Thursday, 23 May 2013

Precious Pillions - A Dad’s View

It wasn’t until we visited the BMF Show in Peterborough recently, that I really gave the subject of carrying a ‘Precious Pillion’ any thought at all.

Mind you, Ben does get around!

Having always carried Jeannie or Ben on the back seat, it  is nothing out of the normal in the Walton household.  However being introduced to a rather concerned lady by Sam & Birgit in the Adventure and Overland Touring area of the BMF Show changed all that. The conversation that followed about her husband carrying their young (7 or 8 year old) son on the back of his motorbike, started the old ‘grey matter’ churning.

“I always struggle, holding the handlebar with one hand, whilst turning round to give him a lift onto the back seat” elicited an immediate  “No, don't do that” response from me, quickly followed by a clear and simple alternative.

It never occurred to me that having carried Ben as a pillion form the tender age of 5 years old I would have developed such strong opinions on the subject of ‘Precious Pillions’ . Listening to their plight of how “school” were vehemently against the idea of their son being a pillion on a motorbike both shocked and annoyed me.

How can a teacher possible advise against a parent taking their child on the back of a motorbike? As the conversation progressed, involving Ben & I answering numerous questions about Bens experience on the bike, it became quite apparent to me that this family were benefiting from our own personal experiences of carrying a ‘Precious Pillion’ and so the idea for this Blog evolved!

Bagging his first windmill

Number One -Taking 100% Responsibility 

If anyone was to maliciously cause Ben any harm, I would gladly serve time! That is a fact not a flippant statement. Now if that is the level of care and protection I believe I am willing to go to for his wellbeing. Why would anyone believe anything  would change simply because we are on two wheels? It doesn’t, not one jot!

As far as I am concerned it is MY RESPONSIBILITY to ensure my ‘Precious Pillions’ safety at all times! I don’t waste my time looking to pass the blame to other road users, it’s me, plain and simple who is responsible 100% of the time.

Now if you are not willing or able to comprehend and accept the above statement, my honest advice is  “Do not carry your child, or anyone else's for that matter, as a  pillion on your bike” and don’t bother reading any further as it will be of absolutely no interest to you.

Le Mans - France

Number Two - Get Trained Up

Having ridden motorbikes since 1978 I felt carrying Ben as a pillion would be automatically accepted by his Mum, Jeannie. I was wrong! 

“What do you mean, your taking him to school, he’s not big enough to be on the back?” was the very first thing J said when I told her he that I was taking Ben to school on Mo. It never entered my head that his feet could not even touch the running boards of the Aprillia 125 Mojito Scooter I had at the time.

From Small Acorn's....

As it happened school was just around the corner and for a good year or so all was well until the Mojito miraculously evolved into a Triumph 675 Daytona. 9 months later the same miracle happened again (how lucky am I) and a Yamaha FJR1300 appeared in our garage. 

Ben loved the FJR, it was big and comfortable. What became quickly apparent was Ben felt very much at home and safe on the pillion seat. The Givi Top-Box added an extra level of security but I will cover that later on in the Blog!

“Have you thought of getting some professional bike training?” came out of the blue one evening over dinner.

“To be honest I’ve toyed with the idea but done nothing about it, why do you think I need some?” I replied looking for honesty rather than an ego massage.

“Yes” Came the brutal yet honest reply, “If only to make me feel better” smoothing the edge’s off the dagger stuck in my chest!

You see no one wants to be told that they are not the best rider out there but I know from personal experience that enrolling on the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) Bike Course was a revelation. It opened my eyes to all my shortfalls and that was after 28 years in the saddle. It changed my perspective of riding, helping to control the one thing on the bike that was not mechanical, ME!

Reading one of Nick Sanders books recently I spotted this phrase.

“Most motorcycle problems are caused by the nut that connects the handlebars to the saddle” (Anon)

I’m not perfect but having attended and passed the IAM Riders Course I felt and still feel far more prepared to continue carrying my ‘Precious  Pillion’. I ride within my own personal ‘Safety Bubble’ and to be honest I do not want anyone inside it, no one what so ever. I regularly find spaces to pull over to let ‘Tailgaters’ and other people I do not feel comfortable with , pass by. I would rather arrive late, than not arrive at all- it’s that simple.

