As a first timer going down to Swanage, it seemed a buggy enthusiasts right of passage. I was cheeky enough to get Miller and myself a lift down with Mags and Jonathan Rojas aka aorange and their two poodle companions Lola and Stitch (who were all the way from Warrington) in their retro Bedford bus with Jonathan’s Manx Beach Buggy stowed safely in the back.
Thursday 26 July – The Journey
A stylish Bedford Dominant pulls up at Frankley Services around 8pm and Miller and I happily board the bus for the expedition to Swanage. We made one stop for petrol around midnight and stocked up on munchies for the remainder of the journey.
Friday 27 July – Buggy, buggy, buggy!
Naively following the Sat Nav we got to Poole Harbour around 1:30am, which Jonathan almost drove straight into!! (Although he denies it) No ferry! We had all forgotten that it would possibly not operate throughout the night, so we parked up for a little while and wondered what we should do. A ‘polite’ gentleman came stumbling over to tell us the obvious: that we had definitely missed the last trip over to the other side of the harbour and left with the question ‘got any Puff?’ which kept us amused for the long drive around (or maybe that was just me, after all it was getting late).
We continued through country roads, which were clearly unsuitable for any HGV, until eventually we made it to Swanage & Helson football ground.
At 3:30am we were the first to arrive! In the darkness, together we put up mine and Miller’s home for the weekend, and crawled into our sleeping bags for the rest of the night, whilst Jonathan and Mags went back to their luxurious bus.
I managed just a few hours sleep before waking with excitement and listening out for the first buggies to arrive! I was like a kid in a candy shop, counting the buggies as they arrived throughout the morning…
Not everybody’s journey to Swanage was without fault though; I had heard Steve Walsh had a bit of trouble on the M27, which meant a quick call to the RAC due to a burst oil pipe. Also when the group arrived one of Gary Simson’s exhaust cannons didn’t need much convincing from Peter Gibb and Little Max for it to come of, seeing as it didn’t have any bolts or screws securing it to the two other exhaust tubes…
After everyone had settled in at the campsite, a group of us popped into Swanage in the buggies for a Subway and a mooch around the town, any excuse for me to get my “fix” going out in a buggy and a quick restock on essentials and alcoholic beverages for the evening ahead.
That evening there was a hive of activity, with everyone busily catching up with each other. Later on the camp was divided and some moved into the clubhouse with the anticipation of the Olympic Opening Ceremony. I think the excitement of the day wore me out, and it wasn’t long before I got bored of the opening ceremony and retired back to the tent instead.
Saturday 28 July – The trip to Poole
Seeing as I hadn’t finished my buggy in time for the weekend, I started off the cruise in Jonathan’s ice blue Manx and we headed for the ferry. In total, I think there were 20 buggies, 1 Beetle and 1 Golf on the ferry but only 17 managed to arrive on time for a pit stop at Sainsburys! Unfortunately (or fortunately) 5 buggies got left behind, so we got to see an extra few miles more of Poole than the rest…
After the lunch break the convoy made it’s way to Tyneham, this time though I was in Mel Barker’s new Marathon Manx after being replaced by a new passenger in Jonathan’s. Tyneham was once a tiny coastal community but is now Dorset’s ghost village after being ‘temporarily’ evacuated in the preparations for D-Day, almost 70 years on it still remains uninhabited apart from the MOD-owned surrounding training area for the army’s Armoured Fighting Vehicles Gunnery School. Personally I found the visit somewhat fascinating for what’s left of the village and the beautiful coastal scenery.
Since Mel had to leave early, as well as the fact that I was causing trouble with the arches rubbing, I hitched a ride in George’s yellow FF back to the campsite. Which was (I must say) a bit of an experience – I’m now under the impression that he just likes the challenge of trying to make his passengers scream! After hearing the stories from another of George’s female passengers…
That night a few of us made use of the clubhouse BBQ, it was crying out to be used after all! You can’t beat a good BBQ with such amazing bunch of “buggy’ers” for company.
Sunday 29 July – Carnival Day!
More buggies had arrived on the evening before, meaning there were now a grand total of 27 buggies, 1 Beetle and 1 Baja for the carnival!
The morning of carnival day was electric, everyone had been saying ‘it never rains on carnival day’ and too right they were – there was not a cloud in sight, which meant a chance to top up the tan!
The carnival began at 1pm with an amazing jaw dropping air display from the red arrows over Swanage beach.
Regrettably mine and Miller’s vacation was coming to an end and we quickly had to go back and pack up/stow away our tent and belongings in the bus before going back out to the procession, since Jonathan and Mag’s needed to get back for work on Monday.
So the moment we’d all been waiting for, everyone lined up in the traditional way outside the Swanage & Helston Football Clubhouse and foolishly I agreed to go out again in George’s buggy. He definitely put on a show for the crowds. I knew exactly what he was up to when he was allowing space to build up between him and the buggy in front. Focusing on me with his cheeky misbehaving grin he would put his foot down without even looking, making me close my eyes and scream before he would stomp on his brakes again, skidding to a halt! I didn’t see much of the parade or the crowds to be honest, Peter had said I must make sure I take lots of photos of the spectators but there was no chance of that, what with George’s erratic crazed driving – not that I’m complaining of course! It was all good fun!
When we turned the corner to the end of the procession, I was slightly relieved but also miffed that it had all come to an end so quickly; on the walk back is where I got to see most of the carnival. Miller and I had to walk back to the campsite to hook up with Jonathan & Mags to board bus before the traffic got bad.
As a first timer going down to Swanage, it was definitely an adventure!! And I’ll be sure to make the trip down next year in my buggy, hopefully in convoy with Jonathan & Mags and the members if the Midlands Buggy Club!
I would like to thank Jonathan, and especially Mags for their kindness, and companionship that really made the weekend such a great experience.