The air show was described as one of the bigger ones in the world. And they have many each year – it definitely didn’t disappoint. All kinds of different airplanes and helicopters, ready to fly.

05 17 2009 Duxford Air Show  (39)

05 17 2009 Duxford Air Show  (64)

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This shot gives a sense of the size of the event (this is just one way) … lots of planes on the field.

05 17 2009 Duxford Air Show  (80)

Not sure I would be up for a loop in what looks like a 70 year old Corsair  …. (I need a 2X extender on my 70-200mm).

05 17 2009 Duxford Air Show  (168)

05 17 2009 Duxford Air Show  (169)

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A lot of these planes are owned by consortiums. Flying enthusiasts who own a ‘share’ of the plane. They all pay for the upkeep and take turns flying it. I remember the announcer specifically mentioning that with this plane.


A great day out.



I was sorting through old photos of trips and found the photos from our trip to the Imperial War Museum in Duxford. The Imperial War Museum in London is one of my favourite museums in the world, and it would seem that they simply had so much stuff .. and some of it very big, that they needed to build another on huge grounds with MASSIVE hangers. Not quite true, but it seems that way. It is a massive museum dedicated (not exclusively) to the air:

Imperial War Museum Duxford (commonly referred to simply as "Duxford") is a branch of the Imperial War Museum near the village of Duxford in Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom. Britain’s largest aviation museum,[2] Duxford houses the museum’s large exhibits, including nearly 200 aircraft, military vehicles, artillery and minor naval vessels in seven main exhibitions buildings.[3] The site also provides storage space for the museum’s other collections of material such as film, photographs, documents, books and artefacts. The site accommodates a number of British Army regimental museums, including those of the Parachute Regiment (named Airborne Assault) and the Royal Anglican Regiment.

Based on the historic Duxford Aerodrome, the site was originally operated by the Royal Air Force (RAF) during the First World War. During the Second World War Duxford played a prominent role during the Battle of Britain and was later used by United States Army Air Forces fighter units in support of the daylight bombing of Germany. Duxford remained an active RAF airfield until 1961. After the Ministry of Defence declared the site surplus to requirements in 1969 the Imperial War Museum received permission to use part of the site for storage. The entirety of the site was transferred to the museum in February 1976.

We spent hours meandering around the grounds. A few photos follow. Our first encounter, a massive ground to air rocket:

05 17 2009 Duxford Air Show MKII

There were lots of captured German planes like this Messerschmitt. Note the way the propeller is bent from the crash.

05 17 2009 Duxford Air Show  (13)

How often do you get to stand below a German rocket? In this case a V-1.

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The tail of a German fighter found in a field by a farmer. It was shot to bits.

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One of the buildings is huge with planes hanging from the roof and jammed in every corner. Bi-planes ….

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Bombers, fighters … a monster A-10.

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And a huge SR-71.

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You then walk over to another building and it is stuffed full of WWII vehicles. That VW is one of the first WWII models I ever built as a kid.

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A tried and true Sherman.

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So many things to look at, filling every nook and cranny. English museums are like nothing else in the world. And then they started the world famous air show …



I finally got around to reading Bill Bryson’s Notes from a Small Island last weekend. It lived up to all of the reviews, and while I only spent two years there, his observations had me laughing out loud and missing the Old Blighty. Even the British like the book:

In an opinion poll organized for World Book Day in 2003, Notes from a Small Island was voted by BBC Radio 4 listeners as the book which best represented England.[1]

A few of his observations that I really enjoyed:

