Thursday, 25 August 2016

Great Barn

Earlier this month* we went to see the Great Barn in Harmondsworth, a village on the outskirts of West London. It is not visible from the road or bus, and we finally found it to the rear of the village and church, in a protected gated area. The enclosure has other private dwellings in it but there was no need to seek out the barn, it stood right before us, up a short driveway to the right, a huge long building with dark vertical weatherboards and a new roof of bright orange clay tiles. The enormous barn doors were open and volunteers from Friends of the Great Barn group were sitting in the entrance, counting and welcoming the visitors. It is open two Sundays each month from April to October. It was a bright and warm sunny day and I felt as if I ought to be bringing a sheaf with me as a contribution, to help see the villagers through a bleak and hungry winter, although a selection of my own produce would probably amount to a small box of apples from the garden.

* Omission phrase "this (mon)th"

We entered the dark interior which immediately lightened up as our eyes got out of the sunlight.  We seemed to be in a well ordered forest of great oaks surrounding us on all sides and above, and stretching away into the far distance. Although the barn is empty, the volunteers have placed various items of interest and information posters in some of the aisles, with a projected video at the near end giving a short history. I am glad to say that* my camera (Lumix TZ60) did an excellent job of capturing the light without me having to know anything about the various settings, and the photos were full of colour and detail.

* Omission phrase "I am glad (to) s(ay) that"

It has been affectionately called  “The Cathedral of Middlesex” a very apt description of the magnificent interior, although its location is now known as the London Borough of Hillingdon. The resemblance is not accidental, as the medieval carpenters and craftsmen would have also worked on churches, cathedrals and the great houses of the time. The best view is looking straight down the length of the building to the far end, a forest of oak posts and sunlight glinting through all the vertical gaps between the weatherboards. I think probably the ventilation provided by the gaps outweighs any concerns about the rain blowing in. The multitude of rafters and bracing beams above us seemed to accentuate the great height and a photograph does not really show this so well, as it only gives the target area in isolation. When you are actually standing there, you have peripheral vision which gives the sense of space and height.

Records from the year 1110 show that an earlier Great Barn and granary stood on this site. It was damaged by a storm in 1398 and then repaired. Winchester College commissioned* William Kypping and John atte Oke to obtain timbers to build a replacement barn in 1426. Dendrochronology testing has confirmed this date for the timbers. This medieval aisled barn was formerly known as Manor Farm Barn and is the largest timber-framed building in England. It was used to store agricultural produce for over 500 years, until the 1970’s, when it was bought by two successive property developers and allowed to fall into disrepair. English Heritage made compulsory emergency repairs and finally purchased it in January 2012*, thus saving it for the nation. The building was further repaired, with a new roof and replacement of timbers where necessary. Over 95%* of the timbers are original, and where old timbers have had to be taken out, these are kept on display in some of the aisles.

* "commissioned" A small number of outlines do not use the Con Dot

* "95%" Use stroke P for percent only with numerals. If you write the number as an outline, use the full outline for "percent"

* "2012" Optional long slash to represent current century, arbitrary sign with no phonetic value

The barn is oriented in a north-south direction with the doors facing east. It is 58.5 metres long, 11.3 metres wide and 11.9 metres high and has 12 bays and 3 double doors for the entry of wagons. The total footprint is 661 square metres and the internal volume is 4,890 cubic metres. The main posts are oak, 36 cm square and sitting on blocks of Reigate sandstone. The tree trunks were placed upside down so that the larger circumference was at the top, to help the joining of the other roof beams, and some of the posts are made of a single trunk sawn in two, making a matching pair for the frame. Three of the 12 aisles were used for threshing and the remainder for storage of the grain. The weatherboards are made of oak, elm, pine and fir, of various ages. The roof has 92 courses and a total of 76,000 tiles. The floor was originally hard-packed flint gravel, and later repaired with brick, tiles and more recently cement.

