Balloon Repair Station

Welcome 09.02.2020

Belated greetings to 2020. This morning is mainly very windy and a tad different to last week. Despite that snowdrops, crociiuses and primroses are out here and bringing joy. Always fancied producing saffron but a tad intensive and I fear and not good for the back! A fair few years back I unwittingly landed in The Crocus field at Inkpen. It is an SSSI and is famous for the show of lilac crocuses in March. Fortunately it was January and we’d flown from the Icicle. The local warden of the site was most helpful but asked if we wouldn’t land there again until after flowering and die off had finished. “Not a problem,” was our jolly retort. We spent quite a while chatting to the kindly gentleman who explained that local folklore is that the crocuses were brought back by returning Crusaders or Knights Templar for food flavouring. The meadow is only ever grazed and has never been cultivated hence the huge diversity of native plants which give it its SSSI status, not the crocuses which are non-native. Down in the far corner is a very large hole that in tales of myth and legend, so we were told, was a bomb crater or possibly result of a WW2 plane crash (can’t remember now). Best time to visit is late February early March. The sight will fill you with happiness. I’ll stick a bit in the news with a linky dink. Anyway where was I? There have been a couple of nice little flying slots but the fields are very wet so landings required due consideration! Unfortunately we haven’t yet got Pete back in the air but next slot…The ’56 is all loaded and ready to go.

In this issue hopefully there is a review of the elusive Lindstrand Technologies Vortex burner. We had one presented for inspection so finally managed to get a quick but close look at the thing. I quite like it. In a strange garish way it’s a thing of beauty. Haven’t tried it in anger yet but hopefully we’ll get a chance in the near future. Also up will be something on the Cameron Stratus Neo if I can get it finished. We also have a rant about licensing and bit of a heads up on airworthiness issues relating to a thing called EASA Part 66 which is different to Route 66 but then again maybe we’ll compare them or leave them for another time. The events page has had a major update but if we’ve missed anything then let us know post ocktar proctor please. John had a nice cruise round the Isle of Wight in an ocean liner the other week but sadly has no pictures. We have had a splurge of unusual burners and equipment in lately so I’ll write a bit about some of them up in the news bit or if I get carried (by men in white coats) they may become mini series. On the social side the Old and Rusties have done a fair amount of walking in all weathers and Godfrey even managed to get around Sky without any appreciable injury. Most out of character. He is currently up ladders replacing outside lights in Hurricane Clarissa. What could positively go wrong.

The Dark Barn has seen a resurgence of late as has the big barn opposite. First in was John’s Volvo for a bit of TLC to the bodywork. Proper car it is but after his neighbour reversed into it (she had cataracts) and the damage repaired John decided that a thorough tosh up was due. Very good it looked when he’d finished. The Swan Fishing Club minibus has been moved under cover for the winter whilst Paul the tallest man in Wendover continues his quest to get it running. It was when it was delivered and did the following day but after that it didn’t. Apparently that is why the John Colet School decided to part with it. Matters have not been helped by the invasion of family mouse which have eaten the back seats. Never mind they were coming out anyway. My new Hilux has continued to reveal a chequered history which has necessitated the replacement of the propshaft. Initially this was only the rear section but on further examination it seems the front half has issues so for the time being a one piece unit off of a Mk4 has been fitted and seems to be working. It is a fine thing but it’s a bit too neat and tidy for me so moves are now afoot to get the old one’s new engine sorted and fitted. Meanwhile my delightful Corsa Breeze, which I got for £140 in 2016, has started to fall to bits. This wasn’t helped as it was frequently used as an crownline tie-off for the big balloons. The tailbox has now fallen off along with a few bits of trim and the radio is now become mono as in one speaker. Pete broke a sun visor and there is a slight leak from the plumbing. Thing is it hasn’t cost anything to get through MOTs except the odd tyre, a bottom balljoint and set of pads and it doesn’t use any diesel! A search for the source of the leak revealed an onset of some of the front crossmember missing due to metal worm so its not going to go through another MOT. Time for a trip to the scrappy but we may keep it as a trailer tug until the towbar falls off. On the balloon front we’ve stuck new tyres on the trailer and the ’56 is all good to go. I need to get back the 0-84 ready for the season and think about flogging the Unipart ‘105 and using the money to bung some new panels in Blue Peter. Right that’ll do for now so onwards to sorting the news.

Top piccie is Pete on his third outing on a horse. This is his girlfriend Steph’s horse Carrie a lovely natured Skewbald. Piccie two is Victor Vortex featured elsewhere and finally John singing away in the Dark Barn. Horizontal rain has now joined the maelstrom so before it gets any worse I’d best get some wood in just in case we need to build a raft. Don’t think we will be walking tonight but you never can tell. Have a great fun February, its got an extra day so best have that off then. All the best chrsi, Jane, John and Polly.