The danger of books. The sales books at Barnes and Noble, if I recall correctly. There was a large book about tanks for a small price. In addition to the bulk per buck factor, I’m guessing the combination of techy numbers/stats, history and pictures sealed the deal for WCN. Then the interest went online, one of the places being World of Tanks, which, not only do people play, but also have YouTube channels about. From that community WCN heard about Tank Fest, and – what are the odds?! – it turned out to be happening on the one weekend we were in England!
Originally it was going to be a boys’ day out, but my uncle was convalescing and unable to travel, so I was enlisted to be nominal adult supervision. My aunt and uncle had generously gotten tickets both for the event and the required train trip to get to the event. My aunt had also done a practice run with us so we’d know how to get to the train station! Fortunately, on Saturday morning it was much quieter than it had been on the previous trip, and we arrived with plenty of time.
Our route showed up on one of the screens, but no platform assignment. WCN started to get a bit antsy about that, especially when later trains were given assignments. Finally ours came up, and we went and got on the train at that location. Before we had time to get too comfortable, we were told that, in fact, this was not the train we were looking for. All of us who had boarded got out and walked down to the new location and got on that train. It was getting close to the stated departure time, but I figured they wouldn’t leave without us, especially with the change in platforms, and I was right.
We settled in and watched the world flash past. Well, it was no bullet train, but it wasn’t Amtrak either. First London, and then we were out of the city and in to the English countryside. Low rolling hills. Green. Different from Iceland. Different from California. Or was it just that I knew I was somewhere else that made the scenery feel like it gave a particular sense of place?
There was a kid sitting across from us wearing a camouflage over shirt. I asked if he was going to Tank Fest. No, just to Weymouth. We still chatted a bit.
Delay. The train we were on had a smashed windscreen and so we’d need to transfer to another one. What happened to that stiff upper lip, carry on thing? Apparently not so much. Anyway, eventually the transfer happened and we got on our way again.
Oh, a giant cruise ship! Must be some water. Large river. Or was it an ocean bay? There were big puffy clouds – in places it looked like a stereotypical landscape painting out the window. Ah, some deer like things! Oreo cookie cows except the cream didn’t go all the way around. Sheepies! Oh, maybe that’s why the station stop is called Wool.
We detrained and lined up for the shuttle to the Tank Museum. WCN had predicted I’m not the demographic, and we did a count of the men to women ratio on the bus, I’m forgetting the exact numbers now, but yes, it was mostly men and boys. And English (the Queen’s and otherwise) was not the only language being spoken!
On the way to the Tank Museum there was also a sign pointing to Monkey World. Wow, you could really make a weekend of it down here! Which, actually, it looked like some folks were doing for Tank Fest – one of the parking lots was filled with motor homes.
The event was sold out, but we had our tickets, and there wasn’t much of a line to get in. I let WCN take the lead, as it was his interest that brought us here. We checked out part of the museum (line for men’s restroom, not for women’s), wandered outside and watched the tanks in action for a bit, went over to the Conservation Centre, cruised through the outdoor static displays, watched more tanks in action – you get the picture.
There were a bunch of computers set up with World of Tanks, all seats occupied, and a big line. Really? Um, if you hadn’t noticed, THERE’S REAL TANKS, literally steps away, and you’ve got your head in a computer playing a video game! Yeah, yeah, I know, you can do things in the video game you’ll probably never get to do in real life, but still – I mean maybe YOU weren’t driving them, but there were real life tanks in motion right outside. Anyway. (Hopping down from soapbox.)
The impact of the tanks in motion was the most surprising and impressive thing. Even the smallest ones are pretty imposing just sitting there, and of course it totally makes sense that seeing and hearing them move gets your attention, but actually being there and having the experience was really amazing. The sounds, and how the ground would move – you could FEEL it when they went by – were the most impressive to me. I don’t agree with why these things have been made, but they are feats of engineering and construction.
As with any event, there were food vendors – YAY ICE CREAM! and, being in England, Tea Time Treats! We were also treated to a downpour, and a flyby – Spitfire? – from a nearby air show. There were appearances from the World of Tanks YouTubers, and we inadvertently ended up in line, so WCN got two autographs! Interestingly, those in line were mostly adults. The man behind us said his son had gotten him into the game, but then the son didn’t play anymore. He actually hoped the line wouldn’t move too fast, as he wanted to meet the next person on the schedule – The Mighty Jingles – rather than QuickyBaby. The man in line said he played on the EU server, and wondered if, in the wake of the Brexit vote, they would get kicked off. Hmn.
Obviously a whole ‘nother world out there. And that having a YouTube channel can be a job? Who knew? I was actually really impressed by how gracious QuickyBaby was with everyone, taking time to chat with everyone, sign autographs and take pictures. Particularly that he spent extra time with the kids in line.
The museum itself was also really well done, and would be worth a visit even on a non-Tank Fest weekend. Actually, it might even be better to go on a non-Tank Fest weekend and see things without quite so much of a crowd! The whole experience was not one I would have chosen, left to my own devices, but it turned out to be a super fun day and I’m glad I got to go.
The trip back was pretty much the reverse of the morning, although minus the smashed windscreen. As we got close to London I started to notice dyed hair, painted faces, and colorful clothes. The first one or two, whatever, but then when we got to the station and started seeing rainbow flags I put two and two together… oh yeah, Pride!
Back at the flat finished off the day with another of the Bottle Apostle selections – Export India Porter with the vaudeville villain name sounding Simcoe Sticklebract hops.
June 25, 2016