So to the final of three summits on Saturday 24th May 2008. From Crowborough G/SE-007, we headed westwards through Haywards Heath on the A272, stopping there to buy extra OS 1:25,000 sheets that would be needed, and then north on the A24. The JimNav then instructed me to take the B2126 and then a minor road up to a parking area at TQ130433, from which we would enjoy an easy ten minute walk-in to the tower at the summit.
The tower looked inviting and was open. I fancied the idea of standing out in the open on its top level, using the VX-7R and RSS to activate. We were about to enter when the “doorman” said “No more entry, we’re closing at five”. It was half past four. I said that we would be out by then. He asked “What do you intend doing up there?”. “Have a look at the view and take some photos” replied I, electing not to mention radio at this point. He paused, glanced around, then said a simple and abrupt “No!” and turned his face away. Charming.
We decided we would position ourselves on the grass a few metres to the side of the tower. The summit area was very busy with lots of people and families, and there was a big queue at the refreshment kiosk on one side of the tower. Jimmy and I bought egg salad sandwiches and cakes from there for our tea, and sat and relaxed with them while enjoying the fine vista to the south.
Time was pressing on, and we still wanted to make Winchester before 7pm. We activated on 2m FM, and thankfully there were plenty of stations kicking around on VHF. I even ended up with a little pile-up. One station we both worked was M6BBC; the first M6 in both our logs, and a rather distinctive callsign as well.
A quick march back down to the car, and we were back on the road again, to coin a phrase, in true Alan Partridge style, from American Album Rock Gods REO Speedwagon. As we drove through Cranleigh, I kept an eye out for Lucks Green, The Forge and Surrey Electronics - Trevor Brook’s business, the man behind short wave broadcaster Radiofax, which was very popular on 6205kHz between 1988 and 1992. We didn’t see it, and perhaps a good thing; I would have been tempted to stop, take photos and even knock on the door - and we really didn’t have time!
We hit the A31 at Guildford, and cruised along towards Winchester at a steady 70mph. We monitored a station on 102.5 at Coxbridge, with an RDS ident that simply stated _ ARMY _. All was going well until a queue for a roundbout at Alton didn’t appear to be progressing. Soon, we were all pulling our cars to the sides of the road to allow emergency vehicles - 2 police cars, 4 ambulances and 2 fire engines - through to the scene of what appeared, from distance, to be a big accident. Some 45 minutes later, the road behind us had been closed, and we were being invited to turn around and drive the wrong way back down the dual carriageway to an exit.
We had lost over an hour. We now arrived in Winchester at 7.50pm. No time for a shower or change. We parked in the multi-storey after checking that it wasn’t later going to be locked and that payment wasn’t required for evening parking, and legged it down to the new Discovery Centre. And much to my surprise, the show was a sell-out. I had to do some serious wrangling with the promoter to let me in to see my nephew, but eventually the deal was done and we could sit down and relax.
Ryan was second on the bill, and did a very good set. More details, and some video/audio here: http://www.myspace.com/ryanoreilly We hadn’t told anyone we were coming, so Ryan was stunned to see his uncle and cousin turn up at his gig!
Top of the bill was an excellent band called Polly & The Billet Doux, who I really enjoyed (and I am notoriously hard to please when it comes to live music) and would recommend seeing if you get the chance. Website: http://www.pollyandthebilletsdoux.co.uk/
We eventually got to the B&B at 11pm, and went straight to bed, and straight to sleep. Breakfast was at 8.30am, so at least we had a lie-in to look forward to!