INSIGHTS ON IVOR - Part 52

IVOR’S INSIGHTS

Part Fifty-Two

It came as no great surprise when our youngest son, Martin, followed his older brother Chris and became interested in the world of motorbikes.  It was 1976 when Chris aged 17 bought his Honda CB125. Martin was 14 at that time. I recall Martin coming home one day on his pushbike and as he cycled into the rear garden of our house at Church Crookham, he was confronted with the sight of Chris’ nearly new Honda CB125 all alone, resting and shining in the sunshine. At that point, Martin had a Walter Mitty moment and after climbing onto Chris’ bike he drifted into a dream world where he was cruising along the leafy lanes of rural Hampshire and Surrey. This land of OZ was suddenly shattered when he was bought down to earth by the sound of someone banging on a window. That, someone, was his mother, Kathy, and she was ordering him to ‘remove yourself from that unpleasant contraption now’ or words of similar meaning but, shall we say, of a little more impolite nature? The sight of her youngest son following her eldest son down the motorbike route was just too much of a worry for her at that time.

 In May 1978 Martin turned 16 and was legally allowed to ride a 50cc motorbike (called a moped). In March that year, a neighbour of ours had a 4 stroke Honda ss50 moped which he wanted to sell for £100.  He also had a Haynes workshop instruction manual for the vehicle priced at only 50p.  We purchased both vehicle and manual for Martin who spent the next two months reading the manual and tinkering with the bike before he ventured onto the road.  As we lived near Aldershot it was fortunate that Martin was able to practice his skills on an army road in the woods behind our house. He became very proficient with his balance, clutch, throttle control and gear changes. The only downside was the army road was about a half a mile straight road which limited his chances of practicing his cornering skills. However, once out on the open road, after his 16th birthday, he soon mastered that skill too. Passing his motorbike driving test first time only a couple of months later. Indeed, one year later he also passed his car driving test at the first attempt. As indeed he did his advanced motorbike test several years later. A hattrick of firsts. What was his mother worried about? 
 His interest and love for motorbikes grew alongside Chris’ and they travelled many times together around the UK and Europe. At this point, I, like many parents, know it can take many years before we learn of some of the escapades their children got up to during their teenage years. Thankfully we all survived and followed the dictum that ‘boys will be boys’ and moved on.

 It’s just as well Kathy didn’t know about some of the escapades he and Chris got up to on their many motorbike rides. She would have had a fit. The longest single ride Martin ever did was from his home in Hampshire to Montpellier in the south of France. This ride totalled 820 miles and he did it all in one day AND it rained all the way!

 Another activity Martin and Chris got involved with was acting as ‘beaters’ on some pheasant shoots which were carried out locally. They were happy to receive £4 a day for their efforts but were a little disappointed when at the end of the day’s shoot the shooters divided the pheasants between themselves.

Besides Martin’s passion for motorbikes, he also took after me in his love for sport.

 He played football, tennis, squash and golf. He also embarked on many outdoor activities such as fund-raising challenges, like hiking 130 miles of the pilgrim’s path of the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain, a section of the Appalachian Trail in Virginia, America and even Abseiling the spinnaker tower in Portsmouth. He once joined a crowd of 325 people at Canary Wharf in London, to complete an assault course all dressed as penguins. Making it the largest human penguin colony in the world. For this feat, a Guinness World Record.

 But his greatest achievement was done more recently in 2015 when he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro which is nearly 20,000ft high. This feat and all the other charitable work he did for so many deserving causes has, so far, raised over £40,000 for many people young and old.  It should be pointed out he has achieved all of this despite being an asthmatic. If you wish to see a short video of Martin’s climb up Killi, please click on the link:- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zn7AgFy5q3o&t=8s

 After his early schooling days were over, he went on to serve a four-year apprenticeship, which included one day a week attendance at Basingstoke Technical College. At the end, he attained a City and Guilds Distinction in Mechanical Engineering. During his apprenticeship, he was employed as a Mechanical Engineer at Pilcon Engineering in Basingstoke, past of the Richard Costain Group. After qualifying he was promoted to section manager of the drilling department. 

 Other jobs he did later in his career included working for two years as a Pest Control Officer for W.H.Groves, Surbiton, Surrey. This interesting work may have been a somewhat unpleasant task in the eradication of various pests but it was a necessary job of vital importance for the health of the general public.  

 As the years passed Martin became interested in the world of finance. He studied and worked hard to gain many professional qualifications and awards. This led to him becoming a qualified Financial Advisor. These qualifications were put to good use when, in April 1996, he started his own business, opening an Estate Agents and Financial Services company called Chapplins. His business partner runs the estate agency, whilst Martin focuses on the financial services side, as well as the business structure itself. Today, Chapplins have four branches in Bordon, Fareham, Havant and Liss. All four are in Hampshire, Martin is located it the Bordon office.

 At this point, I would like to say that both Kathy and I are immensely proud of our two sons for what they have achieved in their lives. They both studied and worked hard and by showing talent, enterprise and great initiative they eventually owned their own businesses. Chris had led the way by having the vision and courage to take the historic step of emigrating to Canada in April 1982 to work as a Chef. Chris later followed Martin’s ambitions of owning his own business by founding The British Touch in Shakespeare, Ontario.

 Kathy and I are also very grateful for all the help, kindness, consideration and love our sons have shown us over the years. They have often surprised us by secretly arranging a celebration get together whether it’s to mark a birthday, anniversary or for some other event.  We are so grateful and appreciative for all the time and trouble they take in arranging these outings. In addition to the above, we must also say we owe them an even bigger display of our very heartfelt gratitude for the part they played in giving us Nicole, Laura and Michael, our three lovely caring grandchildren, who are a credit to them.

 

--End of Part Fifty-Two--

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INSIGHTS ON IVOR Part 51

 IVOR’S INSIGHTS
Part Fifty-One

 

 History was made in the UK in 1979 when the daughter of a shop keeper in Grantham Lincolnshire named Margaret Thatcher who, not content with upsetting many of the ‘old school diehards in their ‘Men Only’ clubs by becoming the leader of the Conservative party in 1975,  went even further in 1979 when she beat her rival candidate, Ted Heath, and became the first woman to be elected as the Prime Minister of Britain.

 One can only imagine what some of the old boys thought of this as they spluttered over their G and T’s  ‘There you are Carruthers, I told you no good would come of that Thatcher woman being put in charge of our party. Mark my words young man, the damn fillies will be taking over the club next. Fill my glass and pass my pills, there’s a good chap.   

 Margaret Thatcher was a lady of strong character and resolve. This feature was bought to the fore in 1982 when Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands. There are two British Dependent Territories in the South Atlantic, the Falkland Islands and it's Territorial Dependency South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. 

