Tuesday, 21 October 2014


I was thinking yesterday after posting my Lytham post, that although I named my blog Beetles, Bikes & Books, there has been very little written about Beetles and Books. I had thought of a catchy name and a few came to mind, one of which was Writing in Pencil, as I always used to use pencil in my German classes at the Goethe Institut. Mainly so I could rub it out when I made a mistake! Then I found there was already a blog named that, so I gave it a miss.

My Beetle has been with me for about 4 years now but it is getting time to part company with it as it has been sitting fairly idle for weeks on end and it's too pretty not to use. Thankfully the only cost is insurance, but as it a heritage vehicle, the cost is very little and the occasional bit of work needed for MOT, which husband does. There is no Vehicle Excise Duty either as it is over 40 years old. Since I bought my fabulous noisy, scruffy old Land Rover I have hardly used it. So, although I am using Beetle this week whilst there is a bit of structural work going on with Landy, as soon as the major jobs on it are done, the Beetle will be on the market. I will use the money for another project I have in mind.

I must add that husband restores classic cars (he hasn't done mine) and cars are his 'thing'. I have learned to live with that and tried to get enthusiastic as I had no interest in them whatsoever when I met him. Years ago we had a mini which was actually only 3 months old, he bought when he had the truck business but after that went we always had cars that many people would describe as 'old bangers'.

Books - well I am avid reader but books are aside when doing my crochet projects for friends and the blanket for my very soon to arrive granddaughter? (hoping it is still a girl). Travel books used to be my favourites but I did run out of them as I tend to like Nick Crane and the cycling travellers like Anne Mustoe (sadly now deceased), Dervla Murphy (who also trekked) and Bettina Selby. As I only have a couple of Anne Mustoe's left to read, I'm holding fire on them.

Dick Francis was always a favourite but I am running out of his too, although his son has written a few. A friend then recommended I try the Val McDermid books, particularly the Kate Brannigan series. After reading two, I am hooked. The first one I read was actually a late one but they are pretty self sufficient in themselves. I'm trying to decide now whether to buy the first one on Kindle or buy a paperback. Maybe the former. She writes another series too, the Lindsay Gordon series.  I haven't read any of the ones with the characters Wire in the Blood yet, as I don't want to confuse the issue too much.

Of course, I have still all my Lorna Hill books that I have collected over the years, a whole set I will add, the last two having evaded my possession for years as they were so difficult to get hold of. In my attempt to declutter the house, proving most difficult, I keep wondering whether to sell the ballet series and keep the horsey ones, which I think I prefer, as they are more outdoorsy.

Has anybody read The Housekeeper by Beverly Cochran? I think it was her first novel and I bought it in a charity shop. I really enjoyed it and still have it. It's about Mary-Ruth Findlater who was housekeeper in a grand Scottish house with an absentee landlord. When the lord remarries a rather silly society girl, promises to come up to visit, and extensive arrangements were made including food preparation, house cleaning and such and then the lord cancels at the last minute, Mary-Ruth decides to take matters into her own hand, with rather strange results. It combines normal everyday things with a bit of guile and excitement.

There is another book which I believe was very rare and when I put a search in the price was rather high, but somehow I managed to buy it from Waterstones on line and paid £11.00 for it. I've not read it yet - I'm saving it for I don't know what.

Sorry, that is all I can think of today, it's a lot of writing about very little really, sorry if I have bored you.

Sunday, 19 October 2014


I admit to being someone out of synch with this one, I forgot all about it but there's a lovely photo I wanted to show and I didn't want just to put a random picture in, so here it is.

The Lytham Show is a Classic Car Show with historic buses and other vehicles. It is held right on the front, some vehicles on the beach and others right along the concrete walkway, not sure what it is called, on the other side of the lovely marina. We were there early (well, we're always early) and were on the beach, which was a lovely place to be, a bit of grass and bit of sand rather than concrete.

This is an airplane warning!!!! Sorry if I'm boring you but there are just a few more aircraft pictures. I think that is the last for the year.

