29 December, 2016

Winter Colours

We ventured out for a walk today along the Trent and Mersey Canal. It was one of those days when the frost seems to have cleaned and cleared the air leaving clear blue sky with deep rich colours below.

The shadow areas were cold and the ground in these areas was frozen solid with frost on the top. There was very little wind so we didn't feel the cold too much at first and we enjoyed the glorious views.

All too soon the light started to fade as the lowering sun produced more shadows and the cold in the air felt sharper in our throats. We made our way to the River Dane and along the Croxton Trail back into Middlewich just in time for the last of the sun. Just the right time to head home, for tea and crumpets too.








04 October, 2016

Long Term Snappers

A few months ago I learned that some other ex-Expert Patient Tutors had kept in touch with each other and formed a small photo club, to which they invited me to join and I was really pleased to do so. They meet at a different venue each month, have a bite to eat and if the location and weather is suitable, nip out to take some photos.





They have been keen to organise a photo day out and in particular on a narrowboat, right up my street but not my canal! This time it was the Macclesfield Canal which I hadn't been on before. So last week we hired a day boat from Heritage Narrowboats at Scholar Green and headed off towards Bosley Locks. There was no intention to get as far as Bosley as they idea was to be able to stop and start at photo locations as and when anyone saw an opportunity, which is what we did. However we did get as far as the last but one winding hole (turning point) before Bosley locks, a distance of 6.25 miles from where we started. An occasional stop for a cup of tea and a picnic were also necessary parts of the trip after all we were out to enjoy ourselves.


Oh the weather, well dry, so that was good. Not cold for most of the day, though we were feeling the chill a bit towards the end and there were also some occasional sunny spells. With trees lining both sides of the canal most of the time the contrast between bright and shadow made getting some photos really quite tricky but we all snapped away and will be posting our efforts to our own private web site.

We all got along well sharing brewing, steering and keeping things tidy so thanks to my fellow crew members for that. Would we do it again, don't see why not!


22 September, 2016

Extra, Extra

More Support Artist work via Boss Casting has been coming my way. Since none these have been broadcast yet I can't say too much and don't even know if I'm visible in any of them. Still keep your eyes open if you see a Tarmac advert or television dramas Tina & Bobby (ITV) or Witness for the Prosecution (BBC), I might be there!

28 August, 2016

Feeling The Heat


Chucked most of these off the slope... the models that is,
the gaucanos aren't very aerodynamic.
I visited a site I haven't been to for quite a while on 23/08/16. This was Edge Top near Hollinsclough and I don't think I've been back there since the mixed events of my 2014 visit. No great dramas this time though it wasn't as trouble free as I would have liked.

The main problem was the wind, well lack of it and unfortunately not blowing straight onto the slope as forecast. There were several other flyers there too and that had already found it difficult to get any any lift. I tried the Wicked Wing and I too found the lift insufficient so I did what I always do - sat down and ate my picnic, which was very enjoyable in the hot sunshine. By the time I finished the wind had picked up a  little and moved onto the slope some more. Helped by some thermal activity this changed things and the Wicked Wing was away, until the lift went again whilst I was flying. I had tried to keep reasonably high in case that happened but I turned towards the landing zone to tightly, lost the airflow and stalled into a spin. Normally this wouldn't be a problem, just counter the spin, level out and rise on the lift again; the latter element wasn't there though so it continued downwards and out of site due to the slope seepening lower down. I just had to land it blind as best I could. As far as I could tell it had landed near a farm track and as the slope was rough and steep I decided to go in the car. I stopped near to where I thought it might be, looked up at the slope and seeing the steepness of the it and all the bushes reckoned I was still in for a hard time climbing and locating the model. I got out of the car not releshing the job ahead then to my surprise, no more than 25 yards away, just off the road was the Wicked Wind in amongst some gorse no worse for wear.

