I had arranged to go watch the Armed Forces Day in Llandudno around February time with my mother and father in law – unfortunately I almost immediately forgotten and arranged to go on a hen doo on the exact same day….luckily Ami is a very understanding bride to be and waved me off to Wales with orders to enjoy! Well I can confirm we certainly did.
You may notice by now all my blogs are tinged (soaked) with hyperbole of an overexcited puppy – but this….this is THE RAF – this is my hobby and my passion. See previous plane spotting action here.
I follow the RAF Typhoon & Chinook twitter accounts in awe of their antics (and banter).
I’ve asked Chris if I can run away to join the RAF as a photographer but alas he isn’t having none of it – so here I am….in Llandudno….the most excited member of our family – yaaaay!!!
We drove straight over from West Yorkshire on Friday afternoon after the school run. It was a baking hot journey – but relatively straight forward for a change and we cruised into Wales, and Llandudno with ease. All was going to plan!!!
We strolled into town to check out “the stage” for tomorrows events strolling down the pier. Llandudno was decked out beautifully in red, white and blue.
We spent the rest of the night on the pier at the amusements (and bar for the parents) and leisurely made our way back to the van.
The town was alive – everyone was smiling and happy! Felt great!
The Armed Forces Day
I was first up on Saturday – I was just too giddy! Checked my camera – checked my lens….dressed the kids…..packed the bag…..forgot a picnic and or drinks…..ooops….
Didn’t matter….yet….we were OFF!
Missed the start of the first parade due to Chris watching bargain hunt – but we approached Llandudno to the sound of a song I used to sing at school about a notorious German leader with *ahem* possible fertility problems….I was in the ZONE – already I could cry at the aceness!
So now upon Llandudno promenade after the first parade we checked out HMS Somerset.
HMS Somerset is a Type 23 frigate of the Royal Navy. She is the eleventh ship of the class to join the fleet since 1989. She is named after the Dukedom of Somerset.
The fourth Somerset to serve in the Royal Navy, she has inherited four battle honours from previous ships of the name; Vigo Bay (1702), Velez Malaga (1704), Louisburg (1758) and Quebec (1759). The previous ships all served during the 18th century and ensured that the name Somerset played a significant part in that period of naval history.
Somerset’s home port is HMNB Devonport.
She looked gorgeous on the Irish Sea – very impressive!
All along the promenade were activities to engage and entertain. Members of the armed forces were on hand to help and describe bits of equipment and machinery.
Eva got kitted out in a bullet proof vest and helmet on an army quad – she already had her camo on so we could bearly see her!
Teddy found a massive gun!
Next stop – a Typhoon…..right up my street – WOW!
Parade Time – Eleven hundred hours!
HMS Somerset gave us an alert with a bang at 11am that the parade was due to start so we headed off to the barrier.
We had two VIP’s to keep an eye out for – Grandad Ian was marching for the Royal Navy having being a Naval Engineer on a number of ships.
During his naval career he sailed to the antarctic on the HMS Protector and camped on the ice. He also sailed up the Amazon on the HMS Leopard in 1960.
They went 1144 miles up the Amazon the furthest any HM ship had been since HMS Perolus in 1909. He spent some time on the Manxman in the Far East around Singapore and Malaysia and received the Pingat Jasa medal from the Malaysian government – and now he was marching in Llandudno!
Secondly was the brand new goat! Unfortunately the Regimental Mascot of 3rd Battalion The Royal Welsh, Shenkin III, died in September 2017 aged & – so today was the passing out ceremony for the new guy Fusilier Shenkin IV – he had decorated silver horns but he was allowed to keep his further regalia off until he gets a little bigger – read here how they picked cheeky Shenkin IV.
The Marching Bands Began!
We awaited at the railings and begun to hear the drum beat coming down the promenade. In front of us was Shenkin IV and all of the veterans who had been given a shorter route and a break from marching and they would join the march half way along. Here’s the gallery of the parade. Please feel free to pinch photos if you or your family are in them – or if you would like me to send you them email me firstname.lastname@example.org.
and here is the video of it all in action passing us.
Chris and I wiped the tears of pride from our eyes and tried to compose ourselves slightly.
