For those of us not attempting to journey into London for the Notting Hill Carnival (easy enough to get to, as hard to leave the area as a fly escaping a Venus Flytrap), the only plan was to drive away from town, due North.
Every bank holiday it is the same, a wave of cabin fever sets in around 10am, and suddenly we are hauling maps around the living room wondering where we can escape to. John has the idea that everywhere in the UK is fairly accessible for a daytrip as long as a) I am ready to leave right now, and don’t stop to pick up that hairbrush again; b) he has petrol and c) enough cigarettes to see him there and safely back again. At this point he will be considering Exeter, Northumberland and the Penines.
I, however, will have nothing more concrete in my head than ‘wouldn’t it be nice to go to a little village’, and am convinced little villages with welcoming pubs that do roast dinners are a) up the road a bit, b) can therefore wait while I find my hairbrush as well as c) sort out a bottle of squash and some biscuits for the journey. At this point I will be considering a big vague area called countryside. This is different to when I get it into my head to find a beach, John will be thinking Cornwall, and I will be thinking vague thoughts of an area called seaside.
We decided instead on Duxford, as it has an amazing Imperial War Museum full of planes, keeping both of us happy.
To anyone who hasn’t been, Duxford is huge and full of British planes, American planes and exhibitions such as The Battle of Britain. It is a large airfield to walk around, and since it is a working airfield, there is a pleasing backdrop of light aircraft taking off and pulling up as you stroll about.
It does leach money from you though, albeit in a forgivable subtle way. “Donate your tax from the entry fee!” said a smiling twinkle-eyed lady on the way in. This translated into donating roughly £4 on top of the £15 it costs each adult to get in, although with that you get a £1.50 voucher to spend in the shop (guaranteeing you will buy something on your exit that will no doubt cost more than £1.50). Then there was the coffee shop – 65p per piece of fruit, which was like a toddler size apple. Then there are extra prices to ride in tanks, appeals to help save certain planes, raffles… Actually the raffle was well worth it, £1 for the chance in a million to fly in a Spitfire or Lancaster. We bought two; the man in front bought ten…
But hey, it is a great place with some beautiful planes, so we gave willingly (apart from the fruit squizz, they can so keep their apples). We watched large tanks do a large tank demonstration (surprisingly nifty), we read a highly amusing leaflet given to GI’s before they came over to Britain, ('Thames' is pronounced ‘Tems’, British people play rugger “which is like American Football but without all the padding”), and I think I recognised a Mustang take off in the distance. Since I call everything a Spitfire, Stearman or ‘plane’, I was rather proud, in a 'John didn't see it all that clearly so I can speak with authority' sort of way.