Before I start, you do remember that The Poisoned Pastie is available for free download for three days from the 7th Nov, don’t you? Yes, I thought so.
Right then, a bit of a mystery that perhaps somebody can clear up for me. Pull up a chair, make yourself comfortable, pour a pint of Scrumpilicious–explanation of what it is in the book– and I’ll tell you a little story. I was wandering around Southbourne, in Bournemouth, yesterday waiting for the barber to open. New job new haircut and all that. Passing a bookshop, I noticed a small tome, ‘Flying Boats of the Solent and Poole’ nestling in the window–do buy it from Amazon, it really is much cheaper! Anyway it stirred a memory so I went in and purchased said book.
So much for setting the scene. I have a memory of going on holiday to Italy at a very young age. We went to a place called Viareggio. I remember the holiday for two reasons. I saw a helicopter for the first time–it was on floats and must have been taking tourists for pleasure flights from the harbour near the hotel–but the main reason I remember the trip is because we went on a flying boat. I was bitterly disappointed because we left in the dark from Southampton. The return trip was to be in daylight but it never happened. I clearly remember my father saying that the boat had hit a rock on landing somewhere else and so we got on a coach to Turin and flew to a place called Blackbushe, just up the road from home.
The years passed as they do and I became uncertain as to whether this had actually happened as I remembered or not, I was very young at the time and the memory became confused with meeting an American uncle at Southampton docks, also in the dark. Then I stumbled across this little book. Sure enough, there was a flying boat service from Southampton to Genoa. It stopped in 1958, which would have made me five at the oldest. However, the company had a bad crash in late 1957, so I somehow doubt my mother would have been keen to travel with them. I think we must have travelled the summer of 1957, when I would have been four! Some memory. I can’t remember what happened yesterday but fifty-seven years ago–no problemo!
Reading the book, the company concerned was Aquila Airways and we would have left from berth fifty, Southampton docks. I consulted the Internet. The return fare was £37 for adults and they would have forked out ten percent for me. The baggage allowance was 23 kg each for adults and nothing for me. Business must have been good that year although my parents liked to travel a lot–and before you say it, I was taken with them most times. Story for another time perhaps but I remember going to Ibiza when there were no direct flights and the airport there had a roof made of palm leaves. We travelled from Madrid to Ibiza on a Spantax (I think that was the airline) DC2. You read that correctly–a DC2.
Be that as it may, we flew on a Shorts Solent. This might actually be the aircraft as Aquila purchased their Solents from Teal, who were a New Zealand company, I Believe.
Have you spotted the mystery? You’ll have to magnify the image of the timetable. The outbound flight leaves Southampton at 1130, so am I right in thinking that we left in the dark? The flight to Madeira was scheduled to leave in the wee small hours of the morning so flights did leave in the dark. I also found out that Aquila Airways was by 1954 part of the British Aviation Group. They had landplanes based at Blackbushe, amongst other places, so that would explain why we were bussed to Turin. I suppose there might have been a late departure for some reason but I can’t find out. Anybody happen to know?
Incidentally, I have typed this using all ten fingers. It has taken me twice as long as when I use two fingers so I’m feeling a little discouraged. In fact, if it wasn’t a free course, I’d ask for my money back!
Did I mention that The Poisoned Pastie is on free download this coming weekend?