The next morning Cedric the Seagull looked even more bedraggled having barely survived another night of battering, Marcia felt that he would be much better off if he allowed her to take care of him but he had other ideas, he spread his wings gracefully and lifted off for a final flypast leaving a message to say thanks for nothing.
The pair drove out of the campsite somewhat reluctantly and headed back to Inverness via the A837, Bonar Bridge (a final picnic) and a stop at Safeway’s to top up with diesel. Marcia now thoroughly confident in Bob’s driving ability fell asleep for the last few miles, which was fortunate as the wind and rain experienced when negotiating the exposed bridges over the Cromarty Firth and the Moray Firth nearly swept the camper and all its occupants out into the North Sea.
On arrival at the depot, Hamish himself was there to greet the pair as they arrived feeling quite pleased with themselves having got the vehicle back in one piece, Marcia particularly was expecting a little praise for her efforts with the dustpan and brush, not so, ‘agggh weeel tek kerrrrr o thart Jock heerr ll tek yer bark ta toon’ and with that threw all the bags into the jeep. Jock dropped Bob and Marcia at Inverness station at about 5pm, which meant a wait of about 3 1/2 hours for the train. Despite many enquiries as to waiting rooms, left luggage facilities etc. Bob and Marcia consoled themselves with a cup of tea on the cold and windy concourse, they didn’t find out that there was a cosy waiting room with comfortable chairs and free Spring Water until it was almost time to board – if you ever find yourself on Inverness Station with hours to kill its next to the ticket office, but none of the staff or locals know of its existence.
A pleasant couple of hours in the dining car enjoying haggis, tatties and neeps as the hills and lochs drifted by the window singing ‘will ye no come back again’ was a fitting end to Bob and Marcia’s Scottish experience.
Copyright © 2002 Bob Jones
Thursday July 9th 2015
Enjoy? There could be loads more to come!
Green forest coming along soon to be yellow forest. Sunflowers nearly 8ft high, corn on the cob catching up.
Saturday July 11th 2015
For your information The Lochinver Larder is still thriving and amazingly the prices are little changed from 2002, either we were ripped off or Old Macdonald has sold it to young McDonald and sold 99 million already. You can get the mouth wateringly good menu HERE. Sadly Sharps Reliable Wrecks dot com have turned out not to be as reliable as Hamish had hoped.
Yesterday was almost the perfect day. Took off and headed down the A3 with two old ladies, OK I admit I am older than both of them but I had my kite on board and we were heading for one of our favourites ‘West Wittering Beach. After shaking off most of the tailgaters I felt alive again (for a while).
If you go there make sure the tide is out as the prairies of rippled sand and myriad warm shallow pools coupled with a high sky and a perfect kiting breeze makes it an intoxicating place but about to get even more intoxicating. Following a gentle stroll along to East Head to check out the yachties favourite anchoring place (they are still there) we set about staking our claim with wind break, picnic mat, picnic table, picnic chairs, parasols and picnic. The sight of an old duffer flying his kite without his grandchildren is, I admit, a bit sad but he put up a faultless performance and managed not to get tangled up in his string. His kite was one he bought in Chinatown, San Francisco some 15 years ago but still some find it embarrassing.
His kite flying was, as I said, faultless but eclipsed, blown away, out manoeuvred by, wait for it, a REAL SPITFIRE which treated all of us on the beach to a flip roll a barrel roll and a couple of loops – intoxicating. My guess it was one of those from the flypast up The Mall earlier that day in commemoration of The 75th Anniversary of The Battle of Britain, this particular Spitfire is a two seater and is based up the road at Goodwood Airfield, you can even get a ride in it if you’ve got a spare £3000………………………..?
On the way back we popped into Chichester Marina, the starting place for many memorable trips and stories, for a cup of tea and a slice of your finest but sadly the facility was closed but hang on a minute, a brand new timber clad development overlooking the lock beckoned. The new Boat House Restaurant surrounded with picnic tables and views was even further intoxicating – they do sell intoxicants if you so desire.
I won’t bang on any more today about the Crown and Anchor at Dell Quay up the road but it’s still there Mac and so is the hook in the wall for the Bull Ring! – thanks for your message. The answer to your question is about 3am!
Spitfire, sorry Kite, on West Wittering Beach, it does have a long, colourful tail as well - jealous?
