Friday, March 20, 2009

They have a new round-about in Penticton - a nice simple one that we had no trouble navigating on our way to see the ophthalmologist.

However, it brought back memories of other round-abouts we have known which have struck terror in our hearts as we tried to find a way off them - headed in the right direction! Mostly they were in Britain, or on the Continent.

We had been to a crew reunion at Coningsby - then journeyed up to Lincoln and were on our way to Buxton.

We set off for Buxton after lunch - this time with George, the Scottish Engineer (Crew) in the lead. All went well for a goodly number of miles, but then we got cut off from him on entering one of the roundabouts, - cut off by four big lorries. Couldn't see where he had turned off, so we guessed. Wrongly. Three times.

Finally, as Lincoln seemed to be getting closer, rather than further away, we stopped for instructions and started off again in the right direction.

From my Journal - 'The countryside changed as we got closer to Buxton - more hilly and rolling - through Robin Hood country and Sherwood Forest. Eventually we started up a long, long hill. There were sheep everywhere. The pastures are all divided with stone fences and the buildings are beautifully crafted with stone. A quarry nearby, no doubt. Surely all of these stones couldn't have been picked off the fields!

Jack and George were waiting for us half way up the hill, and escorted us into town to the Palace Hotel, - a structure of great grandeur. Our bathroom is larger than our whole room was in London. It is an old hotel, - built in 1868 to accommodate all the wealthy patrons of the Spa. It has broad, wide staircases, beautiful old furniture, gorgeous (if shabby) carpets - and pretty fair service.

Went tonight to a pub about half an hour away, and had another very warm communal dinner. The talk never stops. Or the laughter, - or the memories.

Tomorrow we move to another hotel, and have a trip planned to the Derwent Valley dam, where they practiced for the dam-buster raid.'

And on June 12th (back in 1985)

'After breakfasting together at the Palace we all went out to tour the shops briefly, and then to lunch at the Devonshire Arms on our way up to the Derwent Valley. A nice pub - the proprietor is a nephew of Brownies (the Radio Operator) and of course there were the inevitable pictures. Everyone is so interested in this crew of men - I guess there is a certain romance about their friendship for one another, and certainly it must make people feel good to see it.

We stopped at Castleton on our way, - the most picturesque of English towns. A real tourist trap! All of the shops on the main street sell BlueJohn jewelry. We bought some too. Above the town is the remains of a medieval castle, and as you leave the tourist part you pass through lovely old stone residences. Onward and upward through Hope to the dam - the country still full of sheep (lots of Jacobs) but the pastures were then divided by hedges and there was considerably more forest land. Margaret says the village of Castleton is decorated each Christmas with fir trees and the castle is flood lit.

The Derwent Valley is all parkland, but it is also full of sheep who keep the grass nicely clipped. The dam itself was of great interest and I understand was used in filming the picture "Dam Busters".

We returned via the Duke of Devonshires' estate (a stately old home) and what a wonderful flock of sheep he has. They seem to use a lot of Suffolk for their final cross, and these sheep were in superb shape. The lambs were fat, and looked about ready for market.

When we got back we moved our belongings to the St. Ann Hotel - another really old relic of bygone glory. The Baths of Buxton are no more, but the accommodations linger on. Tonight we are sleeping in four poster beds. The rain is beating down and the wind is blowing in gusts. Tomorrow we go to York.'

Well, I did digress, and I have not told you yet about our way around and around and around about Lille - or Njimegan. I was in tears in Njimagen! But these pages do bring back wonderful memories, and I guess I got lost in them. It was beautiful county, marvelous companions and I think each and every day we were together with the Crew would qualify as a Golden Day.


The Weaver of Grass said...

Oh Hildred and Charles - what a surprise and a pleasure to read your post today about Coningsby - I was born about ten miles from there and lived in the village where I was born until the early fifties - so I would have been a child there when Charles was stationed at Coningsby! For our favourite outing we used to visit Tattershall Castle for the afternoon with a picnic - I am sure Charles has been there. Our house was on the banks of the River Witham - I am sure Charles knows that river - and may be he spent some time at Woodhall Spa - we went there regularly to swim in the outdoor pool in Jubilee Park
and to visit the Kinema in the Woods. Are all these places familiar to you Charles? And was the wonderful book shop in Coningsby there when you were there or is it a later addition. What happy memories you post has turned up for me sitting here on a quiet Saturday evening! Thank you.

Hildred and Charles said...

Well Weaver, we are so happy for the memories the post brought you, but have to tell you that Charles was not stationed at Coningsby, although that is where the reunion was. He was stationed at Hemswell, which I believe is just a short distance away. This is while they were on Ops, so they didn't have a lot of time to travel around, and when they did Charles says they went to visit friends in Sheffield and in Lincoln.

Evidently Coningsby was the main station and Scampton and Hemswell were satellites, Charles' Squadron (#170) placed a memorial at Hemswell in 1985, - the picture of those veterans on parade, some with tears on their cheeks as the City of Lincoln Lancaster flew over and they heard those Merlin engines again, will stay with me forever.

The Weaver of Grass said...

I know Hemswell just as well Charles! For five years I lived just at the bottom of the cliff below Scampton aerodrome - at the time when the Vulcan squadron was there.
I went to school in Lincoln - at the Girls' High School so maybe our paths crossed all those years ago.