 When Argentina invaded these Islands it didn’t take long before Prime Minister Thatcher retaliate in defence of the British people living on these islands. After lengthy discussions with the Ministry of Defence and various Military Chiefs she instructed that a Military Task Force of British Forces should be assembled as soon as possible and sent on the 8,000 miles journey to the South Atlantic to repel this invasion of the Islands by Argentina. The Task Force included the Royal Marines, the Parachute Regiment, Scots and Welsh Guards and those fearsome fighters, the Ghurkha’s amongst many others. Air cover and other help was provided by the RAF when needed.    

 Whilst Kathy and I were naturally sorry when this invasion happened we also had a personal issue relating.  It so happened that at this particular time we had a cruise holiday booked to take Kathy’s mother with us sailing from Southampton on P and O’s Canberra cruise liner going to the Canary Isles and Madeira. Unfortunately, and disappointedly for us, the Government requisitioned the Canberra and included her as one of the 54 vessels to sail to the Falklands in the battle against Argentina. As Canberra was a cruise liner and obviously not fit for fighting battles it underwent a complete conversion into a  troop carrier which eventually departed from Southampton carrying 9,000 personnel, 95 aircraft plus fuel and freight. 

 All of this resulted in Kathy and I contacting our travel agents about this change of plans. Luckily for us, they were able to get us a similar booking and Itinerary on Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth II (Q.E.2) cruise liner, which was also scheduled to leave from Southampton.  Naturally we were delighted to receive this second chance but our euphoria was short-lived because a couple of days later the Government stepped in again and this time they requisitioned Cunard’s Q.E.2 Liner also to join the Canberra in the Taskforce leaving for the Falklands as soon as she was also converted into a troop carrier.  
 So, once again, Kathy and I turned to our travel agents for help. They were very sympathetic and unbelievable as it may seem they got us yet another identical replacement offer. This time it was a booking on the Black Watch, one of the Norwegian Fred Olsen’s fleet of cruise liners.  The only drawback to this ship was that it didn’t sail from Southampton but from Tilbury in Essex. This meant we had to travel by train to London’s Fenchurch Street station then catch another train to Tilbury then find a taxi to take us to the Docks. You can appreciate that this journey with Kathy’s mother in tow plus our luggage was a bit exhausting but we made it safely and eventually boarded the Black Watch. Kathy’s mother, who incidentally had been cruising with us before on the Canberra took all of this upheaval in her stride, in fact, she was quite excited by the whole adventure. 

 The Black Watch was a much smaller ship than Canberra or Q.E.2 and the facilities on board were not so plentiful or grand. I do remember the dance floor was very small and the necessary music for dancing was provided by only one pianist, but I must say he was the kind of pianist I like. He just sat at his piano night after night and in a very easy, casual style, which I envied very much,  played many of the classic popular dance ‘sing-along’ songs written by the likes of George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Rodgers and Hart or Hammerstein, Jerome Kern etc.  Kathy and I danced (or shuffled) around the floor whilst her Mother watched us from her nearby chair with a smile on her face and a glass of sherry in her hand.  

 The best part of the ship was the restaurant. Being a Norwegian vessel the food on offer was smorgasbord style i.e. helping yourself from a lush display of every variety of food one could wish for.  It was a wonderful mouth-watering display. 

 When the ship docked at Teneriffe on the Canary Isles we took Kathy’s mum on a coach trip around the island which she enjoyed very much. She was such a lovely lady and it was always a pleasure to see the joy we could provide for her and she never failed to show her genuine gratitude for our efforts. 

 When we arrived in Funchal, the capital of Madeira, we took mum on another coach trip. This one had a special feature. It involved getting off the coach at the top of a steep hill where we found a toboggan and two Portuguese men waiting. These men were there as our ‘drivers’ responsible for the steering of the toboggan down the winding downhill road facing us. They did this by holding onto some ropes attached to the toboggan which acted as an aid in holding the vehicle back when, or if, it was necessary. As we descended down the winding cobbled road some of the local children ran alongside the toboggan holding their hands out for money in exchange for the flowers they offered us. Mum sat there with a look of apprehension and wonderment on her face. She was glad when she reached the end of this ride unscathed, clutching her flowers and thankfully all in one piece. 
 
We visited other islands on this trip and the overall view was one of great satisfaction.  The whole experience of cruising for Kathy’s mum was such a joy  to her that not only did she come with us on another cruise later in life, we were also were able to take her sister, Kathy’s auntie Lily, with us as well.

 By this time both of them were in wheelchairs which presented Kathy and I with the task of wheeling them around the ship. Whilst this wasn’t always easy, especially in bad weather, we never minded because both of them never failed to show their appreciation. To us, it was a labour of love and we all had some happy enjoyable moments on these holidays I can tell you. 

 The Falklands war, which had started on the 2nd of April 1982, finally finished on the 14th of June 1982 when Argentina, after having around 650 troops killed, surrendered. The British Military Personnel had 260 casualties plus 3 of the Falkland islanders were also killed.   

 With the conflict finished it was time for our two cruise liners, both of whom had been of vital importance to Task Force, to return home. The Q.E.II arrived back in Southampton on the 11th of June 1982 and the Canberra, which due to its white colour earned the title of The Great White Whale, arrived back on the 11th of July 1982.  

Kathy and I will never forget the memorable day of Canberra’s return home. 

 We were on a caravan rally near Portsmouth on that day. We had a small (9 inch) television set in our caravan which I put in our car and drove down to Southampton to await the arrival of Canberra. There were hundreds of people waiting along the shoreline waving their Union Jacks, which made a wonderful sight against the blue summer sky. There was a great patriotic feeling of warmth and relief filling the air.  I switched on our TV which was on the grass in the shade under my car and was able to see Canberra, who had slowly sailed around the back of the Isle of Wight, hove into sight as she entered Southampton water and progressed to the docks and her berth.

 The sound she received from the rapturous crowd made the 'Welcome Home' all the more welcoming by all of us honking our car horns and flashing our car lights. It was a magical and proud emotional historical moment in our country’s rich history.  (This historic sight can be seen online (YouTube – Canberra ship arriving back at Southampton after the Falklands War July 1982)

 The Canberra carried on cruising for a few years after the Falklands War and Kathy and I were lucky to enjoy two cruises on her. You only have to mention her name to any lover of cruising and will immediately respond with their stories and fond memories of this ship. It has a special place in the hearts of all who sailed on her.  

 Eventually, the time came when this lovely ship reached the end of her voyaging days. She was sold to a ship breaker in Pakistan on the 10th of October 1997 and finally scrapped on the 31st October 1997. 