We wandered along to each aisle in turn, reading all the information sheets, remembering to look forward and back for new photographic angles on the views up and down the length of the building. At the far end is a pile of original timbers on a pallet, which had been removed and replaced from the weatherboarding, and in one of the doorways a piece of a doorpost head, too rotten to remain in situ, but now providing an easy close-up view of its construction for visitors. On one table is a selection of tiles and one of them has two deer footprints on the corner, where the animal had run over the wet clay. I can imagine the men’s dismay as they chased the deer out of their work area and maybe they lost a few more tiles in the disturbance, they might even have forfeited some wages to cover the loss. Obviously someone went ahead and fired and used it anyway. In those days building materials were much harder won and expensive, and I am sure they were not as wasteful as we are, but maybe the tiler was tempted to use that one on the top course, out of sight.

I found myself peering closely at the wooden posts, now pale grey, pitted and streaked, and very dry looking, imagining when it was new. It was once fresh and bright, cut by hand from the forest, and surrounded by lots of noise and effort as it was shaped, marked and installed by the carpenters. I can hear the noise of voices shouting orders, in something that would seem like English but probably not be intelligible to me. I can hear the creaking carts, rasping hand saws and mallets tapping the oak pegs into place. Very conveniently, my imagination does not venture into the smells of the time, other than the scent of freshly* cut wood, with a brisk summer breeze to disperse the farmyard odours.

* "freshly" Shel always goes down, Sher always goes up

I was interested to read how the mortise and tenon holes were slightly offset, so that the oak peg drew them together tightly as it was hammered in, and also how the peg became even tighter as the timbers gradually dried out, thus firming up and strengthening the entire frame. I also read how using metal nails weakens the building as they rust, with the rust swelling and splitting the wood, and this is the reason that everything was held together with the oak pegs, which could be made rapidly in large amounts from the offcuts of the main timbers. The modern use of galvanised nails for repairs avoids this problem as they will not rust.

The barn and village are situated immediately on the north boundary of Heathrow Airport and whilst inside we kept hearing the roaring sound of planes taking off. Each time, I thought how the people who built the barn and worked there could not have imagined its situation all these centuries later, under the flight path of strange metal machines, and, most of all, actually still standing, valued and cherished. The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings has called it “One of the symbols of the dominance of the rural economy in the past, and the immense investment in craftsmanship and materials that agriculture deserved.” Not only is it still standing there, but I have actually brought it home with me inside the camera, although not quite so magnificent an experience as standing on its dusty floor and looking upwards. (1373 words)

Friday, 19 August 2016

Short Letters 9

Dear Mr Green, Thank you for your recent email*. I have investigated* the matter and can confirm that the account we sent you dated 3 July is correct. The amount includes the extra items that you added to your order, and also an adjustment in the delivery charge, as the total revised amount that you have spent entitled you to a reduced delivery charge. I trust that* this information answers your query and that the goods are to your complete satisfaction. Please feel free to contact us if you have any further issue with this invoice. Yours sincerely*, Accounts Manager (100 words)

* "email" Always insert the initial vowel to avoid misreading as "mail"

* "investigated" Omits the T for convenience of outline

* Omission phrases "I trus(t) that"  "Yours (sin)cerely"

Dear Mrs* Bright, Thank you very much for your recent email* regarding the situation at the Green Park playground, detailing the items that have become broken and unsafe. I informed* our maintenance department immediately and they have visited the site this morning to investigate* and take action. The faulty equipment has been entirely removed and the play area is now safe for further use. New equipment to replace this will be installed at a later date. Thank you very much for your prompt reporting of this danger, which helps us greatly in our ongoing maintenance work. Yours sincerely*, Parks Officer (100 words)

* "Mrs" Uses the S stroke, as the Ses circle is used for the title "Misses"

* "email" Always insert the initial vowel to avoid misreading as "mail"

* "informed" Optional short dash through last stroke of contraction to signify past tense

* "investigate" Omits the T

* Omission phrase "Yours (sin)cerely"