Sunday 12th July 2015
Enjoyed an evening of 50’s rock music on BBC2 last night. In my early teens I learnt a few chords on the Mandolin and Banjo and by 1960 I had bought a guitar (still got it) teamed up with a few likeminded buddies and started a folk group. We were called ‘The Clancy Brothers’ I won’t bore you with how the name came about except that we knew a few Irish folk songs also ‘Where Have All The Flowers Gone’, ‘Jingle Bells’ and a few others. Every Christmas we would tour the pubs of Putney (because there are more pubs there per square yard) and treat the revellers to a sing-a-long. One night our lead singer, who was a handsome beast, was caught chatting up a few lady admirers. On the way out we were confronted by a bunch of thugs intent on doing some damage. Our man had obviously chosen somebody else’s bird to chat up. Last night I learnt that Jerry Lee Lewis, Gene Vincent and Chuck Berry had exactly the same problem. Fame at last!
Although I was (and still am) very much ‘moved’ by 50’s rock music, Trad’ Jazz at the Thames Hotel, Hampton Court was, and still is, even more moving! I know at least two of you out there in Ottawa who are reading this would probably agree with me. Thank you Mac’ and Judy.
Incidentally so far I haven’t had any complaints, yet, from anybody else who may be reading this (9 of you according to my Google Analytics). Praise or suggestions gratefully received.
I’ll try to focus on ‘walking to work’ soon. Although I’ve just found 40 pages of sailing stories in my brief case – what do you think?
The beginning of this story can be found HERE. Sorry about that. Bob.
The following morning the sun crept up over the rocks illuminating the scene, the weather forecast promised some good hiking weather. By 8am (which surprised both of them) Bob and Marcia were fully booted, kitted and provisioned up and striding out of the campsite walking sticks thrashing in all directions determined to put a few miles in to who knows where. Bob decided it would be a good idea to walk the 4 miles or so back into Lochinver. A friendly native indicated that a there was a good track over the hills, he pointed to a distant loch as a waypoint. Bob was without a map or compass and hoped that the native knew what he was talking about.
Sure enough a rocky track appeared to the right and after a mile or so lead the pair straight through the middle of a field full of grazing Highland Cattle complete with large sets of extremely sharp looking horns. Marcia was unaware that she was between Bob and the spikes but Bob considered that her greater love of animals would help if they should become inquisitive. The track led the pair higher and higher, at various points it required a rock scramble, Bob quietly checked his mobile phone for a signal – just in case. Following a picnic halt behind a rock the pair strode on over the hillocks and rocks, the path was fairly well marked and seemed to be leading in the right direction. Sure enough as they breasted a hill Lochinver appeared below bathed in weak sunshine. The descent to the town was the most difficult bit and began to take its toll on Marcia’s knees but bravely she strode on, said nothing and hoped that there would be a bus or preferably a taxi back.
Monday 13th July 2015
Having a bit of trouble with links and layout - please report any errors or links that don't work.
Just to prove I can write poetry as well the following recalls the longest sailing trip I made. I'll spare you the full log for the moment.
A TRIP FROM BREST TO FALMOUTH VIA THE SCILLIES AS A CREW MEMBER
ABOARD THE YACHT ‘BAROLO’ A GIBSEA 402. SEPT 2004
From Ushant to The Scillies - with apologies to John Masefield
I shared a week with Joe and Jane, and skipper Bob as well
The skipper's wife Denise (not Mabel)
Kept all the the crew provided
Whenever she was able
Now Joe and Jane from Lancashire puffed all day
And much of the night on ciggy's that must of cost a packet
But Joe still found plenty of time, between the puffs
To tell all his plans to sail the world aboard his yacht The Racket!
