Wednesday, March 14, 2012

My Birthday Visit to the RAF Museum

With my birthday already off to a great start after the reappearance of Sherlock and me actually getting a proper birthday this year (29/02) I wanted to actually do something 'celebratory' for once.  I fancied a day shopping (I needed a haircut and some clothes) but upon the realisation that finances would make this a fairly short lived celebration we opted for a family day out to the RAF Museum at Henlow.

The stories and happenings of World War 2 fascinate me, and I love visiting the museums which never fail to teach me something new.  With the buggy staying at home I also wanted to visit an attraction that would give Alfie a chance to be on his feet and not create too much mayhem.

As soon as we arrived he was lagging behind.  He'd spotted a school trip crossing the car park and wanted to make the most of the opportunity to wave at the kids and shout "Bye!".  What he (or I) hadn't expected was that the entire class turned around in unison and waved and shouted back at him!  Needless to say the next five minutes were spent waving and shouting across the car park!

Sometimes there's only one way to get the kid moving, and that's to pick him up!

There is all manner of awesome aircraft inside the museum, and loads of detailed displays which I found fascinating.  This prop press is super cool - if fact I'd quite like a propeller mounted on one of our walls in our lounge!

We are always quite early to lunch, and seeing as we left the first building approaching midday we made a route straight for the restaurant.  It was a fantastic place, and with a Merlin displayed in the middle of the room what's not to like?  Even Esme wanted a good look round!

In the afternoon we entered the main halls and had a fantastic time checking out the birds on display.  They ranged from early Flying Corps examples;

Right through to the more obscure WW2 aircraft like this armed bomber water plane, and even included modern day birds like the Euro Fighter.

They also have loads of cool memorabilia from WW2, and I've always loved the 'score charts' that you found on the side of bombers illustrating how many bombs had been dropped.  These were genuine examples now found on the walls of the museum ... I wonder what happened to the rest of the aircraft?

As you reach the end of the main hall there is a really cool interactive area that Alfie loved.  This gives you the chance to see how bombs fall after being released, the impact of airflow, and even learn basic plane controls.

 With the museum covered and the kids getting tired we decided to fill up at the pick 'n' mix station in the souvenir shop and hit the road - destination Pizza Express.  I know its not exactly the most glamorous of venues, but its a fantastic place to eat if you have rugrats in tow and beside, I had a voucher!  As is often the way, Tash and I took it in turns to eat as Esme was bounced and then the meal was finished off perfectly for Alfie as he painted himself with a Chocolate Sundae!

A brandy with my coffee rounded things off nicely for me, and it was the end of a really pleasant day.  Lets hope I enjoy being 32 and much as I did being 31!

Sunday, March 04, 2012

The Sherlock Returns!

I seem to have been asked quite frequently "have you found that snake yet?" to which my reply has always been that I didn't expect to until the weather warmed.

I had a suspicion he was curled up somewhere and was keeping himself nice and snug whilst our house was a bit chilly.  The past few days things have started to warm up though, and the sun has started to show a little more during the day.  It has been so nice I had actually meant to jump into the loft and turn the heating off!

Maybe I was right too, cos on Tuesday Tash turned to walk up the stairs and stopped dead in her tracks.  "Should there be a snake on the stairs!?" she called out!

And there was Sherlock, just sat there halfway up the staircase.  Tash found an ice cream tub and we gathered him up so I could get his viv back up to temperature before he was reintroduced to home.  I took the opportunity to grab some photos of him too, something I really wished I had done when we bought him.  He had been missing almost exactly 2 months!

Once the viv was nice and warm I put him back in with just his warm hide, a bowl of water, and a furry.  Snakes can go ages without food so I wasn't too worried about his hunger but water is more crucial for them.  He went straight for the water bowl and proceeded to drink like a fish!

Happy that he was OK I left him alone for a while.  I popped my head back in to check on him about an hour later when Alfie went to bed and I managed to catch him just finishing off the furry!  Happy that he had eaten and drunk I reassembled his viv ... and made sure the new roof was 100% escape-proof!

I am so chuffed to have him back, it was the best way to start my birthday!  I'm gonna leave him alone for a few weeks and let him settle back in.  I imagine its been quite stressful for him.  Then I'll start to get him used to being handled which I cannot wait for!

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Race Retro 2012

I have wanted to go to Race Retro for a number of years, but for some reason things never seem to fall into place.  Its considered by many to mark the start of the show season, and its a real hub of activity and show stopping cars for the classic and retro enthusiast.

With all the 'show' it also tries to add a little 'go' with an operational rally stage, and this year a fire-up of some old Honda race bikes.  With me attending with an eye on the Gathering, and us having two kids in tow, it meant we decided to head up on the Friday (24/02) in an attempt to miss the crowds - but also knowing it would mean we would also miss the rally action too as that only ran on the weekend.

Once we'd managed to find the car park (some funny fcuker had been messing with their signage!) we got ourself inside and settled down in the cafe that is just inside the entrance.  It was feeding time for Esme and so as Tash got ready and I held Esme I grabbed a quick photo of the pair of us ... and then Alfie and I disappeared inside the first hall!

I spent a lot of time talking to people.  Either people who I already knew, or people who I thought could add something to the Gathering.  It meant I didn't get loads of photos, but there were a few times I went scrambling for the camera in my back pocket.  One such occasion was seeing the Porsche Group C cars and also the promotional stall for the various Classic & Sports Car series.

Alfie even presented me with one of those must have 'father-son' photographs when he sat himself down next to a single seater.

There is a fantastic selection of traders at the show and we even managed to find someone who was selling toy cars made by the French company Vilac.  We bought Alfie one of these when we were in Le Mans 18 months ago and jumped at the chance to grab another. 

Eventually we wandered into the hall that housed the two wheeled exhibitions and immediately Tash and I commented that this hall was 'much more us'.  It just felt more relaxed and laid back, and not quite so 'stiff upper lip' as the other halls had been.  Steve Parrish was there doing announcements and such like, but with it being Friday it was very quiet.  He was there with his old GP bike and I jumped at the chance to have a photo with him and Alfie and a quick chat about the forthcoming MotoGP season.  Incidentally, Alfie drew Steve into the thumbs up, I'm sure he doesn't usually go around looking super enthusiastic to the cameras!

We managed to time things perfectly, and within minutes it was time for the fire up of the old Honda.  I have to say they were immense.  Alfie loved them ... just a shame he freaked at the start and as a result we lost our space at the front. You may not be able to enjoy the video so much, but you can't help but love the audio!