Armistice Day

Poppy WreathOn each 11th November at 11 am, every city, town, borough and village across the UK, falls silent for 2 minutes in remembrance of all those who fell in the two Great World Wars and later conflicts. The time and date are very significant as it was at 11am on of the  11th day of the 11th month in 1918 that the guns fell silent to bring and end to World War 1,

The village of Yeovilton in Somerset where I live was no different. For a small village of only 50 properties, Yeovilton attracts more than its fair share of royalty and dignitaries. This even included the the Head of the Anglican Church,Archbishop of Canterbury to conduct one Remembrance Day service.

The prime reason is the Church of St Bartholomew located in the village and which was unused when I first moved here. Adjoining the village is the Royal Naval Air Station, RNAS Yeovilton which established at the start of WW2 and which also has a military naval cemetery at the rear of the church.

The Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) purchased and restored the church for it to become the church for Naval Air Seamen.

At  this years Remembrance Parade at St Bartholomew’s, the worlds last surviving Swordfish plane based at  RNAS Yeovilton took part in a flypast dropping 25,000 remembrance poppies as it flew over.

The current building of St Bartholomew’s dates back to about the 1540’s but still contains elements of a Norman church which predated it and which in turn was built on an even earlier Saxon church.

The pictures below show a number of the poppies that drifted into my garden and the Swordfish flying over RNAS Yeovilton and Yeovilton Village.

Also the Photosphere at the bottom shows the military cemetery at Yeovilton with St Bartholomew’s in the background.

.IMGP3297Yeovilton Swordfish

 

 

 

 

November 2013

It’s been a number of months since I last updated my site mainly due to the glorious summer we have enjoyed. As an active retired person it would seem a shame to waste opportunities for outdoor activities. Following an early holiday in Spain, this summers weather has proved one long opportunity for visiting and exploration.

One little gem my wife and I came across almost by chance was a medieval National Trust property called Great Chalfield Manor near Bradford-on-Avon in Wiltshire. The manor house originally built about 1465 was a moated property with part of the moat still surviving. The estate itself goes back to Norman times and is mentioned in the Domesday Book as the property of Ernulf de Hesding, Comte de Perche. It was quite surprising when we were told by the N.T guide that through entrepreneurial skill, at one time the estate covered about 50 percent of Wiltshire and 25 percent of Somerset. Apart from the buildings the garden is also well worth a visit on a warm day with one noticeable feature being four tree houses enveloping pathways. The tree houses were each grown from four yew trees that merged into each other and then hollowed out on the inside. The small local parish church of All Saints which can only be accessed from the forecourt of Great Chalfield Manor is also well worth a visit .


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I find one of the simplest but nicest summer time pleasures is to go for a picnic in the country as a way of relaxing. Although we tend to go to various locations often seeking out new places there are two locations we hold more dear in our heart. Both are on Dorset’s Jurassic coast and both are National Trust Land. One location is Burton Bradstock and the other is Stonebarrow adjacent to the well known Golden Cap. Excellent views of Lyme Bay are afforded by both locations and I usually take a good pair of field glasses with me for viewing water-borne activity in the bay itself.

Bristol Garden Zoo proved to be another delightful excursion on our summer itinerary. It’s somewhere I have always wanted to visit but for various reasons getting there has always eluded me. We did look at going “green” on our travel to the zoo using a combination or rail and bus travel. However the high price of even off-peak rail travel and inconvenient train times meant we drove there in the end at a fraction of the time and cost it would have otherwise taken us. How on earth the Government expect people to use public transport while at the same time it presents discouraging and deterrent obstacles to its use I shall never know.

The zoo itself I found to be quite relaxing and well laid out as we ambled at our whim hither and thither to and from the various enclosures. I was impressed by the layout of the Water World and its seals and sea lions. A meandering pathway has been built spanning the enclosure from above before eventually doubling back under the water through a plexi-domed tunnel allowing good views of the seals from all aspects of their environment. I also found the butterfly house quite stunning with butterflies of all sizes in vivid and ornate colours. I was advised by one of the keepers the natural life cycle of the butterflies once they have emerged from their pupae varies between three to four weeks. This means the zoo has a large and on-going import programme of various pupae to keep the butterfly house stocked all year around.

