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Tuesday June 30th 2015

 

Most days of the week you will catch me running around with a car load of tools doing DIY mostly for friends and family (I hate decorating).  I am thinking of answering those desperate calls from our local streetlife.com feeds for all those ladies out there looking for ‘a handyman’.  Yesterday Melissa wanted ‘Urgent, Man with a big hammer - I am very urgently looking for a gent who could help me knock some rods out which have been hammered into the ground, to support a chicken wire fence, with the ground being so dry I just don't seem to be able to manage with my little hammer. They are not cemented in. Im sure a strong man would manage easily. I would be so grateful for some muscle or an extra helping hand.   I’m thinking of answering the call.

 

Henry the chocolate Labrador came back from his holidays yesterday – he didn’t get sunburnt he just melted a bit.

 

This is really interesting.  All us pensioners with meagre savings have had a bit of a raw deal for some years now with the low interesting rates.  Well about a year ago I invested a few pounds in FundingCircle.com and currently getting a much better return – like 7% after fees, costs and losses?  It’s a highly sophisticated system and you have to keep on top of it but if you are interested have a look at it and if you do want to invest then let me know and they will give me (and you) £50.  Basically you buy ‘loan parts’ and join others in funding farmers who want to buy another cow and all sorts.  I'm not sure which part of the cow I bought.

 

Don’t you hate these ‘pop up’ adverts, you only have to breathe on my tablet and it pops up with ‘amazing grab it now’ offers before it’s too late.  You can blame young Neil Capel for a lot of it (see Thursday June 11th).  You will notice that this site doesn’t have any of that only a discreet link to GRENSON.COM or TIMLITTLE.COM for when you need a decent pair of shoes for your walk to work.  The fact that he’s my son-in-law has nothing to do with it.  Also a discreet link to WWW.TWILDELAW.COM for when you need advice for making your will or a power of attorney.  The fact that he is also my son-in-law has nothing to do with it.

 

Wednesday July 1st 2015

 

In order to tell you about another untapped source of energy, the details of which I sent to Trevor Baylis of ‘wind up radio fame’ but he never replied, I have to tell you a longish story.  I’ll try to pepper it with a few pic’s to make it more palatable.

 

It must have been around the mid 90’s that one of the guys I worked with thought it would be a good idea if I learned to sail.  Against my better judgement I went along to Weirwood Sailing Club (near East Grinstead) jumped in a Topper one man dinghy and immediately capsized – before leaving the pontoon!.  After a few capsizes and mouthfuls of reservoir I came away with a Level 1 Dinghy Sailing certificate, not sure how, as I still didn’t know how it was that yachts could go in many directions in the same wind.  I then spent a week learning the ropes at a Sailing Club in Newton Ferrers (near Plymouth) and came away with a Level 2 Dinghy Sailing Certificate, this time I knew exactly how it was that yachts could go anywhere.

 

I then decided that yachting was the thing for me.  After 6 months of study at Leatherhead Adult Education Centre I came away with a Competent Crew Certificate and a Day Skipper Certificate. All the practical side was completed on a friend’s yacht in Chichester Harbour and at Dream Seekers Sailing School in Falmouth, incidentally on this week long trip out of the five of us on board four of us were called Bob.  Talk about the Keystone Cops – Bob get the bow line will you and Bob get the stern line, Bob you drop the main and you Bob be ready with the fender?

 

My fellow sailing buddies and I then chartered yachts from many ports.  My briefcase has disgorged many hilarious stories of our exploits – boring to some but still hilarious.  The highlight was in the summer of 2008 when we chartered a Bavaria 46 called ‘Ventum’ (with twin steering wheels} from Puerto Pollensa in Majorca.  We sailed around Menorca, calling at Cuidadella, Fornells, Mahon, Binibeca and back to Alcudia.  You can check some of the frantic action HERE.

 

As Captain on that trip I have to report that there was a fracas amongst the crew in Alcudia, the table in the quay side restaurant went flying along with my starter.  Old wrinklies intent on causing havoc is not a pretty sight.  The final leg back to Puerto Pollensa was completed without further incident. Sailing yacht Ventum was visibly relieved.

