1. Rigged and ready.
2. Dressed to thrill. Well, me anyway.
3. Flight planned.
4. Pre-flight checks.
5. About to Taxy (taken by the glider pilot mentioned).
Mid September and the Autumnal Equinox and Michaelmas will soon be upon us, heralding the beginning of Autumn.
This, for me, as I often point out, is my time of year from here on in. Although the days are short, and becoming ever shorter as the year enters its twilight, the beauty of the landscape is further revealed as leaves fall.
August introduced me, at last, to the full splendour of the Perseid meteor shower as I gazed in amazement at the celestial wonder of movement made visible by our own planets atmosphere. In the darkness, silent, leaning against the open boat hatch, coffee in hand, watching for the next flare, a little owl hooted her accompaniment from the tiller.
August also brought with it the opportunity to take to the skies in a microlight, newly owned and piloted by my great friend 'Mostin'. Flying over the countryside and ribbons of silver, where my own fragile existence living aboard a narrowboat is all but invisible, I could have wept with the joy of it all.
This most fragile of wings, supporting a craft suspended pendulum like beneath it, carried us in ergonomic comfort, open to the elements, almost oblivious to the sound of the engine that powered this simple yet technologically advanced flying machine. Circling Waddesdon Manor, picnickers waved and excited children tried to run in our shadow as we passed over. This, for me, was flying at its best as I appreciated the tingle of another achievement and further reinforced my ambition to take to the sky in a much simpler craft.
We landed at another field strip some forty-five minutes away and sat awhile, chatting over cups of tea and made welcome by the owner. The glint of another aircraft in the afternoon sun caught our attention as a glider silently appeared downwind and deftly turned to land, the sound of air now cushioning it's approach as the pilot expertly kissed the ground and let the glider trundle to a halt as it ran out of lift and the starboard wing dipped to touch the grass. We helped the young pilot manoeuvre the glider off the runway whereby he told us he was taking part in a competition and had been airborne for over three hours, but had had to land unannounced as he was running out of air. He'd now have to wait for his father to recover the glider and he by road. His easy confidence with the situation and flying expertise was evident, but I had to smile, as the state of his cockpit was akin to the mess of Tracy Emin's bedroom, with discarded drink cans, banana skins, sandwich wrappers, clothes and maps littering the seat space.
The freedom of flight and the practised ease with which those pilots I met that day conducted themselves and welcomed me into their world, brought back childhood memories of weekends spent at a wartime airfield in Kent flying gliders. A pursuit that I only gave up because of motion sickness that left me unsure of my ability to fly solo and has troubled me throughout my life. But not this time!
To find flying, in its most basic of forms, and in my mind the most gentlemanly of pursuits (apart from angling), is still accessible, still populated by enthusiastic engineers, pilots and pastime novices from all walks of life, is immensely gratifying. The cameraderie was and is instant.
15th Sep 2014, 14:15
1. A perfect twilight.
2. On its way to Oz.
3. A smokey sky .
4. A stubbled path.
5. Nuggets of gold.
6. A 'whispy' sky.
8. The elixir of life.
An angler of undisputed prowess sits across the canal as if poised on a diving board, the sun highlighting a coat of many colours not designed for anyone of a shy or retiring nature, or for that matter, camouflage. The King of Fishers is just that, a monarch of nature's realm.
A big Adder lays idly across the towpath basking in the hot sun before Gunner decides to investigate and disturb it's slumber. A passing cyclist, thinking it was a grass snake, utters an exclamation of near-miss amazement when realising his mistake. Ignorance by others of our only indigenous venomous snake always makes me smile.
Fond memories of watching the television series, 'Out of Town', presented by Jack Hargreaves, taught me much as I sat in front of our rented black and white television in the late 60s. It was a joy to watch and sparked a lasting passion within me for the countryside and ideas of how to make and adapt things I still carry with me today.
Straw bales litter the countryside hereabouts as they wait to be collected and stored. With the remaining stubble comes the realisation that the ground is sorely parched. Cracks visibly large enough to fell the unwary walker zigzag across fields ablaze with sunshine. A thirsty fox unwittingly reveals himself, skulking low to the earth as he makes for a concealed water course. Gunner plucks his scent from the air and looks to me for a nod before making off in pursuit. He brought a young deer to me the last time I gave him the nod recently, then, I was expecting a rabbit to be dropped at my feet. Needless to say the fox ran to ground, leaving Gunner excited and alert for another quarry.
The days are noticeably quickening as the year grows old, yet the best is still to come as the domestic harvest gives way to the wild harvest and the hedgerows once again hang heavy with fruit and nut. Even the weather is at its best, with no expectation for good or bad. Tis the coming of my time of year. The northern and southern hemispheres vie for the suns attention as the autumn and spring equinox approach on opposite sides of the world and migratory instincts take over in a bid to chase the life giving warmth of the sun. Fare well wherever you are my little owl.
10th Aug 2014, 17:25