Dear Mrs Blackley, I would like to invite you and your family to attend the opening of our refurbished Mother and Baby store in the village on Saturday 1 September. There will be a short speech by our local councillor, followed by refreshments and a special celebration cake*, fun and games for the children, with a party bag for everyone, as well as discount vouchers for our store, both in the shop and online. Thank you so much for your valued past custom and we hope that you will continue to enjoy visiting our new premises. Best wishes*, Martha White (100 words)

* "cake" and "cookie" Always insert the vowels

* "Best wishes" Upward Ish to make a join possible

Dear Mr Grayling, Thank you for your order and we confirm that this will be delivered on Friday 31 July during the morning. As requested, your order includes our free items on special offer as part of our Summer Special* promotion. We are delighted to say that* many of our customers have found these items very useful for their household needs*. Once you have received your order, we would value your feedback and comments on the products, and this can be done following the link below to our website. We look forward to your future custom with us. Yours sincerely (100 words)

* "Summer special" As the second word is part of the name of the promotion, this means it has no exact context and so is best written as a full outline

* Omission phrase "to s(ay) that"

* "needs" Insert the vowel, as "ends" (= purposes) could also make sense

Dear All, I just wanted to thank everyone for their wonderful wishes on my retirement last month. My family and I really enjoyed all the kind gifts and cards and we will be writing to you all individually*. It was a wonderful event on that day and our thanks to you all for attending. I believe there are some entertaining photos on the company Facebook page so you can see yourselves in action, consuming the lovely banquet provided. I shall miss you all but I shall see you all again at the annual office dinner. With very best wishes*, Bobby (100 words)

* "individually" The contraction includes the "-ly" form but it is always in order to add an L stroke if felt necessary

* "best wishes" Upward Ish to make a join possible

Dear Mr Waters, I am writing to advise you that we are still awaiting your settlement of the invoice dated 30 November for the building work at your premises. I understand that you had agreed to the changes to the work suggested by our Site Manager, and that the queries on the work and costs had been resolved after discussion with our Services Manager. As all the work is now complete, we would appreciate prompt attention to this matter. Payment can be made either by cheque or by credit card over the phone or via our secure website. Yours sincerely (100 words)

Dear Mr Browning, We have some marvellous news for club members. We have been offered some advance tickets for the Historic Ships Regatta to be held next month* in Portsmouth*. The discounted ticket price includes admission to the special exhibition, a full four-course lunch at the Marina Hotel and a tour and trip on one of the sailing ships. If you are interested, please book by telephone or online, as we are sure this will be of great interest and the limited supply will be rapidly taken up. Best wishes* and looking forward to seeing you at our marquee. Regards (100 words) (Total 700 words)

* Omission phrase "ne(k)s(t mon)th"

* "Portsmouth" The outline for "port" uses full P + halved Ray

* "Best wishes" Upward Ish to make a join possible

Friday, 12 August 2016


I am always amazed at how many hidden treasures there are in the City of London*. There are several websites that I trawl regularly for information on interesting days out and events throughout the year. Last weekend* I visited a building that I would normally never have considered*, the Barbican in Central London. As it is now midsummer here in England, the emphasis of my searches for places to visit is on parks and green spaces. I came upon an entry that described a large conservatory on the upper floor of the Barbican. Tempted by a small picture of an expanse of long panes of glass with the shadowy shapes of trees inside reaching up to the apex, the decision was made to go and see it as soon as possible. We would not as a rule* spend a sunny* day inside a building, but I think this counts as almost outside.

* Omission phrases "city (of) London"  "Last (w)eekend"  "have (con)sidered"  "as (a) rule"

* "sunny"  "snowy" Always insert the vowels

The Barbican is a multi-arts and conference venue in the middle of the city and is a prime example of the concrete slab buildings which were considered* the height of modernity at the time, exuding a vigorous ruggedness and a determination to distance themselves from the frivolous and decorative styles of the past. Unfortunately concrete weathers to a dismal, streaked and patchy appearance, giving an air of grimy* deterioration and decay, and so it is fortunate that the vogue for monumental concrete piles did not last too long. I much prefer today’s buildings which are often almost entirely glazed, light and spacious within, and a pleasure to behold* from outside, as they gleam in the sunlight and reflect the sky and their surroundings.

