Southport Air Show

IMG_2117Well a good weekend for a change as there wasn’t much in the way of housework done which was good. I’m in the middle of refurbishing the back of the garage and this has taken up a lot of time over the backend of the summer and more work needs to be done.

So work took up Saturday morning followed by a trip to the pub with Charlie Cardboard which was surprisingly good despite the fact that it took a big chunk out of the weekend. A meal with the parents was also welcome as I was done in by then.

So onto Southport Airshow which had as it’s main attraction, the BBMF with the Canadian Lancaster.

Now Southport is relatively “up the road” – in fact about 90 odd miles and myself and Major Orton got there in two hours. Not bad. We parked up and found our way to the sea front where we had to pay £9 for a view on the beach. Bit expensive but compared with Cosford, not bad. had to stand up for two hours though. And we missed the Red Arrows.

Considering it’s cost it was a splendid day and the aircraft dispIMG_2121lays were terrific, especially the Hurricane IIc which had pyrotechnics on the beach along with a great display by the pilot.

What was entering into the spirit of things was the Huey – complete with “Ride of the Valkyries”! Excellent stuff and for few moments, Southport could have been Vietnam.

The main event was of course the Lancaster’s which were big and lumbering compared with the accompanying Spitfire and Hurricane but it was probably the only time I’ll see two Lancaster’s together so a trip I had to do really.IMG_2134

If the crowd were lulled into a sense of boredom afterwards and the kids screaming even more, then the RAF Typhoon sorted that out. It was very loud with both re-heats on. And impressive display and just showing what you can do with numerous computers in charge rather than the human although the pilot with the Xtrem Air aircraft which did a lot of flying sideways. A lot of flying considering it’s a prop plane.

The only thing that marred the day – and the weather was superb – was getting home. 4 hours! 1 1/2 hours to get out of Southport and then the traffic was snarled up so bad between 20 down to 16 we had to divert via the A49 which prompt;y we lost and had to get the M6 back to 13 and pick up the A449.

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Scotland Decides

I’m surprised Nige hasn’t had a blast here to be honest but as the Scottish referendum approaches, this could be a pivotal moment  in our Island history; or more like putting things back 300 years.

I’ve listened to a lot of the debate North of the Border and the thing most people miss is that the system of governance in the UK is outdated now. Something I campaigned for real back in 2010. What we really should have is  the UK tied together for defence and foreign policy. Other powers would be better devolved down to more regional or distinct countries.

Another thing I’d like to say is to echo Nige’s letter in The Guardian last week – will one vote decide a nation? Is this right? Also, as Dave and me have always said, is less than a 95% turnout representative? Should this vote have been compulsory?

This is a big deal make no mistake about it. It could even impact my small company as I have Scottish clients. I’ve worked there on and off since 1989 as well so I’ve had close ties with the place, especially Edinburgh.

However, I personally feel powerless down here in having no input into th8is debate as it really is out of my hands. But that’s not to say that people in England don’t care. They do and there are strong emotions here too. Some too unprintable for even these pages.

If things do go”Yes” it will be strange having to use my passport for real to go to The Orkney’s next year.

 

My Early Life

WSCBy Winston Spencer Churchill first published in 1930.

My copy which I got from Shrewsbury, is slightly battered and was published in 1941 no doubt as Churchill had become prime Minister the year before. It was originally published in 1930 when Churchill had just ceased to be Chancellor after the Tories lost the 1929 election so some of the memories are a bit rose-tinted.

The book deals with Churchill’s early memories as a child and as a young man and is written not without humour. Indeed, his comments about Maths and exams mirror my own experiences with these subjects – not good. However, struggle as I did, I didn’t have to put up with Greek and Latin.

It’s odd reading about Churchill’s experiences at Sandhurst, when I have worked there relatively recently ( and the Major got an MBE for it!). To have walked where Churchill walked is really touching history.

