3.30 am. Now that's commitment to the cause. That is the time I dragged my sorry butt out of bed to go meet up with Tony and Tom to take Dennis on its first real public outing and fundraising event - the Heroes Festival. This was a show being held at the Newark showground where thousands of school kids and the general public will be able to look around Army displays, equipment, parachuting and the like, and what we thought would be a good day to increase the awareness of the Great Balls of Fur team and raise a bit of money for charity too.
We set off in high hopes, with music such as 'Ring of Fire' and 'Sex on Fire' blaring out the subwoofers and 6x9 speakers. Not long from getting onto the M5, did we hear a big bang and things starting to get a bit wobbly - we had has our first blow out at 70mph! Luckily the highways agency were trailing us as it happened and they managed to get us to a service station 3 miles away by driving at 30 mph along the hard shoulder.
Thankfully we had breakdown cover. Not so thankfully, we did not have a spare wheel, or tyre, or wrench, or jack.. Well we were meaning to get on and find these items! As Dennis is so old and rare it was quite hard to find somewhere to get a replacement, but eventually we found a supplier who had a Dennis Roadsweeper with the same wheels. After an eternity the breakdown man came and took the wheel off and took it to the supplier to get the tyre replaced. By the time we had everything all sorted it was not economically viable to take Dennis to the show, so it was taken back to it's home, and we went back up the road to the show as we had bought tickets to a charity ball which we made in the nick of time due to the horrendous Friday rush hour traffic around Birmingham.
The day was not a tremendous loss though. As they say every cloud had a silver lining and all that. For one it has given us a good kick up the proverbial to get hold of spare wheels, which we feel we will need during the trip. From this Tony has managed to find three spare wheels and tyres on eBay for less than the price we paid for a new tyre and fitting. It also gave us valuable planning time to discuss the finer points of the trip, which we often do not get a chance to do due to the fact that the team are all dislocated from each other and so discussions only happen over the medium of email traffic.
So with a bit less money in our pockets, and even less raised for money, we proceed on towards nearing the start of the race, but at least we are better prepared, with spare parts, tools, more planning done, and a good bit of team bonding thrown into the pot. Bring on the Festival of Slow!