Sunday, 28 July 2013

Wings of Desire 27/07/13

Busy weekend. I realised after Friday's run (10 hilly miles tempo round the Queen's Drive and Innocent r/w in 67mins) that I had more things to do today than time to do them. Buying shoes would have to wait – Sunday's race will be done in old shoes. The Airshow at East Fortune was today and I really wanted to get along there. Trouble was Mary wanted to do 16 miles first which would take 3 hrs and the flying started at 1pm.

I got up early-ish and we left for Aberlady around 9.30. I took my bike in the back of the van for later and we set off from the bridge at Aberlady to run the beaches and trails to North Berwick then back by the road. (Enjoying the Open countryside.) It was a glorious morning – another reason to get out sharpish and definitely the best part of the day. Butterflies scattered as we ran along the machair to the beach. There was a Springwatch programme on the other night about butterflies and moths. It's all very well employing camera-persons to chase lepidoptera around all day to get beautiful close-ups but I had an airshow to catch and Mary wasn't hanging around either. I would chase some little blue maniac around for a while, then it would settle, I would take one step towards it and it would take off again. Meanwhile Mary is now at the other end of Aberlady beach.

No trips to the subs today. Full of the summer joys I began to chat to Mary who was quick to remind me this was her tempo run (if not mine) and could I please not chat through it. I went off to chase more butterflies and I thought I got that elusive blue shitter (I knew it would be a “Common Blue” it so is not,) as well as a Red Admirally type though you can never really be sure till you get home and upload them to the monitor. I lost more than I captured. And those boring white ones – I don't even chase them now. I don't know if maybe like the Masai chasing down an antelope all day until it drops from exhaustion, you can run a butterfly into the ground until it stops that infuriating dance and just sits there gasping. They give little away. I haven't yet had the time to explore that. Can't see how the BBC would get such good shots otherwise. I mean you can't hear the camera dude, in the background, breathing like an asthmatic, but they may edit that out. They did feature 6 Spot Burnets though, did you see? Now there is a (daylight) moth happy to pose for a portrait. Three of them on one flower...

The tide was well out. Some unpleasantly rippled sand hiding pockets of wet but all pretty good. I think we beat the crowds although by Gullane there were more folk about. And an octopus – don't recall seeing such a fine specimen along the coast. Today's best dead thing. I saw in the news recently a person's body was found along the E Lothian coast. That is not on my tick list.

Today's best dead thing

I try not to take too many pics of Fidra but it is difficult to resist its aesthetic pull. The same could not be said of a large group of dogwalkers who all had boxers and mastiffs, I think, (breeds that have fallen out the ugly tree,) just this side of N Berwick. Look I'm sorry if this was you but I think there was something aesthetically askew going on there – it was all I could do not to shout out to Mary to lower her sunglasses and hurry past this group of unfortunates. I can report that the dogs were well behaved (and the majority on leashes) and as such that's my favourite kind. I didn't risk a photo.

This could be somewhere hot in Europe. (Oh, it is!)

N Berwick was busy with all sorts including an old dude who felt the need to talk rubbish to Mary. I'm not sure which institution he was on day release from, but the sunshine was taking its toll. We scoffed a pecan pastry and bottle of pop from the coop then set off up the road back to Aberlady. Again Mary suggested I run ahead so I took the car key in order to change into my non-running kit in plenty time for the airshow. Mary had an appointment with some University friends so was missing the airshow. I was tempted to sneak off to the Archerfields trails on the return run, rather than the boring tarmac but felt it would be selfish in case I dropped dead from something and Mary spent ages having to scour the undergrowth for her car key. If I dropped dead on the tarmac at least she'd come across the bloating corpse on her way to the car.


Also there was the possibility of being distracted by those devilish butterflies and taking longer to get back to Aberlady than Mary. I was only about 5 minutes ahead (over the 6 miles) as I stopped a couple of times to take photos and then spent the rest of the time in the rest room at Aberlady washing the sand off my lower legs and the sweat off my brow before getting dropped off (with bike) just outside the Airshow.

"I say, isn't that Jerry in a Messerschmitt?"

