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My (first) flying lesson

September 13, 2014

At 68, the voucher was about the most unexpected birthday present Sue could possibly have bought me. It was valid for six months and the weather was rubbish earlier in the year but as the expiry date and house moving date got closer, eventually I decided I had to book it.
Blackbushe airfield is only 10 minutes up the road. When I worked at BCA their planes constantly took off or landed just over our heads. Now I would be reversing the situation.

Instructor Barry

It was a one hour lesson – with aerobatics which, to be honest, I really didn’t fancy despite the fact Sue had paid extra for it. As it turned out the only available instructor (Barry) for the day I chose wasn’t qualified to do it. He did do one ‘severe’ dip, swerve and climb, which was quite enough for my stomach. I never did enjoy most fairground rides.

Nice plane DadThis is the plane: A Cessna C-152.

Sue would try to watch my progress from the garden seating area to the cafe but, as it turned out, Kerry started pining the moment we moved to taxi in the plane, dragging Sue three times to check I wasn’t in the car and then hadn’t come back in the plane.

The moment we did land and began to taxi back to the place we had started from Kerry was lunging on the lead. She knew I was there.

Anyway, back to the flight:


Sue wouldn’t have seen much of us, as we headed off towards Bracknell, then back over Blackbushe towards Farnham, skirting to the east of the busier Farnborough airport, before eventually returning.
Surprisingly, I was in the pilot’s seat and Barry sat to the right. Barry got me to put my hands on the controls from the very start, to feel what was needed to take off and make the first turn. I had control for about 15% of the time, mostly on straight flight but also on gentle turns. He even got me to join him in folding my arms away from the controls for a while to show how stable the plane could be in level flight. I could rarely follow anything said between him and the control towers but that was his responsibility.
I did discover it wasn’t to difficult to hold a straight and level path while watching the horizon but a different matter altogether trying to do it on instruments alone.

The last photo is us coming in over BCA to land. He did a ‘hop’ the first time, which must have surprised Sue, then did a circuit to land normally.

If I was younger, a bit wealthier and likely to remain living close to an airport I might have been tempted to embark on a series of lessons, leading to a private pilot’s licence. But, with lessons (just in 2-seaters), landing fees, club membership and examination fees approaching £10,000, I thought better of it. That’s an expensive hobby.

I’d recommend it, though. If you know anyone you could treat on a birthday. Go for it.

Click to enlarge photos or see more on Flickr, as usual.

House move – nearly there

September 13, 2014

Contracts have been exchanged. Halle-bloody-luja.
As I said to a friend, a triumph of common sense over solicitors’ red tape. In the end Sue and I had to instruct them (in writing and by almost shouting on the phone) to put any caveat they liked about the sodding little triangle of land which didn’t have proper title and the wiring to the hot tub which didn’t have a buildings regulations certificate; just finish and let us exchange !!!!

So they did.

We move next Friday.

Moving House – go,go,go,go – STOP!

July 30, 2014

Eleven documents, electronically, and one letter in 3 days from our solicitors. Boy, it looked like they’d finally got their act together. Exchange of contracts imminent, we naively thought.
But, no, it turns out our vendors bought two small portions of adjoining land over the years from a neighbour, then sold one to another neighbour. The problem is the Land Registry doesn’t seem to know about 2 of the 3 transfers of ownership. So now we have to sit and wait while it’s all sorted out.

Moving House – stop, go, stop, stop, go …

July 24, 2014

For a month we’ve been worrying that, noting so little progress from our solicitors, despite paying for a survey and submitting all the necessary paperwork to them as promptly as humanly possible, perhaps the chain was about to collapse due to either our vendor or purchaser pulling out.
But, no. It turns out it’s just that the solicitors (well, ours anyway) work very sloooooowwwwwwlllllllllyyyyyyy.
They charge a high hourly rate. Why do they act as if their time is not only worth more than most employees but actually more important?
Everyone in the chain has conveyancers, removal companies etc waiting around. In a bigger chain there would also be mortgage companies and banks, decorators, cleaners, kitchen fitters etc etc. All hanging around, waiting for a possible move date because of one company of overpaid paper-pushers.
If they have so much work they can’t cope why don’t they employ more workers?
Isn’t that what most companies do?

Rant over. Fingers crossed for an improvement after they get a rocket from someone I know who will have some clout with them.

Really bad parking

June 28, 2014

In the long running thread on this topic on the Pistonheads forum, I think we have an outright winner:


Big ‘thank you’ to Plusnet

June 27, 2014

I’ve been a Plusnet (UK ISP) customer for many years. Their service is generally very reliable and good value.

For the last couple of days I’ve had problems connecting to the internet. Disconnections became more and more frequent. Rebooting the router would fix it for a few minutes, then one minute, then barely long enough to download waiting emails. After trying the laptop as well as my desktop PC it dawned on us that the problem was with the wireless signal in the house, not external.

To prove it I slung an old length of cable between the PC in the upstairs office and the router by the front door. Voila. Perfect. But now I obviously need a replacement router.

So I contacted Plusnet who quickly replied that my router was out of warrantee but, as a gesture of goodwill, they had already put a new replacement in the post to me.

Thank you, Plusnet.

Moving house – contracts

June 27, 2014

Very nearly exchange of contracts stage. Well, we’ve signed our copy to sell.

We’ve had our survey done, too. Just a little worrying that our purchaser hasn’t done the same yet but, apparently, she has been out of the country so maybe we shouldn’t worry.

I’m practically on first name terms with the guys at the local council tip, I’m going there so frequently.

Stuff is also selling on Gumtree but the boxes are piling up even though the loft is still half full! So there’s still a lot to do. No rest for the wicked.

roomful 004

This lot is 99% stuff to send out to James in NZ. Where he finds space to store it will be his problem. He wants it so he gets it.



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