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Strange how life moves on; this photograph below taken in 1985 shows many of my closest friends of that period, friends I had made through the world of vintage machinery and steam rallies. Every weekend from the beginning of May until mid October we would spend at one show or another, not always all, but usually a large number of us would be there. Sometimes we travelled in convoy, our motor caravans sluggishly towing a heavy trailer full of restored vintage machinery that was to be exhibited, sometimes we met up at the event, but always, and I mean always, we had a good time whilst we were at a rally or show.

This photograph shows us at an event being held in our back garden at Southerndown to celebrate my tenth year of vintage rallying. My friends had all brought some item of vintage machinery and we had set it all up and then opened the garden to the public. In the left corner of the picture can be seen the line of my 2ft gauge garden railway which would also have been operating that day. I notice there are a number of friends from that era missing from the photo so can only assume they were at other shows that weekend. Yes, that’s me in the centre in the stripey pullover and green wellies!

Time moves on and I guess I may have been one of the first of this group to lessen my rallying activity, dropping from every weekend of the 1982 season to only a few rallies a year by 1987. The friends too, dwindled away one by one until eventually we didn’t get together anymore and only saw one another socially outside the rally scene. That too eventually faded away as new interests and new friends came along.

Of those in this photograph I am still in touch with a few, but only occasionally, the odd phone call at birthdays and Christmas or other event. At least four of the couples shown here have divorced or separated and one person has passed away. The kids are all grown up and apart from the little blonde boy in red trousers next to me I have no idea what has become of them all. I bumped into one of the persons here when visiting a rally back in the summer, he didn’t recognise me, only when I spoke did he know who I was. Quite a number of the rest I haven’t seen for 20 or more years. It was great while it lasted and I’m really grateful to have had so many good and kind friends during my “rallying period”.

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