Mid Essex Trophy    15th October 2006

Another year of DFing was almost over and it fell to Andrew and myself to run the stations. While the pictures below are loading, I will tell you a little about the preparations. A phone call established the parameters for the event. We would use Map 167 to try to encourage some non-local competitors. Andrew kindly offered his house for the tea and a call to the next room confirmed that Daphne would act as starter and organise the tea. What a joy it must be, to be a DFer's wife. If I ever come back as a woman .......... Anyway back to the masculine bit - Gt. Dunmow would be used as the start, giving quick access for the travelers. We wanted to minimise driving, both between stations and to the tea. Andrew would search for a station to the North and I would go South.

A sunny day was chosen and I decided to to head through Maldon out on to map 167. It's always nice to find a site without too much showing on the map, so I set about walking footpaths without much green marked, hoping for some serious brambles. After three abortive attempts I eventually found a network of paths, and yes one had a nice lot of bushes. Back into the car and after a short drive up the road I found a large house - I wonder if the owners know who owns the land around the footpath? The woman who answered the door turned out to be a keen walker. Oh dear, the usual problem, the land I was hoping to use is regularly used for game shooting. However, she suggested another place, a large wood with good access for the public. I thanked her and went to check it out. Yes, this will do, easy parking, plenty of cover, job done.

On the way back home I decided to go up to Hatfield Peverel to get on to the A12. I was driving along parallel to the A12 on a minor road when suddenly I saw a footpath sign pointing to a bridge under the A12. A quick walk down the path and I was convinced - it is completely overgrown, shoulder high nettles, brambles, a stream, power cables and another bridge (railway) perrrrrrrrrrrrfect! The previous wood is consigned to the list of 'maybe' sites for the future.


Coming back out I found the reason for the untouched undergrowth, a footpath closed sign, but it was dated Feb 06, closed for six months for bridge repairs Feb..... Oct ... it should be open again. I checked the bridge, yes much new brickwork - Eureka!

Another phone call to Andrew; he has found a site in the NE corner of the map. With the start, our two sites form a roughly equilateral triangle side 20Km. OK, the rest of the pictures below should have loaded by now (click on them to enlarge - they should be pre-loaded) over to Andrew ...........................

Sunday, 15th October was a bright day with occasional sunshine, but with a slight chill to the wind, when 7 teams assembled at Great Dunmow playing fields for the start of the 2006 Mid Essex Trophy. Tea had been announced as on a “bring-a-bite” basis, and soon the Starter’s car was filling up with a tasty selection of quiches, pizzas, mince pies, muffins, and a multitude of other savouries and cakes.



Two good signals at 1.20 indicated station A, G4JAC/P to the South-east and station B, G4KQE/P to the North-east. 6 teams headed North-east towards the top right of the map, whilst the eventual winner headed South-east.


Station B was enjoying the peace and quiet under a fallen log in a little wood near Sible Hedingham, when .........


...... suddenly, out of nowhere appeared Geoff.

With not much cover available, Geoff soon spotted the operator and clocked in at 14.23. A couple of minutes later Peter’s navigator (Richard) appeared by the log, calling Peter down the hill towards the station. Immediately Peter had arrived, a great crashing above the operator’s head, and a cascade of leaf mould, twigs and earth all over the operator and the ground sheet indicated that Graham had arrived, trying hard to beat Peter.

Trying to tidy up the station again, the next twelve minutes passed quickly before Phil handed in his ticket. Obviously using the same tactic as Graham, Rosie started to slide down the bank towards the operator, then announced that she would take the Ladies way in, and approached the station gracefully over the log. Only a couple of minutes later, Ian clocked in at 14.39. With 6 teams in, Andrew phoned Roy to update him. Roy said that he could hear someone thrashing around his station on the overgrown footpath between the A12 and the railway line at Hatfield Peverel. By a clever process of elimination, the TX operators deduced that it was Tim who was on site. Knowing that there was just one more team to come in, who was still at the other site, Andrew, the B station operator, knew he was in for an hour or so of peace and quiet, but still kept the transmissions going according to the planned schedule. All indeed was quiet, until Tim was heard in the distance calling to his son, Gary, then after a minute or two, arrived at the log with a cheery “here he is” at 15.42. Initial jubilation for Tim however, soon turned to disappointment, when in answer to his question of how long ago the other competitors left the site, Andrew told him that the first one left an hour and twenty minutes earlier, and the last one was over an hour ago. Tim said that he found Roy at 15.48, and had therefore taken just under the hour between sites. Resigned to propping up the rest of the field, Tim and his son helped Andrew take down the aerial, and carry stuff back to the car. Meanwhile at station A............

