Saturday, July 28, 2007
So, the Airshow. It's actually a longer event than usual this year. We had planes on Thursday and Friday, then today (Saturday) is powerboat racing, and tomorrow (Sunday) is the Eastern Lights motorbike event.
Thursday the weather was crap, I wasn't feeling too good, and Pip had only managed to get about 3 hours sleep so he wasn't really up for managing awful traffic followed by Littlun in a big crowd. So I spent the whole day in the flat, taking it easy in anticipation of the better weather predicted for the Friday, which as you can see in this photo, we got.
The flight path must have been changed, because the planes weren't anywhere near as noisy as usual. Most years, there's several performances that physically rattle the windows of local residences, but this year, I had the windows open and could hear the tannoy from the beach, but although I could hear the planes, they were no more disruptive than, say, heavy traffic outside.
A couple of planes, the older ones, couldn't make it because of the high winds. I couldn't tell you which ones though. I don't even know what planes are in this photograph. I can identify the Red Arrows but that's about it. A planespotter is not me.
I saw a lot of extremely soggy people scurrying for their homes/cars/guesthouses in the afternoon from the safety of my flat window. This included no less than three children wearing one waterproof between them, which put me in mind of the three-headed giant from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. But shorter. Um.
Anyway, Friday was much better, Friday was when I took this photo. Pip came to mine with Littlun and a couple of friends and parked the car in my handy locked off-street parking space that comes with the flat. We suncreamed up - a procedure which Littlun detests, but that's just tough - and set off to the beach.
Lowestoft Airshow is run off money yoinked from wherever the organisers can beg, steal or borrow it from. This includes fees for stall pitches on the seafront area, sponsorship from the larger local businesses, sales of any amount of tat like tshirts, badges, caps, programmes etc, and a voluntary donation scheme. There's this big thing about keeping the show free, but at every entrance to the seafront area they have a bunch of volunteers with collection buckets and stickers. The suggested donation is £1 per adult, which is hardly bank-breaking, and then you get a sticker and can feel morally superior. A lot more people were wearing the badges this year than last year, or so it seemed.
There's also a very effective scheme for lost kiddies. The collection guys direct you to the stalls where you can get a heavy-duty plasticised card wristband clamped onto your kid. Littlun didn't manage to get his off, so they must be pretty damn durable. The wristband has the parent's mobile phone number on it. Any kid found unaccompanied just has to be herded to the nearest stall or Airshow official (and there are hundreds of these, from various voluntary groups in the town). Rather than mess about taking the kid to a central point, the officials all have mobile phones and immediately call the parent directly. In this way most kids are reunited with their parents in less than ten minutes with a minimum of fuss.
We spent a while having a look-round, and we watched the Red Arrows, which was fun - Littlun quickly picked up on pointing and shouting "WOW!" Then Pip made sure I got back up to my flat safely and they went back while I had a sleep.
Later in the afternoon, I went to join them again, down on the actual beach. By this point Littlun had gone through all the clothes Pip had brought for him (two pairs of trousers, two tshirts, a pair of shorts and a jumper) with an assortment of Ribena, ice cream, sea-water (fell over full-length while paddling) and, uh, "misc". He's two, it happens. He ended up wearing Pip's t-shirt which looked incredibly cute (click the picture for my flickr stream).
They were with a bunch of friends who'd come down with a large pack of beer, a radio, a windbreaker and the suchlike. It was really nice sitting on the sand, watching the occasional planes, playing with the kid, having a chatter, relaxing in the sunshine. A couple of the gents dug a big hole for Littlun to play in (we filled it in before we left) which he thought was fantastic. It also had the advantage that we could all sit down without someone having to be poised to dash after him...
I'm paying for it today, obviously, but then I'm not too bothered about Powerboats and it was worth it. Next week most of the tourists should have gone home again and then we can resume normal life.
Edited 17:30 to add tags