  • ‘It sometimes occurs to me that the British have more heritage than is good for them. In a country where there is so astonishingly much of everything, it is easy to look on it as a kind of inexhaustible resource. Consider the numbers: 445,000 listed buildings, 12,000 medieval churches, 1,500,000 acres of common land, 120,000 miles of footpaths and 600,000 known sites of archaeological interest (98 percent with no legal protection). Do you know that in my Yorkshire village alone there are more seventeenth century buildings than in the whole of North America? And that’s just one obscure hamlet with a population comfortably under 100.’
  • ‘There are certain things that you have to be British or at least older than me, or possibly both, to appreciate: …. Marmite (Note: The first time I tried it, I thought i was like jam – what a shock), really milky tea (MW: Or coffee with milk), allotments (MW: I remember a friend finally getting his allotment, when he explained what it was I was still only able to answer ‘You are going to do what?’), the belief that household wiring is an interesting topic of conversation … erecting windbreaks on a beach (why, pray, are you there if you need a windbreak!).’
  • ‘Call me a perennial Iowa farm boy, but I never fail to be impressed by how densely packed with worthies is this little island. How remarkable it is that in a single village churchyard you find the graves of two men of global stature (George Orwell, H.H. Asquith). We in Iowa would be proud of either of them – indeed we would be proud of Trigger the Wonder Horse of the guy who invented traffic cones.’
  • On titles … and the properties of the heirs of titles:  ‘More extraordinary still in my mind is the thought that nearly 300 years later the duke’s heirs can litter the grounds with miniature trains and bouncing castles, charge admission and enjoy unearned positions of rank and privilege simply because a distant grandsire happened to have a passing talent for winning battles.’ I wondered the same thing once.
  • ‘The Alhambra Theatre, built in 1914 in an excitingly effusive style with minarets and towers, has been sumptuously and skilfully renovated and remains the most wonderful place to see a pantomime. (Something I positively adore, by the way)’     MW: I cannot agree more. Pantomime is a Christmas habit that we have take with us from the UK. Our tickets are in hand for Beauty and the Beast in Toronto. I cannot wait, Scot Thompson is a great headliner.
  • On animals:  ‘There is nothing, apart perhaps from a touching faith in the reliability of weather forecasts and the universal fondness for jokes involving the word ‘bottom’, that makes me feel more like an outside in Britain than the nation’s attitude to animals. Did you know that the Royal Society for the Protection of Children was formed sixty years after the founding of the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals, and as an offshoot of it? Did you know that in 1994 Britain voted for a European Union directive requiring statutory rest periods for transported animals and against a statutory rest period for factory workers?’
    • MW: On this one I must comment. I think it is an area where North American’s can definitely learn from the UK. Animals are an integral part of society and it is one of those things that I love about the UK. You walk into the Wentworth and they will tackle you to the ground if you are wearing running shoes (trainers) or jeans. Honestly, without a blazer they will also look at you as if you should not be there. But on the fairway, people are openly golfing with their dogs. My neighbour went out with his mates every Sunday morning, and his lab came. In Canada – oh no, the insurance would be too high (plus, no one wants to actually walk!). I also remember sitting in the dining room of a very posh hotel in Normandy, surrounded by people with their dogs in their laps. I thought it was just wonderful.
  • On the weather:  ‘I have a small, tattered clipping that I sometimes carry with me and pull out for purposes of private amusement. It’s a weather forecast from the Western Daily Mail and it says in total: “Outlook: Dry and warm, but cooler with some rain.” There you have in a single pithy sentence the English weather captured perfectly.’
  • On the lakes district and being crowded:  ‘To say that Windermere (MW: The largest natural mere in England. – leave it to the British to complicate the definition of a lake) is popular with boaters is to flirt recklessly with understatement. Some 14,000 powerboats are registered to use the lake…. Windermere may have pride of place among English lakes but for each 12 inches of Windermere’s surface, Lake Superior offers over three-quarters of a square mile of water. There is in Iowa a body of water called Dan Green Slough, which most Iowans have never heard of, and it is bigger than Windermere.’
  • On contrast:  ‘How is is possible, in this wondrous land where the relics of genius and enterprise confront you at every step, where every realm of human possibility has been probed and challenged and generally extended, where many of the very greatest accomplishments of industry,commerce and the arts find their seat, how is possible in such a place that when at length I returned to my hotel and switched on the television it was Cagney and Lacey again?’

I just ordered his travel books on Europe and Australia. Fantastic writer and a fantastic book – it truly does describe what makes the UK one of the most amazing places in the world.


While in the UK I blogged about our visit to Stonehenge but left out the rest of the trip, where we landed in city of Bath, Somerset..