Ypres - Belgium 

Number Three - Gearing Up

One major issue I have found over and over again and that is the quality of children's protective clothing is not great. If you are a major biker gear designer please take a look at the quality of what Mum and Dad wear and make something comparable in quality for children. Believe it or not we parents WILL buy it.

Helmets are not a problem with the likes of Shoei , Arai & Nolan all producing brilliant helmets that fit smaller heads. I know that helmets can be expensive but what price do you put on you ‘Precious Pillions’ brains?

Children's Protective Motorcycle Clothing is available and some of it is of a high standard so please do not take my last statement out of context. However, what I  have personally found is the gear is never 100% waterproof and I cannot find any Gortex or Kevlar kit that will fit Ben. There are companies out there like, Hein Gericke, Frank Thomas & J&S who supply children's protective clothing. 

Boots are not an issue in respect to availability. Now Ben has turned 11 he is in a size 3 but I always buy one size larger in order to get two years wear as opposed to the usual 8 to 12 months we get from the clothing.

Gloves have never been a big problem as there is huge range available.

A good tip is to always check eBay before you start spending mega bucks on new gear. At best clothing will usually fit a growing child for between 8 to 12 months. Most little ones are not ‘bike couriers’ in any way and so their gear being sold on eBay is usually as good as new. That said, Ben’s gear always looks ‘well used’ but as long as the seller posts good pictures and is honest about its usage and condition you cannot go wrong. Whats a few flies between fellow bikers anyway?

Youngest ever Brit Butt Light Pillion Aged 8

Number Four - Preparing the Bike

Right then, so we’ve taken the decision to be 100% responsible, done the training, bought the gear now what can you do to make sure your ‘Precious Pillions’ enjoy their first ride.

Well I alway make sure Ben feels safe. It’s no good having him hanging on for dear life when by simply fitting a Sissi bar, back rest or, as I do, a removable top-box, you can change the whole experience for you pillion. All of these simple bolt on accessories provide a physical barrier and support ensuring yet another level of safety.

Other things I have done include, strapping a sleeping bag to each pannier top to create a comfortable ‘seat’ like area. This worked well for Ben when he was 8 through to 10. I’m now looking into attaching a couple of extendable bags to the top of my current panniers to re-create this environment but with added functionality. Being able to carry accessible food and drink for Ben on those longer trips will be a real bonus.

All set for  the Normandy Beaches

Now be wear children do sleep, a lot! Ben has slept from Manchester to Birmingham on the back of the FJR and from Leeds almost to London on Mr T. 

Now if your ready for it then it’s not a problem. My solution is simple. Buy two Grip Belts ( I use Oxford Grip Belts). I wear one Ben wears the other, I then fasten them together.  Initially I used two locking carabiners  but as he grew and needed more space I utilised two Quickdraws which I still carry on long rides (500 miles plus) as a back up.

Now I know what a lot of folk will be thinking, ‘That cannot be safe’ Well as I stated at the start I am 100% responsible for my ‘Precious Pillion’. Ben still snoozes on the back, as recently as this weekend returning from the BMF Show on Saturday, I just wish I had taken the Rider Grips with me! 

You see it's a family thing!

Number Five - Communication 

Last but not least, communication. I have been using intercoms on my bikes for the last 5 years. Jeannie & I like to discuss things when we are riding around. Ben chats but not a readily but I can always ask how he is.

Recently I have fitted a Blue Tooth System which has a massive benefit especially in services. Ben can stay in touch when I go in to pay for fuel or when he nips to the toilet. This gives us such a high level of add security that I would never return to a wired system.

Sleeping Bag & Tent 
Creating a great 'Arm Chair' 

Remember I mentioned the conversation about the the dad who struggled holding the handlebar whilst twisting round to help his son onto the pillion seat. Well my simple solution is don’t do it.
Let your Precious Pillion climb onto the riders seat as you would do then slide back. No more struggling or worrying about do I drop my bike or my pillion or worse still drop my bike onto my pillion. J climbs onto my bike and slides back without issue as does Ben. Give it a try you may just find it works for you.

