not be complete without our annual summer trip to the Isle of Wight Steam Railway to attend their Steam Festival. The event always promises to deliver plenty of interesting old vehicles, palatable ales and questionable meals made by alumni, and this year was no different.
Like basically all of our events, we started by actually driving there. It was an early start (for students at least) as all the vehicles made their way south before a quick stop for breakfast. You would think that after so many years of travelling to the Island, at least one person on each vehicle would be familiar with the route and you’d of course be wrong, everyone got lost. While Clem struggled up a hill that was far too steep for her recently rebuilt engine, Jez decided to avoid the terrifying A3 by taking a poorly thought through detour around a quaint vineyard and golf club. She crawled her way along a track the DVLA promised wasn’t a through road and tackled oversized speed bumps before finally being thwarted by a delivery van that refused to move for 10 minutes.
After a main road was finally found again everyone regrouped at Midhurst where much bread, cheese and pastries were purchased for the ferry ride. It was around this time the weather took a turn for the worst and absolutely everyone regretted picking the vehicles without a roof. We managed to make the ferry crossing on time in order to enjoy putting our tents up which was promptly finished upon finding out the beer tent was open.
Having established our camp (and more importantly where the beer was purchased) the fair could begin. As usual Jez and Clem stole the show in the various showcases while Bo and Derek were broken. Jez also got to participate in her first and final “Man and Machine” of this year before she was unfortunately grounded by poor weather. One welcome addition at this year’s fair was Jez’s newly acquired reservoir allowing her to pump into the nearby trees without any need for a large body of water. Now all we needed was a ludicrously long hose and continuous water supply! Irrespective of the questionable setup we used, the pumping was a spectacle for many to enjoy.
All the vehicles also enjoyed a Road-Run out to freshwater bay where a previous Bo Driver kindly offered to show us around Fort Redoubt, his converted Palmerston Fort, which had plenty for us to explore. After learning much about its history we retired to the nearest beer vendor for an unfortunately short amount of time before we had to rush back for mystery stoo. This year’s additions included, but were by no means limited to, big chunks of lemon and fig rolls. No matter what it contained, it was undoubtedly better than the homogenous rice served only two days prior.
The final night was spent in a local pub where everyone enjoyed great food and company. Jez just about made it after stealing some fuel from another vehicle in order to dart to the nearest petrol station. We were up early for the ferry the next day. Fortunately, breakfast had already been sorted for that morning, however, it did consist entirely of hard-boiled eggs. After eating a frankly alarming number of them, we set off back home on what was a helpfully uneventful drive. All vehicles arrived back at the garages mostly in one piece as Clem now appeared to have a slightly wonky wheel. At least it’s something to keep people busy before fresher’s start turning up!