 

--End of Part Fifty-One – 

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INSIGHTS ON IVOR Part 50

IVOR’S INSIGHTS
 Part Fifty

    The 1970s bought changes to our family life. Our eldest son Chris had developed an interest in motorcycles and wanted to buy one. His cousin Michael had bought a Honda CB125s model which Chris also yearned for. I wasn’t particularly interested in Motorbikes (not as good as a ‘Green Flash’) but after a lot of thought, and a test drive on Michaels bike I relented much to Chris’ delight, we followed Michael’s lead and bought Chris a Honda CB125s.

It was during this period of time that Chris had finished his normal schooling days and decided that he wanted to become a chef. He enrolled as a student and began a training course at Basingstoke Technical College in the Art of Catering. He worked hard and progressed so well that he won a heat of the Regional final of a cooking competition.  This led on to the National final which was held at Westminster College in London. Kathy and I attended this event and we were so proud to see Chris come 3rd in the country. After this triumph, he started working for Bateman’s Catering Company as a mobile relief chef.

Due to the Mobile requirements of this job it was very fortuitous that we had bought Chris his Honda CB125s motorbike.

Like most teenagers Chris loved riding his bike but, like most parents (particularly) mothers, there is always the worry of their child having an accident. We were no different. I remember we could never relax and go to sleep at night until we heard the sound of Chris’s bike coming down our road and we knew he was safely home. His love of motorbikes never left him. He, along with many of his friends travelled all around the UK and throughout Europe, on their motorbikes.

 During those days Kathy used a car for transportation to and from her workplace but even she, who had no great desire for a motorbike decided a small moped might be a more economical vehicle for her so she bought a Raleigh run-a-bout. This was a lightweight vehicle combining pedal power with a small petrol tank. Once you climbed on the Raleigh you pedalled away until a certain speed was attained and then switched over to the petrol option which gave you enough speed to relax, sit back and forget the pedalling. I remember there was one day when Kathy, for some reason, used the car to go to work and I rested my Green Flash bike and borrowed the Raleigh to travel down to Fleet Station. It was a frosty morning and the roads were a bit icy. As I approached a T junction intending to turn right I slowed down because of the icy road surface and rather than turn right and risk sliding on the ice I went straight across the road and up a dropped kerb turned right onto a pavement. I travelled along the pavement for a few yards to the next dropped pavement, that fed right again back to the road surface, turned left and continued my exciting journey to Fleet Station. It was a good job this pantomime took place around 6.15 a.m. and there was no one around to witness my run-a-bout star turn. Unlike the Green Flash, at least I didn’t come off or tear my trousers or hit the back-cluster lights of a stationary parked car. 

End of Part 50



IVORS INSIGHTS BONUS ENTRY
This is a cherished favourite, previously posted. All past insights can be found on our website.

Cornwall, England's most Southerly county is a magical land of legends and tales of the sea, fishermen, pirates, smugglers and tin mines. With a population of over 500.000 at the 2008 census it has a coastline of 250 miles. Called Kernow in its own language it is fascinating to know that at their peak during the 1800's the Cornish tin mines supplied half of the world's requirements of tin. Although this industry has long gone it is still possible to see some working mines and learn a little of the important role they played in the life of Cornwall, the country and indeed the world. The Cornish people are of Celtic origins, fiercely independent, with their own flag called St. Pirin, the Patron Saint of Miners.

 

     Cornwall enjoys a very temperate climate thanks to the influence of the Gulf Stream from across the Atlantic. Its rugged coastline and the picturesque villages and harbours are a magnet for thousands of visitors every year making it one of Britain's most popular holiday destinations.

 

Take a visit to Lands’ End the County's most south-Westerly point and see the many Bronze Age standing stones, relics from grave sites and religious buildings. It also boasts the 'First and and Last Shop' in England. The town of Penzance, made famous by Gilbert and Sullivan's pirates, is also worth a visit and from which there are transport links by air or sea to the Scilly Isles, which lie some twenty-five miles south-west off Lands’ End.

 

Other places worth visiting are Marazion where you will see St. Michaels Mount with its Castle and Heritage museum. The Mount is reached either by boat or at low tide by walking across the sandy beach. Sailing enthusiasts are well catered for in places such as Falmouth and Fowey, (pronounced Foy), whilst surfer’s head for the North coast where the Atlantic rollers come thundering in at Newquay and Polzeath.

 

Pretty fishing harbours such as Boscastle, Polperro and Mevagissey bring many visitors, as does the Eden Project, a relatively new attraction located near St. Austell.  It is a massive geodesic domed structure housing flora gathered from around the world. Equally, another nearby popular horticultural site is the reclaimed Lost Gardens of Heligan.

 

The city of Truro is the only city in Cornwall and as fitting with its attractive cathedral is the county's capital.  Another interesting and very popular spot is St. Ives, the Mecca for all painters and artists who flock here every year to paint and soak up the creative atmosphere.

 

Talking of art, I recommend a visit to the Minack Theatre located near Porthcurno. This amphitheatre, cut out of the rock and overlooking the sea is very unique. Weather permitting you can have the unusual experience of watching a play performed whilst seeing and hearing the sound of the sea crashing on the rocks below.   St. Mawes, Bude, Padstow, Looe all lhave their own attractions as does Tintagel with its connections with King Arthur. . Head off to the most Southern part of England and you will find The Lizard Point with its two lighthouses towering above the small sandy bays below.  Another attraction is the harbour of Port Isaac which shot to fame in the UK as Port Venn, when it was used as the setting for a television series starring Martin Clunes as Dr. Martin. Talking of harbours Falmouth has the third largest natural harbour in the world and also worth visiting.  If it’s quiet coves you seek have a trip to Mullion Cove and Sennen Cove where you can relax and recharge your batteries.

 

History was made at Poldhu, also on Cornwall's south coast back on December 12trh 1901 as the place where Marconi became the first person to successfully transmit a radio signal across the Atlantic Ocean when the Morse code letter S was heard in St. Johns Newfoundland. 

 

If you visit Helston at the right time of the year you will hear a familiar song, known worldwide as 'The Floral Dance' but referred to here by its original and true title, 'The Flurry Dance'. Visitors come every year and watch the residents of Helston dance through the streets of the town celebrating this ancient ceremony.

 

 

One of my favourite spots is St. Enodoc with its pretty church which nestles with Daymer Bay on one side and the golf course on the other – what more do you want? - Have a wander around the graveyard and you will see the grave of one of my favourite’s poets, the late John Betjeman. Look further and you will also find the name Harold Smart on another headstone. Does anyone, like me, remember him, the Organist of that name from around the 1950's time?

 

There are many moorland regions throughout Cornwall which come alive in Spring and Summer with wonderful displays of wild flowers. Probably the most famous being Bodmin Moor. This is where you will find Jamaica Inn immortalized in the novel, and film, by Daphne Du Maurier who incidentally lived for many years at Fowey.

