18 June 2015

About Me

William Sandy the Labrador and Mother - Sunday lunchtime

Mother, William & Sandy the Labrador. Sunday lunch - always chaotic.

My father Arthur L. Tapper in punt gunning attire

 With a bag of Geese taken on the Exe Estuary circa 1936.The fiendish blunderbuss of a gun mounted on the front of the punt had a stubby wooden stock which can only just be seen in this picture descending into the cockpit. Firing was triggered by a lanyard and propulsion was by means of a short paddle deployed over the side with the punt gunner lying as low as possible to avoid spooking the quarry. Face and hands darkened with face paint at night and heavy woollens and waterproofs worn to face nights on the river in the moonlight. Recoil from the punt gun was enough to set the punt into reverse motion. Deployed in such a way as to kill not just one bird at a time but as many of the flock as possible just as they rise from the water. The twelve bore shot gun being carried was to dispatch any stragglers after the main blast. Often in company with his father Lionel he would re-appear in the early hours of the morning . An accident with this gun exploding in his face had long term consequences and led to his flying in the RAF being abruptly halted. This was a fortunate twist of fate since his chances of survival in a wartime aircraft would have doubtless been quite limited. Many weeks were spent in hospital. Later this injury led to meningitis and major brain surgery under Professor Sir Hugh Cairns at Oxford (The leading neurosurgeon who had treated T. E. Lawrence following his motorcycle crash). A lifetime on medication followed but this did not prevent his leading a remarkably active life into his 80s

 The eldest of four brothers I reached Grammar School via the 13+ but not in 
 time to achieve university. I slipped by default into the family business. 
 Estate agency is no picnic, but I managed a small practice for twenty five years, through good times and not-so-good times, making a reasonable living.
 My Grandfather lived over the offices in Dawlish, and as he passed into old 
 age, it fell to me to keep an eye on him. He was an engaging 
 character with a wooden leg (aluminium) lost in a motorcycle accident. The 
 founder of the firm was my great great grandfather and his means of 
 transport a pony and trap.

Chipmonk at Plymouth

Twenty three and still living with my parents in Teignmouth.  I noticed in the early part of that year an advertisement in the Western Morning News for a competition to learn to fly with a chance to win a light aeroplane, sponsored by the Woodbine Tobacco company.The winner was to be selected according to his/her flying ability. 
After completing the application form and posting it off I was later to learn by post, of my selection to take part. After thirty two hours of free lessons I obtained my PPL but failed to get short listed for the plane itself.
 I drove down to Roborough airport Plymouth in my MG TC and was taught to fly the Chipmunk by a handlebar moustachioed character named Lucas - alongside two other contestants for the Devon & Cornwall zone and a handful of schoolboy Navy pilots using Tiger Moths. I was treated to some brief aerobatic procedures and emergency landing drills that involved C.F.I. Lucus at the controls seeking out a suitable space at low level. Trees and field boundaries loomed up at tree top height. After a near miss with a Tiger Moth and once bringing the aircraft to a halt barely 20 yards short of the main Tavistock / Plymouth road, I began to feel that my nine lives would be quickly used up if I continued to fly, and my licence was allowed to lapse.

Champion - Hoorne, Holland 1976

Solo sailing dinghies have long been a passion in and in 1975 and '76 was the winning Nationals contender; Pictured here is one exhilerating moment finishing the final race of a series in Holland. I later sailed with Shaldon Teignmouth, Starcross and Topsham sailing clubs.
My guide; "The tactics of small boat racing", by Stuart H. Walker.

The T.C. here is attached to the trailer about to tow Solo 204 to a sailing meet.

My love affair with MG sports cars included a J2, TC, TF, and a supreme F2 Magna of which type very few were made and even fewer survive. The latter model is still in service today and appears at rallies and shows like the local Powderham display. I sold it back to Ewan and Ewan is still the keeper, using it regularly. I briefly owned a Mazda Mx5 but  the sensation came nowhere near the exhilaration of a classic. Crash gearbox, fold flat windscreen, and simple D.I.Y. maintenance.

My present favoured road going conveyance -  The Morgan 4/4 seen here in Jemina Frontiera. Spain.

Watercolour painting became another passion after semi-retirement

Made from Teak recovered from discarded lab worktops. Edged with a beading of Ash.

Greenland kayak built along traditional lines with steam bent ribs

The deceptively simple structure displays the degree of sophistication
 and adaptations of the Inuit peoples of the Arctic North. Used both for hunting and for travel. I enjoyed paddling about the Teign Estuary and a spot of wave riding in small surf but then sold it to the Ullapool kayak shop. 

Made recently for Sophie & Max

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