28 February 2013

A Day in Doncaster...

My Birthday present to me

This is the home of XH558

It is really at Doncaster Airport - but that does not sound so good so they renamed it...

Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield - of course everyone knows that Robin Hood is a Yorkshire-man and not from Nottingham at all and with Sheffield airport now closed...

XH558 is in the hanger for some TLC

What a very big wing

Now that is a #proper# tailpipe

Andy Marson planned the navigation for the Black Buck missions - and for his pains was secretly moved out to Goose Bay - beyond the reach of both spies and media
The book is on Amazon - here.  What the book does not mention is that, what with aircrew earning less than bus drivers in them mid 1970s round the world Vulcan trips became major trading and import exercises - it is a VERY big bomb bay.

Sum total of the on-board conveniences* - oh and a can heater that, after an hour would just about get to luke warm

*the flight to Moscow was only going to take a few hours - and no one expected to be coming back - so no toilet or galley facilities were included in the design.  There would not have been room anyway as the Vulcan cockpit is an Anti-Tardis - amazingly smaller on the inside given how large it is on the outside.

"RED END POINTS NORTH" Escape and Evasion kit contains a Silva Compass
The Vulcan won many navigation and bombing exercises - beating the best of the B52 fleet - when seeking the secrets of the RAF astro-navigation computer one US crew were directed to the bar where they would find "a fat Welshman" - it was all done by sextant and brainpower - no automatic long distance navigation system was every fitted "if you can win using eye and chart then why go to all that expense..."  It is reported that one B52 mock-bombed the west coast of Ireland instead of Scotland - too much trust in automated technology.

Really - I was very happy just had an awful head cold, recovering from migraine and bruised ribs

A final glimpse - next time XH558 should be airborne- make a date this summer as it might be the last time
Send your money to http://www.vulcantothesky.org/

10 February 2013

Lickey Hills - still the same after 36 years

If your shirt is not this mucky - then you were not trying hard enough

I first orienteered on the Lickey Hills back in 1977.  We came in the Cheshire Schools OA coach all the way from Chester.  The cloud base was below the summits, it was cold, raining and blowing a gale - we all thought we were on the side of a mountain in North Wales.  When the mist cleared it was a bit of a surprise to see the Longbridge car plant and all of Birmingham...

Anyway - apart from some felling and regrowth not a lot has changed in the interim 36 years - except that parts of the woodland are now extremely wet and boggy.

Start team are ready - but where are all the punters?

Blue course in 45 minutes - considerably faster than I managed in 1985

Rumour has it I am leading Blue by 5 minutes

09 February 2013

Wake up and smell the... what?

"Madagascan wing-fruited coffee".  "What?" "Yes, Madagascan wing-fruited coffee..."

Mostly today I have (helped) save Coffee.

There has been a lot in the news lately about coffee - it is the second most valuable internationally traded commodity - after oil and especially how the most widely planted varieties have very little genetic variability - and associated with this little adaptability when it comes to disease resistance and especially climate change (http://www.channel4.com/news/coffee-dregs-world-supplies-threatened-by-climate-change)

To add to this the wild relative of our commercial coffees are fast heading for extinction so, today I have adopted Madagascan wing-fruited coffee through the Kew Millennium Seed bank - this cost me £25 which seems a bargain.

The Coffea pterocarpa is just one of over 20 Madagascan Coffea species new to science discovered by Kew.
"Help us save Madagascan wing-fruited coffee

Discovered on a Kew expedition on the island of  Madagascar, Coffea pterocarpa, the Madagascan wing-fruited coffee, is one of the most bizarre-looking of all coffee species. You can help Kew safeguard this plant for our future by adopting a seed for yourself, or as a gift for £25.

The Coffea pterocarpa is just one of over 20 Madagascan Coffea species new to science discovered by Kew.
Madagascan wing-fruited coffee (Coffea pterocarpa) was discovered on a Kew expedition to Madagascar in 2000 and is one of the most bizarre-looking species of coffee,"

Read more here

While out and about I am a Costa man, while in the office it is Kenco (we make it, we have machines in the office that grind and infuse the real stuff direct from beans - proper espresso and latte - dangerous).  I can't get excited about Starbucks

Best coffee I have had so far was direct from the estate - I helped with the harvest - in Costa Rica where my guide's family owned and ran the farm.