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Carnival Float for 2017

April 27, 2017

The theme is ‘Television Programmes’…

We decided to go for ROBOT WARS… lifelong mega fans of the programme going back over 15 years, and delighted it is back on the screens.

Decided to build two robots, to be piloted from the inside by Josh and Dan.  Emma and Tim would be on the outside with remote controls, whilst I would have a microphone and powerful speaker on a backpack.

SPLYNTER was a lighter machine… it featured a really high revolution spinning cutting disc, a flamethrower by the disc, plus an awesome axe at the rear…

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WOODCHUCK was a heavy beast.  It featured a powerful flipper, plus a cutting disc to the rear.  It also had a smoke machine.

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(Emma’s delighted to have got the back room back to normal now though)

They were both fairly easy to steer and caused a big commotion as we went past.

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We won the Family Trophy yet again!  (although we missed not having Ollie in Team Wood)

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See the video here:

Oh, and after the parade, Josh and Dan had a real battle:





2016 Carnival entry

April 27, 2017

The theme was ‘Europe’… due to some Brexit vote or something.  Anyway, we chose ‘Vikings’ and proceeded to build a huge, Daniel-powered Viking Longboat.

Due to a bit media story about the public vote naming of an antarctic boat, we called ours Longboaty McBoatface.

Hey, we won the Family Trophy (again)

Enjoy the pics…

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2015 update…

June 8, 2015

A brilliant day – the weather was on our side and we had a great time!  As usual, it was lovely to hear the enthusiasm from the crowds as we walked to 2.5 miles around the village.

back room

At first we were worried it wouldn’t get out of the back room but my measurements were spot on and out it went.  We did two trips to the assembly point with each section in the trailer – fitted beautifully!

We joined the two together with my clever, albeit untested, rope coupling system and waited for the judging.  Great to see all the walking and lorry floats assembling and we were eventually interviewed by the judges, and the local press.



When I said ‘untested’, I should have actually tested it…  the back half had a mind of its own and veered off to the left, dragging the back end of the front half with it.  Poor Dan inside had a terrible struggle trying to keep it straight.  Emma took over inside and last a few minutes… then over to me…  NIGHTMARE!

Fortunately we soon had a brief stop for the parade to catch up behind us (some of the lorries were huge and had problems going round corners.  Welcome to my world!).   I quickly cut the ropes, re-tied them and made it possible for Emma to pull the second row of houses, while I kept the houses stocked with powerful smoke bombs.

A hot, fun procession around the village followed, with so many of our friends in the village, and pupils at Emma’s school, shouting and waving as we passed…  The smoke billowed; Josh had a burning loaf of bread and rang a bell shouting “FIRE!” as we went round at a steady pace.



At the end, in the centre ring on the Recreation Ground, it was announced that of the family parties we had won the trophy (for the seventh year running!)… several families vowed, good-naturedly, to take the trophy from us next year – it’d be great for even more families to enter as it is so much fun…  Josh and Dan loved it and Emma’s FitBit went into the red as it monitored her heartbeat!  We did miss Tim and Ollie this year, but I guess their university exams were more important…

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 08.42.26 Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 08.41.55(those two pics from the Windsor Express)


Wood Family Float for 2015

May 20, 2015

It’s just about finished!

As usual, I’m not putting pics up until after the event, as there are spies out there…

The theme this year is ‘British Historic Events‘… sounds easy but our history basically seems to be just a load of battles…

Saying that, we have chosen ‘The Great fire of London‘ – happy to reveal our theme, as the Carnival Programme is out any day now and the float themes are in it.  The lack of interesting historic events can be seen by the fact that there are three with the same theme!

Provisional list of floats etc. in this year’s parade

  • The Great Fire Of London
  • The Battle Of Hastings
  • 1953 celebrate the Queen’s coronation
  • 1666 Fire of London
  • The Tower of London Poppies
  • The Gunpowder Plot
  • Royal Weddings
  • VE Day Street party

Family entries
The Wood Family – The Great Fire of London (that’s us!)
Thomson Family – The Battle of Britain (that’s not us)

Needless to say ours will stand out… costumes just about sorted… only three of us visible this year, as Dan will be ‘inside’ pushing/steering the 16ft long float!

The whole thing, props etc. etc. etc. has cost about £80… I raised this in a most traumatic way recently – I was paid £95 to taste beers for a market research focus group one evening.  Hic!

Carnival is on Saturday 6 June… can’t wait!  Shame Tim and Ollie are still at uni…

Wood Family Float 2014

May 20, 2014

Building is under way…  the theme for the carnival this year is ‘Fairy Tales’…  sounds easy, but not when you’ve got to try and build something in your back room, that includes the whole family and is original!

We wanted to build a Beanstalk, but the route passes under lots of wires etc, so that was out.  We’d built a house a few years back so a Gingerbread cottage was out…

We’ve just heard that the company which normally provides lorries for the parade has pulled out, so that means up to eight village groups are trying to find other lorries or may join us as foot parties – it’ll still be great fun!

The only problem is that our idea does involve me having a bare stomach… not sure if the village is ready for that.

Wait and see on 7th June for what we’ve come up with!

30 May update: Carnival programme is out now…  we are down as entering with the theme of  ‘ALADDIN’ – but what are we building…?



Despite terrible weather forecast, the sun came out at midday and shone all afternoon.  Managed to get the float out through the house somehow and onto the trailer, then off to the starting point.

The other floats were all brilliant again and the atmosphere was lovely…  Our float stayed in one piece all the waty round, and the new 600watt sound system blasted out Aladdin music; Ollie kept his lamp smoking with his powerful smoke pellets; Emma was resplendent in her Princess Jasmine/belly dancer costume; I was the genie, but bottled out of painting myself blue (not enough blue paint). Stars were Josh and Dan who steered the magic carpet well (and baffled people who thought they really were sitting on it and wondered how it was driving along!) – it was like a complex three-legged race… being twins though, they were in perfect harmony!

A great reception from everyone en route and, yes… we managed to scoo-p first prize in the family float category (again!)…

photo 2 photo 1

Wood Family Float for 2013

June 8, 2013

Here’s a pic!


Yes… we celebrated 60 years of the first Everest Climb with our float which included a snowy mountain (complete with snow machine!) and a working chair lift.  We all got very VERY hot…

We won the BEST FAMILY FLOAT trophy…

I didn’t update the blog as we built it this year, to avoid spoiling the surprise for villagers!

The Wood Family Carnival float for 2013

March 16, 2012

You can see previous years’ attempts here.

This blog charts the progress of our family’s work to create a float for our village carnival.


We’ve entered a family float since 2002… mainly because we’ve been involved in so many local organisations that it was hard to choose which one to support.  Besides, we have great fun thinking up the project and building the bits as a family!

Here are some of our previous ones…

2002 - THEME: Queen's Golden Jubilee
2002 – THEME: Queen’s Golden Jubilee
2003 - THEME: 20th Century Events
2003 – THEME: 20th Century Events (we did the moon landing)
2003 - THEME: Pub Signs ('The Jolly Woodsmen')
2004 – THEME: Pub Signs (‘The Jolly Woodsmen’)
2005 - THEME: Movies ('Titanic')
2005 – THEME: Movies (‘Titanic’)
2006 - THEME: World of Sport ('Armchair Sportsmen')
2006 – THEME: World of Sport (‘Armchair Sportsmen’)
2007 - THEME: Nursewry Rhymes ('This is the house that Jack built')
2007 – THEME: Nursery Rhymes (‘This is the house that Jack built’)
2008 - THEME: Around the World ('Australia - Flying Doctor')
2008 – THEME: Around the World (‘Australia – Flying Doctor’)
2008 - THEME: Around the World ('Australia - Flying Doctor')
2008 – THEME: Around the World (‘Australia – Flying Doctor’)

2009: Theme was ‘Musicals’, we did ‘The Sound of Music’.

2010: Theme was ‘the past 50 years’ – we chose ’50 years of Doctor Who’.

Negotiating the speed humps...

2011: Theme was ‘Heroes and Villains’ – we did ‘Great Train Robberies’.

2012: Theme was ‘GOLD’ – so we did ‘The Alchemists’ Laboratory’.


Well… that was then, this is now.  I’ll try to keep this updated as and when there’s something to report…

JUNE 2013

Theme is ‘Whatever the Weather’…  Since we want to keep it a surprise for the day, I’ll only post pics etc of 2013’s float after the event (June 8th)




February 2012

Well, the theme for this year’s carnival is ‘GOING FOR GOLD’…

We had a bit of a brainstorm around golden things and decided against the obvious James Bond or sporting things (we aren’t a sporting family, and Emma objected to me painting her body gold for a James Bond theme for some reason.

