I was checking out the joint diary and I see that my birthday weekend has two potential bloke events in it. The bloke is going to be especially keen on the first one - a special event with the Tiger at the Tank Museum at Bovington in Dorset. We went last year and the weather was utterly foul when the Tiger (and other bit-part players) came out to strut their stuff. If the sun shines, it will break his heart not to be there ...
But the one I'd really like to do is the Old Warden Airshow at Biggleswade in Bedfordshire. Why? Well, in addition to all the WWII and modern stuff they'll have out on display, they also have the truly magnificent WWI-era specimens from the Shuttleworth collection. The cars and motorbikes are quite something to see, but the planes just make my heart a-flutter. Early flight has a certain romance to it doesn't it? The dedication and hard work it involved, combined with the eccentricity of the designs and the immense risks. Plus there was all that old fashioned gentlemanly stuff and girls in frocks. (Can you tell that "Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines" is still a huge favourite?) On our last visit, the high levels of skill needed to fly these wonderful fragile pieces of machinery was made clear when one crashed on landing in cross winds. The pilot was fine but the plane needed a fair bit of work before it will be allowed out to play again.
For some reason the space race has the same impact on me. I was 12 years old and living in West Africa when Neil Armstrong made that giant leap. I was completely hooked by the thought that the moon we were looking at out there in the garden had an american astronaut walking on it. A family friend was with the US Embassy and he used to bring over a selection of beautifully written and illustrated Time Life books (even then I read pretty much any and everything). There was a series on the space race and once he realised that I was genuinely interested, he shared his enthusiasm with me. I've continued to follow the space story ever since. A much cherished highlight was seeing Challenger lift off (two years before the accident) when I was on holiday in Florida. I jumped up and down, shouted and cheered like crazy while watching the fantastic spectacle taking place just a couple of miles from where we were staying. Afterwards I looked in utter amazement at those who'd gone on doing mundance everyday stuff. Didn't they GET that the Space Shuttle was going up? OK, so I was very very excited ...
For some reason, whilst I adore the Spitfire as much as any other (and maybe more than quite a few), later planes simply don't have the romance of early flight - or of space flight. There's something raw and pioneering about it which makes a girl go, well a bit girly I guess ...
Do you have any unusual interests that set your heart a-flutter?
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Iain Kelly Writing
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Petrichor and Clouds