The Pig Yard

June - A month of changes and unexpected arrivals. Dave & Lucie travelled back from France because things didn't work out but they are now heading off to work in Chicago. Our Australian visitors dropped in from time to time and it was always a pleasure to spend time with them.

Jane took advantage of the good weather and went for many cycle rides and she frequently cycled to work. Steve however only went out a few times at the weekends and managed to clock up ten miles or so at a time.

At long last we managed to get the balloon out of the trailer and fly - see below.

On the last day of the month we set off for a holiday in the Loire valley and left Ian & Sue our Australian visitors in charge of the house.

Anyone visiting Northampton should arrange a visit to Frog Island Brewery. Apart from the excellent beer brewed there is the informative tour from Graham and Sue.

This single visit was enough to get Ian hooked on all three beers: Natterjack; Croak & Stagger and Fire-Bellied Toad. Thankfully it's possible purchase bottles of Frog Island at Westbridge Motors or Budgens in Grange Park (this is the end of the advert)

For more information on Frog Island Beers click here.

Jane and friends have been visiting the Gardeners' World event at Birmingham NEC for a number of years but for the first time ever Steve, Martin and Dave joined them. After arriving reasonably early and having a coffee we split up into genders and wandered off to find areas of interest.

The ladies looked at plants, clothes, food and wine whilst the men chose garden machinery, tools, food, wine and free gin & tonics.

The garden exhibitions were nothing special and most of the hard landscaping had all been seen before on garden makeover TV shows.

Our first flight this season proved to be eventful and Sue enjoyed the whole event. Steve took off and flew for thirty minutes before Nick took over. It was obvious that there were going to be few places to land because the fields either had standing crops or animals in them.

After flying for nearly one and half hours a very large field with bullocks in one corner came into view. Nick's intention was to fly low over the trees prior to the field and then drop down into the grassy field. As it turned out we landed on the wrong side of the trees, climbed up alongside a very large tree and then descended quite rapidly into the target field. On landing we thought we'd got away without damaging the balloon but as it turned out we'd put rips in a couple of panels. Nick soon took the balloon off for some minor repair work.

Our second flight was very sedate and it took us over an hour to travel less than two miles. We flew Dave as a passenger this time and it would've been churlish of us not to give him an opportunity to take the controls for ten minutes.

Again there were few places to land and Steve put it down over some tall poplars and power lines into a field of hay. Unfortunately the farmer was not too happy with us being in his hay and he wouldn't allow Jane and Val in the retrieve vehicle to come onto the field so we had to carry the whole thing 100 metres onto the road. On a very hot morning this was hard work so we had to finish the event with a visit to the Super Sausage on St Leonards Road for a mug of tea and for some people a sausage sandwich with lashings of HP sauce.

The morning flights are not complete without breakfast, sitting out on the pavement in glorious, early sunshine.

We went on several walks over various weekends with an assortment of friends. The weather was good, sometimes too hot but generally good for walking particularly if it could be arranged with a village pub half way round.

Our good friends, Dave & Lucie - that's Dave on the right just in case there was any confusion - took time out to lean on a gate and watch the world go by.

They left at the end of the month for Dave to do commercial ballooning just outside Chicago. They both had to get visas to enter the USA and this entailed having to go to the American Embassy in London and undergo an interview to check they were genuine. They had no skeletons in the cupboard and therefore their visas arrived within days.

It was sad to see them go but we look forward to their return at the end of October. By then their new apartment should be ready for them to move in.

Martin & Kate who live on the canal have recently taken possession of a small cruiser and so we were invited for trip along the canal. It was a great evening and we were allowed to take the controls - it wasn't as easy as Martin made it look. We travelled from Heyford towards Weedon and turned around just short of Whilton Locks.

The Grand Union was alive with ducklings, goslings and moorhen nests.

We can't wait to do it again possibly going in the other direction...