Motor off, the Blanik Soared well.
By the time I arrived back at the flying field the wind had picked up some more and I sent the Wicked Wing off on several more flights, the last few being able reach good altitudes and so I decided to try the SAS Fusion. Sure enough the Fusion was happy so some faster and more aerobatic flights followed. I also had the Blanik L13 with me, it's a foamie with a propeller on the front that I've flown and thermalled from a flat field before but hadn't slope soared. I decided that the motor would keep it out of tyroubel but I would try not to use it after launching and even then with  just a little power to assist with the launch. Oops, I launched it and it just didn't make any headway into the wind then dived down the slope. Hmm ended using that motor to get out of trouble sooner than I thought! Anyway I'm happy to be able to report that it flew well, at times too well and it didn't want to descend though moving the flaps up rather than down fixed. I was hoping to fly the SI Secret Weapon too but I ran out of time and the day's flying ended with everything happily in one peace.


The next day was a strange day weatherwise, hot and sunny giving way to grey and quite breezy which made flying a couple of little models quite interesting. I tried the Vampire with a larger capacity battery, therefore heavier. It flew very nicely and gave me a flight time of around 8 minutes. The GWS Tiger Moth bounced about all over the place and at times in reverse! Still it survived the day.







I still have a lot of catching up to do this year and Autumn is almost upon us, yipes another year is rolling on.

26 August, 2016

The Suitcase Dwellers and Rob Poole

My friend Pete and I haven't seen much of each other this year so when he invited me over to his place at Afonwen for a barbecue I immediately accepted. Great he said, The Suitcase Dwellers (TSD) will be there. I'd never heard of them so Google soon appeared on my screen. Turns out they've been around for a couple of years and Pete had seen them performing at a local pub, got chatting to them and ended up inviting them to play in his barn at the forthcoming BBQ.

Along came the day of the BBQ and it was a wet one, just what you wouldn't want for a BBQ. Fortunately it wasn't what we got as by evening it started to dry up and there were a few sunny breaks to dry the ground and take off the chill too. After getting fixed up with a glass of party fuel I went off to the barn where TSD were setting up and so was guitarist, Rob Poole. Hay bales to sit on and colourful lighting set the barn off nicely and after catching up with some of Pete's family I went off to see how he was doing with the BBQ. Pete had got things well under way with his self built double BBQ but with around 30 people to cater for her was struggling to keep up with demand, no problem, jacket off, I was soon giving him a hand; I actually can BBQ!

Performance time arrived so it was time to head back to the barn just in time to catch TSD start their set. A very talented duo they are with a style all of their own which I really liked. You can get an idea of their sound from the video clips I made and include in this post. Rob Poole is featured too, he has a fantastic bluesy style combined with a suitably gravely voice. On their own and together the two acts were brilliant and created a wonderful atmosphere for the evening.


TSD

Rob Poole
  • Rob Poole is a top-class guitarist based in the Dee Delta of North East Wales and West Cheshire. He revisits songs from the great blues cannon and he plays driving, gritty blues and haunting songs of regret with equal conviction. He has a huge repertoire and, in the great blues tradition, he can keep going all night. He has a well-deserved reputation for being unfailingly entertaining.
  • Website http://robguitarpoole.co.uk/

    05 August, 2016

    Pott Shrigley Walk

    This walk near to Lyme Park rises to 410 metres allowing views over Cheshire, Manchester and the Peak District.

    It was a little windy but not cold, so quite comfortable walking weather. There was rain around us at times however we only had to deal with one pretty short and light shower.










    We finished off with a visit to Shrigley Hall where we used a Groupon voucher for afternoon tea.



    All in all, a good day out.




    31 July, 2016

    A Nice Calm Summer Evening

    A video I made a couple of weeks ago one evening at Ashcroft Airfield. Having flown my 'proper' models I committed my old GWS Tiger Moth to the air.



    A fairly calm evening settled down to flat calm. The hot air balloons in the distance went up and down but didn't appear to make any movement over the the ground. I'd been flying various models all day and this was just a nice way to finish off as the sun started to set. The sunshine on various parts of the field made for bumps of rising air, particularly noticable when passing from the rough grass to over the airstrip. This Tiger Moth is an indoor model but if the bounces and breezes are accepted it will fly in a wind up to around 8mph.