* Omission phrase "which (w)ere (con)sidered"

* "grimy" Insert the last vowel, as "grime" would also make sense

* "to behold" Phrase based on "to be" through the line

We made our way to the third floor, passing all the notices and ticket/information desks for the various departments and performances, none of which interested us. We were here on a plant* mission and made straight for the conservatory entrance. We suddenly found ourselves in an indoor forest, with giant tropical plants, from pot plants to mature shrubs and trees growing up to roof height. The conservatory wraps around the fly tower of the theatre whose knobbly concrete surfaces are improved only by being almost completely covered in and hidden by the foliage, giving the appearance of a prehistoric stony* cliff or a vertical quarry face. The plants are in large soil beds, and along all the edges are hundreds of potted plants. In the middle are a large and a small pond, connected by a narrow channel, with koi of various sizes and colours, judiciously screened by the greenery, so that its edges are kept at a small distance from visitors.

* "plant mission" Insert the thick dot vowel, so it is not misread as "planned". If you pronounce "plant" with a short A vowel, then the only other way to ensure differentiation is to write it with a full T instead of halving, not dictionary but better than misreading.

* "stony" Insert the last vowel, as "stone" would also make sense

Brick paths wind around in gentle curves with a few puddles and the slight smell of dampness everywhere, just the perfect atmosphere for an afternoon in a tropical looking jungle, so much better than the “concrete jungle” that we passed through to get here, and at a comfortable temperature as well. Stairs leading to an upper walkway are adorned with wall baskets and air plants. The walkway gives a bird’s-eye view of the scene and an opportunity to see the whole pond and its inhabitants. The conservatory is filled with the sound of gently splashing water, from the pond fountains and other water features. The walkway leads on to the arid glasshouse to one side, containing hundreds of cacti and succulents, in long raised beds, numerous terracotta pots and hanging baskets. I gave up reading the names of the plants and just admired the great variety of sizes and shapes. Not all are spiny and there are plenty of softer and friendlier ones, with fleshy grey-green leaves hanging in swathes from the pots and baskets, like green wigs on their stands.

We then followed a raised path past the plant- screened cafĂ© area, which is unobtrusive and quiet, and came to another separate corner of the conservatory. We found a delightful shallow rectangular pond with koi and goldfish, completely clear water with clean gravel bottom. A torrent of water from the submerged filter outlet and small spray fountains in the middle provided yet more gurgling sounds. This looked to me to be the ideal pond, from a human point of view, where you could sit on the low wall close to the fish, shielded from  extremes of weather, and with no ice to remove in winter or herons to defend against in summer. My own pond is completely covered in netting, so it was really a treat to be able to watch the fish ambling around between the aquatic plant containers and baskets, although they seem to have fewer interesting corners to investigate and snacks to find than my fish at home do.

We left the conservatory and exited the building onto the lakeside terrace, flanked by a long straight body of pea green water. People were sitting about at the tables and on the steps, eating, reading and relaxing. For us this was a gradual re-entry into the harsh hard world of stone, paving and asphalt, and once we left the complex, we realised that what had seemed like a large space was really a tiny oasis* of green, alive and growing, in a dry dusty city centre. Upon leaving the Barbican precincts*, we were once again* surrounded by dull grey surfaces, noisy building works and traffic. This aspect of London we are happy to leave for the tourists, and we are always glad to return to our own green and quiet part of the suburbs, and our own pond and fish. (920 words)

* "oasis" Insert the dot vowel, thin for singular and thick for plural "oases"

* "precincts" This and similar words omit the K sound in the outline

* Omission phrase "wu(n)s again"

Friday, 29 July 2016

Short Letters 8

All these paragraphs are 100 words each, so if you can write one of them from dictation in one minute (and read it back accurately) you will have smashed through the 100 wpm barrier!

