When you walk from the start of the procession back down the line to find your cart, it's amazing how it always seems much further back than when you left it!
I arrived at the cart to see Steve and Matts' hands covered in oil and grease, so they had obviously had a busy day, but was it good busy or bad busy? As it turned out it was a bit of both.
A closer inspection of Matt's hands revealed a rather swollen little 'pinky'! Apparently he'd picked up another puncture on the inside wheel of the rear axle of the front bogie of our generator trailer. Whilst Matt and Steve tried to remove the wheel, the handle slipped off the jack crushing Matt's finger-ouch! By 5.00pm they'd got the wheel off (it hasn't been off for a while!) so now to get the tyre off the rim… Apparently that took another hour and the ATS guy had given up, but in true carnival style Matt and Steve managed to get the tyre off and the puncture was repaired.
With the help of a piece of tube, a steel bar and some grease they were also able to fix all the wheels so that they rotated smoothly. With the application of a hammer and g-clamp they also fixed the front gates, so as we entered Burnham all the engineering worked. Sadly the heavy rain over the weekend had played havoc with the bulbs and we had quite a few dead ones.
The procession went really well and despite the rain at the start the crowds gave us a good reception. It all seemed to be over so soon and we were starting to unload the cast. We've now got loading and unloading sorted and most of the cast are getting used to manoeuvering down from the cart.
We pulled off to get unhitched which took quite some time through the traffic. Flat batteries on the radios didn't help communication and the queue of carts waiting to unhitch clogged the road leaving us almost straddling a roundabout, much to the annoyance of the local constabulary.
We had decided to go to Shepton Mallet via the A39, a route we had not done for some time and it was surprising how overgrown the trees were. Most drivers are very helpful, but every year we get one who isn't! Unfortunately this year he was driving a 40' articulated lorry. Despite the lead escort's attempts to slow him down he steamed past us causing Gary in the decorated tractor to take avoiding action and hit a tree.
The damage didn't look too bad at first so we kept going until we got to Street. We had already agreed to re-test the generator brakes just outside Glastonbury at the temporary VSO testing station, so this was a good time to check the damage to the decorated tractor; it was worse than we thought - almost two arches needed to be replaced and one of the tall crystals was hanging loose so we made some emergency repairs and sent Andy and Budgie to escort Steve and the cart on to Pilton, Matt and AJ took the genni for the brake test and Andrew and Tim escorted Gary and the decorated tractor back to the shed.
I got back to the shed well ahead of the others and opened the cart shed doors. It was about 1.30am, dark and cold; it felt like a World War II movie where the ground crew were waiting for a stricken bomber to return to its hanger. This was quite apt as Westonzoyland used to have a WWII RAF air base.
After a quick cup of tea we set to work pulling apart the tractor, there was even more damage than we thought and by the time Budgie, Steve and Matt arrived there was a pile of smashed plywood on the floor. After 4 hours we were all really tired and decided to call it a night, we'd made good progress and some of us had to be at work in an hour's time!
We'll finish the tractor tomorrow and take it up to collect the cart on Wednesday morning; it means we'll be at the end of the procession in Shepton, so another long night ahead...
We came 7th in 'Class 3 - Feature (open)' and 4th in 'Class 22 - Most outstanding Costume'.
X-rays showed that Matt broke his finger while jacking the genni.