Lovely to see everyone today.
I got to Norbreck at 0340 BST this morning, having driven straight up from a late nightclub gig in Rawtenstall - and then getting roped into dropping the guitarist off in Burnley. Despite the new aggressive parking regime, I couldn’t find a spot in the main car park at the front of the hotel, so I parked behind, close to the doors through which I normally load in for the rally anyway.
Walking around the south buildings of the hotel, I got to fully experience the windows being flung open, lights on, and screams and fights of drunken women up on the 5th floor. As I was checking in at reception, also in the lobby was a family with two young children, both under 5, both drinking Red Bull. Mum and dad were on Tenants Super. They were surrounded by McDonald’s litter, presumably from their nutritious evening meal.
I made my way over sticky carpets, about a quarter of a mile around to the lift. The lift floor seemed to be operating as a mini seesaw which was a little unnerving - after I had kicked all the Burger King litter to the sides. My key card didn’t work - so I have to reverse and repeat this entire journey. Which was fine, because I’d enjoyed it so very much.
The pleasant chap on reception apologised for the lack of sea view in my room. I replied that I wasn’t bothered; all I wanted to do in a £29 hotel room was sleep and then go. The chap said “Oh, if only they were all like you. We get loads of complaints here”. Blimey, who’d have thought it? Anyway, he kindly suggested that if my key card failed a second time, I should simply call reception on the phone in my room… Genius.
Getting in bed at 4am, I recalled that I’d mentioned being around for setting up from about 8am. I decided to set my alarm for 9am, which would give me five hours’ sleep rather than four, still plenty enough time to have the stand ready for doors at 10.30am, and fingers crossed that Rob, Audrey, Jack, Andy, Geoff, Simon, Colin et al wouldn’t be unduly concerned at my later-than-advertised arrival.
Thanks to all the above, but chiefly Audrey, the stand was indeed resplendent come opening time, and a good rally was had by all. The stand was busy throughout the next 4.5 hours, with SOTA stalwarts old and new all convening for a natter.
My personal highlights were chatting with Helen M0YHB and Carolyn G6WRW about Lanzarote activating, Bob G1UUO who set up a DV hotspot allowing us to demonstrate C4FM and the SOTA-LINK WIRES-X room, all matters education with my good friend Colin M1BUU, football with Ray M1REK, SOTA Challenges with Andy MM0FMF and Simon G4TJC, and Roy G4SSH being presented with his award. Plus of course, home baking from Walney Island courtesy of Audrey.
And everyone asked me about Jimmy. Standard.
The sign-ins to the visitors book were:
Pete G0WGL, Darius M0KCB, Geoff G6MZX, Keith G0OXV, Stuart G0MJG, Neil M0WBG, Helen M0YHB, Carolyn G6WRW, John G0TDM, Eileen G7GQM, Geoff GM4WHA, Alma 2E1IHS, Ian G7ADF, Roy G0SLR, Allan GW4VPX, Bob G6ODU, Bob 2E0RHM, Paul G4MD, Gerald G4OIG, Derek 2E0MIX, Alister M0BKQ, Carl 2E0HPI, Anne 2E0LMD, Peter 2E0LKC, Andy M6ANP, Edward 2E0NSR, Mark M0NOM, Emily 2E1AEQ, Ray G0DMV, Roy G1NUS, John G4YSS, Roy G4SSH, Barry M0IML, Phil G4OBK, Neil G0WPO, Chris M6KZB, Mark 2E0PIA, Dennis G1UKS, Colin M1BUU, David G0EVV, Glenn G6HFF, Val G6MML, Bill G3VZU.
Other rally highlights for me included the VHF and up Muster - meeting of Tuesday night VHF/UHF contesters, and the surprise of winning a trophy - this year for the “Best Club Magazine”.
All-in-all, a good day, though I do hope it relocates from next year. The venue is more shambolic and chaotic than ever, and the new aggressive and absurdly overpriced car parking regime could well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
Thanks to all SOTA participants that spent some time at the stand, and especially those who helped with set up, break down and staffing. You are all fabulous!
If you got any photos of the stand, please add them to this thread.