 

Details of the untapped source of energy should follow tomorrow.

menorca 01 menorca 02 menorca 03 menorca 04 menorca 05 menorca 06

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Thursday July 2nd 2015

 

Untapped Source of Energy?

 

Now we’ve all seen time lapse photography of the tide rushing in and out twice a day.  There’s quite a good one HERE.  Now imagine what would happen if the skipper of that boat tied up at high tide and forgot to loosen the mooring lines.  His boat would be suspended in mid-air - it could of course be your cruise liner moored up in Southampton or your barge tied up in Shepperton Lock.  Probably better to imagine all these boats suspended by a few cranes at high tide.

 

What we have here is something called Potential Energy.  Now imagine all those suspension cables connected to a KERS system (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) the same as the Formula 1 drivers have to harness energy from braking – are you with me?   We now release the boats via the KERS and your boat starts to drop (or should do if you are on planet Earth) this is now something called Kinetic Energy which drives your generator which boils your kettle or charges your phone.  Eureka?  Afraid not.

 

Well I can tell you that the reason why Trevor Baylis didn’t bother to reply is because the amount of Horse Power generated is diddly squat compared with a wind generator. Or is it?

 

As I write there is a Solar Powered Spitfire half way across the Pacific heading for Hawaii, actually they call it Solar Impulse but to me it is a Spitfire.  It has 4 propellers driven by electric motors powered by solar panels by day and batteries at night which have been charged up by solar panels during the day – get it?  It is on an around the world trip.  An incredible engineering feat but for me it doesn't quite fire the imagination.  How much more incredible would it be if those propellers were powered by a ‘Muscle Engine’?  See Tuesday June 23rd blog.

 

Just for the record and for you guys out there in Michigan who I know are reading this blog it is 36 centigrade out there in my back garden at the moment and Henry is lying doggo.

 

Tomorrow I’ll check my dusty old brief case and see what else is lurking.

Friday July 3rd 2015

 

My brief case is a can of worms, too much to record now without boring you to tears.  It tells me that my ‘career’ was a succession of jobs (I stopped counting at 55) from the early days as an apprentice engineer which was a mistake as I intended to join the RAF, through to lecturing DIY to the inmates of a women’s high security prison and everything in between including selling Encyclopaedia Britannica and various other products.  Drawing up bits for the Concorde and the Boeing 747 (and many other Spitfires) including the Fieldmaster Cropsprayer (see below).  Pipes, brackets and all sorts of bits for oil rigs, chemical plant, glass plant, Mars Bars, small bits, big bits and medium size bits for all manner of products.  Water rockets were interesting.  Jobs in the USA, New Zealand, Aberdeen, Bournemouth, Isle of Wight, New Malden and all stations to Waterloo.  All the time searching for something I might enjoy.

 

In the bottom of my brief case was a postcard with 50 words written on it.  It was my entry for a competition organised by the Daily Mail in 1956 when I was 17.  The competition was to write 50 words on ‘The Future of Aviation’ and the prize was a trip round Britain in a Spitfire (it was actually a Bristol Britannia – The Whispering Giant but to me it was a Spitfire) and guess what, I was one of the winners.  I enjoyed the flight but most of all I enjoyed writing it. Q.E.D.

 

I’ll have to stop now, just received another survey questionnaire from the NHS asking a few questions.

 

•Do you have no problems doing your usual activities

•Do you have slight problems doing your usual activities

•Do you have moderate problems doing your usual activities

•Do you have severe problems doing your usual activities

•Are you unable to do your usual activities

 

If I could remember what my usual activities were I might be able to answer!  No wonder they haven't got any money.

fieldmaster

The NDN Fieldmaster

 

If you click HERE and look at the images you will see what it really looked like, you may even see some of my drawings.  I drew up everything forward of the black box including the engine, propellor and nosewheel but it looks like the snails have been at it.

It really did fly.