The crew assembled on the pontoon in Brest
Awaiting orders from the skipper
The first day's sail took them to Camaret
A pleasant port, and an evening with Guinness and kipper
The next day's plans were to call in at Ushant
The skipper said I've never been before it'd be good to go somewhere new
The weather allowed a tricky entry the crew relaxed and took in the view
And a glass of wine or two plus two plus two plus two
On return to the yacht the swell had increased from the Atlantic fetch
I suggested we'd better leave soon,
The skipper agreed we battened the hatches and left at dusk to sail to the Scillies
With heads that were swimming with a happy tune
The next twenty hours would see the crew experience many things
The thrashing breakers on the west of Ushant
The miles of tankers tied together in red and green strings
The setting Sun the rising Moon and the reflection of the stars
The rising wind the scudding clouds the dolphins diving under the stern
An experience on the edge
Of consciousness until pierced by the sound of the cardinal bell
To the east of Spanish Ledge
The Scillies did not disappoint, a day off on St Mary's replaced the sound of the drum
A pasty, ice cream and a Guinness or two
Followed by a shower kindly offered
At the flat of Joe's old Mum
The forecast not good was of wind of force seven and eights
Forced the hand of the skipper to cut short the stay
A visit to St Agnes, Bryher and Tresco had to wait as rounding the Lizard at night in a gale, would no doubt
Mean a glance at the heavens and pray
We set sail at two in the afternoon and said goodbye to the Isles of Scilly
Straight into thick fog we went – with a wind approaching a gale
Leaving Spanish Ledge on an easterly course
But at least it wasn’t too chilly
The next 10 hours at an angle of 45 or more
We struggled to make the tea
Everything not nailed down ended up on the floor
Impossible if you needed a ***
On clearing the lanes The Lizard light came into view
Which seemed to remain on the port beam for a day or two
The overfalls off Lizard Point for a time added to the motion
The swell and the breaking waves tested Barolo and her crew – but refused to give in to the Ocean
The Manacles Rock was the next one to miss
On the approach to the Helford River
With unerring accuracy yours truly helmed the last miles
In the dark and managed to hang on to his liver
We picked up a buoy about three in the morning
Retired to our bunks and slept like babes
We woke at eleven after a quiet night
And looked forward to a barbecue on the beach that evening
It was great except that poor old Joe suffered first-degree burns
On his fingers from the red hot coals he’d buried in the sand – he tried not to say ‘**** it’
When he tried to dig a hole in the sand with his hand instead of a shovel
And spent the night with his hand in a bucket
The following day Barolo and her crew beat back into Falmouth for a well-earned rest
The skipper said we’d better not linger
We’d better get Joe to the hospital quick
For treatment on his finger
The final day saw no let up in the weather
The skipper asked the crew what they wanted to do
To a man it was practise man overboard in case next time it may be you
Not really – hopefully not never - ever.
Tuesday 14th July 2015
Well there was at least one line that was almost profound but that was about it. I have written poems which are really profound but unable to find them at the moment. What was that Sam? Don’t bother? So, In the meantime my briefcase has disgorged some more stories. For those of you who have no interest in stories about sailing or hiking I’ll put them on a different page. Sadly some of the characters are no longer with us so I would like to look at this blog as a sort of ‘In Memoriam’.
Click HERE for ‘The Millennium Hike’ an account of a hike from Studland Bay along the Dorset Coast Path.
Wednesday 15th July 2015
If you are really interested in sailing click HERE for the 'Solent Experience'.
Thursday 16th July 2015
If you are really, really interested in sailing click HERE for 'The Croatia Experience'.
Saturday 18th July 2015
OK, that's frightened off half of my followers - must have been my attempt at poetry. Briefcase nearly given up all its secrets except for a couple of Dinghy stories – not dingy stories! – but they can wait. There is an I.D. badge I collected from a job in New Zealand in 1982 hanging in my briefcase but that would only read like a Bill Bryson travelogue – could be a best seller? I think I’ll add that one only if requested…………….?
What will be interesting is my vision for ‘Walktowork’ and that is to add to this website all those advertisements for staff stuck to shop windows so that a lot more people see them. There are plenty of them in Cobham at the moment. I’m sure the shopkeepers wouldn’t mind spending a couple of quid a week. Imagine, we could franchise off all the 3000 post code areas at say £1000 each that would be about £3,000,000 for starters and then say 5% commission on all advertising. Actually I have already done that some 15 years ago which produced all those testimonials on page 1 of this blog, so it does work. I am aware that there are a lot of web sites out there that attempt this, you only have to search for ‘local jobs’ but my experience is that they are not local, you usually end up with job vacancies the other end of the country. Hopeless.
Feeling extremely pleased with themselves Bob and Marcia arrived in the town and decided that they had earned a ‘nice cup of tea’. The Lochinver Larder which was on the edge of town turned out to be everything Michael Winner said it was, the pies were their speciality, they came with a variety of fillings – savoury and sweet – and were definitely worth the £4.25 each, they can be ordered on line at www.btinternet.com/~piesbypost (cheaper by the dozen) the pie maker told Bob that they made 35,000 last year not a bad recommendation – definitely worth a trip to Scotland – mouth wateringly good.
A leisurely stroll down the High Street and an even more leisurely wander round the impressive visitor centre and Bob and Marcia were set for the trek back to the campsite, Marcia still hoped that a bus would appear but agreed to walk provided it was on the road. The 4 ½ miles back were achieved in reasonable time with only one stop for a foot massage.