    The horse flies where enjoying having me for their evening meal which was quite a distraction whilst flying such a light model, they seemed to know when I was trying to pay extra attention to landing! It will take off from shortish grass but this evening the grass was more longish, so hand launches were necessary.

    23 July, 2016

    A View Of Northwich You Don't See From The Road

    Out on our bikes again, leaving Middlewich along the Shropshire Union Canal then by road into Winsford to join the River Weaver and on towards Northwich. I was aware of the Weaver Shipyard from my days working in Northwich but only in as much as can be seen from the road, which isn't much.

    The made up path along the River Weaver is a also a cycle route and so our journey along the River Weaver revealed views neither of us had ever seen before.

    When we arrived in Northwich we stopped off for something to eat at Kanya in the High Street. I had a seafood salad which was very good. To be honest I've forgotten what my wife had but I do remember she enjoyed it. Decent cup of tea too.

    For our return trip to Middlewich we passed through Rudheath to the Broken Cross pub where there is easy access to the Trent and Mersey Canal. The tow path was a little muddy in places but considering all the recent rain wasn't too bad. A bigger problem was the amount of overgrowth that in places reduced the width of the path to a few inches, which as we were wearing shorts left us with a fair number of nettle stings. If last year is anything to go by this going to get even worse yet. Anyway we made it back and as it was such a lovely hot day we stopped for a well deserved thirst quencher at the Big Lock before finally heading home.

    06 June, 2016

    Austria

    May saw Hilary and I in Austria for a week, staying in the well known ski resort of Kitzbuhel.

    Although there was still some snow to be seen the ski season was well and truly finished and spring was underway. As in England spring meant mixed weather, sometimes warm and sunny, others heavy rain, hail and quite cool.


    A good example of the changeable weather came on our first day when we walked from the town down to Schwarzsee lake in brilliant sunshine. Glorious T shirt weather right up until the time we arrived back at Kitzbuhelthought when there were some clouds starting to draw in. The photograph above was taken at that time and our hotel was just a short distance away from the nearest church on the left. Oddly, so we thought, the church bells were ringing however we soon learned why, it was weather warning. By the time we reached the hotel it was just starting to rain and by the time we reached our room there was a torrential hail storm with hail the size of golf balls, thunder and lightning. The next day we found out that several cars had been damaged as a result.

     



    The evenings were often calm, so a late stroll around the town was very pleasant after our delicious and large evening meals. We made the most of these and we laso set ourselves up well with a nourishing breakfast to set us up for the day.


    An advanatage of the evening strolls was the shops being closed as they presented less of strain on my wallet.









     

    As we walked around we kept seeing signs about a classic car rally but didn't realise that the over night stopping place was Kitzbuhel itself and that the finishing line was just a short distance from our hotel.







     
    Despite the changeable weather we were able to get out and about a lot, sometimes having to deal with a little rain however most of the the time managed keep dry even if the sky rather grey. We took two trips out away from Kitzbuhel, the first being to Krimml waterfalls. These waterfalls are in three stages amounting to around 1250 feet of plunging water. There is a track alongside which can be followed all the way to the top. We didn't have time to go to the top (or the energy!) but we did manage about a third of it.







    The second trip out was into the mountains of Bavaria to Hitler's "Eagles Nest" which sits on a mountain peak high above Berchtesgaden. It was a 50th birthday present from the SS. Some of the building remians and the red marble fireplace that Mussolini gave to Hitler is still there. 

    Contray to information I've seen elsewhere we were told that Hitler wasn't that enamoured with the place and only visited it 17 times, however Eva Braun often entertained her own friends and family there.

    Getting up to the building is quite an arduous climb but that can be relieved by walking from the bus park (cars aren't allowed), down a long tunnel to an ornate lift to ascend more than 400 feet to the Kehlsteinhaus or "Eagles Nest".