The black box is the air intake for the PT6A turbine.   In case you didn't know.

stars and stripes

Saturday July 4th 2015 or 'the Fourth of July'

 

Looking back at my time at Boeing in Seattle in the late 60's out of all those 55 plus jobs I had this probably was the most enjoyable.  Mainly because problems were solved with everybody on the same side of the table and not across the table.   Boeing as you know make American Spitfires but they call them 707’s. 727’s, 737’s, 747’s, 757’s, 767’s, 777’s and 787’s (although they call those Dreamliners).  Perhaps I should have stayed.  Although in 1970 Boeing laid off 70,000 people and the phrase ' the last one to leave turn the lights out' was banded about so perhaps the right decision after all.  What none of us knew was that in a garage down the street was a young lad called Bill Gates.

Sunday July 5th 2015

 

The Stars and Stripes remind me of another ‘project’ of mine.  My wife claimed that her family were connected to George Washington but I never believed her.  She has a close relative still with us who has Washington as his middle name so maybe there is something in it?  I already subscribed to Ancestry.co.uk, so, with reference to on line ‘Public Family Trees’  (some of the trees have 50,000 names would you believe) I managed to go back 13 generations  I then looked at George Washington’s family tree, which is in the public domain, and went back 4 generations and guess what?  Yup! It is one and the same person.  So, not a direct link but an ancestral link.

 

That person is The Reverend Lawrence Washington born in 1602 who lived at Sulgrave Manor in Northamptonshire.   A couple of years ago I took my wife there and she was greeted with great reverence by the staff.  The family coat of arms which is above the front door is reputed to have influenced the design for The Stars and Stripes.  If you are really interested you can click HERE. We now have a magnificent framed chart hanging on our wall for all to see.  Henry’s not impressed.  So far I have traced my family tree back 4 generations to William Jones listed in the 1861 census as a 'Scavenger'!  Professional of course!

 

Also today I have finally reached ‘The Age of Irresponsibility’.  I signed something called a Power of Attorney so from now on my children are responsible for everything I do, or don’t do.............no comment.

 

Monday July 6th 2015

 

My Google Analytics tell me that there at least a dozen of you out there reading this, thank you.  Despite having around 3000 pages on this site plus this BLOG I have only used 3Mb out of 500Mb available so room for plenty more rabbit.  There is more but I’ll spare you today……………………………  No I won’t, I’m thinking of serialising my first unfinished book, which is riveting.  It is called ‘The Survival of Species’ not to be confused with ‘On the Origin of Species’ by some guy called Charles Darwin. I’ll mix it up with a few Spitfires to make it more interesting.

LAC Jones 1172 Squadron 1953

LAC Jones 1172 Squadron

Hinchley Wood ATC

1953

Dreaming of flying a Spitfire

IMG_0625

He thinks it's a Spitfire.

Wednesday July 8th 2015

 

Henry has persuaded me to work out where I'm going with it before it gets published.  Bit of a shame but he usually knows best.  Instead I’ll treat you to a story about Bob and Marcia’s trip to Scotland in the spring of 2002 – just unearthed it from my brief case – whose Marcia? – I'll leave you to guess.

 

The references to commercial enterprises may be out of date.

 

AN ACCOUNT OF BOB AND MARCIA’S TRIP TO SCOTLAND IN APRIL 2002

 

FRIDAY 19th April 2002 time 20.30

 

‘SEVERE DISRUPTION TO ALL SERVICES IN AND OUT OF EUSTON DUE TO A FIRE ON A BRIDGE AT WEMBLEY’ was the message on the indicator board as Bob and Marcia arrived on the concourse clutching large holdalls, duvets, pillows, pills, plastic bags, walking sticks, shoulder bags, hats and picnic bags, ‘typical’ thought Bob ‘bloody marvellous’ as he and Marcia settled into a cosy corner on the concourse - the only spot acceptable to Marcia amongst the rubbish, both were fully expecting to spend the night on the concrete with the rest of the dropouts.