In the end, we decided upon the following theme:

The Alchemists’ Laboratory

This gives us lots of scope for creating a moving, bubbling mobile laboratory… more news later as we get to work, probably starting over the Easter holidays.

Update – 18 June 2012

I decided not to do a weekly update this year… the days of Facebook etc mean that if I showed what we are up to, so many people in the village would see what we were doing and it’d spoil the surprise!  Therefore, here’s a roundup of our adventures for 2012…

Right… so an Alchemist’s Laboratory…

We wanted it to be a pushalong mobile lab, with the six of us as mad professors…

First job was to create the frame of the lab.  I used the basic frame for last year’s train (and the previous year’s Tardis), which was in our store room.

The basic frame

I painted this black, using some great waterproof black paint obtained for free from our fabulous Resource Centre in Staines (Upon-Thames).

The sturdy base frame has skateboard wheels and is guaranteed break-proof.  To enable the float to not suffer when pushed over speed humps (designed to slow our float down as it goes round the village), I put some small casters at the four outer corners.  These don’t touch the ground but make contact when the hump is reached and will make it go over them smoothly.  I hope.

The chickens were fascinated by all this and quickly got covered in black paint as they investigated it.

Into the back room is goes…  three large empty plastic barrels (usually used for making rafts with the Scouts) are added for effect.  Whether good or bad effect remains to be seen.

Next step – the conveyor belt.

The idea was to have a conveyor belt with gold items attached to it.  The belt would turn and items would appear from one end through a curtained box marked ‘junk in’; then disappear into a curtained box marked ‘gold’.

Ever tried building a conveyor belt?


Two A frames, a solid carpet roll on each one, a tight bit of fabric and a plywood board to support the weight will do the trick perfectly.

It didn’t.

It was rubbish.

PLAN B was to make a sort of wheel with gold items on it, whirling round to give a similar effect to the above.

One of the A frames was to hold the wheel…

A clever handle thingie was built, and stripped-down parts of a bungee elastic where used as the fan belt.

It needed the handle as I couldn’t work out how to put a motor on it that moved it slowly enough.  However, Emma seemed absolutely delighted (I assume) with the prospect of her hand cranking this for the hour-long procession around the village.

Everything painted black.. lovely.  Hope Daniel doesn’t notice his bike wheel is missing.  He always wanted a unicycle.

Some sturdy light aluminium strips were threaded into the spokes to hold the gold items, and secured with nylon ties.

Cheap gold plates, photo frames etc were hot glued in place… and it works when you turn the handle. Photo in frame is Doc Emmett-Brown from Back to the Future, with Einstein on the reverse.

It was a bit noisy, so I coated the moving parts with shiny Fablon (Resource Centre) and WD40.

Junk was positioned at one end, gold sprayed junk was placed at the other… lovely effect!

Everything was boarded around and painted black.

I could then sign-write it…

Signs all over it…  just needs a bit more fun…

I attached a bubble machine which would pump out bubbles non-stop…

I then had a plan for another bubble thing…

Now this was quite fun..  I got an old office water bottle (Resource Centre, of course!) and an old lilo pump, wired to an old car battery.  I attached a clear hose to this which forced air into a hole in the base of the bottle.  The bottle was half-filled with water and a bottle of Poundland bubble bath (warning: Corrosive).  Of course, my first attempt was a disaster, until one of the boys pointed out that the pump should be HIGHER than the hole or the water would simply flood the pump. Horaay for science lessons in Year 6 (was was at the dentist on that day) Which it did.  It was then raised and attached to an empty beer keg.

The effect was powerful and brilliant – it spewed bubbles and lumps of bubbles like an erupting volcano.  I added the guttering in the vain hope that any excess bubbles and water would drain off the side of the float. (Memo to self: get a professional to replace the house guttering when it’s needed).

Nearly there…

I like smoke bombs.

I sold some old kids’ clothes and games on eBay and raised loads to fund a few purchases…

Some industrial strength plumber’s smoke pellets would be lit and put into flasks held by Tim and Me, to be mad professor concoctions – part of the Alchemy process.


This was easy – we all wanted to look alike… so I got 6 new lab coats off Ebay for £12, and six white curly wigs for a pound each from Ebay.  We also each had protective face masks.  (On the windy carnival day this was useful, as Ollie pushing the float kept getting bubbles and smoke in his face!)

I also found some amazing finger-to-shoulder gold lurex evening gloves… I got 2 pairs for £5 and we shared them, to make it look like we’d turned our hands into gold while refining the process!

Carnival day

Rain was forecast but I wasn’t too worried, as it was all waterproof and we all had coats and ‘hats’…  It was VERY windy though…

I had to take the wheel off to get it out of the house (yay! We have our back room back!).  Then it was into the trailer, wedging it securely in place with Emma and Daniel.

We put it in position at the assembly point, reaffixed the wheel and had our lunch.

Everything was tested and we got into costume.  The judges and local newspaper photographers came round and seemed impressed!

The parade went well…

However… the elastic fan belt snapped and caught just as we started, and Emma wasn’t wearing tights so I couldn’t repair it.  Emma seemed strangely delighted at not having to crank it.

As it happened, it was so windy, the wind blew the wheel round on its own for the whole procession – far better than cranking!

The wind blew the smoke and bubbles everywhere but the effect was great.

Joshua and Daniel had a pocketful of hundreds of plastic gold coins (£2 for 144 for Ebay) which they gave to children around the route…  Tim and I offered loudly to turn all junk into gold, using vaguely passable German mad professor-type accents.

Emma helped Ollie steer the megalith which, due to the car battery and 20 gallons (or whatever) of bubble water, made it rather heavy.  He was, fair to say, somewhat weary at the end of the 2-mile trek (the grass on the Rec at the end was the killer!) and deserved his beer at the end!

All the floats were really good this year and it was fun to see so many friends taking part in them all…

Needless to say we were delighted when we were awarded the trophy for Best Family Float!  One family laid down the challenge, seeing we’d won it for 4 years in a row, saying his family was going to beat us next year, come what may!… he’s got 5 or 6 children I think so they may well outnumber us if nothing else!  Yikes…

Wood Family Carnival Float blog for 2011

January 5, 2011

UPDATED 12th June 2011

(scroll down for latest news)

A new year and a new challenge to build a fun float with the family for the village carnival!

Welcome to the 2011 WOOD FAMILY FLOAT blog.

You can see previous years’ attempts here.

This blog charts the progress of our family’s work to create a float for our village carnival.


We’ve entered a family float since 2002… mainly because we’ve been involved in so many local organisations that it was hard to choose which one to support.  Besides, we have great fun thinking up the project and building the bits as a family!


Check back here in mid February, when the theme will probably be announced and I’ll start updating this blog…  My guess at possible themes are: TV Shows, Royalty, Music…

7th February 2011

I was wrong.

Theme is officially… HEROES AND VILLAINS

Time for us to don our thinking trousers and see what we can come up with.

Keen on Wacky Races (Dastardly and Muttley, Penelope Pitstop etc…) – trouble is, will anyone under 30 know what this is?

Going to avoid Harry Potter and the very obvious Marvel/DC Comics Superheroes…

Watch this space!


Had lots of discussions over the past few weeks about the subject.  Decided that the obvious themes would be taken by the organisations, schools etc… things like Marvel Comic Superheroes… So we’re going to have a go at:


We had thought of ‘The Great Train Robbery first…  this meant that I could build a train, and we could all dress up as cops and robbers (heroes and villains, see?).  Trouble is, the train in THE great train robbery in the 1960s was a completely dull diesel train:

This would look very boring, so we’ve decided to expand it, use creative licence and be .Great Train Robberies. in general!

Emailed the organisers to register the float and started to plan…

Dismantled the Tardis that had been adorning the front garden since last June’s carnival… we’ll miss it!  It’s amazing it lasted intact through the winter – the timber inside was dry and perfect.  I planned to unscrew all the timber to build train body but, when I was dismantling it and put it on its side, it looked sort of suitable for a train…  (use your imagination please)


Did a rough sketch of what it might look like on the above frame…

(I did say ‘rough’.)  Will also probably have a bit behind him for the coal… if I have time!  Note the smoke – this is the main reason I want to build a steam train so I can get some effects.  With a diesel train, I would be limited to dripping black sludge around the village and making nasty smells.  Welcome to my world.

The wheels above will be non-working ones – the skateboard wheels will be re-used from last year and there’s probably be a black skirt to hide them.  Or not.

As for costumes…

Joshua and Daniel want to be robbers.  We’re thinking of white long-sleeved t-shirts with black horizontal stripes; black eye masks; Swag bags and coshes…

Tim will be a policeman, with four life-size additional policemen pictures of him on a yoke, similar to the Sound of Music float idea, only better.

