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Airs and graces

October 3, 2015

The Battle of Britain 75th Anniversary Air Show was a brilliant day out marred only slightly by the traffic management schemes around the area. We eventually arrived at about 10 am and having found our allotted parking place proceeded to the Gold Pass marquee. Tea, coffee and snacks on offer, excellent toilet facilities and immediate access to the seating area for viewing the air show later. Our passes included the Flight Line walk, over 20 Spitfires and Hurricanes lined up plus a host of other interesting and period aircraft. An excellent lunch in the marquee was followed by three hours of flying displays accompanied by excellent informative commentary and interspersed with recordings of Churchill’s speeches from 1940 – stirring stuff. The finale was 17 Spitfires in a mass scramble and fly pasts, formation flying in several directions at once – not a dry eye to be seen!

17 Spitfires

17 Spitfires

The sky was a bit cloudy but that often adds character and contrast to photographs. This was the first time I had used my camera for action distance shots and I knew from past experience at air shows with old film cameras that the “auto” settings just wouldn’t cut it. Everything is backlit against the sky so it is necessary to over expose to be able to see details of the planes. I did this (after a few experiments – digital makes that easy) by using a +1.3 ev setting, changing the metering to centre-weighted and allowing the camera to do the rest. By & large this worked on and I did get some good pictures but I still need to do more experimenting as the shutter speed was too fast – in many cases up to 1/4000th second which probably helped with camera shake but froze all the propellers.

I also tried using the video setting for the finale. The problem with taking video with an SLR is that you have to use the small LCD screen not the normal viewfinder and holding the camera up against a bright sky makes it almost impossible to see the little black dots which are the planes. Most of the clips had useful images but some were very jumpy and I kept losing the targets. As usual, researching a solution to this problem on the Monday after, I found an attachment which allows the LCD screen to be viewed as regular viewfinder. OK, where’s the next air show?

I acquired another little toy recently, a NOW TV box for hardly any money at all. Not that I want to watch NOW TV but the box provides good quality access to things like the iPlayer and a few other free channels. But the main reason for getting it was to watch Major League Baseball which I haven’t seen since leaving America and with the World Series coming up it seemed too good to miss especially as the cricket is finished and I can’t stand football. A simple subscription to for the remainder of the season was a bargain at $23.00. It actually allows me to watch any game in the league since the start of the season. However, it seems 4 years is a long time in baseball and I hardly recognise any of the players on the San Diego Padres team. I’m also seeing some new ground markings for the first time – seem to be much more pronounced, perhaps one of my American friends can enlighten me as to the changes.

A further little bonus on the NOW box is I can connect it to my files on my computer via free piece of server software so I can view all my pictures and videos on the TV. The Battle of Britain videos were considerably enhanced by the big screen and sound via the stereo system.

Now we have started the planting in the back garden – we have quite a few pots with salvaged bulbs, another load of bulbs in bags (unidentified) and we bought a mixed bag of daffodils plus a small bag of tulips. Slow work as we are trying to ensure each bed is clear of anything we didn’t intentionally plant, any unidentified plants are going in the pots and long trough planters so we can see what they are before they swamp the garden. Just as piece of whimsy we bought a couple of trays of winter flowering pansies – a little bit of colour for the dark days ahead. The initial results are very pleasing; the place now looks as if someone cares for it. Work continued with final clearing of the back border by the brick wall and planting of more bulbs etc.

The weather for the weekend looked passable so I thawed out a rack of ribs from the freezer and mixed up my favourite dry rub. I slow cooked these on the charcoal BBQ using the split baskets I bought earlier in the year. They cooked for about 2 ½ hours and were absolutely delicious, tender and meat falling off the bones. However, I suspect that’ll be the last BBQ of 2015 and we were back to a traditional roast on Sunday.

Then we started on the front garden, the border close to the house really was a mess and it took a couple of days to get it cleared properly. I also had to relay some of the new turf to get it level (why can’t so-called professionals do it right?) and there was way too much soil in the border so four barrow loads went into the back garden. We replanted all the new bushes (they were not placed very well) and now I have to make new edges for the lawns and borders. At this stage of construction I like hard edges and they also help with stopping the Flymo wrecking the edge so I ordered 28 metres of 100 x 22 rough sawn timber – just need to stain it, cut some stakes and get it installed.

As the colder weather approaches, we have started feeding the birds again, cleaned out all the feeders and the table and filled them with a variety of food, we’ll see which is the most appealing and then concentrate on that. We haven’t put up any coconuts yet so the crows & starlings aren’t bothering us however the doves and pigeons are back. I saw a pigeon just sitting in the bird bath the very next day, I’m sure they think it is a Jacuzzi and are just waiting for us to switch it on – give ‘em a surprise if it was!

Final quotes are in on the extension and we have fixed the starting date as 9th November, they reckon to be done by 18th December so Christmas will be a bit compressed and Thanksgiving dinner will be in the kitchen as the dining room will be pressed into service to store all the bedroom furniture. It’ll be good when it’s all done so it’ll be worth the inconvenience.


David & June

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