RCM&E|August 2020
Whittaker finds much to absorb his thoughts as the lockdown continues in Wales
Alex Whittaker

Things have changed, and perhaps subtly, may never be quite the same again. I am not flying. I am not buying. I am not going up to the field. Neither am I crashing. However, I am still a staunch radio modeller and there is still much to delight me in my shed. Ah, the trad. Brit shed! That perfect antidote to national lock down. Some people tend their gardens, others tinker with their tractors, but we retreat into the shed. An oasis of calm in an uncertain world.


Like Anno Domini and BC, we will soon speak of this defining interlude in terms of Before Lockdown and After Lockdown. It is a sort of social milestone. Before lockdown, my busy workaday world took me away up and down the country every weekend to cover model meetings. Armed with my cameras and notebook I had the great privilege of regularly meeting RCM&E readers and modellers, and having them put me right. That weekend top-up of other modellers’ ideas and feelings gave rhythm and variety to my otherwise solitary scribbler’s life.


So, before lockdown, getting on the road each weekend for RCM&E was the tonic that kept me in touch. I also knew that across the country, midweek before a summer show, armies of like-minded modellers would be planning what to pack for the weekend away. On Thursdays I would go and fetch the Command Module from storage. I would also add its freshly charged battery. I would pack my Dad’s trusty old Honda petrol generator and cables. All necessary to charge up then plethora of camera batteries and laptoppery needed to store the all-important photos. Crash Parry and I would then give the Command Module a lick and promise, and add our sleeping bags, plus a range of clothes. For something like the BMFA F/F Nats at Barkston Heath in late May, we would need everything from arctic parkas to tropical shirts. Boots, slip-on shoes and neoprene wellies would complete the packing. You can experience a whole year’s climate over a single Barkston weekend. Aye, it can be cruel out on that blasted heath.

On Friday morning Crash would hit the local supermarket and buy in the weekend’s food. This was so that, no matter what, we would be self-sufficient until our return home on late Bank Holiday Monday. Being boozy hacks, expecting thirsty editors, we would always heavily stock The Command Module Bar. This meant that Parry would always need a helping hand getting all the licensed victuals aboard. Friday at noon, hitched up to ancient Big Suzy, we would aim for the border somewhere near Chester. Then, with Big Suzy’s three litre cast-iron donkey on song, we would begin the long trek via Crewe, Stoke, and Nottingham, to RAF Barkston Heath. The last few miles in late afternoon sunshine, where you pull up steeply through those leafy Lincolnshire lanes to the sacred Nats plateau, is one of the truly special occasions in British aeromodelling. Soon the vast Nats campsite heaves into view on your left and you have arrived. Anyway, all that has gone for a Burton this year.


We have to adapt to our present circs. Up until lockdown my shed time at home was always at a premium. Therefore, with shed time being relatively scarce in the summer, it had a certain savour to it. It also meant that, before lockdown, I hardly ever flew with my clubmates up at the field, because I was away each weekend.


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August 2020