Emma will probably be another robber, same costume as J&D, only possibly slightly larger size.

Oliver will be the train driver.

I will probably be a Police inspector with pork pie hat and long coat.

Cleared up the back room and introduced the older baby chickens to their new home in the garden to give me a bit of space for building the train.

Will need to move the heavy solid old base with wheels, and reconstruct the old bottom end of the Tardis, just to make is strong enough.  Will go to the Resource Centre next Saturday to see if they’ve got any materials, such as the fabric I used to cover the Tardis, plus possible funnel materials…  Must work out the pointy end so it is a rounded end – perhaps the resources centre has something… maybe a lid of a kids’ turtle sandpit…?

APRIL 11th

Lovely sunny weekend, but managed to do a few bits on the train.

During the week I covered the frame in thick white card (from a huge roll obtained free from the council’s Resource Centre).  Added an mdf board across the top where the chimney will sit.

Screwed a tin onto the boards, to hold the smoke pellets when I light them.

Since the tin is smaller than the chimney will be, I made a card funnel which is fixed to a sturdy card ring.  The chimney will slot over the ring – I cleverly spotted that when the chimney is on, it would get out of the back room, so it needs to be detatchable!

The Chimney was easy to make – the roll of card has silver printed onto one side, so the chimney is silver!  It slots over the inner ring perfectly and is very stable.  I thoughtfully cut a window in the front of the driver’s cab so Oliver can see out, and around the chimney. I cut a slot and created a closeable flap at the side into which I can pop the lit smoke pellets.

An added bonus is that he shouldn’t be blinded by smoke as the chminey is quite high up.  The secondary bulge thing seems to be a feature on steam trains and was made using an old waste bin with a mixing bowl on top.  Hope the paint sticks to it.

Started to add strips to cover the joins.  These a thin mdf wooden slats from an office blind I think – again, supplied free from the Resource Centre.  Got a large tin of yucky green paint from there too which will cover everything except the chimney.  Mind you, it’s 2.5 litres and a bespoke colour – if it runs out before it’s all painted I’m scuppered!

Next challenge after painting will be adding the wheels in the right proportion.  Still looks a bit like the Tardis lying on its side… hopefully the painting and detailing I’ll eventually add will change that.  Have to find some sort of round thing to put on the front.  (Not a face though)

I know that most steam trains have rounded tanks but this was too tricky to do in the time and funding available… besides, simple research shows two real engines are just like my one!

If I get hold of some black paint, I’ll probably paint the chimney, leaving silver rings at top.  I will then need to build a small Royal Mail carriage for the train to pull.  This will be interesting as I’ll need to find some wheels.  I’ve got my eye on a wooden base with castors that’s been stuffed behind a Windsor shop’s rubbish bins for the past couple of months.  Now, do I try and find which shop they belong to and ask to have it or just assume it is are rubbish and liberate it?

APRIL 18th

Used my lovely waterproof paint from the Resource Centre (2.5 litres,) to paint the bodywork.  The colour is just right – a sort of murky, sooty green.

Trouble is, the front end does rather resemble the top of a Tardis that’s been turned on its side.

Decided to rip off the front and flatten it.  Looks better, but still something missing…

Painted the chimney black and left a silver ring around the top… looks really good I think… also painted the bobbly round thing behind it.  And the floor, much to Emma’s well-disguised delight.

APRIL 21st

Decided it needed the round shiny black front door thing, so used some black Fablon stuff (Resource Centre freebie again), stuck onto card.  Painted the underskirt ready for fixing the wheels and metallic tubing things on (a battle yet to come).

Then added a sticky-out thing on the front and two buffers (round black mousemats from the Resource Centre).  I will mount flags on this saying what our theme is.

Easter week coming up…  Plan to order the smoke pellets (just sold some rubbish on Ebay so have £45 in the float building kitty!); hopefully attach signage; sort out the wheels if possible.

I then need to build some sort of carriage (Royal Mail); plus sort out Tim’s policemen thing…

APRIL 26th

Busy family weekend, but managed to squeeze in some floatwork…  Started off with liberating a wooden base with castors from by the bins at the back of a shop in Windsor.  It’s been there since before Christmas as the binmen wouldn’t take it.  So I did.

Joshua helped me screw a wooden frame to it, to become the Royal Mail carriage.

This was covered with more card from the roll…  Moved the castors to the four corners to aid stability.

Daniel then helped to paint it black.

We left the middle bit as, instead of spending money on red paint, I found some large sheets of bright red paper (ex-Resource Centre) that I glued to the centre.  Will then have to add wheels and decorations, stripes, windows…

Back to the engine…  Added some signage…  looks 3D and metallic – the joy of Photoshop!

Must sort out those wheels now…

MAY 3rd

After enjoying the fabulous spectacle of the Royal Wedding, plus a generally busy weekend, I managed to sort out those wheels which look okay!  I found a good picture of a steam engine and edited down the wheel and printed out six of them.  Also printed out loads of smaller wheels for the carriage and the front/back bits of the train.

The smoke pellets arrived so I tried out my lighting device and tested the chimney – worked well.  I’d prefer thicker smoke but don’t think I can find more powerful smoke without affecting the spectators!

Decided against having a sound system this year.  No obvious music and SFX of trains are pretty inaudible and would be unrecognisable over the clatter of our wheels on the tarmac.  Will arm Oliver with a wooden train whistle instead.

Bank Holiday Monday… it’s all happening in the world, with the news that Osama Bin Laden has been killed.  Surprised me a bit as I didn’t think they took the Bins out on a Bank Holiday.  Assembled the carriage and train outside.  Looks lovely.  Emma also said it was brilliant, although I suspect she was referring to the fact that our back room was now empty.

Decided the view from the back, whilst largely obscured, looks rubbish.

…so put a sheet of reddish Resource Centre paper across the hole.

Decided the cab needed one of those steam whistle chimney things, so attached one to it.  Looks authentic.  Unless you’re a wife, in which case “why did you stick a telescope on the cab?” is the comment.  I still think it looks right, so do the boys.  Telescope was rescued from the Resource Centre of course.

Popped two flags saying ‘Great Train Robberies’ on the front (using two St George’s Day flag mounts bought for 5p each after we lost some footie match a year or two ago).  This will hopefully explain to watchers why there’s a steam train in a carnival parade about Heroes and Villains.

All that remains is to photograph Tim as a policeman and sort out his set-up…

16th MAY

Took Tim’s pic as two different cops… he’s going to be triplets, with one of these either side of him…

Used the brilliant to create large-scale versions which I printed out and glued (using spray-on carpet adhesive).  Then, a quick bit of jigsawing and I’ve got two life-size Tims… each as lovely as the original, and just as hairy.

I had taken rear-view pics too, but quickly realised how impossibly it would be to position these exactly!  Then realised that from the back it was all virtually solid black anyway, so after mounting the boards onto a wooden cross beam (to be affixed to Tim’s belt on the day), I will simply paint it all black!

Train all done; Tims all done just about; just got to do our costumes.

I ordered a Steam Train Whistle off some musical website ( – hope it arrives.

Sounds great – louder and better than toy wooden ones.  Listen to it here: – it’ll give Oliver something to do when he’s not negotiating the leaves on the line.

Found a new source of mega-lasting high density smoke capsules… may invest in some, with the proceeds from the roof-box we sold on eBay!

31 MAY

Got some fantastic new smoke pellets… last for 60 seconds and give off 5 times the volume of smoke – can’t wait to show it off!

Main float now complete.  Costumes left to finalise…

Ollie: Train driver… Found my genuine British Rail train driver’s hat, complete with brass badge from when I collected this sort of thing.  Also found my donkey jacket which completes his outfit.  He’ll be steering the train and blowing the brilliant Acme Train whistle so will be very busy.

Tim: Policemen… Currently bidding on some silver police buttons to replace back ones on a good black jacket of my dad’s I found in the loft.  Sorted out some epaulettes as well.  He’ll look great!

Robbers… Found three white t-shirts for Emma, Joshua and Daniel) in the loft and used black fabric dye to paint horizontal stripes on back and front.  These look perfect!  Also got 3 flat caps from my hat collection for them to wear.  Made three black fabric masks, mounted on card for rigidity.  Just got to add elastic and their costumes are sorted.

Detective (me)…  Got my long black smart raincoat and borrowing Tim’s new Fedora.  Easy really.

Two weeks to go… just about ready for action!  Received the Carnival programme and see we’re duly entered as a Family Float correctly.  Record number of floats this year which is great, as it was tailing off a bit recently.


Got up early to celebrate Joshua and Daniel’s 10th Birthdays…  Float is all ready…

Checked weather forecast and seems like the rain is not going to appear!