 

Other well-known people form Cornwall who made their mark on the world include the remarkable seaman  Captain Bligh of Mutiny on the  Bounty Fame,  Bob Fitzsimmons, Britain's first World Heavyweight boxing champion, Sir Humphrey Davy, who discovered sodium and potassium and invented the miner's safety lamp and Richard Trevithick who in 1801 became the first man to build a steam locomotive.

 

   No history of Cornwall could be complete without reference to the Cornish Pasty. There are many variations about the ingredients for this delicacy. The main ones are chopped meat, usually steak, one or two chopped potatoes. After this it varies, some people put half a turnip, others half a swede or even carrot. There should then be some onion, salt, pepper and water.  All of this is enclosed in a short or flaky pastry casing and cooked in the oven until golden brown.

 

Originally ate by Cornish fishermen, tin miners and farmers it is still extremely popular today and synonymous with Cornwall.  To me one of life's simple pleasures is, at the end of a summer's day sitting on the wall of a pretty Cornish harbour and watch the colourful fishing trawlers returning with their days catch. Overhead the ever-present squawking, and always hungry seagulls circle ready to swoop down for any tasty morsel that might suddenly become available. On the horizon the setting sun is bidding us good night and ever so slowly dispersing from view leaving you sitting there with a 'tattie oggy'  (what the Cornish people call a Cornish Pasty), in one hand and a cool glass of beer in the other it’s time for me to say 'Cheers my hearties'  from all of us who love and enjoy that old British Touch. 

 

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INSIGHTS ON IVOR Part 49

  IVOR’S INSIGHT
     Part Forty-Nine

 I remember the big drama in London on March 20th 1974. Princess Anne, with her husband Mark Phillips, escaped being kidnapped when a Rolls Royce Limousine taking them down The Mall back to Buckingham Palace was overtaken by another car which forced them to stop about 200 yards from the Palace. The driver of this overtaking car was Ian Ball, a man suffering from a mental illness. Many people witnessed the scene including three policemen, some protection officers assigned to princess Anne and other members of the public including a journalist, a former boxer and two chauffeurs. Despite the standoff and general pandemonium, the Princess remained very calm throughout the ordeal. Four men were shot, one of them being inspector James Beaton, one of the protection officers who, despite being shot three times by Ian Ball, survived the ordeal and was later awarded the George Cross for his bravery.

 In April 1974 the government announced big sweeping changes to the Town and County map of England and Wales. Despite their long history of being recorded in the Domesday Book, certain county and town names disappeared in the biggest reorganisation of local government since 1888. Counties such as Huntingdonshire, Rutland, Cumberland and Westmoreland in England were swallowed up or incorporated either into other counties or into counties with completely new names. For instance, most of the East Riding area of Yorkshire ceased to be a county but was now part of a new county named Humberside.

Similar changes also occurred in Wales, for instance, my own birthplace of Bettws Cedewen was in the county of Montgomeryshire but that County name was changed to Powys (Powis).

I also remember 1974 was the year when Prince Charles made his maiden speech in the House of Lords and thus became the first Royal for 90 years to perform that function.

Another man who also made history for a completely different reason that year was a male streaker who charged onto the hallowed pitch at Twickenham during a rugby match. It was here that the crowd found out that a British policeman’s helmet is more than a protection for his head. This revelation came to light when one gallant officer of the law removed his helmet and chased after the streaker.  Upon catching up with him the constable removed his helmet and, to the great amusement of the crowd, used it to cover the intruder’s vital statistics. It was said that the match ended with a score of Metropolitan Police 1, The Streaker 0.
 
**THIS INSIGHTS WAS WRITTEN SOME TIME AGO, BEFORE THE CURRENT PUBLIC HEALTH SITUATION.**

Kathy and I fondly remember the early seventies as the time when we went on our first cruise. We took Chris and Martin with us on a P and 0 Ferry/Cruise ship named EAGLE. We sailed from Southampton on a six-day cruise to Lisbon -Algeciras (Spain) – Tangiers (Morocco) and back to Lisbon before returning to Southampton. It was the beginning of a lifetime of cruising for Kathy and I which, at the time of writing this (2020), has reached a total of 36 cruises which has included cruising to celebrate our Silver, Golden and Diamond Wedding Anniversaries.  Our accommodation on that first cruise was an Inside Cabin (no windows or portholes) just four bunk beds and a bathroom, all for the princely sum of £49 each for the return trip. As the years passed and our finances increased, we upgraded to booking an outside cabin with either a porthole window or a larger picture window. This eventually moved up again to the next option which was to book an outside cabin with a balcony. Just imagine sitting out on your balcony with a drink (or two) on a warm sunny day gazing at the white fluffy clouds making their own patterns against the azure blue sky as the ship gently glides across the Mediterranean or the Caribbean.  To my mind cruising is a wonderful leisurely way to travel and explore beyond the blue horizons. You learn so much by meeting different people, seeing their countries and cultures as you visit many of the wonders of the world. It's not only enjoyable but also very educational.

 

--End of Part Forty-Nine--

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INSIGHTS ON IVOR Part 48

 IVOR’S INSIGHTS

                                                       Part Forty-Eight

 As well as my interest, and partaking in music particularly Trad jazz and Skiffle, I also became equally interested in photography. I should point out that this interest was long before the digital age of photography arrived. I bought magazines and read all I could to learn more about the art.  I started with a fairly basic Kodak camera using Black and White 35mm size film which was the most popular and easily obtainable at that time. I also bought all the necessary photographic equipment and learnt how to develop and print my own films.

   By using the loft of my house in church Crookham as a darkroom I was able to develop my films and then print the images of my choice. The only snag with this method was that I had no supply of water, a key element in this process, in my loft. I overcame this by filling a bucket of water downstairs and carried it upstairs to where I then carried it very carefully up a step ladder into the loft. After my developing and printing activities were finished, I repeated the ladder and bucket operation in reverse with one difference. The last part of the printing process requires the print to be doused into a tray of water. This tray of water and prints was then emptied into the bucket of water I had taken into the loft and then very carefully taken back down the ladder and emptied into a bath of water in the bathroom. This allows the water to wash away, and neutralise any of the developing fluids used in the whole process.

  Kathy didn’t appreciate coming from work sometimes only to be confronted with a pile of photograph’s lying in a bath of water in the bathroom!

  In time I decided to upgrade my camera and bought a second hand Rolleiflex T Camera. This camera is a classic which, in its heyday, was used worldwide by professional wedding photographers and press cameramen. It uses 120mm size film which gives you square 2-1/4in (6x6 cm) size negatives which are about 3 times larger than negatives from 35mm film... The larger negative gives you a stronger foundation to build on to produce a better resolution and sharper clarity, especially when printing enlargements of any photograph.

