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Oldnautibits Weblog

Over the years since 2005 I have written a number of short features for our "Weblog". These pieces normally relate to something topical - the most recent entry appears in the scrolling window on our "desktop" Home page - it is also available here, together with an archive of what's gone before.

1st April 2018

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Happy Birthday RAF!

Like many others around the UK today the team here at the Oldnautibits HQ have been celebrating the 100th birthday of the RAF. By complete coincidence I extracted a bottle of ale to enjoy with my Easter lunch and it turned out to be Marston's Brewery's excellent 'Lancaster Bomber', described on the label as 'a mullti award winning ale that pays tribute to the Avro Lancaster and is quite simply the best of British Beer'. This very special anniversary got me thinking of my late Father who was just 20 when he volunteered for the RAFVR in 1939 and left for Canada to commence his aircrew training.

He successfully won his Wings and was posted to 144 Squadron in early 1941 and after a couple of familiarisation Ops as Navigator he was crewed up and took his own Handley Page Hampden to war. On a trip to Manheim on 25/26th August 1941 he never made it back to North Luffenham and came down at Ypenburg in Holland and he and his crew were captured and went 'in the bag'.

Dad spent time in a number of POW camps ending up in Stalag Luft 111 and got to know Eric Williams and I own to this day Dad's personally dedicated copy of his book 'The Wooden Horse.' In February 1945 Dad was evacuated by the Germans and took part in what became known as 'the Death March' and was again lucky to survive and was finally repatriated, having been freed by the advancing Russian Army. Looking back with Dad entering the war so early and flying the outdated and under armed Hampden his chances of survival were minimal but unlike 55,000 of his colleagues in Bomber Command he beat the odds and lived to tell the tale.

So on this day,1st April 2018, whilst enjoying my bottle of 'Lancaster Bomber' I remember with affection my Father, his crew and all those who have served with the RAF and particularly those who were not so lucky as Fl Lt I.G Pringle and who gave up their lives for their country over the last 100 years, whilst serving with the RAF. We will remember them all. I owe it to them to find another bottle of 'Bomber' ale and raise a toast and wish the RAF all the best from the next hundred years!

9th January 2018

Not such a Happy New Year-read on!

The weeks of planning, preparation and purchasing and suddenly it is all over for another year! Suffice to say we hope you had a good one and 'Kris Kringle' brought you exactly what you wished for and you are fed, watered and ready to face the challenges of 2018?

Here at the Oldnautibits HQ Geoff Pringle and the team are now back in the office but have been hampered by telephone line issues which currently remain outstanding but we are assured by the BT engineers 'normal services will be resumed as soon as possible'. Fortunately the interweb is still functioning but we apologise if you have been trying to contact us by phone this year.

In the Christmas news 'silly season' we were disappointed to note the recovery of the RAF Kittyhawk P 40 has failed and has now been 'restored' in Egypt in 'theme park 'colours and is on permanent display El Alamein Military Museum. The worst news however is the Mk22 Spitfire which the RAF Museum offered as trade has 'disappeared'. Kennet Aviation, who were commissioned to facilitate the recovery, have in the meantime conveniently ceased trading. Whilst Fight Sergeant Dennis Copping's 'time capsule' aircraft is clearly lost it is essential the Spitfire is located and returned to its owners. Watch this space for further news.

I conclude this blog with a further warning of more fakes being sold on UK e Bay. It seems a production line has been set up printing up RAF ensigns which are all nicely stamped with AM property marks, place of manufacture and a tasty wartime date. The problem is these are all made using printed fabric rather than laid on panels and do not carry coir rope fastenings, as genuine wartime examples. I have personally pointed out to one seller how to identify genuine wartime examples and the description has now been modified to state these are 'lightweight tropical economy printed examples'! The stamping is also far too crisp but collectors are paying big money for these forgeries. The sellers are cleverly stating 'WW II dated' not 'WW II made' so as ever in dealing with E bay listings it is very much a case of 'Caveat Emptor.' If it looks too good to be true it probably is!

