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Today I had the absolute joy and privilege of not only revisiting the high point of my childhood summers, but of taking Niece and Neff along with me for their first time at a Steam Rally.
Ever since I was tiny, I’ve had a deep and abiding passion for traction engines. I watched The Iron Maiden one day at my Grandma’s and fell hopelessly and irrevocably in love. I love how they look, how they move, how they smell. Since then, I have waited with eager anticipation for summer and the (finally) heralding of the Netley Marsh Steam Rally – a place of many treasured memories (and some sad ones, in the years I didn’t get to go). It was early decided for me that absolutely *the* most desirable place in the world was to be up on that footplate, greasy and soot-stained, with that gorgeous smell puffing around you, the gentle but strong ‘choof-choof-choof‘ and flywheels and fan-belts spinning all around. It’s still my dream.
The past ten years or so I’ve fallen out of the habit of going – I’ve been busy or had no-one to go with or whatever – it just hasn’t happened. And I’ve been a little bit bereft each year when it hasn’t happened. And today, FINALLY it did.
And it was every inch as glorious and magical as I remember it being.
For your delectable delight – a video (not mine) of the ACTUAL fairground organ which was there – Geoff Radcliffe’s 89 Key Marenghi Fairground Organ. It was super-special for
reason traction engine #9
So with no further ado, and a blissful infusion of a dizzying height of GORGEOUS engineering, I give you, as a special one-off – Ten Traction Engines of Thankful
I’m super-glad that I got to take Niece and Neff (and Husby) with me. For both Husby and I, steam rallies were an important part of our childhood – a day where parents were happy and engaged with us and (mostly) chilled out for the day. Treasured memories happened here, and it was a very special thrill to think that we are beginning the process of memory-making for the next generation.
Wonderful, lovely friends of ours live 200yds from the showground. They know what a nightmare it is to find parking in the Big Field Full of Everybody’s Car-in-the-World, and offered to let us park in their driveway. Which we did, and it was amazing. We knew exactly where the car was to come back to, AND we didn’t have to wait in a massive queue to get in.
I’m really thankful that we had enough money to go. A few months ago it wouldn’t have been possible. We loved every moment. The traction engines were EVERYWHERE – tiny ones chuffing round with people sat on the back, great big BEASTS of ones, dainty ones, chunky ones – all absolutely stunning feats of engineering and design. And I really, really want one. But I can’t afford that much traction engine.
I’m thankful for Neff’s hilarity. He sometimes doesn’t realise *quite* how funny he is, but when, after lunch, he got up and semi-whined “I need to spend some moneeeeeey” and I fell about laughing, he did at least see the amusing side and joined in.
He also described the day as “Like sparkly rainbows” – SO CUTE
Lunch was awesome. We found a spot in front of a motorcycle stunt arena, and were entertained by a couple of adults and a few seriously tiny (like 8 or 9 y/o) kids zipping around on dirtbikes, taking leaps and going up and down obstacles. It was fascinating and they were very brave.
The steam rally also had a traditional fairground with all the overpriced rides and crappy prizes. Niece went on a carsy ride-around thing and Neff won a squeaky inflatable hammer at the strongman stand and proceeded to whack seven bells out of us throughout the rest of the day. It was adorable.
I’m very thankful for the beautiful fairground organs which played such cheering music. We stopped for slushies in front of one, and sat and danced and enjoyed the very violent colours and flavours of the drinks along with the awesome music. It’s very ‘of a type’ but SO fun.
On the way out, I noticed an organ which offered to play Happy Birthday, along with discounted CD of some of their repertoire. I asked, and was told by the devilishly cheeky old man that I could have the discount if I remembered him when I listened to it! I told him I’d remember his generosity and then went and sat in front of the organ and basked as it played me Happy Birthday. A completely gorgeous new memory to treasure.
Slightly unrelated to the steam rally – I found that making banana sorbet by freezing a slightly old banana then thawing it for 30 mins, peeling then mashing, TOTALLY works. And is completely delicious. And prevents throwing away old bananas (I hate wasting food with a passion which is borderline psychopathic) so I am utterly psyched by this one.
I was thrilled to pieces that I managed to take my camera (a big clunky-but-awesome-with-a-wicked-zoom) with me and manage to juggle holding my shoulder bag, a Tote-Bag-of-All-Things, holding a small, excited hand, and taking pictures (see end of post). I felt I scored some serious ‘Aunty points’ for that.
It also meant I got to snap some awesome new things I’d never seen before, like (possibly) the world’s first Accessible Traction Engine. How cool is that?!?!
And just to keep things real – a thing of UNthankful (I know! How could I? But when you read it – how could I NOT?!?!)
Husby is a totally lovely, wonderful, adorable uncle to Niece and Neff. But there’s one thing.
He’s soft on them.
Like really, really soft on them at times.
Especially Niece, who snuggles with him and absolutely loves him to pieces.
So when she turned her big, puppydog eyes on him at the fair and asked if she could spend some of her money on a doll, his heart turned to candlewax in a kiln and he melted and let her buy it.
It’s a grimy, disgusting, horrible, tatty, fairground piece of crapola which has probably been soaked in STDs and bottom-of-the-bin-juice. And he let her buy it, and HOLD it, and CUDDLE it!
And I had to have it in my car. Where it’s staying until I can throw it in the bin (unless she remembers about the revolting thing and then I don’t know what I’ll do! I’ll probably tell her it ran back to join the fair!)
|And play ‘Happy Birthday’ they sure did. With me and Niece dancing and clapping like goons|
|How unbelievably CAMP is this guy?|
|There was a skydiving display, too|
|All our family feet at the rally|
|Toldja the slushies were violently coloured!|