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Up and Away

July 25, 2016 1 Comment

The last blog was when we were in Portugal/Spain. We had heaps of time to get to Hamburg, as the Spitfire flight fell over!


The boss, Carolyn Grace, saw the emails, understood our difficulty in replying in quick time, so ‘added’ an extra spot on the 20th! It’s very hard to reply immediately in emails, when you are struggling in the Sahara! She worked that out, so we’re in!

okay, we’re in north Portugal, or nw Spain, its say the July 15, how to get to Sywell aerodrome, England by the 20th?

Jim from home and I googled furiously, found a ferry that goes from Santander (Spain – north coast), to Portsmouth (England -south coast). The 16th and 17th were full, (it’s a huge ferry), but Monday 18th was a goer. So we booked.

On the trip to Santander, Portugal and Spain continue to amaze. You’ve just gotta go and have a look. Trust me.

We booked on line, and in the application you give the rego number of your car, so when you turn up they smile, check your passport, and through you go. On the ship, it’s a 20 hour trip,

You meet some pretty interesting people.

One guy, retired three years ago, English (Yorkshireman), takes his wife on holidays and just works with her, as a taxi driver. Anywhere, anything she wants, no worries luv. After two or three weeks, she goes home, and he goes to nw Spain, gets out his fishing gear, lives in an old shack, and fishes!

The stories. Lynn had tears running down her cheeks. There’s one he tells about him and his wife, driving over to France from Yorkshire, and in the car (a small panel van thing), they have his bait, for fishing. Well, the bait is maggots, and it’s been wrapped a different way, and yes the packaging comes undone, and they have to stop in the French countryside as they need fuel, and the maggots have spread all over the back of the panel van, but because they are stopped, the gendarmes come to see what’s happening because it is 4am. You have to have him tell you the story. Very, very funny.

At the bar, this chap suggested I buy a particular beer, English ale, one of the ones that are warm and flat! He meanwhile purchased a European lager!

We got to Portsmouth, customs into England took longer because we were answering the customs guy’s questions about where we’d been and what we’d enjoyed. Then to Sywell aerodrome, which is near Northampton, about 200km north of Portsmouth.

We got close, but were knackered. Missing a sign to a camp area, we dropped in on a farm, in Whittlebury, that had a few caravans. I figured he’d know. He did, Stewart, but he and his wife Pat, talked us into staying on the farm. His farm is next door to Silverstone race track! The buggers kept us up till midnight, talking and drinking.

The next day was an easy run to Sywell aerodrome, where I got to fly in a twin seat Spitfire. Originally a fighter in WW2, in about 1950 it was converted to a twin, for training purposes, I think in Spain mostly.

I think I’ll draft a separate blog about that day!

At the aerodrome we caught up with Barry and Donna. It was awesome. So many stories, so little time.

They had teed up accommodation across the road from the aerodrome, with the “Society of Human Powered Flight, England”. They are there for a week or so, doing human powered flights at the aerodrome. Baz and I got up early one morning to watch. I got video of one of the flights, but when he “lifted off”, I got so excited, I videoed the sky!

It was fantastic to be camping on an English sheep paddock with 40 or more “Human Powered flight” enthusiasts. Wonderful.

A bonus was the aerodrome is a base for a five or six piece aerobatic Team, so they would be out every hour or so, testing routines. We were there, underneath them, as a free audience. Awesome.

Off we head, south. We decide to drop in on the MG Car Club, at Abingdon, next door to the old manufacturing factory, in cemetery road. The receptionist was wonderful, put the other three at ease with a cup of tea or coffee, and I got talking to Peter Neale, their archivist.

I explained I owned a TA MG, made in 1937, I was certain of the engine no. (2210) and I thought the chassis no. was TA- 1937. He went away, came back with the original shed log (book) of TA cars, dated, with a record of what engine went into what chassis. The book had been rebound, but the entries were original and on November 16, 1937, the car went down the line. Goodness gracious me. But engine 2210 is in Chassis TA 1939… Peter wants photos back to clarify a possible entry error in 1937. But, because I haven’t looked at the chassis number for years, I’m sure the book will be correct.

Then, off to our good friends Barry and Rosemary, at Uckfield, East Sussex. Barry and Donna know them as well, so the four of us dropped in, on the Friday afternoon.

We’ve had a great time, plenty of banter, stories, lies, etc. A good catch up.

We met Barry and Rosemary in China in 1991, and have kept in touch ever since. Mind you, the way Barry jokes at my expense, I should stop seeing them! He has my measure, and it’s a ribbing I enjoy immensely.

Sadly, we left on Sunday 24th, and went to Harwich, on the east coast, for a ferry to Holland. So we’re now in a forest in Holland, quite gorgeous. Have spent the afternoon in a private park.

A few days in Holland will see us get to Germany for the boat to Nova Scotia, Canada.

Cold here!

Dutch people are so polite, friendly, a good sense of humour and helpful. We’re enjoying it here.

More later.

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  1. Jody Perrun says:

    Hi Alan and Lynn,
    It was nice talking to you at the Chapters store in St. Vital mall in Winnipeg the other day. I took a quick look at your travel blog and was instantly jealous when I read about your Spitfire flight! I’m sure that was a one-of-a-kind experience. Anyway, hope the rest of your trip unfolds smoothly and you have smooth sailing on the home leg.



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