3rd December 2017

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas !

How can it be the festive season already? We are told the months and years speed up as you grow older and that certainly seems to be the case at the Oldnautibits HQ. For the first time we have invested in a tree for the office and with Christmas music on the radio combined with the recent cold snap, it really is beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.

2017 has not been a classic one for us with our attention diverted for a good part of the year on family affairs but these have now all been sorted and the team are relishing the challenges that await us in the New Year. We will finally be freshening up our website for sale pages but in the meantime if you have any special wish list items for the nautical or aeronautical collector in your life, do drop us a mail in case we have one tucked away in the depths of our stock room.

It simply remains for the team here at the Oldnautibits HQ to thanks all our customers for their business over the current year and to wish all friends and visitors to the site the compliments of the season.Let us hope we can all enjoy a wonderful Christmas and New Year with family and friends and that 2018 finally delivers 'Peace to the World'. We live in hope.

21st April 2016

Long May She Reign Over Us!

Today on the occasion of Her Majesty the Queen’s 90th birthday the team here at the Oldnautibits HQ would like to add their congratulations on this momentous day. She has been throughout her reign a role model and an inspiration for all her subjects to follow. It seems therefore appropriate today to recount one small personal anecdote. I had the honour of meeting with Queen Elizabeth II at a reception in Buckingham Palace back in the summer of 2003. In addition to waiting in line to shake Her Majesty’s hand I had the added pleasure of a once in a lifetime chance to meet with her as she mingled with the invited guests at the reception afterwards. She proved to be exactly as you hear reported in the press and on TV. She is easy to have a conversation with, is friendly and puts you completely at your ease. Never thinking I would have the chance of a one to one conversation I had to come up with something to talk about or the opportunity would be lost! On the spur of the moment I remembered a vague story about when the Gulf War veteran US Army General Schwarzkopf was given a tour of Her Majesty’s Royal Yacht Britannia. After visiting the gleaming engine room he thought he’d seen a museum piece, for display purposes only and when his tour was completed he asked the Queen where the real engine room was – or so I had read. The Queen, with HRH Prince Phillip beside her, immediately responded to my questioning with a broad smile and with a twinkle in her eye confirmed the story, exactly as I had heard! The Royal Yacht was decommissioned as a result of a decision taken by the Blair Government in 1997 and it was clear at the time this had a significant emotional impact on the Queen who had much love for and many happy memories of her fine ship. I concluded a varied conversation with the Royal party by quipping if she did not watch out the Government of the day would be having the Royal train off her next. She replied succinctly with words along the lines of ‘not without a significant fight’! The memories of that day back in 2003 remain as fresh now as they were then and will last me a lifetime. So perhaps you would like to join us in raising a glass for a toast to wish Her Majesty ‘Many Happy Returns’ on this very special day and in the hope she continues “long reign over us and God save the Queen”!

5th January 2016

A Happy New Year?

The build up to Christmas festivities seems to take for ever but the event is gone in a flash –or so it seems from our perspective! Suffice to say we hope it was a good one for you and your family and that Father Christmas brought you exactly what you wished for. We have already received feedback here at the Oldnautibits HQ that Santa was on the ball in exceeding some of our more critical customers in their expectations. Luckily our team have a direct lines to his helpers and with a little subterfuge we have apparently managed to hit the spot ! The festive season has cleared a wide range of items from both our Nautical and Aeronautical stock and we will shortly be refreshing the website with a new items in most categories. If however you have a specific requirement do ask ; if we can’t satisfy your request now we are happy to add it to the ‘Wish List’ and get in touch directly if a suitable match comes in. We conclude by wishing all our customers and friends here in the UK and around the world all the best for 2016. Sadly the season of goodwill has proven anything but with continued savagery in the Middle East and with events currently escalating between the various factions no one can predict where we will all be in 12 months time and sadly makes a farce of the Christmas message "Peace on earth and good will to men!"

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