After a walk around looking at the cars, we realised there were two Spitfires at the other end of the park and walked over there. One of them is on a podium right up in the air and the other on the ground. I'm not sure if it's there all the time but there was certainly a military presence there and people on hand to answer questions. I discovered that they were volunteers and not actual service personnel.

Have you any idea what the bar is for at the front of this vehicle? Answers please in comments and I will tell you later! Sorry no prize for correct answer.

What a shame, I'm obliterating the RAF roundel.

How beautiful is this?

Love these planes.

There were a lot of ducks on the marina, there was a notice for people not to feed them but I think they were very hopeful.

Here are a few of the various interesting exhibits, including a mini caravan which was gorgeous and which I wanted!

I am not sure if this is a Green Goddess or not?

I did so want a pillar box red Land Rover. I hadn't realised they came in such small sizes!!!! The owner of this had made it for his son, but as he was a very small person (not a dwarf but just a very small man, he could actually drive it. He very kindly let me try it and it was great fun. He showed me how to drive it in forward and reverse. My legs were a bit long for it though.

This actually won a prize but not sure what for

I love the sky here. Looks like a cross in the sky.

Husband's car is the white one. (It's actually mine on the log book)

Don't you just love this?
We're always last! Mainly to beat the crowds queueing up. It was just so nice sitting there and brewing tea on our little stove, we just stayed until quite late. We'll definitely go back there next year.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014


I was going to visit Southport on my own as husband was going to show a car at Event City at Manchester. However, someone had made a mistake and he decided to come with me instead. We wanted to park on the beach so had to approach Southport from the North in order to be admitted there. A very early start, quite a bit of queueing, even though we were very early but the ramp built on the soft part of the beach had slipped, so we had to wait for that to be fixed. We would have been OK in Keith's Disco but most cars wouldn't.

On the Saturday the weather was dull. It got so bad and the wind got up later. Once again, we were disappointed that Vulcan did not display. It was too bad for the plane to be able to land safely. I tended to lose interest after that and didn't pay as much attention as I ought to have done to the Blades display team. As there are so many photos, I'm not going to go through Saturday as well as Sunday, so just posting the top one of the sky over the water with the sun just peeping through. The plane in the foreground is a large model!

Then there was the announcement that Vulcan was going to come on the following day! Right, I was going to go anyway! Husband asked if I wanted to and so we both came again. What a change in the weather, it was perfect. There were so many people on the beach that day, it was absolutely crowded.

The wonderful Red Arrows. Because of the  better weather they were able to fly higher and do more stunts than they did on the previous day. It was very thrilling watching them.

This is the beautiful Catalina Flying Boat. It had such a quiet engine and I loved it.

And so, to the highlight of the show for us. What I have been waiting for and missed at Blackpool and the previous day. I could hardly contain myself with excitement.

The Lancasters were over from Canada to make a tour of the country and display at quite a few air shows, in addition to going over Ladybower (I think) on their way back, where they used to train to drop the bombs for the Dam Buster raids. They were magnificent, and I actually cried when they came past, I was so moved as my Dad was in Air Crew in one as a navigator. I got quite upset, as I must admit, did quite a few other people, not only women.

I love the picture above, with the beautiful, awesome Vulcan with the seagull just above it to the right. 

And there she was, off, after an amazing display.

Both the Lancaster and the Vulcans did a flight around all the area, inland over the M6, just imagine driving up there and seeing the Lancs and Vulcan flying over your head. I would have had to pull onto the hard shoulder! Liverpool had the benefit of the display too.

I must say that next time I will not take so many photos so I can just watch the beautiful, graceful movements of the huge plane as it is put through its paces with extraordinary skill but flying within the realms of keeping stress on the fabric of the plane to a minimum.

Anyway, that was my first and last sighting of the lovely plane this year. Next year, I think we will really make an effort and see her fly as much as we can as it is the last flying year, because of the life span of the engines or something. The Vulcan actually is more popular in questionnaires than the Red Arrows, exciting though they are. Probably because they have years of life in them yet.