Now got to try and get the train out of the back room, through the dining room, through the front conservatory room  and into the trailer – Emma’s convinced it won’t go!  Time for coffee break first…

Watch this space for more news later this morning or after the carnival… or I’ll pop some pics on my Facebook page from the carnival itself.

Managed to get the train out of the house, with only a bit of furniture removal, and it fitted in the trailer just fine.  Dropped it and the in-laws at the start point and went home to collect the carriage and the boys.   Shoved Emma in the trailer to stop the carriage falling over. Got lots of strange glances en route… but, hay, it’s carnival day so everywhere’s full of strange people in strange outfits doing strange things.


Assembled everying with no hiccups, and had packed lunch while everybody else arrived on their lorries etc.  Great fun seeing all our friends on their various floats.

Great procession – weather beautiful and a fantastic array of floats from all of the village organisations, schools etc.

Our float drew lots of attention, especially the smoke.  One old chap tottered up to us before the start and said “you’ve even managed to get it smelling like a steam train!”  Our friendly local MP and family were most impressed, and his children loved the smoke and couldn’t believe that a steam train was going to be driving along the road!  J&D joined in the official collectors and got spectators to drop money into their swag bags… I would then race after them and tell the spectators off for giving their cash to robbers!  Most of them saw the joke.  Yes, J&D Did give the money in at the end!

Oliver did brilliantly driving the train – Emma had to help steer the carriage, as the wheels must’ve come from a Sainsbury’s trolley as they seemed to have a mind of their own.   When we passed the Post Office, the staff saw the Roayal Mail carriage, got very excited and rushed over and got us to stop for a photograph of them in front of  it!  Hopefully it was as a bit of fun, rather than an nimpending copyright infringement lawsuit.

Here’s a few pics of the event… ending with the one of us WINNING THE FAMILY TROPHY for the third year running (or walking!).  Nice to be presented with the trophy by our Neice, Helen, who was Carnival Queen’s Attendant (Deputy Carnival Queen really).

Emma’s pedometer at the end of the day said she’d walked 9 miles!

Wandered around the stalls etc then off home for birthday tea for Joshua and Daniel with family (My sister and her hubby came to join us)… then the six of us went later  to the Harvester down the road for birthday dinner…  Lovely ending for a lovely, tiring, day.

Now… next year… theme could be Queen diamond Jubilee or Olympics is my guess…  hmmmm…  any suggestion on what we could build gratefully received.  If Olympics, I’m tempted to line the trailer and turn it into a swimming pool…

Anyway, here are some pics…

Tim x 3 plus two robbers…

All of us ready for the start

Negotiating the speed humps...



January 28, 2010

Welcome to the 2010 WOOD FAMILY FLOAT blog.

You can see previous years’ attempts here.


MARCH 31 2010

Right – we’ve decided on our theme and have registered our idea with the carnival organisers.

We’re going to be doing…

We all love the Dr Who stories and this gives us lots of scope.

Our big challenge this year, therefore, is to create the following:

  • A Dalek (for Joshua to drive)
  • A Tardis (for Oliver to drive)
  • A Remote-Controlled K9 dog for Tim to operate
  • Create an outfit for Tim to be Tom Baker‘s Dr Who
  • Create an outfit for me to be Jon Pertwee‘s Dr Who
  • Create a Cyberman outfit for Daniel
  • Create a Weeping Angel outfit for Emma

So, no pressure there then!

Not completely full-size, as Joshua’s only 8 and needs to be able to get inside it and move it around the roads.  Head is far to complex to create (I looked at some of the many dalek-building websites and it’s scary.  Had a brainwave and successfully bid for a voice-changing dalek helmet… monitored eBay for a while until one came up at a snip.  Got it for just £1.20.  Will be able to build the dalek around that when I receive it.

More on this later.

Got loads of strips of 2″x1″ timber and screws for the basic frame.  Will need to sort out the base and find wheels/casters.  Base needs to be very solid.  I’ve got a blue flashing light from somewhere for the top already (don’t tell Berkshire Police).  Went to Brilliant Spelthorne Resource Centre and picked up some fantastic canvas on a roll to cover the frame with.  It’s pale pink so might look a bit effeminate so will paint it tardis blue eventually.  Got a free 5 litre tin of white paint from there to do an undercoat.  Postscript: Paint tin fell off shelf in garage onto floor so now have 2.5 litres and a white garage floor!

I will need to sort out an old R/C car for the base of this.

Found a suit to fit Daniel on eBay for a couple of quid.. looks great!

Tim’s now growing his hair long for this – although it looks messily perfect today, to be honest.  We will need to find a hat though… probably got one in my collection of about 100 hats!

Emma has decided to knit an authentic scarf and found a website with a pattern for the original scarf.  Collected lots of free wool from the resource centre and bought a couple of rolls to get all the right colours.  Oliver did the maths and worked out Emma needs to knit about 20 rows A DAY from now to get it finished by the carnival in June!  Found a dark brown blazer in the loft that may do for a jacket.



My hair is a similar ‘pale fair’ colour, but much, much less, so I guess I’ll need to track down a white curly wig from somewhere.  Went into the loft and found I had a 1970’s prurple dress shirts with very frilly front – I knew it’d come in handy one day!  I also came across a purple dinner jacket with very wide lapels, and matching trousers (no lapels) – may be perfect… might add a ribbon stripe as below to set it off.

Emma’s been researching this.  We have material to make it but it may take ages and look a bit rubbish.  Plan B is to get a suitable dress off eBay for a few quid and spray paint it grey – paint may flake off though and spray paint is pricey!  We went for plan C which was to buy an outfit off our friend eBay for a few pounds (can resell after the carnival if we want!)… Wig not included but a friend has said we can borrow something similar off her.

Other challenges will be sorting out a sound system to play the Doctor Who themes from over the years; sorting out how I’m going to make a sign saying ’50 years of Dr Who’ and how/where it is going to be displayed; seeing what sort of pyrotechnics I can incorporate this year… I’m tempted by the thought of dry ice emanating from under the tardis…

Easter break this weekend so Tardis will be started – watch this space!


Busy Easter weekend, but took the odd hour here and there to build the tardis.

Really pleased with how it’s looking, and even with the skirt it glides brilliantly – should make it over the road humps okay.  As it’s thin timber and canvas, it’s surprisingly light!

Can’t fit the light on the top yet as it’s too big…  Emma helpfully pointed out that it’s actually too big to go through the house to get it out.  Fortunately we can take it a different route and through two sets of double-doors on its side and get it out of the front of the house (not through the front door though – too narrow!).  May have to do the light on the morning of the carnival!

Sorted out the artwork for the signage, including the windows.

Watched Dr Who new series on Saturday (v. good) – pleased to see they haven’t made the tardis pink. Spotted there’s now a St John Ambulance logo on the door so will have to sort that.

Will also have to cut a flap for Ollie to get in and out, plus cut a window for him to see out.


Keeping an eye on eBay for large K90 r/c models… they’ve still a bit small so will probably build one.


Tim had his hair trimmed a bit so it’ll grow and be optimum for the carnival – don’t want to leave it too late or he’ll look more like a Dulux Dog.

Emma’s still motoring with 20 rows minimum a day on the scarf.  Should’ve taken it to church as the vicar rambled on for hours on sunday and she could’ve done 100 rows!



Costume needs a bit more work.  Maybe this weekend’s project!


Tried on the shirt – bah… collar size far too small for me (2 sizes).. will see if Emma can do anything! Bought a white curly wig off eBay for a quid – should be able to trim it to look unlike an albino clown.

eBay balance shows about £25 in hand – we’ve been selling lots of junk, (big market for old Beaver uniform!)…


Yay! – just about finished the Tardis!  Cut a small hole in a window for Ollie to see out of when he steers it.  Also have to cut a door/hatch in the back so he’s not trapped in there (Carnival fire/health & safety regulations I believe).


Found a lovely silk cravat on Ebay for 99p for TOM BAKER outfit.  Found a perfect Fedora hat in the store room that just needs a bit of a clean.  My dad used to wear it so it was obviously the height of fashion in the 70s. Nearly there now on that one. Scarf doing well – Emma’s got it up to about 1m now!


Found some wheels in the store room last night!  It was one of the many things I rescued from Woolworths (RIP) – a shopping basket holder (I also have the 40 baskets it held!). The casters look like they unbolt easily and will bolt onto whatever base I construct the Dalek from.  That’s this Sunday’s time filling activity!


Solved the problem of the frilly shirt being far too small for me…  Replacement shirts are over £12 so that’s a no-go… currently winning a frilly front to go on any plain shirt for 99p… Quietly confident of winning it as there are a few up there at present getting no bids.  Can’t think why.


