Lovely to see you and well chilled greetings. The swallows have turned up, bluebells are out and the blossom is fantastic and as a bonus the sun is shining. I have to apologise for the longer than normal gap between updates and stuff but intringsitly I’m an outdoor person and can’t bear to be in front (or behind, nurse) of a screen of any type if the sun is shining so it kind doesn’t get done. I say this having just returned from daughter’s farm and exercising the dog by driving down the fields to their grand bonfire tip. Dog had to be rewarded for chasing an albino pheasant on the way back and for once failing to get it. Out of season you know. Whoops, or rather, just be correct, you haven’t arrived at a site for the sideways through time folk, we are actually a Part M, Subpart F&G Continued Maintenance Organisation looking after and trying to keep things simple for balloonists Euro-wide. Done that, so where were we? The weather has finally broken and we are all getting or have got current again. ‘There was this tree’, tales are now coming in and at last a bit of work. We took the quiet time to rack off the Sloe, Elderflower and a small amount of Parsnip wine which does go down verrry well m’lord. We now have nearly enough empty bottles to sort out the large vat of Carrot! On the oversight sort of thing we now have a new Surveyor who is due to pay us a visit no doubt. This time the CAA have appointed a chap from Gatwick who will be overseeing all the balloony stuff. Finally the CAA have (maybe) sorted things out. Sad to say we say cheerio to Darren Underwood who has apparently been seconded by Gatwick to do something top secret. We wish him all the best. Despite the atrocious weather we have had some lovely visitors (aren’t they all) including Robin Batch in his rusty Ford Woody who chauffeured Christine Hooker, Chairman of the BBAC’s missus (don’t you know) following a very nice lunch with Anthony Smith when they finally got to present him (Anthony that is) with the award he should have got at the BBAC AGM. Got to break now to enjoy some St George’s mushrooms that Roger the Gardener has very kindly dropped in.
Lovely, now then where were we? There is some News Stuff but nothing of very much note apart from EASA irritations so just go and enjoy the divine weather! The BBAC’s (British Balloon & Airship Club) Licence Road Show fronted by Paul Spellward has now toured most of the Regions. At the Black Horse nigh on 40 members turned up to be confused and confounded by EASA’s stupidity. Seems to me it is all about revenue earning and job creation as far as Cologne is concerned. The BBAC presentation is pretty straightforward ‘Don’t shoot me, I’m only the messenger’ being their keystone phrase. For all us humble pilots, instructors and examiners it will be bad enough but for those wishing to gain a licence it will be the same O-£LOTS that many suffered as a result of the over-zealous airworthiness legislation that got spattered over all GA (sorry General Aviation) when the rocket exploded too high above Airbus Industries offices for like what it was clearly aimed at. Its OK, I’m over that, for the moment, homemade sloe has helped. A good rant is good for the soul in moderation but if the ranting outnumbers the calm the problem is probably yours (o: Our week is being dominated by local barmaid Dolly who is celebrating her 100th birthday by having a day off. We’ve known her forever and I can recall at least three ‘retirement’ parties for her but she still does a few days a week at the Red Lion in Wendover. I’m still naturally rude to her and still get a clip round the ear for cheek. She was working when I was 13 and stacking the shelves. We flew Dolly, Dennis the Cellarman (who limped on account of a gun carriage falling on his foot during the war) and Liz the chef and inventor of ‘powercut pie’ when the miner’s strike was on. They had all worked at the Red Lion since Christopher Wren and later Oliver Cromwell stayed there. We flew out of the carpark, did a circular flight around the village and landed back in the local school whilst balloons from the Black Horse hurried overhead heading for North Bucks and beyond. I forget now the total time of service the three had but it was respectively outrageous. They’ve given her the night off and there is a party for her at lunchtime on Easter Saturday so I doubt I’ll be flying in the evening. The following week will be equally busy as St George’s Day falls on Wednesday so apologies in advance as we will be having a Holiday. Destination not confirmed, more after the event. What may be up in a day or two is finally the article on Barry’s Guzzi along with something on a ‘luvvie’ visit to Hatfield House courtesy of Andrew Sinclair our resident artistic luvvie sculpture chappie. We had a ball being taken as art critics for a national paper on account Barry had a camera with a lens so big it had stabilising wheels. I nearly forgot, my camera is mended. Simple really. Take all the screws out that you can see, keep fingers away from the internals and bash it somewhat severely on the desk whilst operating the on button. The lens (amongst other bits) will fall out but provided it can be jemmied back together it may well work again and, as it ‘appened, somewhat surprisingly it did. Amazing.
Over in the ’Projects’ department much sorting and robust chucking has meant that time has now appeared to move forward get ready for our move later in the year. John took a stiff brush to the lovely ’77 basket that has been lurking on the shelf and that is now for sale. It is rather lovely and I’m rather reluctant to sell it but everything is now measured in blocks or concrete. Next will be my prized Lindstrand burner and 1935 Standard 8. It’s a tough old life living with HS2. I have found a small Culverin which we need to clean up ready for mounting on the workshop roof. Next we’ll take all the lead weights out the sash windows and cast some shot. On the Barry bike front we have finally got to bottom of the electrics problem by throwing away the new starter relay he tracked down at no small expense. We have had a couple of interesting trailer jobs in. One involved designing a Bradley Doublelock axle to replace the dreadful Al-ko one fitted to a Staffordshire Trailer, report on the performance later, and yet another repair to a hinged lid on a Westfalia when it wasn’t realised by the owner that oil is an essential ingredient for hinges. The ‘Famous Rob the Balloon’ trailer went out to Limoge and back full to the top with fishing stuff and is now the official ‘Swan Fishing Club’ trailer so is no longer for sale. Big ones to Rob Cross. I’m assured the balloon logo on the back will stay. Well that’s it for the moment otherwise I may go into a fourth paragraph which will then have to be maintained. The front cover is John negotiating a rather large basket belonging to Andy Rawson’s Wicker’s World Balloon Ride business that came in for some tender care which was harder than first appreciated as it had a runner the full length on the long side which had to come off. As it turned out it was remarkably straightforward. Thank you again for visiting, please have a look around the site and we trust you find something of interest or that will make you chuckle. Best regards as always from John, Jane, Dotty, Alice and Chris.