  I must say, with all due modesty, I, armed with my Rolleiflex T (T for Tesser Lens), camera became quite proficient, thanks to the brilliant quality of the camera especially the Tessar Lens. I was even asked to take the wedding photographs for a neighbour of ours whose daughter was getting married at a local church in Aldershot. Not only did I take the black and white photographs, develop, and successfully print them afterwards, I also used my own car to drive the bride and groom to and from the church.  

  Being asked to take someone's wedding photographs was a labour of love for me and as an amateur photographer, the only charge I made was to ask for my expenses i.e. cost of films, developing fluids and printing paper to be covered.

  This, my first wedding assignment, was successfully repeated a few months later when I was asked by Kathy to take the photographs for a working colleague of hers whose daughter was getting married in Basingstoke. I was happy to accept the request but there was a problem this time because, not surprisingly, the bride and groom wanted colour photographs which I was unable to do because I didn’t have the right equipment or expertise to print colour.

 I got over this hurdle by getting a Professional Photographic Library in London to do all the necessary printing. Naturally using colour film and their services put the cost up quite a bit but it was worth it. The quality of the images was brilliant, my expenses were covered and the recipients of the photographs were delighted with the end results.  

  As the day of the wedding approached, I was a bit nervous because of the responsibility facing me and not knowing any of the people didn’t help. But when I saw the church and the surrounding wedding venue any tension I had was eased by the sight of lush green gardens, tables, chairs, and blossoming trees all bathed in the summer sunshine. It was an ideal setting to take colour photographs for any bride and groom’s wedding. The big question at that moment in time was would my efforts be satisfactory. Thankfully they were and everyone, including me, was very pleased with the end results.

 Another wedding I covered was when one of Kathy’s nephews got married in Shropshire. This happy occasion was also captured successfully on Kodak Colour film by my trusty Rolleiflex camera.  I used the same Professional Photographic Library in London with the same perfect results. As an extra present to the happy couple, I purchased a photographic album for them to put their day’s memories into.  

 My camera and I were constant companions. I proudly took it on all our holidays. One holiday I’ll never forget was one of the many we’ve had in the Tyrol region of Austria when, as I got off a coach with my heavy Rolleiflex around my neck, I stumbled and fell a few feet down the side of a hill. Kathy, our two sons, Chris and Martin plus our nephew Michael couldn’t help laughing because as they recall saying to me ‘Dad, one minute you were with us on the coach and the next minute you were disappearing over the edge of a cliff’. But, as soon as I stumbled, my first thought was to hold on to my beloved Rolleiflex which I did. 

 My Rolleiflex and I were ever-present throughout our caravanning days. Kathy undertook the task of Editor of the Monthly East Hants Magazine and wrote various articles supplying information and news for the members. I remember we worked together once when I took some portrait photographs of various club members and deliberately cut off the lower half of the print so that only the top part of the head, eyes and hair were visible. These mutilated prints were then inserted into the magazine as a quiz, asking people to identify the subject. I also wrote various articles accompanied with photographs for the National Caravan Club magazine.  It’s always nice to see your efforts in print.

 During these days I was still working at Shell Centre where it was customary to have a Farewell Party, which was organised and supplied by the company, for anyone upon their retirement. I was asked, and agreed, to cover many of these happy occasions with my camera. The 10x8 inch photographs my Rolleiflex produced from these occasions were always well received by the people present.

 Finally, the day came when it was time for me, to shut the shutters for good, on my Rolleiflex.

I didn’t want to try to sell it. I wanted it to go to a good home and someone who would appreciate it’s history and quality so I gave it to my eldest son Chris who still has it. These camera’s and similar ones are still used by devotees to film photography rather than Digital and fortunately 120mm film is still obtainable if you look hard enough.   

 During my happy photographic days, other things not so pleasant were happening in the UK.

Such as the conflict between the IRA and Britain was never far away. There were many terrible incidents in London and other parts of the UK. The nearest one to us happened when the peace and tranquillity of leafy Guildford in Surrey were shattered on October 5th 1974 when bombs killed 5 and injured 65.

 I have written about these awful days before and all I can say is that I take no sides. I only report the facts of the events that happened. I have met and worked with many Irish people over many years. I have visited their country and there is no doubt that the vast majority want nothing more than to live normal peaceful lives. But the bitterness and all-consuming hatred shown by a minority have ensured that their dream is still not a lasting reality in this beautiful land.

 

 

---End of Part Forty-Eight--

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INSIGHTS ON IVOR Part 47

Insights Into Ivor

   Part Forty-Seven

As you will already have read I was interested in sport from a very early age, playing football, cricket, tennis and golf. My youngest son Martin, born in 1962, followed my sporting interest when he was older but our eldest son Chris wasn’t particularly interested in ball games. Football or cricket left him cold. He much preferred to sit by a river, canal or pond with a fishing rod and cast his line, with some poor innocent maggot attached, into the water and then wait for a hungry, unsuspecting fish to take the bait.

I suppose you could say Chris had fallen for fishing, hook, line and sinker. Talking of maggots Kathy had a fright one day when opening the fridge she saw a plastic container of wriggling maggots looking at her.

 You can imagine she was, shall we say, not very pleased,  To Chris, it was sensible to put the maggots in the fridge and thereby have fresh live maggots for the hungry fish. Boys will be boys.

 Fortunately, there was a pond within cycling distance from our home in Church Crookham. We bought Chris a new bike (no, it wasn’t the Green Flash) and off he’d go with one of his friends on their bikes complete with rods, maggots, folding seats, a large umbrella, a sandwich or two and drinks for themselves.

It was on such a fishing trip one day when Chris was hit by a car and sustained a broken leg.  He was hospitalised and eventually came out with his leg in a plaster caste and a pair of crutches. The car driver was summoned to court for dangerous driving but was found not guilty.

I remember Chris’s incapacity didn’t stop us going away on a weeks holiday to Mevagissey in Cornwall. There were echoes here of Long John Silver as Chris walked along the harbour walls. He only needed a parrot on his shoulder and uttering the time-honoured phrase ‘shiver me timbers Jim Lad’ to complete the image.

 Despite the accident, it didn’t stop us, as a family,  going to Mevagissey many times after the accident. We had found a very friendly couple who ran a Bed and Breakfast business in their house a few miles outside Mevagissey. I remember one trip we did when Chris and Martin wanted to fish off the harbour wall. Chris caught a fish or two but Martin couldn’t even get a bite. So, unknown to him, when he wasn’t looking I took a fish of Chris’s line and transferred it to Martins. He stood there completely unaware until Chris and I shouted out to him ‘Look, Martin, you’ve got a bite’  the look of surprise and delight on his face was a joy to behold as this shimmering fighting tiddler rose from the water into the summer sunlight.

