Friday, 15 June 2018

Farewell to 'Mr Harrier'

Very sad to report that John Farley, best known in aviation as the test pilot who developed the Harrier to be the success it was, died peacefully at home on Wednesday evening following a long illness.I had the privilege to meet him once when he came to our Concorde museum at Manchester to support a 'Young Engineer' initiative by Salford University.
He was widely regarded as a brilliant pilot, but humble and very easy to chat to. A most likable man.He signed my copy of his book 'A View from the Hover' with a nice personal message (every pilot should read that book, by the way).
Farewell John.
To remember him, here is a friend of his, Raymond Baxter, at Farnborough 1982 commentating while John flies his routine in the Harrier, including his 'rocket' signature vertical / vertical take off, which no-one else ever attempted.Baxter tells of the time he was with John in a 2-seat Harrier. The brief from John before 'that' take off was "there's a few seconds here where we will be very exposed if the engine fails. There will be no time for me to say anything. So if I go (bang out) you go".




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Tuesday, 12 June 2018

So, farewell then, Ivan

After a lovely wedding at the weekend, today was a little more sad. Our mate Ivan, who was so often part of our trio on the Little Bikes, succumbed to bowl cancer on 23rd May and his funeral was today at Macclesfield Crematorium.
Bye bye old mate. We will miss you as what will now be the 'Two Little Bikes' venture out on our adventures, rather than the three it used to be.
Here are some pictures to remind us.


The three 'little bikes' before I upgraded mine to a 125 Innova (still little!). Ivan on the left with his SS50, me with my then C90, and Malc's Townmate at Northwich Pumping Station, one of our 'great days out'.

 Ivan on the left, on a 'Beer By Train - Mid Cheshire Line' jaunt in the Goshawk, Mouldsworth.

 Ivan on the right, with Malc, enjoying an evening meal somewhere in the West Midlands on the first evening of our canal narrow boat holiday in 2014

 Ivan with our boat, moored in central Birmingham

Ivan on a Leeds 'Beer By Train' trip in the bar on Dewesbury station, being attended to by some 'nuns'






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Abersoch Wedding

Katherine, The last of my three nephews / nieces to get married did so on Saturday 9th June. All three weddings have been in Abersoch, in a giant marquee on the headland just behind the Yacht Club. We missed out on the middle one, being away in Ireland, but the first and third were stylish affairs, and I'm told - so was the second!
Chris and I drove across to Wales on the Friday, having lunch in the Cliffs Inn at Morfa Nefyn as we used to do for years when the girls were little and The Cliffs was THE spot for al fresco lunch above the beach. Morfa is a lovely as ever, with that fabulous beach, but The Cliffs isn't what it was and the families who were there in its heyday are probably now all taking Easy Jet flights to the Med.
We paddled in the sea on that hot sunny afternoon before making our way down the familiar little lanes across the peninsula to Abersoch to our bijou B&B, Venetia, where we'd stayed for the first of these weddings seven years ago.
Here are some pictures of the wedding. Click on any for a larger image.

The wedding ceremony took place at the Catholic Church in Porthmadog. Two of these lovely old Routemaster London Transport buses transported the guests there and back from Abersoch.

The buses await their passengers in Abersoch Yacht Club car park 

My brother in law, John Nichols, brings Katherine down the aisle

"Are you ready for this?". "Oh yes!". "Let's do it, then!".

Porthmadog's answer to Bishop Michael Curry of Royal Wedding fame - the ceremony at the church. Katherine Nichols, Rob Kropp.

Kath signs the register

Mr & Mrs Kropp!

It's a lovely day outside the church as we await the newly weds....

And here they come, flower petals showering down, thrown by the guests

The wedding car 

Champagne celebrations and sandwiches on the bus ride back to Abersoch. Good job the bus was free. My bus pass doesn't work in Wales!

Very noisy with this lot chattering away at max volume...

London Transport was never like this

Our bus conductor was obviously into badges, big time

The champagne had run out by Cricccieth, so this lot got the driver to stop so they could purchase supplies at a petrol station.

The fresh supplies of booze are opened and distributed

Some beer, some G&Ts, and some cider...

The view from the marquee terrace at the Abersoch venue


Chris and I


While on the way to Porthmadog, there was a screeching roar and this overtook our bus rather exuberantly. It was Nephew James (of the wedding here seven years ago) in his Ferrari taking the groom to the church.

Margaret and Al on our table ("Virgin Atlantic" - all the tables were named after airlines)

The arrival of the happy couple (to ''Shut Up and Dance)

Here is a short video of the welcome as guests cheer and clap to 'Shut Up and Dance With Me'

Dave and Chris

Here is a short video of the Bride's father, John, being introduced

Here is a short video of part of John Nichols speech

A look at the menu

Each table had a nominated 'chef' to carve the beautiful Welsh lamb, and serve. Mr Murray looks a bit grumpy here, but then he always does before flooring everyone with a witty comment.

Enjoying dinner

Al was designated our 'table chef', and is here carving the superb Welsh lamb.

I'm ready for this!

Enjoying some after dinner air on the balcony

The happy couple with Rib's parents at 'top table'


Day moving into evening...

Cutting the cake

...Which we toasted with 'Cheeky Vimto', which apparently contains no Vimto

The new Mr & Mrs Kropp were first on the dance floor


The celebrations went on into the early hours...

....With a great live band that could be heard (we were told) all over Abersoch


Next morning - a BBQ at the Nichols house on the headland behind the wedding venue. Note the swapped initials.

My elder daughter, Claire, and Al

The previous night's venue, viewed from the garden of the house

There was even a bouncy castle for the little ones...

The house itself. Must be the finest location in Abersoch.



Relaxing in sun and shade






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