Snowman 29th January 2006


Eight teams gathered at Great Bentley Green, no snow, no rain, no problem... !




At 13:20 two good signals and two sharp nulls. Station A, Peter, looks fairly straightforward out in the general direction of Ipswich but Tx B, run by Philip, could be across two if not three rivers. The bearing goes right through Stour Wood. Previous attempts at deciding which side of the river someone is from Manningtree have not been conclusive. I decide to go to a point near Stour Wood that should prove which side of the first river he is.



We were at Wrabness by 13:45 and Graham (navigator) pointed out that perhaps this wasn't the best use of our time! Keen to do something we rehearsed a strategy for getting two bearings on him in one transmission IF it looked like he was in the wood. We needn't have bothered, at 14:00 the bearing on B said across the river. I used the time to take a bearing on A. Still with time left I decided to check it from a different position and found about a 15 deg error in the bearing, I checked again and the second value seemed correct. Check bearing on B ... Too late he's gone off. Oh well he must be the other side, better get on our way, it's a very long drive!

Five minutes on the road and we meet Ian coming towards us heading for the .... wood? Perhaps that first bearing on B was out, do we wait for another bearing? No ... but then a transmission comes up. OK let's check. OH, it says back to wood, Ian was right .. we turn round. A couple of miles later, as we approach the wood, we meet Ian coming the other way! This is getting silly. We decide to carry on beyond the wood and wait for another bearing.


It seems an age before we get the next bearing. When we do get one, it says across the river. Oh well it's a nice day for a drive. On return to the car, Graham suggests that we might as well go for Peter but I say no; clearly we have no chance now, let's at least find that B.... station Philip.

Our start bearing and latest bearings are now parallel, we choose to ignore the start bearing and drive in the general direction of Shotley. Around 15:10 we stop for a bearing at Erwarton. There are loads of DF cars but the bearing says it may be quicker to go down the path at Shotley. What we don't know is that around this time Mike H. and the Merries have both taken bearings, after running a mile or so, which say the TX is back in Harwich. Our first bit of luck is that we don't see them returning! Having gone a little way down the path at Shotley another bearing places him at Shotley Gate.

In the end we manage to park at the end of a housing estate only 100m from the TX. We get in at 15:31 after a bit of cliff scaling but let's face it, it's been mainly driving, not much running to tone up the ageing frame. Still an hour to go, better go and look for Peter.




Picture opposite, young Raymond who can't understand why it is taking people so long to find his Dad.

So what are the others up to? Well Mike has given up on this station and gone to look for Peter, so has Rosie. Andrew has been in to Philip at 14:59 BUT has had a very long run back to Erwarton and is in fact only just ahead of us on the road. Geoff is still running towards Philip from Erwarton. Ian and Tim have found Peter and are headed our way. Graham P. is still on Peter's site not having fun amongst the power lines.

As we drive towards Peter he seems to be giving very long transmissions but they don't help because there are no roads off the bearing. There is Ian again, wave! We go through Wherstead on to the A137. We stop for a bearing, there goes Andrew. We can see roughly where Peter is but how to get to there? Roads on our map are no longer there and housing estates have sprung up everywhere. We end up driving all the way round through Belstead. Fortunately Peter's long transmissions help us navigate through an estate maze without use of the map. Eventually we see a wood, power lines, all the usual DF stuff and start to run towards it.

We ran down a path following the bearing towards the wood and power lines! Surrounding the wood was a plantation of new trees. After about 10 minutes of headless chicken between wood and power lines I eventually ran out into the plantation trying to get away from it all. Although bearings told me nothing the signal did start to get stronger and suddenly there was that B......eaming face. Andrew had just beaten me in. Five minutes of cooling down and Geoff appeared, he had had plenty of exercise! Mike and Graham P. had found this their only station. Rosie on finding Peter had been told that Philip was not in Harwich and had gone back to Shotley for another try at Philip!

So what was happening back at Philip's station? A picture paints a ....! Ian was THE man getting in to his second station at 16:02.
And Tim (?) he wasn't smiling, he had gone in where his, and virtually all start bearings had pointed, Erwarton. Yes he was in for a long run BUT it was made considerably longer when he paused at the shore for a bearing and found his set had stopped working. Armed with only 'HIS luck' he decided to run East (away from Philip) thinking he would stumble across DFers. At 16:30 he was still running!
Rosie gets the perseverance prize, ladies prize and petrol coupons for finding Philip at the second attempt at 16:30 (ish).

Back to Philip's for a most welcome tea. Thanks to Caroline for putting on the usual impressive spread and listening to all our DF talk with such good humour. After food and ceremony we were treated to DF photos and videos in Philip's new multimedia studio - very impressive with mega sound and projected video. The videos depicted when men were men and Dfers were, well much the same really - confused.



Tx A Tx B
1 Ian Butson 3.14 4.02
2 Andrew Mead 4.15 2.59
3 Roy Emeny 4.24 3.31
4 Geoff Foster 4.27 3.50
5 Rosie Merry 3.50 4.30
6 Tim Parker 3.14  
7 Graham Phillips 3.42  
8 Mike Hawkins 3.50  


Good to see the 'Old Master' back on form, with a trophy in his hand.

Andrew got the beer and I think he needed it. He was still so shattered after his running that Daphne had to make his speech for him!

Lady of the day - triple station Rosie.


So another good DFing day, but you know it isn't over until Peter has had a few words, so here they are:

Site seen for years. Always thought it unsuitable for National as too close to start therefore too easy.
How wrong one can be!

As mentioned at finish, Phil wanted to look at Woodbridge forest areas.
In view of it being winter and possibly bad weather we plumped for the easy option.
Operators not out in cold for long and all teams in by 3:45 HA!
I expected someone to be getting a cross on me at 2pm, confirm by 2:15, in by 2:25 ??
Ian in first but struggled. Seems main problem for most was accessing site !
I admit power lines (see Piccy) hindered teams a bit, but there was little cover around to investigate.
No dummies, all straightforward, end fed 1/4 wave.
I closed site at 4:30 (due time) just as I recorded the last competitor into me.

The event certainly caused unforeseen problems.
Mike Hawkins saying Phil was across river when in fact he was almost standing beside him !
Yet I understand Phil had not gone for any fancy aerial array !

It was a nice day to be out there doing my contribution. Next time someone may not be so lucky as I.

Sorry Peter, you didn't get the last word! After only 4 weeks Andrew has got his breath back so at last we can hear his version:

Thanks for the report did however miss one vital piece of the story - you didn't mention how the second placed competitor was unceremoniously robbed of his chance to have the trophy on his mantlepiece, after being the first person of the afternoon to find a station, a whole quarter of an hour ahead of the rest of the field. You also did not mention how the aforementioned competitor soldiered on single handedly in the face of adversity, battling against wind and rain, running against all odds along the coast path towards Shotley Gate, whilst others simply drove to within 100m of the station, to have a leisurly stroll through the woods to Phillip. (Ok, so it was a nice sunny day, but it was still a ******* long way from Erwarton)

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