We got up early on the Saturday, had breakfast and took a taxi, Graham wasn't keen to park Blue Thunder (new car) in a field and we expected to have a couple of beers at some point, with the meter hitting £40 we realised we had made a mistake. Anyway we arrived to join a rather large queue, safeguarded by armed Police! The queue went down fairly quickly but would have went quicker if there had been a separate entrance for people not carrying bags containing dangerous bottles of water and sandwiches. After all anyone could see that the make up of the crowd was 100% wargamers/tank nerds, myself included.
There were a few tanks dotted around the entrance and once in we passed through a large food and drinks area which also included stalls from charities, model shops and military clothing sellers along with others with links to militaria and tanks etc. There was another such area at the far end of the complex beyond the arena. I got a programme which included a time table for both Saturday and Sunday, which turned out to be the same for the arena, there were other things going on, a very large and popular games area courtesy of World of Tanks who were the sponsers for the event. There was also a programme of Meet and Greets where Vloggers held court for an hour or so, I was ridiculed as a fanboy by my sons for pointing out that Lindybeige was in the house, he passed me at one point. I did go along to see him on the Sunday but it really was simply a meet and greet and not Lindy regaling us with his military knowledge, I had nothing to ask him so I returned to the arena, to more barbs from the boys. We stayed watching tanks roll around the arena until half way through the afternoon in blazing heat, we then took some time to look around the periphery at what was on offer and eventually made our way to a taxi stand and back to the hotel, Graham bit the bullet for that one.
The meal on the Saturday night also turned out to be another failure, another superb restaurant which wasn't, number two of Dad's Dinner Disasters, we did however have a stroll along the seafront and a few beers while watching idiots jumping into the briny to impress their girlfriends by drowning while drunk.
Blue Thunder made it to Tankfest on the Sunday while our wallets heaved a sigh of relief. We decided we would take in the main museum, the conservation area and the tank park and then catch up with what we had missed the previous afternoon. The museum is first class, it has all sorts of tanks in it, the conservation area was jam packed with vehicles waiting for some TLC and the vehicle park, with the tanks which were being driven around the arena, was also a great visit. We caught up with the arena programme in the afternoon and decided not to wait for the finale which included a 'battle' as the earlier battle was not impressive and we had seen all the tanks involved.
Anything bad, not really, I thought the food and drink was very expensive and the quality differed from stall to stall, some first class others bog standard. There was supposed to be 20,000 visitors, I am not sure whether this was over the weekend or for the Saturday only, despite there being so many people I can't say we suffered from overcrowding, we had good views of the arena on both days and I managed to examine everything I wanted to see without any pushing and shoving. And despite my past experiences the portable loos remained clean all weekend.
So, a great Father's Day present from Stewart and a great weekend for the three of us despite driving back hungry. And I still have Graham's present to go, lucky man.
A quick word about the above models from Armortek, these were just superb, there were painted versions running around a small track, over bridges and raised terrain, but the shiny one's had a charm all of their own. You buy the shell then add what you want, this normally consists of the mechanical package which has the engine and gun works or/and the digital package with the sounds and other stuff. The price of course is eye watering at several thousand pounds for the finished item but they do look wonderful. Armortek was mostly German vehicles although they had British guns and the Rolls Royce armoured car, there was one more model company there, from the Far East, and they had a more diverse collection with British and Russian tanks. Gorgeous.