Anyway, his recollections about India, The Sudan and South Africa and the Boer War do make exciting reading as Churchill is such a good writer – that’s what he got his Nobel prize for. However, the language would probably upset some of the PC brigade.

What is interesting is Churchill’s use of contacts to get him where he wanted to be. Only Kitchener half stopped him in the Sudan. But you have to say that Churchill did put himself in the firing line on more than one occasion and that’s a good reason to admire his spirit even if it did mark him as a glory-seeker.Any other person would have been content with playing Polo but not Churchill who seemed a man on a mission.

I would heartily recommend this book as a way of looking at Churchill’s biased viewpoint obviously, but also as an insight into the attitude of a Victorian aristocrat.

 

Beer

This past week I haven’t felt too well. I think I’ve had some sort of curious virus that had made me listless and lacking energy, especially over the bank holiday weekend. I think this may have accounted for my poor performance around Bilston last weekend with the Stymaster. It could also have been too much cottage pie though. As much as I enjoyed The White Rose, the other two Bilston pubs we went to weren’t great, especially the refurbished Horse & Jockey.

This weekend though, I’ve felt much better and a trip into Wednesfield with JC and his neighbour was just the ticket; The Zoo, The Dog And Partridge and then the Vine. All excellent pubs with great beer.

And I’m off there again tonight.

More tomorrow.

To The Horns of Queslett

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Damiler Fleetline

This weekend I have spent a very fruitful weekend, despite the best endeavours of the weather to spoil things. Friday night I was with JC, June and The Duffer in The splendid Vine in Wednesfield imbibing some different ales which meant a headache the next day. Not good but Charlie cardboard helped me move the dishwasher into the kitchen so now I have the luxury of being able to put all the dirty dishes directly into it without a few trips in and out of the garage. Domestic Bliss.

Sunday was a day spent with that well known bus geek from Walsall Wood. Yes it was Aston Manor’s running day. I’ve never been to this before so off we trots.

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Bristol VRT

It’s a sign of getting old when you sit on a bus and things look very familiar – spookily familiar as if things were still really there –  what did Buck Rogers think when he woke up? So the little boy’s wish to sit on a Damilar Fleetliner ended up as a trip relating stories about what had happened and when on this particular type of bus as it was so intertwined in everyday life back in the 70’s and 80’s. And that’s the thing. I used to catch 4 of these a day sometimes (or the Bristol VRT) and climbing on board again brought that rush of memories of Poly and school flooding back.

In the end, we did all three free bus rides around Sutton Coldfield, Walsall and one to that far off land – The Horns of Queslett. A romantically named pub surely named out of a J R R Tolkein book in some Middle earth adventure.

I can well recommend the museum – and the bus rides. It only cost a fiver and it was splendid to see to the look of delight on the little boys face when the Gardner 6LX fired up. Another day sniffing diesel.

Later on Sunday, I was out with the Essington Regulars on The Wednesfield crawl so we ended up in The Vine again. Over the course of 48 hours, I had in actual fact moved a mere 4 feet to the table the other side of the fireplace. But today – no hangover!

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Look at the joy on his little face!

 

The rise and fall of The Minerva

As well known by others, pubs have a life and history all of their own and often reflect the culture and personality of both the locals and the landlords.

How sad it is then to see our much loved local, The Minerva Inn, to decline in such a sad way, strangled by rowdy locals and and even rowdier landlady. Last night was typical of the depths of that this pub has fallen to. Duffer, having already quit the pub for “the bigger Village” was absent and often on a Sunday I am inclined to want to pop out for a cheeky beer for an hour. At least gets me over the shock of the prospect of the Monday Blues. I also like the fact that you can often meet the neighbours and other locals so it keeps me in touch with village opinion and, gossip basically.

So in I trots, gets a pint from Penny and joins in with the usual Sunday ever-presents and immediately you get a feeling something is going to kick off. 15 minutes later, beer was swilling around the place, the woman involved was screaming and all manner of handbags were being thrown involving drunken males who obviously don’t know how to behave when they are let out.

