City of Oxford Society of Model Engineers

DREAMING SPIRES RALLY 2012

Saturday 21st & Sunday 22nd  July

Report from the Chairman

The week before the rally was typical of the weather we had during the summer and with no real bookings other than the odd one or two, signs were that it was going to be a bit of a washout.  How wrong could that be. Someone above had put in a good word for us and the Friday, although cloudy to start, soon turned into a glorious day with the forecast of a good weekend.

  Arriving on site, which as usual looked Tip Top despite the weather the week before, I found the marquee had been erected to cater for any rain and the site was a hive of activity.  Soon after midday our fears were over as a steady stream of caravans and motorhomes began to arrive and by mid-afternoon all that was left to do was sit, talk and drink tea in the sunshine while those that wanted a run on the track prepared their locomotives before we settled into the clubhouse for a beer or two into the early hours.

  Surfacing in the morning I was greeted with the smell of breakfast cooking and although I really did not want one as I try to look after my figure it seemed rude not to, and very nice it was as well

  After, I took up my job as track steward and it was soon that the steaming bays were a hive of activity under the watchful eyes of Joy and her crew. Soon we were running out of space on the bays but somehow they managed to keep everything under control so that all our visitors had what they wanted.  This year we also had some traction engines steaming up and running around the park roads and even further afield judging by some of the photographs I have seen.

  After lunch, served excellently by the catering staff, I handed the Track Steward's keys over and managed to look around and talk to some of the visitors, some were first timers at the track and were very complementary about our set up and facilities before spending some money with Fred and John, the Shiny Metal men.

  Before long it was time to call the chip shop and place our order for the evening.  Now we had given him an estimated number of 60 so imagine our surprise when the figure turned out to be over 100.  We have never had so many. Soon it was time to hit the road to the chip shop, with Sam riding shotgun and back at the track the meals were dispensed and soon all were tucking in.

  A new innovation we had this year was to be two sessions of music played by member David Wilkins on his electric organ.  I know David was very nervous about his gig but I can assure him that he need not have been as his music and playing was superb, really enjoyable and applauded by all at the end.  Well-done David.

  Being such a nice evening locomotives ran into the night before it was time to think about a beer or so, purely for medicinal purposes you understand and the usual chatter in the clubhouse.

 Sunday dawned another beautiful day and after another full English breakfast, do not want to waste any food, I took time out to sit and ponder what was going on, no fuss, no panic, just people enjoying themselves doing what they like to do. We do not have the biggest track in the world sure, our steaming bays are a bit small but we managed and people were happy.

  Afternoon came and it was time to go and see Geoff and Helen to spend some money, take a look at what was on offer from P.N.P. and generally think about closing down.  Ironically the marquee had not been used all weekend to shelter from any rain so that was soon packed away and we started to wind the event down as locomotives were put away, caravans hitched up and those with a fair distance to travel hit the road.  And so, by 17-30hrs or so, members sat drinking the final cup of tea before heading for home, tired, worn out but having enjoyed the whole weekend.

  Out of interest, we had 41 assorted steam, electric, diesel and traction engines run over the weekend.  I know that many, many I spoke to say they would be back next year with a few looking to stay the whole weekend rather than do just 1 day. A real enjoyable weekend was had by all as far as I am aware.

  My thanks go to, Fred and John, shiny Metal men; Geoff and Helen of G and S Supplies/Western Steam, Emma, Colin and Paul of P.N.P.; David "Twinkle Fingers" Wilkins; Chipshop men; The weathermen for getting it right; all the society ladies and gents who did the catering; all the members for tending the gardens, sweeping leaves, setting up, running the event and knocking down at the end, splendid job done appreciated by all. I cannot mention you all individually so also thanks to anyone that I have missed that did anything for the event.

And finally to those visitors that turned up.  There were no moans that I heard of, if there were let me know and we will try to sort it out for next year.

   Next year will be our 25th at Cutteslowe, our Silver Jubilee, so we need to put our thinking caps on. 2012 will be a hard year to follow.  The date to put in your diaries for next year is July 27th/28th.


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