Saturday, 18 October 2014

No Goats were harmed during the making of this post (Tank!)

military tank display german panzer On Thursday Jof said that she was going to work on Saturday. So even though she felt left out because we always do these major excursions when she's working and we never take her anywhere, we decided to do another day trip to a destination of my choice.
However in deference to her unreasonable demands, we deliberately chose a boys-only location of no interest to her, in this case the Tank Museum at Bovington Camp, Dorset. Football 'Arry had told us that he went there while having a holiday on the south coast so we had a decent recommendation.
Plus, it's almost all the way to Grandad's old house, but turning left at Bere Regis instead of right. So we left the house at 845 and got there 8 minutes after it had opened, a tradition for us.
The museum is located in the middle of a functioning army base, for the armoured division. Thus there are tanks left right and centre with warning signs on the highway about tanks crossing and tracks and obstacles visible through the trees.
main guns, tank museum bovington camp dorsetUpon entry, we went through Trench Zone. This explains why we had to invent tanks, because every time we stuck our heads above the parapet, some bunch of German machine gunners shot us and so nobody was going anywhere and the war was a 500,000:500,000 score-draw and stalemate.
So we invented this trundling ironclad behemoth of terror with guns and tracks and roaring engines and to be fair most of them got stuck in shell holes and caught fire but the concept was born.
There was a big section on war horses which is where Great-Grandad started his military career back in good old 1914.
tank museum bovington camp dorsetWe saw the mock-ups of the trenches on both sides and the first tank and the Mark IV and the Tiger and the Panzers and the Chieftain and about 300 more. Once you've seen the first 50 they're just so many steel-armoured metal monsters but I liked the specialities de la maison:
* The one that isn't a gun, but a flamethrower
* The one that isn't a gun, but its own bridge
* The one that whips the ground with chains to explode mines
* The one with 5 turrets, all with guns
* The one that was the heaviest in the world
* The one that's gold-plated (for Shah of Iran)
and stuff.
Most were British. But some were Russian, German, Arabic, and South African. Many of them had sample shell casings with projectile attached sitting on ammo boxes alongside: we liked the 75mms and the 37mms because we've got some in our collection but we're yet to acquire a 120mm round.
tank museum bovington camp dorsetFor food we had a packed lunch outside on the Kuwait Arena where some army chaps demonstrated how to knock out an enemy machine gun emplacement using stealth, smoke grenades, a Scimitar and small arms fire, but due to budget cuts they didn't have the grenades, Scimitar or bullets so they hid behind a small mound and shouted BANG until the machine gunners were dead.
funny warning sign near tank museum bovington camp dorsetIn school holidays they do rides around the arena in tracked heavy vehicles so when we come back (free pass within 1 year) we'll do it - only £3.
The shop is one of the main attractions for me but this time it nearly didn't work out. He offered the not-Lego Minesweeper and Rocket Launcher but I wanted the giant plastic tank with extendable 120mm gun. In the end I won but almost didn't. We also got special Tank Museum dark chocolate for my favourite mummy and a Kalashnikov bullet and a pen, because Jof always says we don't have enough pens that aren't green.
After 3 hours we left and tried to get back on the A31 east for home, but on the way to Bere Regis they'd moved the road and we didn't find it. It was nice to zoom along on those little 1-track roads you get behind Dorsetshire fields where it's only wide enough to get one goat down at a time (and then only if it's malnourished) but eventually we consulted a new invention called a map and regained the highway somewhere near Winterbourne Zelston, deep in the Ooo-Arr Hinterland.
tank museum bovington camp dorsetWe still had lots of time after our random unplanned polygonal detour so stopped off at Ringwood to check out their charity shops because we'd never been there before. Nice parish church, but no Roman numerals on the gravestones and no resident priest to ask if we could climb the clocktower.
Amazingly for October the sun came out so we played football in the park and Jof said she was going out with her work friends so it was Naughty Film Night all over again. Not that kind of naughty film, just the one where the age (15) might be slightly in excess of mine (8).

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