Thanks Andrew,

The day started early (by my standards) 7:10 am and I was in Hatfield Peverel. I was having second thoughts about the 'closed footpath'. I thought I had better check the situation at the northerly end of the path. When I got there the closed sign was much more prominent. Unless you had time to read it through , it was quite off putting. Having read it several times and satisfied myself that it was indeed out of date, I decided to do what the council should have done six weeks before, remove it. On site there were loads of places to hide. With plenty of time and wire I decided to make the aerial visit most of them. It started with a wire trailing in the stream close to the railway bridge. From there to a blackthorn thicket (always a favourite with competitors), back to the stream. Trees overhung it it throughout its length making an ideal wire support. Ah, a tree across the stream (well river really). Tempting, but there is no footpath that side - better keep it legal. 300m of wire out, time for a T. I took one branch out into the man eating nettles over a few trees, ah the A12 is close. The other branch I took back across to another ditch on the other side of a 'nice boggy area', well I am wearing wellies and it seems a shame not to. Hmm, still wire left, seems a pity to waist it. This is used to run parallel to the A12 almost back to the other end of the T. While doing this I spot a break in the fence, ideal for getting all the gear in by walking in the bushes beside the A12 rather than making unwanted paths to the TX. 11am, where does the time go when you are enjoying yourself? Plenty of time left though for losing the car at the local pub and coming back for a bit of misleading tramping. Since no one else had apparently been here for months I felt duty bound to walk paths through the nettles in all directions that would not lead to the Tx.

Ok the Tx is set up and loading nicely. A phone call to Daphne at the start confirms that the signal is getting there. So what to do now....

.......... on my back, coffee, sarnies and the sun is shining.

The first transmission is made and Daphne phones to say there are seven teams on their way.

More sun bathing .................... Around 14:20 voices are heard but they disappear.

14:40 Andrew rings to say he has six competitors in. He is concerned that it might all be over a bit early.
14:48 Tim arrives blood stained and vocalising all the usual pleasantries. "Am I first in?". "Yes," his mood improves (I haven't the heart to tell him ......)
15:05 Voices and crashing during a transmission but they go away ................
15:30 Whistles and shouting but they go away .........................
15:35 Decide to issue a clue. .." I am wearing rubber boots" ...... I learn later that Philip hears this and decides to cross the stream/river. After a while he decides that I am not there and returns, but meeting other DFers his poker smile convinces them to wash their feet too.

Now Ian has been taking things steadily, taking the considered approach, he doesn't care for a dip with the other a sheep. I can hear him following the aerial from the ditch on the opposite side of the site and at 15:48 a HUGE smile appears through the bushes. A few minutes pass and the jungle tom toms bring them all tumbling in.

Pictures from Raymond and Richard:




Thanks to everyone for helping with the aerial.

Back to Andrew .......

Back at the tea site, baked potatoes and chilli had been cooked, and the food donations laid out on the table. Mugs, milk and sugar were on the small table in the middle of the room, with two teapots that were filled as soon as they were emptied. By five o’clock, plates were being filled and appetites avenged. Discussions initially centred around what time Tim had arrived at station B. Ian knew that he was first to Roy, and therefore Tim’s time was crucial to him. Tim was astounded to hear that Ian had not found Roy until 15.45 - 3 minutes after he had clocked into station B, and his previous disappointment changed back to jubilation with the realisation that he had won the 2006 Mid-Essex Trophy.


Once everyone had finished tea, and after several teapot refills, Andrew announced the results, presenting Tim with the first prize and Trophy, and Ian with second prize, while Roy presented the Ladies prize to Caroline, and a token of thanks to Daphne and Lisa for preparing the tea.


Tim then gave his account of the afternoon, followed by Ian who told us how he nearly won. Roy then described how he found his site.

Peter is presented with the Colchester Friday Evening Trophy - please note the lack of smugness! (Ed.)

The long distance visitors then had to start out on their journey home, saying how much they had enjoyed the afternoon. It was really good to see teams from outside Essex taking part, they were most welcome, and we hope to see them again next year.

Before people left, they were offered a “doggy-bag” for the journey home, and a choice of house plants that Daphne had grown. ............ Back to Roy

Many thanks Andrew, yes a good day, at least from the operator's point of view. Please thank Daphne for all her hard work and Lisa for washing up. I am pleased to report my cactus is still living after a whole week. Thinking of taking cuttings and producing a plantation ready for the next time I run a station on the Mid Essex DF.

Results G4JAC/P G4KQE/P
  Roy Emeny Andrew Mead
Station A  Station B
1 Tim Parker 14:48:00 15:42:20
2 Ian Butson 15:45:12 14:39:29
3 Philip Cunningham 15:47:57 14:37:00
4 Peter Larbalestier 15:48:24 14:25:31
5 Geoff Foster 15:49:25 14:23:29
6 Graham Nichols 15:50:35 14:25:46
7 Rosie Merry 15:51:29 14:37:46


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