Saturday, 9 October 2010

Day trip to Le Touguet

Friday 14th  May 1971

Hmmn, weather forecast from the met office looks pretty promising for tomorrow, little or no cloud, excellent visibility. slight tail wind. Must remember to book in to clear customs on  return journey.

Sister's daughter Camilla was duly deposited with me at 6.30pm.  Claudia looks fairly well considering she has had a rather close call after falling overboard whilst crewing on a friends yacht somewhere just off Falmouth two weeks ago

Saturday 15th May 1971.  Day Trip to Le Touquet

Set alarm for 4.30, as usual it went off 10 minutes early. Must get clock checked.  Camilla took some waking up, but by the time l returned from dog walk she was wide awake and attempting to cook breakfast.  After feeding the burnt bacon & incinerated sausages to Dog, l suggested a flask of tea might be worth taking with us as it would be a good couple of hours until we arrived in france for lunch.

Departed the house by 8.30 arriving at airfield by 9.  Whizzed up the stairs of the control tower, followed by C, checked weather forecast, which was good, then filed the old flight plan, destination Le Touquet, France clearing customs outbound at Gatwick.

Drove across to the hanger & with the help of George pulled the chipmunk out, then, closely followed by C, walked slowly around the aircraft checking for any faults on the fuselage. 

10.00am pre-take off checks, warm up the engine, taxi to holding point.  Slight hold up as learner practicing circuits & bumps in a Cessna 150 takes a while to clear the area.  Quick check of dials then open the throttle right out and we are off, tail wheel lifts of the ground, MPH increases, take off, turn right, climb to 3000 feet.

C seems to be enjoying herself, asking if she can have a go? Like riding a horse, l said, left stick left boot and you go left, right stick/ boot and you turn to the right, keep the wings level & back pressure on the stick.  Good girl.

Call up gatwick tower, start approach, can hear radio clearly, can also hear C singing some ghastly pop song, call in for instructions, no reply from the tower.  Echo Yankee final approach................ thats us, nothing, then coming in from another pilot, 'turn your flippin' radio on mate, I'm the guy in the 747 behind you!'. Quick check in cockpit, 'C flipp that switch UP on your right', hiss the radio kicks back into life, messages pass to & fro between us & the tower, land at 11.15am, taxi to park. 

11.25 sling back hood, air turn blue, outcome a promise of no more singing down the headset by one youthful person!  Quick check of aircraft then both put on life jackets as crossing the English Channel.

11.30 cleared for take off and head south for the coast and the sea.

1pm sat upstairs in the airport restaurant eating shrimps and drinking coffee. 

Tell C of the story about a couple of English aristocratic ladies who would come here to lunch  en route to Monaco.  C was fascinated when l told her where they hid the cash. The thought of using bloomers as a wallet caused half the shrimp to leap out of the serving bowl.

Depart Le Touguet at 4, after filing flight plan,

5.30pm land back at airfield, clear customs, return EY to hanger.  Head for home.

Sunday 16th May 1971

Woke at 3, damn jackdaw stuck in chimney.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Sad news & an Introduction

Hello, this is Ms Elderberry, I have just discovered that my late Aunt has been blogging so l thought that l had better update the site as it appears that the pages have remained dormant for rather a long time.
Firstly, l must let you know that the ending was not to bad, no suffering, Auntie died peacefully in her sleep whilst on safari in Tanzania last October. She just went to sleep after a few G & Ts and when her room boy went to wake her the following morning with a cup of Earl Grey, discovered that she was out cold, so to speak. She was buried without too much fuss or attention beneath a flame tree in her cousin's garden out in the bush.