As I said at the start the above views are purely meant as ‘Food for thought’ and are in no way intended as a ‘Must Do’ guide. 

Things will go wrong, like bikes falling over in France whilst Ben was sat on the pillion seat, but if you can cover as many bases before you even start then in my humble opinion you will be better prepared to cope with anything which comes your way.

I just hope that parents will take something of use away with them after having read ‘Precious Pillions’ - A Dads View.

My very own
'Precious Pillion'

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Our First BMF Show Peterborough

"Dad, I feel sick"
"Do you want me to pull in now?" 
"No I'll be OK for a bit"
"Are you sure?"
"I think so!"

Not the start I'd envisage but having had previous encounters of the “Dad I feel sick” kind in the Lake District where I chose to appease Ben with, “Don’t worry we’re out of the twists now sweetheart” . Only to have him throw up down the back of my leg, having only just managed to flip the front of his helmet up  in time to avoid what could have been ‘total carnage’.  I'd learned my lesson. 

When Ben says he feels sick, he really does 'feel sick' and so I pulled into the first place that looked safe which just happened to be a Shell garage.

I gingerly slipped off Mr T and helped Ben do the same. He looked washed out and very pale. 

"Do you think it might be the the two yogurt drinks you had for breakfast Ben?"
"No it's my jacket it's too tight, it's throttling me"

Ben was right! , I'd fastened the Velcro far too tightly and just about choked the poor little sod. In my defense I was only trying to ensure he didn't get a draft down the front of his jacket. Happily as soon as I loosened the collar around his neck the colour came flooding back giving his cheeks a healthy rosy glow . ‘It was my fault!’ I felt like crap but didn’t make a fuss. 

Well as we were at the side of a petrol pump I took the opportunity to fill up then called into the station to pay. The lady on the till was very interested as to what was happening, as they had been really busy with bikes calling in ever since the previous day. I explained it was the BFM Show in Peterborough. For my trouble I got chapter and verse about last weeks ‘Scooter Club Meeting’, still it was rather nice to be welcomed by such friendly staff.

Since turning off “George Orwell Strasse” onto the A1 Ben & I had been playing ‘Cat & Mouse’ for the last 15 miles with a rather plush looking black & gold tour bus. Ben was a little concerned as he climbed back onto Mr T as he had attracted a rather large crowd. We were being photographed by at least half a dozen camera wielding Japanese tourists. They didn't stop clicking until we passed the petrol station out of sight. 

As we had rushed out without eating I was starting to feel hunger pangs. The reason we’d rushed out was my fault again, I’d over laid by half an hour. Ben had set his alarm and was up and about at 0700. Me- I'd slept in until 0730 then rushed about trying to get ready as I wanted us to be on our way by 0800. ‘I wasn’t having the best of mornings so far!’.

Having had a battle with Garmin’s latest offering BaseCamp the previous evening, I was still none the wiser as to just how far Peterborough Show Ground was is from Rochdale. I have absolutely no idea what the hell is going on with it. I've been using MapSource for years and its a breeze to plot a route. Not so with BaseCamp I cannot even get the maps to load from my Garmin 660 and stay on the computer. 

Setting off at 0810 ‘late’, we had taken it really steady across "George Orwell Strasse" as Ben & I have re-named the M62. We tried to count the speed cameras but gave up at 23 average speed camera and 18 gantry cameras. It was a lot busier than I’d expected for a Saturday morning, there were loads of trucks and tour buses but I’m pleased to report it was a good clear run to the A1. Sadly that's where Ben started to feel sick. 

75 miles into the 148 mile ride, the exact distance being thanks to Garmin 660 for telling me exactly how far it was A to B once I’d plumbed in the show grounds post code. I pulled over at a lay-by Burger Van. Although it was showing 11 degrees on Mr T's temperature gauge Ben started shivering whilst we stood waited for our bacon & egg rolls to be made. 