Bath (pronounced /ˈbɑːθ/) is a city in the ceremonial county of Somerset in the south west of England. It is situated 97 miles (156 km) west of London and 13 miles (21 km) south-east of Bristol. The population of the city is 83,992.[1] It was granted city status by Royal Charter by Queen Elizabeth I in 1590,[2] and was made a county borough in 1889 which gave it administrative independence from its county, Somerset. The city became part of Avon when that county was created in 1974. Since 1996, when Avon was abolished, Bath has been the principal centre of the unitary authority of Bath and North East Somerset (B&NES).The city was first established as a spa resort with the Latin name, Aquae Sulis (“the waters of Sulis”) by the Romans in AD 43 although verbal tradition suggests that Bath was known before then.[3] They built baths and a temple on the surrounding hills of Bath in the valley of the River Avon around hot springs, which are the only ones naturally occurring in the United Kingdom.[4]. Edgar was crowned king of England at Bath Abbey in 973.[5] Much later, it became popular as a spa resort during the Georgian era, which led to a major expansion that left a heritage of exemplary Georgian architecture crafted from Bath Stone.

It was a wonderful stay with the highlight for me being the Bath Abbey, not because it is yet another magnificent church (It is), but because of what is inside.2008 June 15 Bath  _MG_93982008 June 15 Bath  _MG_94252008 June 16 Bath  2008 June 16  _MG_9622

The walls were adorned with flags of military companies that had served Britain in ancient wars, and marble slabs with inscriptions describing the past lives of those who have passed on. This may sound morbid but one of my favourite things to explore in England was the cemeteries. Seeing a monument to someone from the 1600 or 1700’s and a snippet of their life was fascinating for me.

2008 June 16 Bath  2008 June 16  _MG_9625

2008 June 16 Bath  2008 June 16  _MG_9615

The one I remember the most, but did not photograph, was one written by a family as an ode to their loving mother. I do not remember the words, but I remember how it was an apt tribute to a great mom. Here are a few others that I found fascinating. The UK history is so rich and long.

2008 June 16 Bath  2008 June 16  _MG_9623

2008 June 16 Bath  2008 June 16  _MG_9621

2008 June 16 Bath  2008 June 16  _MG_9620

2008 June 16 Bath  2008 June 16  _MG_9613

Imagine living in Bengal, serving the Empire in the 1700s.

2008 June 16 Bath  2008 June 16  _MG_9609

2008 June 16 Bath  2008 June 16  _MG_9604

And last but not least,  this slab was underfoot.

2008 June 16 Bath  2008 June 16  _MG_9624

Lives lived. You can take a visual tour here.



In my last note on Wentworth and UK golfing I commented on the history of the UK courses versus the grand, sweeping vistas of Ontario golf courses. I left out one thing. Here is Wentworth in March (which is the same for January and February):

2008 03 18 2008 March Wentworth-9

2008 03 18 2008 March Wentworth 

Note my attire. A fleece.

2008 03 18 2008 March Wentworth-6

Here is a super grand Ontario golf course during the same period. From the 1st hole tee. I think I can make it over the water.

01 10 10 Tobagganing_-18 

What a beautiful par 3.

01 10 10 Tobagganing_-40

01 10 10 Tobagganing_-26

So UK golf does have one small advantage ….



I have been catching up on a few things over the last couple days. Part of that is working through unprocessed photos. The below is a photo of an offsite that my old team did in July 2008 at the Wentworth G&CC. We did it in the main ballroom. What an amazing setting, historic paintings and a ceiling that had to be 30′ high. It is the founding home of the Ryder Cup, I remember doing a mgmt meeting in the Ryder Cup room. An amazing course and clubhouse.


While in Barcelona I met up with a few old colleagues and one mentioned that they had upgraded the course quite a bit (new greens). I found the golf in the UK laced with history, and an ‘experience’, but the courses were not as grand as many of the new, Ontario courses. I did like the way the fairways in the UK bounce and jump, nothing flat there.

That all being said, Wentworth is a very cool place.