Started building the dalek.  Had a few problems sorting out the measurements and proportions…

Will need to affix weapons – I’ve got a sink plunger ready, plus a tube which I want to make into a weapon from the early series that squirted spray gas or something.  Found a product from Maplin which is a sort of spray smoke for use in discos. Joshua will hopefully be able to operate it from inside and annoy people.  That’ll be fun, trying to rig it up so the spray goes OUTSIDE the dalek!

I think I’ll try using ball-pit balls cut in half for the bobbles – I need about 40 so don’t want to pay for anything (we’ve hundreds in the loft!).

Had a profitable weekend on Ebay and sold old rubbish to the value of just under £50, so plenty of cash in the account to pay for metallic paint.

JON PERTWEE: I won the ruffle by the way for 99p!

K9: Found an old Jeep r/c car on which I’ll build K9.  Challenge will be to keep it extremely lightweight, or it won’t be able to propel the beast!


Productive weekend in between family outings…  lovely to do the float work in the garden while the sun is out, boys playing, chickens popping out eggs and the sky free from planes!


Found the old ball-pit balls in the loft.  Emma and I carefully cut them all in half with a hot knife and hotglued them onto the body of the dalek.  They look pretty good and are the right size!

Added vertical strips from card below the helmet and covered with pink canvas.

Then used Hammerite Gold paint I found cheap in homebase – coverage was excellent and covered the plastic balls really well.  Close inspection shows some lumps and runs, but it’s a theatrical prop so designed to be viewed from a distance!


Tom Baker’s scarf: Emma’s now up to about 6ft in length… a third of the way there!



Decided to use plastic ‘Foamex’ sheets for the frame.  Cardboard is easy to damage…  I had some old signs made from Foamex I rescued from the skip at work a while back and set to work upscaling measurements from a 3″ version one of the boys had.

It actually went really well and problem-free.  Had a minor worry about how to connect the head to the body but solved it using a simple cantilever system.  I’ll need to add all of the detailing, ‘K9’ sign, radar ears, telescopic tail, computer panel on back etc, but this is fairly simple and fun to do!  Found some old silver spray paint in the garage…  will need a few coats.

It sits on the r/c car really well – I’ll hotglue it on to the car and add a black fabric skirt when I’ve done all the details.

They all look pretty good together in the back room…  Will get the tardis out next weekend and sort out the light on the top.  (I’ve added door handles and a Yale keyhole… although had to move this twice on Emma’s instructions as it wasn’t exactly in the right position!).  Added a black skirt to the dalek to hide the wheels – sets it off quite well I think!  Need to do gold rivets on the panels around the shoulder – might find some round gold stickers for this.

By the way, the Magican spray is as effective as a sparrow’s fart so have tracked down some indoor ‘safe’ roman candle cake firework fountains that may be good – they last a minute each … I found a rival auction site to Ebay where I picked up a bulk box of 48 for a tenner… we shall see!  Otherwise, our birthday cakes will be lively for the next few years (or I’ll use all 48 on my cake next March!).

Emma muttered something about wondering what it would be like to get our back room back… although she then said she couldn’t bear to see me dismantle these three items after the carnival – wonder if the boys could use them for world Book Day costumes next year?  I’m sure the teachers would love Daniel rolling up in the Tardis.  They may not be so keen on Joshua’s firework-blasting Dalek though.  H&S etc.

Have to complete K9 next… then it’s onto my trailer with the display boards and sound system.



The roman candles arrived today…  48 of the little beauties!  They allegedly each last for up to 1 minute each and emit a shower of flame and sparks 50cm-1m.  I will test one in the (plastic!) weapon tube this weekend without Joshua in the Dalek and see what happens.  Need to block the back (inside) end of the weapon tube otherwise when I ignite it, it will possibly shoot inside and impale Joshua which is possibly not a good thing.  Will need to ensure lit end sticks proud of the tube to avoid it melting, but it’s great John Guest tubing designed for hot water systems so is pretty robust and heatproof.  We shall see.  Will need to sort out a double bucket system in my trolley to hold used and unused candles separately.  The packet does say they are ‘safe indoor fireworks’.  Not quite sure how a firework that ’emits shower of sparks and flames up to 1m, for up to 1 minute’ can be deemed safe indoors but, hey ho.

Fortunately, we’ve just heard that the police are refusing to accompany the procession and shut the roads for financial reasons, causing the committee to fork out £2,000 for a private firm to do the job.  I say fortunately, as there’ll be less chance of me being arrested for letting off fireworks in a public place if the police aren’t going to be there.



Started thinking about the signboard saying what the float is called… Going to use our Radio Flyer trolley and mount an A-Board on – It’s about 3ft long so should do the job.

This serves 3 purposes:

  • A way of displaying our sign
  • Somewhere to have the sound system and car battery/transformer thingummy to power it
  • Storage for drinks, spare/used roman candles etc.

It will be pulled by Jon Pertwee (Dave).  The sign was easy to do and features all the Dr Who logos, and each of the Doctors over the past 50 years (alright, 48 years, to be precise – hope we don’t get disqualified on that technicality).

That’s a bit small on A4, so visited fave site (remember them from last year’s von Trapp kids?) and instantly got it blown up for free to the required 3ft x 4ft.

Now I just have to mount it on the boards and affix the boards to the Radio Flyer…  Easy weekend job, in between finishing off K9 and attending St George’s Day parade… Wonder if they’d like the Tardis and Dalek to make a special preview attendance?  Perhaps not.


Productive weekend in between family stuff and St. George’s Day Parade…

K9: Found an old wire mesh pencil holder and simply cut out radar shapes to form K9’s ears.  Covered edges in silver Duck Tape – close up looks a bit rough but a couple of metres away and it’s fine – it’s a theatre prop remember, not a work of art (I keep reminding myself).

Painted the body silver then Added some details, including the correct panel and K.9 decals.  I’m using a telescopic magnetic grabber/torch thing for the tail.  I simply drilled a hole in the body and wedged it in.  Perfect!

Had a major problem when I tested it – the Jeep car was too feeble to power it.  Even though it’s quite light the Jeep stood still – AAAAARRRGGGHHHH – it’s not powerful enough.  Don’t relish the prospect of Tim walking it with a lead so trawled the boys’ rooms for a more powerful car.  Tim had one that he’d converted to a Robot Wars robot a few years ago, so he de-converted it.  I had to re-cut the mounting hole under K9 to fit but it works really well.  I added a black skirt to hide the wheels, and sprayed it silver to give it a sort of ethereal quality, although it looks a bit like black material sprayed silverish, truth be told.  It’s a theatre prop, okay.


I did a rough test – will pop a better video up later…

See the movie here!


Signboard: Found the foamex panels from a few years ago and quickly mounted them onto an A-frame which was then clamped to the Radio Flyer.  There’s a box of roman candles, plus a box for used candles at the front.  At the back is the car battery and power inverter, and then the sound system will be fitted, run by the iPod containing lots of different versions of the Dr Who theme that Tim’s collected.  I’ll put in some black material to cover the insides.  Our drinks/snacks will also live in there.  Emma as a Weeping Angel (who starred in Saturday’s TV episode!) is going to pull it, as I need to be free to light the fireworks and help direct the Tardis and Dalek if needed.  I’ll pop the signage on in a spare moment this week.

Tim did some ‘Bad Wolf’ graffiti on a panel of the Tardis.  Most watchers won’t understand the reference, but Dr Who fans should.

DALEK: Those roman candles are great… tested them with Joshua steeering and moving the head about and talking through the voice changer… the video doesn’t do it credit…  the roman candles last for over a minute and are stunning!





Emma’s doing so well with Tom Baker’s scarf…  Over halfway now:


Decided that the white curly haired wig for Jon Pertwee would make me look more like an albino clown so have sourced a ‘grey Casanova 1970’s wig’ which looks much closer to the JP look I was after.

Emma’s found a great pair of long grey gloves on eBay for a couple of pounds that will mean she won’t have to wear grey bodypaint on her arms.  I’ll post pics here when they all arrive.

My crocodile clips to connect the inverter to the battery have yet to arrive… supplier may have been dodgy… we shall see.

Had friends over on Monday and they inspected the items… the Tardis can fit four children inside it so must be bigger on the inside than on the outside.  Ventilation holes were a good idea as it got a bit whiffy in there I believe.  Big problem though – I’ve put the steering handles on the wrong side of the inside so Ollie won’t be able to steer it unless he walks backwards.  Baring in mind it’ll be almost impossible to steer it going forwards I’d better get in there and relocate them.

Slightly concerned that K9’s batteries won’t last the course… I’ve got two, so may research to see if they are cheap to have some in hand…



Crocodile clips on way.  Supplier blamed volcanic ash for the delay in posting them from his warehouse in Wantage.

