Having discussed the matter for far too long, Alan and Paul finally decide set Hollingbourne as their cross country goal and choose Monday 7th Sept as the day.
Conditions show promise with an 8 to 10mph south westerly wind and plenty of sun. On the downside a high pressure is moving in from the Atlantic and there’s few cumulus in the sky.
Things get off to an interesting start, Alan launches off and the Alpina immediately heads off round the castle ignoring his every command. The search party heads off and tracks down the itnerant beast to a blackberry bush on the far side of the eastern gully. Luckily the 80s classic is unscathed but for an old wound reopened in the fuz. Such a blemish doesn’t stop a seasoned slope bum of Alan’s calibre, and after a few patches of tape we’re good to go again.
a false start
This time things go better and with Paul’s Fendon floating out into the yonder, we’re all set for an afternoon’s stroll east along the North Downs.
The going is good for the first stretch, the two lift hippy wastrels connect a lovely thermal that gets them easily over the back. High and away they push into the eastern gully with bags of altitude in hand. As the footpath drops down the scarp it’s perhaps the most challenging walking conditions with loose flint and branches littering the pathway.
With partridges and hare making startled dashes from their footfall, our intrepid stick twiddlers press on with upturned head cricking neck tendons, and barbed wire fence glancing at buttock flesh.
After the unexpected ease of rounding the castle, they come to the first gap in the ridge. The lift seems ok for skitting about at slope top height, but they’ve got to work it from the base of the slope. Head out too far and they’re making uncomfortable bed fellows with some power lines.
Paul makes a break for it over the gate and across the road, a sprint back up to the ridge sees the Fendon floundering in sink. Alan back tracks, playing the safety card. While Paul continues to fall foul of sink assisted gravity, he sees Alan make a circle. So with nothing to loose, the Fendon ploughs a long low furrow back across the gap in desperate hope.
At this height there’s not so much of a bump under the wing tip, more a tight patch of turbulence, but Paul’s laundry bill is already heavily overdrawn, so he cranks the poor beast over on the wing tip within 3 turns he’s up over the ridge and breathing again.
After such a close call he cruises the ridge while Alan staves off a full blown cornonary hiking up the hill to join him. It’s then a 20 minute wait before they can connect with a decent thermal to get them round the south east facing gully that forms the next gap in the ridge. However the two models hook into a smooth wide riser released from a harrowed field and the crossing is a simple one. They get to a safe ridge ahead of themselves with just a field of bulls to negotiate.
Easy! In the oppressive heat, the bovine spectators stay put, so Paul and Alan dash up from the valley with eyes set skyward. At this point Paul sets up the Fendon in the sky so he can round a tree, momentarily blocked from view the model has vanished when he regains a clear sightline! A stream of expletives issue forth, Alan with his mind on the job sees the Fendon diving back behind the slope. The model is a right off with the fuz in three pieces and a very dead battery.
A few hundred yards further along the Downs, Alan is tied down to just above ridge height, and by this late point in the afternoon the air has lost its buoyancy. He plays safe and calls it a day while Paul heads off to Hollingbourne to get the car.
3.2 miles travelled, and 0.75 miles short of goal, and on a lighter note it looks like the Goodwind broadband connection will be restored next week!
Alan tries not to look on as Paul douses the wreck with help from his microscopic member
ready for next time - this could be your lucky day!