Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Bill & Chris' Excellent Adventure

Or maybe that should be 'Bogus Journey'. Either way, not totally bodacious, dude.

On Friday I set out for Gripping Beast HQ in Evesham (you can guess what's going to happen already) with a fistfull of greens for Lord S and his minions, amid pouring rain. I'd only travelled a few miles out of Cardiff when I began to question the wisdom of continuing since my car had travelled more distance by aqua-planing than actually making contact with the road surface. Ah, sod it, I thought. It'll probably clear so I'll crack on. Besides, I was picking up my Evil Overlord Darth Thornhill from his secret Valleys hideaway, and didn't want to incur His wrath by cancelling his jolly to the Beast. Anyway, I was running out of putty and he's Da Man to give me my fix, so I needed to get at least that far.

After what was quite frankly the most terrifying driving experience in my life I arrived at Bill's and expressed my concerns about going further. He fixed me with his dark, menacing gaze and said "Ah, we'll be alright. Let's go."

Whereas a more intelligent or slightly stronger-willed person would have stuck to his guns and refused to drive any further, I, being an easily-led muppet open to suggestion, went "Dur, alright mate, where's the nearest petrol station?" and off we went. Bad move Chris. Very, very bad move.

We headed off towards the Midlands and, to be fair, the weather wasn't too bad until we hit the M50 when all hell broke loose. The rest of the journey was man versus the elements, torrential rain, flooding roads, and some dickhead tail-gating us and flashing his lights as we travelled up the outside lane, when pulling into the sea of water that was the inside lane was quite clearly suicidal. By the time we had got off the M5 and hit the road to Evesham I was once again a quivering wreck. We then spent hours in traffic jams and/or trying to find alternative routes into Evesham to no avail. So we crawled along for hours until we were confronted by a small lake occupying what used to be a stretch of the A46. We spent a short while weighing-up the pros and cons of driving through it and observing others attempting it, and they seemed to get through it without too many problems. Since we had been on the road for about 5 hours so far, mostly spent stationary or barely moving, and were only about 7 miles from GB, we had got our squaddie heads on and there was no way we were going to be defeated by a puddle at this stage.

It's worth pointing out at this juncture that there was no possibility of turning round and going back home. Nothing was moving in the other direction due to the motorways being closed because of flooding. We had also successfully driven through larger, deeper bodies of water when trying to find another route, so this one shouldn't have posed a problem. Oh dear, how wrong can one be?

Without further ado, I gunned the engine and went for it. In we went, ploughing our way through the water, nothing was gonna stop us. Past the halfway mark and heading into the shallows, 4 or 5 metres to go and dry land held out her promise of sweet salvation. We grinned at each other like a pair of stoned monkeys. Yeeha! Mother Nature, bring it on! Don't f*** with the sculptors, bitch!

And then the guy in front of us stopped to let someone else come the other way, and there wasn't enough space to get round him. Game over. The engine stopped and we sat looking down at the water swirling in around our knees. Bugger. I must have called the other driver every name under the sun, and a few that haven't been invented yet. This was no longer funny, and it was time for a severe sense of humour failure on my part.

At times like this, the old Blitz Spirit kicks in with us Brits, so instead of leaping out of my car and kicking the other drivers head in like I should have, we all laughed at our predicament in a jolly stiff upper-lipped fashion and helped push each others cars out to safety. After taking a few pics for posterity, Bill and I donned our waterproofs and started to tab the rest of the way. Needless to say it was still pissing down and I started whinging. Bill told me to stop being so pessimistic as he strided ahead. I glowered at his back and continued muttering under my breath. Up the road and over the hill we went.

Which was when we saw the river flowing across the road, a 300 metre or so stretch of brown water with a rather scary looking current going across it at about mid-way. What they describe on the news as a 'torrent of water'. This was filled with abandoned cars, vans, lorries and other vehicles. Bill reckons we can make it across, I reckon we're about to die. It's waist-deep for god's sake. But the alternative was to wait to be rescued by helicopter at some point and since we were both soaked through and getting colder by the minute, death by drowning seemed preferable to death by hypothermia, so we waded in. By now I had stopped moaning and was yet again laughing in the face of adversity, and I suspect Bill hadn't enjoyed himself so much since he'd left the army. After all, it wasn't his car, was it?

