I did all the prior research into CAMRA and the Spa Valley Railway also the Beer and Cider Festival which was into its 3rd year which I found initially through looking online at events in Kent.
Did all the checks and planning, which I won't outline here as I am chalking it up to experience :)
The day itself dawned WET! I see a pattern here for my outdoor shoots. Wet, wet and VERY wet spring to mind. The festival was running over three days, with beer at various stations along the line, being served on one of the trains with 4 more beers being served in the buffet car at Tunbridge Wells. Due to work and other commitments on the Saturday I had no option other than to go on the Sunday. On arriving at West Station Royal Tunbridge Wells I discovered a few things that upset my pre-planned images. Firstly the festival had been such a roaring success that despite the 70 plus beers and ciders available they were almost drunk dry! The other stations had no beer, the four beers in the buffet car were gone, the train serving beer was on its last dregs and the Engine Shed at Tunbridge Wells was almost out as well... the image below is one taken from their Facebook page showing full racks... They started with 65 firkins of beer and had 6 left. Iain Dalgleish from CAMRA told me they sold between 3000 and 3500 pints. CAMRA has been campaigning for about 10 years and the popularity of real ale was growing fast.
Compare this to my shot taken Sunday morning before the crowds arrived.....
...and the kegs that were there were not very full! Luckily they managed to source some more cider and beer from local breweries which kept them afloat as outlined in the blog below. So my plan for full racks of beer barrels etc didn't quite pan out...Looking at images from last year the beer was set up in the shed in front of an engine which made for a better backdrop and this was another similar image I had planned which couldn't then use. (BTW this shed image is the first HDR I have attempted..not sure what to think of it tbh) The organisers were really lovely when I explained what I was trying to do and gave me access to the barriered off staircase which allowed for this high vantage shot. They also gave me glasses to play with and didn't mind me wandering around with my tripod.
Iain busy serving customers.
There were also two groups of Morris Dancers planned to be travelling up and down the line and dancing on the stations, The Gong Scourers and Brooms.Bricks and Bowlers. They were there but due to all the rain most of the time had to dance inside, this meant no space to stand to get photographs, lots of clutter about and also contending with poor lighting. I did have my tripod but low light and fast action meant a lot of blurry shots which looked blurry, not planned action shots. See below for one semi decent inside shot...
I still think I came away with a fairly decent selection of shots, but not sure if good enough for submission......am I being too fussy...feedback would be good...
Then another blow, some of the trains that were supposed to be running then didn't due to mechanical failure...you had to laugh really lolol..so my take on the day....
Opening shot which summed the day up really, beer (or lack of) trains (or lack of) and rain (no lack of). This shot was taken inside a railway carriage and I stuck the leaflet to the window with the condensation!
For £10 you got a beer glass and tokens to buy a couple of pints. You could buy more but this was the "starter kit". At the end of the day you could keep the mug/glass or return it and get £3 back. You may notice that the beer glasses were not only Spa Valley or CAMRA ones, they also started to run out of these and had to fetch glasses from previous festivals.
Cider outside the Engine Shed in the wet......either could be cropped if needed.
One of the last few beers being served from the train....
Desperate times call for desperate measures, practically wringing out the bag of cider....
One of the few beers left....
Looking at the menu...is it still available?
"I don't care, I got my beer...and no-one else is touching it!"
Still if you were hungry you could choose from a variety of things cooked on the BBQ which ran from 8am in the morning starting with bacon butties mmmmmmmmmmm. By Sunday the BBQ had made just over £2000 selling 400 burgers, 400 sausages and they were not sure how many bacon rolls.
The rain did pause for a while for some dancing to occur outside....but to a small group of people indeed.
Mick on the accordion (well that's what he decided he was going to be called this day lol)
More can be found out about both groups from the links below
Again a lovely bunch of people quite willing to chat, give details and pose for pictures.
Oops I didn't find out!
10 year old Daisy.
The rain held off for people to drink outside for a while!
Women are the largest growing sector for cider and real ale, so much so CAMRA are now making 1/3 glasses.
Bringing back the empty barrels from down the line...
Poor Station Master Brian Halford trying to work out what train was running at what time...
The die hard enthusiasts snapping away at the steam engine as it came in.
Hopping on the train to go back down the line to Eridge, once more the heavens opened, as you can see no crowd to enjoy the dance but that didn't stop the Gong Scourers.
And the day ended as it had begun.....
Very wet indeed!
Once more a fantastic day out and a good learning curve, felt more at ease chatting to people, had my pen and paper and took notes of names and statistics for captioning, missed a few names so need to make sure I don't do that again if I have the chance to ask. Think I need to practice taking photos with faster movement and try and get over my dislike of flash, if needing to cover events for real it is limiting not to use one, so I think I will look about for homemade diffusers or reflectors....
I'll probably contact the various groups, they may want to have some of the shots for Facebook pages or websites..who knows!