Since her departure, it has fallen to me to sort through her belongings, look after dog, and pass on any items to local museums etc I have also decided to write up here, on her blog, entries from her vast collection of journals meticulously written & kept up to date during her long life time.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

I can't leave the place for a mere minute

Why is it that when you leave the village for more than a few days, literally all hell breaks loose? You see, let me explain, l had not too bad a week at the Cheltenham National Hunt Festival and decided to spend my meager winnings on a quick trip to Marrakesh. That old romantic, Humph sent me a brief email suggesting a rendezvous in Morocco as he had a few days leave from the dig on the West Bank at Luxor. So here l am back in the village and on my first trip to the Village Stores to collect my newspapers l was bombarded with and updated on the latest village news.

It came as no surprise to myself, that my darling brother was once again centre of attention. Mini bus loads of women had descended on Much Dimley, searching for the 'lonely man in the papers'. Dearest brother had apparently moved in with Taffy Owen to escape the onslaught whilst Miss Knox had set up a temporary base in the lay by opposite Taffy's drive. It was being said that Sybil, Taff's wife, was not amused by recent developments and there had been a heated exchange of words at The Much Dimley Bowling Club's recent AGM. What makes all this so ridiculous is that t he program hasn't even been aired as yet. What will become of Monks then, l ask myself?

The next source of village agitation was the erection of a fine electronic gate heralding the entrance to Longshort Manor. It is said, and l will need to confirm this on my morning's perambulations, a most wonderful piece of iron work containing polo sticks and horses, however the entrance to the Manor has long been a public right of way, the footpath turning a sharp left hander onto an ancient drovers road. Well, it used to be for now theses majestic gates have completely blocked the route taken by horse rider and walker alike. No more access here. Both Mrs Blacker and Old Blaster joyously informed me that the local council had been informed as had the Ramblers Association, but so far nothing much seemed to have happened as the gates were still firmly shut to the hoi palloi.

Well so much for village life and l did have such a delicious time in Marrakesh and I am pleased to say that Morris-from-the-bottom-of-the-Lane did appreciate the little package that l collected for him from one of the little souks.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

A chance encounter

Miss Knox walked back with me from the village store this morning insisting that l call her Audrey. I must admit that she was strangely chatty, asking all sorts of rather irregular questions about nothing in particular then throwing in a little sneaker about Monks. This, the more l think about it, is totally out of Miss Knox's, l mean Audrey's character, for l don't think l have spoken more than a handful of words to her in the last thirty years as we in all honesty do not have much in common what with her being an ardent evangelical christian and vegan to boot.

The dratted woman was still hovering about when l should be taking Boy out for his mid-morning perambulation, l had been hospitable as it was so obvious to me that she seemed to be waiting for someone by her constant straining of her scrawny neck as she maneuvered to get the best view of my garden path and who was on it. I had a quick peek but could see no one except the blackbird tugging away at a worm that had jammed itself amongst the paving stones. She even declined to take a seat whilst l offered her a cup of Darjeeling with a slice of tea loaf. I thought that the poor woman must be waiting for a visitation from the lord the way she kept bobbing from this window to the next, it made me feel quiet exhausted just watching her.

As many of you will know, my dear brother normally drops in at around elevenses time, just for a chat, cup of tea and a read of my newspapers. today was no different except for the presence of dear Audrey who leaped about a foot into the air, spilling cake and tea as she rose like an incumbent kangaroo, as she saw the old fogey meander up the path, switching his stick from side to side whilst being followed at some length behind by Jack, his lakeland terrier who seem awfully interested in something just to the left of the garden gate.

Well, so much for brotherly love, is all l can say. Miss Audrey Knox completely engulfed Monks as soon as he stepped in through the door, taking his coat, pouring him tea, buttering his tea loaf. The stupid old biddy was positively falling over hersel, fawning around my grinning brother, who showed no objection to the fuss. I, mean while, was annoyed at being so totally ignored, so grabbed the old barbour from the peg behind the scullery door, climbed into my no longer green hunters, grabbed the dog lead and myself and Boy left the two old dotards to it.

As l closed the back door and headed across the vegetable garden towards the kissing gate and path beyond, it struck me quiet squarely, right between the eyes. Miss Audrey Knox, spinster of this parish is out to save the soul of my howler of a brother!

