The Pig Yard

February has had it's ups and downs. We've remained busy throughout the month and our annual break in the Lake District was superb. The Ballooning Business annual dinner took place on the last Friday of the month and so we have published Aerotwat in it's entirety.

When we started to compile this month's events it seemed like a tame month but now we've completed all the events it has been busier than we imagined. We even had a balloon flight on the last day of the month as it was Dave's annual Certificate of Test but the less said about that the better.

Jane has had serious problems with her teeth this month. This followed on from having a wisdom tooth extracted at the end of January. An infection in a tooth made her jaw swell and become extremely painful. A course of antibiotics followed up with some serious root canal work has alleviated the problem but there is more root canal work to be done into March. This really got Jane down and the prospect of several more visits has made it a struggle for her to lift her spirits.

Our annual visit to Cumbria was a bit of a mixed bag. We spent the initial weekend at the Britannia Arms in Elterwater however it was not all it was cracked up to be. Yes, it has the old world charm of low beams and coal fires but the rooms are small, our bed linen was stained and Nick & Val's shower leaked and hot water was not always available.

After the weekend we moved into a cottage up in Chapel Stile which we had used before - see February 2001. We spent most of our evenings at the Lodge with Dave, Lucie, Sue, Graham, Nick and Val on the Langdale Estate and slept at the cottage.

We had some great times and each year is memorable for something. This year was the year of the remote controlled tank, this was a toy tank bought in partnership by Graham and Dave who then proceeded to drive the tracked machine over plates, newspapers, books and it was powerful enough to push Lucie's knitting off the table

This particular week in February has always been kind to us and we have better weather than many people see during the summer. As can be seen from this picture the skies are generally blue although you cannot see the cold, biting wind that was blowing. The joy of this time of year is that you can wrap up against the cold and on a brisk walk be as warm as walking in the summer.

The snow on the distant hills indicate that the week before had seen some serious snow however we only saw severe frosts and no snow fell all week.

Year after year the February landscape never ceases to strike a pose that is so picturesque we stand in amazement as though we have never seen it before.

For the first time in 25 years we took a trip on the Eskdale to Ravenglass railway. We happened to choose a beautiful day that allowed us to travel back in an open carriage and appreciate the smuts and smells of the steam engine, we also got some great views of buzzards sitting in the trees as the train rattled past.

Nostalgia for steam engines is quite sad but irresistible all the same and the people running the railway are dedicated to keeping the engines and rolling stock in excellent condition.

Our major trek on holiday was from Grasmere up to Easdale Tarn then on to Blea Rigg. This was tough going and we all found it warm enough to get down to T shirts on the upward climb but when we stopped overlooking Stickle Tarn we reverted to coats etc. because we soon cooled off.

Steve hadn't been to Stickle Tarn since he came to the Lake District with his school at the age of fourteen. It was great to have some level walking for a while but soon we had to climb down Dungeon Ghyll and this proved more arduous than the walk up. We took the wrong path and at one point we had to literally climb down a short way to get onto the correct path. We stopped at the New Dungeon Ghyll hotel for a cup of tea before the last two miles back to the Langdale Estate. Finally we had to drive back over the Grasmere to pick up the car that we'd left earlier in the day.

We went to see "Something's Gotta Give" this month, Jack Nicholson was his usual excellent self but Diane Keaton stole the show. As a romantic comedy it was unusual because the main characters were well over 50 and therefore we could relate very well to their circumstances.

Review from - A romantic comedy with oldies? My God! How daring! Except these oldies are tried-and-tested charmers and who can resist?

Harry (Nicholson) owns a successful rap label and only dates girls under 30. He's 63 and looks it, smoking those fat cigars. Both these concepts are difficult to believe. Harry and rap go together like haggis and seaweed. As for the sex, there are Viagra jokes and a body that's broken out of the compound. Writer/director Nancy Meyers is aiming at light comedy, no harmful ingredients, such as satire, nothing sharp or dangerous. The plot has a safety valve - if it strays off the straight and narrow, Harry has a heart attack and they're back in the hospital, where Dr Mercer (Keanu Reeves), looking 25 years younger and so polite he squeaks, takes a fancy to Marin's mom, who happens to be a famous Broadway playwright.

Jane's birthday came around and she wasn't too happy about it. Apart from being a year older her problems with her teeth was another signal that none of us are getting any younger and keeping our bodies in reasonable condition is an uphill struggle. Jane does better than most and it looks as though it is paying off because she looks a lot younger than her years.

Her telepathic super powers with animals have not diminished over the years and here she is talking to the animals. This cat understood every word and appreciated the company after having spent a quiet day in front of a glowing log fire with very few visitors to pass the time of day.

Jane does have other super powers but they are a secret, needless to say she has been known to be seen in tights wearing her knickers over the top and a flowing cape behind her as she flies around the world at supersonic speed.

Jane and Sue are antiques buffs, maybe that's why they're still married to Steve and Graham respectively. Anyway Jane noticed that the BBC Flogit programme was coming to the Guildhall in Northampton and so they decided to dig out some old junk - oops sorry, antiques -  and take them to the recording for valuing. They queued for over 5 hours, yes that isn't a typing error, 5 hours. Jane's items were not considered special and of no real value, so they're going into the next car boot sale.

The idea of the programme is that foolish people queue for hours to have antiques valued and then subsequently sold at a local auction. There is supposed to be a level of entertainment and excitement while the punters are watching their junk (antiques) not reaching the reserve price or exceeding their greedy ambitions.

The last Friday of the month was the second attempt to have the Ballooning Business Annual Dinner. The first attempt was in late January when we had some serious snow and the whole county went into grid lock.

The evening was a generally low key affair held at the Wharf Inn, Bugbrooke. Considering there were 22 in attendance the food was very good and everyone ate as much as they possibly could. After the meal there were the expected speeches to announce the fact that Colin and Tony (see picture with respective partners Pauline and Jude) were in the process of selling the business to Mike Gabb from Heart of England Balloons.

The event was recognised by everyone there as an end of an era. For us the experience of being involved with the Ballooning Business has been a life changing experience. Not only has Steve learned to fly he also went on to get his commercial license and we have met so many people and been able to be a part of giving them an experience they will never forget.