"You can sit in the car if you want, It will warm you through", said the burger van owner.  
"No I'm OK" Ben replied sheepishly
"Go on, you'll be fine, I sit in there when I'm not cooking"
“OK thank you” and with that Ben climbed into the guys Mitsubishi and closed the door. 

I was well impressed with the burger van owners thoughtfulness towards Ben and thanked him again.

A cracking burger van owned by a true gentleman
Oh- and he used to have a bike (till it got nicked that is!)

After eating our bacon & double egg roll’s we mounted up and set off down to Peterborough and our very first ever BMF Bike Show. Not really great to say the show has been running for 34 years but at least we were on our way now. 

So why were we heading to the show this year? well that's simple to answer, the Adventure & Overlanders Touring Area. It's the first year that BMF have had an Adventure & Overlanders Touring Area but having attended Horizons Unlimited for the last two years I had a good idea who would be there. For one I knew Sam & Birgit were there having Tweeted with @SamManicom about Ben & I attending.     

Pulling into the show ground parking area I was immediately impressed with the parking and the well organised attendants slotting each bike into a parking place with loads of room to get about. Heading in through the entrance I wondered why I'd bothered buying a ticket on line (Ben got in free  as he's only 11). The tickets were listed as £15 rather than the £18 on the gate BUT you then had to pay £1.50 booking fee PLUS another “optional’ £1.00 for a Rapid Entry Bar Code. What a load of tosh, as every ticket issued at the gate had the bar code on anyway. There wasn’t even a queue to get in. Just as well as we  had to nip back to the bike as I’d left my mobile on still plugged into the charger! 

The first thing that struck us both was how well organised all the stalls and displays were. What made me feel really good was the security on the bike park & inside the show ground.

This was just one half of the parking area

Now rather than rattle on about how we took a steady walk around the displays, stalls and the bike club just take a look at Bens adventure by photograph.

Ben just loves Harleys! 

My head says this....

But my hearts wants this!

Brilliant bikes built by Kid's
Just don't ask where they got the frame!

That's better
Like father like son

Brilliant showing by the 

Are we there yet Dad?

Out of this World Artwork

The finish is amazing!

After a ride on the Carl Fogerty Experience Ride (a simulator which threw you about quite vigorously) we had a good look around the bike club area. We came across the RBLR stand where we had a chat, turning down the kind offer of a brew. We then wandered back towards the entrance having not come across the Adventure & Overlanders Touring Area. 

Ben had spotted a t-shirt stall where you could have anything you wanted printed either on a t-shirt or hoody. He then spent the next hour trying to come up with of a good slogan. Meanwhile my resolve was tested  to the very max when I discovered the bar which just so happened to be in the middle of the BMF Real Ale Festival. The BMF Real Ale menu available made choosing a pint a real tough call. It was just at that minute I was gutted that we were not camping in one of the the three separate camping areas available. Being a ‘sensible’ Dad, self control won out and I just had the one pint but ‘by-eck’ it was a cracker!

Whilst  enjoying my choice of ale sat outside the bar I got chatting to a guy (much to Ben’s impatient dismay) who was kind enough to point us in the right direction to the Adventure & Overlanders Touring Area which was housed in the barns on the right of the entrance. Ben perked up as he had a good look at all the best in show bikes on display. 

It's just as well Ben was enjoying this area of the show as he’d not really enjoyed the overcast weather and the huge bike club area which took us a good hour and half to walk around. Even at that we had only just skimmed the vast amount of clubs, secondhand bike parts and food stalls. 

Here’s Ben’s walk about the Adventure & Overlanders Touring Area.

The big grin says it all!

Loving the lights

One of Ben's favourites

Spot the Tractor Seat

Norman Magowan's Bike of
Leprechauns in Latin America

It's was really nice to meet up with Sam & Birgit again. Sitting with them as they both beavered away selling Sam's books, Into Africa, Unders Asian Skies, Distants Suns & my favourite Tortillas to Totems,  gave Ben & I a chance to absorb the whole atmosphere of the show. Sadly I was so chilled out that I forgot to take a photo of Sam & Birgit in action, sorry you two it won't happen again I promise. We were introduced to a lady who was concerned about her young son riding pillion behind his Dad. It was really heart warming to hear Ben tell them about his adventures over the last 6 years, especially the big miles he has covered in the last 3 years. Not shabby to say he is still only 11 years old.

