Well it’s with a fair mixture of embarrassment and joy that I wish you all a very Happy New Year and a Jolly January, trusting that you enjoyed a loud, raucous, hectic, peaceful Christmas, depending. We had all of those especially when the tree fell down revealing two small people one of which declared, “It wasn’t just me you know!”. It is a disgraceful eight months since we ("We?!" Editor) last posted up stuff however the ‘Pages’ bit has been kept updated, unless I missed something, so a very belated huge thankyou to all our friends who kept us employed last year and to all of you that have continued to visit the site. This year things will head back to the old style of nonsense and we’ll endeavour to try and stay more current. As for 2018’s flying we could have done more, I dare say, but what we did do was most enjoyable including taking John’s newly built balloon for its maiden flight. Article to follow. Sadly a few balloonists floated off into the far blue yonder and will be sorely missed including Aidan Murphy, Christine Turnbull, Tom Donnelly, Derek Mitchell, Roy Boyle, David Liddiard and Robin Batchelor’s mum, who wasn’t a balloonist but had to put up with one for years. Last year has seen an awful lot of HS2 activity both in the back field and around the village, most of which seems to have been people doing what they have already done. Tally so far is eight bat visits, four tree surveys and a fair few goes at scanning the field for ‘services’. We did offer up the fact that for many years it had staged the local ploughing competitions so there would be very little left of in the way of ‘Services’, if they were ever there at all, which they weren’t. Don’t mind really as they are helping the fiasco to run even more over-budget. Must drop Mr Lidington a line as soon as he has helped sort Europe out. Balloon Meet-wise, whereas we didn’t manage to get to any last year on account of work, walking and other engagements, there were some smashers including, in no particular order of smashiness, the Midlands Balloon Meet, Chatsworth and Longleat. Unfortunately the two we would most likely have rocked up to, Kirby Lonsdale and Grass Roots, were beaten by the weather and cancelled. Here we are then, a few days away from the Icicle and, which for the first time in a long time, looks as if all slots will be flyable we will attend. Be amazed.
What of the news then? Obviously most of 2018’s news has been and gorn but we have sorted a few items out for the News Section that are noteworthy including stuff on recent Airworthiness, Cameron’s Service bulletin on hoses (which has already posed a few problems), Schroeder flight cylinders with mysterious leaks and the thing that everyone (except balloonists) is talking about, namely Self Declared Maintenance Programmes which actually are quite handy. We also have a tray full of finished, half finished and ‘really don’t know what to do with’ type articles which should be up and running toot sweetie like. Stuart and Polly did all actually finish the Ridgeway stages they missed so that will be there along with a piece or two on the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, which I famously missed in 2018 despite my best efforts and a thing about ‘Silence’ from the deep thinking Steve Roake. No idea. Then we need to finish off the piece on our winter trip to Bicester in a Morris 1000. Actually this years Bicester Scramble is almost upon us. That went quickly, the time that is not the Morris 1000. All in all we have a lot to catch up on and more to report on. Hope the weather stays a bit naff for a week or two after the Icicle otherwise I’ll be out!
The Dark Barn is dark and cold at the moment but that isn’t to say things haven’t been occurring albeit (great word) slowly. Having dragged the bike lift down from the loft it was almost immediately covered in stuff, as is what happens to flat clear areas in workshops. We did have a brave stab at clearing it off and in the interim got the Thunderbird onto it to sort out a badly by-passing oil pump, a common occurance on Triumphs (other British bike marquees included). Of course I had a replacement pump for it and, come the day, could I find it? No. To ensure it turns up post ockta proctor I’ve ordered a new one. Following the discovery that, at a rather pathetic 300,000 miles, the old Hilux engine had nearly engorged a combustion chamber and piston we now have a replacement engine and gearbox that has come from a fine fellow in Thurso who in turn recovered it from The Orkneys. Now that is a long way away and in initially we had planned an adventure to collect it but somehow it arrived on a pallet. I have seen stuff that has been used by the seaside and as the Hilux it came from was used to pull a fishing boat out of the water it was no surprise that anything remotely pressed steel (including the rocker box) was rusty came as no surprise. The man that sold it to me told me so, which was fine, however it had done very few miles in its life so in the coming weeks work we will start on swapping bits and bobs over and we’ll get the old girl back on the road. There is also a gearbox to go with it so we’ll have the cab off and change the lot and take the opportunity to weld up the cab. In the meantime I do now have a rather nice replacement Hilux so I reckon I may be torn between the two. Only other things to do are: sort out the old white Landcruiser, get an MOT on the new Landcruiser, try and salvage something out of the more modern blue Corsa we have had kicking around and get the old Corsa, now used as a crown line, back on the road. That should see out the quiet months.
So, once again, many thanks for your past custom. You are always welcome to drop by but best call first to make sure we haven’t got it into our heads to go to the seaside. Opening times for January to end of March will be Tuesday to Thursday from 10 o’clock until about snorters. That doesn’t mean that if you have a more urgent repair or need some help we won’t open up on a Friday. Now BT have finally mended the workshop phone please leave a message on 01296 624725 or try the mobile 07973 510518, but it does keep office hours, alternatively drop an email to email@example.com and it will get picked up in the morning. Top piccie is little Albert and James having felled the Christmas Tree, next up is Simon Calvert’s lovely new balloon ‘Shades’ on its maiden flight. Then we have the late Chateau special shape in front of Chateau Balleroy back in August, full story in the news. The two balloons, Fresh Air and Windrush, dropped into Wellwick Farm skilfully landing on the path between the wheat fields. Grandchildren Holly and Nicole were impressed when Spencer Craze piloting Fresh Air called them by name as they approached. Finally a small family gathering with Jane’s dad celebrating his 98th birthday back in April 2019. Our very best wishes once again for a very Happy New Year. Chris, John, Jane and Polly and everyone else (o:
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