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

camp coffee and romance

Boy and I had a lovely walk this morning down to the village shop to collect our daily newspapers, snowdrops & aconites lining the hedge bottoms and the allotments at the corner of Milksop Lane looking all spruced up ready for the planting of the coming season's vegetable crop. I noticed, as l stopped to re-tie my shoe laces in a double bow, that all the allotments have been taken this year, which is an excellent sign of the industrious nature of our little community and bodes well for the Village Fete and Produce Show.

The Post Office was, by the time l arrived, all of a flutter, Mrs Blacker had swapped the hot chocolate for cups of Camp coffee and chocolate digestives as the weather has become decidedly milder of late. Anyway, as l entered there was a notable silence only broken by the sound of Old Blaster sucking his coffee noisily from, behind which Mrs Blacker had solidly positioned herself proudly handing me an opened issue of the Midshire Daily Post carefully folded to reveal a large colour photo of my dear brother beaming from ear to ear under the caption 'Rural Gent wants a Wife'. Everything sprang into place, my charming brother was obviously the centre of attention here in the village and was, in no uncertain terms, being dissected in minute detail by the seated villagers who between sips of strong coffee and dunking of biscuits were thoroughly enjoying the juicy article.

Without saying a word or taking the proffered cup of coffee, l sat down with thud onto one of the rickety wooden chairs, pulled out my glasses from my barbour pocket and began to read, completely oblivious to the 6 pairs of elderly eyes that watched me with the greatest of anticipation.

The article, which was on page 2 of the Women's Post, had been written by one Cheri Startangler, and featured the 6 gentlemen who had been chosen, together with accompanying manly photos. The ages ranged from 25 to 74, all single and with some tie to the countryside, so for example, we had some farmers, a huntsman, a gamekeeper, a rural GP and then my brother. it was observed & commented upon by Mrs de la Pole, that l re-read the paragraphs concerning my brother's details at least 3 times if not 4.

Old Blaster broke the silence by loudly stating that Monks was at least 82 if not 83 as he was 3 years younger than him so where did the 74 bit come from? Mrs de la Pole erupted in a violent attack of the giggles as she read out from the article, ' this charming, young at heart gentleman is searching for a younger woman to help bring the joy back into his lonely life. She must be slim, attractive, sound in wind and limb and finally be an excellent cook capable of cooking bread and butter pudding and other nursery foods'. Miss Knox sniffed loudly, stood up, smoothed her tweed skirt down and left after purchasing a first class stamp, envelopes, writing paper & a bottle of Parker Quinck ink in bottle blue.

Friday, 27 February 2009

A vicious bite to the thumb

I am sat here typing away with just one finger as l am nursing a badly swollen right hand following a rather nasty nip on the thumb by that little gentleman in velvet clothing, the common or garden mole. My garden, especially the vegetable plot is under a full frontal attack by at least one if not two of these subterranean blighters, if they stayed out of my garden that would be well and truly wonderful, but they don't so l have to resort to using traps which l carefully place in their runs, or would have if l hadn't have put my hand straight onto Mr Mole who promptly took hold of my thumb, sinking his long front teeth in the fleshiest part only coming to a halt as they hit bone and then preceded to hang on for grim death, swing from side to side as l tried to shake him off. So now you have it, one swollen hand and copious amounts of yellow pus. In future l think perhaps l will use my elderly Purdey to halt the invasion, but then, no doubt, some do gooder or a concerned person worried about my mental capacity, will complain if they see me taking pot shots at the ground?

Fortunately, Morris-from-the-Bottom-of-the-Lane was hedge cutting in the next field, so he kindly picked me up & took me straight around to the local doctor's surgery which was an interesting experience l can tell you, especially as it would have been a good few years since l had last set foot in the practice, Dr McFadden was in charge then l seem to remember. The place now is awful, to put it bluntly, people sat on uncomfortable plastic chairs listening to some ear-shattering radio noise and wheezing all over everyone else. Not my idea of a healthy environment and as for the receptionists, l ended up having to rap on the glass with my good hand to attract their attention. I do detest having to speak to people's backs!

