weekends

Don't panic Mr Mainwaring!

This is not 'stop press' news: I'm no fan of the over romanticising of the past. And this is especially true when it comes to the period covering the World War Two period.

Harking back to a hypothetical bygone era when people were dying by the thousand and acting like it's some sort of jolly theme park is not something that sits too well with me.

Keep calm and don't carry on.

However, putting slightly curmudgeonly moral issues aside and sticking them in a Jerry can inside an Anderson shelter, I shuffled off with the family to Hughenden Manor in Wycombe to take in their 'living history weekend'.

Now, thankfully Hughenden has plenty of actually non- rose tinted WW2 history being the centre of a secret mapmaking operation during the war.

But also - rather thankfully - my concerns about it being a bit of a theme parky sort of the day really didn't come to fruition as it was actually pretty tastefully done. From beautiful vintage cars to painstakingly put together military re-enactments to a thunderous Spitfire flypast, even this old cynic got vaguely in the mood.

Quite aside from all the 1940's stuff, Hughenden Manor is really worth a visit to find out more about it's most famous occupant Benjamin Disraeli - and this part of its history is - in usual National Trust style - fantastically told throughout the building.

The family (including visiting Grandpa who really can just about remember the war) seemed to have a jolly time, especially when the dressing up box was found, and if nothing else i had plenty of opportunity for an interesting shot or two (hundred) as it felt not unlike being on a movie set for the day.

So there you go. Cynicism put aside, it was a really well put together day with minimal romanticism and plenty of heart, although one wonders what decade the NT could do next - surely a 90's weekend with dodgy Vauxhall Corsa's on show, a re-enactment of the Poll Tax riots and a set from Toploader?

Ugh. Maybe not...


Tech corner:
Usually people capturing stuff so the Zeiss 85mm was out to play along with the old dependable Sony 35mm f1.4 for indoor shots.

Feeling Gravity's Pull.

Ok. Sunday. A day for lounging around, mowing the lawn and slamming in the lamb.

Or, if you live near Cookham like we do, it's also the opportunity to watch some insane locals take part in the Gravity Grand Prix - basically, a build-your-own kart time trail down a steep-ish hill in which one attempts to not die horribly in front of ones neighbours.

Run since 2007, the Grand Prix is driven only by gravity (huh) meaning a quick push and that's it. This means some karts with a little more, shall we say, 'engineering' get much better times down the course. For instance, the low profile handmade by yer actual Jaguar cars team did a significantly better time than the two naked blokes in a trolley surrounded by some cardboard.

It figures.

Still, none of this really matters as most of the fun is watching to see if anyone comes a cropper around the chicane (they did) and if any carts break halfway down (they do). Awards are given for fastest time obviously, but they're also handed out for Best Novelty Kart as well so everyone can be a winner.

It was our second year watching the Grand Prix and it seemed busier this time around. I also noted the appearance of a Costa van and a National Trust tent amongst the bar and the bbq indicating it's becoming a 'thing' on the circuit. Hope it doesn't spoil it.

My favourite kart this year was the John Player Special one (memories of the 70's and 80's Lotus cars I guess) but special mention to the little VW van you'll see in the pictures below, not least because post-race some idiot local kids nicked and trashed it. This is why we're not allowed to have nice things...

So, the perennial fun day out for all the family (including plenty of dogs for some reason) with thousands of quid being raised for Thames Valley Air Ambulance and other local causes at the same time.

Check out some of the karts below and let me know your favourite...


Tech corner:

It was all about a quick telephoto - step forward Batis 85!