Tuesday 26th February 2019 - Billinge Hill G/SP-017
Gig: Simon Faulkner Band
Venue: Blackpool Tower Ballroom
I hadn’t anticipated a gig. In fact I’d got up with my alarm at 0630 ad sat by the phone with a mug of coffee and a couple of boiled eggs (with soldiers of course) waiting for the supply teaching agencies to ring. Rather unusually, on this occasion they did not.
My SOTA brain turned to that afternoon and evening. Marianne would be out at work on a late shift, and Liam had afternoon and evening social activities sandwiched around his singing lesson - and would be requiring transport from me. So I was starting to think of what order I would do Gun G/SP-013 and The Cloud G/SP-015 in, and what bands and modes I would deploy.
But just after lunch, the phone did ring. Out of the blue, it was a bandleader needing a bass player at Blackpool Tower Ballroom that evening, soundcheck at 1730. I was on the point of resigning myself to turning it down due to my commitments to Liam - but he (and Marianne) had other ideas, and rather fancied the idea of a run out to Blackpool on a lovely sunny day - and to be fair, neither of them wanted me to pass up a good gig in an iconic venue.
The necessary phone calls were made accepting the booking and sorting out all the other arrangements, and soon Liam and I were on the road. Billinge Hill G/SP-017 was selected as the en route SOTA stop. There was already a car in my usual parking space just off Crank Road, so I pulled my motor tight in at the end of the access road to Beacon Farm. Liam remained in the car, with the mobile rig monitoring 145.400MHz FM, where I anticipated operating.
A brisk walk brought me to a very busy summit, where a chap appeared to be lecturing a large group about local bee colonies. I moved over to the trig point and began calling on 2m FM with the HT.
While motoring along the M55 towards the Fylde coast, I received strong transmissions on 2m FM from Ian GW8OGI/P on Tal y Fan GW/NW-040. It was good to grab a chaser contact and quick natter with him, and good to have Liam in the passenger seat to add the notes to my logbook as I was driving.
Just six minutes operating resulted in seven QSOs - and an actual point, what with this being my first visit to Billinge Hill in 2019. I returned to the car, and Liam reported that he had indeed been able to monitor my entire activation.
Next stop was Blackpool Tower, and Liam kindly loaded all my gear in for me, through security doors, up a goods lift, along corridors and onto the stage in the iconic Tower Ballroom, all while I searched for parking. I first tried the nearby pay-and-display - then I realised that was going to cost me a tenner. I ended up with some back street parking between South Pier and Central Pier - a twenty minute walk away from the venue. Of course, during that twenty minute walk, I did walk past loads of more viable free parking options!
After setting up and soundchecking, we were served a hot meal in our dressing room, but there was then still 90 minutes before we would be on stage. Liam and I walked back up to the car and brought it down to the nearer parking place. I did much much more walking sorting out my parking in the streets of Blackpool than I did earlier going up and down a SOTA hill!