 Mevagissey is like so many fishing ports in that you can pay to take a trip on a fishing boat out beyond the harbour wall and try for bigger fish like Mackerel, So, one day we decided to give it a try. Kathy got on first and I followed with the boys. I deliberately sat with my arms around them just in case one of them might fall over the side of the boat. The water was calm and everything went well as we left the harbour and headed out to the not so calm open sea. But after about 15 minutes I told the Skipper of the vessel that I felt a bit queasy whereupon he signalled me to move from the back of the boat and take a more stable seat in the middle. At that point, I felt so sick that I just had to take his advice and move to the middle. I was so relieved when we returned to the sanctuary of the Harbour. 

 The Skipper had caught quite a lot of Mackerel and as we staggered off his boat, he said to us ‘How many would you like to take home’?   At that moment in time, I never wanted to see another Mackerel or any fish again  But Chris and Martin wanted to have some so I gave in and they left the boat and proudly walked through the village back to our car with 4 or 5 mackerel tied around with string and took them back to our B/B house where they were gratefully received by our friendly hosts. The irony is that now I love Mackerel.

 

--End of Part Forty-Seven--

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INSIGHTS ON IVOR PART 46

  INSIGHTS ON IVOR   
 Part Forty-Six

    In June 1970 the tiny island of Tonga, whose Queen Salotte endeared herself to the British public when, despite the heavy rainfall, she attended Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation in 1953, gained its independence from Britain.

  Also in June, Britain, Ireland, Denmark and Norway started talks on their entry into the Common Market. This was a plan for the European Countries to form a common trading organisation between each other with each country retaining all their own independence and sovereignty.

 As I write this now it is December 2019 and that original dream of European Unity went, for Britain, badly wrong. It descended into chaos with thousands of unelected politicians making many unpopular decisions which were unacceptable to us. We wanted the right to make our own decisions and our sovereignty.

There was a General Election in June 1970 and Ted Heath became Prime Minister with Alec Douglas Home as Foreign Secretary.

On the sporting front Golfer, Tony Jacklin became the first Briton for 50 years to win the U.S. Open when he won the title in Minneapolis. He had already won the British Open and thus he joined two of the all-time greats of golf, Bobby Jones and Ben Hogan as the only ones to have won both Opens in the same golfing year.

The year also saw the Methodists announce that they were allowing women to become full Ministers in their Church. Some cynics said women have been preaching for years and without many methods but I wouldn’t dare to make such a comment nowadays with all this women’s lib and P.C. around.

  A sad loss occurred when Sir Allen Lane died. The name may not be familiar to many but his brainchild will. He was the man who made paperback books ‘famous’ by thinking up the idea of calling his books Penguin and although there are many different paperback books around today there is only one Penguin trademark.

 On Sept 12th four airliners destined for New York were hi-Jacked. The attempt on one, an EL AL Boeing 707, was thwarted when the crew overpowered the two hijackers one of whom was killed. The other one, a girl named Leila Khaled, was handed over at Heathrow to the British Police. Her arrest caused the hijack of a BOAC VC10 and that aircraft, along with the other two hijacked planes, a Swiss and an American one were flown to Jordan where 255 passengers were released before the planes were blown up in the desert but the hijackers, believed to be members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, held 56 British passengers as hostages at a secret location. They were eventually released on Sept. 20th.

 Another sad loss occurred when Field Marshal William Slim died. He was the man who led the British 14TH Army, the forgotten Army, throughout the Burma campaign in the Second World War.  History books record, quite rightly I might add, the epic struggle in the Middle East when General, later Field Marshal, Montgomery led the 8TH Army to victory over Rommel at El Alamein but the desperate and largely unsung struggle endured by the 14th Army under General Slim, as he was then, in the steamy unrelating jungles of Burma were every bit as heroic and deserving of the nations gratitude.

 To finish on a lighter note, you may like to know that on October 20th missiles were thrown at the stage during the Miss World Beauty Contest in London to which I can only add, in true cockney style, ‘Blimey, they must have been an ugly lot of gals that year’

 

-End of Part Forty-Six—

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INSIGHTS ON IVOR PART 45

  INSIGHTS ON IVOR
       Part Forty-Five 



   I shall now move on to some of the events which occurred during the 1970s. These included such varied things as the 4,000 people who died of an outbreak of Asian Flu throughout the U.K. in the week ending January 2nd 1970. In London Karl Marx’s grave in Highgate cemetery was desecrated by having swastikas painted on it and also damaged in an attempt to blow it up. 

 Aviation History was made when a Boeing 747 aircraft (which because of their sheer size were called Jumbo’s arrived in Britain). It was three hours late touching down at Heathrow due to engine trouble en route. 
  February 15th 1970 was the day when Britain lost a man to whom the whole country owes a huge debt of gratitude. I am referring to Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding (later 1st Baron Dowding GCB GCVO CMG) who died on that day. He was the man in charge of the R.A.F.’s Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain. 

Talking of Aircraft, Concorde made its first Supersonic Flight in this decade. 

 The voting age within the UK was lowered from 21 to 18. The average house price was around £4,900. On the music scene, Record Players and Cassette Players were very popular. The Isle of Wight held its biggest Rock Music Festival when 600,000 people attended.  In April 1970 many were surprised to hear that the Beatles broke up. 

 On the religious side, another surprise came when the Methodists announced that women could become full Ministers in its Church. Some male cynics quipped that women had been preaching for years without many methods but remember this was before the eventual successful enlightened days of Liberation and rights for women came into being. 

 In the Queen’s birthday honours list Sir Laurence Olivier, in recognition of his vast contribution to the world of Theatre was the first actor to be given a life peerage and became Lord Olivier. 

 Sad to record that the decade of the 1970s was one of the breakdowns of Industrial Relations throughout the country. There were so many strikes starting with the British Miners after refusing a £2 a week pay rise from the National Coal Board went on strike on January 9th. Power stations were closed and Electricity supplies rationed. 

To make matters worse, the Postmen on January 20th, decided, for the first time in their history to also go on strike. 

 The troubles in Northern Ireland were still ranging. The Army used rubber bullets for the first time in both Belfast and Londonderry as well as CS gas in an effort to quell stone-throwing rioters in the Bogside. Sunday, January 30th saw a conflict which killed thirteen men and youths with seventeen more wounded. This battle is forever remembered as ‘Bloody Sunday’
 
 One of the biggest changes we witnessed in the UK in 1971 was when the country said goodbye to centuries of dealing in Pounds, Shillings and Pence and we all tried to understand the new decimal coinage imposed upon us. There were worries that in the confusion some shops and businesses would be marking up their prices, which many did. Older people were hit the hardest trying to adjust to this dramatic change. Many were reluctant to lose the Tanner (sixpence), Bob (1 shilling), the thruppny bit (a three-penny piece) and the Half-crown (two shillings and sixpence). Thinking back to it now I must admit that when I remember the sheer size and weight of the old one penny coins and consider there were 240 of them to each one pound you soon realise why we used to get holes in our trouser pockets!