Dear Mr Gray, Thank you for your enquiry regarding our financial services. I believe that we can offer you several products that will produce the outcome that you wish, namely a safe but productive financial package for your investments, and a modest extra yearly* income. I am attaching several leaflets that introduce our products, and as requested our representative will be telephoning you tomorrow morning to discuss a time when he can visit and go into all the options with you. I am sure we can provide everything that you require and look forward to serving you in the future. (100 words)

* "yearly" Keep clearly through the line, as "early" could also make sense in this context

Dear John, It was really good to meet you and Brenda last week* for lunch at The Five Bells Inn. Jane and I really enjoy this restaurant. The ladies are having a day out next Wednesday and I wondered whether you wanted to join me in seeing the boat race on that day. We could then meet up with them for dinner at The Galleon Inn in the village. I also have several things to report to you regarding what we discussed, so I think it would be a fruitful and interesting day out for all of us. Regards, Jim (100 words)

* Omission phrase "las(t w)eek"

Dear Friends, I hope you have* all had a wonderful time this summer, with the lovely fine weather we have had here in the south of the country. It is only six weeks* until we shall be sending out our quarterly society magazine and if you have any articles that you wish to contribute, such as places you have visited or other interesting activities, I would be glad to receive them. They should be no more than 400 words each, and extra or late articles will be saved for future use. Thanks again for your help. Best wishes*, Mary, Editor* (100 words)

* Omission phrases "I (h)ope you have",  "six (w)eeks" (The W sign is helpful but could be omitted)

* "Best wishes" Upward Ish to make a join

* "Editor" Vowel essential, as this is similar to "debtor/daughter/auditor"

To whom it may concern. This letter* is to confirm that I have known Mr James Black for about twenty years. I can confirm that he has lived at the above address for the last 15 years and that he attended the above school, as we both attended there for our secondary education. I believe him to be a man of good honest character, who is hardworking and has an interest in caring for those around him. I therefore have no hesitation in recommending him for the post of Personal Assistant to the Social Services Manager. Yours faithfully, John Whiteley (100 words)

* "This letter" Downward L to make the join possible

Dear Edith, It is a long time since we met and I have so much to tell you. I am not sure I can get it all in this short letter and so I think it would be absolutely marvellous if you could* come to us one weekend and we can have a long chat about everything. You could stay over on Saturday night, which means we could have a really long day seeing the sights and maybe visiting the shopping mall. I can't wait to hear from you to say you will be able to come! Love from Patricia (100 words)

* "could" Not phrased with the preceding words, to prevent misreading as "if you can"

Dear Sam, It was great to talk on Skype the other day, and I just wanted to send you this card and say how brilliant it is that you have passed your exams, and with such good marks. It was no surprise, as you have worked so hard. Let's hope that the job opportunity that James mentioned is still open, and I hope that you are successful in that as well. Do please let me know how you get on with your job hunting. Here's to a wonderful future ahead of you and well done on your achievements. Cheers, Robert (100 words)

Dear Customer, I am writing to inform you that we will be undertaking remedial groundworks in your area over the next six weeks*. Your road will be affected during the first week of September. We have a programme to reduce water loss from the older pipework, some of which is now fifty years old in places. We will give every householder at least* 24 hours of notice of the times when the water will be off. This information is also available on our website, if you enter in your road and house number. Thank you for your cooperation. Yours faithfully (100 words) (Total 700 words)

* Omission phrase "six (w)eeks" (The W sign is helpful but could be omitted)

* "at least" and "at last" Advisable to always vocalise these two. Although only one makes sense here, you would not know that until after the sentence is finished. 

