Yesterday saw the 70th anniversary of Winston Churchill’s famous "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few" speech. There was an event commemorating the anniversary in London yesterday, and a whole range of events commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain this year.
In theory then this weekend was the perfect weekend for the Battle of Britain Airshow at Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex. If today’s experience was anything to go by, the weather has proved less than perfect. The day began with misty rain and low cloud, and although the rain did stop and the cloud lift, it had a significant impact on the day’s flying display.
The photo above shows the situation at about 10:45am, just a quarter of an hour before the flying display was due to start. It is a miracle that any flying did take place, and it was about around midday that a rather reduced display began. Despite the low cloud and much of the country suffering similarly poor conditions the organisers did manage to put together a pretty good show, mostly based on aircraft already onsite.
Fortunately there was a lot to see on the ground, several aircraft on static display, various tents and displays by various businesses and charities, the historic airport terminal and even a postcard dealer in the craft tent.
One of the now regular features of the airshow is a recreation of a Battle of Britain scramble, with Hurricanes and Spitfires taking to the air to fight off a lone Messerschmitt attacker. Fortunately this was able to go ahead and with the help of the Home Guard the attacker was repelled.
Unfortunately a lot of the big attractions like the Vulcan, Red Arrows, Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and The Blades were unable to make it. Hopefully they will have a better day tomorrow, but unfortunately I won’t be there.
Today’s walk was a short section, from Washington, West Sussex to Amberley, West Sussex, according to the official guide book it was only six miles. The weather wasn’t brilliant today (at least not to start with), a complete opposite from last week, with wind, rain showers and low cloud.
They weren’t ideal conditions, but I wouldn’t want to give the impression that I was afraid of the rain, quite the opposite in fact. I had been been hoping for a chance to experience a variety of weather conditions, after all my ancestors had to put up with rain, wind and snow, so I why shouldn’t I?
To be honest though, there was really only one rain shower, and it was light and passed quickly, and because of the wind it didn’t take long to dry off. The photo above shows the top of Sullington Hill and the bottom of the rain cloud. I really did have my head in the clouds today.
There wasn’t a lot to see at the start, the best views would have been to the south coast if the weather had been better. There were two trig. points along this section of the route, the one below, on Kithurst Hill, was just to the north of the path hidden from the South Downs Way and easy to miss if you are not paying attention.
The low-level cloud did lift towards midday, as I was nearing the end of the walk, and it did brighten somewhat, although still plenty of cloud about until well into the afternoon. This did mean that the views did improve, especially to the north and west, north over Amberley and Pulborough Brooks beyond, and to the west along the next section of the South Downs.
As this was only a short section, about three hours, I had plenty of time to visit Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre before I had to make my home. I have been visiting Amberley Museum on and off for many years. I think the first visit was in 1979, the year it first opened to the public. I will have to write more about Amberley Museum because it is such wonderful place.
You could be forgiven for thinking that I haven’t done much walking recently, well I have been doing a bit, but having been on holiday there hasn’t really been any genealogy related walks to report on.
I have been recording my daily number of steps and mileage for a couple of years, as measured with my pedometer, so not necessarily accurate but close enough for me. Interestingly this week has seen me pass two milestones (pun intend) with my walking. Monday saw me reach 2,000,000 steps for the year and today my total mileage for the year passed a 1,000 miles.
Yesterday, despite the threat of showers, I went for a walk to West Grinstead church to look for FAIRS gravestones. I found the main ones I was interested in and got some photos, but didn’t linger as the weather conditions were looking less than promising as I set off for home.
This was the view looking north from West Grinstead church, however I should have been worrying about what was coming in the opposite direction. Unusually I heard the rain first, as it started to splash in the river, then it started to splash on me, so I put on my raincoat and hurried on.
The rain got harder as I started to head away from the river and towards a wood, which I hoped would give me shelter from what I hoped would only a passing shower. As I stepped inside the wood the hailstones started, not very big hailstones (some as big as peas but mostly smaller) but I moved deeper into the wood in search of shelter.
Soon I was on the other side of the wood, I had pulled my umbrella from my rucksack as well and at least my head was protected from the rain. At the gate on the other side of the wood I was more sheltered by a larger oak tree, and I could safely look out across the field where the other side of the field was barely visible.
Then as quickly as the rain had started, sunlight began to spread across the field, and the rain eased, and it was drops of water from the trees that were hitting my umbrella not rain. I started to make my way out into the field, edging my way along the side of the wood as the rain died away.
Then some where to my right there was an almighty crack of thunder, I decided that walking in the shelter of the wood might not be such a good idea after all and I edged my way out into the middle of the field and put my umbrella down, just in case.
Soon however the inside of my raincoat was getting wetter than the outside as I started to sweat in the sunshine, and I had to take it off. As I passed through the gate on the opposite side of the field I turned to look back towards the wood, and was surprised to see steam rising up off the field.
The whole incident had probably only lasted five minutes, and the sky had cleared again. I had avoided the worst of the rain and hail by taking shelter in the wood, but wondered if I had upset someone up at West Grinstead church!