 

Fortunately it was not to be as the indicator board soon changed to ‘SLEEPER TO INVERNESS NOW BOARDING’.  Coach M compartments 21/22 turned out to be a space 4 feet by 7 feet which boasted two bunks (athwart ships), a sink unit with hot and cold water, two mirrors, hanging rails, shelves, a variety of lights, a ladder to climb onto the top bunk and a hammer to break the window if you couldn’t open the door once you’d wedged yourself in between your bags, cases, etc, etc.

 

Dead on time at 21.10 the diesel electric up front applied a portion of grunt and got everything moving in the required direction, it was just about dark by this time so Bob and Marcia following a quick visit to the bar car and finding it full plus a very (very) short game of I spy, spent the next two hours finding all the necessary items for a comfortable night, Marcia chose the top bunk and Bob didn’t complain.

 

Transportation sideways at anything between 10 and 100mph plus rolls, shunts, lurches, sways and bounces together with a cacophony of noises from the power unit, passing trains and pressure surges in and out of tunnels are not the greatest aid to sleep, however they were nothing compared with the the oiks next door who returned from the bar at 01.45 laughing, joking and crashing about with not a thought for anyone else, who, to all intents and purposes were in the same room.

 

At 02.30 after much thought on the best way to solve the problem, including murder, Bob, expecting at least a fist through the thin wall, shouted at the inconsiderate bastards, the response was a mild ‘ercha’ and then silence.

 

SATURDAY

 

Following another 5 hours of simulated rocket flight plus a variety of crashes and bangs when parts of the train were disconnected and sent on their way during the early hours, Bob lifted the window blind at first light to reveal that the countryside was going backwards, he was quick to realise that the train had done a 180 in the night or that maybe they were on the wrong train and on the way to the South of France.  He was somewhat relieved to see a few stations trundling by with names like Pitlochry, Blair Atholl and Aviemore – sounded a bit French to Bob but Marcia definitely spotted some Scotch mist so it had to be Scotland.

 

Bob wasn’t convinced, his uncertainty was increased as the waiter brought in a cold croissant for breakfast, Bob recognised the croissant, he had seen it before on the Blue Train to Marseilles in 1964 when the same croissant was served and went straight out the window, no doubt an enterprising Jean had found it and sold it to an unsuspecting Jock.

 

Disembarkation at Inverness followed by a Jeep ride to www.sharpsreliablewrecks.co.uk depot at Inverness Airport went without a hitch. Mr Hamish Sharp himself introduced Bob and Marcia to the camper, which was at first sight very impressive; it was an Autocruise 2000, based on a Peugeot chassis with a 2-litre turbo diesel engine.  It had central heating, toilet, shower/wash facility, fridge, cooker, fly screens, two double and a single bed, radio, TV and swivelling (captain’s chairs) for driver and front passenger. Mr Sharp introduced Bob to all the systems, levers, pipes, chemicals, hoses, switches, locks and buttons in about three minutes flat and bid the pair happy holiday.  Bob and Marcia were no strangers to campers and camping life generally, but Bob felt a touch uneasy about the lack of time spent on familiarisation as he headed out of the yard. Nevertheless the pair of them were looking forward excitedly to the week on wheels.

 

The first stop was Tesco Express to stock up on all the essentials for the week. Then with the sun peeping out behind the clouds our intrepid pair headed down the A82 alongside Loch Ness heading for a campsite some 90 miles away in Glencoe.  A photo stop alongside Loch Ness together with the first of many onboard picnics was enjoyed by all except Nessy who failed to appear for the crusts.

 

By now Bob was getting used to, and enjoying driving the beast, which responded well on the hills and corners.  Approaching Drumnadrochit during a particularly bendy bit the TV left the table and rolled on to the floor, Marcia of course had failed to secure all loose items which was one of her duty’s, ‘driving too bloody fast again’ she cried as Bob went into another hand brake turn thinking that a week without Coronation Street and East Enders is a price worth paying.

 

On through Port Augustus, Invergarry and Fort William they drove, tempting glimpses of magnificent hills (including Ben Nevis) appeared and disappeared in the steady lowering clouds, the impressive display of daffodils flanked the roads brightening up an increasingly gloomy landscape.

