Bournemouth had been a lot of fun, and rather a lot of us fancied another get together.
Dirk signing at the Memorabilia show in Birmingham provided the perfect opportunity.
So another train trip it was. The Birmingham NEC more or less adjoins the airport and has its very own railway station. So getting there was easy, but resisting all the myriad distractions of Things Airborne and getting to the hotel (well Travel Inn) where we'd all booked was somewhat trickier.
Nevertheless off I went full flap. Unfortunately, being distracted almost immediately by a luminously cyan-blue 737 on the climbout directly overhead, I got no further than a few feet before meeting a lamppost. I ricocheted gently off, apologised before I'd realised what I'd hit, and carried on.
The plan was to dump my overnight bag in the hotel before heading back to the NEC proper to meet the others. This proved easier said than down as none of the vaunted shuttle buses put in an appearance. I could however see the Travel Inn signpost from the carpark so struck out in that direction. Some amount of fence hopping and hedge climbing to stay on course eventually paid off and I emerged from the bushes at a small (and still mysteriously empty of all traffic) roundabout from where the road entrance to the hotel was apparent.
I was too early to check in properly but they did find me somewhere I could leave my bag 'till later. On the way back a bus did finally arrive and save me a bit of time but even so I was later than intended for the arranged meetup time and hurtled in breathless and red in the face. A mixed group of fans were easy to spot, arranged in a corner near a window, in what's know in my historical reenactment group as an Imaginary Campfire Formation. All sat around in a circle, the better to chat with everyone at once.
As I was the last laggard to arrive we headed into the event itself. Lots of things to buy and autograph queues to stand in. Now I'm not a big lover of autograph gathering, the price, and the fact I tend to be far too abashed to do more than timidly show my bit of paper forwards tend to be offputting to me. So I don't normally bother with those kinds of events, but with a crowd of mates even the waiting in line was a good laugh.
Comparing A-Team ringtones and being smug because Dirk's queue was the longest for some distance around us was the predominant activity, followed by a general dispersal to wander around and window shop.
We reconvened towards the end of the show to sort out car shares to get everyone back to the Travel Inn. No need for the cross country this time!
For the evening entertainment Jips had organised a pub quiz, complete with A-Team rounds (of course). An even more major feat of organisation was needed to negotiate with an utterly useless pizza outfit to get us all fed. (They decided after taking our order, that we were outside their 'zone' but hadn't bothered to tell us so.)
Eventually the food arrived and was swiftly demolished. I forget who won the quiz but it great fun all around.
A rearranging of chairs, some resupply from the bar, and the evening moved on to video watching. Assorted episodes, a rambo-but-far-more-thoughtful film featuring Dirk, and then some more eps for us last holdouts in the small hours.
I was decidedly bleary eyed the next morning. But still not wound down enough to settle for going straight home. We breakfasted, then lingered in the lobby for a while saying goodbyes. While idling by the door to wave, my eyes alit on a leaflet for the Cosford air museum.
Perusal of trains suggested it was attainable, so I rounded off the weekend with a few hours wandering around in a happy haze of old aeroplanes.
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