So if you have had the patient to read through part 1 of my adventure then you might be wondering what on earth happened in part 2. Well this is it and it got a whole lot more crazy and fun! I’d spent the week recovering from the madness and emotion of the 7th September and my day in East Kirkby Lincolnshire when Steve, mentioned in the last post asked me if I wanted to go to the next 3 Lancs event on the 14th! This was the rescheduled event from the event on the 2nd when the two Lancaster’s couldn’t fly. I damn near bit his hand off.
During the week I had been contacted by a great chap called Keith Hogson who runs a site called ‘Prints for Arts Sake’. Keith sells one of artwork and photography and rents gallery space in Yorkshire. He wanted to represent me and sell my work! As an artist that is something you always dream off and here it was happening to me. We sorted out all the boring technical and contractual stuff and before I knew what was happening, my first print ‘Ready To Go’ was being sold on his website and blow me down, people were actually buying it! I had decided that i wasn’t going to make any money from Ready To Go and instead i was donating all my sales money to VeRA for her engine and Jane to get her in the air again. Keith said he would bring some prints for me to the East Kirkby event and I’d be able to give them to a few people as thank you for the experiences I had already had. I didn’t know it was going to get even more insane!
So there I was, experiencing Groundhog Day and driving up the A1(M) again to meet Steve at Biggleswade to collect a ticket and then off again to Lincolnshire for another day of Lancasters. Coffee and chocolate in the car made the journey bearable and I was soon in the queue again waiting to see Jane and her sisters. I took a different position this time to her left on the crowd line and spent even more money in the NAAFI shop on books and hoodies. Steve bought me two little Lancaster cup cakes (which i still can’t eat as they are too cute) and I spent a wonderful day making and talking to new friends from the Facebook groups. Myself, Steve, Dave ‘Ned’ Kelley, Laura, Jaff, Mojie and Keith and I formed a little ‘Lancaster Crew’ and stood together to wait for the show. At 3.21 (exactly lol) the ladies appeared again and displayed over a taxying Jane. Then came the surprise.
On the final pass from the rear over Jane the two Lancasters flew side by side for the first time since they have displayed together. As they were over Jane, they split into a ‘Princes break’ and flew in opposing directions. That was it for me, I was gone. Myself and all the Lancaster Crew stood there dumbstruck with years in our eyes. Poor Jaff (Dave) who had been a rock until this point had years pouring down his face as did the rest of us. Lots of hugs were to be had and numerous single word comments of just wow.
How on earth do even begin to describe what you have just seen with your own eyes? The photo doesn’t even begin to do it justice as I was so emotional.
We all hovvered about for bit and had a coffee and a chat and to recover. I went and presented a print to Martin Keen to thank him for what had done for me the weekend before in letting me see Just Jane up close and personal and I also had a lovely chat with Sarah and gave her a print for the BBMF Crew at Connningsby. Finally I talked briefly with Andrew Panton and gave him two A2 prints. One to be signed and auctioned to raise funds for Just Jane and one for the LAHC to keep as a thank you for me. We then all headed off to the Petwood Hotel to say goodbye to the Canadian crew. Jaff had taken some persuading because he was knackered and it was a long drive for him and Laura back to Devon but now he knows what happened he is glad that he made the choice to follow me in my car to Woodhall Spa.
When we got there I was able to present a print to Emma the daughter of the owners of the Petwood and it is going to be framed and hung in the hotel. A little piece of a me, my great granddads memory and a memory of the events left behind in a place of Lancaster history. Its something I am incredibly proud of. We then spent a wonderful hour or so chatting to the Canadians again with lots of photos being taken and the Canadians sending people over to me to buy prints!! Don and Loretta Schofield are also now the proud owners of their own copy of Ready To Go as a personal thank you from me.
Then all of a sudden the Canadian crew all disappeared and there was a right hullabaloo going on outside the front of the hotel. I ran outside with my camera and simply couldn’t believe my eyes. There were the crew of VeRA all piled into Douglas Bader’s Alvis car WITH Jaff in the back seat alongside them! They were all driven around the car park like joy riders and I have never seen smiles to big in my life.
When they’d all finally stopped messing about, we all sat and had a drink and tried to get ourselves back together again. We posed for a few photos where Guy Gibson used to stand on the terrace and then after emotional farewells we went our separate ways. I on my 3.5 hour trip back to Woking and the others on their equally long trips.
When I finally made it home at midnight I was broken emotionally and physically. I knew it had been my last chance to see VeRA and Thumper together but I was overcome with the things I had seen so far. I have experience so many emotions and made so many friends and seen to many things. I have achieved things I never ever even thought I would be able to do. It has been the experience of a lifetime. Before I sign off there are some people I want to thank.
Firstly to all the team of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum and the crew of Vera for being so friendly and welcoming and bring VeRA here in the first place. To Don and Loretta Schofield for utterly spoiling me and being such wonderful people. To The Panton family for hosting the event at East Kirkby and to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight for all their hard work and organisation and saving the day when VeRA had engine trouble. And finally to the staff and owners of the Petwood Hotel for accommodating all of us mad Lancaster fans who kept invading even when we hadn’t had rooms booked!
The the friends I have made on the way; Steve Young for being so amazing and his gifts of Lancasters, Hurricanes and Spitfire and for simply making all this happen in the first place. Paul Clarke for the day we spent at the first event and the memories we will always share of a special event and relatives we’ll never forget either. Laura and Jaff for the companionship and fun at the Petwood hotel and especially Jaff for the comical facial expressions. Ned Kelley for the hilarious photos. Mojie for the amazing stories and anecdotes and the tea at East Kirkby. Martin Keen for the personal tour of Just Jane and a memory I will never forget. Keith Hogson for giving this humble artist the chance to live her dream of selling and exhibiting her work.
To all the wonderful people I met and talked to on the Facebook pages I also send my undying thanks and gratitude. You ALL contributed to the what was the best month of my life. Thank you all so so much