 

On arrival at the Campsite in Glencoe village (www.invercoe.co.uk) the camp warden said  ‘och aye the noo parrrrrk weever yer leek thartl bi eleven fifty perrrr neet’, Bob’s homework had included a brush up on Gaelic so he was able to understand.

 

The pair chose a spot overlooking a rather pleasant loch and parked the camper. The rain was now driving down vertically in earnest now, clouds scudded across the hills roundabout, which, in one sense could be rather picturesque if you have time to enjoy it but not when there is work to be done like hooking up to the power point and topping up the fresh water tank.  The rain slowed to a steady drizzle by evening and Bob and Marcia donned their wet gear, which was a long way from being colour co-ordinated (their children would have disowned them if they could have seen the sight), determined to check out the local area.  This turned out to be a visit to the local Spar store, for a few tomatoes, Bob considered buying a map of the area and plan a hike for the following day but a glance at the contours on the Ordnance Survey persuaded him otherwise.

 

Marcia, always keen to see what’s just round the corner or just over the hill, led the pair alongside a raging torrent threatening to swallow them up never to be seen again but fortunately they came across some children throwing rocks and bikes into the river who directed the pair back to the village.  There was obviously a secretive meeting going on in the small village hall that evening as a strange looking individual with a skirt on tried to avoid Bob and Marcia’s glances as he chatted into his mobile phone and disappeared into the hall followed by a stream of equally furtive types emerging from the Glencoe Hotel and heading for the village hall carrying odd shaped leather cases. Bob and Marcia politely exchanged pleasantries with the natives and hurried back to the campsite.

 

‘The fridge isn’t working – I told you not to drive too fast’ cried Marcia as she considered what to do with £50 worth of perishables ‘now what’ she sobbed ‘it’s all your fault’, Bob fiddled with the switches and buttons, read the instructions (in that order) but failed to get it working on any of the sources of power which included 12v, 240v and the on board butane gas.  Bob considered that the neighbouring caravaners were bound to be knowledgeable about these thing and went knocking on doors, not so, all he got was ‘och aye the noo ahd harv ta scrartch mee heed aboot thart wun’ however persistence paid off and a friendly fellow camper suggested that the camper was parked on a sloping pitch, sounds bloody daft to me thought Bob but moved to an adjacent pitch and had no more fridge problems ‘bloody obvious’ said Bob.  He then tried to get the TV working – not a glimmer ‘probably no TV signal in this Glen’ suggested Bob ‘they’ve got TV in all the other vans’ said Marcia ‘Yeah but I expect they haven’t been playing football with theirs’ retorted Bob ‘I think I’ll have another Guinness’ ‘You’ve had one already’ insisted Marcia, Bob thought of many things to say but said nothing because after all it was 10pm, time for lights out.

 

SUNDAY

 

03.00am, the rain and wind drowned the snoring but the continuous buffeting took its toll on what otherwise would have been a peaceful night.  Sunday dawned quiet and grey but nonetheless a mesmerising view of the hills greeted the pair as they peered under the curtains.  Following a standard camper’s breakfast of everything on toast, the pair settled down to read their books which they had bought in case it should rain – it was raining.

 

The sudden lull in activities and jobs to be done allowed Bob to read all the instruction leaflets on board and familiarise himself with all the systems, which enabled him, much to Marcia’s delight, to get the TV working, fortunately Marcia was able to watch the omnibus edition of Coronation Street and East Enders for which Bob received many brownie points.  Meanwhile Bob stared out the window marvelling at the cloud formations as they adhered themselves to the peaks roundabout. Gradually the rain eased allowing the pair to enjoy an evening stroll in the soft mountain air along the shores of the adjacent loch.

 

MONDAY

 

Following another night camping under a waterfall and buffeted by gusts of wind howling up and down the Glen, Bob emptied the on board toilet (in the rain), topped up with fresh water (in the rain), tucked away the hook up cable (in the rain), paid the warden (in the rain), topped up with diesel, changed into dry clothes and headed off to the Isle of Skye.