The last evening in the camper was spent polishing off all the provisions left over including four Guinness, one bottle of wine, bread, cheese, pickle, chilli, baked beans, salad, pineapple and macaroni. Bob and Marcia now thoroughly at home on their wheels felt that maybe life on the road would be a good way to spend their retirement provided the wind eased just a touch. Bob, who now had acquired a great deal of campers knowledge, parked the camper nose into wind in the hope that the camper would ride easier in the wind and rain and allow a reasonable nights sleep.
If that fails I could always offer sight seeing trips on the river at Chiswick!
Got my first customer already!
Monday 20th July 2015
Prize Sunflowers now at their best, spot the person trying to get in on the act, for scale purposes only of course.
For those of you who are really, really, really interested in sailing click HERE for the full log of the round Menorca trip.
On this day 46 years ago the first Moon landing occurred.
Where were you?
I was with my wife, two year old daughter, Chic, Lyn and family on the beach on Chukanut Drive in Larrabee State Park, Washington State, USA. Remember?
You probably remember the drive back more than the Moon landing!
Wednesday 22nd July 2015
Found another few bits in my shed which remind me of another ‘project’ which my children and grandchildren will remember also some of the boys at Parkside School, Cobham might remember (if they were paying attention!) where I was employed as a Technical Assistant in 2004. It is a ‘Round the Pole’ powered model aircraft for your table top. I built mine from Lego and fitted a reversible low voltage electric motor which drives a propeller. Power is via ‘slip rings’ on top of the pylon and is via a ‘variable resistor’ which gives you a ‘throttle’ giving you forward and reverse thrust. See drawing below.
I sent the idea to Lego some years ago, they did reply but it was a ‘thanks but no thanks’ reply. I still don’t see any on the market.
Friday 24th July 2015
Sorry, that should read Taxiing and not Taxying but can’t be bothered to rub it out. Probably the reason that there aren't any on the market is because they can be a touch dangerous in the wrong hands. Bit of a shame as you can challenge each other to do ‘spot landings’ using the reverse thrust – very exciting!
Finally got Building Regulations Approval for Lottie’s extension now it’s only a question of building it – no problem – 40 years ago I built, single handed, an extension on this house – it’s still standing. To be honest I did get old Bert in to do the plastering but that was all and I did it in less than 6 months. I don’t remember taking time off work either. What am I trying to prove? You tell me.
Today, sadly, is another black tie day, tomorrow a wedding in Wimbledon.
I’ve started reading Jane Eyre for a bit of inspiration.
Saturday 25th July 2015
In the meantime, if you have nothing else to do, you can click HERE for a riveting account of a short hike along the beach from West Wittering. I’m still working on the Dinghy stories and the poems – could be next week with any luck. I’ll try not to make this blog too introspective but I think that inevitably happens to us bloggers (authors!). When I get through Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre you could be in for a passionate story of unrequited love in the Drawing Office, I think I might need a pseudonym for that one.
Another lovely/sad/emotional send off yesterday for young B, she was a lovely girl also ‘one of the boys’, goodbye B now reunited with her Raymond.
Sunday 26th July 2015
Lovely wedding in Wimbledon, good luck to David and Victoria. Bit of a shame but they are off on their honeymoon and probably won't be able to catch up on my blog because you (and they) are in luck, I have just discovered a digital version of 'A Guide to Recruitment Consultancy' (mentioned earlier) click HERE and if you make your fortune you may wish to donate a small percentage to old Bob!
The following image is of the front sheet of the book and shows loads of cheques for thousands made out to Independent Recruitment Services - so it does work.
I could write a volume about this car. It's a 1933 MG J1 Salonette picture taken about 1959 taken behind Don's shop in Bookham.
I paid £75 for it stripped the engine twice, rebuilt it then the main bearings went again so I broke it up and sold the bits.
Not sure who the bloke is!
Monday 27th July 2015
I have a request to recall what it was like growing up without the all-encompassing digital revolution. I suppose the answer must be, we didn’t know any different. How do we know now, for instance, that very soon 3D printing will develop into ‘teleportation of matter’ or ‘beam me up Scottie’?
It probably won’t but we don’t know. If it did, it’s possible you could get a crossed line and end up with something you don’t want. The mind boggles. If it did work we certainly wouldn’t need another runway at Heathrow in fact we wouldn’t need any runways anywhere or aircraft for that matter or trucks or cars or wheels or…………………………..
