The Sunday morning started off with a bit of a rush on as a coach party of tourists made up of different nationalities arrived in the car park and disgorged a load of snap happy punters. At one point it seemed that each couple in the tour wanted a photo of them both with each of the troopers on display.
Barely was there time to draw breath after this whirlwind of activity, when a photographer from the Associated Press arrived and kicked off another mass photo shoot with a carefully arranged squad of troopers, best looking at the front, tree dodger further back, you get the idea…
Kudos to the small Inner Hebridean who had journeyed down for the day with his dad and correctly identified the Stealth Trooper in the line-up (beats “the black Power Ranger” from one of the other attendees) as a small but steady line of visitors came and went, many of who were in their own costumes for the judging that afternoon.
Then, with something of an ironic bent, exactly a year of events to the day it made its debut, the stealth outfit came a cropper. Poppers popped, groin sections split and shoulder bells had separated throughout the morning and after only an hour and a half I was forced to de-kit. Luckily this coincided with lunch and the break allowed the opportunity to perform some temporary patch up repairs.
The organisers seem confident that there’ll be a Hi-Ex 3, next year and hopefully the suit will be around for that. Again, hats off to Marek for going above and beyond the call of trooping to attend (especially as he was the only one who could open that tin of black paint I had!), his story about the Transport Police picking him up while in armour on a previous troop made for fascinating listening after the event while we killed time before his bus home; to Shane for organising our accommodation and social and of course, all the troopers who braved the chill of the Inverness air (and the poor spotters who spent the majority of the weekend in the open air watching over us!)…