 

The drive to the new Skye bridge, via Loch Lochy, Loch Garry and then the A87 through the Kyle of Lochalsh was approximately 100 miles of beautiful scenery, the sun shone through the clouds- occasionally- highlighting many spectacular water falls, the rivers and streams swollen by the previous days rain. The Glens were littered with sheep and their newborn lambs, which made Marcia, feel just a touch broody.  Following payment of the exorbitant toll over the bridge, Bob pulled into a visitor centre in Broadford and attempted to contact a couple (George and Sandy) who were friends of Marcia’s brother who had lived near Dunvegan on the Isle of Skye for some years and no doubt would be able to assist with local knowledge and identifying a campsite.  The helpful young lady in the visitor centre gave Bob details of a campsite in Dunvegan, which also sounded worth a try.

 

Unable to contact George and Sandy, Bob and Marcia decided to head straight for the campsite at Dunvegan, which was another 20 or so miles.  The Cullin Hills renowned for being some of the most spectacular scenery anywhere beckoned in the west, but time was now pressing and the need for a break was overdue. The campsite at Dunvegan is sighted on a windswept promontory overlooking the small harbour with distant views out to the isles of Uist, at first site an ideal location but the wind howling in from the North Atlantic when colliding with a high sided vehicle can be a shade uncomfortable but nevertheless our adventurous couple looked forward to another night of damage limitation.  There were few other campers.

 

TUESDAY

 

The next morning following another night of simulated rocket flight, Bob and Marcia took a stroll into the small town of Dunvegan to check out facilities, Dunvegan had an unsophisticated and workmanlike air about it, unlike Glencoe village, one or two shops which sold everything plus a parade of up market shops aimed at tourists who like to dress up in their Clan uniform and a fascinating (to Bob) shop run by a hunting enthusiast who obviously had a passion for all things militaria including Afghan rifles, world war one and two rifles, sub machine guns with ammunition and uniforms to go with it.  Bob considered buying his two-year-old grandson a souvenir .303 Enfield bolt-action rifle but Marcia suggested that a Bob the Builder dumper truck might be more appropriate.

 

Opposite the shops was a FOOTPATH sign, which Marcia could not ignore, it pointed up into a very dark sinister looking wood, she took Bob by the hand and the pair started up the track leading to heaven knows where, after about half an hours steady climb they came out of the darkness and found themselves overlooking Dunvegan Castle, a grey, drab, sinister looking pile which nonetheless beckoned.  On reaching the entrance they were accosted by a jolly northerner who did a good job on selling the pair tickets to take a boat ride to see the seals. Marcia only agreed to go if the waves were less than 1.5mm high and the wind was no more than force 0.

 

The boatman assisted the elderly pair aboard his rowing boat (with an outboard) and headed out to seal island, all the seals appeared bored and hungry ‘when’s feeding time’ enquired Bob ‘when the tide comes in’ replies the boatman politely refraining to follow it with ’stupid Sassenach’.

 

The view of the castle from the boat was even more sinister and even more beckoning.  Another convincing argument that the pair were old age pensioners enabled Bob and Marcia to get a concession on the entrance fee.  Dunvegan Castle was anything but sinister from the inside, it is the home of the McLeod Clan chief and his young family, has a 1000 year history and has many stories to tell, Bob and Marcia thoroughly enjoyed the visit.

 

The hike back to Dunvegan ended at the Dunvegan Hotel in time for a for a dram or two, ‘you wouldn’t happen to know George and Sandy’ enquired Marcia, the barman produced the local paper and showed Marcia a picture of George on the front page who had been inundated by his neighbours sheep and had corralled them up and was offering to sell them back to his neighbour for £50 each.  What a great idea thought Bob why didn’t I think of that.  Bob and Marcia visited George and Sandy later that evening, but George was unable to chat as he was besieged with reporters and TV crews who also thought that he was on to a winner.  The following day George made it in to The Daily Telegraph (Scottish edition) no less.  Bob and Marcia left with the satisfaction of meeting a local celebrity.