Discovered that replacement batteries in our local toy shop are £20 each – yikes!  Mind you, a swift search on the internet and I found them for £2 each, plus 50p delivery!  So I bought 2.  No wonder High Street shops are suffering!

Did some sewing, as Emma seems to be a bit pre-occupied with knitting the scarf and it possibly wouldn’t have been too tactful to ask her to do it (what with the perpetual sewing-in of names in socks and of badges on Cub sweatshirts…).  Some yellow ribbon tacked with invisible thread (took me ages to find it) brightens up my purple DJ and makes it look vaguely like the sort Jon Pertwee wore.


Not much to do on the float… managed to sort out a nifty little holder that is screwed to the top of the Tardis for the light.  The Camping lamp (£2.5 bargain!) slots into it snugly.  A SprayMount lid cut up provides a passable blue top for it.  Put Tardis on its side and moved the handles to the front from where I’d put them…  seeing my handy annotation when I built it, I’m not sure why I screwed them on the wrong side…  ho hum.

Jon Pertwee: My Cassanova grey wig arrived – perfect!

Weeping Angel: Emma’s grey elbow-length gloves arrived – perfect!  She now needs a grey polo neck top so she doesn’t have to put grey facepaint on her neck.

K9: Those batteries arrived – the perfect items.  Much more charge than the old two I had.  I will ensure all four are fully charge – hopefully K9 will cope with the bumpy road and those four batteries will be enough, or else Tim will be carrying her!  Check out the new video of K9 in action here.



Nothing much to report as I seem to have complete most of it ahead of schedule!  Still waiting for the clips to connect the battery to the inverter, but the supplier is posting them today apparently and letting me keep the wrongly supplied leads.  Will eBay those and hopefully get enough to cover the cost of the proper leads!

Emma’s doing so well with the scarf…  must be about 11ft long… she’s got about 3ft or so left to do.

Am planning to do a mass rehearsal over bank holiday weekend, trying on all the costumes and getting everyone to practice driving/walking etc along our lane to see if it all holds together okay.

Thanks for all the lovely comments – this blog’s getting about 20 visits a day for some reason, hopefully not all from rival float builders in the village!

By the way, the procession takes place on SATURDAY 12th JUNE (the day after J&D’s birthdays).


Two weeks to go.

Crocodile clips for power source still not arrived.  Supplier says they posted them a week ago.  Yeah, right.  Not panicking just yet but must get them by this weekend so I can set up and test the sound system.

Everything else is complete… except the scarf has another couple of feet to go – Emma’s confident of completing it by Saturday, then a couple of days of sewing in the loose ends.  Her mum says it’s too long and she should stop, but then it wouldn’t be authentic!  I think she’s jealous ‘cos Emma didn’t accept her offer to help with the knitting! Emma’s resisted taking it into work and knitting while invigilating for the SATs!



Emma’s finished the scarf!  Boy, is it long.  I mean REALLY long.  You may think it’s a long way to walk to the shops to get the newspaper, but that’s nothing compared to how long the scarf is…

Bank Holiday tomorrow, so hopefully will take it all for a spin up and down the lane and try on the costumes.

The crocodile clips finally arrived.  I wired up the inverter and tested different music systems – found an old hi-fi in the loft with a line in socket, and the iPod plugs in perfectly.  Covered the triangular gaps with blue cloth and mounted the speakers securely.  Need to swap things round so that I can access the roman candles from the rear, as Emma will be pulling this.

Hoping to get the Tardis to materialise in New Zealand after the carnival, so the boys’ cousin, Harry White, can play with it as he’s a major Dr Who fan…  perhaps their grandparents can smuggle it in the luggage when the next visit!


Tested the Dalek.. but Joshua had trouble walking as there wasn’t room for his feet to move properly!

Solved this by cutting away some of the base to save his ankles getting caught.  Much better!  Hope the neighbours enjoyed seeing him scoot down the lane!


We tried on the other costumes… here’s Daniel the Cyberman!


Tom Baker will be very warm in his lovely scarf!


Yes, that’s Emma as a scary Weeping Angel!


Jon Pertwee’s let himself go a bit, but should be passable!Decided that on past years’ experience, lighting bangers etc with a cigarette lighter is awkward, and the flame keeps blowing out.  Experimented with my chef’s blowtorch and it’s really good.  Doesn’t look right though, so trawled eBay and picked up one that looks like a sonic screwdriver for a few quid… Perfect!

Will be test driving the Tardis this weekend – couldn’t be bothered to rearrange the house to get it out last weekend!



Sonic screwdriver arrived – lovely piece of kit, and looks just like a sonic screwdriver, but no self-ignition so I would need a lighter… unsure whether to actually use this on the day or my self-igniting chef’s torch…  Anything to make the operation easy and simple to hold, like me.

Took the Tardis for a trip down our lane.  Had minor problem when front skirting got trapped under front wheels and it nearly tipped over.  Swift bit of trimming and it goes a treat!  Oliver DID get very hot inside though, and is unable to hear our useful instructions on steering… Cut another window hole at the back to allow some passing through of fresh air/instructions.  Will install a fan in there for him on Saturday to save him overheating.  Will also install ice-filled water thing in there for him to prevent getting dehydrated.  There’s loads of space inside for all this (it’s a Tardis, see).


During the trials, our neighbour arrived in the Lane in their car with a friend – the friend was rather surprised to see a Tardis nipping along. Needless to say, the neighbour took it in her stride and just said that when you live next door to us you sort of expect this sort of thing.

Swapped the board on the trolley around so I can access roman candle supplies okay.

Received the Carnival programme at the weekend – we’re listed as entering as a Family team again this year.  Lots of floats listed, with a range of topics so should be a great event…  Hope nobody realises that Dr Who’s only been going for 48 years though…



The day is here!  We feel pretty prepared so I loaded up the trailer just to make sure everything fitted in it.  Popped the Dalek inside the Tardis (there’s so much space inside there!) and the trolley at the back.  Perfect.  Room in it too for Emma to sit and hold it all from toppling over on the road humps.

Decided to check that it would fit down our drive.

It didn’t.

Got out the pruning shears and did some serious branch lopping!  Glad I checked!


We got dressed into our costumes at noon and set off to the start point.  We decided to get there early in case we needed to make any repairs.  Also, it meant we could have a picnic on the grass and be calm and ready.  Also, it meant we would be ready as people drifted in, rather than them seeing us arrive and unload -= I like to present the whole thing as a finished set piece!

Emma sat in the trailer with her phone on, and ours on loudspeaker so we could her screaming at me to keep below 10 mph for some reason.

Unloaded everyone then nipped home for blue Tardis paint to touch up some damage caused either by it rubbing against the trailer frame, or Emma gnawing at it in sheer panic.  Also picked up a gluestick to repair some lifting artwork from the boards.

All ready and loads of people kept coming up to check us out.  Lots of local kids had their photographs taken by the Tardis!

Discovered that Tim was extremely popular – a real natural.  People were amazed at his hair (all real!) and the scarf drew so many comments and we had a couple of people wanting to buy one from us!  Emma’s not so sure about that.  Also had two people wanting to borrow the Tardis for other events and kids’ parties!  I’m using it at a county Cub Scout Activity Day next weekend so it will at least get a few more outings!


The parade itself was great fun…. until we encountered the wonderful potholes.  The two back wheels of the Dalek came off – the chipboard mount snapped (remember the one I had to cut away to enable Joshua to walk properly?).  We quickly got Joshua out, glowered at the Carnival official who moaned at us for stopping, and proceeded.   Joshua quickly took on the guise of the ‘Next Doctor’, complete with Sonic Screwdriver (lucky I’d made Dr Who T-shirts for Joshua, Ollie and Daniel, so he looked part of us. )  I then had to push the Dalek around, while keeping the fantastic roman candles lit.  It looked great I think!  With hindsight, We should have kept it as a pushing Dalek, had Joshua as a slitheen or other alien and I could have pushed the Dalek around.

The other problem was that, whilst K9 drew gasps from people as Tim directed it around the road, it only managed a top speed of notmuch mph, which was a bit slower than the parade, which moved at abitfaster mph.  Tim therefore had to carry K9 for parts of the journey round the village. Seeing all our friends around the roads was great and hearing everyone’s comments was brilliant!  Emma kept saying hello to named kids from her school but they got scared – I think she forgot she was wearing a mask!

After a gruelling, very hot hour’s walk with only one break (more breaks needed next year please, organisers!) we ended up at the Rec. and paraded around, again it was lovely hearing the comments and applause – the boys were in their element!


Anyway, the judging had been done (the Lady Mayor was impressed by Emma’s knitting, and was interested in a bespoke one to hang her Mayoral badge on I think!


That’s all for this year…  I’ll start up this blog again next February probably.  Thanks for all your nice comments along the way, it helps keep up our enthusiasm!