I thought there may be a few hundred there. There were fields parked up like T in the flippin Park. I have no idea how many thousand were there but the chance of bumping into a couple of the folk I knew might be there, was remote. I haven't been to an airshow since I was a lad. 

plenty nostalgia on show

My father was in aeroplanes in WWII and fairly keen on planes. In my childhood (mid to late 60s) the English Electric Lightning was the loudest noise on the runway and made the sort of thundering that could fill a nipper's trousers. We had Airfix kits of them and I am fairly sure all that plane construction, from Airfix to balsa flying models, was what led me to study sculpture at Art School years later. 

Macmerry Modellers.

plastic kits

There were various echos of those hobbies here at East Fortune – from the Macmerry Modellers to dudes who seemed to collect and sell plastic kits – both built and kits in their original boxes. I resisted the urge to get my wallet out and I could see Ben was tempted also – particularly by the balsa remote control jobs. I warned of months of construction time followed by very brief and often devastating flying times. But it's a romantic hobby and resonant of the 1950's long before computers marched into our lives and insisted we shelf those old pastimes.

SWIP aerobatic team

STOP doing that and freaking me out.

Two of the best planes on show today – the outstanding SWIP Aerobatic team, flying SA1100 Silence Twister Single Seaters – their planes were developed from scale models. Details here.

Ben with long lens.

Ah yes, I forgot to say I texted Ben to say I was at the airshow and was he? We had both expressed interest but failed to arrange to meet there. He texted back to say he was standing between the Ambulance and the Hog Roast. I had been standing about 20 yards away when I texted. That was the second best thing all day. The first was a pint of Belhaven Best from the beer tent but that may have been due to the 3 hrs of warm thirsty running. It was so outstanding I bought Ben one as he was busy looking after his 2 youngsters and trying out his new huge lens. Those were the 2 dominant themes of the show – long lenses and bored kids. Everywhere you looked. I had neither and felt inadequate in the photographic department.



I was also a bit gutted to have missed the Typhoon Eurofighter which was flown first. Surely you keep your most advanced aircraft till last – the pièce de résistance and all that? Apparently not. Curses. Also awol was the Sea King helicopter which was called away to a real rescue. Surely a demonstration for THOUSANDS outweighs a capsized boat and couple of swimmers or whatever the so-called emergency was. 

Compensating for that loss was a black Huey helicopter straight out of 'Nam. They even played the Doors playing “the End” over the PA as it lifted off somewhat shakily, catching crosswinds, and did a couple of circuits. It was very M*A*S*H or Apocalypse Now.

The scale of the planes was interesting. Everyone knows what size a Spitfire is but I was surprised at how large Concorde was. It was in a hangar so maybe that made it look larger. There was also a queue round the block to get on board for a nosey. I didn't bother. The Fairey Swordfish also looked quite a bit bigger in flight than expected, carrying its iconic torpedo. The static Vulcan Bomber was maybe a bit smaller than it looks when flying. The Vulcan, that giant triangle, wasn't airborne – in fact it looked like it wasn't ever going to fly again, complete with peeling paint.

Fairey Swordfish

SAM missile

Vulcan Bomber

After a while I was getting as fractious as the kids – there's only so many planes doing loops you can watch before it all gets a bit samey. And every time a couple flew right at each other I clenched parts of me until they squeaked past without touching. If you want to alarm yourself google “airshow disaster videos”. I was pleased there were none today and everyone went home happy. Except I had to cycle home for 80 minutes in the rain which isn't as much fun as it sounds. But a good day out – I best go and get some sleep before tomorrow's race! Yikes!

Pitt Specials


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  2. Great post and pics!, Octapuss is a rare find on the coast, we had a live one when kids our dad found - we had a salt water pond too in the garden!, was returned to the sea after a week.
    The Typhoon display was nuts!, sure my chimney has cracked more after the low passes!
    Good to see the Spanish 109 and a Hurricane being thrown about -:)

  3. Did you watch from outside or inside the venue Bruce? I thought I might see you either on the coast or at the show. The noise of the WWII engines was great, as was the Huey Helicopter - very distinctive even though we only see those things in US films and documentaries. Spoke to the Microlight dudes also for a bit.
    Gutted to miss Typhoon!

  4. That Masai butterfly hunting technique - I wouldn't bother. Sara's already tried and it doesn't work. And kids have a lot more energy than adults, so what hope of success would we have?