A couple of days ago my dear brother, Monks, popped in for a cup of tea, slice of battenburg and a chat as he was just passing by & thought he would do a quick check up to see how l was doing, and to laugh unmercifully at the state of my hand. No sympathy there l might add; isn't that just typical, if it had been HIS hand, l would have been expected to race around armed with my first aid kit and a bottle of dandelion wine!

Well, when he turns up at a non-major meal time, it normally means that he has something of great interest about himself to pass on to me, and this was to be no exception. A local monthly magazine, The Hoppington Journal, had run an article on rural encounters of a romantic nature, asking for eligible gentlemen to forward their details for a series of articles to be published over the summer along the theme 'Rural Gent wants a Wife'. Crash, l dropped my mug of Darjeeling with the shock, 'Are you that desperate?' l inquired, for as far as l was aware he had never admitted to a lack of success in that direction, certainly as a younger man with a fine head of hair he was a great one for the ladies, in fact he was know affectionately as 'Dreamboat'! 'Just seeing who is out there', was the rather sheepish reply, adding that he was due to be featured in a local newspaper's women's page next week. Men, l ask you & l dread to think what he has told them about himself and as to the woman of his dreams, my toes positively curl backwards at the thought!

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Lost ancestors and rabbit holes

You will be pleased to note that l am feeling fully recovered from my slight incapacity of last week, Mrs De La Pole recommended her niece, Kylie who is a mobile beautician, to come and give me a thorough overhaul. I must say that l can thoroughly recommend her for not only did she massage all my aching limbs back into some sort of readiness, she also gave me a pedicure and manicure to boot, all in the price. So now l have matching finger & toe nails in the shade of purple grape. Please don't think that this is something of a regular occurrence as l believe my last 'do' would have been coming back from Brazil on the Queen Mary after a few months spent exploring the Amazon Basin with Sir David.

The village fortunately has suffered no more deaths though we have had a birth, the Blewwits have now a third grandchild, a boy who is to be christened Freddy. No news as yet as to when the christening will take place, but l am sure we will all be having a jolly good party afterwards. It is always the case an old one dies then in pops a new one!

My dear old brother turned up just as l was about to have lunch yesterday, an annoying habit he has always had l might add, clutching some rather tatty looking documents that looked as though they had been the staple diet of a family of rodents. Spreading the papers wildly across my already groaning pine kitchen table, and first pulling one forward and then another, Monks started to babble something about lost treasure and heirlooms. Now my brother can be a bit of a card to put it mildly, but this was something else. For years, well ever since we were children, the family legend on my father's side, was of an ancestor who had to leave the village at very short notice bequeathing the family, on his death, land that he had acquired in South America during his life time. As is so often the case with stories of wealth there was just no documentation to bear this out. Previous generations had scoured bank vaults, searched behind the wainscot, dug up floor boards, all to absolutely no avail. So how come my dear brother had come to think, rightly or wrongly that he had found the key to untold wealth?

After what must have been his fourth cup of earl Grey, apparently he had been out with Jack his lakeland terrier, who had shot off down a rabbit hole at the far end of the garden near to his rhododendron collection, only to bring back not a bunny but a leather packet, the contents of which where now spread before me. Slowly and carefully with both of us wearing a pair of mother's old ball gloves which l brought down from the gown trunk in the attic, we began to inspect the tattered papers. Bills, shopping lists passed through our be gloved fingers, hunt ball programes, knitting patterns and recipes, but no will. the pile grew every larger, black edged death notices, obituaries and a baby shoe. But nothing that even resembled a last will and testament!

So that was that then, my table covered in dirty, vermin smelling papers that contained not even a hint of cash. Such is life but it was fun at the time searching and to see poor old Monk's face as the light slowly dawned that this most certainly was not the BIG ONE!