To try to answer the question more seriously, information came leisurely by word of mouth, by letter, newspaper or radio although having said that my grandparents also living in Oxshott didn’t have electricity until the mid 50’s. I used to cycle up the village with a square glass jar full of sulphuric acid sloshing about and a couple of lead plates which was called an ‘accumulator’ battery in order to get it charged up for their radio – I tried not to fall off my bike. For me the ‘outside world’ was all the Spitfires droning overhead in and out of Heathrow, although in those days they called them Boeing Stratocruisers, Lockheed Constellations, DC4’s and DC 6’s. Convair 340’s, Handley Page Hermes and Hastings, Vickers Viking and all sorts, all routed over the ‘Epsom NDB Beacon’ which was in a field overlooking Oxshott – it’s still there. The sight and particularly the sound of all of those Spitfires conjured up visions of faraway people and places in your mind and not on a screen. Same as a book.
By the mid 60’s we’d cracked the transistor, printed circuit board (which I drew up plenty), the silicon chip and the binary code problem so the digital revolution was on its way. In practical terms it meant that the black and white television was replaced by the colour TV and a little box called an ITV converter (I made a few in the shed) enabled you to receive ‘Commercial Television’. In our house we stuck with the B and W TV for longer than most so I got the p*** taken out of me every Monday in the office when everybody else watched a programme on colour tele’ called ‘Pot Black’ a weekly snooker match with different colour balls (in case you didn’t know), ‘Hi Bob, did you see Pot Grey last night?’ What they didn’t realise (nor did I) is that I was watching 50 shades of grey!
In the late sixties early seventies a thing called a ‘calculator’ appeared and replaced the slide rule (still got a slide rule in my brief case) for all your calculations. One morning a guy in the office turned up with a ‘digital watch’ – the envy of all. I can see old Bill now strutting about like a peacock following his wrist.
There was a lot more ‘industry’ going on in front of the fire and in the shed. For instance my Uncle Alf made all manner of toys and games from old bits of wood and broken chairs – I’ve got the Tommy Gun in the shed now. My father being a trifle more ham fisted produced vegetables by the barrow load and rung the chicken’s neck at Christmas and I came home from Poly Apes on more than one occasion with a rabbit or two. It must have been about 1955 when we actually got a telephone installed - actually in the house! We were no longer isolated – or left alone.
In order to perhaps get more of a ‘feel’ for the early 50’s, surprise, surprise I have written a story. For many years a painting has been hanging on my bedroom wall mostly un-noticed. It was painted by my father, it won’t mean much to anyone who doesn’t know Oxshott but it is of a scene called ‘Ayling’s Corner’. The story will be published in the Autumn edition of Fedora Magazine but you can get a sneak preview HERE.
Wednesday 29th July 2015
If ever I go back and change anything in this blog to save you the trouble of reading it all again I’ll keep you informed. If you did read ‘A Guide to Recruitment Consultancy’ I’ve taken out the last paragraph which sounded a bit pompous, to be brutally honest I copied it from somewhere – not me. Also I’ve discovered that the hydrochloric acid battery I carried on the handle bar of my bike was in fact sulphuric acid. Yesterday, amongst other things, I had another 3 stories, which I also found in my brief case, transposed from a hard copy into a digital copy by a ‘character recognition’ machine/programme - amazing. The stories are more sailing adventures and a touch more pedestrian than ‘ere to (Charlotte Bronte influence!) but there is a reason for including the stories.
You may remember that some of these stories are ‘In Memoriam’ well sadly Ray, owner and skipper of Helga/Bryans Breeze/Tsunami/Kittiwake is no longer with us also jolly Geordie Bill lost a brave battle against cancer. The next three stories will introduce you to Phil, a work colleague, gentleman, inspirational, a perfectionist in all he did and skipper on many a trip, also a lot younger than us old codgers, tragically killed in a helicopter accident along with 10 others coming back from a North Sea oil rig in 2002. Phil and I used to swap stories over the drawing boards/desks in the office at Air Products. One of which was that we were both looking forward to the birth of his first born and my first grandchild; they were both born on the same day. If by any chance you are reading this Rebecca your Dad is not forgotten.
The first story is about Smashey and Nicey appropriate names for Mike’s Wayfarer and my Cornish Cormorant both sailing dinghies we used to trail around the country in search of wind and water. Click HERE for The Norfolk Broads experience.
Friday 31st July 2015
Dear Posterity (nobody reading this according to my Google Analytics) no doubt the hit rate will shoot up after the Poole Harbour experience. Mild erotic scenes from the start click HERE if you dare! Incidentally I have updated the picture of the Sunflowers on July 20th, it is still ‘spot the Bob’ !