My grandparents lived in a small town about an hour and a half east of London called Southend-on-Sea. I relished visiting them as a child, which I know is quite unusual. Most kids find a “trip to the elders” a little tiresome, an event that requires non-adventurous best behavior washed down with copious amounts of boredom.
It was quite the contrary for me, primarily because my grandfather was–amongst other things such as a trained electrical engineer who designed power stations in India, a competition winning golf player, a concert level pianist–a reconnaissance pilot in the 1940s. His job was to photograph infrastructure & other strategically important installations from an aircraft, his only weapon being a camera. During my weekend visits, he’d leave me enthralled with endless pilot stories and photographs from all over the world.
One special souvenir from his pilot days is a Spitfire altimeter, a classic Mark 14, 6A/685 model. It’s now on my bookshelf. Sometimes I wonder with excitement what special missions this gadget saw.