The Tales of Flashover House – The Challenge

A letter arrived addressed to all at Flashover House. To avoid long delays while the residents fumbled in their cardigans for their reading glasses, Matron elected to read it herself.


Dear Radio Hams,

    I am writing on behalf of that superior residence half a mile down the road from you known as Tumbleweed Towers. As I expect you are aware, we are all retired cactus fanciers, and, as we lovingly tend our window boxes, we are frequently entertained by the spectacle of you people tottering and staggering along the road on your way to the post office to draw your pensions. It is obvious to us that this hobby of yours is sapping your strength and we doubt very much whether any of you would have the energy to knock the whiskers off a goosegog. This being the case, we have no hesitation in challenging you to a tug-of-war at the local church fete in two weeks’ time.

We will bring along a spare piece of rope because when we have finished with you, you might want to hang yourselves.

Yours with prickles on, Spike the Cactus King.


“The cheeky devils. Who do they think they are?” rumbled Rees Morgan. “Put the letter in the bin.” “I don’t think we should do that” said Angus”

“I look upon this letter as a cry for help. It can’t be very nice for them to see us making friends all over the world when all they have for companionship is a cactus. Let’s face it, the only time you get pleasure from a cactus is when it goes up your trouser leg”.

“I think we should send a nice letter accepting the challenge.”

“I agree” said Matron. “It is obvious that these people haven’t heard about your secret weapon.”

What’s that?” chorused the hams. “Why me, of course” laughed Matron, showing them a previously unseen glimpse of her biceps. “With me on the end of the rope you won’t be going anywhere!”

So Angus wrote a letter to Spike at Tumbleweed Towers accepting the challenge and saying what a good thing it would be to bring the two houses closer together and cement the friendships in a common cause. The other hams thought he was laying it on a bit thick and the word “traitor” was being muttered from somewhere at the back. Then, to cap it all he suggested that the two teams should meet at Mrs. Goodbody’s refreshment tent an hour before the event for a good-will cup of tea which he would be pleased to organise and pay for. lt was at this point that the hams began to suspect that Angus was up to something. Generosity was not his natural trait and it was well known that he operated a one-way sporran.

The day of the fete was sunny and warm. The usual side-shows were provided and there were many sporting events. The local post office entered a team in the relay race but they didn’t do very well. Signing in a book every time the baton changed hands was very time consuming. There were numerous attractions for the fun seeker. You could toss tennis balls into a dented bucket, have your fortune told by Madam Zola who was really Miss Clutterbuck from the sweet shop draped in an old horse blanket and, if you wanted to be beside yourself with joy, for the modest sum of 10p you could throw a wet sponge at the Curate.

Meanwhile things were hotting up at the refreshment tent where Angus was acting as the jovial host in charge of the tea urn. The cactus fanciers had never known such lavish treatment. Second and even third cups were consumed with reckless abandon. Finally the guests departed to prepare for the big event.

The Vicar’s voice came over the speakers. “Will the two tug-of-war teams please assemble on the main lawn.’’The hams and Matron went and stood by the rope but of the opposition there was not a sign. They waited for about 15 minutes during which the announcement was repeated several times but to no avail. The Vicar then declared Flashover House the winners by default. All the hams were perplexed except Angus who was having a little smile to himself. G2 turned to him “OK Angus, what have you been up to?”

“Well”, said Angus, “You must never underestimate the native guile of the highland race, or for that matter, the medicinal properties of Epsom salts.”

“Do you mean to say that you gave all those people Epsom salts?” said G2 “No, not all of them,” said Angus “ The ones who asked for a cold drink had Andrews liver salts!”

Return to the index of Vital Spark articles.

G3MGQ’s Month on the Air

Prepared by the clubs RSGB trainer, G3MGQ, you will find the latest DX contests including the ones to shoot for as well as ones to give a wide berth. Why not download the latest edition of Month on the Air and enjoy your DX just that little bit more.

Become a member of HERC

Join the Hastings Electronics and Radio Club.

Why not join one of the largest and most established Radio clubs in the South East of England? Very low joining cost, and free for a year to new licencees.

Vital Spark Archive

Vital Spark newsletter articles

Take a look through a large selection of articles written by club members over the years which have been published in the monthly Vital Spark newsletter .

Used Ham Radio Equipment

View HERC's Used Ham Radio Equipment for sale list..

Every four weeks, HERC's Used Ham Radio Equipment for sale list is updated on the site. Bookmark the gear for sale page to re-visit easily and take advantage of the used equipment on sale through the club.

Club Photographs

HERC Image Galleries.

Here is the official HERC photograph archive which contains multiple image galleries spanning several decades since the club was formed many years ago. Enjoy the images!

UK Amateur Radio Repeaters

UK repeaters

Click button above for full list, or a local repeater callsign below for info.

GB3EB 2m in Uckfield- Active
MB6EB 2m DStar Node in Eastbourne - Active
MB6RY Wires-X DigiGate in Broad Oak - Active
GB3HE 70cm in Hastings - Active
GB7HE 70cm DStar in Hastings - Coming soon
GB3ZX 70cm in Eastbourne - Low Power
GB3JT 23cm ATV in Hastings - NoV cleared
GB7RY 70cm X-Wires Repeater Rye - Active
GB7ES Eastbourne - DSTAR Rpt. - Active
GB3ES 2m in Hastings - Active

For a complete list of repeaters, head over to
the UK Amateur Radio repeaters list.

Popular pages

Get your amateur radio licence - Find out more about amateur radio licence training.
Month on the Air - G3MGQ's popular monthly DX contest/expedition list.
Wilf Gaye Memorial Cup - The clubs annual operating event in the memory of Wilf Gaye M0GYE.
St. Richard's College Buildathon/STEM/ARISS - HERC attends St. Richard's Catholic College for their various events surrounding the Tim Peake ARISS contact.
G3BDQ - John Hey's Rare QSL Cards.
Sussex Electronics Radio Fair - SERF Sussex Electronics Radio Fair 2016.
Vital Spark - A selection of articles re-published from the Vital Spark.
RSGB News - Find out how to get RSGB news on your mobile or PC.
Experimenters Corner - A selection of Proteus projects by Bob Gornal (G7DME)
BBADL - Bath Based Distance Learning Course.
Conquest Hospital Radio - Presented by HERC member Antony (G4CUS).
Radio Rallies 2016 - An up to date list of radio rallies scheduled for 2016.
Club QSL Cards - A selection of QSL cards the club has received over the years.
Other Newsletters - Excellent newsletters and magazines from other clubs.
TX Factor episodes - Take a look at the TX Factors YouTube videos.
John Taplin - A bio of the late John Taplin.

Amateur Radio Resources

Other Radio Clubs & RAYNET

BSARS - Brede Steam Amateur Radio Society

RAYNET - The Hastings and Rother RAYNET Group.

HERC members sites

Sigord - Gordon Sweet
Hastings Radio Comms - Andrew Haas-Campbell
Hoofbags - Liz Costa