A belated but very Happy New Year to you and we trust you had a lovely time and Father Christmas came up trumps or at least the he left it to you to finish off the beer and mincepies on Christmas Eve. Dotty had a fine old time in the pub as usual, dressing for the occasion and enjoying her Christmas pint. Our year has started quite slowly as is customary but we have a bit of work coming in. Fortunately we managed to get the electric back eventually but by then we’d well started winding down! Nearly forgot to say that despite appearances we are actually a bunch of folk who look after the continued airworthiness of balloons various including all the paperwork and pay the Civil Aviation Authority (lovely people) a heap of folding for the privilege. That’s that out the way. What we do is enjoy our work and the people we meet who all have rather eclectic interests. Although thus far the year seems to have started rather full of admired famous people leaving us like Lemmy (Ok that was the very end of 2015), Bowie and Buffin hopes are that things will improve. Now the HS2 stuff is out the way we should be able to get to some meets this year. Following on from the Cameron Service Bulletin we have updated our advice to customers, details in the newsybit. We did manage to call in for the closing stages of the first Unfrozen Meet and very fine it was. Despite the atrocious and less than ideal ground conditions preventing any up, up and awaying the turnout was tremendous and the venue rated as 5 star. There is a report in the news somewhere. Meanwhile another balloonist falls foul of the regulations and is prosecuted by the CAA this time for falsifying a medical certificate.
In the News you find an important piece on the Exemption you must have if you intend to continue to use your UK Licence. This is in place as a bit of a ‘Until EASA know what the hell is going on’ type of thing but thing is you need to have it about your license so that your UK license remains valid. News is also in of a balloon going missing from Wakefield which is decidedly up north from here. The article promised last time on our splendid day out to Tracklements, ‘Malmesbury, Mustard and the Story of the Tiger’ is now published. We are most grateful to Paul Dopson and Heaven Crawley for sending us the story on how Tashi, the Tibetan balloon, came to be which makes for very interesting reading and was not without its political problems. Not included in the news this time is that the entry forms for Grassroots will be out soon so watch their website. There are to be changes this year to the entry fees and it will not roll over in the way it used. More next time. I am taking advantage of the quieter period to finish off some of the outstanding articles which no doubt will appear randomly. Our next trip out was to have been the opening of the new railway into Oxford Station but that has now been put back to December so we’ll have to find something else to do, probably from our new book called ‘101 Beer Days Out’ by Tim Hampson who got us quite happy in Blackwells following a Beer Talk. Highly Recommended. Actually a trip to Hendon is on the cards as is one to Duxford in late March when the American Air Museum reopens after its makeover.
Following the sale of a lot of stationary and will-never-get-done Old & Rusty stuff from the Dark Barn it is, you will be pleased to ‘ear, filling up again but this time with stuff that will get done. I am now inclined to flog my trusty Bonneville (a decision obviously not set in stone) as I have finally found a rather fantastic BSA B31 in as-is condition dating from 1948. The very nice fellow we got it from was using it on a daily basis so not a lot to do to it and it will make a very nice run-around and weighing, as it does, less than most mountain bikes will be easy to push if it has a misfortune which it won’t. Hopefully it will be back running in the next week or two. We had fun watching our Pete try to kick start it before explaining about decompression levers and advance and retard. He muttered something as he limped off. In an admission of not wanting to grovel on the floor anymore we purchased a very nice Bike Lift from a bloke in Hemel Hempstead and as soon as Pete Brown’s horsebox is out the way we’ll set it up. On the social side of things Jane’s Botdog managed to get half its ear torn off the other day, it was deaf anyway, so please take care if you pat its empty head and Robin B turned up in his Woody and promptly knocked me off me Terrot. Well that’s about it for the moment, thanks for calling by and we look forward to seeing you (in a purely social way) in 2016. All the best Chris, Jane, John and Dotty.