Silverstone grandstand from the top of ferris wheel
Food, Travel

Tenting part 3: the real deal

Before setting out we’d got kitted out (Tenting part 1) and done some garden practice (Tenting part 2).

Friday

So we’re here. A campsite just next to Silverstone race circuit to watch the endurance racing over the weekend. It’s 8.45pm on a Friday and we have erected two tents and a gazebo 2 1/2 hours from home. The boys are in their PJs in their little tent – large boy is reading of course, while small boy is chattering away as usual.

Himself is hoping for some sort of idyllic motor racing watching, junk amassing, blissful weekend of fresh air scented with petrol. I’m just hoping they sleep!

We packed the enormous truck last night, somehow filling it with more stuff than we took for 2 weeks in France. Tents, chairs and sleeping bags and mats take up a lot of space.

We managed to escape work before 4pm and get on the road before half past. A scoot down the M6, punctuated by tea at burger king at some services, we made it to a campsite near Silverstone just after 7pm. The boys were sent off exploring while we put up the tents.

A few snacks, lots of running around with no shoes on, the complication of PJs in enclosed spaces and having to walk to the toilets to brush teeth and they’re in bed. We’ve been treated to the sound of pit stop practices and a few noisy laps and a beautiful sunset. However, true to form, small boy has told large that it’s t rex and velociraptors – so he’s scared.

I’m catching up on the world of twitter and facebook and I’ll be off to bed shortly. Hopefully the air bed retains its air….

Saturday

6.15am loud clattering farm noise. 6.18am first noises from children. We explained the need for quiet but teddy confiscation began before 7am. It’s going to be a long day.

We finally got up about half 7, himself showered while I made coffee and we realised we’d forgotten the UHT milk for cereals. So small boy had dry coco pops and large joined himself for a bacon sarnie (mmmm yum! he said).

Just before 9 we set off for the Silverstone track. From the campsite it’s a 15 min walk, except a tree had come down over the path in the night so we had to climb over and through it with the boys bikes.

We got to the circuit during free practice and watched all the different classes of car come through. It’s very loud and we’d forgotten the ear defenders too. Oops. At last large boy is getting more interested in racing – he wanted to understand scrutineering and the difference between the LMP classes.

Thank goodness we brought the bikes as kids cycled across the circuit from the entrance at copse to the wing and pit lane. We enjoyed the free fun zone and got some bargain tee shirts for everyone. The boys drove track stars electric karts. As expected small boy was the better driver with more awareness and precision, and less crashing!

After a ridiculous hike back and forth in search of toilets the boys and I found ourselves peering into the back of the pit garages. We all watched the qualifying sessions and then found lunch. Enormous hot dogs for the boys, cost a fortune but the sausages were huge. We all argued about going on the Ferris wheel. I hate heights and won’t go on. The boys don’t want to either but himself won’t go on his own. Eventually he persuaded small boy to go on with him, they loved it.

We managed to visit David Brabham signing cards and he complimented the boys on their motorsport inspired names.

We got inside the grandstand just as the Le Mans series 4 hr race kicked off and rain started. We had fun watching cars squiggle and overshoot corners and avoid a hare that was invading the track. A visit to the pit walk (chaos but got a free cap) and some more track action got us to 4pm and the boys started to flag, so we made our way slowly back to the campsite stopping several times on the way. We saw the aftermath of a nasty meeting of car and wall but the driver thankfully got out and was taken way in ambulance. A useful lesson to the boys that motorsport is dangerous. Back at the tents it was time to cook: rice and Tuesday night’s leftover from a huge batch of chilli. Accompanied by a cider for me.

By 8pm we were all exhausted. So the boys got their PJs on and we brushed teeth and got them in bed. Himself and I followed behind cos it was a bit chilly and windy.

And then we saw the news. A young French driver named Anthoine Hubert had died following a big accident in F2 at Spa Francorchamps. We’ll explain to the boys in the morning, it’s important that these things aren’t glamarous for them. I don’t want them growing up thinking speed is the be all and end all. It’s not safe and they should know that before they learn to drive.

Sunday

Fan-bloody-tastic, boys awake at 6.30am again. We did the same as yesterday with breakfast and showers, then packed up the tents and the rest of the camping gubbins. The boys did a great job pulling out tent pegs and helping sit on the tent while we folded it so it didn’t blow away.

We got into the circuit about half 9 and parked up (involving a brief exchange of ideas about the space needed by our truck with the parking marshal). We headed straight back over to the fun zone in the hope that large boy could get into the RC car racing while himself queued for some freebies (gotta love a freebie) – hats and pack down back packs from the WEC. Somehow large boy persuaded me onto the ferris wheel. He said he’d go on if I would and I had to help him face his fear. Amazing views but scared whole time!

We watched the start of the feature WEC race from the top end of the wing. They held a 1 minute silence just before in honour of the driver who died yesterday at Spa. We had lunch, then took refuge from a brief shower in the grandstand. Large boy is definitely growing into watching live motor racing – he was keeping track of the first three placed cars in a couple of classes and which cars hadn’t changed to wet tyres.

At about 2.30pm we started a very slow wander across the inside of the circuit towards the car park. Himself had started sneezing and we wanted to be straight into the car when the race finished. Passing the Aston Martin stand on the way out we couldn’t resist some super cool bargain tee shirts for the boys.

The other fantastic people to mention are the marshals. The most important people in motorsport.

As expected the Toyotas won and we got out before the crowds. Within 20min on the road small boy was asleep, soon followed by large boy.

Overall

Well I think we’ll be investing in a big proper tent. The boys were awake late and early, maybe we need one with blackout sleeping bits. We need more equipment – storage stuff, an outdoor groundsheet, maybe more than a single hob to cook.

We’ve walked or ridden about 25km in two days. That’s pretty epic for a 7.5 and 4 year old. I think we should probably look out for some decent second hand bikes for me and himself.

We’ve spent about £3million on food even though we cooked on Saturday night. Better camping equipment might make picnicing easier.

I’m very proud of how the boys coped. Despite all the whispered warnings about being quite and sleeping, several heart attacks as they cycled off across car parks, and all the nagging about what they wanted to do. They’ve walked really far, watching hours of racing, and no tantrums just some moaning here or there.

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