After lunch I took the dogs on a good cirular walk round the lanes near the site, then settled them down in the caravan instead of the awning. I don't allow the dogs on the furniture and certainly not on my bed but I knew that the minute my back was turned they would be up there - especially Pip - but for once I didn't mind too much if it kept them happy while I was out, though I did cover my duvet with a throw first. The sun was still shining in fits and starts, but not leaving anything to chance I put my waterproof gear on just in case it decided to rain while I was out, then after double-checking on the dogs I put my helmet on, started the bike, and set off.
I was going to the tractor pulling event at the Great Eccleston showground, which was only a 15-minute ride from the site. The August bank holiday event is the second one held there each year - the first one being in July as part of the Great Eccleston show - and features machines and drivers from Europe as well as this country. As I was riding along it crossed my mind that it may have been cancelled because of the recent heavy rain, but approaching the showground I could see from the line of cars parked at the roadside and the column of thick black smoke rising from the showground that the event was very much on. After parking the bike on the grass verge and chaining it to a handily adjacent gate I paid my entrance fee and made my way across the showground to the competition track. The tractor pulling event is always very popular and normally attracts huge crowds, but I think maybe the weather had put some people off - there didn't seem to be as many spectators as at previous events and I had no trouble finding a good clear vantage point up on the bank near the finish line. The competitions had actually started mid morning but I wasn't interested in watching the lower classes - I wanted to see the big machines with the engines so noisy that they hurt your ears when they went past!
To many people some of these machines don't even look like tractors but they are. They have been modified in many different ways though, and some of them are powered by four Rolls Royce jet engines - that's an awful lot of noise to assault the eardrums! There's something about the thick black smoke pouring from the exhausts, the roar of the engines and the smell of high octane fuel which really grabs me, and I had a brilliant couple of hours watching first one, then another making its way along the track, with each competitor trying to get further than the last one before the weighted sledge he was towing stopped him. By far the best was the one who went so fast that he ran out of track and almost ploughed into the sand bank at the end - of course he was the winner of that class and earned a well deserved first prize trophy.
After the competitions were over I went across to the pits to have a look at the more 'normal' looking tractors and talk shop with some of the drivers. I was very impressed with 'Skipper', the same make and model as one of my own tractors but much shinier and better looking.
I had just about finished wandering round the pits when I felt a few drops of rain - the brief sunshine from earlier had long since disappeared and the sky was now a murky grey, so as the competitions had finished I thought I may as well make my way back to the caravan before I got too wet. And what a wise decision it was - as soon as I got back I took the dogs for a quick walk, and within a couple of minutes of settling back inside the heavens opened with another downpour which lasted most of the evening. It rained so hard that it wasn't long before the canvas started sagging again with the pool of rainwater collecting between the two sets of poles - and when I'd cleared it away for the third time in as many hours I was beginning to lose the will to live. Eventually though the rain stopped and I took the opportunity to feed the dogs and take them for a walk while it was fine, so I knew that once back in the caravan I wouldn't have to go out again.
It was when I came to settle the dogs down for the night that I discovered my next problem - their beds, which were in the far front corner of the awning, were absolutely soaking wet, and so was the awning itself. At first I couldn't understand how this had happened, but then realised that as I had been pushing the roof up to clear it when it sagged the water must have run down the corner of the canvas which had leaked badly, and in turn had soaked the dogs' beds which were touching it. I couldn't let the dogs sleep on wet beds so there was nothing for it but to let them sleep on my throw on the caravan floor, and put the fan heater on in the awning to hopefully dry out the canvas and their beds. And when I got into my own bed later on I was wishing that I had put up the full awning instead of that one - it would have been a lot less trouble and it wouldn't have leaked either!