Bill provided my best 'I told you so' moment when he suggested that we move along by holding on to the bushes at the side of the road. I ventured that this wasn't such a great idea as there was probably a drainage ditch running alongside them, which he dismissed with a cavalier disdain. 2 minutes later he shouts "Er, Chris! I think I found that ditch you were on about." I looked up to see Bill holding on to a branch in water about 2 feet deeper than I was standing in. Hehe.

On we went. The worst bit was fighting to stay upright as we went through the bit that the river was raging through. It was the debris being dragged along under the surface that worried us as it was wrapping itself around our legs before being dragged free again. Scary stuff. Once past the dangerous bit our inner squaddies surfaced again and we stopped to take photos of each other grinning in the water while the civvies on dry land looked on at such foolishness with horrified expressions. I was actually enjoying myself, mainly because despite being almost up to my waist in floodwater, I had managed to keep my nuts dry. At which point an articulated lorry came charging through the water, and I mean charging, throwing up a bow wave about a foot high. The twat. We braced ourselves but even though I stood on tip-toes, there was no avoiding it. My balls were soaked. Cue another Vaga-sized epic blow-out.

We reached dry land without further incident and a very nice lady offered us and another bloke a lift back to Evesham even though water was pouring from us. Top girl.

We eventually arrived at Beast Towers at around 7.30, approximately 8 hours after we had left South Wales. Which was when the weekend suddenly got a lot better. Darren and Stu were waiting for us with hot food and cold beer, and Stu, gawd bless him, even managed to conjure up two complete sets of dry clothing for us! Amazing. After recounting our sorry tale and getting some munch down our necks, we had a game of WAB, Bills Saxons stuffing my Welsh convincingly, and not for the last time that weekend.

We ended up staying at Darrens house for the next 3 nights, and a jolly good time was had by all. Since it was Hot Lead on Sunday and we couldn't go anywhere till my car had been rescued, Bill and I took part in the event, which I will cover presently. On Saturday me and Bill drew some curious looks in Tescos when, dressed in a mixture of Darrens and Stu's clothes (not a picture of sartorial elegance), we shopped together for underwear like a pair of big girls blouses and even bought a twin pack of toothbrushes. Gay or what? A bunch of gamers who had come up on Saturday for Hot lead turned up and to my surprise turned out to be great lads, not an anorak among em. Yeah, like as if geeky anorak types get allowed across the door at a GB event. Lord S and the indefatigueable Soapy arrived as well and in the evening we all hit the pub before going for a curry. As I sat there necking down the free beer (courtesy of the Beasties) and curry, I looked along the table at my company and realised that I haven't seen such a lot of out-and-out Wrong 'Uns gathered in one place since I watched The Godfather. I wouldn't have let them into my curry-house.

After the curry we all piled back to Darrens house where 11 people spent a merry night playing poker, drinking more beer and being very rowdy. Darren's neighbours didn't even complain about the noise. Then again, if Darren was my neighbour then neither would I.

Sunday, and on to the main event! Thanks to all the guys I played against who very sportingly helped me out with the WAB rules after I explained that I was a WAB newbie, especially James Morris who provided with me with my only victory of the day, and a good one at that. Lord Sherwell very kindly lent me his beautifully-painted Welsh army for the event, and I thanked him by breaking off the Army Battle Standard in the first game, which I thought he took rather well. So I'm off to his country pile next weekend for a week of mucking out the stables in recompense, which I'm told is quite lenient for his Lordship.

All in all, a great event and one that has left me thouroughly enthused about playing with toy soldiers again. I met some great people and feel that being stranded provided me with an unique opportunity to bond with the Beasties, in a manly way of course.
Big, BIG thanks to Darren, Andy and Stu for their hospitality in my hour of need. They made sure that me and Bill wanted for nothing and we owe them big-time. I even got to stomp about in Darrens 14-hole oxblood Doc Martens for the weekend while my trainers dried out. Now that's charity. And to top it all, my sculpts went down rather well with just about everyone, so I'm told, so hurrah! for me. Wicked stuff.

Oh, and we got home in the end.

So, three cheers for Gripping Beast, surely the World's foremost miniatures company and the nicest guys in the industry. Go out and buy lots of stuff from them - now.

That's it.

Take it easy, stay dry.


1 comment:

Soapy said...

Well, that's the title of my next blog entry out of the window!

Glad you both got home alright.

Stay lucky,