In the normal course of events a summary of the year is something I would avoid like the plague, but this has been a very eventful year so discretion overcame valour, and I thought what the hell; and at least it might put things into perspective, or maybe not. Note: The title of this piece is meant to reflect the way Robbie Burns wrote some of his poems, and it is coming up to Hogmanay. New Year’s eve was just me and t’wife at home alone playing on the XBox doing (virtual) bowling. Still no good at it:
Still it got us up and getting some exercise, even if it was only waving our arms about. The usual winter was upon us already with extensive snow with more to follow later in March. But the next few weeks were in helping Teresa and Kev getting their stuff packed for the impending move to Melbourne. There was tooing and froing from their place in Essex and me finishing off floor-boarding the loft, in preparation for the expected storage of the stuff they wanted to leave here. That accomplished we waited for the first week in February when they jetted off to their new home in the Antipodes. This was covered extensively elsewhere in my blog:
But we did visit them during the year but more of that later. March bought another birthday for me, golf with my occasional ex-works society and getting Kev’s car ready for sale, which they left behind after I volunteered to get shot of it. It went eventually via the Autotrader website which was actually a good move, better I think than eBay which I have also sold a car through. Anyway it went to a good home and Kev was pleased with the sale price. April, and a bit of spring at last but we had been asked if we wanted to go on a boat trip on the Mediterranean off Turkey, so a bit of preparation for resulted in the trip at the end of the month on the Kurt-K which was a hoot for the whole week. This is also described elsewhere, but it was a great trip and we are seriously considering going again. The main event in May was the laying to rest the old 3(F) Squadron at the church in Chitterne, Wilts. There was a huge involvement by all involved getting a marching standard party from the squadron, many ex Commanding Officers and members of the Squadron Association. It was a lovely weekend and many people met up with long lost friends and lost colleagues. After a flypast by a Typhoon from the squadron and a Hurricane from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, we all sat down to a delicious lunch organised by our President who lives in the village. In the same month we also went to the first Ruffits we’d been to for a couple of years. This was also a great weekend, I even got to sing a few songs. We borrowed a neighbours caravan who had offered it as and when we wanted. It was most welcome, but the weather was kind so the alternative awning on my van did not need to be an alternative. June was a busy month, with the charity gig at Elmhurst Farm with cousin Steve, the Manston Air Day and the ‘Queue’ at Wimbledon, which looking back wasn’t that bad and it was a full day out in quite nice weather so what’s not to like. Apparently we’re having a go at the ballot for tickets next year. You still have to queue though, I believe even if you win tickets.
The Wimbledon Breakfast
Then a surprise at the end of June. A mate had a ticket going for a Bonnie Raitt concert at the Royal Albert Hall because someone else had to drop out and he asked me if I’d like to go. Very nice of him and he drove us up there; her show was great, she’s been around a long time and played with all the greats in rock music. In July I was invited to a garden which for years has raised money for the local hospice, always a good cause. I played a couple of songs with the host and did a couple myself, I always enjoy performing live. We were also meant to be going on a balloon flight bought by our girls a year before, but for various reasons we weren’t able to and got at least some of the money back. Maybe we’ll have a go in 2014. We finished off the month going to the last ‘Top Gear’ recording at Dunsfold aerodrome; Charlotte had managed to get a couple of tickets via a friend. it was an interesting experience, not least seeing the television ‘machine’ at work, and although it seemed laid back and not very organised, in fact it sped through very quickly and the recording, which is transmitted pretty much as you see it, didn’t take much longer than the actual programme. There were quite a few retakes, especially with Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond ‘corpsing’ in one piece, but seeing the end result on the TV at home was nice, even though we didn’t see ourselves and my ‘argument’ with Clarkson was cut out, never mind.
August was a busy month, and it ended in the Australia trip. First though I had been invited by a Belgian aviation interest group ‘Wings of Memory’ who wanted to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the death of Baron de Delys Longchamp, a pilot of 3 Squadron of which I am chairman of the Association. The Longchamp family came over and we had a fly past of a Typhoon from the squadron and a pair of Belgian F16s. A lovely day out.
Then with all the preparations done, we flew out to Melbourne on 20th August, our longest trip ever and first time beyond Egypt. As recorded in several of my other blogs (see the archives on the right hand side), we had a great time, thanks in no small part to Teresa and her husband Kevin. It certainly made us wish to return as soon as possible; watching the cricket there today from the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) certainly bought back memories. But it was another tick in the box and it was great to see them having a wonderful life out there and embracing all that the country, and city, has to offer.
The beginning of October was strange, no not the jet lag from our journey home, we just couldn’t get back into the swing of things mundane. Still, after a couple of weeks things started slowly to return to some semblance of normality, whatever that is. October was also the month that the annual reunion took place in Leatherhead for the 3(F) Squadron Association, and although it wasn’t very well attended, all that did enjoyed it very much. It was the last one I shall organise, after doing 12 I’ve think I’ve done enough of them. In November, we were invited to another of my friend John’ soirs in his house where the garden party was held, to watch a very good two piece band as well as throwing money into buckets for the same charity: The Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice.
We also had a lovely weekend in the Kent coast with cousin Steve and Bev. I always enjoy going down there, it’s exactly 100 miles door to door and we’re always made to feel very welcome; usually about three times a year. One unusual trip was to White City to help a friend buy her new car from one of the biggest second hand car dealers in the country, apparently they move 800 cars a week, quite impressive, although I won’t publicise their name. Anyway it was interesting to see their selling machine in action, and our friend came away with her little 11 plate Peugeot convertible. I drove her Swatch car home, interesting journey, quite a sprightly little thing. Then it’s the run-up to Christmas.
The Christmas day dinner was interesting, we realised we were going to be on our own. So after other invitations didn’t suit us, we decided to go out, and we chose The Silvermere Golf Club who provided a superb five course meal with help yourself buffet at a very reasonable cost: A good decision. On Boxing Day we were invited to the neighbours to join in with their family, including old fashioned games, and all had a thoroughly good time. So now here we are at New Year’s eve, and I’m not expecting too much for the New Year, we’ll see what transpires through the course of it. Have fun yourselves anyway.
A Happy New Year 2014 to my reader.