A while back, I bumped into Alastair Sawday when I spoke at an event organised by Tomorrow’s Company, and tahnked him for his extraordinary guides – which Elaine has used for years. Yesterday, we arrived at Frampton House, which was another Sawday treasure, landscaped by no less than Capability Brown. Wonderfully sunny when we arrived yesterday afternoon, en route to Musbury, but pouring down at times as we got ready to leave this morning – after a wonderful breakfast.
Search Results for: Tim elkington
Arrived late afternoon at another Sawday find, Manor Barn in Child Okeford, which Elaine had chosen in large part because it looks out onto Hambledon Hill, the extraordinary hill fort where I spent many charmed days during my time at Bryanston, just down the road. A sloping window allowed a star to peep in as I went to sleep – but that was after we had walked to the top of kestrel-accented Hambledon, in the gathering twilight, taking in the breath-taking views, that are almost 360 degrees,and has supper at the nearby Talbot.
Day started with a brainstorm session at SustainAbility on the future of our accountability, reporting and stakeholder engagement work – a timely and vibrant discussion. Then, after drafting an article or two, walked across to Volans for a session with Andrea and Barry Coleman of Riders for Health. They updated our team on some of the stuff they are now doing and on their plans for the future. I really love what they do – and it was interesting that at last night’s dinner someone from a major mainstream organisation waxed lyrical about them, without initially knowing that we knew them.
A fairly energetic day, starting with a train trip down to Newdigate for a meeting of the Trustees of the Environment Foundation, hosted by (Sir) Geoffrey Chandler. Others there were Malcolm Aickin, Ian Christie, John Lotherington (of the 21st Century Trust), Tim O’Donovan and Halina Ward. A key decision was to push forward with the theme of ‘Democracy & Sustainability’. Geoffrey’s wife Lucy and their dog Pickles ducked in and out during the day, as did a Great Spotted Woodpecker.
Later, Tim drove me across to Dorking station for the trip back to London, where I met Elaine in Berkeley Square, before heading to the Lansdowne Club, to meet Melody Haller (who I first encountered at a Wall Street Journal conference in Santa Barbara, California) earlier this year, and her husband Michael (Tyler). A fascinating group of people, working in areas as diverse as advanced silicon technologies and neuroscience.
I have always had antibodies to the world of clubs, but was fascimated when Michael noted that Britain had conceded independence to the United States in the Treaty of Paris, drawn up with Benjamin Franklin in this building’s Round Room. Sadly, we were all too busy talking to take up his offer of a guided tour.
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Homo Volans; The phrase occurred to me a few months back – and, Googling, I found a number of East European references to Faust Vrancic. He was brought back to mind yesterday when I read about the exploits of the Swiss airline pilot and adventurer, known as ‘Rocket Man’, who is now significantly closer to becoming the first jet-powered bird man to cross the Channel – and saw the final programme in Andrew Marr’s excellent Britain from Above, in which he took to the skies below a giant parasail.
On the Rocket Man front, as The Times reported yesterday:
“Yves Rossy completed a 10-minute test flight last week with his jet-powered wing strapped to his back. He flew for more than 22 miles, equivalent to a flight from Calais to Dover – the route first flown by Louis Blériot in 1909. The test flight, which had been postponed several times because of engine problems, saw Rossy jump out of a small plane 7,500ft above the town of Bex, in Switzerland. Reaching 180mph, he flew through clear skies to Villeneuve and back. Rossy, wearing a heat-resistant suit similar to those worn by racing drivers, steered by shifting his weight or simply turning his head and shoulders. He deployed two parachutes at 5,000ft and 4,000ft to land at Bex airfield with two litres of fuel left. Rossy used an 8ft carbon-fibre wing powered by four jet engines.”
A sad concatenation, with the news of the Madrid air crash cheek-by-jowl with the article on Rossy.
Meanwhile, Marr’s parasail reminded me of the early experiments on parachutes and wings, including those by Vrancic. He apparently collaborated with Tycho Brache and Johannes Keppler, was fluent in at least seven languages and is now best known for his book of inventions in Machinae Novae, published in Venice in 1595. Among his numerous inventions the most famous is the parachute, which he tested in Venice.
Whenever I attempt to sum up where we stand with Volans, the image that comes to mind is that of Otto Lilienthal, the early pioneer of aviation, whose exploits inpsired me to do several pen-and-ink drawings back in the early 1970s.