    Venturing outside the existing building there is a path that leads up to a higher point and when the weather is clear the views are spectacular for a full 360 degrees and providing an eye level panarama of the Alps. When the weather isn't so clear, the clouds close in, as on the day we visited and it seems quite eerie, which for an "Eagle's Nest" is quite fitting.

    After a brief spell when the clouds cleared a little they closed in again and then the rain came.

    We made our way back through the building, down the lisft to rejoin the bus which the took us to nearby Salzburg. We stopped off for a coffee and some dissapointingly soggy apfelstrudel, which it seems is quite common, so if you ever try it, find out what you are going to get before you order.
    On a more pleasing note, it stopped raining after that and we enjoyed a very pleasant walk indeed. The walk took in a visit to the Mirabell Palace and gardens which I believe is where some of the 'Sound of Music' was filmed.


    The rest of the holiday was a mix of relaxing, walking and riding hired electric bikes. All of which took us through scenic countryside dotted with the typical chalet style farm houses of the area. One day we walked to St. Johan which was really too far to contemplate walking back, so we decided to catch a train back. On arrival at the station we were just in time to miss one train and had to wait an hour for the next, oh well.















    One extra little note. We stayed at the hotel Tiefenbrunner, where we were made most welcome by the friendly staff and owners. The food was excellent and the room, nothing special but very comfortable.





    A Relaxing Slope Soaring Session

    I arrived at Elkstone to find one other member had just arrived too, so we both tried a few launches but the lift was too poor for anything more than a worrying minute in the air and my friend departed. So I sat down, ate a sandwich and sucked a Callad & Bowser as I admired the view. 
    After that the lift had improved a little. Helped by some thermals blowing through it was then possible to have more prolonged flights at leisurely pace and it turned into a very pleasant afternoon's flying. I was later joined by another LMMGA flyer and continued to fly until the flight battery checker indicated it was time to pack up.





    13 May, 2016

    Bosley Minn Re-Visited

    Last Saturday a favourable weather forecast and an exchange of emails saw Martyn Kinder and myself at Bosley Minn, a L&MMGA permitted slope in the Peak District. When I arrived I found Martyn already in friendly conversation with the farmer, in fact Martyn was assisting him in setting a new gate in position. This pretty much set the atmosphere for the day; good weather & good company.

    We then set-up on the nearby slope over looking a georgous view towards Wincle. We had brought a variety of models and flew them all at some point, though my Eurofighter proved to be too heavy for the available lift so it's flight was quite brief. No great harm done though.


    Martyn's models needed more preparation than my one piece SAS Fusion so I was in the air first. I like to use this model for the first flight because it's dependable and tough so whatever the lift turns out to be it will cope. As it turned out it was less than we expected but still enough for us to fly.




    Martyn was next up with his own design Glass Slipper, there's lots of information about this lovely model in his blog "Martyn's Aeromodelling Diary", which incidently also has his own story about this day.



     

    Martyn let me have a fly of his Glass Slipper, which I greatly enjoyed because it really does fly as good as it looks and this also gave Martyn chance to get a take a few photos. In fact we exchanged cameras and photographic duties many times so all the photos on this page are a joint effort. This is how the afternoon continued with us taking it turns to fly, photograph and discuss the merits (or otherwise) of our models and flights.

    The lift decayed as the afternoon progressed, fortunately I had my Wicked Wing with me which I have kept fairly light for just such an occasion.






    Martyn hadn't tried his Bubble Dancer on a slope before so during a calm spell he gave it a try and up it went! This model needs very little lift to fly and it turned out that it was also somewhat over elevated for slope flying. This made for an "interesting landing" as the model just didn't want to come down, a challange but not to much of a challenge for Martyn and after a few go-arounds he brought down without any harm.




    By the time we packed up we had flown everything that we had brought with us and we were well and truly satisfied that we had made the best the opportunity to get out on the slope.