Having an email address linked to the website brings all kinds of enquiries that copy the pattern of London buses.  One doesn’t come along for ages then all of a sudden seven or eight come at once.   Amongst the regular requests for Coronet manuals, spare parts enquiries, begging letters from ex-Nigerian princes and Chinese domain name offers I sometimes find one that leads to more than a simple yes, no or that’ll be £8.00 please.   In early January of this year I received a request for spare parts that needed to be transported a not much shorter distance than the previous Boleyn Workshop record of Australia.  Although manuals have gone to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.  A chap called Ray Pearson, residing at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, London contacted me to see if I could donate a pair of Coronet Minor planer blades to a woodworking friend of his.  His friend, Zak Muchine, resides in Embu, Kenya in the great continent of Africa.   Several years ago Ray,  himself a former Workaid tool collector, had arranged for his own Coronet Minor Ten in One Universal Woodworker to be sent to Zak who was establishing a school to teach local children woodworking skills.   Ray met Zak in person during a visit to Embu and had a struck up a friendship.  The blades for the planer had not been in great condition but are now useless and Zak had been previously been unable to find any way to replace them.   It’s hard enough in the UK where they are by now as rare as rocking horse sh...oes so you can imagine the odds of finding some in Africa.  As it happened I had been given a spare pair by a fellow Coronet enthusiast, Mark Burns, so I would not have to strip some from a working attachment.  And what better home for some blades that were gifted to me in the spirit of Coronet brotherhood.   I emailed Zak myself and established that a digital copy of the workshop manual would also be of great help.  Sending that was the easy bit.  I went back to Ray and asked his ideas for getting the blades to Zak.   The postal system is known to be a bit hit or miss particularly in darkest rural areas such as Embu, Kenya or North Dorset, England so that was immediately discounted.   Even sending it to the nearest large town would have meant a risky several day journey for Zak to make.  However Ray had a card up his red sleeve which was that a priestly friend of his from the original church project was due to travel out to Embu in the near future.   Rays plan was to ask this friend to carry the blades in his hand luggage and deliver them to Zak personally.  Bingo.   I messaged Zak again to ask him whether there any other spare parts that he would find useful that could be transported easily.  The phosphor-bronze thrust bearing, he replied and perhaps a spindle?  As it happened, (again) I had bought a heap of Post Office red and rust cunningly disguised as a Coronet Minorette only last year to cherry pick it for the improved sweptback tailstock.  Amongst the usable spares were the complete spindle set up of the thrust bearing, locking rings, spindle and sealed ball race.   I dug into the depths of the underneath of ACs bench to locate the bits and threw in a set of wobble saw washers that are fetching mere pounds on ebay and easily replaced.  So now we had the goods and a plan for delivery to Kenya from the UK but before Ray met his priestly friend we had to get the goods to Ray.   An invitation  to visit the Royal Hospital Chelsea and have lunch and a look-around guided by Ray himself soon materialised digitally  and I was buzzing at the prospect of meeting one of the Chelsea Pensioners in the Chelsea Home itself.  Dare I say it they are more loved than the royal family by my generation.  These old boys and now a few girls have been a fondly known and visible presence at many of our nations events especially the Remembrance Sunday Parades, FA Cup finals and London football matches.  Including that lot  in West London that play in blue, the name escapes me..  As a kid watching television in the early 1970s it seemed that an event with the presence of those red coats and tricorne hats must have been an event of great importance.  That young kid would never have guessed that nearly fifty years later he would be having lunch with one of those men at the Chelsea home itself.  And so on Friday 6th March 2015  me and my wife dropped our girls to school and headed up to the Big Smoke from our tiny North Dorset village.  We met Ray at the London Gate of the Royal Chelsea Hospital and once we were given our parking permit drove around into the red brick walled car park.   Our overriding first impression was how quiet and peaceful it was there only yards from the teeming Embankment and traffic clogged London streets.  Ray immediately put us at our ease and we headed off on our personal tour of the Royal Hospital.  As we walked around the bar, reading room and library he chatted away informing us of the buildings history and answering any questions we had.  Sadly the Great Hall was closed for building works but we saw the main building and quickly peeked into one of the wards respecting the privacy of the men therein.  We visited Rays temporary home in the portacabin village which was certainly unlike any portacabin I had ever been in before!   After touring the museum it was time for lunch and joy of joys, fish chips and mushy peas after a soup starter with rice pudding for afters.  And a cracking nosh up it was too.   We ate at a later time than the residents as apparently the monkeys in the zoo don’t like being watched while they eat.  Rays words, not mine!   But some were still finishing off lunch as we arrived.  We walked into the giant marquee serving as a temorary dining room and approx one hundred pairs of eyes swivelled and watched my wife make her entrance and be seated at a table after which the same eyes respectfully returned to their plates.  Boys will be boys after all.  There's life in the old dogs yet!  After lunch we walked down to the Margaret Thatcher Infirmary, an impressive building and what an excellent cause.  Ray and I shared a history in building construction so we had interesting conversation on the various works taking place on site and the buildings themselves.  As we had to be back in Dorset for 5pm we had time for a quick coffee and final chat with the by now charming Ray before heading back into the London traffic and home.  What a day.  We promised to keep in touch and should Ray and his mates be travelling through Dorset then there’s one home where they will be warmly welcomed and find a cup of tea and some of the peace and serenity that they enjoy in the centre of our capital city.  Thanks Ray, it was an honour.