 Whilst all of the UK troubles and changes were going on, Kathy and I continued our interest in Caravanning and joined the Caravan Club. This National organisation was open to any caravan owners to join. It is split into county areas throughout the UK. As we lived in the east part of Hampshire, we became members of the East Hants Branch. Joining this was one of the best decisions we ever made. Every weekend members of the many county branches would meet up for a Friday-Sunday Rally which would be held at a locally convenient site i.e. a Farmers field, a Village hall or School playgrounds to that area.  

  Every Saturday evening there would be some entertainment which varied from such diverse options as Dances in the village or school hall, Barbecues on a summer evening when I, along with my guitar, aided and abetted by another caravaner who played the piano accordion, would lead everyone in a sing-a-long session. Another activity which provided much laughter, was for participants to visit other designated vans and play a hand or two of cards whilst enjoying a glass (or two?) of Sherry with the owners of that van. When suitably refreshed we would then move on to the next 

Participating couple’s van where we would repeat the same act of playing another hand of cards whilst partaking of more Sherry. You can imagine what mayhem sometimes occurred if someone had too many glasses of the Amber Nectar. The result would be that the individual concerned would be so muddled that he (or she) would not only have no idea what trumps were but by this time couldn’t care less anyway. 

  We looked forward to every Friday when we would hitch up our caravan and head off to the designated Rally site for that weekend. These weekend breaks were viewed as a welcome rest and a chance to recharge our batteries for the return to work on Monday morning. Chris and Martin were at an age when our caravanning escapades were not for them, so we trusted them to stay at home and not indulge in any wild parties to annoy our neighbours. There were some occasions they would pay us a quick visit on their motorbikes.   

 It was also around this time in our lives when Kathy and I decided to try a holiday on a cruise liner. Kathy’s father had spent a large part of his life at sea. He served as a Merchant Seaman, a Royal Marine and finally in the Royal Navy in which he served as a Chief Petty Officer during the Second World War. It was only natural that Kathy was interested in all things naval and very keen to try life on the Ocean Wave even if it was only a holiday cruise. 

 We took the ‘plunge’ by booking a six-day trip on a small ship called the Eagle which acted as a car ferry as well as a cruise ship. The cost of the cruise passage for us was only £45 each for a four-berth cabin on a return trip from Southampton visiting Lisbon, (Portugal), Algeciras (Spain), Tangiers (Morocco), back to Lisbon before returning to Southampton. 

 The whole experience was great value for the money. Even though Chris and Martin did sometimes prefer to stay on board in the swimming pool rather than go ashore on an excursion it was a big success for Kathy and I and the beginning of a love affair with cruising which we carried on for many years including celebrating our Silver/Golden and Diamond Wedding Anniversaries on different ships and visiting different countries around the world.

 Two ships we fondly remember are P and O’s Canberra and the Royal Princess. We cruised on the Canberra and I remember one sunny afternoon in the Mediterranean when the Captain told all passengers he had received a message that there was a bomb on board the ship and all passengers were to return to their cabins, search thoroughly and to report to a ship's officer if they found any suspicious items. This episode came during the height of the troubles in Ireland. We did as we were instructed, found nothing untoward until the Captain announced that nothing had been found and we could all return to our cabins which we did. No sooner did we do this when there was a very loud bang akin to a bomb blast. Fortunately, the Captain came back on the Tannoy and allayed any fears by informing us that the bang was not a bomb but the sound of Concorde breaking the sound barrier as she raced across the sky above our ship. You can imagine what a relief that was.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

-End of Part Forty-Five- 

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INSIGHTS ON IVOR Part 44

INSIGHTS ON IVOR

IVOR’S INSIGHTS

Part Forty-Four

When our two boys were young, we took them on various holidays including camping in tents to places such as Littlehampton, Brighton, and Weymouth. But our biggest adventure was taking them from Crookham, Hampshire to Comrie Perthshire in Scotland. Because I only had a Ford Prefect car at that time it was decided that wasn’t big enough to carry the four of us plus the tent and all the paraphernalia for a journey of approximately 450 miles from Crookham to the Camping site we’d booked at Comrie.   

Help came to the rescue when Kathy’s Uncle Phil offered us his metal trailer which hitched onto a towing bar on the back of my car. This trailer had a hinged lockable lid, a spare wheel and a solid water container attached to the back. It was perfect for our needs so off we trundled to Bonnie, Scotland loaded to the brim. I remember many hours later we were travelling along the road in the vicinity around Moffatt which in those days was in Dumfriesshire, later to become Dumfries and Galloway, when a train suddenly appeared running alongside the road we were travelling on. Many of the train passengers were looking out of their windows and waving at Chris and Martin who naturally waved back to them. It was a lovely welcoming moment to Scotland. We still had approximately 90 miles to go to Comrie but we eventually arrived at our camping site and pitched our tent.

 

This was our first of many subsequent visits to Scotland and we enjoyed visiting such places as Pitlochry where we all enjoyed seeing the Salmon leaping. We also saw ted Loch Tummel and admired the scenery from the Queens View. We went to Loch Tay and Crieff, a town which I believe was used for filming parts of what became a very popular television series called Dr Finlay’s Casebook. Another trip we did was taking a long car journey out to Braemar. The roads were deserted and we enjoyed the peace and serenity of the area. We stopped for a picnic but unfortunately, it started to rain so we stopped and not to be denied our picnic I opened one of the cars back doors and fixed a piece of waterproof sheeting up under which Kathy cooked some sausages on a small camping stove. They were delicious and after we were suitably replenished and the rain eased sufficiently, we continued our exploration of the route to Braemar.

 

The rain we encountered on the journey to Braemar was nothing compared to what was to come later. The sad truth was that on our 14-day holiday in Scotland we had ten days of rain, some of which was of Biblical proportions. We did our best to make the best of it by trying find places to take Chris and Martin out to escape the rain but it wasn’t easy to find any suitable dry places to satisfy our quest. I remember sitting in the tent and wistfully saying to Kathy ‘What are we doing, sitting here 450 miles from home in a tent with our two young adventure-seeking children with thunder and lightning all around us and the seemingly never-ending torrential rain lashing down on our newly purchased Canvas home’?    