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We are also fortunate enough to watch the annual International Air Day at R.N.A.S Yeovilton from the comfort of our garden made even more pleasurable this year by the heat wave conditions prevailing at the time. For my wife and I it is also a day for enjoying the company of a large group of friends invited to visit us on the day as I play Mein Host with lashings of food and drink freshly cooked on the barbeque.

The Air Day is always provides a fine example of flying skills in both modern and historic aircraft and this year was no exception. Some of the aircraft in use were the latest Apache and Lynx Wildcat helicopters as well as the ever reliable Seaking helicopter soon to be phased out by its replacement the Merlin also at the Air Day.

The Red Arrows display team opened the show arriving out if the blue to the second to provide a stunning display of tight formation flying and aerobatics. Traditional favourites from the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight also provided flying displays and I always find the deep throated roar from the Hurricane and Spitfire mellowed by the drone of the Lancaster bomber in some way comfortably reassuring. Another popular favourite was the much loved Vulcan bomber which sends vibrations reverberating through the body as well as the renowned Swordfish that proved so decisive at the Battle or Taranto and the sinking of the Bismarck in WWII.

An estimated crowd of 35,000 people attended the show with contributions to charity coming from the proceeds.

I have added a selection of photographs below which I took from my garden.

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Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Yeovilton


Yeovilton Air Show

The Red Arrows

One might think that living next to a naval air station is noisy but quite the reverse is true. Although the base is busy, it is not a commercial airport and the most one hears from time to time is an occasional  whoosh as an aircraft takes off. The Air Show Day however is noisy but that is a prerequisite we accept in return for the wonderful free entertainment that we get.

Yeovilton is not a large village, its more of a hamlet with about 50 properties. It used to be the case however in the week preceding the air show for aircraft enthusiasts world-wide to flood into the village to watch rehearsals for the show taking place, some with camper vans intending to camp overnight in the village. Understandable as it is for enthusiasts to satisfy their chosen hobby, for a small village it was proving very disruptive. Now military personnel seal off both ends of the only road to run through the village prior to the air show and only residents who are issued with passes are allowed through. Regrettable but necessary.

The UK’s own Red Arrows are frequent participants at the show and each year their display in precision flying seems more spectacular the preceding year. The vertical take off Aircraft the Harrier has always been a favourite. Until a few years ago, the Harriers were based at Yeovilton after which they amalgamated with the RAF Harriers. Alas the Harrier is no more having been withdrawn from service due to budget cuts. I watched the last flight of Harriers land at Yeovilton after they left their aircraft carrier for the last time. One cannot forget the role the Harrier played during the Falklands conflict and although they were coming to the end of their serviceable life, I would seriously question the decision to retire the Harrier prematurely solely as a budget saving exercise without a replacement. This now leaves the UK with mothballed aircraft carriers without aircraft and the same position will exist for some time even when replacement aircraft carriers eventually are commissioned. The thought of placing reliance in other countries for our defence is one that hardly fills me with enthusiasm. Dear old Winston must be turning in his grave.

Although peace has now returned to the Falklands, possession of the islands by any country now becomes even more desirable with the discovery of oil in the offshore waters. As usual politicians will assure the public they know what they are doing but history shows that conflicts frequently swiftly arise in a short space of time, like a storm appearing from nowhere out of a clear blue sky. The last Falklands conflict is a prime example. History is equally littered with swiftly replaced politically defunct leaders that thought they knew what they were doing.

 There are however strong rumours going around locally that a flight of 8 or 9 Harriers may be stored at Yeovilton, “just in case”. I have no idea whether there is any truth in the rumours.  Some people claim to have faries at the end of their gardens, in my case it’s jet fighters.

Friends watching the Air Show

Yeovilton Air Show

 
 
 Yeovilton Air Show
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