There are usually five of them, but this year Greg and his dad had to drop out, family stuff or something. The one taking the shot is Army Ken, a mutual friend of ours that I haven't seen in close to twenty years. Good old "Army Ken" - he earned that nickname due to the camouflage trousers he always wore, lord knows why. He was part of the crowd Little Ally and I used to hang out with down at our local watering hole. I had no idea he was visiting the island, but the lads met up with him and dragged him home for me. It's good to see he's finally lost the camouflage trousers (sadly, along with most of his hair). He's a bit camera shy, but he took the one above for us, complete with me in my fluffy slippers and all.. cringe.
Umm, think I'd better put a disclaimer in here - I don't actually drink beer (I'm a wine girl myself, honest Guv'). These were solely generated from the shed dwellers corner. One of several basket loads too, I might add. Do you think that's got any influence on how I was able to run them ragged, shooting hoops? (Big girls blouses, teehee I wasn't once the Captain of my school netball team for nothing, y'know.) Fact is, sad but true, the guys are just not as young and able as they used to be, bless 'em. Take the second night they arrived, they'd had a fine old time n'all what with watching all the bikes racing past the drive. Guess it was the combination of all that sun, beer and excitement that gradually took it's toll, necessitating a small shed siesta before their night out on the town. No good blaming Sam, it's part of his charm how easily he gets distracted. Anyways, of all people to ask to wake them up, you would think they might have at least had the good sense to choose someone who can read the hands of a clock. Not that it mattered much in the end, seeing as how he completely upped and forgot anyway. I honestly believed they were all out partying, it wasn't until the next day I learned they had slept like babes right through into the wee small hours of the morning. I would have tucked them up with a hot cup of cocoa had I known (giggle). They were out barbecuing their breakfast by 4.30am, by all accounts..
The lads have all packed up and gone now, but not before treating us out for a slap up meal. We ate at an Italian restaurant overlooking the prom, where we were able to watch all the stunt riders perform. The strip is sealed off at night, and we viewed from our window as a running commentary played out over the loudspeakers. Unfortunately I have a weakness for grilled sardines, and as everyone knows, using cutlery with them is a complete and utter waste of time - well, how on earth could you fillet out all the bones? Apparently, I reeked of sardines for the entire duration of the night, which may not have been TOO big of a problem had we not then moved straight on to the fair.. I usually don't often get to go on the scary rides, 'cos hubby is a-scared of heights and the kids normally refuse to be seen out with me. But the lads saw me proud - they took me up on each and every one of them, INCLUDING the bungee jump (whey-hey)! However, sealed in a small capsule within close proximity to someone reeking of fish really can stretch the limits of friendship ( so I'm told).
Here we are watching the bikes thunder by. This is the gatepost at the top of my drive, see that crack running down the middle? Nutty Nora reliably informs me that this is where one of the racers met a regrettable early end. Thankfully, that was well before our own time here - but I guess this vantage point does hold certain risks. The BBC cameras were filming opposite, this is a great place to watch all the wheelies fly past. I came up for a peek, but to be honest, if you've seen one race, you've just about seen them all as far as I'm concerned.
The lads usually camp out down in Matt's shed, with the girls Summer House given an airing for any extra overspill that happens along - not that we needed it this year. Here's a couple of interior shots of their living quarters - the kitchen area lies just beyond the bars at the back. NO idea how all those road signs and worklamps magically appeared. Matt says the fairies dragged them in, but he shouldn't talk about his friends in that manner..
Aside from coming up to the house to shower, they are pretty much self sufficient here - it may be pretty basic, but it does have Sky Sports on tap. There is a chronic shortage of accommodation on the island over the racing season. Calls go out over the local radio urging residents to let out any spare rooms they might have. It seems every field is turned over to a campsite for a couple of weeks, and the hotels are always fully booked out months before any arrivals pile across. I keep threatening to one day charge some rent (grin).
It's always a carnival environment over this period, lots of events and shows are laid on, beer tents and burger stalls spring up, and there is very little trouble overall. Last year "The Who", "Madness", and many other big acts came over to perform (most of whom I saw). This year we had another fine line up to choose from. It usually ends with a fly over from the Red Arrows across the Prom, or an acrobatic air-stunt - this year it was "Wing-Walking". To round everything off, a magnificent free fireworks display is set off over the bay, it is quite stunning ..
Mind you, when all is said and done, although I enjoy most of these festivities immensely, when it rolls round to the last race and all the banners and bunting start to look tired, I am usually more than happy to wave our boys and all of the hoopla off again for another year. There is something to be said about getting back to a little normality. The kids are now back at school, hubby is over in London for the week, and the tourists have all drifted away again. Shhhhhhhhhh. Can you hear it?