Sunday, 1 November 2009

November 1st 2009 – Woodmansterne Green in torrential rain

Andy, Jon and yours truly sheltering from the rain on November 1st 2009. It was pissing down. Note my mug of tea to my left and the milk container. That flask you can see behind me was resting precariously and, shortly after this shot was taken, it fell to the ground and smashed. If you want it, it's in a wastebin on the Green. Is it me, by the way, or have I got a fucking huge head?

Not a good day for a vintage car rally, especially if your vintage car is open to the elements, as most of them appeared to be; the skies were looking a little overcast too. To be fair, it wasn't that bad at first: a little blowy and a bit of spitting rain but otherwise relatively pleasant. It stayed that way until we reached Woodmansterne Green but then the heavens opened. Even the green's huge oak tree proved to be an ineffective shelter and we eventually decamped to a covered wooden gateway over at the churchyard – we being Andy Smith, yours truly and my brother Jon.

It was to be a slapstick trip full of disasters, albeit minor ones, but irritating nonetheless. The first was discovering that I had a flask of hot water and fresh milk but no teabags. We would have been scuppered had we been at Botley Hill but, as luck would have it, we were on Woodmansterne Green and the newsagent sold teabags. Lucky, also, that Jon had some money with him.

As the rain fell we sipped tea and munched on cereal bars, but then disaster number two: the flask fell from where I had perched it and, despite the fact that it was made of stainless steel, the plastic rim and thermostat still managed to chip on the hard concrete floor. I left it in a wastebasket on the green and resolved not to buy another one from Black's. Millets flasks don't have a plastic rim so I'll be buying one next week – twenty quid I could do without spending.

The third disaster wasn't really a disaster but it could have been. Looking into the flask, which had contained hot water, to see if any bits of broken plastic had fallen into it, I tipped the flask towards my face and got showered with hot water. Fortunately not that hot and there was only a little bit of it. Still, it could have been much worse.

Last but not least, don't ever take a digital camera out in the rain. Why not? Because the rain messes with the electronic wizardry and the camera goes crazy. For a minute I was considering buying a new camera, but it must have dried out as now it works fine.

The journey back was hellish: driving rain all the way. We left Jon at the Green and then Andy and I parted company at Coulsdon. All the way along the Brighton Road into Purley there was a constant process of vintage cars and many of them had broken down. I'd imagine they were all going to Brighton and I knew how most of them would be arriving – soaking wet! I stopped to take photos (see the next post for photos) but the rain was getting worse and worse so I put the camera away.

I'm glad we went cycling, even if it was pouring with rain. At least we got out and did it when we could so easily have stayed in bed. My bike looks a helluva lot cleaner too, having been showered in rain water all morning.

A valuable lesson was learned today: that waterproof clothing is a complete waste of time. I was wearing Regatta waterproofs, which are designed to be worn while on a yacht (not that I have a yacht). They were absolutely useless. When I reached home I was wet-through.

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