Won over by the Olympics

THE Happy Moonraker had no intention of wasting time watching the Olympics, especially after the Russian doping controversy. And then we (Team GB, that is) started winning medals and, all of a sudden, I found myself checking the medal table several times a day, watching some of my favourite events and enjoying all the action.

I am probably not alone in feeling a lot of pride in our athletes for the hard work they’ve put in to achieve so much and to have reached home unscathed. That, by the way, is an oblique reference to the unforgivable misbehaviour of four US swimmers.

The past couple of weeks have given The Happy Moonraker time to dig out some slightly relevant photos.

The torso is of former Olympic swimmer Mark Foster who was one of the television pundits for Rio. This golden sculpture was created by Ben Dearnley. It formed part of his exhibition held in Salisbury Cathedral cloisters four years ago, and the passing tourist hamming it up behind the torso adds a nice touch.

When Heather Stanning won her second gold medal with fellow rower Helen Glover, I was reminded of the unwitting shot I took three months after the London Olympics of then Captain (now Major) Stanning leading her unit away from St Thomas’s Church, Salisbury, after the Remembrance Day service. It wasn’t until I looked at my photos on the computer a couple of hours later that I realised who it was.

The golden torso of Mark Foster with a tourist adding a little extra action.

The golden torso of Mark Foster with a tourist adding a little extra action.

The day job: double-Olympic gold medallist Major (then Captain) Heather Stanning marches at the head of her Royal Artillery unit in Salisbury.

The day job: double-Olympic gold medallist Major (then Captain) Heather Stanning marches at the head of her Royal Artillery unit in Salisbury.

Former Prime Minister Sir John Major (pictured with Lord Hunt) was responsible for the decision to have a national lottery which has generously funded sport among many other things since the early 1990s.

Former Prime Minister Sir John Major (pictured with Lord Hunt) was responsible for the decision to have a national lottery which has generously funded sport among many other things since the early 1990s.

Tilly the terrier was not in the slightest bit interested in the Olympics, of course, but she had to keep her eyes slightly open just in case she missed anything.

Tilly the terrier was not in the slightest bit interested in the Olympics, of course, but she had to keep her eyes slightly open just in case she missed anything.

Harvest time

IT’S that time of year again when the air is full of the rumble and thrum of combine harvesters working in the fields.

Chucking out great clouds of dust as they make their way through each field, they transform the landscape.

No longer is there a sea of golden stalks waving in the breeze. First the oil seed was harvested. Then the winter-sown barley, followed by oats and now the last crop to be cut is wheat.

What a marvellous couple of weeks it has been for the farmers: day after day has been warm and dry so none of the grain has had to be dried electrically.

For those farmers growing barley, they will have been hoping their crop is good enough for the brewers. A premium is paid for best malting barley.

Following the combine harvesters come the tractors towing baling machines, tidying the litter of empty stalks from the fields and converting them into neat straw bales.

When things go wrong: the baler caught fire but, thanks to Wiltshire Fire & Rescue, no-one was hurt and the tractor was saved.

When things go wrong: the baler caught fire but, thanks to Wiltshire Fire & Rescue, no-one was hurt and the tractor was saved.

This is how the baling machine looked the following day.

This is how the baling machine looked the following day.

More sights of Exmoor

Here are a few more photos from that memorable holiday on Exmoor. (See posting below)

The tiny church of St Beuno, high up in the woods at Culbone.

The tiny church of St Beuno, high up in the woods at Culbone.

Lynmouth: the river and its water spout.

Lynmouth: the river and its water spout.

A collection of interesting road signs at Oareford.

A collection of interesting road signs at Oareford.

Lorna Doone’s statue at Dulverton.

Lorna Doone’s statue at Dulverton.

The Royal Mail van passes St Brendan’s Church, Brendon.

The Royal Mail van passes St Brendan’s Church, Brendon.

Tilly enjoyed exploring Exmoor.

Tilly enjoyed exploring Exmoor.