Then Friday evening my dad arrived for the weekend, mainly order to join us in freeloading at the Farnborough air show on Saturday, but also to help us scan in a load of old slides for Katy's grandma - the latter done without a hitch.
The air show, however, was - how shall I put it - an experience... Katy's mum and dad joined us for a picnic at a reasonable vantage point not too far from where we had parked, but then just as the Red Arrows were preparing to open the show, what had been simply an overcast sky came over very heavy and there was lightning striking all around. The rumbles of the jets mixed with the rumbles of thunder and the heavens opened like I've never been caught out in before - and what we had brought as sunshades quickly doubled up as umbrellas though we still ended up soaked to the skin. The show went ahead in fits and starts, though the new Airbus in particular was lost in the murk, and eventually only my dad and I decided to brave the rest of the afternoon. We walked for a few minutes, up to where Katy and I had checked out the other day, clutching two camping chairs kindly loaned by Katy's parents, since our picnic blanket was completely saturated. Just as we had settled down there waiting for the next "act", the skies closed in again, the runway lights were ominously turned off and we heard mutterings amongst the crowd that the show was abandoned. We tuned in on the radio, and it seemed about as clear as the mud we were just about avoiding sitting in, but then suddenly the lights were back and one of a number of look-alike fighter jets was warming up for take-off. It never quite stopped raining all afternoon but that was the worst of it over, apparently the worst conditions there for at least ten years. Later in the afternoon we were just about to call it a day when Katy's mum and dad surprised us by turning up quite unexpectedly with a flask of tea, doing quite well to have found us really! So we stayed a little longer than planned, which was just as well because the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (quite a misnomer) did much more than their usual fly-past. Stars of the show were obviously the Red Arrows, but also the MIG and (bizarrely enough) a humble glider doing breathtaking aerobatics.
We suspected that the new Airbus might have been a star had we been able to see it, so after my dad had headed home and we'd been to church, today Katy and I took a light lunch and walked out along the Basingstoke Canal to see what we could see - and found a very good vantage point, as of course had about a hundred others. We intentionally just stayed for the first few minutes, which had of course been those most adversely affected by yesterday's weather, though today's programme started with the Falcons parachute team, not the Red Arrows. But we got to see the Airbus properly, as well as getting a great view of the Osprey - certainly one of the weirdest aircraft around, and one to add to our "stars of the show" list without a doubt. It was nowhere near as comfortable a vantage point as yesterday's, so neither of us was sorry to call it a day when the Osprey was done, and besides, it was starting to rain - what a surprise...
So that was it, really. A good weekend, but somehow not quite convinced by the air show. My dad's had experience of a good many over the years, though not so many recently, and we agreed they have rather lost their sparkle. All the new generation fighter jets are basically the same - some of them so identical you really wonder why they didn't save on research and development costs and just buy "off the shelf". In the past, there were more aerobatic teams from around the world, not just the Red Arrows, and the planes simply put on a better show - I can certainly remember shows where the planes did simulated dogfights and bombing runs. The Americans show their contempt with many of their planes, just flying in, doing a circle of the airfield - sometimes even the right one - and roaring off, all in a matter of a couple of minutes. I expect we'll go again - though there are rumours Farnborough may not host another show - but I can't help feeling that every time we do so, we shall be a little more disappointed.