All Steamed Up

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Last Sunday, NAH and I braved the rain to go to the Heddington & Stockley Steam Rally and Country Fair. It was a welcome return as it's been cancelled the past couple of years. It's a real local event - held in some fields behind the most idyllic thatched country pub. I was hoping to report on the lawn mower racing as a possible new feature for a Top Gear style revamped Gardeners' World, but sadly they weren't doing it this year. They did have tractor pulling though - souped up tractors pulling an ever increasing resistance the further the tractor goes. The commentator described the course as a 'tractor breaker' owing to the rain. It has a real following in the farming community as evidenced by the audience. It's a bit like Formula One with mud.

NAH always gets a bit misty eyed when looking at a steam lorry like the one in the collage as his grandad had a similar vehicle in Poole. Other engines included ploughing and threshing engines and a demonstration timber sawing area. Unfortunately the weather meant they couldn't do their parade in the show ring as there was a bit of Glastonbury style mud around! The weather cleared for the falconry display by Hawksdrift and I had the pleasure of flying a magnificent Harris Hawk round the ring. New events this year were medieval jousting from The Knights of the Damned and the Over the Top motorcycle display team - the latter having 3 generations of stuntmen including 4 year old Billy Duke.

NAH and I have a running joke with the stationary engine displays. These emit alarming 'pht!' sounds from time to time, so we play a game of trying to surprise each other by imitating them. They're always set to one side of the field, in a neat row with their owners sitting behind them in front of a camper van or tent, usually with a few beers to hand. Some owners try and show what the engines were used for and run a set of lights or a water pump off them. If it's the latter the water is often a flourescent green and runs into a vat of some sort complete with rubber ducks.

The rally also has a number of vehicle classes such as classic cars, military vehicles, tractors and motorcycles. At some point during the day these will parade into the ring accompanied by a commentary from someone who knows each vehicle inside out. Heddington always has a heavy horse display as a variation and the horses were particularly well turned out this year.

In spite of the rain we had a great time. Attendance on Sunday was poor, so I hope there were sufficient people there on Saturday to ensure the event runs next year as it's one of our favourites.


  1. Sounds like you had a great time! These events sound like similar ones that occur throughout our farming community. This weekend is an annual antique tractor show that includes various demonstrations and draws people from several states. Tractor pulls are certainly popular here, too; I've seen a couple, but it's not really my favorite. Now the medieval jousting and the hawks--that I would enjoy!

  2. Rose - it was great fum, even the tractor pulling as we like people watching :)


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