I will be writing a separate Blog about that particular encounter and subsequent conversation as I feel so strongly about Ben riding pillion & it warrants further explanation.

He's behind you.....

One very happy chappie

And so with a heavy plastic bag full of author signed books, suitably printed t-shirt & hoody plus a somewhat lighter yet happier wallet, we returned to the much depleted car park. 

Should keep me quite for while!

Grabbed this photo on way out
'Respect the Sacrifie"

The ride home just flew by with Ben & I chatting away all the way up the A1 and across "George Orwell Strasse" without incident. I can most defiantly confirm,we had a very enjoyable day and the Adventure & Overlanders Touring area saved the day as far as Ben was concerned. Its a huge site and full to the rafters, it’s defiantly a weekend event if you want to take it all in. I think next year we’ll be doing an overnighter on the Saturday at least if not the Friday as well as there are so many bands on it would be a shame to miss out. 

Now it's just a case of getting ready for our next adventure, 4 days camping at the Horizons Unlimited HUBB UK Meeting in the all new location of  Donington Park Farm House Hotel near Castle Donington on the Leicestershire / Derbyshire border. Roll on a week on Thursday 30th May to 2nd June. 

If you are there please keep an eye out for us and say hello, we’d be delighted to meet and chat with you all. 

So until the next time ‘Ride Safe’ & be happy.

Last word goes to Ben!
'Nuff said'


Friday, 17 May 2013

70th Anniversary Dambusters Flypast ‘My Ride of Respect’ 16th May 2013

There are certain events that take place once in your lifetime, the commemorative 70th Anniversary Dambusters Flypast of Derwent Reservoir by the very last Lancaster Bomber  from WW2, is just one of those occasions!

Derwent Reservoir Dam - Derbyshire

Lifting my head from the pillow the digital display burned 05:25AM into my retinas ‘I really do need to turn the brightness down on that damn clock’ shot through my mind. 

As  I’d been wide awake for at least three quarters of an hour already it did’t really matter what the clock read,  I was buzzing!  Pre ride excitement had taken over, my brain sprung into action even before my eyes had opened with thoughts about being late, parking, getting Lilie Rose off to school in good time to meet Lefty at the MacD’s on route. Having read online that there was a planned 20 mile Parking Exclusion Zone due to Health & Safety the run up to the event had been somewhat  fraught already. 

Donning my dressing gown, I picked up Chris Stewarts ‘A Parrot in a Pepper Tree’, the second book in his trilogy and my second in as many weeks. I was unable to put  ‘Driving Over Lemons’ down, A Parrot in a Pepper Tree is even better. I cannot wait to get started on ‘The Almond Blossom Appreciation Society’, but I digress.

I’d got two lots of riding gear laid out and as the sun was doing its best to creep around the blackout blind’s I knew todays was going to be a ‘Kevlar’ jeans and leather jacket day. Perfect!

Before I knew it I was dragged back from Andalucia, kicking and screaming ‘metaphorically speaking you understand’ by Jeannie walking around upstairs. It was 0700 hours, time to spring into action. With Sam’s bookmark replaced & I headed back upstairs to assist with the lift from bed to wheelchair. You see since February we’ve become a well oiled machine. Each having their own roles and responsibilities. Lilie Rose loves routine, it works for her and so it works for us.

Once Lilie Rose was safely installed in said wheel chair, I was off to perform my own ‘3 S’s’ morning routine.

At bang on 0755 hours Lilie Rose, somewhat in shock, at the speed of being fed, watered, washed and dressed was now sat in the living room waiting for the school transport to arrive, a whole 20 minutes earlier than usual. We even had time to ‘Tweet” a photo of Lilie Rose & I as we waited impatiently for the transport to arrive. ‘Come on get a move on will you’ I thought to myself. Happily the bus arrived and after dealing with a couple of bemused staff asking what my waistcoat was all about I was ready for the off.