January 21, 2009

Welcome to the 2009 WOOD FAMILY FLOAT blog.

The theme for 2009 was announced a few weeks ago by the Carnival Committee…


So, the family put their collective thinking hats on.  Here’s what we discussed.

We checked out our DVD collection to get a few ideas, then we visited Channel 4’s 100 Greatest Musicals of all time list for more inspiration (I knew there must be a point to those endless C4 ‘top 100’programmes!).

Here’s our shortlist of ones that didn’t make the final cut:

  • Rocky Horror Show – Emma’s favourite, but a bit raunchy for us!
  • Little Shop of Horrors – hard to build the huge plant!
  • Miss Saigon – could build a helicopter, but a bit similar to last year.
  • Me and my Girl – my favourite musical…  Tower Bridge might be fun to create.
  • Summer Holiday – Very keen on building a double decker bus.
  • Barnum – great musical, but a circus tent may be tricky.
  • Showboat – but we’ve already done a boat.
  • Paint your Wagon – my mum’s favourite musical, we could do a wagon…
  • Starlight Express – hmmm… a train…
  • White Christmas – might be nice and bizarre.. snow machine…
  • Fiddler on the roof – a big roof?  too similar to our house float.
  • Oliver – great – but as the school is performing Oliver! in the summer, we’ll leave this to them.
  • Blues Brothers – my fave movie musical… but not a challenge here
  • Joseph – could build a big pyramid…
  • Chitty chitty bang bang – love this idea… but to build the car it’d have to look EXACTLY right!

That left us with their top three:

  • Wizard of Oz (best done by a school we think)
  • Grease (not much to build)
  • Sound of Music (hmmmm…)

Knowing lots of people who have been involved with Am Dram musicals for decades, I asked them for their input over a beer or two.  Their suggestions were similar to much of the above, so didn’thelpas much as I’d hoped.

Anyway, after much discussion, we’ve gone for:som

Emma‘s going to be the Julie Andrews figure in a lovely dress.

Timothy is going to dress as a nun (background work forhis Drama GCSE it appears).

Oliver is going to be an Austrian boy in lederhosen.

Dave is going to be a German Army Officer.

Joshua and Daniel are going to be German Soldiers, driving a… Tank!

Yup – we’ve decided to build a German military tank over the electric car chassis…  It will look ‘identical’ to this:


Now the fun begins…

I’ve got the timber for the frame from previous years.  As for covering it, I’ll either use the huge sheets of gold card from Spelthorne Resource Centre as in previous years or…  There’s two very large rolls of white canvas which have been dumped in my office car park for about 8 months.  I think I’ll see if they can be ‘liberated’ one day…  It will be stronger than card and lighter, and will hold the camouflage paint really well.

Something special…

Decided that the tank needs a gimmick.  Joshua and Daniel are dead set on throwing Fun Snaps out of the tank at the crowds.  This is a bit tame for me though.

Investigating to see if I can find a way to have the cannon on the tank make a bang.  I’ve got a box of powerful French bangers in the garage, but am anxious that I may fall foul of some laws about setting off fireworks in public.

Perhaps some theatrical suppliers provide safer thunderflashes?  Discovered which sells such items.  Scooted round the site and found it’s more technical than I thought.

Made an enquiry and got a reply back in a couple of hours:

“It depends on how bigger a bang you want to make!  But if you use Aerial burst you will have the sparkles as well.  You could maybe look at a Micro Puff which is wired or if it is outside, you could consider the smaller end of the battlefield  range.  If it is smoke and a bang you want then a maybe a starter maroon.  I would strongly recommend testing this option first of course.”

Looks like I may go for a few starter maroons…   need to keep an eye on the costs though.


Emma’s outfit will be from her rediscovered wardrobe (losing 3 stone meant she’s got lots of stored clothes to choose from!)

I’ll try and hunt out a cheap nun outifit for Tim, and lederhosen for Oliver… J&D will only need plastic helmets – they’ve got camouflage trousers and dark green t-shirts and,in any case, will be driving the tank.

My costume is trickier.  I’d really need something proper or it’d look ropey.  I’ll start checking out military surplus places to see what’s around.  I want to be an officer, not a mere squaddie!


Hmmm… this might be a pricey one, with the pyrotechnics, paint and costumes to get.

Decided to sell a family tent.  We got given it some time ago and thought we may possibly use it one day.  However, we never even put it up!  We won’t go camping as a family I doubt – we prefer more solitude, privacy and quiet than camp sites offer and the boys get enough camping opportunities through Scouting (and Tim would rather stick hot pins in his eyes than sleep in a tent!).

We put it up for sale on Ebay last weekend and already have 41 watchers, although no bids.  We’ve started it at £100 so should hopefully get around £150.  A local couple are visiting this afternoon to check it out, with another two couples coming on Saturday…  £150 should cover the costs easily.

Having had some people coming to look at the tent and loving it, and we’d had two offers of £125 and £250 cash for it, we decided to add a ‘buy it now’ feature… for £300 … with 1 day to go, we’d got 70 watchers but no bids.  Anyway, woke up Sunday morning to see that…

We sold the tent for £300!

That means we’ve got a healthy sum to spend on the costumes and special effects.  I’m going to budget £100.  I’m going to donate some of the cash to the Scout Group and we’re going to put the rest in our family’s ‘Jolly Fund’.

Lady came to collect the tent and quite liked it.  She’s a single parent with two very small children… she seemed nervous about how she’d put it up on her own when I showed her how to do it.  I pointed out that if it was too hard, she’d get her money back on Ebay easily next year!

Anyway, our Paypal Account now has £300 in it… the boys are buying a couple of things for the Wii so they can all play games at the same time (yikes – four steering wheels for a mega-car race!) – good for them to see the benefit of selling the tent.

Just been told by the builder that he’s starting work in 2 weeks time.  We’re getting a lean-to shed demolished and replaced with a double-sized garage.  This will cause a slight upheaval, in that I’ve got to empty the shed and find homes for everything, just when I wanted to start thinking about the float.  Plus point is that if I dump most of it, I can build the float in the new garage!   Must tell the neighbour that we’re building again…  Turmoil is inside too, as the builder is digging up concrete floor in the living room, laying central heating pipes underground and replacing/moving radiators.  Emma will obviously want to redecorate…  camouflage green perhaps?

Oh, here’s one of the rolls of canvas I’ve yet to liberate from the car park…


The builders have arrived!

Lovely big new garage going up to right of house as you look at it.  Neighbours not complaining – it helps that the builder’s wife is their niece!

I suggested to Emma that we don’t put anything in it for a while as it would make a brilliant workshop for me to build the tank in.  I’m very persuasive you know.

Therefore, we’re going to put the shelving in and move the stuff into it as soon as we can; take down the big tent in the back and I’ll build the tank outside as last year.

Found someone who has a nun’s outfit for Tim to wear.  Hopefully it’s not a leather/latex one.  I’m also slightly nervous about me wearing a German soldier’s uniform but I guess as long as I don’t use any nazi insignia it’ll be okay!  I have visions of war veterans flipping and attacking me – honestly, the tank is going to by 100% realistic!

We’ve got £90 in the float fund.  We had a reality kick while watching comic relief; plus a girl at work is doing a run for Breast Cancer – since the money from the tent sale wasn’t really ours, we decided to let others benefit.  Also, as it was sitting in the PayPal account it was very easy to donate.

Am going to start measuring up the tank over Easter… and hopefully liberate that roll of canvas in the car park (it’s still there, but has moved a bit).

Trying to source the bang effect for the tank.

Found this which would be great…

£30 for 12.  Trouble is, I think I’d then need to add wiring and will have to pre-wire all 12 and use 12 separate electric igniters, which would double the charge (pun intended).

Researched the legalities and it’s all a bit scary as these are all professional things.  Also, I note that you’re meant to use a ‘boom box’ to prevent shards of plastic hitting the audience, or pay extra for ‘non-fragmenting’ versions. hmmmm…

Might experiment with Plan B:  find my box of small but loud French Red Bangers, ignited with a lighter.  Easy to pre-load, no fall-out, bit of smoke and loud bang.  Firework law allows letting them off during the day and by me… not sure about the public place bit.  I can’t really see any problem as they are only small bangers, and if anyone complains I’ll not set any more off.  Besides, they won’t technically be fireworks but a Military Tank’s Cannon shell – don’t think that’s covered by firework law.

Plan C, by the way, is a water bomb balloon with talcolm powder in it, shoved down the cannon and burst with a pin.

Plan D is Daniel shouting ‘BANG” every now and then.


Bah – sometime tidied up the car park and the canvas roll has been disposed of!