So that is all for this time, I might find some pictures of the crowd and some helicopters that were fascinating to watch, including the Huey, of Vietnam War fame.

Saturday, 4 October 2014


I think that if you've read my blog over the last twelve months you will know I have , well, a slight obsession with The Vulcan, the last of the V Bombers? Well I don't call it unhealthy as I have always been interested in aeroplanes as my Dad was a Navigator in Lancasters in WW2 and was involved in flying over Germany. He was in 189 Squadron. I also had the privilege of attending a selection board at Biggin Hill RAF station way back in the 60s, treading the boards of the famous flyers who were based there and eating in the officers' mess that they used. There is also a recognition model hanging in my living room which was used for air crew to be able to spot different planes in silhouette during training.

Well back to the point! Since the Vulcan was recommissioned after a very long period of layoff, i has been giving flying displays at air shows and rivals the Red Arrows in the popularity stake. There is something magnificent about these old planes and they really do make the hair on the back of your neck stand out.

Husband decided that he would like to go to Blackpool where Vulcan was displaying. It happened to be on the tail end of the hurricane from America which didn't bode well. We toddled off up the motorway to a very wet Blackpool sea front, found somewhere very expensive to park for the length of time we were going to be there and went off and had a coffee. The show didn't commence until 1pm.

It was a free show but there was no commentary so when the Red Arrows suddenly appeared behind us, having taken off from Blackpool airport it was quite amazing. What a magnificent sight they were and so fast and loud. The sky was quite dull still but dry.

Then there were the little planes and the Breitling Wing Walkers who did their displays. I have put some photos on but am not wholly sure which was what, as this was a few weeks ago, I'm catching up now, so I'm going to just put the photos at the end and if I can remember which plane it is name it! The photos aren't up to my own personal standards because of the lack of light but at least I do have some sort of record.

I thought the Vulcan had come early when I heard the roar of a large, fast plane, in a V shape overhead. Sadly it was the Typhoon, the one that had accompanied an air liner to land at Manchester airport only a few of days before because there was some perceived threat on board. It was a fast, noisy, manoeuvrable beast which took all our breath away. So hard to find these planes in the sky without a viewfinder and only a little viewing area on the camera.

I was getting excited as the weather had improved a little and it was not so dull. As there was no commentary, we had no idea what plane was coming next. Then as we were right on the coast we could see the bad weather coming in. I tried to find the iPhone App for Vucan XH558 which would tell me the progress of the crewing in, taxiing and take off and subsequent progress of the Vulcan but couldn't get a signal!  Eventually as a great disappointment, we went, realising that it wasn't going to happen. Back where we had reception, I discovered that the Vulcan hadn't taken off from Doncaster where she lives, as the cloud was so low. She had to take off but more importantly, to have the ability to be able to land in very poor expected weather conditions. I was so disappointed, almost in tears, even though I know these things are not decided frivolously, and the fund would have lost a lot of money for not appearing. The people at the Stobart Show in Carlisle would have been disappointed also, as she was flying over there too.

So, although we had had a good day all in, we drove home in a slightly dejected frame of mind. Then the thought came to me - we would go to another show and see her. That was another story, but it didn't happen, which I might briefly comment on at some point. Did I see Vulcan fly this season? You will find out at a later post!

I'm sorry it's very photo heavy and all plane related but the post would have been too lengthy to add more.

This little helicopter was giving aerobatic displays at the show. We asked at the airport where the show was and I took the photo through the wire netting.

A very wet start to the day.

Here are the Red Arrows

I think these were the Breitling Wing Walkers. Can you see them on top of the planes?

I had to take a picture of this child, I think they were advertising the circus near the little pier next to the wheel.  The child does have TWO arms by the way, the left one is tucked behind for balance.

This is a Spitfire, very difficult to catch!

Here's the Typhoon - the little 'craft' on the right is a seagul!!!!

Couldn't resist putting another shot on.

This is how it turned out!

The weather conditions were terrible, look at the low cloud.