By 0905 hours, see how I slip seamlessly into military speak with the times, I hope you'r suitably impressed, you should be its the only bloody thing I learned in 12 & half year in the Army (OH, & yes the half year is very important, to me at least).

Half way through devouring my Mac D. Double Bacon Burger smothered in BBQ Sauce, Lefty gave me a very smart salute through the window. Causing half the occupants to look at me as if I was something special! Thank’s for that Lefty, you can come again!

Lefty ready for the away

It’s only a 30 minute ride over the A57 Snake Pass, one of Derbyshire's more famous biker roads, to Derwent Reservoir. The ride was slow and uneventful until a ‘plonker’ in the car in front of me decided after just  one flash of the indicator to pull into the lay-by cafe which was full to bursting. There's no wonder the lay-by was rammed as it is situated just 200 foot from the left turn onto the road leading to Derwent Water Visitors Centre. 

The fact I was ‘gorping’ at 4 police motorcycles at that exact moment the driver turned in, almost caught me out! I wonder just how would that have gone down in court? Me ploughing head long into the back of a moving car with 4 bacon sandwich munching motorcycle police officer as witnesses. I don’t think I would have stood much of a chance in somehow! 

Pulling off the A57 onto the un-named road that runs up the lefthand side of Derwent Reservoir it became very apparent that arriving as early as 1030 hours  was a shrewd move. We had been passing cars parked on every verge and in every lay by for the past 2 miles and with another 2 miles to the visitors centre the right hand path was one continues  row of parked cars. Half on the road the half on the footpath, strangely enough all straddling the double yellow lines that ran the full length of the road underneath. The whole place was awash with high visibility vest wearing traffuic controllers  demanding that everyone turn right around and head back the way they had come. 

“Sorry lad’s you’ll have to head back down and see if you can slot in somewhere as its totally packed up there” the traffic controller said pointing up the 2 mile stretch of road.

“We’re Legion Riders mate, we need to be up there” I shouted over the sound of Mr T’s radiator fan whirring away below me. 

He insisted that we joined the throngs of cars turning back at the small island 2 miles from our destination. 

“I’m sure we can find a small space somewhere” I shouted again, backed up with my best big grin. I’d lifted up the front of my Shoei helmet by now.

“Listen, keep to the right, no overtaking and just slot in where you can, OK?”

“Cheers for that mate, we will” I shouted back (it must have been the big grin that won him over).

Lefty kept his head down and his mouth shut as he tagged on behind me. Well you don't ride a bike and then be expected to walk 2 miles, do you?

Following one of the Rangers Land Rovers we continued past 100’s of park cars, all the way down the right hand side. I bet there were a couple of  Off-duty Traffic Wardens sweating at the thought of being let loose with their little machines!

Pulling up behind someone in a Rover 45 I watched as he almost ran over an attendants foot. How he missed her I have no idea! 

Parking up we de-bagged and started chatting to a couple of leather clad lads that had just arrived from CMC  Motorcycles in Clay Cross where they’d met for breakfast. A small world or what?

Who said there was no parking spaces?

After a quick dash to the loo followed by a short lineup to buy a drink, Lefty & I walked the 150 foot across the flat land that runs behind the dam wall. After a brief pointless debate over which side to go up we chose to head up on the right hand side of the dam. There was absolutely no justification for our decision other than we were already heading in that direction anyway! After a further 50  foot struggle up the steep muddy path. We eventually emerged at the side of the right hand tower. This was were we got our first glimpse of Derwent Reservoir and the whole of the Dam in all its splendor. 

The reservoirs bank was fairly busy already at 1045 hours but not as manic as the far side looked. Fate was looking after us rather well, what with me just missing the turning car, the friendly traffic attendant letting us past plus the glorious weather,  clear blue sky with just the odd cloud here and there.

After climbing over the small metal fence we clambered down the first 4 foot drop to get a lake side ‘seat’. We were followed by masses of visitors all laying claim to their own piece of gravel. Then we waited and waited and waited some more. 