 

Despite the dismal weather, we remember one dry day when the rain took pity on us and stopped. We made the most of it by paying a visit to my Sister in Law Ethel’s Brother Bob and his wife Nancy who lived in Hamilton. They made us very welcome and gave us a guided tour of the area complete with Bagpipes!

 

Eventually, the end of the holiday came and it was time for us to dismantle the tent, which fortunately had dried out sufficiently for us to pack it into the trailer, hitch it up to the car and commence our 450-mile journey home. We left on a Friday evening with the intention of driving through the night and only stopping for occasional breaks for food and some sleep. To this end Kathy made up a ‘bed’ for Chris and Martin in the back of the car and because it was important that I, as the driver should have a sleep or two to keep us all safe Kathy and I changed over our two front seats. This meant by me sleeping in the front passenger seat I could avoid the inconvenience and discomfort of having the gear lever and steering wheel in my way. Naturally, this meant that Kathy had those two items to avoid as much as she could but she bravely put up with it and survived the discomfort.  

 

After driving many miles something happened which was to have a lasting and happy effect on our later lives. We pulled into a layby for one of our breaks and within a few minutes, a car pulling a caravan entered the same layby and stopped in front of us.

With minutes the owners of the Caravan plus their two passengers had vacated the car and moved into the Caravan.  The van lights went on and the four people were now sitting around the table at the back of the Van, eating, drinking copious cups of tea and laughing and joking. Little did they know that whilst they were merrymaking in the warmth of their caravan, sitting in a Ford Prefect car behind them were two people, cold, tired and hungry, with their two children, fast asleep on the back seat. It was then at that moment in time that Kathy and I, now green with envy, decided that our tenting days were well and truly over. We saw, over the rainbow, a future for us where there would be no more sitting under canvas in some rain-sodden muddy thunder clapped field lit up by great flashes of lightning and later having the task of dismantling the soaking wet canvas, wait for it to dry sufficiently before packing it into our trailer and travelling for home. We decided that buying a caravan and heading for the open road was a far more appealing option.

 

It was some years later before we could realise this dream. It happened when we were on a trip to Shropshire to visit Kathy’s mother. One day we saw in the front garden of a house a second-hand caravan marked up for sale for only £300. We stopped our car which by this time was a Hillman Hunter saloon with automatic transmission.

 

I knocked on the door of the house and fortunately for us the owner was in. He gave us a thorough inspection of the van and its history. We were both very impressed with its good condition and after some negotiations, we agreed a price with him.  

 

I explained to him that we didn’t have a towing ball and bracket fixed on our car strong enough for towing a caravan and also, because we were not local people, we would like to return home in Hampshire and get this necessary safety requirement done to our car and return to Shropshire the following week to finalise the deal and pick up the caravan to bring home. He agreed to our request and we, complete with new tow ball and bracket returned the following Saturday.  It was quite exciting to complete the deal, hitch up the van and slowly drive away and head for the open road southwards. I must admit towing a caravan for the first time was a bit of a challenge particularly negotiating tight corners and roundabouts but we made the journey of approximately 160 miles safely home delighted with our new purchase.

 

--End of Party Forty-Four—

 

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INSIGHTS ON IVOR Part 43

INSIGHTS ON IVOR

 

Part Forty Three 

A train journey of mine you may like to read about happened one morning when I left home at my usual time of 6:15 a.m. heading for the 6:43 a.m. train from Fleet to Waterloo. The weather was reasonably warm, with a slight wind which accompanied the early morning bird song as I headed off for another day at the office. Because of the wind blowing and knowing my wide brimmed hat had a tendency to leave my head I pulled it down tighter on my head as I pedalled faster to keep my rendezvous with the 6:43 a.m. train at the station. Unfortunately with hat and head down I restricted my vision ahead and before I knew what was happening there was a loud sound of metal hitting metal as my trusty steed crashed into the back of a parked car in the road outside someone’s house. 

I just didn’t see it in time. My bike hit the offside light cluster and broke the glass and bulbs of a Red MG Sports car. The bike went one way; I went another whilst the briefcase and hat sought sanctuary somewhere else amidst this scattered heap in the middle of the road. I remember there was a milk delivery van passing by and the driver only gave me a ‘fleeting’ (sic) glance. I imagined he was thinking ‘What’s this idiot doing at this time (6:18 a.m.)     

 The final insult was to find that because of my fall onto the road I had sustained a cut to my trousers just below the knee which in turn caused a wound to my leg which was now bleeding. I also broke a tooth when I hit the deck which wasn’t exactly a laugh. 

 After picking myself up and making a note of the house number I, in the true spirit of the Royal Air Force, picked up my bike and reassembled the briefcase and hat to their original places. So, with briefcase back on the rack behind the saddle and hat jammed more firmly on my head  I remounted the somewhat embarrassed Green Flash and peddled ‘very’ slowly back home having decided I was in no fit state to continue my hazardous journey to the station.  

 As I opened my front door, Kathy appeared at the top of the stairs surprised as to my sudden reappearance back home. When I told her I had run into the back of a car around the corner and in doing so had cut my trousers and leg, which was still bleeding.  We both had to laugh a bit at the stupidity of the situation.  Chris and Martin who were just getting ready for school also enjoyed Dad’s little accident!  

 As I was still a little shaken after all this excitement I decided I couldn’t face going to work now. I went back to bed and slept for about a half an hour to aid recovery. 

After a good rest I got up and dressed which included a change of trousers, mine being cut too much.  

Feeling guilty about the damage I’d done I walked back around the corner to the scene of the crime. As I approached the scene I saw a man standing by the damaged MG Sports car.  After ascertaining that he was the owner of the car I immediately owned up to being the person who had hit his pride and joy. He was most surprised to learn that it was a bicycle which had caused the damage. His surprise was due to the fact that because he had found a small piece of Green paint on the road near his car then it must have been a green car which had caused the damage. He had spent some time walking up and down the road looking for such a car and seeking the owner of the said vehicle with no result.  I assured him that the green paint was from my bike and not someone’s car.   

 After more apologies from me I told him to get the damage fixed and I would pay for it.  He accepted my apologies and later that day came round to my house to tell me that he had replaced the damaged light cluster on his car. He said he was grateful for my honesty and wanted to repay it. He did this by not going to a shop and paying full price for a new light cluster unit but instead he visited a local car breakers yard and found a second hand cluster unit which did the job perfectly well and of course at a much cheaper price. So it all ended up amicably. 

 I’m pleased to say the Green Flash, minus a small piece of green paint, survived the crash and went on for another 24 years flashing its way to and from Fleet station avoiding all vehicles, especially MG Sport cars. It was finally retired when its owner hung up his cycle clips on which there was no sign of green paint, in January 1989. 

 

--End of Part Forty Three --

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