Saturday, 26 February 2011

"I find Cambridge an asylum, in every sense of the word"

A.E. Housman’s words, not mine.

Personally, I found it to be a lovely place, following a short break to Cambridge recently; very pretty and pedestrianised cobbled streets, beautiful architecture, young scholars cycling just about everywhere (even though some of them looked a little too self-important!) and, more importantly, M also gave the city her seal of approval.

(Apparently it is a city, not a town, cathedral or not, and frankly, who am I to argue??)

We spent a drizzly day romping around National Trust’s wetland at Wicken Fen – we like this type of day out – it makes the hot chocolates and flapjacks all the more delicious!

We spent an entire day at the Imperial War museum at Duxford – this is one museum you have to visit! You don’t have to have a particular interest in war and conflict to enjoy this trip, although the fact that Joseph has been covering the war in class helped enormously.

There are several Imperial War museums (IWM), including the one in Lambeth, London. I have long been a fan of the London based museum but it pales in comparison compared to the one in Duxford; it is ENORMOUS!

Two hangars of British aircraft and vehicles, several ‘outhouses’ containing various exhibitions and displays and finally, the biggest and flashiest hangar of all, was (wait for it), the American funded hangar at the far end of the airfield.

Q: what’s bigger than enormous?

A: gi-normous?

Ok, let’s go with gi-normous; the US hangar is gi-normous. To be absolutely fair, it needs to be the size it is, due to the fact that it houses a B-52 bomber. Have you ever seen a B-52 bomber up close? This is another reason to make the trip. I have flown in enough planes over the last 40 years to understand about ‘lift’ and how aircraft get off the ground. Regardless of this however, it must be one heck of a sight watching one of these beasts lumbering down the runway and leaving the tarmac! In fact, I reckon it’s all a con, there’s no way these things can fly, it’s all a nonsense!

Regardless of this trickery, GO AND VISIT THIS MUSEUM, it is sick.

(I am reliably informed by one of my Year 6 pupils, that ‘sick’ in fact means cool, terrific, really good! When I rolled my eyes at the ceiling, he and his peers suggested that I didn’t like using slang words “because you’re old”).

Fine, I said. Fab, groovy, far out, whatev’.

Anyway, standing up close and personal with fighter jets was wonderful (did I mention the Lockheed SR-71B Blackbird, also housed at the museum? My entire Top Trumps collection was based around that plane so I got to see one of those too!).

As a teenager growing up in the 1980’s, I was a big fan of the film Top Gun, and wanted more than anything to be able to go up in a jet one day. Standing next to them was a poor substitute but it’d do, I s’pose.

Never fear however, because on our last day, we headed to Brandon (a tiny village about 15 miles from Bury St. Edmunds), to see my brother’s Godparents. They live approximately 3 miles past Mildenhall air force base and on our rare visits to see them, I have often wondered if jets are ever seen flying overhead.

Well, wonder no more, because the answer to that question is ‘yes’, they definitely do. Driving along, and wondering why there were dozens of cars lined up in front of a chain link fence, binoculars at the ready, I saw a sight which made me pull over immediately, the board which read “Viewing Area” suddenly making sense. Not one, not two but eight, count ‘em, EIGHT, U.S. jets lined up, waiting to take off!

Screech to a halt, turn off car, jump out of car leaving door open, run to fence and press nose up against it. Joseph joined me and picked up on my excitement immediately. After a lengthy wait (it was freeeezing cold), we watched them all take off, the last two jets shooting down the runway together and lifting off at the exact same time, almost drowned out by me whooping and cheering like a madman!!




Very interesting.


Bloody fantastic.

"I feel the need ... the need, for speed ..."

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