I don’t want to push my luck by flying since I found that my carburettor inlet rubbers are a bit perished, and as I’m still waiting for a new pair that I ordered from JBM Industries in the US on 29th September to arrive, I’m effectively grounded. We’ve had a few stormy days (and nights) in the meantime while the X-Air has been tied down at Galinat, but on the way back from the supermarket the other day, I dropped in and checked to make sure that everything was OK and was reassured by how effectively 56NE’s new outdoor covers are performing.
I’ve also been marking time in the house. On the same day that I ordered the carburettor rubbers, I also ordered a roof ladder and the attachment that lets you suspend it from the pitch of the roof, so you can climb up it without it sliding down. I used two different French suppliers for the items and to give credit to the one from whom I purchased the hook attachment, that arrived after three or four days. Even so, considering that it only had to come from Bordeaux and that they had charged a massive 40€ for delivery, I was hardly impressed. I am still waiting, a week later, for the roof ladder to be delivered. I don’t know what it is about French businesses. The French are lovely people but for them, customer service is a totally alien concept. Once they have taken your money, they think that their actually supplying the product that you’ve purchased is a bit of an inconvenience and that you should think yourself lucky to receive it a week or so after handing over your cash. From my experience having run my own small business, they are so out of touch with the modern internet age. In the UK, two or three days delivery for items held in stock is the norm. I routinely buy items from UK Ebay because for one, the same item, if it’s available in France, is almost always more expensive, and for another, I can invariably get it delivered to my home more quickly from the UK.
Here’s another example from the last few days. My car insurance expired at the end of September and as the quote I’d received from my existing provider was much too high (after a claim-free year, I’d expected it to go down but in fact it increased by over 20%!) I decided I’d look around for an alternative provider. Ignore the fact that legally you have to give your existing provider at least 20 days notice of termination, otherwise like it or not you are stuck with them – what a weird idea, so ‘quaintly administrative’ and so French. So where do I look? On the internet, naturally. I find a provider who appears to be offering what I’m looking for at a much reduced price compared to my existing one’s quotation. After a tortuous on-line process of clicking buttons, making a wealth of multi-choices and agreeing to conditions, I expect finally to end up on the last page of the system with a button labelled ‘click to buy’, or something like that. No. I get a button saying ‘click to receive a call from our customer service agent’, which I do and eventually give up on after waiting for an hour or so beside a stubbornly silent telephone 🙁
So I then have another go, find another on-line provider and repeat the whole process all over again, only to find on this occasion that I end up with no button at all and instead a request to now ‘call their customer service department’ on a toll-free number to complete the purchase.
I’m gullible, so I do. I get the usual cheery music and a hearty voice telling me how much they appreciate my call and that I will be dealt with in … four minutes. So I wait and after a while I get the same hearty voice again, reiterating their appreciation and telling me that I’ll be dealt with in … six minutes! OK, I’m not paying, so I decide to hang on. When the voice next comes on and tells me that I’ll be dealt with in … eight minutes, I decide that life is too short and hang up. On Youtube, it’s what’s called ‘a FAIL’ 😕
Third time lucky, this time I find a provider who does the whole thing seamlessly on-line and even gives you a choice of payment profiles, single, quarterly or monthly, and although this is absolutely the norm and how it’s routinely done in the UK, for some reason I end up feeling grateful, even though the list of paperwork that they say I must send by mail is as long as your arm. Unfortunately they rather spoilt it by calling me up early the next morning just as I was getting out of bed and rattling off a whole stream of questions to me in French that, understandably, I found hard to follow. So they told me that I must therefore go to an agent. Naturally, as the reason for completing the tortuous process on-line was precisely because I didn’t want to go to an agent, I told them what they could do with such a request. I subsequently sent all the papers off that they requested and have received confirmation of interim cover, so I’m holding my breath to find out what the next phase of the process will be 😯
STOP PRESS: La Poste just came while I was writing this. I’ve been out to collect the delivery from my post box and it turns out to be my carburettor rubbers from the USA. Good lord, it’s taken less time for a parcel to be delivered to my home from the USA than for my roof ladder to be sent a few kilometres across France. Doesn’t it just go to show what I’ve been saying 😐
Where was I? Oh yes, so what exactly have I been doing during these past days of enforced idleness? Not fixing my lawnmower – again – that’s for sure, which is something I need to do before my grass overwhelms me again. Nope, I’ve been turning my hand back to something that I used to do several years ago, but have since lost the skills and know-how for, namely flight simulator scenery design. I won’t go into it in too much detail, but anyone who runs flight simulator software on their PC knows that it comes with ‘default’ scenery consisting of airports and airfields with buildings and features on that resemble, but are not actually close copies of, their real-life counterparts. Indeed, many smaller airports and airfields are not even included, and to ‘improve’ the default ones and add the ones that are missing, it’s up to independent designers to create the sceneries and upload them to web sites where flight simulator enthusiasts can go to download them.
This is something I used to turn my hand to, and the first couple of videos in the My Trike video gallery were recorded at flight simulator locations I made the sceneries for. With the winter approaching and with the desire not to just be slumped in front of the TV during the long evenings to come, I had a hankering to use the time more productively, by getting back to scenery design. It was sparked when I had the idea to make local ‘sceneries’ for Galinat, where I keep 56NE, and Cavarc, where I went to get my French brevet. I carried out some experimental work, which was successful, but I knew that I needed to brush up on my skills before I tried to go any further, as I would need to create detailed models of the buildings etc at the locations to give them a more ‘realistic’ feel. So in order to do so, I thought I’d see if I could make a model of my house, which over the past few days, I’ve now done. See what you think of the results.
I think I’m just about back where I used to be with levels of skills and know-how similar to what I used to have. So I’m now ready to press on with my new Galinat and Cavarc sceneries and I’ll have to see how I get on. I’ll maybe post some updates on progress from time to time.
We’ve got a lovely day here today – almost pure blue sky, very little, if any, wind and a temperature of just over 21 degrees Celsius. An almost perfect flying day and I wish that now I’ve got them, I could nip across to Galinat, fit my new carburettor rubbers and get airborne. But I can’t because I’m still waiting for my roof ladder to arrive … 😐
Back at 6.30 pm to say that I’m really annoyed – the ladder didn’t arrive so I could have fitted the new carburettor rubbers and had a flight on what has been the best day for more than a week. It’s too late now because of the time it would take to remove 56NE’s covers and fit the rubbers, and I guess I’ll now waste another day too waiting for the ladder to be delivered tomorrow 😡