July 27, 2015

No can do?

There are two types of people in France, I’ve decided, and this couldn’t have been more clear to me than today. I’m returning to the UK for a brief visit in the near future and it looks as though the weather could become a bit more unsettled than it is now while I’m away. As I lost a couple of ridge tiles in high winds a few weeks ago, it now appears that I need to do the repairs before I go rather than when I return. One of my problems is that everything to do with my roof dates back donkeys years, but I thought that I’d try my luck anyway at the Point P builders’ merchants in Montignac before casting my net further afield for the ridge and roof tiles that I need, as they’ve managed to come up trumps so many times in the past.

When I walked in carrying a sample tile off my roof and the dimensions of the ridge tiles, the lady who usually helps me was tied up with other clients, so she directed me to one of her colleagues. When I showed him the ridge tile dimensions he pursed his lips and said that they had nothing like that, and moreover, they couldn’t do anything until at least September because they’ll soon be closed down for summer holidays for the whole of August. When I showed him the roof tile that I’d taken with me, he was looking at it and was just about to say what a hopeless task it would be getting anything like it, when Mr Can-Do walked in.

He was either the branch rep or manager, and it was like turning on a light switch. When he saw the roof tile, he grabbed a product catalogue, began to look through it and called up someone who he knew specialised in ancient designs. Unfortunately, they weren’t available but he promised to let me know one way or the other by tomorrow morning. While he was talking, the other chap sneaked out of the door and when I then showed Mr Can-Do my ridge tile dimensions that the other guy had said they couldn’t help with until at least September, he said that they had them in stock in the yard and if I gave his colleague the reference that he then wrote down, he’d show them to me.

So what a difference! Sure enough, the ridge tiles were close enough to what I needed and I ended up buying half a dozen for the princely sum of 8€! So now at least I’ll be able to make my roof watertight before I leave for home and the roof tiles can wait until I get back. If only there were more like Mr Can-Do in France, I suspect that their economy would not be the basket-case that it now is.

I checked up on the manufacturer of my roof tiles on the internet when I got home. It would appear that the factory started up during the 19th century and probably closed between the wars, so it shows how old the roof on my house must be. The only references that I could come across were for a museum of ancient industry that’s now on the site, so I guess that I shouldn’t hold my breath hoping that the style of tile that I need will turn up – not new, anyway.

But who knows. Maybe Mr Can-Do will be able to put his hands on a few 😉

July 27, 2015

Cavarc open day

Yesterday was the ‘portes ouvertes’ of the Aeroclub de Castillonnes at Cavarc so we all decided to go down there into the Lot and Garonne and enjoy ourselves. It seems amazing that a year has passed since the last one – in a way, it seems a long time ago but on the other hand, the time seems to have gone very quickly.

Wim and I decided to fly in but Sophie, Madeleine and Victor travelled by road. And this year Régis also flew down from Galinat in his Zenair 701 that he acquired as a wreck and spent over a year repairing and which he has now decided to hang onto rather than sell.

We agreed that I would take off from Galinat at 11.50 am to be overhead Wim’s airfield at Plazac at midday, but although I phoned Wim as arranged, he inadvertently had his phone on silent mode, so didn’t receive either my call or my message. But luckily, he saw me coming so we flew most of the way to Cavarc together, although I didn’t find it that easy keeping 56NE down to 85/90 kmh.

In the end I overtook Wim and landed first on a very gusty/floaty runway 15 that had all kinds of weird lift and sink on its approach but fortunately all of us got down safely. There were quite a few aircraft parked up on the flightline but some of the more interesting ones from last year weren’t there, which was a pity because for some reason last year I lost nearly all of the shots that I took. But the turnout was excellent, as the following pics show.

The weather was gorgeous for most of the day and luckily the tables were laid out in the shade of the trees. Here’s Victor bringing over a further tray of melon starter. We’d all already had one plate each but it was so delicious and there was so much of it that we all decided to have another.

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This shot of Madeleine taking her ‘seconds’ shows why 😉

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Here are a couple of shots of our table with, in the first one, Romain and his girlfriend in front on the left and Gordon from Newcastle, who has a vintage Taylorcraft (of which more later) with his eyes closed on the right. He doesn’t always have his eyes closed, though.

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Now some shots of the stars of the day, the aircraft. First up several shots of Gordon’s Taylorcraft that I took while he was preparing to depart back to his home airfield at Trémons that’s a little way to the south between Villeneuve sur Lot and Fumel. I took down all the details last year for a visit there but we never managed to, so we must try again during the next few months.

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Finally, here’s Gordon taxying out for runway 15.

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Next, a couple of shots of Romain’s Hurricane. He’s got it up for sale at the moment because he wants to move up to a two-seat enclosed gyrocopter.

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And now some shots of a beautiful vintage Jodel D12. As for Gordon’s Taylorcraft, an ‘avion’ not an ULM but a welcome visitor nevertheless.

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And finally, to finish off, a couple of shots of the club’s brand new Guépy Club, which is a lovely little French-designed and built ULM powered by a blue-top Rotax 582.

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The day was not without incident, however. A Quicksilver GT500 took off but suffered an engine failure in the climbout. Fortunately, although he was still at quite a low level, the pilot was able to turn back and land on the runway he’d just departed from without incident. He couldn’t get the engine restarted so the aircraft ended up being pushed into one of the club’s hangars.

And we weren’t unaffected either. Wim asked me to take off with him and shadow the Red Baron on the way back because he’d noticed that the engine had run rough a couple of times on the way down. When he got it started, however, it appeared that it was suffering from a repeat of an ignition problem that occurred a few months ago and it too ended up in one of Cavarc’s hangars until Wim can resolve the problem.

So Wim returned home by car with Victor and only Régis and I ended up flying back home. By the time we left, the weather had taken a turn for the worse with stormclouds approaching from the west. As a result, we were subjected to a rather turbulent flight back to Galinat, which was not at all enjoyable, and a nasty landing with a crosswind gusting at about 15-20 kmh. So not nice at all. We both made it safely but with Wim’s problem, it turned out to be an unfortunate end to what was otherwise a great day out.