Thursday, 28 July 2016

RAF Museum

Back in March we visited the Royal Air Force Museum in Colindale*, in North West London, built on part of the former Hendon Aerodrome. It is a large site with five huge hangars* plus one ex-factory building, all filled with examples of innovative and pioneering aircraft, from the earliest wood and canvas machines with their bicycle wheels underneath, to gigantic bombers and military carriers. We first went into the Milestones of Flight Hall, a collection of examples from the long history of aviation. Covering the entire side wall is an Aviation History Timeline. At one end is a large balcony area and along the side a long raised walkway, allowing close-up inspection of the suspended airplanes. I thought these were quite amazing* on their slender* steel cables, hanging from a curved tent-like roof, until I realised that the planes obviously did not have their* engines and other equipment inside.

* "Colindale" You could also write as one outline, using a full stroke N instead of hook

* "hangars" Dictionary outline, for the pronunciation "hang-gars". Alternatively use the outline shown in para 8

* "amazing" and "amusing" Always insert the vowel

* "slender" Helpful to insert the vowel, as "cylinder" could possibly make sense as well

"have their" Doubling for "their"

Milestones of Flight Hall

A short connecting walkway leads to the Bomber Hall. The Royal Flying Corps, which later became the RAF, was created and developed* to help defend this country and the development of airplanes fulfilled that defensive role before passenger services became available. This hall houses the larger planes, with plenty of space to walk around and see them from every angle. It is one thing to see large aircraft in pictures or watch them flying in the distance, but quite another to walk about almost underneath them, and I was mentally measuring them by the length of my garden (about 75 feet*). A few of them would just about fit the wingspan into my plot, with the fuselage taking up the neighbours’ gardens on either side! It made me wonder what a logistical task it must have been* to get them all parked in their correct positions, and how you could not really remove one plane without moving all the surrounding ones as well. Imagining all these umpteen tons of metal taking to the air is another wonder, even though we know how it is done and ought to be well used to the fact by now, and knowing that there are planes in our skies that would barely fit into the entire building on their own.

* "developed" The contraction is for the noun "development" but is also safe to use for the verb as well. Optional short dash through last stroke of contraction to indicate past tense.

* "75 feet" Insert the vowel, as "foot" could also make sense

* Omission phrase "it must (have) been"

The Bomber Hall connects to the Historic Hangars Hall but unfortunately plane fatigue was setting in, with a fading supply of energy and attention, and we decided to halt there and get home before the rush hour on the trains. We would return another day to continue our tour through aviation history. This we did two weeks ago*, and carried on where we left off. We saw the helicopters, both military and rescue, a gyrocopter and a lone ejector seat showing the mechanism, and many more historic aircraft.

* Omission phrase "two wee(k)s ago"

We then made our way to the Grahame-White Building, a former aircraft factory, which now houses the First World War In The Air display. On the walls are pictures of the building during its time as an aircraft construction factory, with crowds of women making up the wood and canvas components. I looked into their faces and tried to imagine their lives, and also what they would make of it now, with grey photos of themselves and their workmates on the walls, but the room entirely clean and silent, and filled with examples of the planes that they helped to make. It would be like me going into a museum showing an office, with desks and old manual typewriters, messy carbon paper and ink duplicating machine, with never a computer in sight, silent instead of filled with the clatter of the machines.

Grahame-White factory

The display cases showed the uniforms and equipment that were used, and my attention was arrested by a set of protective outer garments for a pilot. It was made of sheepskin, in separate parts, with the wool innermost, and there was a rather* scary looking leather mask shaped to fit the face, with small holes for eyes and the base of the nose, and a slit for the mouth, to protect the skin during flight in an open cockpit. In one glass case was an array of small bomb cases and grenades, and I was appalled to see a particular anti-personnel weapon that was used by both sides in the First World War, a selection of different types of flechette (meaning little arrow) which are sharp tipped steel darts that would be dropped in clusters, to cause panic and injury to people and animals. There was an original Union Jack* insignia that was used on the planes, until they found it was being mistaken for the German cross-shaped insignia and so it was quickly replaced with the circle in red, white and blue that is still used today by the RAF.