My daughter said without doubt we are doing this again she absolutely loved it and wanted to join the army with immediate effect!
It was absolutely perfect and well done to everyone who took part! It looked so good!
We got a photo with one of the participants! Grandad Ian (& Grandma Carrolle)! Well done 🙂
So by the time we had regained our emotions and fixed our wobbly stiff upper lips we realised the Red Arrows were due in around 10 minutes.
We met up with Chris’s mum and made our way to the field which contained the arena to watch the RAF display.
Now I knew exactly what time the red arrows were coming – but I got chatting as you do – and consequently they made me jump as the fired out to sea with the red white and blue smoke over our heads – it was just ACE!!!
I caught the initial two seconds of the entrance on my phone then begun my manic zoom lens action clicking!
This was my heaven I wont lie. And to make my experience so much more enjoyable – Chris had taken the kids for lunch so I had full uninterrupted plane action! It was just spectacular!
Here’s my Red Arrow Shots! (This has taken around 5-6 hours to work out my favorites! Decisions Decisions!)
GOOD EH???? So I nearly had repetitive strain injury in my clicking finger then on came the….
Battle of Britain Memorial Flight!
A trio consisting of a Lancaster Bomber, Spitfire & Hurricane…..the noise!!! They did seem to glide a lot more than the Red Arrows. They entered the bay as a trio then split and each showed off their skills. When the spitfire and hurricane were taking a turn I looked back over Llandudno and the Lancaster was low flying over the town – it looked amazing.
So here’s my photos of three of the RAF’s heritage planes.
This guy snook in and pinched the focus!
Magnificent eh??? I had clicked around 300 shots on this lot….then came….
This was my sole reason for coming to Llandudno, I’ve wanted to spot a Eurofighter Typhoon forever – I’ve heard one roar over my house at 20,000ft but never seen one….and it thundered into Llandudno – YESSSS!
And here’s the photos I got….
Yes thats right…..just three (well ten actually but seven were blurred). My memory cards were full! Total devastation! I say that tongue in cheek because it made me put my camera down and actually watch and listen – but I am a little sad I didn’t get more photos. I tweeted the Typhoon team after the event and asked if they wouldn’t mind popping into Leeds Bradford one day over Dewsbury so I can get another chance to photograph them. Ah well! Next year! Sailsbury!
So with the RAF action over we regrouped and decided to head over to the Armed Forces arena – passing an exiting Prime Minister and the Defense Secretary…
Cool! I like a VIP – wish I could have seen Princess Anne who had already left but nevermind. Was interesting to see leaders of the Army, RAF and Navy too – proper top dogs!
So now in the playing field we realised the enormity of what was here….without kids I would have documented this heavily – but with kids….they wanted rides so sadly we had to zoom round all the armed forces tents as they were moaning – it was a shame really cause had they not seen the rides they would have become more involved.
Their favorite bit was getting soaked through while watching a diver floss (dance move) underwater….
Teddy enjoyed playing with the sniper rifles monocular
We found the Typhoon Display Team tent and all got some souvenirs!
We saw the Chinook – which when you’ve heard fly you will know the sound of it forever – it is ACE
They had a bomb display – these are fitted to the planes and it showed how much they cost per bomb….INSANE! I’m sure I could make one cheaper….
This looked the hottest place on earth – food looked good though!
And finally before the rides – I followed some Gurkhas – who are just awesome – they did a display in the Arena too! I have to share the story of one who received the Victoria Cross here. Have a read its an amazing story!
Pinched a photo of his Khukuri (knife)
Be under no illusion they know how to use it – they are rock hard!
So we surrendered to the kids and made our way over to the rides – there was still tonnes going on and as the kids played two lots of para’s zoomed in – never heard a thing!
Teddy & Eva were suited with the massive array of rides
After we had a few rides and decided to head back to the van for a cool down and rest before going for tea & drinks in Llandudno.
It had been a full on jammed packed day and we were all exhausted!!!
Without doubt we will be following this celebration forever more – it is one of the best days out I personally have ever had. There is something for everyone and literally not a dull moment.
Armed Forces Day – Llandudno 2018 – YOU WERE AMAZING!