So off we went yesterday, Mike and I, plus, I decided to invite along my stepson Dave and his girlfriend Sam. I thought we could make a day of it, having lunch on the way, the flight and then stopping at Kempley in Gloucestershire for the Daffodil Weekend, on the way home.
As we left the house there were feeble jokes about leaving the landing light on etc.
Mike was nervous and quite right too. During this flight, he had to take the controls and fly the thing.
Now I have had 20 odd (and I do mean ODD!) years of experiencing his driving, all the family have got used to the fact that when Mike is driving, the car does not take the direct line but likes to wander a little from side to side on the carriageway. This probably adds a mile of two to most journeys. His braking can be rather late, in a will we/won't we stop kind of away, that can often enliven what might have been a tedious journey. And as for looking where he is going...why would he want to do that? When there is an interesting view to look at, or a dead badger on the side of the road.
We went to The Royal George at Birdlip for lunch, which was very good and then, as there was a bit of time to kill had a quick walk on Birdlip Hill. Actually, due to the strong, freezing cold wind, it was more of a 'get out of the car' rather than a walk.
We arrived at Staverton Airport and oh my, was it windy!
Mike went for his briefing and was warned it could be a little bumpy due to the wind. As it was a four seater plane, a Piper Warrior for those who know anything about planes, we were offered the opportunity of going along. No thank you very much! I flew two weeks ago and have to fly again in June, that is quite enough for me thanks. Sam was of the same opinion, why would you want to go in a plane, if it wasn't actually taking you somewhere you wanted to go?
Sam and I were both open mouthed when Dave said he would go. After all the teasing he had just given his Dad, we couldn't imagine why he would want to, especially as it had now been confirmed that it was going to be a bumpy flight.
I have a theory that it was the cost that made him go. At £6.00, it did seem like a bargain, I suppose.
So Sam and I watched them take off and then went to the cafe for a nice hot drink and a warm and a discussion of the benefits of the Life policies we had on them and were they covered for this type of a flight.
I have to admit they did seem to get buffetted a bit by the wind as they flew over us.
We saw the plane heading back into the airport about 30 minutes later and went to meet them. They were smiling, until Max went and then they both said how scared they had been. Dave said particularly when Mike had the controls and seemed to be putting it into a nose dive.
Still, they survived and I think a lot of it was an act, it may have been a bit scary but they still enjoyed the experience.
Mike's father's family come from Kempley in Gloucestershire, which is famous for it's wild daffodils. They have a weekend, where they invite the rest of the world to come and visit and do wonderful cakes and teas in the village hall. It's their only real opportunity to make money for the Church and the village hall.
Sadly, this year, due to the prolonged cold weather, the daffodils aren't quite ready yet but there were still a few visitors and we managed to see some that were open.
We introduced Dave to some Great Aunts and Uncles he had never met before and he and Sam really enjoyed themselves.
The 'New' church in the village is an adorable little Arts & Crafts gem and they had some displays of photos of old village residents.
We only recently found out who Mike's grandfather was. Mike's father was illegitimate and it was only after Mike's father's death that we heard the tale of who his father actually was. He was the son of the village blacksmith, who lived next door to Mike's granny. When she found out she was pregnant he did a runner and left the village.
One of the old photos was taken outside the forge and included Mrs Smallman, the mother of the boy, who did the dreadful deed and ran off. It was very interesting to see, as I could detect a certain likeness to Mike and his father. I wonder if we could sue the family for unpaid maintenance?
On the way back we stopped at the old church, which is now a good mile out of the village. Mike's granny is buried there, so we paid our respects and then made our way home.
Just a little way from the church I took the last photo in the set above, it shows the Fingerpost and Letterbox fields, where Fred West buried his first wife and an ex lover. It gives me the creeps to think how many times I went past there, while those poor women were lying in the ground, in view of the road.
Someone I worked with used to live in the area and she was quite friendly with Fred, he asked her out but her Dad said she couldn't go. So she sneaked out the back way from their farm to meet him up the road. Luckily one of the farm hands spotted her and told her Dad, who went after her and brought her back. A lucky escape, I think.
This reminds me of going to Mike's father's funeral, he was living in Devon at the time of his death and many of the Kempley/Much Marcle family that I hadn't met before turned up for his send off.
One of Mike's cousins arrived and the room went silent, he looked like Fred West's twin! Knowing how they all inter married in the two villages, I think I may not delve too deep into Mike's family history.