Been hunting down costumes.. got my eye on German Soldier outfits from army surplus stores for about £40 (our float fund is fine, thanks to the trailer tent sale).  Need a hat and boots too though…

Went to the Ascot car boot sale last Sunday for a quick recce prior to possibly attending as sellers next Sunday (we’re going back to Hounslow instead).

Had a major find: got a virtually brand new full-length grey German officer’s greatcoat with epaulattes, detachable silk and fleece lining, and shiny buttons for £10 – perfect! (It looks a bit like this.  I don’t.)


Also, got a great German navy white top with blue sailor neck thingy for a fiver.  Oliver’s going to wear this instead of lederhosen.  Brilliant finds.  Oliver will look very cute… as will Tim when we track down a nun costume.  The seller had some hats but slightly too small… may go back in a few weeks.


Nabbed a brilliant pair of my size almost new black German jackboots off Ebay for £15, have to collect from Slough on Thursday to save postage.


Nobody in the UK wants to sell bangers.  Bah.  Found a website overseas that seems to sidestep the rules a bit and will ship to here…  Got an amazing range – just need to work out the safest but loudest ones.  The smallest ones are 7 Euros for 50…  Best avoid the ones marked ‘Danger’.


Started on Saturday by visiting Spelthorne Resource Centre.  Brilliant place – They let me have a huge roll of material, similar to that which I didn’t get from the car park, to cover the frame.  I also got a few litres each of brown, green and white paint (all free).  A big tube for the cannon plus lots of round black mousemats which should make great tank wheels.  Also, some great corrugated card for the tracks.

In the afternoon, I got the boys’ 15-year-old electric Jeep out and started work…


It all went quite well really!

I also ordered some cheap helmets for J&D to wear in the tank (which they can now see out of to steer!

Tim’s Nun’s outfit arrived – we bought a second-hand one on Ebay for a few pounds… still easily within budget!

The German soldier’s hat arrived too – great!


Now to find the bangers…

Another idea…

Seeing as we only actually have one Von Trap child and there were originally sevenwe’ve come up with a cunning plan…  I’m going to see if I can make a yoke for Oliver to wear across his shoulders, with cardboard cutouts of three kids either side.

I’ve done a picture for a base… now to make the darned thing I guess…

Sound of music best x

Sunday 17th May

The boys Slapped the first coat of paint on the tank.  It’s brown to start with, as that’s the free paint I got from the Resource Centre.  The green camouflage will go on this weekend.

Need to sort out the cannon mounting next.. hopefully the explosives I ordered from France will arrive soon so I can test it at the weekend.

Made the singers thingy mentioned above.  There’s a brilliant free site called which lets you print huge versions of any pic – we’ve used it before and it’s brilliant for big posters of your favourite poster/pic…  Go and do one for yourself!


Then it was just a case of sticking the paper onto card and cutting the outline.  It’s suspeneded on a piece of wood which I’ll attach to a belt for Oliver to wear.

Big debate currently is whether Tim, as a nun, should have a chest… he says no, as he doesn’t want to look silly(!).


Covered the tank… have to make the top bit too…


Daniel and Joshua start painting.

DSCF3607So does Oliver, despite his newly-broken hand…


Made a quick visit to the Resource Centre at lunchtime to grab a bit more paint, and return some surplus fabric.

Camouflaging almost complete… top bit done too!

Big weekend – going to mount the cannon and test the bangers!

Monday 25th May

Did some more sorting out over the weekend…


Added the wheels – round mousemats, courtesy of the wonderful Resource Centre… saved me a lot of cutting out circles!  Cannon is a Resource Centre carpte tube.

I have put material wadding down the boys’ end of the cannon to stop smoke etc coming back and glued a CD over the end, to stop anything flying out when the bangers go off.

Also added corrugated card (bulk sheets of Costa Coffee cup wrappers from the Resource Centre.)


Also added two boys to see if they fitted – success!

Tested the cannon… VERY loud… and it blew the CD clean off the end about 5m away!  May need to sort this out…
See the movie of it in action HERE.


Found some strong wire mesh and bolted this to the end, wrapping the edges in Duck Tape…  nothing’s going to fly through that little fella!  I’ve drilled holes in the cannon so I can preload the bangers with just the fuse showing, to make it easy for me to set them off en route.  This actually seems fairly safe really.  We shall see… Must remember to not travel too close to the people in front of us…

May 31st


Sorted Oliver out with the Von Wood family siblings…  seems to balance okay.  They’re almost in proportion to him!

Got to mount the stereo on the tank somehow – nobody is willing to lug it around!

One week to go…  hope the weather holds up or the poster paint on the tank is going to run (unless I spray hairspray all over it to fix it).

Measured the tank.  It’s too big to fit neatly into the trailer – aaaaarrrgggghhhhh!  Emma said she’ll sit in the back with it, although that would mean there’d be no room for the tank itself, which sort of negates the point I guess.  I’m sure I’ll be able to sort something out next weekend before we set off.

Charged the battery up – decided to use the Chrysler’s old 12v one as I won’t be able to change the proper car ones en route.  This did well last time – and I checked the electric car still works!

My costume fits a treat!


3rd June… nearly there!

Received the programme forthe carnival – we’re down as the only family group entering… but dozens come out and enter on the day!

Checked the weather… the current hot spell is drawing to an end (phew!), although scattered light showers are vaguely threatened for Saturday… but doesn’t look like it’ll be in our area.  I’ll decide on the morning whether or not I’ll spray cover the tank’s paintwork to protect it.  Cool would be great!  A bit like me, really.

Picture 3

Warned my neighbour, Bob, that we’re test driving the tank on Saturday morning down our lane… I’ve a feeling he may lay in wait for an ambush or something… might remove the mesh from the cannon if he gets a bit feisty!

Must remember to collect Emma’s borrowed guitar, and mount the stereo on the tank…

Friday 5th June

Tomorrow’s the big day…  weather is turning though.  Saw one forecast online that said Heavy Showers, so decided to use BBC weather instead as they only claim Light Showers.  The Met Office has just revised its forecast.  Bah – the only showers are due at 1pm, exactly when we start!

Picture 1 Have got some emergency ponchos in hand just in case, although I’ll be fine in my lovely coat!

Still must sort out the stereo…

Saturday 6th June


10.50am.  Bah.

Pouring with rain all night and still drizzling now.

Checked tank paintwork. Not waterproof.  Boys will get filthy and paint will run.

Nipped off and bought Amy Winehouse strength hairspray and coated paint with it… may keep it from running.

Covered top of tank with clear plastic film, as this is where J&D will most likely rub their arms and get mucky.

Sorted out huge clear dust sheet to cover tank before judging.

Measured tank to make sure I can get it out of the back room.

It’s too big.


Lots or rearranging to do now to get it from the back room, through dining room and out via conservatory into front garden and trailer.  Plan B was to invite whole of village round to view it in the back room.  Emma not too happy with that one.

Saying that, Emma is surprisingly upbeat!

Borrowed guitar case from niece Helen (ta!) for emma to hold, and sorted out strap for stereo for Emma to carry.

Sorted out tuck basket to strap in car… there’s lots to finish off building at the start so I need a toolkit with me too.  Because of the rain I can’t do it all in advance.

Rain’s eased off since I started writing this.

Ensured von Traps are glued and taped waterproofly(?).

Hope my explosives still work…

Well… must finish now – next post after the fun!


It’s raining.  Loaded everything onto the trailer/in the car and went off to the start point.  Set up the tank in the rain and covered it with the plastic sheet to protect it.


Fortunately, the rain stopped at about 1pm, so we all got our costumes straight and we built the tank.


Judges came round and we posed for various photos for the newspapers and friends… tested the bangers and they were brilliant!


5 mins to go and disaster struck – for some reason the electric car doesn’t work… electrics completely broken – checked everything but no go.  Dashed to car and grabbed rope, made tow rope and collared father-in-law Ken to pull the tank around the 2 mile circuit!  He was a star!  Tim was blinding as a nun and really got into the part well – totally unemabarrassed when his mates from school saw him… he told them it was either a nun or leiderhosen which convinced them he made the right choice! Emma carried the music and sang along merrily, despite Joshua shooting her repeatedly.

Joshua and Daniel took turns to steer the tank, while the other strutted alongside with me shooting people.  The cannon was a great addition and surprised onlookers.  Oliver and his cardboard siblings drew loads of laughs too.  A great parade with some brilliant floats – Oliver!, High School Musical; Grease, Jailhouse rock, South Pacific, Jungle Book and many more…

Into the parade ring on the Rec for announcement of winners.  Our friends and neighbours had done Chitty Chitty Bang Bang so well we knew they’d grab the trophy this year.

But we were wrong – WE WON!


(and apparently I was rather too scary for some people!)