Stoneleigh 2
Stoneleigh 1

It was a jolly outing on such a beautiful afternoon. The Skima 4 we drove was a small open craft, powered by three very noisy (ok, deafening) two-stroke engines. As we sped north, enjoying the breeze, the river narrowed and meandered through beautiful meadows. We admired the expensive, exclusive waterside properties as they flashed past. Then, as we swept on by a smallholding, an angry-looking man appeared through the heat haze and began gesticulating inexplicably. Obviously, we couldn’t hear what he was saying because of the noise so we could only wave back cheerfully then, unperturbed, we continued at a good lick for another five miles, eventually arriving at Botley, where a small road bridge with narrow spans put an end to our foray to the source of the Hamble.

Satisfied with our small achievement, we turned back. Despite the parched fields, the high spreading canopies and the lush greenery of trees in high summer were reminiscent of the Amazon rainforest, which seemed fitting as the three screeching engines were the type usually found in chainsaws. Presumably using some kind of sign language, we were discussing whether our exploit was worthy of a place in the Guinness Book of Records, when rounding a bend in a cloud of spray we saw our farmer friend again, now gesticulating even more wildly and, to my horror, brandishing a shotgun!

If I had been driving I would have stopped and explained what we were doing and apologised grovellingly. After all, he did have a gun. Mike, rightly or wrongly, merely increased his speed and carried on. The farmer was waving the gun with one hand while holding up four fingers of the other and mouthing (well, probably shouting): ‘FOUR KNOTS!’

Mike called back to him 'WE’RE ONLY DOING TWO KNOTS!' – a fact he decided to illustrate by showing the appropriate number of fingers. When threatened with a gun, this is probably not first on the list of good things to do.

Hovercraft Production Worker Required