* "rather" If you felt this could be misread as "rare" it would be helpful to insert a first place dot vowel, although it is not dictionary to do so

* Contraction "yu-(nion) Jack"

I was intrigued by one particular floor display, an illuminated undulating surface resembling* a large almost unfolded map, with a video projection on it showing map details and airplanes flying round over the features with a soundtrack explaining what was happening. This was quite fascinating, and because the planes flying round had a shadow underneath, they looked like real models above the surface, rather than part of the projection. I thought how much fun it would be to have a smaller version of this, with the appropriate* computer programme to create my own video of flying over a flowery meadow or stitched together pictures of my garden, but no doubt that would be rather expensive.

* "resembling" It is not necessary here to use the downward Ar before M, because the circle provides the break between the two strokes

* "appropriate" Insert the diphone, and the first vowel in "proper", in order to differentiate

The exhibits are the most obvious part of the museum but on every plaque and all around the walls are stories and descriptions* of the people involved, their discoveries and inventions, medals kindly loaned* by the families, and the wartime experiences of airmen, soldiers and civilians. Rows of bomb cases alongside the aircraft, plus some burnt out bomber hulks, reminded us that this was the horrific reality for those living through those times and the price that was paid to defend the country from invasion. Personal memorabilia and stories are everywhere, and although it is impossible to read all of them, they bring a glimpse through the keyhole into someone else’s* reality and life experiences.

* "descriptions" The plural does not use the contraction, as that would look too much like "discourse" which has a similar meaning

* "loaned" and "lent" Insert the vowel to differentiate

* “keyhole” The circle part of the Hay stroke is written clockwise as normal

* "someone else's" Helpful to insert the W-sign if you felt it might be misread as "something else's", although in that case it would be quicker not to phrase, in which case "someone" would just have the hook N

The museum shop is full of everything that an enthusiast could want, especially the younger ones, with plane covered coats*, jumpers, bags, pyjamas and various uniforms in child sizes, as well as row upon row of toys and model making kits. For the older ones keyrings, mugs, ties, ladies’ scarves, books, bookmarks, pens, pencils and pencil cases. There was a small inflatable* Spitfire airplane, ideal for hanging from the bedroom ceiling, just like the museum planes, the best place to avoid the disappointment of a puncture. I think this could be called a hanger*, in order to* give you the shorthand outline that reflects the pronunciation. For actual flying, the cheap polystyrene glider kits are better, and it might occur to an enterprising youngster to trace round the pieces before assembly, in order to produce a whole fleet of similar ones for colouring in.

* "plane covered coats" Just like normal listening, you would have to decide from context whether this was "plane" or "plain" as both make sense, as they are identical in pronunciation.

* "hanger" Outline exactly as pronunciation "hang+er". You could use this outline for "hangar" if preferred, especially as this is its most likely pronunciation nowadays, see para 1

* Omission phrase "in ord(er to)"

Bailed out into the sea and releasing carrier pigeon

I was amused* to see a small boy going round and round, unable to decide which toy to have and being reminded quite a few times that he could have any two toys. Eventually the parents said OK two planes and one other toy. The delay paid off, although I think not intentional on the boy’s part, and I am sure they would really have liked him to have anything and everything he wanted. I wonder if they secretly bought extra for his next birthday or a Christmas surprise. Parents know exactly which toy that should be because the child will keep coming back to it, picking it up and putting it down, despite it being well beyond the budget for the day. The decision to have several small toys seems more likely, because, in language terms at least, three toys must be better than one!

* "amused" and "amazed" Always insert the vowel

We came out into the sunlight and hot summer air, and although I do not like to waste good sunny days on indoor activities, this was a particularly humid and uncomfortable day and the cooler air inside was very welcome. Despite two extensive visits, we have still not seen everything and so another visit will be necessary, one to save for autumn or winter days, as all the time is spent inside and out of the weather, the opposite of the discomfort that the pilots endured in the freezing* open cockpits of the early airplanes. (1402 words)

* "freezing" and "frozen" Always insert the first vowel, as they are similar in outline and meaning