But this becoming a more common occurrence. And ever more distasteful. It is also a reflection of the landlady from Glasgow who thinks you should run a  quiet sleepy pub near a warzone as if it is still a Blackpool hotel.

When the much vaunted Simon if Essington had the pub it was a great place., much the centre of the village. This was the high point. However, it has sunk to such low depths that the locals are more or less being kept out of the place by poor management of the troublemakers, and a failure to see that there is more to running a pub than loud music and karaoke. It just goes to show that a good landlord/lady is the key to running a good pub which is an asset to the community. An example of this is The Old Inn in Hutton near a great friend of mine. I have know the landlord since his days at the Coopers in Highbridge but his new pub is everything you want a village local to pub – busy all through the week. You can’t get a table for eating without booking and the beer is superb.

The Min can never do food until a kitchen is added so it will rely on live music and good beer but sadly, the troublemakers and the management is so out of its depth I fear that the days of the Min may be numbered.

August Anniversaries

August is a strange month in some respects. Firstly, most sensible people are on holiday. Secondly, there isn’t much happening socially because of the former. And lastly, to my mind, and the rest of you probably won’t think this way, something bad always occurs. In 1945, it was the first nuclear weapon used in anger.  For me personally, it was Karen and me breaking up and that’s one year on now. I always seem to get a “dark day” in August. Maybe it’s the rotation of the Moon or the Planets or a shift in the invisible psyche but that’s the way I feel. Even in the tumult of work, it’s still a feeling of loneliness in August more so than in the depths of winter.

I think some of it maybe related to the fact that the Fourth Test is underway and summer is winding down. Although it’s still light at 9 pm, evening cricket is nearly over and the lights in the house are on before the evening beer. and outside is browning up, the vegetables are nearly done and it’ll be tome to rip out the beans soon.

And the final thought: The Football season starts tomorrow.

Nearly made it

This week I’ve managed to do that much envious thing that employed people perceive Self Employed people do all the time – mix business and pleasure.

It managed to occur when I was invited by my great friend Salty to visit the fair County of Somerset to watch Somerset -v- Kent in the Royal London Cup. And what a great game too! Kent managed by the curiously named “Northeast” and the prodigious Billings scored an incredible 383 in 50 overs. A short sharp shower meant Somerset needed 374 off 48 overs and fell just two runs short!

Two centuries, 15 wickets in a warm day drinking beer in lovely Taunton – idyllic!

However, in the middle of it all I took the best days business in three months! Which goes to show that sometimes you have to mix business and pleasure otherwise you’d miss out one way or the other and I was glad I could tack on the front of the visit a trip to an important customer and get back this morning in time to deal with all the admin that has resulted from a supposed day off.

However, this is the way of things for me at the moment. Business has been slow over this summer so far so you have to grab your chances when you can.

Technology Intrusion?

As is my wont and when business allows, I do like a lunchtime stroll to loosen up the muscles especially on a Tuesday when I’m sore after football the previous evening.

Today, I had the pleasure of a walk around the Pools. This is a noted place for fishermen of England to congregate and dip their floats. Also, a lot of people do like to walk the dog , the kids, the wife or the husband. It’s a pleasant and relaxing place full of wildlife and it’s generally quiet. Do I paint enough of a quiet English tranquil summer scene?

So why then would you have all the fishing tackle that you can get in a well sized estate car strewn all over a decent sized pitch, have three rods in the water and then want to watch a film via an iPad? Isn’t the scenery and the whole object of fishing to enjoy the quiet and maintain some vigilance in case you get a bite?

Then around the corner – Mom with toddler enjoying a walk but then I noticed Mom was listening to the radio out of an earpiece connected to the phone.

maybe this is the modern way of doing things but I think these people are missing the point. Yes you can have technology but when you can, why not enjoy the natural surroundings?

However, if Mom was listening to Test Match Special then I would be holding her up as a model citizen.