The annual Dixon pilgrimage to CarFest has been and gone. CarFest was the brainchild of a famous Radio 2 presenter in 2012. He devised a way of showing off his extensive car collection along with all his celebrity petrolhead friends. He patronises Children in Need, as did his predecessor, and the event raises a considerable amount of money each year for the charity. There are two CarFest’s annually, one in the North which is held somewhere in Cheshire and CarFest South which is held near to Basingstoke on a farm owned by a retired Formula1 driver. The site of CarFest is huge, welcoming tents and caravans and motor homes, all spread across 2,000 acres which are usually inhabited by water buffalo.
We set off on Friday morning, with the rest of the country, at the start of another Bank Holiday exodus. Husband-in-a-hurry began the journey with the best of intentions to not get stressed over traffic. That didn’t last long! Although we have done this every year since 2012 the journey doesn’t get any easier or more pleasant. Narrow country lanes and motorway jams just aren’t conducive to happy travel. Nevertheless, we got there after the usual blue smoke from his ears and a lot of sighing from me. My daughter and two Grandchildren live close by and it’s always good to see them as they attend CarFest as well.
Husband-in-a-hurry has a different agenda to me for the whole weekend. He enjoys the cars much more than I do. The site has a racing track laid out and hay bales surround it ready for any over enthusiastic drivers. There’s a lot of testosterone on show as drivers burn rubber with wheel spins and the air is filled with an acrid smell as plumes of smoke disperse over the crowd of observers. If I’m honest the real reason I want to go is to see Nicki and my Grandchildren. I always end up spending too much money on them and fill them with sugary confection which is a trial to him and not pleasing to Nicki. I want to explore the tents and stalls full of good sweet treats with the children as they always need a sugar fix. I have come home half a stone heavier but it’s offset by my purse which is considerably lighter.
Since the inception of this festival the cars have become slightly less of the big attraction and more of a side show to the music acts, which are very Radio 2 and food lots of food, celebrity chefs and cooking demonstrations. The whole experience is now a Top Gear/GoodFood show/mini Glastonbury.
I find myself wishing and wanting to know more about the technicalities of the whole shebang. I want to know how the locals, in this quiet, leafy Hampshire village feel, when CarFest descends on them. Does Chris Evans offer them free tickets? Do the residents lock up their doors for the whole 3 days having stocked up on food from Ocado? How do all of the local trades and producers get onto the site? What happens to the livestock for the duration of the festival? Where are they? Do they go on holiday? How far ahead do the cattle get moved out to ensure that the multitude don’t find ‘something nasty’ underfoot? You can only begin to imagine the terrain in a cattle field or in my case beneath my wheels! How far ahead do they plan this massive logistical under taking? I also dream of meeting Jodi Scheckter and asking him for a cheeky third of an acre so I can build my bungalow here in Hampshire where I’m supposed to be.
After getting rained on a couple of times, which can only be expected on an August Bank Holiday weekend we come home, Husband-in-a-hurry assuring me we will never do that again, and me thinking next years tickets go on sale in November……….