You can see this Union Jack flag
on Granada TV Report
(you have to look very closely mind)

It's fun people watching, some sitting, some standing, others walking about looking for the perfect spot. To our left a camera man, complete with TV Style boom mic and tripod, was already well entrenched right at the waters edge. Any further to his left and he would have been paddling. Lefty & I had about 15 foot of space in front of us. I heard a coupe talking to the camera man, he’d been there since just after 0900 hours, now that really was commitment. 

1230 hours saw another camera man arrive and set up stall some 20 foot in front of the original camera man, just to our left. I heard the newcomer speaking to a colleague in German before watching his very high spec TV Camera start to slide precariously off the top of its case where the cameraman had laid it. It was heading straight towards the water.

“Vorsicht!” I said instinctively!

At 1245 hours you could have cut the atmosphere with a knife.  We were all so focused, listening for the first rumblings. 

It was 70 years ago that the Lancaster Bomber and the Spitfire, which we were about to see with our very own two eyes, had both been involved in active service over Germany. 

Without any prompts or warning everyone just began to stand up. There were two TV helicopters, hovering above the dam, they both flew the full length of the dam, Dambuster style. All of which just added to the crowds anticipation of the impending arrivals.

The German camera man asked a lady some 10 foot in front of him if she would’t mind moving back from the waters edge as she was in his shot. I won’t repeat her reply. She’d been there since 0900 hours and basically told the cameraman what he could do with his camera having only arrived a paltry 30 minutes earlier. Needless to say, a number of German TV News viewers will have a fleeting glimpse of the back of her head tonight.

UK TV & German TV 
One a little happier than the other!

Then, from the very far end of the reservoir came the rumble of the Lancaster's  engines. I started to shake, the feeling’s of pride, happiness and nervousness just rushed through my body all at once. Everyone around us focused all their energies visually searching the sky in order to get the first glimpse of this most wonderful of machines, the Lancaster Bomber. Masses of cameras, mobiles and iPads, all scanned the far end of the reservoir. 

It's Show Time

Finally the Lancaster Bomber appeared from behind the tree line, what an amazing sight. On the first fly past I took two photo’s of the Lancaster Bomber and then two of the Spitfire that followed very close on the Lancaster’s tail. The Tornado’s came past so fast I could only get one photo. It was simply mind blowing. I could quite easily have burst into tears right there and then. Even as I type this blog my eyes are filling up,  it was such an emotional experience and one that I will never ever forget. The sight, the sound, the huge murmur of the crowd as the Lancaster Bomber came into view from around the tree line all in unison, was breathtaking. A tremendous feeling of pride washed over me like a never ending wave of euphoria. I loved it.

Lancaster Bomber


Finally the Tornados
What an unforgettable sight

The fact that the Lancaster Bomber, Spitfire and two Tornados came back over the dam wall and then did another flypast was just fantastic. I tried my best to video the final flypast with my camera. The results are not of TV broadcast standard but it will remind me for a very long time of the feelings I had that day.

70th Anniversary Dambusters Flypast

What those pilot must have felt when they trained in 1943 to drop the Bouncing Bomb designed by Barnes Wallis back in 1942 over the very spot I was standing some 70 years later is just unthinkable. It makes me so proud to be British.

On the 16th May 2013 there I was standing on the banks of Derwent Reservoir watching an actual World War 2 Lancaster Bomber and Spitfire fly over the dam in exactly the same way it had done 70 years ago. 

With the third and final flypast complete they were gone. Heading over to Chatsworth Park were I’m sure just as many well wishers were waiting to see them.

Lefty and I strolled back to the bikes, said our fair wells and set off back into what can only be described as ‘traffic carnages’ but in this situations two wheels cannot be beaten, no matter what you drive. Within 10 minutes I was clear of the traffic and meandered back along Snake Pass, admittedly at a much reduced speed due to the sheer number of cyclists on the road.

As they say in Jamaica
"Grid Lock"

All in all, and I’m sure Lefty will agree, we had an absolutely unforgettable day. It’s just a shame Oggy was not with us to take some of is exceptionally good photo’s. 

The events of 16-17th May 1943 ‘Operation Chastise’ are  so well documented that I would not propose to go into here but please feel free to click on the following links to learn more about the Dam Busters.

"Lest We Forget"