 

The camp warden, who lived on site in a caravan surrounded by garden gnomes and souvenirs from his earlier days as a clown, peered out of his caravan and wished the pair a good night as they returned to the camper, his long johns flapped violently on his washing line, fortunately they were down wind from the pitch which Bob had carefully chosen.

 

WEDNESDAY

 

Another night of ferocious wind and rain prompted Bob to consider heading for the East Coast where the weather promised to be a touch less vicious.  The plan for the next day was to head northwest to Lochinver, a small resort on the west coast of Sutherland, which had been recommended by some Scottish friends as ‘the place to see’.

 

Bob and Marcia efficiently made all things ship shape, paid their dues to the camp warden, who was now wearing his long johns, which had not benefited much from a night in the wind and rain and drove out the campsite under a steadily brightening sky.  

 

The route off the Isle of Skye took them around the island via Portree and back to the bridge - and another toll fee.  A short diversion enabled the pair to visit Eileen Donan Castle, a spectacular castle on the shores of Loch Duish. The weather by this time was becoming sunny and warm and the visibility up and down the Glens and Lochs was gin clear.  A photo stop followed by a visit to the Castle and another picnic on board the camper was a fine start to the long drive to Lochinver.

 

Bob and Marcia had travelled a fair bit in recent years, including a month in a camper in Australia, visits to California, The Great Lakes, Corfu, Venice, Aberdeen, The New Forest and Oxshott Woods, all of which had fine scenery to offer, but in their opinion the pair agreed (which was unusual in itself) that the next few hours heading North to Lochinver via the Wester Ross Trail rivalled anything they had seen, the blue skies, excellent visibility, lack of traffic, rocky chasms, towering summits, swollen rivers and streams, bleating lambs, the silence, the panoramic views over the lochs and forests and a myriad of spring time colours was more than a touch intoxicating.

 

A final photo stop in Ullapool, another spectacular drive alongside Loch Assynt brought them to the small town of Lochinver.  The Shore Caravan Site in Achmelvich is about 4 miles from Lochinver along a very narrow and precipitous track designed for donkeys and goats, fortunately nothing came the other way, Marcia breathing a huge sigh of relief made a mental note to walk on the return journey.

 

The campsite right on the beach is ‘an idyllic spot indeed’; it is a grassy area in amongst rocks with a white sandy beach that would rival anything in the South Seas.  Bob and Marcia basked in the warm late evening sun on the sands and watched as one or two bathers frolicked in the surf, Marcia couldn’t resist dabbling her feet in the surf.  On returning to their camper, Bob spotted a seagull walking round the camper with one wing dragging on the ground, the camp warden said ‘take no notice he’s a scavenger he’s only looking for sympathy and a crust’, Marcia took pity on him and named him Cedric the Seagull, he knew he had found a soft touch.

 

It wasn’t long before the clouds rolled in, the wind got up and the rain returned, Bob got another soaking while trying to top up the fresh water tank in a force 10 gale.

 

Continued on PAGE 3

Thursday July 9th 2015

 

'Did you like that?

spitfire

Monday June 29th 2015

 

I learnt to fly a Spitfire in 1964, well it wasn't a Spitfire it was a Piper Colt (to me it was a Spitfire), no radio, no flaps and no runway - just line up with the windsock and take off on the grass at Fairoaks.  7 hours and 5 minutes later I went solo - not all on the same day though.  After a few cross countries and a few classroom sessions I qualified for a PPL and began taking brave friends and family for a ride over the hills, woods and back gardens of Surrey.  I amassed over 100 hours in another Spitfire (Piper Cherokee) and managed not to bend anything or anybody.  A couple of years ago I tried to pick it up where I had left off but couldn’t hear the radio, couldn’t see the dashboard and forgot the chocks so gave it up.  Why is this relevant? Well we can all dream can’t we?  My instructor was one Wing Commander Cyril Arthur a legend at the time, he was my age when he taught me.  There is hope yet!

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BOB'S BLOG PAGE 2

 

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