Once again Alex was part of the Froglife crew in the annual Dragon-boat Race at the Rowing Lake, which raises money for the Sue Ryder Foundation and the Thorpe Hall hospice. Last year the weather was cool and wet, and the crew lacked co-ordination. By contrast, today was rather warm and humid, and the crew worked well as a team, securing a place in the semi-finals. This was their fourth race of the day, and I think the strain is showing on some of their faces. Despite a heroic effort they were pipped at the post and didn't quite make it into the final - perhaps next year!
The extra photo is a Spitfire from the Memorial Flight at Coningsby, which performed a couple of aerial manoeuvres over our garden on its way down to London to appear in the Fly Past for the Queen's 90th birthday celebrations. It's a low-back/bubble-canopy Spitfire with ‘clipped’ wingtips which was built at Castle Bromwich just after the war had ended, being taken on charge by the Air Ministry on 8th June 1945. It had a somewhat short-lived career in training, before being used as a 'Gate Guardian' at RAF Tangmere for 12 years. It was partially restored and modified in 1968 to appear in the 'Battle of Britain' film, and then was displayed as a static exhibition at air-shows. It was delivered to RAF Coningsby in 2001, and then underwent restoration to flying condition, a process that took 11 years. It took to the air again, for the first time in 58 years, on 19th October 2012. Great credit is due to the Memorial Flight engineers, especially Paul Blackah – the team leader and the driving force behind the project – whose skills and perseverance resulted in another airworthy Spitfire being added to the limited numbers of these iconic aircraft.